Selling on Etsy is a way many have started successful businesses. Etsy is a platform for makers, designers, handmade, or vintage goods. Although it has changed a great deal over the years and has become a more commercialized place, it’s still a great place to start a business. Etsy offers a place to sell items you create or design and to do so without a large investment in a personal website, or a brick and mortar storefront, although many people that wish to grow their business eventually do so.
Find Your Niche
Selling on Etsy as with any other business venture, one must do their research before jumping in with both feet. You can use your spare time. While sitting watching TV in the evening download the Etsy app and explore the items listed for sale. Not everything that’s listed sells, obviously. By looking at existing shops sales and reviews it becomes clear what types of things will sell and the ones that don’t.
Sellers make anything from wood, concrete, metal working, to sewing and jewelry.
Nuts and Bolts of Business
Once you find a niche you think has some potential, start by coming up with a sale price you think your item will be able to sell for. Then work backwards to see what it will cost you to make it to begin with. Be sure to remember all costs, such as shipping materials, listing fees, advertising, etc., when coming up with your cost.
Now that you’ve done that, take the price your planning to sell your goods for and subtract the costs, this is your cleared before tax profit. Selling Price – Cost of Production – Variable Other Variable Costs = Profit
Some things that sell good aren’t necessarily going to be the most profitable. For example let’s say you wish to make pillows. You see there are numerous shops have them. Many of them are selling a great deal of them. You take the average of what you want to sell yours for, and figure what your costs will be, and come up with the profit per pillow you can make. If you’re only going to make a few dollars’ profit per pillow, then you’re going to have to sell a lot of them to bring in a sizable income.
Are you going to have the time it takes to focus on manufacturing your product? And to make large enough quantities of low profit items to make enough income?
On the flip side you find higher dollar items you know you can make. These sell for much higher prices and have a much higher profit margin, but you know you’re not going to sell very large quantities. Will these items, even at much lower numbers, bring in more total profit for you?
Everyone’s situation is different. You may already have the sewing machine and the know how to make pillows. You may not have the tools or expertise to make everything. This is why you will need to find a product type and match it to your situation to determine what’s best for you.
Open Your Shop
When you have determined what you’re going to make to sell, and know you can make a profit on it, then you can setup a shop.
Setting up a shop is very easy. Come up with a shop name. Typing it in Etsy will let you know if it’s available. Some Tips on Finding a Shop Name
You will need your personal information. Your bank account info so you can get paid and a credit card to be billed.
Listing Your Products
To get sales, and look professional you need to create your listings carefully.
Descriptions, keywords, and titles, along with nice photos go a long way in determining whether you’re going to be successful or not. Etsy always seems to be changing the search algorithm that determines how an item shows up in search, so everything needs to have the best setup with regards to listings as possible.
If you find your listings are not selling don’t be afraid to change them and try various keywords and titles until you find what works for you. Every shop will be different, and Etsy is continually changing their search algorithms so keywords and titles are always a work in progress.
Start with a title that best describes what the item is and what its mostly likely to be used for. Not just one sentence that describes it. Use Multiple Keywords in the Title.
Describe You Products in Detail
You have a large section to describe your listing.
Take advantage of this, as this will help not only in the buyer’s decision to buy the product but how it shows up in search both inside and outside of Etsy ( search engines such as Google and Bing). If you have different but similar items you can put a link to one listing in the first and so on to help the buyer quickly find more items in their search.
Always remember the buyer is buying this sight unseen, not as they would if it were on the shelf in a retail store where they can touch and feel. Describe the item(s) in detail as if you had no photos to show. This will allow the buyer to be able to understand the product in detail and feel better about purchasing it, and prevent as many returned items.
Great Photos are Imperative
Most importantly, are the photos of your products. Remember your buyers can’t pick up and touch the item prior to buying. Be sure to show as much detail as possible in the photos. Unlike other retail sites, Etsy buyers like to see their items staged. A centerpiece could be shown on a kitchen table, or a scarf might be shown modeled on someone using it, etc.
There are many great articles that can be found on bettering product photography and such that we will try to post some of those at a later date.
Tell Your Buyers About You
Finally, you want to create a good about section and be sure to fill in all the shop polices pages. This will detail what your buyers can expect as far returns go, shipping times, etc. You’re always going to have difficult buyers, it’s the nature of business, unfortunately, but this will go a long way to preventing many.
Grow Your Business
Once your setup and operating you can move on to getting advertising and social media accounts setup for your business.
Etsy makes it easy with its promoted listings, allowing you to pick a budget you’re comfortable with and even lets you bid on a per item basis. Some shop find Etsy advertising works for them others do not. Trial and error is something each shop has to determine.
They also have google listings where you able to do the same thing for outside searchers to find you on google. Be careful not to get to get too caught up in the advertising as it can cost you very quickly and suck all your profit out if you’re not careful. This is another example of something you’ll want to play around with as time goes on to get the feel for your shop in particular.
Another way to boost your search results is periodically relisting your listings before they run out themselves, we do several every day and have had good luck doing so. Every shop and every item is different, so playing around with all the things we’ve talked about today is the best bet to optimize your own shop, as what works for us may not work for you and vise-versa.
Use Social Media
The next way to get noticed and get your products into the public view is through social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.).
Facebook has sent a great deal of traffic to our Etsy shop. It’s a great way to get noticed as every new potential customer likes your page, they are able to see everything you have posted in the past and you are able to re-share those posts, meaning, the better your posts are, the longer your content is out there providing free advertising to anyone that sees it. We have had good luck using Facebook ads. Facebook allows you to very narrowly target the audience you want. While it will take some playing around, trying different setups to figure out what works for your shop, its most likely the best way to reach your targeted market the most efficiently.
Pinterest is another social media outlet we like to use. Like Facebook, once you post your products in a Pin its will continue to be seen by numerous people as everyone is able to re-pin posts. We continue to have re-pins from items that we posted two years ago still showing up. Pinterest is a visual media, and for Etsy buyers it’s a quick and easy way for them to see your item and decide they want it and direct them right to your shop.
Both Facebook and Pinterest allow customers to buy direct from either site, however, at this time not through Etsy itself. To sell direct through both of those sites you will need to setup an online store of your own.
Run Your Shop Like a Business
As you can see Etsy is a Marketplace that is easy to setup, but like any other business it takes work. Selling on Etsy may cost less to setup a shop than a standalone website, and may be a better option for someone just starting out. With many other sellers, millions of buyers continue to flock to the site to find new and unique handmade and vintage items. With this amount of visitors it helps your products be found from people who ordinarily would never find you on your own site. With that being said, it’s still imperative to create the best listings possible, as you also are competing with millions of other sellers, all hoping to be found, trying to get the same sale as you. Etsy is a great place to start and grow your handmade business and allow you to build the skills needed to become successful to further expand your business as time goes on. Many sellers eventually branch out to other marketplaces, or their own sites. The sky’s the limit!
As time goes on we will continue to update this page with new tips and tricks we use and allow our shop to be successful selling on Etsy.