How to Sell on Etsy: Turn your Creativity into Profit

how to sell on etsyIf you have ever wanted to turn your hobby or craft into a paid job, Etsy is for you. Save yourself the hassle of doing it all yourself, and follow this guide to making your first paycheck online.

For anyone interested in selling their handicrafts, Etsy is where you need to be. With a huge community of buyers and sellers interacting everyday, over 30 million people are using Etsy to shop online. Grow your brand and promote your business, its the best platform for you to easily and rapidly set up your own online store. If you are still not convinced Etsy is fantastic, check out what it takes to setup your own online store.

Creating a product

First you need a product. Perhaps you have made handicrafts for years, and simply want another channel to sell through, or you might be just starting out. The most critical aspect of your product is that it is unique. Etsy has thousands of sellers all competing for the same customers. You need to do something special in order to stand out.

Research other stores and see if you can find gaps; niches in the market with no product yet. Perhaps a current trend in your area has yet to hit nationally, or overseas? Design your product based around the concept of “what my customers want.” Yes, Etsy is a great way to turn your hobby into a business, but you need to be certain your hobby creates products people want to buy. Build something that’s new, irresistible and quirky and people will be clambering through the door to buy from you! To learn more about this process, Jim Semick has a great course that walks you through every step from idea to profitability.

Don’t fret if you want to make jewelery and there are hundreds of other sellers. Certainly don’t create something so outrageously “out-there” different no one buys it; do try to find a theme or motif unique to your own style, which shows off your personal taste and artistic vision, and demonstrate this through all of your work.

When you find what it is your customers are looking for, don’t stretch it too far from what you truly love doing. If you truly love your craft it will shine through in your work, and the products you make will be of a much higher standard. Generalists may have a tendency to want to create “everything.” Before you head down this path, make a list of each item you are planning to make, and rank them based on your skill and knowledge. Use this to help make a final decision on your products to create. You don’t need to be chained to a single category, but the best Etsy stores are the ones that have a common theme. Find this, and despite how many products you have your store will never seem disorganised.

Success comes down to knowing your audience. Making something you love isn’t enough, other people have to love it enough to buy it. As you make your first products, think about your target market. What is it my audience is looking for? Specifically, what characteristics make up my target market. How old is my customer, what gender are they, are they going to enjoy the experience of my shop? All of these factors will impact your ability to successfully sell on Etsy, make sure you keep them in mind.

Don’t delay setting up your store because you only have a couple of products. Waiting for a large stock to build up is counter-intuitive to start selling as fast as possible. it delays your selling progress and gives you no feedback. Both direct from customers and in any patterns you see of purchases, you can alter your stock to better meet your customers needs based on feedback. You won’t get any locked up in your house creating hundreds of pincushions!

Having only a few items lets you focus on your store in the early days. Finalising the design and making your storefront appealing to visitors, as build in any ideas you have found in your research to both the storefront and your product. Certain colour-schemes are best suited for specific audiences, tailor your store accordingly.

Design the packaging for your store, this is nearly as important as the  product itself. Consider your customers as receivers of a gift, that’s what they will be when receiving their goods in the mail. Having pretty wrapping paper or a clever logo or gimmick will make buyers more likely to recommend you and purchase again. Think about different ways you can wrap your product, that will make it interesting for your customer to open. A great touch is to leave a handwritten note with every product, addressed specifically to the buyer.

Setting up your shop

To register on Etsy is simple: head to their site and click register – you just need to fill in the blanks. The trickiest part is coming up with a unique username appropriate for your store. Your username will be your identity on Etsy, and also part of your branding and URL (username.etsy.com). You can’t change this later, so put some thought and time into choosing a username that reflects your aspirations for the store. Choose something not too specific so the name makes sense if you change your product line, and find a name that is easy to remember and spell.

Automatically Etsy sets new accounts up as buyers, to change this is simple. Login to your account and click “sell” at the top of the page. This takes you through a getting started series, follow the steps and have a credit card handy to complete the whole process.

Designing your storefront comes next. This is the web page visitors to your online store are greeted with when arriving. You can add your own personal banner here, as well as information about the store. Making your own logo is simple: follow a course aimed at beginners and you can even build this yourself! Don’t forget to fill in the “about the seller” page, your story will help visitors connect with you and encourage them to purchase from your store.

Deciding a price point can be very complex, large companies often have entire teams dedicated solely to pricing competitively in their markets. You don’t want to overcharge, make use of the market research you did before and see what similar products are going for. A good guideline is that your retail price should be double the materials, labour, and expense costs for each item. Follow this up with the shipping costs around America and the world, so you can put these additional costs in as information for every product you advertise. The final financial setup is easy, add your credit card or paypal in the settings tab, so you can purchase and receive payments via Etsy.

Selling is convincing someone they need your product. The easiest way to do this via an online store is to have fantastic photographs. You can use five photos per item on Etsy, make use of them all, showing the product from every angle. Natural lighting gives the best photos, and have a standard backdrop for your pictures. It doesn’t have to be the traditional white, just make sure it enhances the image of your product. A fancy camera isn’t required to take great photos, for anyone unsure how to best use their camera – a quick course will have you taking product photos with the best of them after only a couple of hours study.

To ensure your customers can find your items, add tags to product descriptions. You can add up to 13 tags, use all of them to give you have the highest possible chance of being found in Etsy or Google searches. The best results are from specific keywords, instead of using generic terms like “jewelry,” tags like “handmade jade necklace” will narrow search results giving you a better chance to rise to the top. Tag every aspect about your product, the colour, material, making process, style, size – the more specific the better.

Often considered the boring side of a sales business, approach selling on Etsy with a clear business plan. It is a great way to keep all of your product research in one place, as you make overviews about your competitors, pricing and products. Targets are a great way to keep track of your progress, as well as your estimated profit goals. Your business plan should be flexible, adjusting as required – but is the single greatest way of keeping track of your goals. Make a schedule with related to-do lists. Being physically organized will help your business to run smoothly and reduce your stress.

Daily upkeep

Keep track of all of your sales, including expenses, price you sold it for and your total profit on the item. This will help you to tally your profit at the end of the month. The envelope system is a great way to keep your receipts/invoices organised, keep them all filed together and you will never lose track of anything.

Promotion is a vital way to get your name out, Etsy offers great advertising to get your products to the top of their search results. You can also spread the name of your shop by being active in the Etsy community, commenting and being helpful in the blog posts or joining an Etsy team (a group of sellers with a common interest).

Simply having a store full of items won’t make you rich. You need to get visitors in, and you need them to be buying! Outside of Etsy there are many social media networks you can take advantage of to advertise your store, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Youtube and Instagram are all great for sharing those fantastic product photos you took, and bringing in new business.

Create a Facebook page for your store, using your branding and logo from Etsy so the pages have a common feel. Talk about anything you want, but use it regularly. Great topics could be following a product from start to finish, new items you have just released, or any changes in your online store. Ask your friends to like and share the page, or use Facebook Ads to spread the word even further.

Photo sharing sites are a great way for pictures of your products to get out there. Make the photos fun in a unique or interesting way and they will have more chance of being shared and reaching more viewers. Tags will make your images more searchable, and always include a link back to your Etsy store.

Create your own blog about your products, the methods to make them or your hobby in general. Great content will be a hook for viewers who also want to buy your products. You could also advertise your Etsy page on the leading blogs for your target market. If your product was studded dog collars, find blogs with a great following (like Caesar Milan’s Dog Whisperer) and advertise there. You need to go to where your target audience is already.

Discounts and promotions also work great using the blog method. Find a popular blog in your industry, and offer to donate an item for a lucky prize draw or give the readers a specific discount in exchange for a featured post. This let’s you promote your business to a whole new audience, and whilst costs you money in the short run – it lets you reach a far greater amount of people and grow your business over the long run.

Advertising offline is another great way to build and promote your store, even though it’s not a typical brick and mortar business. Hand out business cards at events or expo’s in your industry, tell all of your friends and family, and stick up flyers on every local bulletin board you see. The more passionate you are about your products, the more people will be drawn to your story.

Keep your stock fresh and varied to continue drawing interest. Adding new items every 1-2 weeks gives buyers something new to look at, building your inventory at a sustainable pace whilst attracting buyers again and again. Don’t forget that Etsy automatically expires your products every three months, renew them in the settings tab of your home page. Another tip to boost your product rankings is to list 5 products on your stores launch day, and then add a new product ever 1-2 days. Search results in Etsy are listed newest to oldest, this technique will keep you near the front of the pack. Once all of your products are listed (20 cents for each), you can pay an additional 20 cents to bump each item to the front of the pack again.

Another idea for a revenue stream is supplies and patterns. If you are looking for new ways to diversify your income, add more products to your store by selling a pattern or DIY kit for one of your popular products.

Selling on Etsy is easy. It is simple to setup your own online store, and start the tactics needed to bring more and more visitors in each day. As you begin your Etsy career, always remember the customer comes first. build a product that people love, get the word out, and the rest will take care of itself. Your success awaits!