How BiburyPaper got started

Introduce your Etsy shop and tell us your story. How did you begin and decide on what to sell on Etsy, and how do you create your products?

My name is Ann, and I am the owner of BiburyPaper. My card-making began as a creative outlet when I was home with my young children. As they grew, so did my skills. I realized that I might be able to make a little money and support my habit if I could sell a few of them. I find the card blanks on Amazon, but I source the paper from a variety of local stationary stores and national hobby stores. As my sales grew, I was able to purchase larger quantities and save a little money by buying in bulk.

At first, I cut all my pieces by hand. As my sales increased, I needed to find a more efficient way to make the cards. I purchased a Cricut machine, and my son and I transferred my designs into electronic files. My product became more consistent. My ideas come from a variety of sources. Things I see on the internet, in stores, or from friends. My family has a great sense of humor, and we love puns. Many of our jokes and puns have become cards.

Favorite items

What are your favorite items? What makes these so special? Why do you think these items might be selling well?

I am especially pleased with my Morris Collection cards.They are more difficult to make, but they are very beautiful. I am very pleased with the cards that I consider the most original. 

Morris collection
Anniversary or Wedding Card, Heart Thief

Organic ideas that you can’t find anywhere else, like my "You light up my life" card

Anniversary Card, "You Light Up My Life"

One of my latest ideas was the "Lost Count" card.They are not (yet) my best sellers. I suspect that it’s probably due to my poor search engine optimization skills. I’m still learning and hope to find the right keywords and descriptions to help improve sales

Humorous Birthday Card, Lost Count 

Getting sales on Etsy

How long did it take for you to earn your first sale and how do you currently attract customers to your Etsy shop?

My first "real" sale took a couple weeks. I tried to breathe some life into the store by asking friends and family to buy some items. I was also hoping it would encourage them to form the habit of choosing to shop at my store and on Etsy. Today, we use a variety of options to help drive sales. I started an Instagram account, @BiburyPaper, to tell people about my products and to learn a little more about me, with a link in the bio to my store. We also set up a static web page, just in case someone found us on the internet, but it links directly to my Etsy store. I opened a brick-and-mortar store in 2020, and now that website also serves as a landing page for that business. I noticed a real increase in my sales when I really started to fill out all the attributes and describe my products in more detail. Around the same time, I started using the Etsy ads. Today, the Etsy search engine and marketing bring me most of my customers. Etsy ads and direct traffic bring about one-third of the traffic that comes to my site. We’ve seen more and more people coming back to our shop to purchase their favorite cards again or choose new options.

Managing BiburyPaper

How do you manage your shop? Are you running solo or do you have any team members? What tools or services do you use to run your shop and how do you handle fulfillment?

My husband helps me out with the day-to-day management since I am running the brick-and-mortar store. We use the Etsy Seller app so we can take care of our customers no matter where we are. We use the notifications to alert us to new sales and messages. We also use ERank to help us manage our listings. It has helped us complete the attributes section, find better keywords to use, and see how we rank compared to similar sellers.

Since our product (greeting cards) is designed to go through the US postal system, we use it for our shipping. We use Etsy’s shipping tool for postage and to address the envelopes we use. That way, we have some form of tracking even if the customer doesn’t want to pay extra for a tracking label. We don’t offer the tracking labels as standard since the cost of our product would double to cover that expense. We have found that getting our product ready more frequently keeps the activity flowing, so we prepare shipments twice daily and have incorporated the post office trips into our daily lives.

The future of BiburyPaper 

What goals do you have for your shop in the future?

I want to keep introducing new products so customers have a reason to come back to our shop. I’d love to continue increasing sales so I could bring in some help.

Advice for new sellers

What’s your advice for a new seller starting an Etsy shop?

Don’t give up. Success probably won’t happen overnight. Don’t change too much at once, or you won’t know what you did to drive your improvements. It takes time, sometimes 6–8 weeks, for any change to take effect. Like any business, don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help.

I probably could have used more of the online Etsy groups to help speed up the learning process, but I didn’t even know about them at the beginning. Look at other listings to see what works. Be true to yourself. If you don’t want to compromise your standards, you don’t have to. Your customers will find you, and they will appreciate you. It may take more time, but you and your customers will be happier for it.

Some sellers really get inspired by hearing numbers. Feel free to share these if you like.

Question: How much is your monthly revenue?
We sell about 130 cards per month.

Question: What is your average profit margin?
I don’t really want to figure it out since I’m worried it’s not very much. I just enjoy doing what I do.

Question: What is your shop’s conversion rate?
This year it’s 4.4%.  It reached its height (almost 8%) during the Pandemic when everyone was shopping at home