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Can you really make money on Etsy? I will show you how to sell on Etsy and persuade customers to buy from your shop. I will share the only 5 steps you need to worry about to open a profitable shop today.
I know what brought you here.
You are interested in opening an Etsy shop and want to know exactly what to do to get it right.
We’re all trying to find alternative ways to make money because we need the income but also because we crave the freedom, flexibility, and the sense of purpose that comes from pursuing creative projects that we love.
I will show you how to turn your imagination into something that can help you generate multiple income streams and facilitate the financial freedom and fulfillment you’ve always wanted.
And you won’t just learn how to sell on Etsy. You will actually learn how to make money on Etsy.
Ready to get started? Me too.
What is Etsy?
Before discussing how to sell on Etsy, we must understand what it is and what it isn’t.
In short, Etsy is the home of all things hand-crafted and handmade.
While other platforms (like eBay and Amazon) provide a marketplace for cheap, mass-produced goods and price-hungry shoppers, Etsy is all about quality and originality, about the unique and the quirky.
But make no mistake; despite its status as hip and unique, Etsy is not an underdog. It is the sixth largest online marketplace in the world, with over 3 million sellers and 60 million buyers across 234 countries and territories.
And yet, you don’t have to be some sort of entrepreneurial guru backed by an entourage to start an Etsy shop.
In fact, less than 1 in 5 Etsy shop owners are full-time entrepreneurs. The rest are artists, hobbyists, creatives with a unique skill … just like you.
But I know what you’re thinking – can you make money on Etsy?
How much can you make selling on Etsy?
Overall, sellers report an average household income of $56,000 annually. But earnings vary wildly. You can earn anything from as little as $100 a month to over $10,000 a month and more.
And how much you’ll make will depend on the products you decide to sell, your profit margin, and how skilled you are at marketing your Etsy shop (don’t worry, more on how to succeed with that later).
But if you open your Etsy shop and follow the right steps, you too can profit from the massive growth that Etsy is going through right now.
Etsy Case Study:
Lauren from Beautiful Mesh
Lauren is an accountant by day turned Etsy shop owner in her spare time. She earns an incredible $60,000-$70,000 making custom mesh wreaths at night and on weekends.
“My best tip for someone getting started is to treat it as a business. Don’t assume it’s like “craigslist” or Facebook marketplace where you just put up a picture and write a title and hope someone will find it.
“You have to learn how the algorithm works, and you have to use the words in your listing that buyers are actually searching for. Titling your item like a work of art or just typing words like an ingredient list won’t help get found in search. Etsy is saturated with people that know how to use the platform. It’s usually NOT a problem with the product – it’s about how the product is listed and marketed on Etsy and social media platforms.”
“Having my friends and family purchase on Etsy initially helped to gain traction. It increased my sales numbers and gave me that social proof I needed for other buyers.”
Backed by an influx of new stay-at-home shoppers, Etsy’s stock rose an incredible 340% in 2020, and “experts say it will keep rising.”
Here is the thing, though: Etsy was already experiencing dramatic growth long before COVID hit.
In fact, in 2018, industry experts predicted Etsy’s revenue would grow nearly 25% between 2019-2021 alone.
The best part of this growing platform is that it provides room for shops and dreams of all sizes.
Of course, by now, we’ve probably all heard the story of Alicia Shaffer and her store ThreeBirdNest. After starting her Etsy shop “to pay for dance lessons or my son’s soccer,” Shaffer became “Etsy’s richest seller,” selling bohemian-inspired fashion accessories to the tune of $1 million per year.
But for some, dreams are more modest.
Look to Lois Calli-Smith, who used the onset of the pandemic to turn her lifelong love of sewing into a profitable side business. In only a few months, Calli-Smith sold hundreds of her PDF sewing patterns for all sorts of unusual accessories.
Big or small, if you’ve got something unique you’d like to sell, the answer to ‘can you make money on Etsy’ is a decided yes.
How much does it cost to sell on Etsy?
Those looking to start an Etsy shop should be aware of the following fees:
Etsy charges a small fee for every item you list in your shop, which must be paid regardless of any sales.
In the US, this cost is $0.20 per listing.
Etsy’s listing fees are paid at the end of the month. This allows you to pay as you go rather than devoting an up-front investment, good for those just starting out.
Every time a customer buys something from your shop, Etsy takes 5% of the total cost. This applies to shipping costs paid by the customer as well.
Payment processing fee
Studies have shown consumers are more likely to abandon their purchases if their preferred payment method isn’t available.
The good news is that Etsy provides a service called Etsy Payments which allows customers to pay with ten different methods, including debit and credit card, PayPal, Etsy gift cards, as well as Apple Pay and Google Play.
However, the downside is that sellers are obligated to use the service, and it adds a processing fee to all transactions. In the US, this fee is 3% plus $0.25.
How to sell on Etsy
1. Open your Etsy shop
How do you move a mountain? One stone at a time, they say. To start selling on Etsy, first move the smallest pebble.
Open your Etsy shop by simply heading over to Etsy.com and clicking ‘Register’ in the top right-hand corner. If you already have an Etsy account, you can skip this step.
From there, return to the profile menu in the top right-hand corner, and click ‘Sell on Etsy,’ and then, ‘Open Your Etsy Shop.’
A couple of short forms later, and you’re ready to go!
Yes, it really is that easy!
Remember, you’ll need to create one listing to activate your shop, so make sure you have at least one product in mind when you open your Etsy shop.
2. Set up your shop
First, choose a name for your shop (don’t worry, you can change it later). You have 20 characters to work with.
Think about what will make your brand unique, the feeling you want your shop to evoke, and the story you are trying to tell.
Next, optimize your Etsy shop profile.
Your Seller Profile – Include a short bio and photograph or logo to start building your brand.
Your Shop Bio – Here, you have 5000 characters to introduce your brand, technical qualifications, achievements, and, most importantly, your inspiration.
Your Shop Policy – These are your store’s specific guidelines for transactions, the how and where of your processing procedures, shipping timelines, and refund policy.
If this type of minutiae is not your strong point, don’t worry – Etsy has templates to help you get it done.
3. Create stellar listings
Online stores are at one distinct disadvantage to those selling live and in person. Customers cannot actually feel, touch, and hold your products in an online marketplace before they buy.
This means that one of the most important angles when answering how to sell on Etsy is how sellers facilitate customer connection to their products in other ways.
One simple way to do this – Have amazing product listings!
How? I’m so glad you asked.
Use stunning images
Think about it. You’re browsing page after page of unique products. Which do you click on? The ones that look the best! In other words, your photos must be high quality.
Also, Etsy allows ten photos per listing – make sure to use them all.
Your best photo should be the thumbnail, but the rest should show your product from multiple angles, as well as in lifestyle shots of the product being used.
The power of titles
Etsy allows titles of 140 characters, but only the first 40 characters show up on the search results page.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use all 140 characters – you should – it means that the customer should know what the product is and what makes it unique within those first 40 characters.
Have a look at how this Etsy top seller is using the title to add as many keywords as possible:
Persuasive product descriptions
Don’t be afraid to write personal product descriptions to tell your brand’s story and illuminate how your product will improve the customer’s life.
But make sure to include the important details, and include them first.
This means key features of the product, measurements, condition, color, and ordering instructions. Answers the questions customers may have before they even have to ask.
Want to learn more? Take this free course on Skillshare to create Etsy product listings that actually get seen.
4. Learn SEO and choose top keywords
It’s a simple question – How do you get your products to the top of Etsy’s search results?
When a customer runs a search on Etsy, its algorithm looks at two broad categories to determine the results the customer sees.
First, Etsy’s algorithm looks to match keywords on titles, tags, attributes, and categories.
- Titles: Here, Etsy is looking for keywords that describe your product. They want to match what the customer is typing into the search bar with the words in your title.
As mentioned, sellers are permitted 140 characters for a listing title. Fill this space with keywords, especially in the first 40 characters, which are most important to Etsy’s algorithm.
- Tags: Tags are words and short phrases you can use to categorize each product listing. Each Etsy listing is allowed up to 13 tags. Again, make sure to use them all!
A tag can be up to 20 characters, and multi-word tags are often best. For example, “wedding accessories” would be a better tag than “accessories.”
- Attributes: These are additional details used to describe a product, a way for the customer to narrow down their search. Attributes would include color, material, occasion, and so on.
- Categories: This is another way for the customer to filter search results, this time by sub-category.
For example, if you were selling a ring, your listing would appear under ‘Jewelry and Accessories’, as well as the sub-category, ‘Rings.’
Most simply, your title, tags, attributes, and categories should all be loaded with keywords. More importantly, they should all be using the same keywords to maximize SEO.
How do I know which keywords to use?
First, you need to start using one of the most popular Etsy SEO tools out there.
Marmalead is what you want.
This app helps you to discover the keywords buyers use to find listings similar to yours. You can also check out the real search volume and popular searches, as well as look at your competitors and see what they rank for.
You can try it for free for 14 days, then it’s $19/month.
Other tools you might want to look into (although they don’t really compare):
- ERank helps you to craft titles and tags, monitor other sellers, and track your rankings. Plus it’s the perfect tool to figure out the best things to sell on Etsy. It’s free for some limited searches. Then you can pick from a basic $5.99 plan, or a $9.99 if you want the most advanced options.
- Etsy Stats is the free analytics tool you will find inside your Etsy shop account and will help you to identify your best-performing products.
Second, you can conduct a test search yourself.
Type a description of your product into the Etsy search bar and see what gets suggested. These are the words and phrases customers are using when searching for products like yours.
Note, you do not want to rely on the search bar entirely to determine your keywords. This is because what shows up are not necessarily the most valuable keywords, but only those which are popular in recent searches.
After query matching, Etsy ranks all matched listings based on the likelihood that a purchase will be made. They want sales to be made, so they want to put products in front of customers that they will actually buy.
Etsy determines the likelihood that a purchase will be made by examining:
- Relevance of tags, categories, and attributes – keywords, keywords, keywords!
- Conversion Rate – are people who go to your shop actually buying?
- Customer and Market Experience – Etsy looks at your customer service history and your shop profile’s content. Yes, completing your profile actually helps SEO.
- Shipping Costs – Low shipping costs are positively correlated with sales. Since Etsy wants to show results that will lead to purchases, lower shipping costs – particularly free shipping – are given credit by their algorithm.
- Age of Listing – simply, newer is better. Don’t forget to refresh from time to time!
And if you need more help with Etsy SEO check out this free course on Skillshare. It will help you to become an SEO master!
5. Price your products right
When asking how to sell on Etsy, you must find the right balance on your products’ price.
First, consider how much each item you produce is actually costing you – not only the materials needed to make the product but the fees, taxes, and shipping costs you will incur on its sale. And, of course, add in the cost of your labor.
Compare this to the price you are selling your product. If the difference between the two numbers is not great enough to represent a healthy profit on each sale, what can you do?
You can try to cut costs by, for example, sourcing more affordable materials with which to work.
But you can also raise prices. Here is a secret: the lowest price is not always most appealing for customers. This is particularly true when trying to make money selling on Etsy, where customers are specifically looking for high-quality, one-of-a-kind products and are willing to pay for them.
Check out Etsy’s pricing worksheet.
How to make money on Etsy in 2021
1. Choose the right products
Before asking what to sell on Etsy, note that all items sold on Etsy must be handmade, vintage (at least 20-years-old), or a craft supply. Make sure to check out Etsy’s regulations on what you can and can’t sell if you are unsure.
That said, it’s really easy to find the bestselling items on Etsy, using erank.
All you need to do is to register for a free account, then you need to connect your Etsy shop to it (it’s 100% safe). Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to get a snapshot of the most popular sellers on Etsy that made the most sales.
You can only check the first 5 for free. If you want more info, including a list of overall top sellers, you need to upgrade to a basic or pro account.
And, just in case you are wondering, here are the six best things to sell on Etsy in 2021.
No matter which way the winds of change are blowing, one thing remains the same – handmade jewelry is one of the most lucrative things you can sell on Etsy.
Just look at Janice Worsley and Swanky Crafts. After attempting to sell cards and other gift items for some time, Worsley took the plunge into jewelry targeted towards weddings. Almost immediately, her sales jumped 500%.
Or look at CaitlynMinimalist, run by Kate Kim from LA. She has made, as of today, over 900,000 sales. It’s not hard to make the sums and know that she has a 7-figure Etsy business in her hands.
Jewelry and craft supplies
If you don’t have the time or skill to actually create the jewelry, you can provide the supplies to those who would.
Skeptical? Check out Bohemian Findings, started by Hope Milner and her husband as a fund for their retirement dream of settling on Canada’s Prince Edward Island. Bohemian Findings has now made over one million sales of bulk craft supplies … and yeah, the Milner’s now live comfortably on Prince Edward Island.
Yes, this means shirts with printed designs – an all-time popular seller on Etsy – but now more than ever, it means things like headbands, socks, leg warmers, and other fashion accessories
Some seek to follow in the footsteps of ThreeBirdNest and create their own fashion line, while others, like Diane Vick, the proprietor of Lizzy’s Biz, take a more targeted approach.
Diane turned her love of spoiling her grandchildren with handmade clothing into a successful Etsy business earning between $1,000 and $6,000 per month by selling handcrafted clothing, quilts, aprons, and more.
Homemade bath and beauty products
There is a “movement” towards homemade and organic bath and beauty products, and many Etsy sellers are taking advantage of the trend.
Zandra Cunningham inspired a generation when she started making and selling her own beauty products at nine-years-old, becoming, by the time she was a teenager, the proprietor of a thriving company and featured TEDx speaker.
Digital products can include artwork, stationery and planners, knitting and crochet patterns, stickers, and more.
The best part of digital products? No shipping costs! Your customers simply download the product at their time of purchase.
Remember Lois Calli-Smith? She did not turn her lifelong love of sewing into a clothing business but rather a business selling digital sewing patterns.
Simply, Etsy is the place customers go when they want something unique and quirky from the past.
For inspiration, look to Serena Fortenberry and Vintage Squalor. Fortenberry started what she calls a “hobby” business selling the unique treasures she finds at garage and estate sales, thrift shops, and antique auctions.
Vintage Squalor now earns Fortenberry over $1,000 per month doing something she loved to do already.
Need more ideas for what to sell on Etsy? Check out my guide to 20 Easy Things to Make and Sell Online.
2. Use the power of marketing
Good news: there are many ways to market your Etsy store, which require little to no monetary input.
Here are three ways you absolutely should be marketing your Etsy shop.
Yes, you should share product listings on Instagram, Facebook, and even Twitter. But more than that, you should get into “engagement marketing” on all of these platforms.
This means joining the conversations others are having, commenting on posts, and asking for feedback; it means producing behind-the-scenes content or how-to tutorials for your products.
Most importantly, you must be active on Pinterest.
This means that not only should you make your own board featuring your products, but you should join in on pre-existing Etsy pinning groups, in which Etsy sellers pin each other’s materials to boost exposure.
Undoubtedly, one of the best features on Etsy is its free-to-use sales and coupon capabilities.
This means you can offer discounted prices or special offers like free shipping to the Etsy community. Promotions are a great way to entice new buyers and build loyalty among existing customers.
Did you know: 97% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase.
Further, 88% of customers put as much weight on online reviews as they would on personal recommendations.
On Etsy, customers can leave reviews on their experience for 100 days. Building a solid cache of positive reviews is an excellent marketing strategy.
3. Don’t be afraid to invest in ads
But what if you do want to spend a bit of money marketing your product?
For those in this category, Etsy Ads are an excellent idea.
Here’s how it works: Etsy Ads functions as a sort of auction for ad space on Etsy. You set the daily budget you would like to spend – say, $1 to start – and from there, Etsy offers bids on your behalf for various ad spaces.
The beauty is that Etsy will automatically choose the bids which are best for your specific listings. Remember, they want you to sell.
4. Use Etsy stats to improve listings
As your Etsy store starts to grow, it is absolutely vital you measure its performance, see what is working and what is not, and adjust your strategy accordingly.
You must let the metrics be your guide!
What metrics should you be looking at, and, more importantly, what do they mean?
Views and visits
Most simply, examine how many customer views each of your product listings is generating.
Listing costs can add up fast, so consider getting rid of low-performing ads, or, don’t eliminate them, improve them! Update keywords, improve your images, change product categories, or even rewrite the product description.
But whatever you do, don’t leave low performers drain your budget, and hurt your SEO.
Simply, your conversion rate is how often someone who visits your page actually buys something.
Conversion rate = (orders ÷ visits) x 100
A conversion rate between 1-3% is what you’re looking for.
If your conversion rate is low, it means people are finding your product but don’t like what you are offering enough to make a purchase. Here, improve the listings!
Conversely, if the conversion rate of a listing is high, this means that people like what you are selling, and you might increase sales by investing in ads so that more customers come across it.
Finally, examine your traffic sources, that is, where your buyers are coming from. This will tell you how your buyers are finding you, and consequently, where best to devote your resources.
Are your ads driving views? Consider upping your daily ad budget.
Maybe a specific social media channel is bringing in the customers? Spend more time to building your following there.
5. Ship internationally
Further, 20% of customers are more likely to complete their purchase when the listing offers free delivery.
Content may be King, but free shipping is most definitely Queen.
The good news? Etsy allows sellers to offer free shipping to anywhere in the world!
They even provide a smart pricing tool to help sellers adjust the price of their products to recover the shipping cost.
But what if you determine it’s just not viable cost-wise to offer free shipping on your products?
Don’t fret. If you live in the US, UK, Canada, or Australia, there is something for you too!
There, Etsy allows you to print discounted shipping postage from the comfort of your home.
Remember, Etsy buyers come from all over the world. Focus on getting your product in their hands as inexpensively and efficiently as possible
Is Etsy Plus worth it?
For those looking to take their Etsy store to the next level, there is a monthly subscription service called Etsy Plus offering discounts and an expanded set of tools.
In the US, Etsy Plus costs $10 per month.
This gets you:
- 15 free product listings ($3 value)
- $5 in Etsy Ads credits
- Discount on domains – Etsy Plus allows you to save 50% on a customized ‘.com’ domain address or get a ‘.store’ address free for a year.
- Advanced customization – Etsy Plus also provides advanced customization options like new banner templates and different front pages for your store, as well as featured ad listing options.
- Restock options – when someone visits your store, and a product is out of stock, Etsy Plus allows them to sign up and receive a notification when you restock it.
- Discounts on shipping boxes, business cards, and other promotional material
For those who have established their store and are looking to take it to the next level, the answer is, yes. Etsy Plus is totally worth it.
Is Etsy the right platform for you?
- Audience – Etsy is one of the biggest online marketplaces in the world and growing. Starting on Etsy gives you access to a large existing customer base you won’t have if you start on your own.
- Support – With Etsy’s Help Center, seller handbook, seller newsletter, and community forms, selling on Etsy means you won’t be doing it alone.
- Safety – Etsy is a well-established company with proven secure payments, along with security and fraud detection specialists.
- Free Shipping Guarantee – In some ways, we’re all competing with Amazon Prime; it’s Jeff Bezos’ world, and we’re just living in it. The ability to offer free shipping in your shop is a huge advantage.
- Fees – Yes, Etsy’s fees can add up, and sometimes it will feel like you’re giving away profits. It might help to think of it like you’re paying to not have to do it alone.
- Rules – Take careful note, Etsy has robust policies and maintains the right to expel your account at any time. In short, make sure you know, and follow, the rules.
- Branding – Compared to other online selling platforms, Etsy can make it difficult at times to express your brand personality. If this feels like a problem, you may want to use Etsy Plus to unlock more customization options.
Personally, my final take is that Etsy is a great platform.
It can give your new brand significant exposure, especially if you don’t want to invest in creating your own online shop and searching for an audience straight away. It is also a fantastic platform for making money on the side, and it has all the tools to allow your shop to grow with your success.
It is, however, worth adding one final thing.
61% of Etsy sellers are multi-channel retailers, meaning they don’t just sell on Etsy.
The best plan might be to build up your shop on Etsy initially, taking advantage of their built-in audience, then looking to diversify to other platforms once your brand is established.
Check out my comprehensive guide on How to Start an Online Store.
So there you have it, your guide to how to sell on Etsy, and, more importantly, how to make money selling on Etsy in 2021.
It’s true: Etsy is growing fast and shows no signs of slowing down.
The time is now to open your Etsy shop and move towards the financial freedom you’ve always wanted.
So what are you waiting for? The only thing left to do is get started!
If you have any questions, add a comment below or email me. I reply to every comment and every single email!
And if you know someone thinking about starting an Etsy shop or looking to improve the one they have, please do not hesitate to share this with them!
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