This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
Artists, hobbyists, and even suppliers can have a thriving business on Etsy, the fourth-largest US ecommerce site by monthly visits, with careful planning. Setting up an Etsy store is quick and straightforward. The more challenging aspect is standing out from Etsy’s marketplace, with millions of active sellers on the platform. This article shares 26 tips for selling on Etsy, the value behind each, and how to get started.
Whether you’re already selling or planning to sell on Etsy, reliable, user-friendly, and cost-effective payment processing is critical. Etsy has a partnership with Square to offer sellers low-cost payment processing and access to multichannel sales. Visit Square to create a free account.
Tips for Getting Started
Etsy doesn’t require you to have a business license to sell on the site, but you are still required to follow any laws, especially in the state your business operates in as an online small business.
Here’s what you can do to get started.
1. Know What You Can & Can’t Sell
It’s easy for any business-minded person to open a store on Etsy, but before you begin uploading products it would be a good idea to know what you can and can’t sell. This will help protect you, your buyer, and the platform from legal issues, particularly regarding intellectual property. It also enables you to understand the best way to categorize your products to make them more visible to potential buyers.
You can grab a copy of Etsy’s seller policy easily from the website. It covers the rights and obligations of Etsy sellers, including guidelines on what may be sold in each category.
Here is a quick overview:
|Products you have created and have the rights to sell||Items created from endangered or threatened animal species|
|Vintage items more than 20 years old||Weapons and explosives|
|Digital materials written or designed by you||Items that promote, support, or glorify hatred and violence|
|Products you created with a production partner||Copyright material and handmade items that you didn’t make|
|Craft supplies||Alcohol, drugs, and tobacco products|
Did You Know?
According to Etsy’s 2021 Seller Census, 81% of sellers are solo entrepreneurs, and 96% operate from their homes. Most Etsy sellers (71%) consider their shops a business.
2. Understand the Difference Between Copying & Inspiration
Contrary to popular belief, there are no rules that specify what percentage of the original artwork must be changed to qualify for protection under the Fair Use Doctrine. There’s often a fine line between what’s copied and what’s inspired, and Etsy removes material subject to a complaint when given notice. This is why you must understand the difference before opening your Etsy store.
Though there is a fine line, Etsy offers the following guidelines:
- Never use the name of an artist who inspired your work as the artist may claim that your sales are a result of their brand.
- Avoid tagging your items with a specific luxury brand to describe your product’s quality.
- Using the brand name in the title, tags, and description of vintage products is allowed, but avoid guessing if you’re unsure.
- Always check for copyright when using someone else’s photos, even if the product on the image is generic.
- Avoid purchasing licensed images from stores with a poor reputation.
- If you plan on selling branded items, consider investing in license fees. This is less expensive than paying thousands of dollars in damages or legal fees or having your inventory impounded.
3. Choose the Right Shop Name for Your Store
Your shop name will be your brand. Remember, you only have seven seconds to make an excellent first impression, starting with your store name. A good name will help your store stand out from other shops and is memorable enough to type into the search bar.
Etsy allows you to use 20 characters for your shop name, which is required when setting up your store. While you’re free to change your Etsy store name down the road, you wouldn’t want customers to forget your brand because of multiple name changes.
Brainstorming and testing are the two main steps to developing the best store name. Start by making a list of options. Descriptive names like “Zen Handicrafts” is the most uncomplicated strategy. You can also try abstract ideas for a more creative and unique name. Try combining words or phrases like “Scentimental” to showcase a point of interest related to your product.
Use these questions to test your store name:
- What kind of feeling do you want your store name to convey?
- Did it evoke that same feeling when you mentioned your store name to friends and family?
- Is your store name easy to spell and read?
- Does the name look good on your business card?
- Does it have an alternative meaning in other languages?
- Have you tried to search for similar names on Google?
Pro Tip: During the store creation process, you’ll be asked to enter your store name and click on the “Check Availability” so Etsy can check if the name is free. Remember to have backup options just in case your first choice is already taken.
4. Add Multiple Payment Options
A recent study shows that 7% of online shoppers abandon shopping carts because there aren’t enough payment options. It’s important to consider that while online shopping is becoming the norm, some potential customers will still hesitate to share their credit card details online, no matter how secure your website. You can avoid this lost opportunity easily by maximizing available payment options for your store.
Etsy store owners should take advantage of Etsy Payments. This allows you to offer a wide variety of payment options without having to open multiple merchant services accounts.
You can use Etsy Payments to accept:
- Credit cards
- Debit/bank cards
- Etsy Gift Cards and Etsy Credits
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
You’ll want to make sure you also provide options for in-person customers. Square has partnered with Etsy to provide sellers with a quick and secure way to complete in-person payments from your phone or tablet and sync your shop inventory. Go to the Shop Manager page, choose Square from the Add Channel options, follow the prompts, and you’re good to go. You also get a Square card reader for free when you sign up.
5. Build Your Mailing List
Email marketing plays a significant role in online sales, with an average return on investment of $36 for every dollar spent. This is why every business owner must have a strategy for building their mailing list from the start.
You can take several steps to build your mailing list while complying with Etsy’s seller policy:
- Create an account with an email service provider like Constant Contact or Mailchimp that allows you to create a landing page for your opt-in form.
- Include the link to your landing page on your Etsy shop’s profile, about page, listing descriptions, and thank you messages for recent buyers.
- Include the link on your shop banner, email signatures, and business cards.
Are you interested to learn more? Read our email marketing tips for retailers.
6. Understand Seller Fees
There are fees involved with running any business, and Etsy is no exception. Sellers should always know how much they are spending to use the platform to ensure they are operating within their budget and protecting their bottom line. Sellers should also know when and how to pay account fees to keep their store in good standing and minimize their overall fees.
Effective April 11, 2022, Etsy increased its transaction fee to 6.5%, up from 5%. Ensure your profit margins can sustain Etsy’s transaction, listing, payment processing, and ad fees.
Etsy’s most common fees include a 20-cent listing fee, 6.5% transaction fee per sale, and 3% plus a 25-cent payment processing fee per transaction. On top of these are pattern fees, conversion fees, and a variety of ad fees, which can get away from even the most veteran Etsy seller.
Here are some tips to help lower your shop’s Etsy fees:
- Use the same currency for your product price and payment account to avoid conversion fees.
- If possible, find the most cost-effective shipping option for your products. Etsy charges a fixed percent on your sales, and that includes shipping.
- Remove slow-moving listings to avoid paying renewal listing fees for products that are not selling.
- Offer product variations instead of coming up with different products. For example, if you offer 100 different products, you need to create 100 product listings and incur $20 in listing fees. However, if you offer the same number of products (100 pieces) in 10 different styles, you only need to create 10 product listings and pay $2 in listing fees.
- Use product variations for bundles to save more on listing fees.
- Sync your Etsy shop to a free Square payments account to avoid Etsy’s Square Manual Transaction fee of 20 cents.
- Consider your target profit margin before opting-in Etsy ads.
Remember that altering an item’s price after the sale, misrepresenting your item’s shipping location, and completing an Etsy transaction outside of Etsy is considered fee avoidance and can result in account suspension.
Tips for Setting up Your Etsy Shop
Setting up an Etsy shop is fully outlined in our step-by-step guide. After opening an Etsy account, you need to set up your product listings, configure payment methods, and design your shop’s landing page.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when setting up your Etsy shop.
7. Write an Impressive ‘About’ Page
Etsy is more than just a marketplace―it’s also a platform for creatives like you to showcase your art. However, as a seller, you need to let buyers know the value of your creations to convince them to buy. This includes both your technical qualifications and achievements, as well as your inspiration. Your “About” page should focus on the person behind the designs.
Here are some guidelines for creating the ideal “About” page:
- Use a personal tone to connect with your reader easily.
- Talk about the inspiration behind your designs.
- Introduce any partners you work with to develop your products.
- Keep your paragraphs short.
- Include links to any publication that features you or your designs.
- Include links to your social media.
You have 5,000 characters to talk about your business, so go for a more personal approach when writing your story. Add inviting photos and videos to help shoppers visualize and connect with your store. Include a link to your blog, social media, or the landing page to opt-in to your email list.
8. Optimize Your Etsy Shop Profile
Your Etsy shop profile represents your overall business brand. This includes everything from your shop banner to your shop policies. A complete and well-thought-out shop profile with professional-looking photos and videos can quickly build trust with shoppers. So, before you open your Etsy store, you must put in as much effort to complete your shop profile as creating your product listings.
Aside from your store’s “About” page, other sections of your store’s profile also play a role in building your brand:
- Opt for a cover photo instead of a banner image; while it requires a bigger image (the ideal size is 3360 x 840 pixels), a cover photo is displayed on both desktop and mobile versions of your Etsy store.
- Shop banners don’t show up on mobile. They need to be exactly 760 x 100 pixels in size and no larger than 2MB.
- Use a shop icon consistent with your business brand and logo.
- Research and use keywords for your shop title.
- Use brief, compelling copy for your shop announcement section to let buyers know of your promotions and discounts.
- Use the Shop Members section to introduce your team briefly.
Aside from reviewing your content before posting, you will also need to evaluate if the overall feel of your shop profile evokes the same emotions you want for your brand.
9. Keep Your Shop Policy Simple
Your shop policy lays down the guidelines for transactions in your store. Customers who read this usually have already found something they want to buy and would like to find out if they are comfortable with your payment and delivery procedures. This section is even more significant for customers looking to purchase personalized designs because it tells them how involved they can get and how long it takes to complete the design process.
The key to a positive customer experience is keeping policies simple while being clear on the details. Suppose you’re new to selling on Etsy. In that case, you can start with the basic shop policy, where you fill out a template that will toggle settings for options on returns and exchanges, payments, shipping, and additional information.
Tips for Optimizing Product Listings
The work doesn’t stop after setting up an Etsy shop. You need to ensure your product listings appear on Etsy’s search results. Here are some tips to ensure your products get the attention they deserve.
10. Optimize Product Photos
The right product photos greatly impact overall sales. Customers are more drawn to listings that include lots of photos and clear images with proper labels. It gives them more confidence to buy products they can visualize. Photos are both shareable and SEO-friendly. The alt-text for each product photo provides more information for search indexers and improves your store’s organic search ranking.
There are several ways to optimize product photos:
- Add another object to give buyers a point of reference for your product’s size.
- Use high-quality photos for your product images that are well lit and at least 1,000 pixels wide.
- Check for copyright when using stock photos.
- Use all 10 photos showing varying angles of your product, with the best one as your thumbnail.
- Curate your photos into navigable sections with a cohesive look and descriptions.
- Edit your photos by cropping extra white space and use professional editing software instead of social media app filters.
- Make sure to capture the item’s condition when photographing vintage products.
- Take advantage of the new augmented reality (AR) feature for product listings under Paintings, Photography, and Prints. When a shopper is browsing one of these items on the Etsy app, they’ll see a new hexagonal icon on the top right corner of the listing photo from the listing page. Once the icon is tapped, a camera view appears, and the buyer is prompted to move their phone around for better imaging. Currently, this is only available in the Etsy app for iPhone.
11. Add Relevant Categories & Attributes
Categories help Etsy match your products with the right buyers. Identifying your product’s most specific subcategory gives your listings a better chance of being found in search results. Attributes refer to characteristics best associated with your product, such as color, use, and occasion. Like categories, assigning more specific details gives your product a better chance of being showcased to the right buyers.
The most basic strategy for identifying your product’s best category and attribute is to conduct test searches. Make a list of all possible types and features and enter the words in the search bar. Check the search results and confirm which of the keywords came up with products similar to yours. The left side of the page will give you all the relevant categories and subcategories, so feel free to explore refined results to find more matches for your product.
12. Maximize Your Tags
Tags are words or short phrases, up to 20 characters not separated by punctuations, which help describe your product. Etsy relies heavily on these tags to determine your product’s relevance to buyer searches. The search feature is designed to match keywords of listings with a shopper’s query and rank based on relevance. Given that Etsy is home to innovative, one-of-a-kind products, the use of tags, combined with categories and attributes, heavily influences search results.
Here are some Tagging do’s and don’ts to maximize your listings:
|Use all 13 tags||Repeat tags, categories, and attributes|
|Use phrases||Use plural or misspelled words|
|Use tags similar to your title keywords||Use tags in multiple languages|
|Target long-tail keywords||Use irrelevant keywords|
A good rule of thumb is to start by identifying keywords that are unique to your products. Put yourself in your target customer’s shoes, breaking the keywords into phrases in different combinations.
13. Write Effective Product Descriptions
The product description is integral to your listing. It details your product’s measurements, condition, color, age, and the different uses of the item. Besides the images, buyers rely on the information you include in this section to make their buying decisions, so you need to ensure that it’s descriptive and well-written.
Here are some ideas for writing product descriptions that sell:
- Use keywords similar to your tags and attributes
- Specify who the product is best for
- Mention unique materials or techniques that buyers should know
- Include the age or year for vintage product descriptions
- Mention the style and relevant solution-oriented phrases
- Specify dimensions both of the product and the size of the package when shipped
- Specify estimated production time and shipping
- Include information on how to purchase the product
- Name of your production partner, if any
It’s essential to keep the language of your product description short and simple. Use paragraph breaks when necessary to make it easy to understand. Repeat any promotions or discounts applied to the listing when available.
14. Adopt a Product Pricing Strategy
Product pricing is one of the most important decisions a seller must make for their business. Determining a competitive price while keeping your business profitable requires developing a strategy that can only be learned over time. This can be particularly challenging to Etsy sellers as creative products, by nature, are almost always unique in that the cost for materials and labor are never the same.
Etsy’s seller handbook offers a helpful pricing work sheet and valuable ideas for developing a pricing strategy:
- Make sure your price covers the cost of materials and labor.
- Make sure to account for overhead costs like shipping, marketing, ads, and promotions when computing for-profit goals.
- Do research on competitor pricing.
- Consider your target audience.
- Consider the cost of shipping, which is based on the dimensions of the package and not just the item.
While researching competitor prices is helpful, it’s also important to note that having the lowest price is not always the best. Most veteran Etsy sellers will tell you that customers are willing to pay more for better-quality products.
Tips for Growing Etsy Sales
With nearly 100 million active buyers on Etsy, chances are you will never be looking for customers. The challenge lies in ensuring that your Etsy shop enjoys a steady growth in sales. There are retail marketing strategies specific to growing an online store. We explore some of those below.
15. Get Involved With Video
Explore videos can be anywhere from two seconds to three minutes long and include sound. Etsy wants sellers to use videos to connect with shoppers and tell their shops’ stories.
You can easily shoot product videos at home by following our guide.
Here are some ideas for videos you can make:
- Product Demo and Showcase: Show off your product’s details. A product demo, which shows your product in action, can show how a buyer can use it.
- Seller Creative Process: Give shoppers a behind-the-scenes look at how you create or develop products.
- Fulfilling Orders: Let your buyers take a peek behind the scenes of you packing sold items and shipping them.
- How-to Tutorial: A project inspiration reel or instructions on how you make your crafts can help them learn how to do it themselves.
16. Offer Competitive Shipping
Shipping cost is among the top considerations for online buyers. Etsy sellers soon learn that most customers are attracted to free shipping, so much so that including this in your profile gives your store a significant SEO boost. However, sellers will always have to deal with shipping fees unless their products are digital. So, while this strategy is not for everyone, there are ways to stay competitive:
- Set a minimum order quantity for free shipping.
- Include the average shipping cost in your upfront listing price.
- Incorporate free shipping based on the minimum, maximum, or average shipping distance.
- Find ways to save on packaging costs without sacrificing the quality and safety of the products.
Etsy also offers a smart pricing tool to help you plan the best way to recover shipping costs.
Learn more: How to offer free shipping
17. Explore Multichannel Sales
Special events and holidays are an excellent opportunity to maximize sales by expanding into new channels. Etsy sellers, in particular, can quickly increase their revenue by tapping into new markets and capitalizing on buyers looking for unique gifts during special occasions. Finding wholesale and even international buyers during this time is also highly possible and can give your business a considerable boost.
Significant challenges of multichannel sales include maintaining inventory records and accepting payments. Square has partnered with Etsy so sellers can easily set up an in-person sales channel when attending local events like fairs and trade shows. Square automatically syncs your store’s inventory while accepting payments through the mobile POS app. Visit Square to create a free account that seamlessly integrates with your Etsy shop.
18. Engage Your Customers
Engaging your customers before and after sales is the quickest marketing strategy. From building your mailing list to creating a customer service process and engaging in social media, there are various free and paid methods to boost sales by creating a relationship with your followers. When you get down to it, creativity is the only limiting factor to this strategy, which Etsy sellers have in leaps and bounds.
The first step in a customer engagement strategy is to know your audience and where to find them. Once you’ve succeeded in connecting with your target customers, these tips will help you maintain a good relationship with them:
- Send your newsletter at regular intervals.
- Develop a cart abandonment recovery email strategy.
- Advertise your blog, website, and social media in your “About Me” section.
- Interact with your followers on social media.
- Use Etsy’s saved reply tool to save pre-written customer service messages.
- Set up a “thank you” message under Settings > Info & Appearance tab that will be sent to each customer post-purchase.
While highly effective paid marketing strategies are available, the steps above are easy and actionable even for new Etsy sellers.
19. Identify Your Top Traffic Sources
Once you’ve spent some time selling on Etsy, you need to develop a way to evaluate and analyze how your store is performing. These metrics will guide you in adjusting your strategy to improve your sales. Analyzing your top traffic sources will let you know where your potential buyers are coming from and identify which of your marketing and advertising efforts are paying off.
- Go to Your Shop > Shop Stats
- Look at your Traffic Sources
- Note your list of referrer websites (websites that have successfully redirected customers to your store)
- Get regular reports and compare before and after stats
- Join Etsy’s Shop Dashboard prototype team for tools to interpret your old and new traffic reports
Some marketing and ad strategies cost money that can eat into your bottom line. You’ll be able to plan your budget wisely when you understand which strategy works for you.
Take the time to know more about retail analytics. It will help you make strategic decisions to drive more sales to your Etsy shop.
20. Improve Low-performing Listings
Low-performing products don’t stand out, which is why they are easy to overlook. They don’t get featured regularly, costing Etsy sellers renewal listing fees every four months. This can quickly add up if you have hundreds of listings in your store. Interestingly, these low performers are most likely easy to improve.
Etsy’s Shop Stats feature is the quickest way to uncover low-performing listings:
- Look at the traffic you’ve received in the last 30 days and scroll down to Pages Viewed to know which of your shop’s pages are getting the most and the least traffic.
- Click on the arrows under Pages Viewed until you get to listings that register a minimal amount of traffic.
- Click on a listing to open a Listing Page View that offers a breakdown of traffic for that specific listing.
Once you’ve identified your low performers, evaluate the page and find areas that may need improvement. You might have to update keywords, improve images, change categories, or rewrite your description to increase page views.
21. Make Regular & Quick Store Updates
Regularly updating your Etsy store profile and product listings ensures that important information such as pricing and contact details are reliable and accurate. Unfortunately, busy business owners might not notice or even have the time to perform updates, which leaves them open to potential buyer misunderstandings and result in disputes.
Avoid this unnecessary risk by planning and regularly making quick updates to your store:
- Refresh your About section: Include any changes in staffing, improvements, and developments in your process.
- Update your shipping profile: This is used to quickly update multiple listings with similar shipping costs, including shipping origin, available destinations, services, and processing times.
- Review your store policy: Read through your shopping policy and update for any changes that may have developed since it was written.
- Upload new photos or videos when possible: Sharing changes and updates through images will help renew the interest of previous customers.
To stay on track, create a checklist and set up an alarm on your calendar for these updates.
Aside from designating a quick review once every few months, you can also schedule them on significant dates such as special events, holidays, and other peak seasons.
22. Develop or Plan Your Product Releases Based on Holiday Events
Etsy is a marketplace for personalized or customized creations, making it an ideal place for people when looking for gifts for special occasions. Knowing specific holidays throughout the year can help you plan your product launches accordingly.
Tips for Marketing Your Etsy Shop During Holiday Season
Shoppers spend billions on Etsy during the holiday season (from October to December). Aside from this potential sales increase, you can extend your business growth easily past the holiday season.
Here are some tips on how to make sure you maximize the holiday opportunities for your Etsy shop.
23. Look at Holiday Trends
Etsy publishes a holiday trend insight report each season. It is a good way to know the market’s demands and plan your product releases. Consider how to add some popular items or your version of them to your inventory.
24. Participate in Etsy-wide Sale Events
Participating in Etsy-wide sales events during the busiest season can help attract motivated holiday shoppers visiting Etsy. During last year’s Etsy Cyber event, participating listings sold at a higher rate than those not on sale. Keep yourself updated on how to take part in Etsy’s sales events.
To reach as many potential customers as possible, share your shop’s sale details on social media and other marketing channels, such as your blog or newsletter.
25. Start Early by Giving Away Discounts & Room for Preorders
Introduce your holiday products early and keep them on hand through Cyber Week and December to capture early, peak, and last-minute shoppers. Since Etsy is known for personalized products, stock early to allow time for customization.
For last-minute shoppers, offer digital downloads for printables, fast turnaround times, ready-to-ship items, and fast shipping.
26. Get a Head Start for Next Year to Keep the Holiday Momentum
Offer post-holiday self-gifting and home decorating products buyers will shift focus to in January. Etsy publishes an early trends report right after the Etsy Cyber event to help you plan and prepare for the following year. Here are some items on Etsy that are searched for more often during specific times of the year:
Time of the Year
Holiday and Occasions
January to March
Mom's birthday, family vacation, decorating a home, new pet
April to June
Wedding anniversary, Father's Day
July to September
Having a baby, back to school
October to December
Halloween, New Year's, holiday shopping
Etsy sellers contributed $14.3 billion to the US economy in 2021, a 167% increase from $5.7 billion in 2018. It is an excellent way for business entrepreneurs to find a sizable market without spending a lot of upfront capital and continues to grow as one of the most popular retail platforms for small business owners starting a retail business. So, whether you’re a beginner or a longtime seller, follow our Etsy selling tips and increase your store’s chances of reaching more customers.