I’ve been making extra money on Etsy since late 2013.
Even though I’d been selling on eBay for over a decade, Etsy was a whole new ball game.
Now, after dispatching over 1,000 orders – at one point my store was ranked #2 in Australia and in the top 100 worldwide for its category – I believe I’m qualified to give you a few pointers on opening the virtual doors of your own Etsy store. The information I’m sharing with you has been gained by the blood, sweat and tears of experience.
For a long time Etsy was seen as a marketplace for crafters and designers but you can sell a much wider range of products now and they don’t have to be hand made. Visit the Etsy Categories page to see what options are available.
Etsy provides a wealth of opportunities and access to potential buyers from all over the world. It’s also a great way to test your product’s potential without investing a website of your own first. Start tapping into that opportunity and start sharing your talents with a worldwide audience.
10 Simple Steps to Making Extra Money on Etsy
- Research your market
- Etsy Seller Policy
- Branding your biz
- Product photography
- Product pricing
- Stock your Etsy shop’s virtual shelves
- Keyword research
- Write a keyword rich product title and description
- Organise your shipping system
- Promote your Etsy store
1. Research your market
If you’re taking the time to read this, you’ve probably already thought about selling online and probably considered using Etsy to do it. And, you probably have an idea of what you’d like to sell in your Etsy shop. Even if you don’t know the specific item, you’ll know the category. For example, you might know you want to sell knitting supplies or maybe digital prints but not necessarily the specific products.
Once you know the category, jump onto Craftcount.
Craftcount ranks the top Etsy shops based on a specific category or country. Select the category you’re going to sell in and check out the top Etsy shops – there are links to the shops in the listing. While you’re taking a peek, consider these questions:
- What items are they selling?
- What type of branding are they using?
- How are their product descriptions formatted?
- What product ‘tags’ are they using?
- Can you determine the keywords they’re targeting?
- How are their shops named? Does the name reflect the items they sell, or maybe the category?
- Where are they? Is that likely to be a key factor in their success?
- How long have they been trading?
Your answers will help you define and refine your vision for your Etsy store.
A word to the wise: Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery but it can also be seen as theft of intellectual property. Make sure your Etsy store is a reflection of you not a copy of someone else’s brand.
2. Etsy Seller Policy
Every marketplace has its rules, including Etsy. Be sure to familiarise yourself with Etsy’s Seller Policy before you create your store and start loading products.
You want to be sure, you’re following their rules, from day one. And, that includes selling appropriate products.
3. Branding your biz
Whether you’re opening your Etsy store as a side hustle or serious business, you need a signature look; a brand.
You could hire a professional to create a brand for you or, if you’re clever with colour and design you can create your own.
There are some great online options for creating your artwork, like Canva and PicMonkey, so there’s no need to invest large sums of money into the purchase of design software.
PicMonkey is my favourite. It’s incredibly easy to use and you can either use it for free or you can subscribe to PicMonkey for a small monthly fee. When you subscribe, you gain access to more features, including a wider range of fonts.
The basic branding images you’ll need are:
- Etsy store icon (500px x 500px)
- Esty store banner (760px x 100px)
- Logo or watermark for your product images.
4. Product Photography
The approach to your product images will vary depending on the type of product you’re selling.
For example, some items sell best when they include some context, like a digital image shown in a frame. While others look better in isolation, that is, a pure white background.
Check out other sellers in your category to see which type of image is most popular for the items you’ll be selling.
Photography basics never change:
- Use natural light wherever possible
- Make sure the product is in focus
- Don’t expect to get it right first time.
Once you’re happy with your product image, add your Etsy shop logo or watermark.
Note: If you’re selling a manufactured product you might be able to secure product images from your supplier but never just download images from Google search. Always be sure the images you use are either your own or you have a license to use them.
5. Product pricing
Product pricing is a little more complicated than just checking out the competition. Here are a few factors to consider when working out what to charge for your products:
- Cost of materials
- Cost of labour
- Packaging; product and shipping
- Etsy listing and sold item fees
- Taxes, import and/or export duties
- Insurance, business permits
- Other overheads, like rent.
Once you’ve gathered all this information, the next step is to see what similar items sell for on Etsy and on the market in general. No doubt, you would have done this as part of your initial research but if you didn’t, make sure you do it now. Checking out others in your category gives you an idea of how much customers are willing to pay for an item the same or similar to the one you’re going to sell.
Consider the strategy of having a high-end version and an everyday version of your product. It can be a valuable marketing technique.
Don’t fall for the false economy of undercutting the price of your competition, this is generally just a race to the bottom. Nobody wins in this scenario.
If your price point is going to be higher than most in your category, you’ll need to be sure to sell the sizzle in your product title and description. But, more on that in a minute.
6. Stock your Etsy shop’s shelves
In the retail world, a well stocked store sells more. Online retailing is no different.
But don’t overwhelm your customer with too many choices.
The optimal size of your product range will depend greatly on the category and the type of product you’re selling. Consider the size of the range others are selling in your category.
Also, take a lesson from the fast food world, think about what you can on-sell with your core product. If you’re selling wool for hand knitting, could you also sell needles and patterns?
7. Keyword research
The key word here is research. Guessing and research are not the same thing.
Don’t guess the most appropriate keywords for your product, research them to see which ones your potential customers are actually using to find products like yours.
Let Etsy search help you with this task. How? Did you know that when you type ‘party’ into the search field, Etsy shows you a list of popular search phrases. These keyword phrases are a great your starting point. You can also use Google search in exactly the same way.
Once you know your keywords, you can begin working on product titles and descriptions.
8. Write a keyword rich product title and description
The product title is the most important contributor to your Etsy store’s SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) but it also needs to make sense to your customer.
The product title must contain your keyword(s) or keyword phrase and it must clearly describe what you’re selling.
The item description plays a role in the impact of your SEO, too. But, most importantly, it’s where you tell your customer about your product.
Make the product description includes:
- The materials used in its construction
- The available colour range
- The exact dimensions
- If the item needs to be assembled
- How many are included, i.e. ‘Pack of 3’
- How the product is packaged
- How it will be shipped
- Appropriate uses for the product, etc.
Include links to complimentary products as well as other categories within your store. Now that you have your customer’s attention, keep them browsing in your store not clicking off to see what your competition has on offer.
If you plan on selling internationally, consider including a link to your shipping policies as well as a brief disclaimer for shipping times, import duties or other customs fees so your international customers know what to expect. The last thing you want is a disappointed customer.
And, don’t forget to include your keywords in the Tags. Think of every combination you can and use every tag.
9. Organise your shipping system
An investment in your business you’ll never regret is a shipping scale like this one.
Every gram (or ounce) counts at the post office.
Incorrectly estimate the weight of a parcel and you could be paying double the postage you expected. Do that too often and you’ll eat away your profit margin very quickly. Consider, too, if you should be shipping your customer’s orders with insurance coverage, which you can incorporate into your shipping fee.
Etsy’s system for calculating postage is straightforward but inflexible. Finessing your shipping profiles might take a little time so it’s important to make sure your costs are covered while you figure it out. Remember, you can always refund excess postage paid by your customer.
If you are selling your products internationally, be sure to state clearly in your store policy that buyers are liable for any and all customs or import duties in their country.
Finally, make sure your packaging looks professional and is appropriate for the product you’re shipping. If it’s breakable, the more bubble wrap the better! And, use a sturdy box.
10. Promoting your Etsy store
Unfortunately, just building your Etsy store is not enough, you need to promote it, too. So, get out there and tell the world about it!
Make sure your social media accounts are set up; Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Pick a platform that suits you and your product range best. Some might be more appropriate than others. For example, handmade products are perfect for Intagram or SnapChat where you can show how your products are made by sharing images at different stages of production.
Pinterest is my favourite. But, it’s not social media as such, but a powerful search engine. I highly recommend you create a presence as soon as you can. (I’ll be writing more about creating a presence and following on Pinterest soon).
Be strategic and create a plan for promoting your business on social media. To avoid overwhelm, pick one platform to work on first and build from there.
Repeat customers are worth their weight in gold. Create relationships with your customers by providing awesome (and timely) service as well as little touches like including a thank you card with a coupon code for a discount off their next purchase.
Word of mouth promotion is priceless and happy customers are your best advertisers.
An Etsy shop is a great way to get started in online retailing but, if you’re serious about creating a business for the long term, there’ll come a time when you need to build your own website. There are a number of hosted solutions available, like BigCommerce or Shopify but if you want to build a business, build it on your own ‘land’ and that means a self-hosted site using WordPress.org and the WooCommerce plugin.
It might take a bit more work initially but it’s the only option that gives you complete ownership and control of your site.
An Etsy shop might be just the beginning of your side hustle success.