Etsy is an online marketplace for creative entrepreneurs who want to reach a global audience. But with millions of active sellers on the platform, standing out from competition can be a challenge. In this article, we share with you 20 tips for selling on Etsy, the value behind each, and how to get started.
Etsy’s gross merchandise sales reached $4.97 billion in 2019. Significantly, only 18% of these sellers were full-time entrepreneurs. Artists, hobbyists, and even suppliers can have a thriving business on the platform with careful planning.
Etsy by the Numbers
Number of active sellers
Number of active buyers
Category with most sellers
Category with most sales
Handmade (home and living, art, collectibles, and jewelry)
Whether you’re already selling on Etsy, or just starting out, having reliable, user-friendly, and cost-effective payment processing is critical for any Etsy seller. Etsy has a partnership with Square to offer sellers low-cost payment processing and access to multichannel sales. Visit Square to create a free account.
Then, follow these tips to significantly boost your Etsy sales:
Tips for Getting Started on Etsy
1. Know What You Can and Can’t Sell
It’s easy for any business-minded person to open a store on Etsy, but before you start uploading products, it would be a good idea to know what you can and can’t sell. This will help protect you, your buyer, and the platform from legal issues, particularly against intellectual property. It also helps you understand the best way to categorize your product to make it more visible to potential buyers.
You can easily grab a copy of Etsy’s seller policy from the website. It talks about the rights and obligations of Etsy sellers including guidelines on what may be sold on each of their categories.
Here is a quick overview:
What You Can Sell on Etsy
What You Can’t Sell on Etsy
2. Understand the Difference Between Copying and Inspiration
Contrary to popular belief, there are no rules that specify what percentage of the original artwork must be changed to qualify for protection under the Fair Use Doctrine. There’s often a fine line between what’s copied and what’s inspired, and Etsy removes material subject to a complaint when given notice. This is why it’s crucial that you understand the difference even before you open your Etsy store.
Though there is a fine line, Etsy offers the following guidelines:
- Never use the name of an artist who inspired your work as the artist may claim that your sales are a result of their brand.
- Avoid tagging your items with a specific luxury brand in an effort to describe the quality of your product.
- Using the brand name in the title, tags, and description of vintage products is allowed, but avoid guessing if you’re not sure.
- Always check for copyright when using someone else’s photos even if the product on the image is generic.
- Avoid purchasing licensed images from stores with a poor reputation.
If you plan on selling branded items, consider investing in license fees. This is less expensive than paying thousands of dollars in damages or legal fees, or having your inventory impounded.
3. Choose the Right Shop Name for Your Store
Your shop name will be your brand. A good name will help your store stand out from other shops, and is memorable enough to type into the search bar. Etsy allows you to use 20 characters for your shop name, which is required when setting up your store. And while you’re free to change your Etsy store name down the road, you wouldn’t want customers to forget your brand because of multiple name changes.
Brainstorming and testing are the two main steps to coming up with the best store name. Start by making a list of options. Descriptive names like “Zen Handicrafts,” is the easiest strategy. You can also try abstract ideas for a more creative and unique name. Try combining words or phrases like “Scentimental,” to showcase a point of interest related to your product.
Use these questions to test your store name:
- What kind of feeling do you want your store name to convey?
- Did it evoke that same feeling when you mentioned your store name to friends and family?
- Is your store name easy to spell and read?
- Does the name look good on your business card?
- Does it have an alternative meaning in other languages?
- Have you tried to search for similar names on Google?
4. Add Multiple Payment Options
According to Baymard Institute, 6% of online shoppers have abandoned their carts in the last quarter because there weren’t enough payment options. It’s important to consider that while online shopping is becoming the norm, there are still potential customers that will hesitate sharing their credit card details online, no matter how secure your website. This lost opportunity can be easily avoided by maximizing available payment options for your store.
Etsy store owners should take advantage of Etsy Payments. This gives you the ability to offer a wide variety of payment options without having to open multiple merchant services accounts. Etsy payments can be used to accept:
- Credit cards
- Debit/bank cards
- Etsy Gift Cards and Etsy Credits
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
You’ll want to make sure you also provide options for in-person customers. Square has partnered with Etsy to provide sellers with a quick and secure way to complete in-person payments from your phone or tablet and sync your shop inventory. Simply go to the Shop Manager page, choose Square from the Add Channel options, follow the prompts and you’re good to go. You also get a Square card reader for free when you sign up.
5. Build Your Mailing List
Email marketing plays a significant role in online sales, with an average return on investment of $42 for every one dollar spent. This is why it’s crucial for every business owner to have a strategy for building their mailing list from the start.
There are a number of steps you can take to build your mailing list while complying with Etsy’s seller policy:
- Create an account with an email service provider like Constant Contact or MailChimp that allows you to create a landing page for your opt-in form.
- Include the link to your landing page on your Etsy shop’s profile, about page, listing descriptions, and on your thank you messages for recent buyers.
- Include the link on your shop banner, email signatures, and business cards.
It’s important to have this strategy in place from that start because you can’t send this link through Etsy Conversations, or to any of your old customers without violating Etsy’s TOU.
6. Understand Seller Fees
There are fees involved with running any business, and Etsy is no exception. Sellers should always know how much they are spending for using the platform to make sure they are operating well within their budget and protecting their bottom line. Sellers should also know when and how to pay account fees to keep their store in good standing. Knowing what and when to pay will also help sellers plan to minimize their Etsy fees.
Etsy’s most common fees include a 20 cent listing fee, 5% transaction fee, and 3% + 25 cent payment processing fee. On top of these, there are pattern fees, conversion fees, and a variety of ad fees which can easily get away from even the most veteran Etsy seller.
Here are some tips to keep in mind to avoid exorbitant sale costs:
- Use the same currency for your product price and your payment account to avoid conversion fees.
- Make sure to include the packaging when measuring the dimension of your product to cover the actual cost of the shipping.
- Remove slow-moving listings to avoid paying renewal listing fees for products that are not selling.
- Sync your Etsy shop to a free Square payments account to avoid Etsy’s Square Manual Transaction fee which cost 20 cents.
- Consider your target profit margin before opting-in Etsy ads.
Remember that altering an item’s price after sale, misrepresenting your item’s shipping location, and completing an Etsy transaction outside of Etsy is considered fee avoidance and can result in account suspension.
Tips for Setting up Your Etsy Shop
7. Write an Impressive “About” Page
Etsy is more than just a marketplace, it’s also a platform for creatives like you to showcase your art. However, as a seller, you need to let buyers know the value of your creations to convince them to buy. This includes both your technical qualifications and achievements, as well as your inspiration. Your “About” page should focus on the person behind the designs.
Here are some guidelines for creating the ideal “About” page:
- Use a personal tone to easily connect with your reader.
- Talk about your inspiration behind your designs.
- Introduce any partners you work with to develop your products.
- Keep your paragraphs short.
- Include links to any publication that features you or your designs.
- Include links to your social media.
You have 5,000 characters to talk about your business; go for a more personal approach when writing your story. Add inviting photos and videos that will help shoppers visualize and connect with your store. Include a link to your blog and social media or the landing page to opt-in to your email list.
8. Optimize Your Etsy Shop Profile
Your Etsy shop profile is a representation of your overall business brand. This includes everything from your shop banner to your shop policies. A complete and well thought out shop profile with professional looking photos and videos can quickly build trust with shoppers. So before you open your Etsy store, it’s imperative that you put in as much effort to complete your shop profile as with creating your product listings.
Aside from your store’s “About” page, other sections of your store’s profile also play a role in building your brand:
- Opt for a cover photo instead of a banner image, while it requires a bigger image (ideal size is 3360 x 840 pixels), cover photos are displayed on both desktop and mobile versions of your Etsy store.
- Shop banners don’t show up on mobile. It needs to be exactly 760 x 100 pixels in size and no larger than 2MB.
- Use a shop icon that’s consistent to your business brand and logo.
- Research and use keywords for your shop title.
- Use a short, compelling copy on your shop announcement section to let buyers know of your promotions and discounts.
- Use the Shop Members section to briefly introduce your team.
Aside from reviewing your content before posting, you will also need to evaluate if the overall feel of your shop profile evokes the same emotions you want to have for your brand.
9. Keep Your Shop Policy Simple
Your shop policy lays down the guidelines for transactions in your store. Customers who read this are usually those who have already found something they want to buy and would like to find out if they are comfortable with your payment and delivery procedures. This section is even more significant for customers who are looking to buy personalized designs because it tells them how involved they can get and how long it takes to complete the design process.
The key for a positive customer experience is to keep policies simple while also being clear on the details. If you’re new to selling on Etsy, you can start with the basic shop policy where you fill out a template that will toggle settings for options on returns and exchanges, payments, shipping, and additional information.
Tips for Optimizing Product Listings
10. Optimize Product Photos
The right product photos make a huge difference to overall sales. Customers are more drawn to listings that include lots of photos and clear images with proper labels. It gives them more confidence to buy products that they can visualize. Photos are both shareable and SEO friendly. The alt text for each product photo provides more information for search indexers and improves your store’s organic search ranking.
Because of its potential, there are a number of ways for optimizing product photos:
- Add another object to give buyers a point of reference for your product’s size.
- Use high quality photos for your product images that are well lit and at least 1,000 pixels wide.
- Check for copyright when using stock photos.
- Use all 10 photos showing varying angles of your product with the best one serving as your thumbnail.
- Curate your photos into navigable sections with a cohesive look and descriptions.
- Edit your photos by cropping extra white space and use professional editing software instead of social media app filters.
- Make sure to capture the condition of the item when photographing vintage products.
11. Add Relevant Categories and Attributes
Categories help Etsy match your products with the right buyers. Identifying your product’s most specific subcategory gives your listings a better chance of being found in search results. Attributes refer to characteristics that are best associated with your product such as color, use, and occasion. Like categories, assigning more specific attributes gives your product a better chance of being showcased to the right buyers.
The most basic strategy for identifying the best category and attribute for your product is to conduct test searches. Make a list of all possible categories and attributes then enter the words in the search bar. Check the search results and confirm which of the keywords came up with products similar to yours. The left side of the page will give you all the relevant categories and subcategories so feel free to explore refined results to find more matches to your product.
12. Maximize Your Tags
Tags are words or short phrases, up to 20 characters not separated by punctuations, that help describe your product. Etsy relies heavily on these tags to determine your product’s relevance to buyer searches. The search feature is designed to match keywords of listings with a shopper’s query and rank based on relevance. Given that Etsy is home to creative, one-of-a-kind products, the use of tags, combined with categories and attributes, heavily influence search results.
Here are some Tagging DO’s and DON’Ts to maximize your listings:
Use all 13 tags
Repeat tags, categories, and attributes
Use plural or misspelled words
Use tags similar to your title keywords
Use tags in multiple language
Target long-tail keywords
Use irrelevant keywords
A good rule of thumb is to start by identifying keywords that are unique to your products. Put yourself in your target customer’s shoes, breaking the keywords down into phrases in different combinations. We offer some basic strategies around keyword research and also a listing of the best keyword tools.
13. Write Effective Product Descriptions
The product description is an integral part of your listing. It details your product’s measurements, condition, color description, age, and the different uses of the item. Apart from the images, buyers rely on the information you include in this section to make their buying decisions so you need to make sure that it’s descriptive and well-written.
Here are some ideas for writing product descriptions that sell:
- Use similar keywords you’ve included in your tags and attributes
- Specify who the product is best for
- Mention unique materials or techniques that buyers should know
- Include the age or year for vintage product descriptions
- Mention the style and relevant solution-oriented phrases
- Specify dimensions both of the product and the size of the package when shipped
- Specify estimated production time and shipping
- Include information on how to purchase the product
- Name of your production partner (if any)
It’s important to keep the language of your product description short and simple. Use paragraph breaks when necessary to make it easy to understand. Repeat any promotions or discounts applied to the listing when available.
14. Adopt a Product Pricing Strategy
Product pricing is one of the most important decisions a seller has to make for their business. Determining a competitive price while keeping your business profitable requires developing a strategy that can only be learned over time. This can be particularly challenging to Etsy sellers as creative products, by nature, are almost always unique that the cost for materials and labor are never the same.
Etsy’s seller handbook offers a helpful pricing work sheet and useful ideas for developing a pricing strategy:
- Make sure your price covers the cost of materials and labor.
- Make sure to account for overhead costs like shipping, marketing, ads, and promotions when computing for profit goals.
- Do research on competitor pricing.
- Consider your target audience.
- Consider the cost of shipping which is based on the dimensions of the package and not just the item.
While researching competitor price is helpful, it’s also important to note that having the lowest price is not always best. Most veteran Etsy sellers will tell you that customers are willing to pay more for better quality products.
Tips for Growing Etsy Sales
15. Offer Competitive Shipping
Shipping cost is also among the top considerations for online buyers. Etsy sellers learn soon enough that most customers are attracted to free shipping, so much so that including this in your profile gives your store a major SEO boost. However, sellers will always have to deal with shipping fees unless their products are digital. So while this strategy is not for everyone, there are ways to stay competitive:
- Set a minimum order quantity for free shipping.
- Include the average shipping cost in your upfront listing price.
- Incorporate free shipping based on the minimum, maximum, or average shipping distance.
- Find ways to save on packaging costs without sacrificing quality and safety of the products.
Etsy also offers a smart pricing tool to help you plan the best way to recover shipping cost.
Learn more: How to offer free shipping
16. Explore Multichannel Sales
Special events and holidays are a great opportunity to maximize sales by expanding into new channels. Etsy sellers, in particular, can easily increase their revenue by tapping into new markets and capitalizing on buyers looking for unique gifts during special occasions. Finding wholesale and even international buyers during this time is also highly possible, and can give your business a considerable boost. You can also check out Etsy Local to find opportunities for in-person sales around your area.
Significant challenges of multichannel sales include maintaining inventory records and accepting payments. Square has partnered with Etsy so sellers can easily set up an in-person sales channel when attending local events like fairs and trade shows. Square automatically syncs your store’s inventory while accepting payments through the mobile POS app. Visit Square to create a free account that seamlessly integrates with your Etsy shop.
17. Engage Your Customers
Engaging your customers before and after sales is the quickest marketing strategy out there. From building your mailing list to creating a customer service process and engaging in social media, there are a variety of both free and paid methods to boost sales by creating a relationship with your followers. When you get down to it, creativity is the only limiting factor to this strategy, which Etsy sellers have in leaps and bounds.
The first step to a customer engagement strategy is to know your audience and where to find them. Once you’ve succeeded in connecting with your target customers, these tips will help you maintain a good relationship with them:
- Send your newsletter at regular intervals.
- Develop a cart abandonment recovery email strategy.
- Advertise your blog, website, and social media in your “About Me” section.
- Interact with your followers on social media.
- Use Etsy’s saved reply tool to save pre-written customer service messages.
- Set up a “thank you” message under Settings > Info & Appearance tab that will be sent to each customer post-purchase.
While there are other highly effective, paid marketing strategies available, the steps above are easy and actionable even for new Etsy sellers.
18. Identify Your Top Traffic Sources
Once you’ve spent some time selling on Etsy, you need to develop a way to evaluate and analyze how your store is performing. These metrics will guide you in adjusting your strategy and improve your sales. Analyzing your top traffic sources, for one, will let you know where your potential buyers are coming from and identify which of your marketing, as well as advertising efforts are paying off.
- Go to Your Shop > Shop Stats
- Look at your Traffic Sources
- Note your list of referrer websites (websites that have successfully redirected customers to your store)
- Get regular reports and compare before and after stats
- Join Etsy’s Shop Dashboard prototype team for tools to interpret your old and new traffic reports
Some marketing and ad strategies cost money that can eat into your bottom line. You’ll be able to plan your budget wisely when you understand which strategy works for you.
19. Improve Low Performing Listings
Low performing products don’t stand out, which is why it’s easy to overlook. They don’t get featured regularly and cost Etsy sellers renewal listing fees every four months. This can quickly add up if you have hundreds of listings on your store. What’s interesting is that these low performers are most likely easy to improve.
Etsy’s Shop Stats feature is the quickest way to uncover low performing listings:
- Look at the traffic you’ve received in the last 30 days, and scroll down to Pages Viewed to know which of your shop’s pages are getting the most and the least traffic.
- Click on the arrows under Pages Viewed until your listings that register a very small amount of traffic.
- Click on a listing to open a Listing Page View that offers a breakdown of traffic for that specific listing.
Once you’ve identified your low performers, evaluate the page and find areas that may need improvement. You might have to update keywords, improve your images, change categories, or rewrite your description to increase page views.
20. Make Regular and Quick Store Updates
Regularly updating your Etsy store profile and product listings ensures that important information such as pricing and contact details are reliable and accurate. Unfortunately, busy business owners might not notice or even have the time to perform updates, which leaves them open to potential misunderstandings with buyers and result in disputes.
Avoid this unnecessary risk by planning and regularly making quick updates to your store:
- Refresh your About section: Include any changes in staffing, improvements, and developments in your process.
- Update your shipping profile: This is used to quickly update multiple listings with similar shipping costs including shipping origin, available destinations, services, and processing times.
- Review your store policy: Read through your shopping policy and update for any changes that may have developed since it was written.
- Upload new photos or videos when possible: Sharing changes and updates through images will help renew the interest of previous customers.
To stay on track, create a checklist and set up an alarm on your calendar for these updates. Aside from designating a quick review once every few months, you can also schedule them on significant dates such as special events, holidays, and other peak seasons.
Etsy is a great way for business entrepreneurs to find a sizable market without spending a lot of upfront capital. And after 14 years, Etsy continues to grow as one of the most popular retail platforms for small business owners looking to sell on a global scale. So whether you’re a beginner or a longtime seller, follow our Etsy selling tips and increase your store’s chances of reaching more customers.