Etsy is a third-party e-commerce platform that makes it easy for small creators and businesses to expand their reach and show (and hopefully sell) to a wide audience that might never have discovered them otherwise. For many, it allows them to turn talent and certain products into a profitable business, building momentum and gathering reviews from a trusted site where customers are willing to buy.
Creators and small business owners often find valuable, high-quality, and sometimes niche products to sell, but the battle is real when competing with big brands to grow an audience and drive traffic to their website. purchases When customers search for “hand knitted blanket” on Google, there are many options available through major companies that promise to offer just that. That’s why many turn to Etsy.
What is Etsy?
Founded in 2005, Etsy is an online marketplace for independent creators, artisans and collectors who can open virtual shops to sell their products. About 80% of sellers are women and all are independent content creators.
It’s kind of like Amazon for independent sellers who sell handmade, one-of-a-kind or specialty items. The goal is to create a large marketplace of products from different sellers so that customers can find great sellers. With over 3 million sellers in 2020 and over 60 million items in 2019 on Etsy, the platform is growing rapidly, which means there are plenty of great finds for customers.
Some sellers create products on demand when orders are received, while others have them in stock. Sellers can stay small, while others expand significantly on the platform as their business grows.
Some sellers on the platform have thousands of reviews, a wide range of products and even custom branded packaging. They moved beyond the “hobby business” and found full-time profit and success.
Here, artists can sell physical products such as home goods and clothing, digital downloads, vintage items (must be 20 years old) and craft supplies, either through organic search or through promoted listings.
They can do this on their own terms, choosing when they ship, which carriers they want to use, and how much they want to charge. They can also enable or disable various third-party payment options, giving sellers a lot of control over their stores while giving buyers a lot of flexibility.
Meanwhile, users can browse different product categories or search for exactly what they are looking for. Once they find the product they want, they can read detailed descriptions and view product images, view reviews, and view the seller’s profile. They can even send questions directly to the seller. It’s a personal, direct interface, but still allows sellers to have a professional virtual facade.
What can you sell on Etsy?
Etsy has a huge variety of products, but according to Etsy itself, the three most common item types are crafts, vintage items, and craft supplies. About 90% of the products on the site fall into the handmade category, which can include the following (and more):
- Home Clothing and
- Small Cosmetics
- Food, including everything from spice powders to dough starters and pastries
- Live Plants
- Home decor
- Pet Supplies such as
- Belts and collars
- Household items such as plates, chopsticks and pillows
- & many More….
How to open an Etsy shop
If you’re ready to open your first Etsy shop, let’s go step by step through the process of creating an account, opening and optimizing your shop, uploading product listings, and starting to make sales.
Step 1. Sign in or create an Etsy account.
Creating an account on Etsy takes just a few minutes, and you’ll need to create both a personal account and then, through that, set up a storefront.
First, head to Etsy’s home page and select “Create Account” at the top of the page. You’ll be asked to enter information like your name, address, and contact information. You’ll also choose a username. Then you’ll receive a confirmation email from “[email protected],” which you can verify quickly. You can then log into your new account, where you can add an “About” for your profile and a profile picture.
Click Sell on Etsy on Etsy.com. Once your profile is complete, you’ll find the “Sell” option on Etsy and click it.
Click Open your Etsy shop. At the bottom of Etsy, you’ll see the option to open a shop. Click it.
Step 2. Optimize Your Etsy Shop Profile.
Once your new shop is open, it’s important to start optimizing it for search, visibility, and a solid first impression right away.
Make sure to use the following best practices when setting up your shop’s profile:
Use a cover photo for the homepage of your storefront, which will be 3360 x 840 pixels. They are both desktop and mobile friends and should represent your brand well.
Write a strong “About” section for your store, explaining what you offer, what makes you unique and credible, and anything else you feel could help set you apart.
Use a shop icon that’s consistent with your business logo and overall branding.
Look for keywords that users might search for to find your products. If you’re selling jam, you may have relevant products for searches like “homemade jam,” “organic jam,” “natural preserves,” and “sugar-free jam.” Consider which keywords may give you the most visibility and try to include them in the profile copy and title.
Introduce any and all team members in the Shop Members section.
Step 3. Write an Impressive “About” Page.
We mentioned the “About” page above, but it’s so important we’re going to dive a little deeper into it here.
Your “About” page gives you 5,000 characters to explain who you are and what makes your business exceptional; you want to take full advantage of that.
This is your chance to highlight why your creations are exceptional and why they should buy. You can highlight your achievements, experience, knowledge, and your business’s USP.
When writing your “About” page, it helps to keep the following in mind:
Be welcoming and approachable; you want potential buyers to like you and feel a rapport with you
Talk about what made you want to start your business; storytelling is always a plus
Introduce partners or vendors that you work with to develop or source product materials
Use short, concise paragraphs and simple sentence structures
Include links to social media and/or a list to opt-in to your email list
Include links to any third-party media that mention you or your products
Step 5. Set your shop preferences.
Your shop’s preferences will tell Etsy basic but crucial information about how you’re choosing to sell your items.
The preferences include:
Shop language. This is the default language you use on your profile and in product listings. You cannot change it later but you can add translations in other languages by enrolling in other languages after officially opening your shop.
Shop time commitment. Is selling products your full-time or part-time job? This won’t impact the actual setup of your shop, but Etsy uses it for information purposes.
Shop country. Where does your shop operate out of? This can matter for a number of reasons including certain restrictions based on location.
Shop currency. This determines the currency you’ll use to price items in your listings. Note that currency conversion fees could apply if your shop currency is different from the currency used by your bank of choice.
Step 6. Choose your shop name.
We’ve also mentioned this already, but again, it’s important enough that it gets another section.
Your shop name does more than represent your brand; it is your brand. It can help explain to users who you are, set the tone for your shop, and help you stand out from others. It’s important that it’s memorable and relevant.
You’ve got 20 characters for your shop name. You’ll choose this when setting up your store. And though it can be changed at a later date, it’s important to remember that brand name recognition is important; you want customers who go looking for you to be able to find you.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What is the core offering of your business?
What feeling or vibe do you want your store name to convey?
If you ask family or friends about the store name, what did they think?
Does the name look good on a business card?
Is the name easy to spell, read, and type without errors?
Is there an alternative meaning in other languages that could be offensive?
Is the name already taken?
When coming up with store names, we know that it can be difficult and that a lot hangs in the balance. Here are some creative ways to come up with high-performing names for your Etsy store:
Use descriptive names that evoke the feeling you’re going for. “BoozyJams,” for example, is pretty straightforward; you’re going for the fun vibe of “boozy” instead of “liquor,” and it’s descriptive.
Consider opting for puns or creative word choices. Puns can be memorable and show a sense of humor that customers love. “NoWayCrochet,” for example, tells users that you’re offering crochet goods and that you’ve got a sense of humor.
Try combining two words. Trying to find something creative for your home-grown plant business? Try something like “Plantastic” or “Plantorama.” It’s on-topic but something that others are unlikely to have.
Step 7. Keep your shop policy simple.
Etsy allows store owners to set up their own shop policies. This is a huge advantage, but it’s important to remember to keep it simple; otherwise, you may end up driving users away, and those are users who were likely high intent and interested in purchasing.
Common examples of shop policies include:
Free returns within 30 days
Returns or replacements made for damaged items as long as you send proof of item receipt and damage within 5 days of the shipment being received
No returns on personalized items
Policies should be simple and straightforward. If you’re unsure of where to start, Etsy has a basic shop policy template that allows you to adjust different options as you see fit.
Step 8. Add product listings to your shop.
As your shop is open, you can go to your “Shop Manager” and then click “Add listing.”
Make sure that every single product photograph that you upload is excellent. High-quality, not-cluttered images are an absolute must.
Try to include as many images of a product as possible to help a client feel comfortable about purchasing.
A clothing company, for example, could show the item from the front, from the back, and on a model.
A creator selling homemade chocolate truffles could show photographs of the array of truffles, the truffles in the packaging, and a truffle broken open to show the ooey, gooey center.
Think about what would help your products sell, and invest in the pictures to get those sales.
Step 9. Add relevant categories and attributes.
Users can browse different categories of products on Etsy, making it essential to ensure that your products are listed in the most accurate category possible. This helps interested customers find you.
You’ll see that there are plenty of different subcategories available for every category on Etsy. Take the time to go through each one to see what best fits your brand and products.
You’ll want to do the same thing for attributes, which helps the red halter dress you’re selling show up when users are browsing “clothing” and then “dresses” and choose to view only red items. Attributes can include use, color, occasion, and more.
You can test different categories on Etsy to see what works for you. An easy way to do this is to check the search results for different possible categories that you think your products may fit into, and then assess which searches had results most similar to yours.
Step 10. Maximize your tags.
Tags are short phrases or even single words that are 20 characters are less than you would use to describe your product. And they’re a big deal on Etsy, as the platform uses them to determine whether or not your product is relevant to buyer searches.
Tags, when combined with attributes and categories, wildly influence search results. It’s crucial to take the time to get them right.
Tagging best practices are relatively simple:
Include tags with phrases and long-tail keywords like “organic fine ground flour” instead of just “flour”
Use all 13 tags available on every product listing
Try to use some tags that are similar to your product keywords
Check for missepllings
Only use tags in one language
Keep it relevant; only use tags that people searching for your products may want to find
Step 11. Write effective product descriptions.
Product descriptions matter. They explain why users should purchase, and it should detail the product’s condition, age, physical description, uses, measurements, ingredients, and (if relevant) manufacturing process.
The product descriptions often carry equal weight to the product photographs as being the two big factors that most influence purchase.
The product description is an integral part of your listing. It details your product’s measurements, condition, color description,
Some product description best practices include:
Specify who the product can help and what pain points it can resolve
Mention the materials or techniques that went into product development, including relevant information like “small-batch” or “gluten-free made”
Use keywords that you included in your tags or attributes if possible
Always mention the age of vintage products in the descriptions
Think about using descriptive terms like “modern,” “boho,” “natural,” or “calming,” as these can come up in search
Detail the dimensions and weight of the product and if possible the size of the package when shipped
Include information on how long it will take to create and ship the product from the order date
Use simple sentences and short paragraphs, but rich language, and don’t be afraid to keep it interesting with the copy
Step 12. Choose how you’ll get paid.
According to Baymord Institute, 6% of online shoppers have abandoned their carts in the last quarter because there weren’t enough payment options. It’s important to consider that while online shopping is becoming the norm, there are still potential customers that will hesitate to share their credit card details online, no matter how secure your website. This lost opportunity can be easily avoided by maximizing available payment options for your store.
Etsy store owners should take advantage of Etsy Payments. This gives you the ability to offer a wide variety of payment options without having to open multiple merchant services accounts. Etsy payments can be used to accept:
Etsy Gift Cards and Etsy Credits
You’ll want to make sure you also provide options for in-person customers. Square has partnered with Etsy to provide sellers with a quick and secure way to complete in-person payments from your phone or tablet and sync your shop inventory. Simply go to the Shop Manager page, choose Square from the Add Channel options, follow the prompts and you’re good to go. You also get a Square card reader for free when you sign up.
Step 13. Set up billing.
You’re almost there! Now, it’s time to set up billing, which is how you will pay Etsy for any fees, which may include subscription fees or any fees that can’t come out of your balance.
Depending on your country, you may need to enter payment information in the form of a debit or credit card to open your shop. This must be a Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or Discover. Sellers in France can use a Carte Bleue. Sellers located in Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands aren’t required to have a credit card on file.
If you are required to have a credit card on file, you’ll see an authorization charge to verify the card, but the charge will be dropped from your statement as soon as verification is made. This typically happens over a several-day period.
Sellers can also add a prepaid card to your account after adding a credit or debit card; it can’t be your only primary payment method.
Step 16. Open your shop. If you’ve arrived at this point, you’re finally ready. It’s time to launch your shop, making it visible to all your new, anxiously awaiting, and soon-to-be customers. To do this, simply click “Open Your Shop.”
You’ll be given a website address to your shop, which will be:
Congratulations! And remember that you can edit your shop at any point.
What you Need to Know Before Selling on Etsy
Is selling on Etsy worth it?
Most sellers would agree that selling on Etsy is absolutely worth it, particularly as long as you’re factoring all the seller’s fees into your pricing.
Selling on Etsy does take time, energy, and some upfront costs in the form of listing fees and any other costs associated (which may include business licenses, product material or manufacturing costs, tax preparation, and more). It can also be slow going at first while you’re learning the platform and slowly gaining momentum over time.
There are several distinct cons that are worth pointing out:
There’s fierce competition on the platform; there are plenty of shoppers, but there are also a lot of business owners, too.
If you have a great product, someone else will likely notice and play copycat to try to generate their own version; unfortunately, however, this is almost always true in business.
There’s often a distinct lack of customer loyalty because there are so many options and users are excited to try them, especially at low costs; they may be looking for handmade products but not necessarily yours, though building a brand can help with this.
It can be more difficult to build a following, including on social media or through an email list; this is because you need to send users off-site to sign up for an email list or to check out your blog, and it’s harder to really elevate your brand on the platform.
All that being said, the pros of Etsy often outweigh the cons. The list is shorter, but the items on it carry a ton of weight. It includes:
It’s quicky and easy to set up, it’s easy to use on an ongoing basis, and it’s relatively cost-effective.
It has enormous reach and the potential to put you in touch with an engaged and trusting audience faster than your own website likely would.
It’s a great way to expand to new audiences, test new products, and learn about business ownership without exorbitant fees.