Your arts and crafts can actually bring you a source of income. There are thousands of sellers on Etsy profiting off of their handmade goods. Not just a little profit, many stores are well into the six figures, and your store can get there too.
You don’t need to be an artisanal craftsman with decades of experience to sell handmade goods on Etsy. There are thousands of easy, cost effective handmade goods you can make in your own home.
Here are some of the things large sellers are sharing on Etsy:
• Enamel art
• Knitted goods
• Baked goods
The point of Etsy, though, is creativity, meaning that almost anything is fair game. I believe that everybody has a creative streak, and they should share that creativity through Etsy.
If you're a creative, you may want to look outside of a traditional marketplace for sales and instead start a business on your very own personalized website. To see how to do this, click here.
The cost to get up on Etsy is next to nothing, fees are taken as a small percentage of your sales and listings cost $.20.
Technically you can start an Etsy store with nothing but a phone and 20 cents. You technically don’t even have to sell physical products, Etsy allows print on demand sellers to dropship designs.
There’s also a robust community of Etsy sellers helping each other and providing inspiration. These groups are on Etsy itself, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. You can get ideas for your shop while participating on these forums.
While Etsy is a powerful platform for building a successful business, it’s not a ‘plug and play’ million dollars overnight kind of thing. An Etsy business is a legit business that requires all of the time, thought, and attention an ordinary business would require.
But, as long as you’re up for the challenge, you can create an income generating Etsy shop.
And just like any other business, there are certain rules and specific strategies you must employ if you want your Etsy shop to succeed.
Etsy really isn’t that complicated. As long as you’re consistently working on your shop and following these simple guidelines, then you are likely to see success.
The first thing you should do when setting up your store is to fill everything out. Shop policies, FAQ, about section, etc. Etsy shops that have all attributes will rank higher than incomplete Etsy shops.
You can make your cover photo and logo on Canva for free or pay somebody on Fiverr as little as $5 to make your logo.
When selecting a niche, aim for something with considerable demand and low competition. While your optimal niche will be in high demand with no competitors, it’s virtually impossible to find a market with no competition.
You can get away with entering a high competition niche if you’re willing to put in some elbow grease and get to work. Since your listings will be seen among a pool of similar listings, you will have to work hard to stand out.
Stay consistent. Only sell one niche in your shop. Don’t sell jewelry and mugs in the same shop. Stores who can’t choose a market scare away customers. It’s unprofessional.
If you can’t focus on just one niche, then build your first shop and then move onto a second shop for your other niche afterwards.
It’s important to stay patient. There is no such thing as an overnight millionaire. Consistently work on your shop over months and you WILL end up getting sales.
It’s important to consistently list new products on your shop. Most functioning shops will list something new every week or so, but you can list daily if you want to optimize for success.
Etsy promotes the shops that list frequently.
If you’re having trouble trying to find new products to list, just do slight variations of existing products. Change a color, change the size, the fabric, etc.
Personally, I like to spend one day at the beginning of the month doing nothing but drafting listings. I take the pictures, edit them, write up the descriptions, and get the listings 100% ready to list. Then, as a part of my morning routine, I will list one of my drafts every day until I repeat the next month.
This is a fun and simple way to trickle listings out consistently so that Etsy’s algorithm is favorable toward your shop.
In the early stages of your business, it’s important to get good reviews. Your first few natural sales will be your hardest to earn, as customers as wary of shops with no reviews.
In order to get those first few reviews in, ask your family and friends to help. Offer them the product for free in exchange for a review if that will sweeten the deal for them.
Once you start regularly getting customers, treat them well. Ship on time (early if possible), write them thank you notes, throw in gifts, followup messages, etc. so that they have a great customer experience. Not only will this encourage return customers, it will also encourage positive reviews.
But, while doing this, NEVER ask for a review as it’s against Etsy’s terms of service.
When listing new products, fill out as many attributes as possible. The more complete a listing is, the more Etsy will promote it.
Use eRank, a free data analytics service to pick out the best keywords to use in your listings. Not all keywords will rank the same, so it’s important to pick the right ones. eRank let’s you see conversion rates, search volume, competition, page rank, and a lot more.
Your photography is the most important factor in ranking high on Etsy’s search results.
While you do need to take quality pictures to rank, you don’t need to be a professional photographer with $5,000 worth of equipment and decades of experience to take good pictures.
Technically, all you need is an iPhone to take quality pictures. There are 6-figure Etsy shops that shoot their pictures on an iPhone.
While it is possible for everybody to take good pictures, you still need to follow some simple rules in order for them to sell.
Keep your pictures simple. If it’s too busy or chaotic, the focus will be taken away from your product.
Keep your product in the foreground with one simple element in the background.
Make sure your lighting is relatively bright. Lighter pictures outperform darker pictures.
You can invest in some cheap photography lamps (under $20 on eBay) or find a spot with a lot of sunlight to get adequate lighting.
Know that your thumbnail is just one in a sea of thousands of competing listings. Your thumbnail will have to stand out and catch people’s attention if it will sell, so keep that in mind.
Most Etsy shoppers are on mobile, where each thumbnail gets relatively little display space. Make sure your product takes up a big portion of the total image and that it’s eye-catching so that customers will click it.
Etsy allows you to use ten photos in your listing. Use all 10 slots. Use your pictures to tell a story. Make sure that your pictures accurately display the product’s size, color, materials, etc.
Show the product in use.
Show the product with a person in the frame in its appropriate context. Whether it’s worn, being admired, etc.
When you’re all done with your photography session, edit it.
You don’t need to use Photoshop or Lightroom to do this, you can edit a picture on your iPhone with no extra apps (although there are a lot of free photo editing apps you can use). Make sure your photo is bright, relatively colorful, and eye catching.
Expenses and Pricing
Not all shops will cost the same to start up.
A print on demand t-shirt shop won’t require much in inventory costs, as you don’t ever see the inventory for these kinds of shops.
It’s important to start small and ramp up expenses as you grow. If you’d like to sell candles, buy enough startup inventory to make 30 variations first, and then once you get this round of candles going, reinvest your profit and buy enough supplies for 60 more variations and so on.
In terms of pricing, you do want to be competitive while maintaining decent margins so that you stay profitable.
Many people underprice their products in order to be competitive, don’t do that. Charge what you’re really worth and then work on branding and traffic to justify the cost.
Of course, you can start off pricing relatively lower and then incrementally bumping up the price as your reputation gets stronger.
Etsy takes some fees in exchange for allowing you to sell on their platform.
It costs $0.20 to list a product, it renews every 4 months and recharges you that amount each time.
Once an item sells, there is a 5% transaction fee in addition to a 3% payment processing fee and a $0.25 fixed processing fee.
Etsy has a paid marketing system, although at this moment I cannot recommend it.
In the past it used to be wildly profitable, with my shop sometimes reaching a 400% return on ad spend. But, Etsy started removing seller control over their own ads and let Etsy’s algorithm take over the ads instead.
Most shops report losing money on this new system, though a select few report success with the ads. If you’re willing to take a risk, spending money on ads may be worth it, you just have to get into a position where you can take losses before you attempt.
Once your shop is up, the photos are done, and you have listings to promote, it’s time to drive traffic.
When directing people to your store, drive them to individual products, not your storefront. You’re more likely to produce sales that way.
Set up social media accounts for your brand as soon as possible.
I like to mainly use Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. Most Etsy sellers will promote on Pinterest for the most part.
Once you get these accounts going, update them frequently. If you can, aim to post on these accounts every single day.
At first, this will be exhausting, as little will seem to come of your social media work.
But, as you gain experience, learn more, and persist through this beginner period, you will begin to see growth, traffic, and sales.
A little money can speed up the entire process if you want to get sales faster.
You can utilize social media ads to drive traffic to your listings.
You can also pay popular influencers to promote your listings as well.
Many Etsy users will pay bloggers to write about their products.
Some sellers can get away with offering their products in lieu of money, though this is less common.
If you’re having trouble coming up with content to post, you can do a few things.
Many people like to see behind the scenes content, so share that. You can go over the creation process of your products, shed a light on your personal life, or give special closeup views of your products.
You can also just share photos of your products and do a direct promotion of them.
Canva, a free graphic design service, is a great source for coming up with content.
When using your social media channels, work hard to come up with a brand and stay consistent with it. If someone is looking at your Instagram profile and the vibe is all over the place, they won’t stay.
If somebody is looking at that profile and it has a very tangible feel, then they will stay.
If you’re struggling to come up with content yourself, you can find people on Fiverr who can help you create content for as little as $5.
Listings perform very well when traffic is driven to them immediately after listing. Try promoting your newest products for their first 48 hours of existence.
Follow this simple guide and you will find success on your Etsy shop.
While following this guide, remember that I am only one seller in a large community of other Etsy sellers. Reach out on Facebook, Quora, and other places to see what others are doing. The best research is to see what all of your peers are doing. And don’t be afraid to ask questions, we’re very friendly!
After going through this guide, you should know a thing or two about selling online. If you're more of an independent and you'd like to run your business free of Etsy's guidelines, then you can learn how to launch your own profitable site in under 21 days.