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Updated Oct 19, 2023

Starting an Etsy Shop? Here’s How to Do It

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Sammi Caramela, Business Operations Insider and Senior Writer

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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. Whether you’re looking to become a full-time Etsy seller or just trying to make some extra money on the side, starting your journey with Etsy is relatively straightforward. Here are a few basic steps to opening your own Etsy shop.

How to create a successful Etsy shop

Below are the steps you should take to launch a successful Etsy shop.

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?

Dan Cordero, owner of Etsy shop Cordero Lighting, suggests browsing shops that match your interests and talents to check the success rate.

“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 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 listing fees ($0.20), transaction fees that also apply to the cost of shipping (6.5 percent) and payment processing fees (3 percent plus $0.25).

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 offering only 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 TakeawayKey takeaway

Keep your Etsy store stocked with as many items as possible so that you appear professional. Twenty products is a good number to keep in mind.

3. Grow your audience.

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, but 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, keywords and SEO to your advantage. Research the words that drive the most traffic, and use them for your products.
  • Prioritize visuals. Etsy offers a subscription payment model, Etsy Plus, for sellers. This subscription costs $10 per month. When you sign up, you get 15 listing credits and $5 in Etsy Ads credit.

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 discounted custom Hover URL to send customers, and you’ll get a discount on custom shipping boxes, business cards and other marketing materials. Plus, you can set up restock alerts through which customers can sign up for automatic notifications when something you sell is back in stock. 

4. 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 social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, will help boost your sales.

“Allocating time to them will be the hardest part,” Cordero 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.

5. 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 times, 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 e-commerce sellers.

The benefits of using Etsy

Etsy may be a better choice than other online selling platforms – and traditional brick-and-mortar stores – for the following reasons:

  • Vast buyer pool: Etsy’s user base comprises roughly 7.52 million people. That’s considerably more than most Etsy alternatives. It’s also several orders of magnitude larger than the audience you could build through a brick-and-mortar operation.
  • No geographical limits: A brick-and-mortar shop’s audience might be limited solely to the people who can physically access it. Conversely, anyone with an internet connection can access your Etsy store. This dramatically expands your potential customer base.
  • Built-in advertising: Through Etsy Ads, you can pay for your products to appear prominently in Etsy searches, market pages and category pages. This can result in shoppers choosing your brand over your competitors. Not all online marketplaces include this built-in advertising.
  • Additional business-friendly tools: Most other online marketplaces don’t offer the website, business card and shipping material customization available through Etsy Plus. These tools can help you make a great first impression and keep building upon it after your shoppers make purchases. They can be the start of how you keep your customers coming back time and again.

Etsy can be for everyone

There are few barriers to starting your own Etsy shop. The bigger obstacle might be setting up your shop properly, in ways that make the most of potential customer interest. If you follow the above steps, though, this challenge should be easy to address head-on. Success selling your creations on the internet might be just around the corner.

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Sammi Caramela, Business Operations Insider and Senior Writer
Sammi Caramela is a trusted business advisor whose work for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others centers around creating digestible but informative guidance on all things small business. Whether she's discussing cash flow management or intellectual property, work trends or employer branding, Caramela provides actionable tips designed for small business owners to take their entrepreneurship to the next level. Caramela, who also lends her expertise to the financial outlet 24/7 Wall St., has business management experience that allows her to provide personal insights on day-to-day operations and the working relationship between managers and independent contractors. Amidst all this, Caramela has found time to publish a young adult novel, develop a poetry collection and contribute short stories to various anthologies.
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