How to Sell on Etsy: Setting up an Etsy Shop

If you’re a crafty person and you think people might be willing to pay a bit of money for your handmade creations, then you could just stand to make money by setting up an Etsy shop. This huge online marketplace provides a platform for creative types sell a huge variety of different products, from clothing and jewellery to homeware, so whatever your talent, there’s sure to be way you can use it to make money online. In this guide, we’ll explain how to sell on Etsy, covering: 

  • What is Etsy? 
  • How does Etsy work? 
  • How to make money on Etsy in the UK
  • Etsy fees
  • How to sell on Etsy 
  • What to sell on Etsy 
  • Pros and cons of Etsy 
  • Selling on Etsy: Tips 

What is Etsy?

Etsy is an online marketplace, predominantly for selling handmade or vintage items or craft supplies. Sellers from around the world can list items in their personal Etsy stores for online shoppers to buy.

You can find almost anything handmade or craft-related on Etsy. The main categories items fall into are:

  • Jewellery & Accessories
  • Clothing & Shoes
  • Home & Living
  • Wedding & Party
  • Toys & Entertainment
  • Art & Collectibles
  • Craft Supplies & Tools
  • Vintage

The e-commerce site was founded in June 2005 by Rob Kalin, Jared Tarbell, Chris Maguire, Haim Schoppik, with Josh Silverman coming in as CEO in 2017.

How does Etsy work?

Sellers can list handmade or vintage items on their Etsy shops and sell to buyers around the world.

How to make money on Etsy in the UK

How much money can you make?

The amount of money you can make from selling on Etsy completely depends on the individual shop. For example, the popularity of your items and store, your prices, the number of orders you complete, and your advertising costs all play a part in how much money you can make.

How much does it cost to list? Etsy fees in the UK

In order to make money, you’ll also need to spend a bit on Etsy seller fees:

  • Listing fee = £0.17. All listings are active for four months. Or until they sell. Whichever happens first.
  • Transaction fee = 5%. Whenever you sell an item, you’ll need to pay a commission.
  • Payment processing fee = 4% + £0.20. If you use Etsy’s payment system, you’ll need to pay a standard payment processing fee on each item you sell.
  • Offsite Ads fee = 15%. This is a bit of a touchy subject amongst some Etsy shop owners because it feels like a punishment for their success. As Etsy states on their site: “Offsite advertising is optional for most sellers, but may be required based on how much you make in sales on Etsy in a 12 month period.” Meaning that if you make a lot of sales, they’ll ‘do you a favour’ by advertising your shop even if you don’t want them to. For example, if a shop has made a lot of sales, they may be running at or close to their capacity in terms of the orders they can take on. However, Etsy will advertise for them, based on their success, and then charge them for the privilege. If you make a sale from an offsite ad, you’ll pay a fee. 

Etsy Plus

Etsy Plus is a paid package which promises to help you “jump-start growth” and take your Etsy shop “to the next level”. At the time of writing, an Etsy Plus subscription costs $10 a month. Included in Etsy Plus is:

  • A monthly budget of credits to use on listings and Etsy Ads.
  • Access to a discount on a custom web address for your Etsy shop.
  • Restock requests for shoppers interested in your items that have sold out.
  • Advanced shop customisation options.
  • Access to discounts on custom packaging and promotional material like boxes, business cards, and signage.

How to sell on Etsy

Set up an Etsy shop

Anyone can set up an Etsy shop in order to sell their handmade and/or vintage items. But what kind of things do you need to think about when getting started?:

  • Something to sell
    Are you crafty? And we’re not talking sly…If you’re creative and good with your hands, then you could make something to sell on your Etsy store. Because Etsy is the home of homemade, you’ll find shops selling everything from children’s clothes to hand-forged jewellery and pottery to prints. Maybe it’s time to have a good browse around Etsy: get inspiration, check out your competition, or find that all-important gap in the market.
  • A name and a logo
    You don’t have to launch into a full brand workshop, but you do need to think of how you want your business to look, sound, and make people feel. A name and a logo are a good place to start with this.
  • Nice product images
    You don’t need to be a professional photographer to take nice product photos. And you don’t need to have professional photos for your Etsy shop, either. There are loads of videos on YouTube which can show how to take high-quality photos using just a camera phone and some nice lighting.
  • Some money
    Unfortunately, the online world is a little noisy and algorithms are increasingly moving visitors further away from organic to paid search. In order to stand out, you’ll most likely need to pay for adverts as part of your marketing strategy. Oh yeah, and you’ll probably need a marketing strategy too…
  • Marketing strategy
    Again, you don’t need to be an expert in marketing to come up with a plan. It just makes sense to know who your target audience is, where to find them, and the best way to talk to them. This might be on social media, so your plan would include regular posts, interactions with potential customers, and sponsored or paid ads.

How to list on Etsy

Once you’ve come up with a product, a brand, and a marketing plan, it’s time to fill your shop! You can list items via the website or the ‘Sell on Etsy’ app. To list an item in your Etsy store, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Add photos
    Etsy recommends using at least five images per item and has guidance on things like sizing, cropping options, and how to pick a thumbnail image.
  2. Add listing details
    Shoppers can search for and filter results by the things you include in your listing details. Think about what buyers might search for if they were looking for your item and use this to create a descriptive title. Add a category and tags to further help potential sales.

Hopefully your items will fly off the proverbial shelf, but if they don’t sell, the listing automatically renews after four months.

  1. Describe your listing
    Help potential customers understand what your listing is all about by describing the item in detail. Tell them things like how you made or found it, its size, what it’s made of, and how it was made. You’ll be able to add in customisation options at this point, too.
  2. Set your pricing
    How much are your items worth? This can be a tricky one to decide on. Again, it’s worth taking a look at the competition, costing the materials you used, and adding in the man hours it took you to make the item. The price is something you change at a later date if you need to and you can also choose to run discounts.
  3. Set up delivery
    You can choose a delivery profile which determines the postage cost charged to buyers, the processing time, and the delivery service. You’ll need to think about things like the weight and size of your packaged item if you’re wanting to use calculated postage.
  4. Preview, save, or publish your listing
    If this is your first time listing an item, you’ll probably want to see how it will look to potential customers before you put it live. That’s exactly what the preview option lets you do. Then you can either save your listing as a draft if you want to go back to it later, or publish it to set it live. Remember, there’s a small listing fee charged per item. It may take up to 24 hours for listings to appear to buyers in Etsy’s search results.

What to sell on Etsy

What sells well?

Trends can come and go quickly, but there’s a big interest in handmade goods in general, which makes Etsy a strong platform to sell on if you’re creative.

I took a look at CraftCount, which ranks Etsy top sellers via the sales count in every category and country. Numbers are updated every 24 hours.

March 19th 2020 Handmade in the UK

Rank Shop name Sales Sub category
1 HappyCutieStudio 150,429 Paper Goods
2 SarahBurnsPrints 110,715 Paper Goods
3 katieabeydesign 99,354 Mixed
4 punkypins 83,420 Accessories
5 Tmeprinting 69,245 Clothing
6 Amylucydesigns 64,501 Party Supplies
7 maryjanestearoom 63,647 Patterns
8 Literary Emporium 54,151 Jewellery
9 artPause 53,616 Art
10 oldenglishcompany 49,100 Art

 

Pros and Cons of Etsy

As with most online marketplace platforms, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages to consider when thinking about selling your products online. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest pros and cons of Etsy now.

Pros

  1. Target a large audience
    According to Statista, almost 45.7 million buyers had purchased goods through Etsy, as of 2019. If you’re selling handmade items (as opposed to supplies), you know that you’re going to be talking to a large audience of potential buyers who are coming to Etsy for just that! As well as previous Etsy customers, you can also target potential buyers through organic search (either Etsy or Google), just through listing your products on Etsy.
  2. Easy to start an Etsy shop
    As you’ll have seen earlier in this guide, opening an Etsy shop is pretty easy and quick-to-do. Etsy also has loads of guidance on how to start an etsy store, including a step-by-step breakdown of the whole process, the Seller’s Handbook, and advice on things like growth strategies and how to optimise your product listings in terms of SEO. Remember: it’s free to open a basic Etsy shop, so there’s really no excuse not to get started!
  3. Built-in analytics
    Analytics are a huge part of an online business. Even if your ‘business’ is just you sitting at the kitchen table. Analytics help you make informed decisions by looking at real data. Luckily, Etsy tracks lots of metrics for you. For example, you can see stats like the amount of traffic that is visiting your page and the number of visits, orders, and revenue each item in your shop is receiving. You can also check which keywords people are searching for when they find your shop, which can help you optimise your marketing and advertising efforts even further.
  4. Communication
    Communication is key when it comes to running your own business. You need to be able to keep customers updated with the status of their orders, especially if you run into any issues, such as a delay in delivery. Etsy knows this and has made it really easy to communicate with customers.
  5. Stay mobile
    Etsy’s sellers-only app, ‘Sell on Etsy’ is designed to help you run your shop anywhere, at any time. Available to both iOS and Android users, the app lets you manage your business on the go: setting up new item listings, responding to customers, keeping an eye on your shop stats, and tracking your orders.

Cons:

1. Fees

As we talked about earlier in this guide, Etsy charges a number of fees such as for listing and transactions. All of these fees add up and can eat into your profits or cause you to have to list items for a higher price than competitors, which may price you out of the game. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s definitely something you’ll need to keep in mind if you’re thinking about selling on Etsy.

2. Success ain’t easy
It can take quite a lot of work to have a successful shop on Etsy. You need to stand out from the crowd and make sure that your shop is the one that appears in potential customers’ searches. Some sellers have found that having a lot of listings live at the same time can help with your sales figures. For example, some sellers have reported that having at least 100 items listed has helped them be found. Obviously that’s a lot of listings and a lot of items, which can be extremely difficult to achieve, especially given the nature of handmade. Things take time to be made! I think the best advice is to just see what works for you.

3. Saturated market
In 2019, more than 2.5 million sellers sold items through the Etsy platform. With so many active sellers, it’s hard to find a unique item to sell. Therefore, you’re likely to be competing for market space with tens, hundreds, or even thousands of other stores. And it can be difficult for new shops to get noticed. With that in mind, it makes sense to work on a marketing strategy outside of Etsy too: SEO, social media, and your online presence in general, will all boost your visibility and hopefully help you stand out from the (overcrowded) crowd.

4. Doesn’t play well with others
Unfortunately, Etsy doesn’t integrate well with some other systems, which means that you may be limited in terms of what email or inventory service providers you can integrate with.

5. Competitors are highlighted
If your Etsy item sells out, Etsy will “suggest” similar items, none of which are from your own shop and are all from competitors. It can get annoying since you want that potential customer to keep shopping with you!

While setting up an Etsy shop can be time-consuming in terms of item creation and marketing, if you’re creative and are willing to put in the time required to make items, manage your own business, and optimise your listings for search, it could be just the career path for you. 

However, if you’re not craft-inclined, there are lots of other fantastic ways to make money online that you might want to take a look at. For example, matched betting allows you to generate extra income by using the free bets offered by bookies, and you don’t need skills or experience to make money — all you need is some free time. You can also use online tools to help make the process even easier. To learn more about this, read our matched betting guide. 

Other options for making money online include completing online surveys in exchange for cash, dropshipping, and retail arbitrage. You could also try your hand at becoming an influencer on social media: take a look at our guide on how to make money on Instagram and read our interview with a real influencer to learn more. 

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