Paper Cuts: Following Up On Inquiries - and a BIG lesson from Etsy

*photo by Mikkel Paige

When I first starting selling invitation samples through the SJ Etsy shop, I would follow up with each order a week or so later with a convo through Etsy. I would check in to make sure they received their sample package, ask if they liked it, and provide my email address so that they could get in touch to place their order. After about a month, I got an email from Etsy telling me that my follow up was considered spam, and that sellers were not allowed to use Etsy as a way to reach out to clients. I was pretty angry with Etsy, but did as I was told and stopped following up with clients for several months afterwards. Then I realized that fewer clients, at least the ones who ordered samples through Etsy, were booking with me. I felt like Etsy was stonewalling me and damaging my business.

I seriously considering closing down my Etsy shop and moving to an e-commerce style website, but deep down I enjoyed the platform that Etsy provided. Then, I had a light bulb moment. I needed to find a way to make Etsy work for my business, instead of me trying to make my business work for Etsy. Since clients provide their email address with their Etsy orders, I began sending my follow up messages through email, and the results were fantastic! Clients wrote back in a very timely fashion, and so many of them were very appreciative to have gotten a follow-up email after ordering their samples.

The Etsy headache taught me TWO valuable lessons. The first being what I just mentioned - using Etsy to better my business, instead of the opposite way around, and the second being the sheer importance of follow up emails - to ALL inquiries, not just those on Etsy. 

People are busy. You're busy, I'm busy, she's busy, he's busy. When somebody reaches out to inquire about their wedding invitations, they might fully intend on responding, but then this, that, and the other thing happens and they forget. By taking the initiative and gently reminding them about your services, you are NOT spamming your client, you're doing your job. I've found that clients are generally super appreciative of the email, and are more likely to book me. My rule of thumb is to always reach out within one week (sometimes two, if it's a holiday or if I'm super busy) of our last point of contact. However, if I do not hear back after the follow-up, I don't reach back out. I definitely do not want to feel spammy.

Do you have any rules of thumb for following up with clients?