How to Sell on Etsy: The Complete 7-Step Guide

Want to create an Etsy shop that attracts some serious attention? Mint Chip walks you through seven steps you need to follow to create a shop that really sells.
How to Sell on Etsy

If you’re into craft supplies and handmade items, there’s a good chance you’ll have crossed paths with Etsy by now – the artsy online marketplace that attracts upwards of 45 million eager shoppers each year. Right now, there are tens of millions of active Etsy sellers worldwide, with more and more Americans signing up for a slice of the action every single day. But what actually is Etsy? And how can you get started with creating a successful Etsy store?

Put simply, Etsy is like a more creative, hipster alternative to eBay. Sellers can set up online stores and create product listings just as they would with any other marketplace. However, most Etsy shops aim to target creative-minded customers by selling unique products, vintage clothing and cool arts and crafts. 

If you’re a business or shop owner who specializes in fun, quirky or creative products, Etsy can help you to better connect with your audience and reach more potential customers. Even if you’re already well-established on Amazon, eBay and other platforms, branching out onto Etsy could seriously broaden your customer base and help you get ahead of the competition. Let’s take a look at seven simple steps you can follow to get started.

 

All You Need to Know About Etsy 

As mentioned, Etsy is an eCommerce marketplace with an artistic side, but what else makes it different? First up, shoppers understand and recognize that Etsy is all about handmade items, one-off goods and unique products – exactly the kind of things that are difficult to find when shopping at an ordinary online store. 

People browse Etsy shops looking specifically for these items, which means that if your business is active in any of these niches, the Etsy marketplace is a great place to find new potential customers – especially if you’d like to start selling to the kind of people that’ll keep coming back to your Etsy store for more. 

Etsy offers every creative shop owner a chance to showcase their goods and sell unique items without having to go through the stresses of setting up a Shopify or similar complex eCommerce website. It’s also a great place – alongside Instagram – to build your brand in the arts and crafts sector and establish a reputation for yourself among the right kind of people.

 

Things You Need to Consider Before Setting Up on Etsy 

Before you dive right in, create your Etsy account and start competing with established Etsy sellers, there are a few things you’ll need to carefully consider. As with any business decision, it’s important to have the right information to hand and plan effectively before you get started. 

You came here to master how to sell on Etsy successfully, right? So, let’s take a look at everything you need to know in terms of listing fee charges, payment processing fees, terms and conditions and more. 

First, we’ll review the key questions you should ask yourself before you set yourself up on Etsy, then we’ll look at seven easy steps you can take to actually get started for yourself.

 

Is Etsy the Right Platform for My Business? 

Evidently, Etsy is a great place for any cool or quirky business – as well as hobbyists who want to make an extra buck or two selling handmade items from home. That said, Etsy is no ordinary online marketplace and sellers whose products are mass-produced, or not particularly creative or unique, are unlikely to find many customers here.

You should think of Etsy as the Instagram of the eCommerce world. This is a very visual medium where cool ideas and attractive product photography promoting unusual items are what really draw in shoppers. 

The focus is on uniqueness and personality, so while vintage items and bespoke gift cards are likely to attract attention, any widely available or depersonalized products probably won’t. If your business isn’t a good fit, you should consider selling items on eBay or Amazon or setting up a Shopify eCommerce site instead.

 

How Much do I Need to Set Up an Etsy Store? 

Keen to sell on Etsy but worried it’ll be expensive? Don’t be! According to the latest information in Etsy’s seller handbook, you can set up an Etsy account for free. From here, you can list your first product for just $0.20 – and will be charged this same listing fee per ad for all subsequent listings. Sort of.

With Etsy, “listings” and “products” do not necessarily have to be one and the same, which means that sellers are able to create just one listing containing multiple products if they wish to do so. 

This is great if you are selling several variations, color schemes or types of the same thing. All listings are active for four months but can be renewed at that same $0.20 listing fee either automatically or manually. If you opt for the auto method, however, it’s important to keep an eye on your items to see which products are making a profit and which listings are taking a loss. This kind of analysis will help you to fine-tune your Etsy store in the longer-term.

 

How Much Should I Pay to Promote on Etsy? 

So far, things probably sound relatively straightforward – but here’s where it gets a little more complicated. When shoppers do a search using Etsy’s search engine, Etsy listings are categorized into paid and non-paid variants, with paid or “Ad” products displayed first. 

If you want your items to appear at the top of search results, you’ll need to invest in Ads to promote your products. 

Ads or “promoted listings” follow a pay per click model, and you’ll need to pay a minimum of $1 a day to get started at first. That said, using Ads as a newcomer is a great way to get your products recognized and test out their market viability and popularity among potential customers. You’ll also gain access to a dashboard that will help you to better monitor how your Etsy store is performing – which is crucial. Sellers can set a maximum cost per click, which we’d recommend setting at either $0.50 per click or less on your first few products.

 

What About Payment Processing Fees and Other Charges? 

We’ve already briefly mentioned the listing fee, as well as pay-per-click promotion costs, but sellers and business owners need to be aware of the full spectrum of Etsy charges. Let’s take a look at the key costs and fees you’ll need to factor into your Etsy business plan:

  • Etsy Listing Fees and Advertising Fees

As we mentioned earlier, expect to pay a $0.20 listing fee for each listing – which will last four months. That said, you might need to pay significantly more if promoting heavily.

  • Etsy Promotion or “Ad” Fees 

How much or how little you wish to promote your products is entirely up to you. Get started from $1 per day and try not to exceed $0.50 per click on your first few listings.

  • Etsy Transaction Fee Costs and Other Payment Charges

When shoppers or customers use the Etsy check out to purchase your items, Etsy charges a transaction fee or “payment processing fee” of 3% plus $0.25 per transaction. Keep this in mind.

  • Etsy Shipping Costs

Your customers are responsible for paying shipping costs unless you choose to offer free shipping. Either way, it’s important to do thorough research to ensure you don’t end up paying more to ship your items than you’ve costed for, as it’ll always be on you to pick up the shortfall.

 

How to Sell on Etsy: Mint Chip’s 7-Step Guide

Now we’ve covered the basics, let’s jump right in and explore how you or your business can start selling on Etsy and establish a successful Etsy store in seven quick and easy steps. Etsy is a great place for selling items that really stand out from everyday products, but whether you’re a large company, a small business or just someone who enjoys handicrafts, it’s important to avoid making common mistakes if you want to sell well and grow your brand.

1. Sign Up and Get Started! 

If you want to sell on Etsy, you’ll need to create an Etsy account, right? First things first, simply visit Etsy’s website, click “Sell on Etsy” and follow the appropriate steps to set up your Etsy shop. Make sure to visit www.etsy.com directly, rather than clicking on any suspicious links you might have received in dubious spam emails.

2. Set Up Your Shop’s Preferences

Once you’re in, you’ll need to start customizing the site’s settings to properly reflect what your intentions are for your Etsy store. We’re talking things like preferred currency, language and location – so that buyers who shop on Etsy in your area will be able to find you and buy your things.

 

3. Create a Shop Name and Image

Whether you’re setting up a small store specializing in vintage items and clothing, or you aspire to be America’s hottest craft supplies brand, getting your store name right can be a make or break for your Etsy business. Pick something that’s short, snappy and easy to remember – but that also properly reflects your brand and the kind of products you want to sell.

Useful online tools for design and branding, like Canva and PicMonkey, can help you create logos and professional images for your Etsy profile picture on the cheap. When you come to thinking up a name, however, you’ll need to make sure you decide on something that fits Etsy’s character limit of between four and 20 characters.

 

4. Start Publishing Product Listings 

Now for the slightly more difficult bit. Once your Etsy shop is set up and you have a name, look and feel for your store, it’s time to start actually advertising your products. Follow these steps for each listing:

  • Add Some Eye-Catching Product Photography 

As we mentioned earlier, Etsy is a very visual platform. This means that getting your product photos right is vital if you want your product to attract attention. Etsy recommends sellers should add at least five photos taken from multiple product angles to each listing, but we’d recommend uploading even more. Put yourself in shoppers’ shoes and think about what you’d like to see in a listing. Using a high-quality camera and shooting your photos against a clean, uncluttered background are a must.

  • Adjust and Arrange Your Thumbnails 

When potential customers search for or stumble across your items, your product photos in thumbnail form are the first thing they’ll see. If you want to attract clicks, they need to stand out – but they also need to be consistent across your listings to create an air of professionalism around your brand. Arrange your thumbnails carefully and always use the most eye-catching image as your main photo on each listing.

  • Provide All the Right Information

You should make sure all your Etsy listings include any essential information that would-be buyers might need to know about each product you are advertising. Every listing should have a title, a product description or summary, and include important information like sizes or specifications. One of the top mistakes newbies make on Etsy is failing to add tags to their listing. Sellers can add up to 13 tags per listing – and shoppers tend to search for items using these tags, so it’s important to use them to your advantage by selecting those that are most relevant to your items.

  • Set Your Item Price, Quantity and More

Selecting the right price for your product is super-important. You need to make sure that your sale prices properly cover your costs – but that they’re still attractive and competitive when compared to similar items offered by other Etsy sellers. You’ll also need to specify quantity, stock, color, size and material so that buyers know exactly what is available.

  • Decide on Suitable Shipping Fees and Processing Times

From here, you’ll need to set appropriate shipping fees and processing times for your products. If you’re dealing in handicrafts that are time-consuming to produce, be sure to factor this in. Also, remember to include weight and size information for each product – as well as the country of origin. All of this information is very important to shoppers.

  • Check Your Previews Before Posting

Just as you’d edit and check an Instagram post before sharing it with the world, it’s important to properly preview your listing to make sure you’re 100% happy with it before posting. Again, put yourself in the shoes of your potential buyers here – and don’t be afraid to ask a friend or colleague to double-check your listing is in good shape if you’re feeling unsure about anything. It’s always wise to seek a second pair of eyes.

 

5. Choose Your Preferred Payment Method 

Business online shopping and sale concept

Now it’s time to start thinking about payment methods. As a new shop owner, you can set up literally tons of payment options for your customers to choose from – most of which are available through Etsy Payments. This service enables sellers to receive funds via all major credit card or debit cards, store credit and even Etsy gift cards. PayPal is a popular option among sellers too, but you’ll need to think about their separate processing fees and charges and factor these into your overall business plan.

 

6. Add on Your Billing information 

Depending on where you are physically located, you might need to add your credit card for authorization when setting up your Etsy store. Once you’ve linked a credit or debit card to your Etsy account, Etsy charges this with fees and commissions (like the advertising fees and payment processing fees we mentioned earlier) automatically, as and when is appropriate.

 

7. Don’t forget to Optimize! 

If you want to make plenty of sales and attract repeat purchases from loyal customers, you’ll need to optimize your store so that it really resonates with people who shop Etsy. This can be achieved by personalizing your Etsy shops in the following ways:

  • Add FAQs and Bios

The best Etsy shops are those that provide ample information to would-be customers. Try to show people that you really care about creating great products by writing a passionate biography about your company and the story behind your brand. Etsy gives sellers 5,000 characters to do this, so take full advantage. You should add on some FAQs and shop policies, too, to help iron out any teething problems with new customers and ensure people fully understand where they stand on returns and other issues. 

  • Add a Personal Profile to Boost Credibility

People tend to connect more with real people than faceless brands. Add a short “about me” bio or personal profile to your store, so that potential customers can see who you are and feel more of a personal link to you and the items you sell.

  • Go Social

You should shout about your store as much as you can on social media – especially if you’re a small business or a solo craftsperson who’s trying to make a name for yourself. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all good places to promote your Etsy shop externally. There’s always a good chance curious friends and family members will make a purchase – and word of mouth on social media can go a seriously long way these days!

  • Try out Etsy’s Marketing Tools

In recent years, Etsy has made promoting products easier than ever before by launching a handy set of tools – which include analytics for those who opt for paid Ad promotions internally, and easy-as-pie links that enable sellers to share their listings on social media with the click of a button. 

 

How Can I Stand Out from the Etsy Crowd? 

This Mint Chip guide contains pretty much everything you need to help you get set up on Etsy. That said, branching out onto a new online marketplace isn’t always easy – especially when we’re talking about a niche arts and crafts site with 2.5 million sellers and counting. Here are some tips to help you beat the competition:

1. Conduct Thorough Research 

When it comes to mastering how to sell on Etsy, the trick is basically to closely monitor your competition, emulate the best of what they’re doing, but tweak and improve it to better match your brand and target market. Ask yourself what it is that the best shops are doing right – are their descriptions spot-on? Do they have better photos than yours? Or clearer T&Cs? Being successful in eCommerce is all about constant adaptation, emulation and improvement.

2. Don’t Stray from the Guidelines 

Etsy has pretty clear-cut rules regarding what you should and should not sell on their platform – and one of the most common mistakes new sellers make is misinterpreting these. Treat the site’s handbook as your Bible, make sure everything you list is unique, handmade or exclusive in some way and, in short, give Etsy shoppers exactly what they’re looking for!

3. Share your Story 

This goes back to what we said in the last section about personalizing your store and exposing shoppers to your brand’s story – as well as your personal story for extra points! Draw shoppers in by being honest, open and passionate about what you do in your bio and listings. Add a personal profile, too, and ensure your content is readable, relatable and authentic.

4. Add your Social Media Accounts 

popular social media icons

While promoting your store externally via Instagram and other apps will help drive traffic to your store, advertising your social media accounts on your Etsy shop enables you to attract more followers and generate a buzz around your business outside of the site. It’s also a great way to add additional photos of your designs or encourage Etsy users to check out goods you might be selling on other platforms – such as those that might not meet Etsy’s guidelines, for example.

 

Selling on Etsy and Being Successful: Our Final Conclusion 

If you want to start selling handmade items, craft supplies, vintage items or more via an Etsy online store and be successful, you need to take a strategic approach to setting up your Etsy shop. This means fully calculating the costs you’ll face on Etsy, from processing fees to advertising fees, the level of promotion you’d like to pursue, and more. Before you set up your Etsy store, you’ll also need to ensure that Etsy is 100% the right platform for you, and that you’ll definitely find your place on the site.

Selling on Etsy certainly isn’t for everyone, but businesses operating in the right niche can no doubt embark on a very fulfilling eCommerce journey with this platform, while hobbyists who enjoy creating artistic products at home can easily set up a steady side hustle. 

To get started, you’ll need to follow the seven simple steps we outlined above, establish a strong shop name and image, create stand-out listings that really pop, and personalize your shop and its backstory as much as you possibly can. Get all this right, and you can expect a happy and hopefully very lucrative life selling on Etsy via your successful online store.

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