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A first-timer’s guide on how to sell on Etsy

how to sell on Etsy

If you're an artist, craftsperson or small business owner with a talent for creating handmade treasures, chances are you've contemplated how to sell on Etsy. Etsy has become a thriving marketplace for creative entrepreneurs with 5.4 million active sellers and a staggering 89.4 million active buyers.

Whether you're already running an eCommerce website in conjunction with an Etsy shop or just getting started with your online store, we'll walk you step by step through the process of successfully selling on Etsy.

How to sell on Etsy

01. Set up your Etsy shop

Signing up for a free, self-service Etsy shop takes only a few minutes. Create your account today and experience the freedom of starting your own business in three simple steps:

  • Step 1: Sign up by visiting and clicking on the "Sell on Etsy" option in the footer menu.

  • Step 2: Select "Open Your Etsy Shop" and sign up for an Etsy account. You can create a new account or sign in with your existing account if you already have one.

  • Step 3: Once you're signed in, click on the "Open Your Etsy Shop" button again. You'll be prompted to provide essential details for your shop, including the shop name, language and currency. Choose a unique and memorable shop name that reflects your brand or products.

Etsy sign-in screen on website

02. Create high-quality listings

Regardless of the platform you use to sell your products, be it Etsy, another online marketplace or your own website, the significance of compelling photographs cannot be overstated.

According to Etsy's customer research, 90% of shoppers emphasized that quality of images was the most crucial factor in their purchasing decision—even above reviews (73%), shipping costs (76%) and the price of the item itself (83%).

You can add up to 10 photos for each product, plus a video. For optimal results, Etsy advises using all 10 photo slots. You’ll also want to invest in professional-looking product photos that showcase your items in the best possible light. Use natural lighting, clear backgrounds and multiple angles to give customers a clear view of your creations.

03. Set the right price

Finding the sweet spot in terms of pricing may take a bit of experimentation. However, here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Research your market: Take a look at similar products for sale on Etsy and other platforms to get an idea of the price range. Consider factors such as materials, craftsmanship and uniqueness when comparing your products. Understand your target audience and their willingness to pay for your products. Consider their demographics, preferences and the value they perceive in your offerings.

  • Calculate your costs: Determine all the costs involved in creating and selling your products, including materials, labor, overhead expenses, packaging, shipping and Etsy fees. Ensure that your prices cover your costs while still providing a reasonable profit margin. The average profit margin for Etsy sellers is around 40%. However, as you scale your business, you could grow that to as much as 65%.

  • Determine your pricing strategy: You can choose to price your products competitively to attract more buyers, or you can position them at a higher price point to convey exclusivity and premium quality. Experiment with different pricing strategies to find what works best for your business.

Continuously evaluate your pricing strategy based on customer feedback, market trends and your business goals. Be open to making adjustments to optimize your pricing for profitability and customer satisfaction.

04. Optimize your listings

To enhance your visibility in Etsy search results, it's important to focus on key factors that impact your listings' performance. The following factors play a significant role in determining the placement and order of items in a shopper's search results:

  • Listing quality: Etsy's search algorithm evaluates the performance of individual listings based on customer engagement and purchase likelihood, known as "listing quality." Factors such as the product thumbnail photo, clear titles and shopper interactions influence listing quality, as do clicks, favorites and purchases of an item. The higher your listing quality score, the greater the visibility.

  • Relevance of tags and titles: Ensure that your tags and titles accurately reflect the content and nature of your products. A tag is a short phrase that describes your item. When shoppers search for specific items, Etsy matches their queries with listing tags to provide relevant search results. Each tag can contain concise, descriptive phrases, such as "wooden spoon." Pro tip: For the best results, use all 13 available tags per listing. When a buyer's search term is present in both the title and tags of a listing, it is considered more relevant by Etsy’s search algorithm. Additionally, words at the beginning of titles hold greater significance than words at the end.

  • Relevance of item attributes: Provide accurate and detailed information about your items in the Listing Details section. Choose the type of item you're listing and its categories. Then include attributes shoppers may use to search for your item such as size, color, material and other relevant specifications. This helps Etsy understand your products better and match them with relevant searches.

  • Customer experience: Prioritize excellent customer service, prompt shipping and positive feedback from buyers. Maintaining a good reputation and delivering a positive experience can improve your listing’s performance, as the more positive reviews you earn, the higher you’ll rank in search.

  • Free shipping (for U.S. sellers): Consider offering free shipping on your items, as it can be an attractive incentive for shoppers and increase your visibility. Etsy gives preference to listings that offer free shipping or shops that offer free shipping on orders over $35, particularly for sellers based in the United States.

05. Market your shop

You need to drive traffic to your product listings to break through the competition and get your products seen by the thousands of buyers visiting Etsy every month. Here are some ways to attract new shoppers to your store and keep them coming back for more.

Etsy advertising

Etsy offers a few advertising programs to help you promote your products and reach a larger audience.

  • Etsy Ads: Promote your listings within Etsy search and relevant product listings using a pay-per-click (PPC) model. Set a budget, and Etsy will optimize ad placements for visibility and clicks. A daily budget of $3 to $5 is recommended, with 30-day testing for effective data collection.

  • Offsite Ads: Extend your ad visibility to selling on Instagram, Google, Facebook, and Pinterest with Offsite Ads. You pay only for conversions (sales) with a cost-per-conversion (CPC) model. Orders attributed to ads within 30 days incur a 12% to 15% transaction fee based on past revenue, minimizing ad cost risk. Note that shops that earned over $10,000 in the past year must participate in Offsite Ads.

  • Promoted Listings: Increase visibility in Etsy search by promoting selected listings. Set a cost-per-click bid to enhance placement in relevant search results.

paid Etsy ad listing

Social media promotion

Utilize social media platforms to showcase your products, share behind-the-scenes content and engage with your audience to encourage social commerce. Build a brand presence and drive traffic to your Etsy shop.

Regular shop updates

Keep your shop fresh by regularly adding new products or variations. Regular updates keep customers engaged and encourage them to revisit your shop.

Collaborate with influencers

Partner with influencers or bloggers in your niche to promote your products. Their endorsements can introduce your shop to a wider audience and boost your sales.

Offer discounts and special promotions

Run occasional sales, offer discount codes or provide incentives like free shipping to attract new customers and encourage repeat purchases.

Build a multichannel sales strategy

Use Etsy to complement your multichannel retailing approach. You’ll reach a global audience and enhance brand visibility alongside your other platforms.

Learn about Wix’s multichannel features for managing all of your sales channel under one roof.

06. Fulfill orders

Streamline order fulfillment by maintaining efficient turnaround times. According to Etsy’s shipping guidelines:

“Prompt shipping means that you ship each item within 30 days of purchase, unless you specify otherwise in your processing time or agree to a different shipping period with the buyer through Messages.“

Set realistic expectations that allow you to meet or exceed customer expectations consistently. Create a memorable unboxing experience with branded packaging and thoughtful touches like handwritten notes or surprise bonus items. Communicate effectively by providing shipping updates, tracking information and seeking customer feedback to foster trust.

Additional tips for successful selling on Etsy

  • Encourage customer feedback and reviews: Encourage customers to leave feedback and reviews for your shop. Positive reviews build trust and credibility, attracting more customers to your products.

  • Adapt and improve: Listen to customer feedback and adapt accordingly. Commit to continuously improving your products, customer service and shop experience to meet the evolving needs and preferences of your target audience.

  • Continue learning: Stay informed about the latest trends, techniques and best practices for selling on Etsy. Join seller communities, forums and attend webinars to learn from experienced sellers.

Is Etsy right for you? 3 considerations

To determine if Etsy is worth your while when starting a business, consider factors such as your target audience, product type, profit margins and more. Here are a few things to consider before you learn how to start selling on Etsy.

01. Audience

Roughly 59% of Etsy's traffic comes from U.S. shoppers—mostly individuals seeking unique, handmade and vintage products. Before you tackle how to sell on Etsy, consider how well your target audience aligns with the shoppers attracted to the platform.

While Etsy does not typically disclose the specific demographics or values of its buyers, you can observe general trends that Etsy buyers gravitate toward through social interactions and shopper feedback:

  • Sustainability: In 2020, Etsy did disclose that 46% of 2,500 buyers surveyed used the platform to shop in a more eco-friendly way.

  • Unique products: Buyers come to Etsy to find unique or one-of-a-kind items they cannot find at major retailers.

  • Supporting small businesses: Buyers turn to Etsy to support small, independent entrepreneurs and directly contribute to their success.

  • Connecting with sellers: Etsy shoppers are looking for a more personal connection to the artists and shop owners they buy from.

02. Top product categories

Etsy is a specialized marketplace dedicated to handmade goods, vintage products and arts and crafts supplies. Its online marketplace is great for artists, shop owners, woodworkers, jewelry makers and various creators to showcase their unique creations to a vast audience of potential buyers.

While learning how to sell on eBay and Amazon offers a wide range of products, Etsy stands out as a destination where customers can discover one-of-a-kind treasures, customizable items, unique goods and niche products often unavailable elsewhere.

In understanding how to sell things on Etsy, you should consider the platform’s 15 top-level product categories. Some of the top-selling categories on Etsy include:

  • Craft supplies and tools: Paint, papers, crochet and knitting patterns, yarn, string, cord, wire, tool sets, beads, etc.

  • Paper and party supplies: Handcrafted greeting cards and invitations, stickers, journals, printable planner pages, gift wrap, stationery, etc.

  • Home and living: Home decor, bedding, pillows, blankets, throws, cleaning supplies, window treatments, rugs, furniture, candles, etc.

  • Jewelry: Necklaces, rings, bracelets, personalized jewelry, body jewelry, pins, hair accessories, earrings, jewelry boxes, watches, etc.

  • Weddings: Dresses, accessories, veils, suits, decorations, cake toppers, centerpieces, baskets and boxes, gifts, invitations, etc.

  • Accessories: Baby accessories, costume accessories, belts, gloves, hats, mittens, hair accessories, keychains, scarves, wraps, sunglasses, etc.

03. Seller requirements

Etsy's seller requirements are more relaxed than some online marketplaces, making it reasonably easy to set up shop. However, reviewing Etsy's Seller Policy will help to ensure that you meet all the requirements and that there are no surprises. Here are the main provisions regarding how to become a seller on Etsy:

  • Must sell one of three accepted product categories: Handmade items (physical or digital products that are created by the seller—no reselling of handcrafted items made by someone else); vintage items (products that are at least 20 years old); or craft supplies (tools, ingredients, or materials designed for use in crafts, DIY projects or a special occasion).

  • Must provide accurate product representation: All items posted for sale must be accurately represented using your own descriptions, photos and videos. Stock photos and images taken from other websites are not allowed.

  • All products must meet quality standards: Your items should be well-crafted, accurately described and represented by clear and appealing photographs.

  • All interactions with customers must be kept professional: You must respond promptly to buyer inquiries and communicate professionally with your customers.

Refer to Etsy's official website or contact the company’s support team for the most up-to-date information.

04. Cost of selling on Etsy

Setting up a shop on Etsy is free. However, there is a cost to selling on Etsy that includes various fees. Etsy charges a $0.20 listing fee per item, which automatically renews every four months unless the item is sold or you opt out. The platform also deducts a 6.5% transaction fee from the total order amount, including shipping and gift wrap charges.

Payment processing fees vary by country. In the U.S., this fee is 3% + $0.25 per transaction. Sellers offering international shipping should consider import taxes and customs duties imposed by the destination country, which are typically the buyer's responsibility. VAT-registered sellers may also be required to charge VAT on their items.

Additional fees are applicable if sellers choose to use Etsy's advertising services

Etsy's transaction and advertising fees


Pros and cons of selling on Etsy

Every platform has its challenges and benefits. Below, we look at what makes Etsy a great choice and what challenges you may face as an Etsy seller.

Pros of selling on Etsy

  • Easy setup and maintenance: Learning how to sell on Etsy as a beginner is simple. You don't need technical skills to set up an account. Of course, adding product details with high-quality photos takes time, but the process is relatively straightforward. Once everything is set up, an Etsy shop is easy to maintain.

  • Trusted reputation: Etsy has been around since 2005 and is a trusted marketplace for handcrafted, vintage and unique items. It offers instant exposure to a global customer base, providing reach you may not have otherwise.

  • Seller support tools: Etsy provides a variety of tools and resources to help you manage your shop efficiently and effectively, such as a mobile app, listing and shop manager, ads, coupons, shipping labels and more.

  • Relatively low-risk: Getting started on Etsy requires very little upfront investment, making it an excellent place to test new products.

  • Large customer base: With over 90 million active shoppers a year, Etsy's platform enables sellers to access a diverse and dynamic global audience.

Cons of selling on Etsy

  • Limited customer loyalty and branding: Building brand loyalty on Etsy can be challenging, considering many customers aren’t searching for specific sellers on Etsy. Customization options for your storefront are also limited.

  • High concentration of competitors: Etsy's online marketplace attracts many sellers offering similar products, intensifying competition based on pricing and shipping speed.

  • Etsy has full control: As with any third-party marketplace, Etsy holds the keys to the kingdom and can implement changes to pricing, structure and seller requirements as needed. It’s best not to become over-reliant on the platform and to explore Etsy alternatives in case your sales or selling privileges are impacted at any point.

  • Limited seller communication: Etsy holds restrictions for seller-customer communication to prevent unsolicited requests or promotions. You cannot encourage shopping outside of Etsy, and therefore are limited in how you’re able to promote your brand or engage customers.

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