Etsy is one of the most popular platforms in the third-party marketplace industry, giving creatives a place to sell unique products. Through Etsy, you can create a virtual store and sell goods and services exclusively online.
If you think you might want to join the nearly 2 million Etsy sellers, there are a few things to consider first. Are you looking to dive in full time and rely solely on your income as an Etsy seller, or are you interested in Etsy as a side project? This will determine your approach.
Regardless of your end goal, starting your journey with Etsy can earn you a respectable income. Here are a few basic steps to opening your own Etsy shop. [Ready to start your Etsy shop? Do these 10 things first.]
1. Choose your niche
When deciding on a niche for your Etsy shop, it's important to choose something that interests you and suits your passions to ensure you'll never grow tired of creating products that fall into the category.
Once you have a general idea of the type of products you'll be selling, research similar sellers for inspiration. What kind of language do they use? What makes their products unique? How do they present their content in an attractive manner?
"You have to have a passion for what you make and sell, so if your niche intersects with market appeal and profit, you have a home run," he said.
From there, consider how you will create your products, package them for shipping, find where to purchase the raw materials, and how to establish good customer service and social media marketing, he added.
2. Register, create and stock your shop
You'll need to register for Etsy before opening a shop. It's free to sign up, but Etsy does charge for listing fees (20 cents), transaction fees that also applies to the cost of shipping (5 percent) and payment processing (3 percent plus 25 cents).
Once you've mapped out the basics, create your shop and make sure to stock it with as many items as you can to start. You'll want to appear professional, and only offering a few items might hurt your ratings.
Cordero recommends keeping your shop as full as possible, with at least 20 products. However, the process may take a while, so don't fret if you only have a few items to start. Just keep adding as you go, as often as you can.
"You want to treat your Etsy store as a brick-and-mortar shop," he said. "You wouldn't want to walk into a brick-and-mortar store and only see five items on the shelf. You want to be taken seriously."
Key takeaway: Keep your Etsy store stocked with as many items as you can to start to appear professional. 20 products is a good number to keep in mind.
Check out the following tips to make sure your shop reaches as many Etsy users as possible:
Add new items monthly. Keeping your shop updated will not only keep current customers loyal, it will also attract new ones.
Take quality photographs. Professional-looking pictures make your site more credible and appealing. Avoid using blurry, mediocre photos, as they might turn potential buyers away.
Write detailed descriptions. Your descriptions should be thorough enough to promote the product and all it has to offer. Don't sell it short by labeling it with generic descriptions.
Put thought into titles, tags/keywords and SEO. You'll want to know how to work the system by using titles, tags or keywords, and SEO to your advantage. Research the words that drive the most traffic and use them for your products.
Etsy also recently introduced two subscription level subscriptions. The Plus subscription will launch in July 2018 for $10 per month, which will increase to $20 per month in January 2019. A Premium subscription will not launch until 2019, and the pricing for that level will not be released until then either.
A Plus subscription comes with customizable options for what your store looks like. For instance, you'll get access to new banner templates and featured listing options to highlight specific products. You can get a custom .com or .store URL to send customers, and you'll get a discount on custom shipping boxes, business cards and other marketing materials. Plus you'll be able to email interested shoppings if something you sell comes back in stock. And as a bonus, it's offering members 15 listing credits and a $5 credit for advertising in Etsy search through Promoted Listings. If you're interested in upgrading your free account to the Plus version, you can sign up to be notified when it is available.
3. Market your products or services
Social media is your best support system for your Etsy endeavors. As soon as you open your shop, create accounts on various platforms to promote your products and build a following.
Cordero is active on social media, interacting with his audience as often as possible. He noted that it's important to show the person behind the products to connect with buyers on a more personal level. Being active on all accounts, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, will help boost your sales.
"Allocating time to them will be the hardest part," he told Business News Daily. "Once you determine which social media outlet drives the most traffic back to your shop, you can then take the next step and start spending money on targeted advertising through those channels."
Additionally, he recommends that new sellers make themselves as visible and reachable as possible.
"There are many benefits to a virtual store, but one drawback is the lack of face-to-face interaction with customers," Cordero said. "To make up for it, you must offer quick turnaround to customer questions and comments, and of course to shipping purchases."
Tip: The best way to promote your Etsy shop is to actively join social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest and engage directly with your followers.
4. Determine your packaging and shipping processes
Research different packaging and shipping options to find ones that will best suit your products and business. Just because something is the most affordable does not mean it's the best option for all buyers.
You might want to consider offering more extensive methods of shipping that include tracking information, signature confirmation and insurance. Be sure you're aware of the expenses so you can list proper fees for your customers.
"A lot of time, customers are last-minute shoppers for gifts and need them to arrive right away," said Cordero. "Expedited shipping gives them that option and also gives you a way to make more profit on shipping."
Additionally, Cordero advised that you make sure to include "void fillers" to avoid movement or breaking during transit. Using kraft paper or packaging peanuts is a simple solution for this issue.
For more advice on managing the shipping process, visit Business News Daily's guide for ecommerce sellers.