Let’s assume that you’ve already decided selling on Etsy makes good economic sense. You’ve taken your business as far as you can through selling at craft fairs and other venues typically available to crafters and artisans. You appreciate the power of online selling, but you’re not interested in taking on the hassle of dealing with payment processors and ecommerce sites. Selling on Etsy is the next logical step for you, but perhaps you’re not sure you’re up to the challenge.
At this point, a little self-assessment is in order to determine whether you have what it takes to succeed as an Etsy seller.
The Right Products
First, do you have products you can sell for $50 or less? This is the price range that attracts the most Etsy buyers. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sell items that cost more than $50, but Etsy sellers typically find the greatest success in the under-$50 range. The items Etsy features in its Editor’s Picks section and the Gift Picks row on the Etsy Home page are most often priced lower than $50. You’ll do best if you can offer the majority of your items in the price range that buyers seem to favor. You’ll also have a better chance of success if you know what products sell best on Etsy.
The Right Skills
Second, do you have the right skill set? It takes certain skills and knowledge to sell on Etsy effectively. You’ll need to be somewhat computer-savvy and have a basic understanding of search engine optimisation. You’ll also need to be able to shoot, upload, and edit photos of your products and communicate with buyers via email.
The Right Attitude
Third, you need to be willing and able to put in the time and effort necessary to make the most of your Etsy store. Operating an Etsy store well, even as a part-time business, takes a real commitment in terms of your personal resources. And if you plan to make selling on Etsy a full-time endeavor, that commitment can be substantial. It can be a challenge finding enough hours in the day to add and manage your listings, communicate with buyers, handle order fulfillment and shipping, and still have time to create or source new inventory.
Five Keys to Successful Selling on Etsy
Once you’ve made the decision to open an Etsy shop, the road to success is relatively straightforward, and Etsy provides plenty of tools and guidance to help you on your journey. There’s no magic formula for how to sell on Etsy, but there are five major things you need to do well to become a successful Etsy seller:
- Establish your brand
- Showcase your products in words and pictures
- Create high-ranking keyword tags
- Earn great reviews
- Use social media to promote your Etsy shop
These are not things you can do once and then pat yourself on the back and consider them done. They are ongoing activities you will be engaged in as long as you sell on Etsy.
1. Establish Your Brand
Branding is everything in sales. Your brand is what sets you apart from other sellers offering similar products. It’s the sum total of your Etsy identity—who you are, what you have to offer, and what makes you unique. You create your brand through the words and images you use to convey that to buyers: your logo, the names you give your shop and your products, the promotional phrases and slogans you use, the overall look of your shop, and much more.
Etsy gives you several vehicles for establishing and promoting your brand. The About section of your shop is a great place to tell your story and create a personal connection with buyers. People who shop on Etsy are looking for a different kind of experience than they can find elsewhere online. They like to know something about your creative process beyond the mechanics. Tell them what inspires you, and let them see your creative passion. Your shop’s About section is the place to include some non-product photos—pictures of the artist at work, perhaps, or candid photos that show you as a person buyers can connect with. And every element of your Etsy shop should be consistent with the brand image you’re trying to create.
2. Showcase your Products in Words and Pictures
Use the highest quality photos you can obtain to illustrate your products in a manner that matches your brand and style. If you can’t take them yourself, then find or hire someone who can. Etsy’s Handbook provides numerous articles on capturing the best product images.
You can upload a maximum of five photos per listing, and at least some of them should feature models if appropriate. Buyers like to see what an item will look like when used as intended, so a necklace draped around a model’s neck will be more compelling than that same necklace displayed on a plain background or on a jewelry stand. The images you upload for each item should:
- Attract the attention of buyers
- Show the item clearly in terms of color, size, materials, and other features
- Illustrate the product’s intended use(s)
- Reinforce your branding (showing distinctive packaging and labels)
Knowing how to write outstanding item descriptions is also key to successful selling on Etsy. Try to make your products come alive with engaging and interesting descriptions that:
- Include key features (dimensions, materials, fabrication, and so on)
- Demonstrate product versatility/multiple uses
- Link to other items in your shop/cross-market
You’re not writing a novel, so short paragraphs and bullet points are best. And present the most important information first.
3. Create High-Ranking Keyword Tags
It’s crucial for people who sell on Etsy to know how to create effective tags for their items to help ensure that they get found in searches by shoppers. Make it a point to use all 13 tags Etsy permits for each item. The keywords you include in your tags will determine an item’s visibility to search engines like Google and Bing as well as Etsy’s own search system.
This is where your understanding of search engine optimisation comes into play. Think like a shopper, and ask yourself what you would enter into a search box if you were looking for this particular item. It’s a good idea to use the same keywords in both item titles and tags and to make reference to different uses of the item. You can also switch up your tags from time to time so as to include keywords related to specific holidays or seasonal trends. AdWords Keyword Planner is a great tool for people selling on Etsy.
4. Earn Great Reviews
There’s one simple, inescapable truth about selling on Etsy: positive reviews drive sales. There are a number of things you can do to encourage buyers to give you 5-star reviews. Setting clear policies regarding such things as shipping, returns, and exchanges helps shape customer expectations and prevent misunderstandings.
Shipping within 24 hours creates a perception of professionalism and responsiveness. If an item is created or customized only after an order is placed, make sure buyers understand that, and let them know when they can expect delivery. Etsy’s Shipping Guide provides valuable tips to increase the likelihood of positive feedback from buyers.
Always communicating with buyers promptly, personally, and politely helps earn you positive reviews. It’s a good idea to follow up on every transaction to ensure that the buyer is completely satisfied. This gives you an opportunity to tactfully and politely request a review of your shop.
Anything and everything you can do to enhance the buyer’s experience will have a positive impact on the reviews you receive.
5. Use Social Media to Promote your Etsy Shop
Once you’re actively selling on Etsy, there are plenty of ways you can leverage the power of social media to increase sales. Promoting your business through social media marketing is easier and more effective than you might think. For example, you can create Pinterest posts with links to your Etsy shop pages. Or you can take advantage of Instagram’s Buyable Post function. Most often, people who sell on Etsy set up Facebook business pages that drive traffic to their Etsy shop.
Growing Your Etsy Business
Many Etsy sellers eventually create their own ecommerce store, linking it to their Etsy shop and becoming multi-channel sellers. In fact, more than half of Etsy sellers sell through other channels as well. There are numerous ecommerce platforms, like Shopify that can help you establish and operate an online store on your own domain.
In 2016, Etsy launched Pattern by Etsy, a service enabling Etsy sellers to quickly and easily register a domain and set up their own custom website powered by their Etsy shop. An Etsy seller’s Pattern website is fully integrated with their Etsy shop, offering many of the advantages of multi-channel selling without some of the integration hassles.
As your Etsy business grows, and particularly if you expand into multi-channel selling, you’ll probably need to obtain financing to support your increased production and sales. It’s not always easy for people who sell online to meet bank requirements for a traditional loan or to afford bank loan interest rates, but peer to peer (P2P) lending can be a great solution.
The Next Step » How to sell on Etsy
Now that you know something about how to sell on Etsy, the next logical step is to create a plan for turning your creative passion into a profitable business.