The Ultimate Guide to Selling on Etsy
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Etsy has quickly become the leading worldwide marketplace for buying and selling handmade crafts and unique goods. Their simple approach to building an online store and connecting with shoppers has made it simple for millions of sellers to start selling on Etsy as a side hustle or even a full-time business!
Did you know that in 2019 there were over 46 million active shoppers who purchased $5 billion worth of handcrafted goods on Etsy? These sales came across various categories. The best-selling items were homewares and home furnishings, jewelry and personal accessories, apparel, craft supplies, paper, party supplies, and beauty and personal care.
This shows there is a ton of space and potential customers for anyone who wants to get started. If you have a product to sell, it is easier than you may think to start making money on Etsy!
Below is our ultimate guide filled with tips and tricks from seasoned sellers to get your shop up and running.
How to Get Started Selling on Etsy
It is straightforward to get started selling on Etsy. If you already have an account with Etsy, then you can get started here. Setting up a shop is completely free and can quickly be done in an evening.
We recommend taking the time to fully fill out your profile with information about you and your shop, as this lets buyers know that a real person is making and selling the products.
Using a free tool like Canva is an easy way to create a logo and banner image for your shop quickly. Many shops on Etsy offer affordable graphic design services and can make these for you.
Listing Your Products on Etsy
The first step to listing your products for sale on Etsy is taking eye-catching photos. Online shopping is a visual experience, and taking professional, well-lit images will get your shop started on the right foot.
Taking Amazing Photos for Etsy
With the continued improvement of smartphone cameras, you can easily use your phone to take amazing product photos.
Start by investing in a simple lighting setup and background, or choose a well-lit area of your home. South and West facing windows in your home receive the best light during the day and can make for a great place to take your photos.
Stage your products to show them how they would be used by customers or create a clean background to show off the product.
Etsy has a great, in-depth photography guide with all the ins and outs of taking stunning photos that will help ensure your products sell.
Create Searchable Listing Titles
The most power of Etsy as an online marketplace for sellers is the sheer number of buyers searching for products every day. The best way to harness this power is to create product listings using keywords that buyers are actively searching for.
For example, if you sell custom wooden signs and want to know what items potential shoppers are searching for, type wood signs into the Etsy search bar.
This will show you a list of commonly searched terms on Etsy related to wooden signs.
Giving your wooden nursery sign the title Eat Sleep Poop Sign for Tots may sound fun, but it won’t show up in the search results for the potential buyers searching for wood signs for nursery.
Etsy allows up to 140 characters for listing titles but places extra importance on the title’s first few words. So make them count and ensure they include a commonly searchable term.
Write Customer-Focused Product Descriptions
Creating a searchable listing doesn’t end at the product title. Writing a relevant, keyword-focused product description is another way to make sure potential buyers find your products.
It is also a great chance to give a story to your product and connect with your customer-base who is looking for that unique, handmade item. Etsy recommends writing product descriptions in a voice that speaks to your customers.
For example, if you’re looking to sell fun kid’s decor, then let your writing take on a playful tone. This helps to engage the customer and connect them to your product and story.
This section is also your chance to provide a physical description of your product. Think about real-life examples rather than just using inches or pounds, as those numbers can be challenging for customers to visualize.
Using Keywords in Your Description
Product descriptions are a great place to use additional keywords to help your products show up in Etsy’s search results.
As we discussed earlier, the product title should include the best keyword for your item. That doesn’t mean there aren’t tons of other great keywords you can use as well.
Customers looking for a ceramic mug may search for a coffee mug, ceramic mug handmade, ceramic mug no handle, ceramic mug sets, etc.
These are all excellent terms to sprinkle throughout your product description.
The search bar is a great place to start with ideas and, once your small business has been up and running for a while, Etsy provides a ton of data on what shoppers searched for when they found your listings.
This is another excellent location to find additional keyword ideas to include in your product description.
Don’t Forget the Category and Tags Sections
While these two sections may not seem all that important, they help to paint a full picture for Etsy of what your product is that you’re selling.
Categories are Etsy’s way of knowing which section of the store your item belongs in.
If you have a shop selling baby blankets, you will select baby blankets for the category, and this lets Etsy know that shoppers searching for weighted blankets probably aren’t the best customers for your item.
Type one or two words into the category field, and it automatically populates with ideas for where your item belongs.
Whereas the category section fits your product into a predetermined box, the tags section lets you add any additional keywords that you feel may apply to your product.
Etsy allows up to 13 tags to be added to every product, and it is highly recommended that you always use all 13.
These tags can run the gamut from specific (coffee mug) to broad (wedding gift).
One way to find ideas for tags is to search for a similar product on Etsy and scroll to the very bottom of the page. There you will see a related searches section that should provide plenty of suggestions.
How to Find Customers on Etsy
By now, you’ve finished your handmade items, taken killer photos, filled out an eye-catching listing title and description, and hit publish.
While your listings can be found in Etsy’s search results, there are ways to tip the scales in your favor.
Etsy makes money when a customer buys a product, so they will list products they know are selling at the top of the search results. Bringing in sales tells Etsy that your product and shop are popular and worth showing to more customers.
Here are a few ways to boost your sales when your shop is still new.
Social media is a great way to boost your shop and bring in new customers. Instagram and Facebook are typically going to be your two best bets.
Instagram is the perfect place to share beautiful photos of your products and the work you do behind the scenes to create them. Spend time interacting with other creators in your niche to build initial traction in the space.
Facebook is a great place to interact with potential customers, specifically through Facebook groups.
For example, if you sell coffee mugs, join a coffee lovers Facebook group and post a photo of your mug. Don’t be overly spammy with your shop. Just say here is a custom ceramic coffee mug that I made.
Nine times out of 10, if you are posting a unique, useful item to the group, someone will ask if you offer them for sale. Bringing in just a few initial sales can be a huge boost to your shop.
Do note, though, that there are A TON of Etsy Sellers groups on Facebook, and 99% of those will not be worth your time. They are filled with other sellers spamming their listings, and the only audience is other sellers who have no intention of buying the products.
Family and Friends
Promoting the news that you are selling on Etsy to family and friends is a great way to drive those first few online sales. So don’t be shy about spreading the word in person or on your personal social media accounts.
This is also a wonderful opportunity to ask for feedback about your products, listings, descriptions, etc.
Although sometimes you may not get the most honest feedback from friends and family, it is still an excellent place to start!
Sales and Coupons
If you have spent any time browsing Etsy, you’ll notice that some listings have a sale tag next to the price. This is a great way to get your product noticed as shoppers are scrolling through search results.
Etsy runs multiple, large sales per year centered around significant shopping events like Mother’s Day or Black Friday. During these events, shops are actively encouraged to participate, and shops that do are often highlighted in the search results.
While whether you participate and the level of discounts you choose to offer is totally up to you, these are a great opportunity to get in front of customers during these big shopping days.
Etsy also offers the option to set up custom coupon codes of your choosing as a way to attract customers.
These are a great way to entice customers from your social media feeds or to encourage returning customers by offering buyers a discount code off their next purchase.
With coupons, you can choose the discount and length of time the coupon code is valid for.
Etsy offers two different advertising programs for sellers. Both are totally optional for new shops, but they do offer another opportunity to get your products in front of potential customers.
Etsy’s on-site ads are ads that are shown to shoppers already on the Etsy site.
If you search for almost any item on Etsy, the top row of search results will usually be the promoted listings. The promoted listings will also be shown at the bottom of individual product pages.
You have complete control over if you want to enroll in this program, how much you want to spend per day, and which listings you want to promote.
The minimum budget is $1/day, and the maximum is $50/day. It is recommended that you test out different budgets and listings to see which works best for your shop.
Off-site ads are ads that are shown outside of Etsy.
For example, if someone searches for a t-shirt on Google, an ad for your listing on Etsy may show up in the search results.
Etsy’s off-site ads are a bit more controversial in that, once your shop reaches $10,000 in sales for the preceding 12 months, you are automatically enrolled in the program.
Before that, though, you have the option to opt-in or out as you like.
These ads’ pricing structure is 15% of the gross sale revenue for any purchase after a customer clicks on an off-site ad. This drops to 12% once you reach the $10,000 threshold and are automatically enrolled in the off-site ads program.
It doesn’t hurt to stay in the program at first to see how much traffic they drive to your listings. Just be aware of the potential fees. Many new sellers are caught off guard and don’t have enough margin in their products to absorb the additional ad fee.
And now that brings us to…
Fees for Selling on Etsy
While it is 100% free to set up a shop on Etsy, there are still costs to keep in mind. Etsy fees are broken down into three sections:
1. Listing Fees
For each item you list for sale on Etsy, you are charged a $0.20 listing fee. Listings are good for four months, after which time you can either let the listing expire or renew it for another $0.20.
After each sale, if you have a listing set to auto-renew, you will be charged another $0.20.
2. Transaction Fees
When you make a sale on Etsy, you will be charged 5% of the total sale price + shipping + gift wrapping.
It may seem unfair to charge a transaction fee on money collected for shipping, but in the early days of Etsy, sellers were listing their items for cheap and charging high shipping fees to get around the transaction fee system.
3. Advertising Fees
As we covered above, these are any fees for on-site or off-site ads you may be using.
Packaging and Shipping Your Etsy Sales
Once you get that first cha-ching notification on your phone, it’s time to get the sale ready to head out the door.
Pay Attention to Packaging
You would be surprised to see just how many customers who leave reviews mention the packaging.
It doesn’t even have to be anything fancy!
Using a decent box or padded mailer and ensuring the product is well wrapped and protected can make a huge impact.
As a new seller, Amazon is a great place to pick up packing supplies. They carry an impressive assortment of boxes, mailers, and packaging supplies.
As your shop grows, you can look into shipping products from dedicated packaging companies. They often have order minimums, though, so the last thing you want is 500 boxes for a product that doesn’t end up selling.
Including a handwritten or printed thank you card with some information about the product and your shop is another way to connect with the customer and show there is a person behind the sale. Including a coupon code can help to encourage repeat business or bring in referrals as well.
Shipping Options on Etsy
Once you have your sale all packaged up it’s time to ship it off to the customer.
Luckily, all the shipping can be handled within Etsy as well. As long as you have a printer and a scale, you can measure the package, weigh it, and enter the information into Etsy.
Etsy offers both USPS and Fed Ex as carrier options. However, USPS will almost always be the cheaper of the two options.
Depending on your item’s size, the default shipping option will either be standard first-class or priority mail. You can offer shipping upgrades on your products if customers need the items in a rush. These additional options are available to choose from in the shipping section.
From there, it is as simple as printing off the shipping labels and affixing them to the packages.
Note that if you are shipping large or bulky items, it will be worth your while comparing shipping prices with multiple carriers as USPS is typically not going to be the cheapest option in these cases.
Extra Tips for Finding Success Selling on Etsy
Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things
It may take some time to find the right mix of products that sell well in your shop. It only costs $0.20 to list a product for four months, so there is a minimal cost to trying out some new ideas. If they don’t sell, then it’s easy enough to remove the listing and move one.
It can take months or even years for products to find their way to the top of Etsy’s search listings, so if you see a small amount of success early on, make sure to give it some time to grow.
Give Your Shop an Identity
Don’t try to turn your shop into a jack of all trades by listing items for sale that are all over the map. Customers want to know what to expect, so keep your niche-focused. If you find yourself making items that better fit into a different niche, it is best to open a second shop.
Find Your Ideal Customer
Take some time to write down who your ideal customer would be.
Are they moms-to-be looking for nursery decor?
New homeowners looking for home decor?
Woodworkers looking for specialty wood supplies?
Knowing who your customer is can help you in your marketing efforts to cater your message to them.
Selling on Etsy Checklist:
Here is a quick checklist for new Etsy sellers to get started making money selling crafts from home!
- Find a marketable product to sell
- Sign up for an Etsy account
- Take great photos of your products
- Write keyword-focused product headlines
- Add product descriptions with a personal touch (buyers want to know that a real person made the product)
- Choose an appropriate product category
- Add relevant keyword tags
- Offer free shipping
- Keep your processing time quick (1 – 3 business days)
- Package your products well for shipping
- Include a personal touch (thank you card, handwritten note, etc.)
This post originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Derek is a woodworker, writer, and stay-at-home dad to his two young children. His website, The Money Family, takes readers on his journey of building a thriving online-based crafting business. Derek and his family can be found hiking or playing in the snow around their home in the beautiful Pacific Northwest in his spare time.