Etsy is one of the leading marketplaces for beautiful handmade creations and unique vintage items. The company, which was founded in June 2005, is based in Brooklyn, New York.
In 2015, Etsy raised $267 million in funding, allowing it to expand its platform, offering opportunities to would-be entrepreneurs and sellers to turn their designs into cash.
Today, Etsy has over 45.7 million active buyers, a figure that continues to grow with each passing year, as evidenced by the graph below.
This is proof of the constant and never-ending opportunities available on the platform for aspiring entrepreneurs.
If you’ve decided that you want to join the ranks of successful Etsy sellers, then read on because, in this guide, I will take you through the step-by-step process to open an Etsy shop successfully.
What is Etsy?
Etsy is a global marketplace for creative goods. The site is home to vintage treasures, unique handcrafted pieces, and various other special and extraordinary items.
The site grosses over $2 billion in annual sales, and as a seller on the platform, you can carve out a healthy chunk of that to create a reliable income for yourself.
Etsy is different from other online marketplaces in that buyers can browse the marketplace to find unique and interesting items as opposed to mass-produced products often found at other online marketplaces like eBay.
The eCommerce website focuses on craft supplies, handmade, and vintage items, all of which fall under a broad range of categories, including:
- Home Decor
- Craft Supplies
All vintage items on Etsy must be over 20 years old.
With over 60 million products listed on the platform, it’s easy to see why the eCommerce site is a hot place to sell for anyone who wants to sell crafts online.
But, having such a huge number of products listed also means it can be easy to be drowned out, and many sellers on the platform struggle to make enough sales to create a stable income each month.
To be successful on the platform requires that you have a solid strategy that includes knowing how to choose and list items that sell, finding ways to market your products to your audience, and using proven tips to ensure the success of your Etsy shop.
I’ll explain more about these below, but first, let’s take a look at how Etsy works.
How Does Etsy Work?
Etsy acts as intermediary connecting buyers and sellers. As a seller, you can join and start a shop for free.
To list your items for sale, you have to pay a $0.20 standard listing fee for each item. The fee is only valid for four months, after which it must be manually or automatically renewed at the same price.
It’s important to note that on Etsy, a “listing” can contain multiple products. For instance, if you have 10 pairs of boots for sale that come in different colors, you’re only obliged to create one listing and give buyers the choice of selecting a pair of boots with any color they want.
You can list products in any of the categories on the platform, and once you sell an item, the platform takes a 5% transaction fee on the total sale price (this includes the shipping price).
If you use Etsy Payments to accept payments, you will also be charged a processing fee of 3% + $0.25 for each item sold.
Since Etsy pays to advertise your stuff online through Offsite Ads, if a sale is generated from one of those ads, you pay a small fee.
On Etsy, sellers get all the tools they need to manage their business from anywhere, accept payments seamlessly, and analyze and optimize their online shops.
In addition to all this, the platform also provides support and education. Sellers can reach out to Etsy support specialists whenever they need a hand, or to get tips on how to run a successful shop from the Seller Handbook.
Etsy for Buyers
For those looking to make a purchase, the site couldn’t be easier to use. To make a purchase, simply browse through the well-curated platform to find what you want.
- Clothing and Shoes
- Jewelry and Accessories
- Home and Living
- Toys and Entertainment
- Wedding and Party
- Art and Collectibles
- Craft Supplies and Tools
Once you find something you like, just click the “Buy” button and you’ll be taken to a secure order page where you can choose your payment method.
Buyers can sign up for Etsy’s newsletter and receive exclusive offers, novel gift ideas, personalized tips for shopping on Etsy, and much more.
If you have any questions, the Help Center has a dedicated team that is always ready to offer assistance and support.
Overall, Etsy is an amazing site that combines the convenience of an online marketplace with the excitement of an art fair, and you can find amazing stuff, including collectors’ items at a reasonable price.
How Much Does Etsy Charge Sellers?
Selling on Etsy isn’t free. Like all other eCommerce marketplaces, Etsy has to make money, and so they charge sellers a fee for every item listed and sold.
Below I’m going to break down the fee structure for Etsy to help you understand exactly what it costs to run a successful shop on the platform.
How Much Does it Cost to Open an Etsy Store?
As explained above, there is a $0.20 cost for listing an item for sale. However, that isn’t the only cost you face for starting an Etsy store.
Other startup costs to consider include the cost of crafting your product in the first place. For instance, if you’re paying for materials, labor, etc. to produce items for sale, you have to factor this into your total cost.
What is the Etsy Transaction Fee?
Sellers pay a 5% transaction fee each time an item is sold. This means that if you sell something for $100, Etsy will keep five dollars in addition to the listing fee that was already deducted.
How Much Do Etsy Ads Cost?
The minimum to get started promoting your products on Etsy is $1/day and it’s based on the cost-per-click model.
Whenever users search for stuff on Etsy, they are presented with a combination of paid and non-paid listings. Both listings appear the same, except that Promoted Listings images have a small “Ad” printed in the top left corner.
How do Etsy Offsite Ads Work?
To help sellers grow their businesses and enhance the overall member experience, Etsy advertises items from the platform across the web using Offsite Ads.
Sellers only pay whenever a sale is made from an ad. Etsy’s network of participating ad providers includes search engines and social media networks, such as:
Etsy pays the upfront costs of advertising with these providers. If your listing is included and the buyer clicks on it – and if they order from your shop within 30 days of clicking the ad – you will be charged an advertising fee for those orders.
You can find out more about how the advertising fee is calculated here.
As a seller, you are automatically enrolled in Offsite Ads, but you have the option of removing them – with one caveat.
Your ability to remove Offsite Ads depends on how much sales your shop has made in the past year. If you’ve made more than $10,000 on the platform in the last 365 days, you stand to benefit most from Offsite Ads.
You will be required to take part in the program for the lifetime of your Etsy shop, and you will also receive discounted advertising fees.
However, if you choose not to participate in Etsy’s ads program, you can opt-out by clicking “More Options” then “Turn off Ads”. You will know your campaign has been turned off when your Advertising page says “Get Started”.
What Are the Etsy Payment Processing Fees?
Merchants must pay payment processing fees in order to be able to accept payments online.
There are tons of different payment processors that you can choose from, such as Square and PayPal, but Etsy also has its own in-house payment processor, Etsy Payments, which is available in 36 countries, including the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.
Etsy Payments charges 3% plus $0.25 per transaction but it can be more depending on the location of the seller.
Also, there could be additional expenses such as taxes, and the cost of converting local currencies (if the items aren’t listed in US dollars).
When you enroll in Etsy Payments, you can accept payment through credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, Etsy Credit, Etsy gift card, Google Pay, Apple Pay, and more. You are charged a processing fee each time a buyer checks out using Etsy’s payment system.
What About Etsy Shipping Fees?
The buyer typically pays for shipping, and the costs depend on where the buyer is located.
Problems often arise when shipping fees aren’t calculated properly and sellers realize they must pay more for shipping than they originally intended.
If this happens a lot, it can greatly increase the total cost of doing business on the platform, particularly when the shipping charge includes insurance, which further drives up the cost.
One way to avoid this is to do some research to find out the exact price for shipping different items to different locations. If you decide to offer free shipping to your customers, then your sale price should include the cost of shipping so you can still make a healthy profit from your products.
How to Sell on Etsy (Step-by-Step)
In this section, we’re going to take a look at the step-by-step process for setting up a shop on Etsy.
1. Register with Etsy
Visit Etsy.com and click on “Register” at the top right-hand corner of the page. Type in your name and email address, and then choose a username and password.
Alternatively, you can sign up directly with Google, Apple, or Facebook.
After you set up your account, read all of the platform’s policies to ensure that offering products on Etsy is the right move for your business and that you stay within their guidelines.
2. Open Your Shop
Now it’s time to open your shop. Log into your Etsy account and scroll to the bottom of the page. Click on “Open Your Etsy Shop”.
You will be taken to this page:
Here, you will be asked to input the language and currency you want to use for your shop, as well as the reason for opening a shop. Simply click the answers the best apply to you, and carry on to the next step.
3. Choose Your Etsy Shop Preferences
Once you’re done with the setup, you must customize your settings for how you want your shop to function. In addition to entering the information regarding the shop language, shop country, shop currency, you will also need to fill in the following:
The Name of Your Shop: Before you can begin selling, you need to name your shop. Choose a name that is less than 20 characters long and doesn’t contain any spaces or characters that aren’t letters and numbers.
Keep in mind that choosing the right name for your shop can help your search engine optimization purposes, so it pays to have at least a basic understanding of keyword relevance and SEO before you decide on a name.
If you’ve already chosen one, Etsy allows you to change it just once.
Shop Title: This is a brief description of your Etsy store in the products you sell. Your title should inform customers what you do, sell, or provide. As with the shop name, keyword use is essential here.
Links: The platform allows you to link to your social media pages. You can link to your Twitter feed, Facebook page, and other social outlets so you can easily promote your store to your network.
Shop Announcement: In this section, you can include details about your shop listings or whatever else buyers might need to know when they visit your shop.
Message to Buyers: Here, you can add a message that your buyers will get automatically whenever they make a purchase. You can also add a message to digital buyers, and your customers will receive the message immediately following a purchase of any of your digital products.
4. Create Shop Policies
In the Shop Policies section, you can create policies that are specific to the sale of your items. These include:
Welcome Message: You can use this area to greet customers and include a few details about yourself to give customers a better idea of who you are and why your Etsy store exists. Don’t forget to include important keywords.
Shipping Policy: Here you should explain how you ship, the areas you ship to, and various other details your customers need to gain a better idea of how and when they can expect to receive the items they purchase from you.
Refund Policy: Your refund policy should detail what you will and won’t do for buyers who want refunds.
Seller Information: This part identifies your location and contact information, as well as anything else that your customers may want to know about your business.
5. About Your Shop
This tab allows you to access the Members, Story, and Manufacturers sections. You can also access the “About Your Shop” tab from the “Your Shop” menu.
Members: You can use this section to link to your user profile on Etsy, as well as the profiles of any of the Etsians who work in, or are connected to your shop.
Story: Here you can include information pertaining to why you started your Etsy store, what drew you to the platform, and what you love about the creations you make or sell on the site.
This is a great way to let your customers get to know you better, and you can link to your blog, Facebook, and various other channels through this section.
Manufacturers: If you use any outside manufacturers to create your products, you can list them here with explanations on what each of them does for you.
6. List Your Items
Once the shop is open it’s time to list your items. When adding a listing on Etsy, you will be asked to fill out the following areas:
Title: As with the store title, you need to ensure your listing title contains relevant keywords. Describe your items for sale in the same way customers would search for the products. For instance, instead of saying “cute top”, rather describe it as a “yellow halter neck top with sequins”.
About the Listing: Here, you have to choose between different options about what the item is, who made it, when it was made, and so on.
Category: On Etsy, you can categorize your products. Choose the category and, whenever possible the subcategory that best fits whatever product you’re listing.
Type: You have the option of selling digital or physical items. If you sell informational products, you must select the most appropriate option.
Quantity and Price: You must specify the details pertaining to the price and number of items for sale. When entering the inventory quantity and price, don’t forget to factor into your sale price all the costs that go into producing, listing, and promoting your products on Etsy.
Also, if you offer different sizes, colors, materials, and other product variants, make sure to include that information
Description: Always include keyword-optimized descriptions, but make sure you use terms that your customers can easily understand.
Photos: When listing items, you have to include at least one photo, ideally more so your customers can get a clear picture of what they are purchasing.
Never include low-quality photos on Etsy. All your images should look attractive, and try to use a white background for each of your items. Or if you choose to use a custom background, make sure to keep it consistent across all your images.
Adjust Thumbnails: Thumbnails are the images your buyers see when they search or come across your product. The importance of choosing the right thumbnails can’t be overstated because these play a pivotal role in compelling customers to click on your listing.
Thumbnails also dictate how your shop looks and feels, so choose consistent styles to enhance your brand.
Set Shipping Fee: Next, enter the shipping details for your products. This includes:
- Shipping costs
- Processing time
- Origin zip code
- Weight and size
- Where you will ship
- Free shipping
If necessary, you can always update the information in the shipping options area at a later date.
7. Preview Your Listing
Click on “Preview Listing” to check how your shop looks from the customer’s perspective before you publish it for the first time.
If there are any changes to make, it’s best to make them now before your shop goes live. If you’re happy with how everything looks, click “Finish”.
8. Select Payment Method
There are multiple payment methods available on Etsy. You can offer whichever works best for you, whether it’s PayPal, Etsy Payments, or any other electronic payments your customers use.
Most sellers on the platform opt for Etsy Payments as it’s convenient and easy to use.
With this payment option, you can get your money through credit cards, debit cards, store credit, Etsy gift cards, and more.
9. Add Billing Information
Depending on your country of origin, you will be required to enter billing information such as credit card information for authorization and identification, and a card where the platform can charge your fees and commissions.
Once you’ve done this, you’re all set up, and you can start optimizing and promoting the items you have for sale.
10. Optimize Your Shop
Listing an item on Etsy isn’t the same as selling it. You need to have a good marketing strategy to attract customers to your products and convince them to make a purchase.
This includes SEO, advertising, branding, and various optimization methods to get your product in front of potential customers.
Here are some ways you can go about optimizing your Etsy shop:
Complete Your Profile: Your profile on Etsy is a great way to improve your credibility as a seller. Include a photo and a short bio about yourself. This helps to create a stronger personal connection with your audience and builds trust, making it more likely that they will purchase your products.
Add a Store Bio: The store bio section allows you to share more about your eCommerce shop. You are given 5,000 characters to write an interesting story – use them wisely.
Remember, humans are driven by emotion, and there’s no better way to appeal to the emotions than with a good story. This section is the perfect opportunity to use storytelling to your advantage to help forge stronger connections with your potential customers.
Use Marketing and Automation Tools: There are tons of tools you can use to help you sell more and Etsy, including the Etsy Seller App, which allows you to manage all your listings on your phone.
The app also lets you receive notifications as soon as something happens at your shop, such as when you receive your feedback, send an item, or if the customer has a question.
Other tools you can use include Etsy’s suite of tools designed to help you manage, promote, and grow your business. You can learn more about them here. The platform has tools designed for each stage of your business’s growth, and you can access advanced tools with a monthly subscription package.
What Are Some Things to Sell on Etsy?
Obviously, whatever you sell on Etsy must be within the platform’s guidelines, but you can also conduct a bit of research to help you discover what sells best on the site.
Below, we’ll take a look at 10 popular items you can sell on the platform.
With the right strategy, you can become a successful seller on Etsy and start making consistent income similar to these sellers:
- Cassie’s Mall Wood made $1143 in her 3rd month selling on Etsy.
- Fuzzy and Birch made $4,000 in one month.
- Handmade Journey made $50,000 in their first year.
- Simple Shapes makes a consistent income of six figures.
Whether you are talented in arts and crafts or you’re a creative noob who wants to take their hobby a step further, Etsy is the perfect place to make money from your efforts.
From stickers and notebooks to personalized items, fashion accessories, vintage products, and more – you have the opportunity to create a reliable source of income selling any types of products in your shop.
Below, I have listed a few of the best things to sell on Etsy with some examples of shops that are selling the items successfully.
1. Handmade Jewelry:
This is undoubtedly one of the most lucrative things you can sell on the platform. If you look at the sites making the most on the platform, you will find that many sell jewelry.
You can sell handmade necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and other accessories. People value jewelry with personal significance, and if you can create high-quality, customized jewelry, you will never be short of customers on the platform.
Example of successful handmade jewelry seller on Etsy: CaitlynMinimalist
2. Party Decorations
In the second spot on our list of the best things to sell on Etsy are party decorations. People are always willing to spend money on special events – especially weddings, which happen to be among Etsy’s most popular searches.
Party products you can sell include:
- Party invitations
- Cake toppers
- Unique party necessities
- Various accessories
Example of successful party decorations seller on Etsy: ModParty
3. Beads and Jewelry Supplies
If you don’t have the creativity or time to craft your own jewelry for sale, you can simply sell the supplies so your customers can make their own personal jewelry.
With everyone stuck indoors these days, people are spending their time trying to learn new skills and tap into their inner creativity.
That’s why jewelry supplies and beads are among the best things to sell right now to make money on Etsy.
Example of successful beads and jewelry supplies seller on Etsy: BeadBoat
4. Vinyl Mugs and Socks
Vinyl mugs and socks are still very popular on Etsy thanks to their practicality. People will always buy them, whether for personal use or as gifts for family and friends, and shops that sell these items are almost always present on the list of best-selling shops on Etsy.
5. Digital Artworks and Printables
Some people prefer to sell digital products to avoid having to deal with shipping.
If you sell artwork or other items that can be printed, such as stickers, planners, stationery, customized notebooks, and so on, you will be able to avoid wasting time with shipping and the costs associated with it – and create a fuss-free way to make money on the platform.
This is one category that will always be popular on any online marketplace. Kids love all kinds of toys, including handmade wooden toys, slime, and Play-Doh, to name just a few toy categories that do particularly well on this platform.
7. Kids Clothing
Kids clothing is yet another item that sells very well on Etsy. Whether knitted or sewn, kid’s clothes are always popular on the site.
People mostly search for trendy designs for kids and soft, comfortable textures for babies. If you can provide this, then you stand to make a lot of money on the platform.
8. Pet Supplies
Anyone who is a pet owner will tell you why pet supplies are great items to sell online. Pet owners love their pets and will often spend tons of money to keep their furry friends happy.
They will buy all sorts of ridiculous and cute things for their beloved companions, including novel pet leashes, collars, name tags, toys, and various other pet supplies.
On Etsy, you can make money from all sorts of accessories ranging from hair accessories and scarves to coin purses, wallets, and leather goods.
You’ll also find tons of successful shops that sell headbands and other accessories for babies and toddlers.
10. Vintage Items
Etsy is the perfect place to find magical, meaningful items that can’t be found anywhere else, and vintage items sell very well on the platform. This includes clothing, toys, shoes, accessories, buttons, jewelry, and more. Small items like jewelry and buttons sell particularly well on the site.
What Are The Best Selling Items on Etsy?
You can also use a tool like Etsy Rank to see the most successful stores on the platform, the number of sales they make, and more.
A quick browse will show you that handmade jewelry, party accessories, and planners are doing quite well.
Seeds are performing great on Etsy, which is probably because everyone suddenly has more time to tend to plants and vegetables due to lockdown restrictions.
Here’s a list of the current best-selling items on Etsy:
Organic Cosmetics: Organic makeup and cosmetics aren’t easily accessible, and most users prefer homemade products, which is why this category is quite lucrative on Etsy.
Personalized Pocket Knives: On Etsy, customized items are always in trend as they make such great gifts. One of the best-selling products right now is personalized pocket knives
Soy Candles: These sell really well because they’re non-toxic, last longer, and cost the same as traditional candles.
Theme-based Items: The Game of Thrones cutting board pictured below is a great example of how people are cashing in on themes. The season may be gone, but the hype remains and people continue to make money from it every day.
Top Tips to Sell More on Etsy
Even though your shop is set up and optimized, there are still more things you can do to boost your visibility and drive sales to your shop.
1. Master Etsy’s Algorithm
Etsy gives you access to tons of customers, but it’s up to you to help them match the right customers to your products. The absolute best way to get your product in front of the eyes of your target audience is to use accurate keywords and phrases in all your content.
2. Promote on Social Media
Social media is a powerful tool for driving traffic to your Etsy shop. In particular, Instagram and Pinterest are great ways to advertise your products to your network for free, as in the example below.
3. Use a Professional Photographer
Humans are visual creatures, and the better your product photography, the more likely it is you’ll convince them to make a purchase. That’s why it’s a good idea to hire a professional photographer to create high-quality photos to drive more sales for your products.
4. Optimize Product Pricing
Etsy is a very competitive platform, and getting the product pricing right will have a direct impact on the number of sales you make. You need to find the right balance between pricing your product too low, which can lead to a price war with competitors, or pricing it too high, which can result in zero sales.
The most successful sellers on the platform find ways to reduce production and shipping costs so their profit margin is higher. And remember, you can always update the price of your product to reflect your competitors’ prices, the cost of raw material, labor, and other economic factors.
5. Keep Meticulous Financial Records
You must keep track of all your financial records so you have a better understanding of where your Etsy business is headed, and whether you’re making a profit or loss.
Proper bookkeeping will also help you set targets and make better-informed decisions for maintaining and growing your new business.
6. Know Your Numbers
There are tons of analytical tools like this one that you can use to help you keep track of your Etsy business.
By studying your data, you’ll know which products perform better than others, which marketing strategies generate the most revenue, and so on. You can then drop non-performing products, increase the quantities of great-performing ones, tweak your product promotion strategies, etc. to optimize the overall performance of your business.
Selling on an Etsy Shop Q&A
How Can You Run a Sale on Etsy?
To set up a sale on Etsy, click “Your Account” and then click “Shop Manager”. Next, go to “Marketing”, and click “Sales and Coupons”. Locate the “New Special Offer” and click that tab.
You can then specify the type of discount you’d like to offer. You have a choice between running a sale, sending offers to interested buyers, or creating coupons.
Do you need a business license to sell on Etsy?
If you aren’t operating your store as a legitimate business and are not making profits, then you don’t have to worry about obtaining a business license. In simpler terms, if you’re a hobbyist, crafter, or casual Etsy user, then you don’t need a business license.
Is Etsy Safe?
Etsy is extremely safe. It’s a well-established and trustworthy company that works hard to secure payments on its platform to protect its users. The site has SSL-encrypted systems and security specialists, as well as fraud detection systems and various other security measures in place to protect buyers and sellers.
Can You Sell Food on Etsy?
While you can sell food and other edible items on Etsy, there are some government regulations pertaining to who can make and package food. Check out the Seller Handbook to get more specific information on how to make, sell, and ship food items on Etsy.
Can You Sell Digital Downloads on Etsy?
You can list digital downloads like audios, images, or text files on Etsy in the same way you create a listing for physical products, except that you have to upload the file so your customers receive it as soon as they make a purchase.
How Can You Offer Free Shipping on Etsy?
To offer free shipping on the platform, click Your Account > Shop Manager > Settings > Shipping Settings > Free Shipping Guarantee > Get Started > Next > Set Free Shipping. This will set your shipping prices to $0.00 and offer free shipping to buyers anywhere in the world.