inStarting Etsy Shop
Starting an Etsy shop is exciting. That elusive work-for-yourself, do-what-you-love life that you can have with a successful online shop.
“But I don’t know where to start! And I’m worried that I’ll make mistakes without me knowing!”
I’ve had my struggles over the years: listings not showing up on Etsy search, shoppers not buying, not sure how to reply to a negative message from customer, etc.
I’ve gathered 20+ of my top tips I've learnt along the way to get you started on the right track so you can focus on creating your craft. If you love to get ahead of your competition on Etsy quickly, you will love this guide.
Before that, click here to get 40 free Etsy listings if you are opening a new shop.
This is the most important thing to know and learn in order to succeed on Etsy.
To get found on Etsy marketplace, you need to know Etsy SEO (search engine optimization) and how the Etsy search algorithm works. To most sellers, organic Etsy search traffic will be the main traffic source to their shop. Successful shops can thrive with just search traffic alone without outside sources like social media and blog.
The main step of ranking on Etsy search is to match what shoppers type in the search bar with your product listing’s title and tags.
Think of what customers are searching for. Usually they think of keywords that are descriptive. For example, when they want to buy a ring, they may add words like “gemstone”, “silver” and “for daughter”. Try to think like your customers and brainstorm keywords that you can use to optimize your product listings.
To know everything about Etsy search and how to get more search traffic, read this comprehensive guide.
Many people think branding refers to only the shop logo, but branding is so much more than that.
According to Hubspot, “Branding is the process of researching, developing, and applying a distinctive feature or set of features to your organization so that consumers can begin to associate your brand with your products or services.”
In other words, branding is about every part of your shop that customers see and interact with, including the your brand color, packaging, product design, customer service, and even the tone of your social media post.
Think of what the overall feeling you want your customer to feel when they buy from you. Whether it’s luxury, carefree or eco-friendliness, think how you can convey that feeling in all the aspects in your shop.
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to build long-term relationships with your customers. It’s a targeted way to communicate with them and gain their trust.
But be careful not to violate Etsy’s terms of condition by adding customers’ emails to your email list directly. Instead, you can ask them to sign up to your mailing list by enticing them with some benefits, like a coupon code or useful information.
You can start email marketing with service providers like Mailchimp and Aweber.
The aim for email marketing is to build up a strong, trusting relationship with your customers. You can do this by sending them relevant news and information.
Although it’s tempting to send emails promoting your products all the time, keep in mind not to spam them with promotional email too often. Customers can lose patience quickly and unsubscribe. Space promotional emails out among the informative emails. A 3-to-1 ratio is recommended.
Pay close attention to successful Etsy shops in your product category. They are sellers with thousands and thousands of sales.
They have proven that they have products that customers buy and love. Check out their shop offering, and pay special attention to their ‘bestsellers’. You can find them by looking out for the ‘bestseller’ batch, or when the product has the words “Over 20 people have this in their cart”.
Other than the product itself, look at their branding, packaging, customer reviews, etc for inspiration on how to improve your shop and products.
A good product listing description can convince shoppers why they need your product and to eliminate doubts they have in their minds.
It’s important to show the benefits in addition to the features of your product. For example, a coffee machine not only can make you a cup of coffee, but to kickstart your morning and make you productive.
In other words, show how your product and make your customer’s life better.
Also, address common concern that a shopper may have. They could be whether it’s easy to use, what happens if it breaks, is it possible to return if they don’t like it.
In a fast, digital world, it’s also recommended to keep your sentences and paragraphs short. So that shoppers can understand your words easily.
Friendly and responsive customer service goes a long way. It’s one of the main factors that make small businesses stand out from big corporations.
When you get messages from customers, be helpful when they have questions and be empathetic when they have concerns.
Turning on your notification on your Etsy Seller app is a great way to make sure your replies are quick. Many customers mention in reviews that they appreciate a responsive seller. Try to aim for answering within a few hours.
When starting your Etsy shop, it’s good to have at least 20 products. Many new Etsy sellers fall into the trap of starting with only 1-2 products which can really hurt the reach of their Etsy store. If you have a smaller product line, think about variations in color, size, etc to increase your product listings.
Make sure all your products make sense together in a shop. One of the strengths of a small handmade seller is that you are the expert in your craft. If you sell crystals and cookies in the same shop, shoppers may not trust they you are the go-to for either of those products.
Aim to create new product and listings consistently. The more new products you add, the more keywords you can cover, and easier will you shop be discovered.
Etsy has a coupon code system that you can automatically send coupons to shoppers and customers.
Sending to a customer who has purchased can encourage repeat purchase. Generally, a 10-20% discount is enough to draw them back.
You can also send coupons to shoppers who have liked your product or have your product in they shopping cart. The coupon will be sent to them automatically after a certain period of time.
Alternatively, you can set up a coupon code to entice customers to sign up to your email newsletter.
Etsy ads can be one of the quickest way to gain traffic and grow your shop, especially for new shops. They bring you direct clicks and sales if you are willing to to spend a little money.
There are two types of ads on Etsy:
This is the ads you see on Etsy search page. You pay for every click to your product listing.
Etsy also promotes relevant listings on sites like Google, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. You pay a 10-15% fee when the shopper buys your product.
I’ve written an article here to show you the strategies to run Etsy ads profitably.
Photography can make or break your Etsy shop. It is likely to be the first impression shopper has on your brand. It’s also the thing that makes them click or skip your shop.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need an expensive camera to take good product photos. Most modern smartphones can do a good job.
Keep it simple by using a clean background. A white or off-white background works well in making your product stands out. Avoid pattern background or a colourful one because they will take the attention off your products.
Natural lighting is the easiest to work with and give you a good looking photo. Usually early morning or late afternoon are the best for photos as the sunlight is not as harsh. You don’t want direct, harsh sunlight because it creates hard shadows which can be distracting.
Take a variety of photos so shoppers have a good idea what your product is or does. Get some product photo inspirations from this guide.
Everyone is on the phone all the time, scrolling through Instagram and Facebook.
As a small business, you can leverage that by having a presence on social media.
But be careful to not fall in the trap of just promoting yourself on Instagram. People don’t follow accounts that do that.
Instead, think of posts that are useful and interesting to your potential customers. It can be some behind-the-scene look of your handmade process; it can be an informative instruction that helps customers with their purchase, and so on.
User-generated-content (UGC) is another type of post that can work on social media. It is photos that are taken by your customers. All you have to do is to ask for the permission to repost them.
To save yourself some time, sites like Canva and Over have social media post templates that you can use for free. You can replace the photo, words, colors and more to make it fit your brand.
Packaging can be another advantage that a small handmade business can have over big brands. Show your personal touch in your product packaging.
Customers response really well to small touches like including a thank-you card in the order, or a little gift to go with the product. They could be the things that push them to leave a 5-star review for your Etsy shop.
Brand voice is the personality that you use when communicating with your customers. It could be through direct messaging, or a post on social media.
You should care about your brand voice because it helps you stand out in the sea of other sellers. A consistent, memorable and distinct helps your brand stick in customer’s mind.
A well-made shop banner and icon can help convey your shop's brand and personality. Keep it clean and uncluttered. Canva or my Etsy shop are good places to look for editable designs.
Shipping fee is a consideration in many shoppers’ minds. Too high of a shipping fee will come as a shock when they check out, and make them abandon their purchase.
I understand your product may be expensive to ship. In that case, it can be a good idea to shift some of that shipping fee to your product price. A shipping fee around $5 is acceptable to most shoppers.
Etsy algorithm also gives a boost to product listings in the US search page if it ships free to US for over US$35. Learn how to make that work for your shop and improve your Etsy search ranking in this guide.
When you set your pricing, it’s good to consider all costs, including material, labour, work space, etc. Adding up all the costs, double or triple that sum to get your initial product price.
It’s also important to compare the price you come up with to the other competitors in the market.
Luckily, Etsy shoppers aren’t as price sensitive to shoppers on other platforms like Amazon and eBay. This is likely that Etsy shoppers appreciate the value of handmade products.
Some common tactics of pricing include undercutting your competition while offering the same quality product, or selling at a more premium price by offering a better product with more benefits like after-purchase care.
Other than looking at your Etsy stat, it’s good to keep track of your finances by some simple accounting. It can be done with just Excel or Google Sheet.
Mark down your revenue, costs and profit for each month. Break down the numbers when necessary. For example, you may want to separate material cost from shipping cost.
This gives you a better idea of which area you can improve to make your shop more profitable. And it can track your growth over time.
The “About” section on Etsy is a great opportunity to showcase the handmade-ness of your shop.
Write the journey of how you started your shop, how you got inspiration when making your product, and some behind-the-scene photos.
Shoppers on Etsy appreciate the process of how you craft your products. The ‘About’ section may just be the extra factor that makes them click the buy button.
Generally speaking, it’s good to keep your shop name/title simple and straightforward. A unique, made-up-word name doesn’t mean success on Etsy. Many successful Etsy sellers have simple names.
It’s also a good idea to have your niche and keyword in your shop name and/or tagline. This makes shoppers understand what your shop is about instantly.
When starting your Etsy shop, it’s crucial to understand what Etsy fees are involved. Luckily, starting an Etsy shop is relatively cheap.
You will only need to pay US$0.2 for each listing you list and renew. Product listings expire after 4 months. After 4 months, if you want to keep that listing on the shop, you will need to pay another $0.2.
When you make a sale, there will be a 5% transaction fee of the product price, shipping and gift wrapping.
Other seller fees include Etsy ads fee, subscription fee if you choose to use Etsy Plus, currency conversion fee, etc. Check out this guide to see how much does it actually cost to sell on Etsy.
Setting up shop policy may sound boring, but it is a necessary step for your shop’s success. It sets up customers’ expectations.
Etsy has a simple shop policy template that you can use to quickly set up. You will be able to choose how you want to accept returns and exchanges.
Having a shop policy set up will slightly improve your shop’s ranking in Etsy search.
Now that you know the tips and tricks to give your Etsy journey a head start, why not get some inspirations of what to sell on Etsy with our shop idea guides: