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How To Start An Etsy Shop With No Money? A Budget Friendly Guide

Last Updated:

July 25, 2022

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Starting Etsy Shop
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Etsy has been around since 2005 and it continues to grow in popularity. With the help of this platform, you can start your own shop on a budget.


Etsy provides a unique opportunity for those who have never had the chance to start their own business before:


Let’s dive in and look at how to set up your first Etsy shop with little to no money.



What’s The Absolute Minimum You Need To Start An Etsy Shop

To start an Etsy shop is cheaper than you think. Etsy charges US$0.2 per product listing. And Etsy doesn’t charge other fees for opening a shop.


So if you choose to have 1 product in your new Etsy shop, which is the minimum that you need to open a shop, the cost of starting a new Etsy shop will be just $0.2. In most other cases, it’s possible to start an Etsy shop under $100.


You wouldn’t need to pay other Etsy fees until you make a sale, including transaction fee, payment processing fee, Etsy ads fee, etc. To get a clear idea, read more about Etsy fees in this guide.


Other costs like cost of making the product, packaging and shipping, you will have control over them, and can spend as little as you like. And we will look at ways to minimise them in the next sections.



Choosing Budget Friendly Product Ideas

The best budget product ideas are those that require little to no inventory and/or can be made with inexpensive materials. This will help us keep our initial investment and risk low.


It could be hard to start brainstorming cheap product ideas. Here are some inspirations to help you:


Digital Products To Avoid Material & Inventory Costs

Digital products are a great way to start a business on a shoestring budget. They require no inventory, and no shipping. This is because they are digital products that can be made with design platforms that are free, like Canva or Gimp.


Some popular digital products for low-budget entrepreneurs include:


Create Products With Materials You Already Have In Your House

A good way to start brainstorming for product ideas is by thinking about what you have lying around the house. It could be scrap fabric, wood working leftovers, paint, etc.


They are all potential product ideas. For example, scrap fabric can turn into tote bags, and paint and wood can be made into chic home decor pieces.


Create Products With Budget Friendly Materials

It might be hard to find the right kind of supplies at a low price. But search in your area to see whether there are any budget friendly shops with lower priced materials. They might not have as much variety as other stores, but they are great for finding the right material without spending too much money.


To start, you can consider projects that use lower cost materials. For example, paper craft projects or sewing projects with collage of scrap fabrics.

Dreamcatcher is a product that is usually very budget friendly to make


Get Materials From Thrift Store And Second Hand Shop

You probably have seen Instagram videos where they paint an old cupboard bought from a second-hand shop to transform it into a modern piece of furniture, and flip it for a profit.


You can do the same by looking for potential items from thrift stores and second-hand shops. There are usually a lot of vintage home decor or kitchenware pieces that you can transform or restore. It will be a lot cheaper to get supplies this way than buying them new.


Just keep in mind to get items that are relatively small and light to minimise the shipping cost in the future.



How Quickly Can I Open A New Etsy Shop

Usually for a new Etsy seller with only a few products, it would take about two weeks for your shop to be ready for customers. But if you have more products or more complex products, it may take months until you are ready.


The time that it takes for an Etsy shop to be ready varies depending on a few factors:



Make Etsy Banners & Branding Yourself To Save Money

For setting up an Etsy shop on a budget, you don’t need to hire a designer to create branding assets for you. A good graphic design can cost you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.


To start with, I recommend having a logo and an Etsy banner for your new shop. Canva is a great free option to create these designs.


Canva has a good selection of free Etsy banner designs that you can tweak and customise:



For logo design, I would recommend making a simple word logo (also known as a wordmark logo). It is relatively easy to make and can be very modern and recognisable with the right font. Also it can work in multiple colours.



Take Your Own Product Photos With Smartphone

Cameras on most phones nowadays are excellent. They are capable of taking great product photos for your new Etsy shop.


Here’s an idea for a cheap photography set-up you can use at home:

  1. Clean up a table in your home - Preferably one that’s relatively new and not colourful. You can always cover it with a white cloth or paper as a clean photo background.
  2. Put the table next to a window
  3. Take photos with strong, but indirect sunlight to avoid harsh shadows


Some rules to keep in mind for good product photos:



Edit Product Photos With Free Software

Out of all the photo editing software in the market, Lightroom is my favourite. It has been around for many years and has a user-friendly interface that anyone can use. It also has advanced options for professionals to adjust the photos to exactly how they want it.


If you are looking for reliable and easy way to edit your photos, then I think Lightroom is the best option. The free version of Lightroom already has what you need to transform an ok product photo to a great one, and if you need more advanced editing functions, then you can upgrade to the paid version of Lightroom.


Canva is another option to edit your photos. It has decent photo editing capabilities even in the free tier. The advantages of using Canva are that you can add text and other elements to your photos without leaving the platform.



Handwritten Thank You Note & Order Inserts To Save Money

Handwritten thank you notes are an inexpensive and personal way to show appreciation for customers. It could help you get 5-star reviews and return customers, both of which are extremely important to a new Etsy shop.


When I started my first Etsy shop, I hand-wrote my thank you note until about 500 sales. It wasn’t the most scalable thing to do, but it was a pleasant surprise to customers because no other sellers are doing it. As a result, it helped my shop built up a loyal customer base and initial traction.


Another cost-effective way to make order inserts is to customise pre-made templates. Growing Your Craft Etsy shop has a good selection of templates like thank you card and business card. You can easily edit and print at home or at your local print shop.


Some thank you card templates from Growing Your Craft



Set Aside A Budget For Packaging And Shipping

If you sell physical products, it would be smart to set aside a budget for packaging and shipping. 


If you are in one of the countries like US, UK, Canada or Australia where there are a large number of Etsy users, selling locally is an option to save shipping cost.


As mentioned before, try making products that are small and lightweight, because they will be cheaper to ship locally and internationally.


You can go to these postal service websites to calculate the estimated shipping cost:


US: USPS 

UK: Royal Mail

Canada: Canada Post

Australia: Australia Post



The Next Steps

Now that you know how to start your first Etsy shop on a budget, it’s time to start thinking about getting the first sale and growing the shop.


In Growing Your Craft Etsy Academy, you can find proven, actionable strategies that help you sell more on Etsy. You will get advice on SEO (to be seen by more customers), conversion rate (so customers will buy from you instead of others), and more. All with an investment of just a dinner or two. 


Click here to join and grow your Etsy shop



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