How to Sell on Etsy

By | | Finance
How to Sell on Etsy
Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock

Do you make something unique that you’d like to share with the world? There’s no better time to do it than now—studies show that nearly 90% of today’s consumers value authentic brands, like the handmade or homemade goods found on sites like Etsy. And that’s especially true for millennials, who collectively have upwards of $1.4 trillion dollars in spending power. Once you learn how to sell on Etsy, you can tap into this massive pool of potential buyers.

How Does Etsy Work?

Etsy is an online marketplace that specializes in selling custom, handmade or vintage goods that are difficult to find anywhere else. One of the first tech startups to experience massive growth, Etsy launched in Brooklyn, New York in 2005. In the 15 years since its inception, the site has ballooned to 54 million members. Some estimates indicate that there are as many as 50 million unique items listed for sale on Etsy.com. While most items for sale on Etsy are handcrafted goods like jewelry, pottery, and paintings, the site is well-known for its vintage items as well, especially toys and home goods.

How to set up an Etsy shop

Anyone wondering how to sell on Etsy should know that the process is pretty simple. As long as you have a product, you have a chance to make money.

“On Etsy, anything has the potential to sell,” said Susan Sharp, longtime Etsy seller and owner of the speaking and training website asharpdifference.com.

The first step, of course, is to decide what to sell. If you specialize in making one thing, this part will be easy. But if you have an array of products, or make several disparate things, you’ll need to either choose one or figure out a way to tie them together into one shop that makes sense to customers (e.g., you won’t see many shops selling wedding jewelry and leather dog leashes in tandem).

Once you nail down your product offering, it’s time to learn how to set up an Etsy shop.

Set up an Etsy profile

If you’re a buyer on Etsy, you probably already have an Etsy login. You can use that to sell or you can create a new profile. If you think you may have set up a shop in the past but aren’t sure, running an online people search on yourself may reveal a dormant profile. Either way, you’ll need this first if you’re hoping to learn how to sell on Etsy.

  • Click Sell on Etsy, then Open Your Etsy Shop.
  • Set up shop preferences. Here, you’ll select your default language, country and currency.
  • Select a name for your shop. It’s important to have a vision for your Etsy shop before jumping into it. Aim to choose a store name that reflects what you’re hoping to sell on your site. This not only helps you appear more authentic in the eyes of your customers, but is key for search functionality as well.

When you create an Etsy shop, you can’t have the same name as an existing store, so if it happens to already be taken, the site offers a handy naming tool that offers slight variations on the store name you’ve chosen.

How to sell stuff on etsy

Now that you know how to start your own Etsy shop, it’s time to delve deeper into what makes a successful shop, and what things can help your shop stand out from the vast competition. Below are Sharp’s tips that you’ll want to follow if you’re trying to learn how to sell on Etsy successfully.

Know your competition. While it’s possible to sell just about anything on Etsy, Sharp advises that following major trends, like the Pantone color of the year, can really help. In addition, she said, you can get a good sense of what’s selling by looking at what other people are offering and their price points.

Consider your own interests. “Think about what you would want in a particular product, and make it the best that you can,” Sharp advised. “If you’re selling vintage items, think about telling the story behind them. Do your research, and tell the story of your item, whether it’s handmade or vintage.”

Master the social media aspect. Using social media to spread the word about your Etsy shop is a simple way to attract more attention. “People psych themselves out about social media, but doing something is better than nothing and you will learn as you go,” Sharp said.

…and the SEO aspect. While it’s easy to create an Etsy shop, learning all the business aspects of selling on Etsy can be a bit more complex. And there’s almost nothing more important than utilizing Etsy’s SEO capabilities to drive traffic to your store.

“It’s imperative you use correct tags, keywords and item descriptions that match. Etsy has numerous articles and forums that address this—it’s an ongoing tweak, not something you’ll do once and forget,” Sharp said.

Display your products effectively. As for getting potential customers to click on your post, “it comes down to great photos, period,” said Sharp. “What do you do when you see dark, blurry or fuzzy images of products? You pass them by. So when it comes to setting up your shop, think like a consumer, not a seller. What would you want to see?”

How much does it cost to sell on Etsy?

When selling items on Etsy, you won’t have to put up a large cash outlay to get started. The good news is, you can list items for sale on Etsy for only $0.20.

“I will always cheer Etsy as a fantastic value, especially to new sellers. You could not start your own storefront for the features Etsy provides. What makes it such a great value is that they don’t dictate the size of your shop or the price range you must have. You are free to start small and build,” said Sharp.

Of course, you’ll have other costs to consider. Here are a few of the fees to take into account if you’re wondering how much it costs to sell on Etsy:

Listing fee: $0.20 for any item regardless of type, price or size. A listing lasts for four months or until the item sells, whichever is shorter. If the item doesn’t sell in four months, you’ll be charged an additional $0.20 to relist the item. More than one product (for example, headbands in different colors) can exist in the same listing.

Transaction fee: Sold an item? Congrats! Etsy will collect a 5% commission on the sale as part of their transaction fee.

Payment processing fee: Another fee you’ll incur when you make a sale is the site’s payment processing fee, which is 3% of the sale price plus $0.25.

The good news is that in terms of real financial costs, that’s about it. But also consider that your time has value—and making items, marketing them and maintaining an active shop can take a lot of time. All of this should be considered when deciding whether selling on Etsy is viable for you from a financial standpoint.

Where anyone can be an artist

Etsy is a simple platform that gives you all the tools you need to be a successful seller. If you’re a creator who’s willing to invest the time to build a professional-looking shop, and you’re committed to making your customers happy, there’s no reason you can’t have a happy and successful experience selling on Etsy. And don’t forget to be patient! Like Sharp said, “It’s a long-game, not a get-rich- quick one. Be consistent and list items frequently [for the best chance at success].”

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.