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Start Your Business Startup Basics

10 Things to Do Before Opening an Etsy Shop

10 Things to Do Before Opening an Etsy Shop
Credit: Evan Lorne/Shutterstock

If you're crafty and creative, opening an Etsy shop is a great way to turn a profit from your favorite hobbies. Whether you repurpose vintage finds or design handcrafted jewelry, you might just find success on the popular online marketplace. But although opening an Etsy shop is fairly simple, turning it into a profitable business may be trickier than it seems.

Before you do anything, you should read Etsy's seller handbook so you're familiar with the site's policies — but where do you go from there? Business News Daily asked Etsy shop owners to share their tips for opening a shop the right way. Here's what these owners had to say.

"Be careful not to pick a name that limits your shop and what you offer. Avoid using terms in your shop name such as 'jewelry' or 'crochet' unless you are absolutely certain that is all you ever intend to sell. A more fanciful name that is unique to your brand will allow you to expand and grow as trends change.  Make sure a shop is not using a name that is too close to the one you are contemplating, to avoid losing customers to the competition." – Kelly Phillips, owner, Wave of Life

"You should have an idea of what your business model will require with regards to reporting for income taxes, and you should find out what your state requires of businesses with regards to business licenses and sales tax collection. Getting these things straight before starting a shop on Etsy can help ensure you will not incur a penalty for failure to collect sales tax, for example." – Cathy Stein, owner, EDCCollective

"Run the numbers. How much does your product cost you to make? How much time does making each product take? The reason this is important is that the amount everyone else on Etsy is charging for a product similar to yours doesn't matter if you can't turn a profit at that price. It's really important to know what your profit margins will be, especially if you are approached by a shop that wants to wholesale with you, because standard wholesale purchasing price is 50 percent of retail." – Shelley Burton, owner, Squeaky Sailor Soap

"Make sure you think through the cost of shipping. This includes your time to and from a mail center, the packaging, and the cost of transportation. It is easy to get caught short in shipping." – Roy Barker, owner, The Clock Monkey

"Find a way to make your packages fun to receive in a way that reflects your business. Everyone loves getting a package. Opening it to find an unceremoniously packed item without a personal touch is a bit of a letdown. Once you have established your logo, create a fun way to add that into your package with a thank you. Buyers shop small for a reason, so give them the personal touch they love about small business." – Joanne Halpin, owner, jhcards [Etsy Shares 5 Secrets to Seller Success ]

"Learn how to take good photos, along with understanding sizing and image editing. The reason for this is that the image of your product really needs to stand out and compel a customer to click and learn more about your product. If the image is sized incorrectly, it won't show properly in the search view, or if it is dark and blurry, most people will pass right by the photo without looking." – Gari Anne Kosanke, owner, Bead Lovers Korner

"Before listing your first item on Etsy, it is important to understand the basics of Etsy search engine optimization. Etsy search works very differently than other search engines. You need to understand how to optimize in order to be found in the millions of items listed on Etsy. It's best to understand this before listing, so you can do it right from the start, rather having to adjust all of your listings that are done incorrectly." – Amanda Lehto, owner, The Painted Tee

"You should be prepared to utilize at least one method of social media for your Etsy-shop marketing. You don't have to use all the [networks]. It's OK to simply choose your favorite, or the one you're most comfortable with. Pinterest [has] an advantage because pins from Etsy are rich pins and show your pricing, and because the user demographics on Pinterest are strongly correlated with Etsy user demographics. Pins are searchable for a long time and can lead to sales in the future." – Jennifer Schmidt, owner, The Cat Ball

"My number one tip that I wish I'd known before started is to make your brand an extension of yourself. If you try to market products that are what you feel other people want to buy, but they're not items you personally feel a lot of connection to, you'll never succeed. I spent so much time my first year making items that weren't something I really loved, because I thought they were what others would like, but then I had no enthusiasm for it, and it obviously showed. Once I switched to items that played off of my love for geeky, nerdy, not terribly mainstream stuff, my shop really took off, because my enjoyment and excitement for them really showed." – Ashley Aranda, owner, Papyrusaurus

"List a variety of items to start with. Don't open your shop with just a handful of pieces.  Buyers aren't typically impressed with two or three items in a shop.  Having a larger variety will keep potential buyers browsing in your shop, and you have a better chance of making a sale." – Jeanine M. Boiko, Okio B Designs