How to Start Selling on Etsy

How to Start Selling on Etsy

6th April 2020, 6:06am in Business by Cassie Puah

For the painters, knitters, moulders and sculptors, Etsy is the marketplace for you. With over 60 million items listed by 2.1 million sellers as well as 39.4 million active buyers, it's safe to say that selling on Etsy is important for handcrafted hobbies.

If you're keen to transform your Sunday night hobby into a full-time Monday to Friday job, we've put together some useful tips on how to bootstrap your Etsy business into a money making machine. So, let's get into our tips on selling on Etsy.

Set up your online shop

Your first task when selling on Etsy, is to create an Etsy account. Be careful to create a strong password, as (although rate), it is not uncommon for hackers to target popular shops.

When it comes to setting up the structure of your Etsy shop, there are four (4) main sections that are vital to your success:

  • Your shop preferences: This involves choosing the language, country and currency that your shop uses. Getting these details right are vital to attracting particular customer demographics to your shop. For example, if you want your customer base to come from Australia, you want to set these preferences accordingly.
  • Your shop name: This can be quite tricky. It's a good idea to brainstorm some potential names and have a look at some of your competitors as well. You don't want to end up with a name similar to one of your competitors. You can think of your shop's name as a pairing of the style and description of your items. For example, Elegant Crystal Jewellery are clear reflections of what the seller intends to sell. Be careful not to use a trademarked name, try Googling yours first to make sure it's not taken.
  • Stock for your shop: You can now fill your shop with items to sell. Every listing is a point of entry for potential customers, so the more the better; try to aim for at least 10-15 items per category. A good way to think about your online store is as a physical shop - when you walk in you should be able to see groups of similar items stocked together, varieties of items at varying prices to appeal to a range of customers and some offers or multi-buy deals. Use this imaginary scene to stock your shop so it looks thoughtfully curated to your customers.
  • Payment setup: This one is fairly easy, simply select your bank account country, enter your bank details with a residential address and add your card so you can process Etsy payments. Keep in mind Australian sellers cannot sell without a residential address on file and can't use PO boxes.

Product, product, product

Selling on Etsy is, sort of, like owning a specialty channel. It's not just about selling something online, it's about finding your niche within the site - is it personalised jewellery, or paintings, or woodwork. A customer on Etsy isn't just looking for a store that sells A, they're looking for a seller that specialises in A. On a platform like Etsy, purchasing power comes from the amount of trust a potential customer has in your brand.

This is where some research pays off. Start to do some Etsy and Instagram searches for the type of products you're going to be selling. Take note of what your competitors are doing...and what they're not doing.

Take eye-catching photos

Think of selling on Etsy as a version of Instagram; because it's mostly hand crafted goods, it has a very aesthetic based culture that you can't ignore as a seller. This makes your product photos even more important. You don't need to be a professional photographer to take good photos of your Etsy items. Using your iPhone or Android should be fine. Be sure to experiment with angels and lighting to get the most detail out of your items. It's always best to include multiple images as well, a few product shots (on a white background) followed by a lifestyle image.

Don't skimp on the Etsy SEO

Like most eComm platforms, Etsy functions as a search engine in and of itself. This means that your Shop Name, Shop Title, Shop Announcement and Product Descriptions all play a role in how visible you are on the site. Use the existing search box for suggestions of keywords that you could use in your title, descriptions and tags. This will require a fair amount of tweaking but the goal here should be to end up in the search results of Google (especially the shopping results). Be sure to use long-tailed keywords for specificity as opposed to more generic words like "jewelry".

PRO TIP: Repeat the same phrases in your Shop Title, your listing titles, the first part of the item description and in your tags.

Charging for shipping

Since the dawn of Amazon's next-day delivery, customers have had unrealistic expectations for shipping and what it costs to actually send a package. What you charge for shipping depends on a variety of factors like weight, size, shipping destination and of course delivery times - are they expecting their package at the end of the day, or within a week. These days it's all about managing expectations, which is why we've included a live quoting function into our Etsy shipping integration. It provides your customers and you (of course) with visibility over their shipping charges.

PRO TIP: Wipe a few bucks off the top of your shipping charge. It'll hit your profit margin, but it'll also increase the likeliness of your customers purchasing again and again from you.

Invest in shipping supplies

OK, so you got your first sale. Now what? Once your item sells, it's time for you to dispatch your order to your customer. This is where a lot of first-timers get stuck. They know what they need - labels, boxes, so on. But, it's a little more nuanced than that. If you're going to make a good run of selling on Etsy, you'll need a label printer (unless you want to be taping your labels to every box). Labels must be printed on 8.5" x 11" white paper using a high-quality inkjet or laser printer. We recommend purchasing a thermal printer so there's no need for messy inks. These run expensive, but there are ones for less than $100. Simply download your Etsy labels from our Shipping Manager and start printing. Now if you're shipping in high volumes, you want to purchase your packaging in bulk and in advance. If you're shipping fragile items always wrap them in multiple layers of bubble wrap.

PRO TIP: Adding a business card or personal letter in with their product, with a discount code for their next purchase could be the difference between a one time purchase and a repeat customer.

Start a Pinterest and Instagram

Most items on Esty are unique and handmade. They have a special quality about them, particularly in a world of mass production. These types of products are perfect for Pinterest and Instagram, which are fairly low intensity social medias, unlike traditional blogging, which will eat up a lot of your time. This is a great way to grow the visibility of your products off-site and turn explorers into actual customers.

Always provide great customer service

Customers will always feel more inclined to return to a particular brand when they have previously experienced great customer service. From the very start, when you're selling on Etsy, you should always strive to give customers the best experience, possible:

  • Make an enquiry email: If customers would like to reach out to you, to ask about an order, for example, make sure you have a support email to funnel these requests to, displayed in your About section and in your contact links.
  • Be speedy with your replies: It's good to keep engaging with your customers before, during and after their purchase. This is especially true during the shipping process. This is a peak time of uncertainty so if a package is late, be sure to respond within 24 hours of a request.
  • Send out after-order emails: Starting an email list for your customers is the best way to continuously grow your business. This is your chance to advertise new products or deals to ensure they keep coming back for more.

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