Before we start let me just say, I am not a big Etsy seller, and this is not one of those ‘How to be the next superstar seller’ or ‘Make your first million’ type of posts. This is down to earth, nuts and bolts, hints and tips that I have picked up and wish to goodness I had known from the start.
If you are okay with that and are looking to start selling on Etsy, then this is a great beginners quick selling guide to Etsy 101.
Before you start, ask yourself, 'What is your why? Why do you want to use Etsy as your selling platform? Is Etsy your target market? Most likely the answer is easy, but just take a few minutes to think, as it will help you when setting up your store and filling in the sections.
Crafting is a creative outlet. Crafting is proven to help boost your own mental health and can help to give you a focus and purpose. I needed to do something with all the makes that were building up. I could only give so many away to family and friends as gifts. I love to make so I decided to try selling a few of my items to help fund more supplies for more making. The four craft markets that I tried proved so popular, it gave me the confidence to set up Adventure Accessories and I am now a full-time craft maker and business owner.
My why? My crafts bring me joy, attending craft events boosts my confidence and allows me to earn enough to buy more craft supplies. I love working with customers to plan and make their own unique personal gifts.
Etsy - Create an Account
This is the easy bit and the beauty of Etsy is that it is free to make an account. You only pay a small listing fee and fees when you sell an item. We will come to fees later.
I created my account in April 2017 but didn't list my first item until October 17, then changed my shop name, re-branded and went 'full-time' in April 2018. My three sales from October to March were obviously pure fluke. I didn't even know what SEO was. I have had more sales since 'making an effort'. As I said I am not a big seller, but also I am concentrating my efforts on building and promoting my own website.
Running an Etsy shop is very different to an eCommerce website and I wish I had known all about titles, tags, attributes and Etsy SEO before I had opened my shop. It is all done very differently to Google and there is a lot to learn.
Listings - Descriptions and SEO
Listing a product costs just 20 cents, plus VAT. Get used to everything being in American currency and the price you pay from the UK will fluctuate depending on exchange rates at the time that you pay your bill.
Each listing lasts for 4 months. If you do not sell your item in this time your listing will expire, and you will be given the option to renew the listing and pay another 20 cents. If you do sell your item, you can relist the product again if you have more stock for another 20 cents to relist.
The listings page you complete on Etsy is easy to do and pretty self-explanatory but these are a few tips that I have picked up as I have gone along.
Product Titles: You need to use keyword strings. You get 140 characters to use, and it is recommended to use them all. You don’t have to repeat the same keywords, try to use as many ways of describing your product as possible. Use commas between each keyword phrase. I’ll explain why in a minute.
Think about what a buyer would search for if they were browsing Etsy and you want them to find your product. Do some research by opening Etsy.com in a browser and have a go at searching for similar items to those that you are going to list. As you type Etsy will give you helpful suggestions of keyword phrases. Open a few listings from other sellers and look at their descriptions for ideas. DO NOT COPY and PASTE! This will hurt you and the other seller.
Top Tip: Etsy has been making some changes to their algorithm and now it seems you don't need to use all 140 characters. You can now write shorter titles that are more buyer friendly not just stuffed with keyword phrases. Do some experimenting with short titles and long to see which work best for you.
Product Tags: Try not to use single words here. You need keyword phrases. Here you can copy and paste your Product Title into the Tags box and if you have used commas to separate your key words in the product title then you will automatically get matching product tags. It is important that your titles and tags match as Etsy uses this information to crawl your listings to show in search results. You can fill in 13 tags, so if you have any spare tags once you have copied your product title, then you can fill the remaining tags with your shop name and other descriptive keywords that you couldn’t fit into your title.
Top Tip: Search for similar listings on Etsy, scroll down the product page and look at ‘related to’ for tag ideas too.
Product Descriptions: You can use the keywords from your product titles but don't just stuff them all at the start because it wouldn't make a lot of sense as an actual products description. Google crawls this bit of your listing so you need your product description to be a more detailed account of what the product is. What it is made from. Who it is suitable for? You get the idea.
When you go on any website to buy an item you want to know more about it before you press the buy now or add to cart. It is also useful in the product description to link to other products from your Etsy shop. As in, ‘You might also like X’ and then copy and paste the Etsy URL of your other products. Obviously if you're just starting out you may not have these other URLs yet but just keep it in mind that you can go back through posts once you're a bit more established and add these in.
Fill in Attributes
Giving your listing certain attributes will help your listing be found when users search Etsy for products. However, only fill in attributes if they are relevant to your product. For the colour attribute you can select the closest colour if the one you want is not listed, but for the occasion and celebration only select these if your product fits that theme EXACTLY. For example, my Adventure Accessories Hiking Mitts could be given as a Christmas present, but I would only select the Christmas attribute if my mitts had Santa on them or a Christmas tree motif.
If you are not sure, it will be best to leave the attribute blank rather than selecting something that is not relevant.
Top Tip: Do not copy attributes into your tags as they act as extra tags anyway, so you do not want to repeat them.
On the mobile Selling on Etsy app, there is a feature under social media for you to share shop updates. This will notify your shop followers when you post an update, so use this feature weekly or monthly to keep your shop active and drive traffic to your Etsy shop.
The selling fees on Etsy are in my opinion complicated to work out. There are various fee/profit calculator apps and I will only give a brief overview of fees here with a link to the Etsy Handbook for you to read and understand the fee structure better.
Etsy charges 5% final fee on cost of item + shipping cost + VAT. You will also need to factor in the 20 cents + vat for relisting your item too (if you have more stock).
There is also a transaction fee or Etsy processing fee which is approximately another 5% + VAT, so in total fees work out at roughly 15%. I have yet to find an actual figure, as I said, Etsy do not make it clear.
Your products need to have the best photography possible. This is the showcase of your lovingly handmade item. We live in a visual world and like it or not people will judge your product on the picture first. Then they will read the description. If you can afford a professional photo shoot, do it. It is worth the investment. You get top quality photos of your products that you can use for social media, Pinterest, and anywhere else you want to show off your items.
Top Tip: Approach a photography student who is looking to build their portfolio, you will get a great deal and a win-win for both of you.
About Section & Policies
These must be filled in. Use as much detail as possible and if you are selling in the EU you MUST display your home address. Also make sure you are aware of and comply with GDPR and Online Selling Rules and consumers right to return. Google these for more information.
Some top Etsy sellers recommend you use a banner image, others say not too. So, this one is up to you.
Prices - Don’t undersell yourself
The general rule I have seen is, work out what it cost you to make - materials and your time, then x2 for wholesale and x4 for retail. If your retail comes out high you can use x3. Using X3 would also work for sale prices too if your standard prices are x4.
Vacation Mode vs Extending Shipping Times
So, you have worked really hard on setting up your Etsy store and now you need a break. Do you put your store into holiday mode or do simply extend your processing and shipping profiles? This really comes down to personal preference and how long you intend to be away. If it is only for a long weekend or up to a week then try extended shipping times. If it is longer than a week go for holiday mode then a few days to 1 week before you are ready to come back, open again but with extended processing and shipping times. That way you can build up visits and views and be ready to be back in full production when you are ready to return.
Top Tip: Whichever one of these you choose to make sure you make it clear you are taking a break in your shop announcement and/or banner image. DO NOT EVER advertise the fact that you are away on a holiday away from your house. You simply need to say that you are taking some time out or you are closed for orders temporarily.
Once you have your shop set up and are open for business you can look yourself up on the Handmade Hunt website. Handmade Hunt is the place to discover artisans making handmade items. It is also a fun way to share a post about your shop on social media.
As I said at the beginning of this post. I am not an expert, I am a small seller with some success. I love having a presence on Etsy even though I focus my efforts on my own website. If you are using Etsy as your main shop front then I recommend you look up these amazing Etsy gurus. They are experts and they have a fountain of knowledge, free training and YouTube tutorials.
Renae Christine of Cupcake Trainings
Olivia Haywood of Mane Message
Checklist Etsy 101
If you are still with me and have read all the top tips above, or if you skipped TLDR: Then I am happy you are here and not offended if you skipped. We are all busy.
So if you are ready to get stuck in and selling on Etsy. Then you can pin the image below to read later and come back to this post anytime you need to in the future.
Sarah Skilton is the owner of Adventure Accessories, created in 2018, an award-winning handmade business based in Carmarthenshire, South Wales. Combining a passion for adventure with a love of crafts, Adventure Accessories creates unique handcrafted, fun and functional, gifts for outdoor enthusiasts. You can follow Sarah on social media as @AdventureAcces.