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How to Sell on Etsy: Everything You Need to Start a Shop

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Etsy is a popular website that has become an online marketplace for creative people all around the world. Artists, craftspeople, and designers have used the site to showcase their art to a global customer base.
One of the nice things about Etsy is that the barrier of entry is very low — if you have items that you think people would love, it’s easy to open up an Etsy shop in minutes. For people who would love to start a small business from home, it’s about as easy as it gets.
In this article, we’ll dive into how to sell on Etsy, and how to become a successful Etsy shop owner. We’ll look at initial setup, how to master Etsy listings to find potential customers, and walk you through the fees that the platform charges. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to start showcasing your creations online.

What Is Etsy?

Etsy is an e-commerce platform that specializes in art, handmade items, vintage items, and craft supplies. Its main hub is its website, Etsy.com. The company also has an extremely popular app, which is available for download on iPhone and Android.
Etsy sellers can post items that can be searched for and purchased by a global community of buyers. (As of 2018, the site said it had nearly 40 million people buy things on Etsy from over 2 million sellers.)
When an item sells, Etsy handles the payment, providing secure transactions and allowing customers to pay via credit card, debit card, PayPal, Apple Pay, or Google Pay.
For craftspeople looking to set up a quick e-commerce site and connect with a large customer base immediately, Etsy is a solid option.

What Do People Sell on Etsy?

Etsy encourages people to sell handmade items, vintage items, and craft supplies on their website. While these terms are loosely defined, Etsy wants you to sell things you made yourself, unless they’re vintage items.
If you’re selling new products, there are two rules you need to abide by:
A. Items shouldn’t be bought somewhere else and resold if they’re labeled as “handmade.”
B. They can’t violate another artist’s intellectual property.
If a piece of art came from your imagination, great. If it’s a blatant copy of a popular designer item that sells more expensively elsewhere, you run the risk of being kicked off the platform.

Why Sell on Etsy?

Etsy’s biggest appeal is the ease of setting up, the secure payment processing, and the ability to connect with a lot of people very quickly. If you build your own website, not only will you have to design and build the site, but you’ll have to pay a hosting company to maintain the site.
Setting up secure e-commerce is another obstacle. (Though it should be said that there are website companies like Shopify that will now quickly build you an e-commerce site for reasonable fees.)
But even once you’ve built that e-commerce site, there’s still the issue of attracting customers. How will people know to search for you? How will people find your products?
With Etsy, you can get set up quickly and will be immediately listed for an audience that is specifically there looking for handmade, vintage, or crafty items. If you offer a unique product, they will be able to find it. (More on that shortly.)

Setting Up Your Etsy Shop

Setting up an Etsy store is fast and, if you have photos of your items, can be done in minutes. Let’s walk through the process with a beginner’s guide to opening an online store with Etsy.

1. Open an Account

To begin the process, head to Etsy.com. In the top right-hand corner you’ll see a link to “Sell on Etsy.” Click on that.
Screenshot of how to sell on Etsy
From there you’ll be taken to a page with a lot of information on Etsy sellers and what benefits Etsy business owners can expect from the platform. Once you’ve read and reviewed what you want, tap on “Open your Etsy shop.”
Screenshot of how to sell on Etsy and open an Etsy shop
Before you go through the process of setting up an online store, however, you must first register with the site and create an Etsy account. This takes a moment and can be done through your Google account, Facebook account, or via email.

2. Confirm Your Location

Once you’ve created your account, it’s time to get going. First you’ll confirm your language and currency settings — Etsy is a global platform, after all — and letting them know your location. This helps them target customers closer to you.

3. Name Your Store

Next, it’s time to name your store. With over two million sellers on the platform already, your preferred business name might already be taken. If that’s the case, they suggest trying to add “Boutique” or “Store” to the name to find a unique name. (Every Etsy store must have a unique name.)
Once your store name is approved, you’ve done it. You have an Etsy store. Now it’s time to get selling.

How to List and Find Potential Customers

After you’ve created your account, it’s time to start listing items available for sale. This is a vitally important step in the process. The difference between a profitable Etsy shop and one that doesn’t make money often has nothing to do with the quality of the items ⁠— rather, it’s how easy the seller makes it for customers to find the items and fall in love with them.

Craft a Strong, Searchable Title

To begin listing items, you must come up with a name for them. Titles of items must be 140 characters or fewer, and you should really focus on making them friendly for search.
The term “search engine optimization” or “SEO” can be a scary phrase to those who aren’t tech-savvy, but its meaning isn’t very complicated. It just means that it’s easy for someone to find using an internet search.
To create a good SEO title, take a moment and ask yourself, “What would I type into the Etsy search bar if I were looking for this item?”
A good title will include as many relevant details as possible in the title and be very specific. If you’re selling a silver necklace with a heart pendant, a title like “A one-of-a-kind keepsake” will make it extremely difficult for someone to find.
On the other hand, a title like “Sterling silver necklace with heart pendant” will yield better results. You should also include the length if applicable. If it’s customizable, be sure to include that detail as well.
Likewise, if you offer different varieties of the same item — say, one in silver and one in rose gold, click on the “Listing Variations” tab when creating your listing. This will allow you to list multiple variations of an item and show up in more searches.

Post a Powerful Photo

When searching for products, Etsy displays most shops the same way. One of the few ways to stand out in search results is with a beautiful photo of your item. When posting photos, remember: Shoppers are visual. Make sure you only publish well lit, high-quality photos. Product photography is a skill, and may be one worth investing in.
You’ve got your title. You’ve got a great photo. Now you have the chance to write product descriptions, which give you more words to convey all the great details about an item. Once you like the title, photo, and description, you can list!

Promoted Listings

When it comes to Etsy search results, you have the chance to make sure your product listings are at the top of the pile. These are called “Promoted Listings” and are available for purchase when you’re selling. If your item is in a crowded field, and you’re looking for a way to stand out, Promoted Listings can be a great way to do that.

Other Ways to Showcase Your Items

Crafstman working with putty and tools You aren’t limited by where you market your Etsy shop. You can use your personal social media network to direct friends and family there, or create specialized business social media accounts that point potential customers to the platform. Many Etsy users also make flyers and business cards to hand out to people — potential buyers are everywhere.
Once an item sells, you head to your local post office or UPS and ship it. Etsy will hold on to the funds until the order is completed, then take out their fees. Once that is done, then you’ll be able to transfer the money to your bank account.

Understanding Etsy Fees

Etsy makes its money as a company by charging fees, and understanding those fees can help you make a profit as a craftsperson using the platform.

Listing Fee

Etsy charges sellers a 20-cent product listing fee for each individual item. This fee is good for four months of listing — if the item doesn’t sell within that time, it auto-renews for another 20 cents and keeps the item on the platform.

Transaction Fee

For every sale, Etsy charges a transaction fee, which is 5% of the total price. This includes any shipping costs the buyer is paying for.

Etsy Payment Processing Fee 

If the buyer pays with a credit card, as opposed to PayPal, Apple Pay, or another third party payment service, Etsy charges a 3% credit card processing fee, plus 25 cents.
It’s important to remember these fees when setting prices for your items. To make a profit, don’t just include the cost of materials and labor, but factor in these on-platform fees (as well as shipping costs) to ensure that your endeavor is worthwhile.

Selling on Etsy

Etsy is a powerful platform that lets collectors, artists, and craftspeople build an online shop and connect with a massive customer base without taking too much time. If you make handmade goods that you think would connect with people outside your community, Etsy can be a great way to find buyers around the world.

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