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Close to 40 million people actively shop on Etsy (source) and you can create your own shop for free to reach this massive audience.
When it comes to making money online and selling at marketplaces, selling on Amazon and selling on eBay typically get the most attention. Although Etsy is not as big as Amazon or eBay, Etsy does present an excellent opportunity for someone who wants to make extra money on the side.
What Can You Sell on Etsy?
Unlike Amazon or eBay, Etsy does not attempt to sell just about everything under the sun. Etsy takes a much more specialized approach, and that means that if you want to sell on this platform, you’ll need products that will be a good fit.
Products sold on Etsy generally fall into these categories:
- Handmade items
- Vintage items
- Custom products
- Digital downloads
Why Sell on Etsy?
Popular platforms like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy allow people like you and me to get products in front of a huge audience. As a seller, you can start making money relatively quickly since you can tap into this existing audience, rather than needing to build your own traffic and audience from scratch.
Not only does Etsy provide a big audience, but it’s also a very specialized audience. People who regularly buy products on Etsy are very likely to go there directly when they want to buy something specific. Although there are many other sites like Etsy, Etsy has built a reputation as being the go-to source for vintage and handmade items. As a seller, you can benefit from that.
Aside from the massive platform, Etsy also makes it quick and inexpensive to set up a shop and start selling (the specific steps are covered in the next section). And you don’t need experience with e-commerce, making it a great entry-level work from home job.
How to Start an Etsy Shop
If you’re ready to take action, here are the exact steps you’ll need to take.
1. Sign Up as a Seller
Go to this page to create your seller account. There is no cost or commitment required in order to create the account. From that page, you’ll enter your email address (or connect with your Google or Facebook account), and then you’ll be asked for your first name and set your password.
2. Customize the Preferences
Next, you’ll be prompted to choose the preferences and settings for your account, most importantly, your language, country, and currency.
3. Choose Your Shop Name
After you save and continue from the preferences, you’ll be led to the page where you’ll name your shop. Your shop’s name is limited to 20 characters, so you may need to use some creativity here.
Your shop name will, of course, show up prominently on your shop pages, as well as each of your listings. It will also be a part of your shop’s URL.
After you set up your shop, you can change your name one time. You’ll want to give it some thought and come up with a name that you love. Etsy will show you if your preferred name is available, and if not, it will offer a few suggested names that are similar.
4. Add Your First Product
Once you have decided on a name for your shop, the next step is to enter your first product.
Click on the plus icon where it says “add a listing” and you’ll be led to the next page. From here you can upload your photos and enter all of the product details.
Some of the fields are required and some are optional, but enter as much information and detail as possible.
It’s important to note that there is a fee of $0.20 per listing.
A few important fields to pay attention to:
- Renewal options – You can set the listing to automatic or manual renewal. Your listing will last for four months or until the product sells out. If it is set for manual renewal, the listing will come down when it sells out or when it reaches four months. With automatic renewal, it will stay online. You will be charged the listing fee ($0.20) each time it renews, regardless of whether it is renewed automatically or manually.
- Physical or digital product – If it’s a physical product, you’ll need to enter all of the shipping details. If it is a digital product, you’ll need to upload the file so it can be delivered to buyers.
- Category and tags – These settings can help your item to be shown in the search results, so think about the keywords that buyers might use when they are looking for this type of product.
5. Personalize Your Shop
After you’ve added your first product, you should work to personalize your shop and fill out more details. At the top right of the screen, click on the arrow next to “you”.
From here you’ll be able to upload your photo or logo, write a bio in the About section, list your city, and your favorite materials.
From your profile page, click on “visit your shop” and you’ll be led to your shop’s page. Click on the “edit shop” button and you’ll be able to customize and personalize your shop.
- Banner image – You’ll be able to upload a banner that can add a lot of visual appeal to your shop. You can also enter a one-sentence shop description.
- “About” video and photos – You can add a video and up to 5 photos “of your process, workspace, or anything that can inspire your buyers.”
- Featured area – As you add more products, you’ll be able to control which products are highlighted in the featured area.
- Shop announcements – Add an announcement for new products or special promos.
Why Digital Downloads Are Perfect for Selling on Etsy
Although Etsy is primarily known for vintage and handmade crafty items, it’s also a great place to sell certain types of digital products. Things like printables and digital files for scrapbooking or photo editing are very popular.
As someone who has a background selling digital products to photographers, I believe that selling digital products is a perfect opportunity for people who are looking to make money from a side hustle. Here are some of the main reasons.
Faster to Create and Sell
Many of the physical handmade products that are sold on Etsy will take a lot of time to make/create.
Of course, you’ll have to factor that time into what you charge for your products. Digital products may be faster to create because they only have to be created once. If you sell a physical product 20 times, you have to make 20 products. With a digital file, you could make it once and sell it 20 times, or 200 times. This equals less time working on the business and the possibility for passive income.
Less time to create products also means more flexibility for you. If you already have a job, you could simply work on your Etsy shop in your spare time.
Easier to Scale Your Business
Because you can create a digital product and sell it over and over again, it’s easier to scale your business. If you’re successful selling handmade items, you may quickly face issues with scaling. You might run out of time to create all of the products on your own, which means you’ll need to hire others to do it. Hiring others will impact your costs and profitability.
When you’re selling digital products, you won’t have to deal with headaches related to inventory or running out of stock.
If you have a shop full of digital products, you can create bundles of multiple products to significantly increase your revenue. Customers love bundles!
A customer may come to your shop looking for one product, but when they see that the product is also available as part of a bigger bundle, they may be encouraged to spend more and get the entire bundle.
Bundles are a good value for customers, and they’re perfect for increasing your revenue as a shop owner.
While you can definitely offer bundles of physical products, it works a little better with digital products. Of course, there are no shipping costs to consider, and you won’t need to physically package and prep all of the items. Just create a separate listing in your Etsy shop for the bundle and promote it through the featured area and shop announcements.
Unlimited Income Potential
Because you can sell digital files an unlimited number of times and scale your business, the income potential really is unlimited. With handmade products, you’ll be limited to the number of products you can create yourself. If you want to grow beyond that, you’ll need to hire someone.
Tips for Selling on Etsy
Now, let’s take a look at some tips that can help you to have success with your Etsy shop.
Quality Photos are Critical
If you hope to have success selling on Etsy (or any other ecommerce platform), you’ll need to recognize the importance of quality photos and images. Of course, if you are selling handmade items, the photos will feature your products. If you’re selling digital products, you may have images that show your product or its effect (depending on the type of product).
Take a look at some of the most popular shops that sell items similar to yours. What types of photos or images are they using? Things like the background and staging of the product are important. You can also use some lifestyle photos that show the product in use.
For digital products, you may want to use mockups for your images.
If you’re not able to create these types of images on your own, you can easily hire someone on Fiverr to create nice-looking images for you.
Pay Attention to SEO
The basics of optimizing your products for search are pretty simple. First, you want to know the keywords and phrases that people are using to search for products like yours. Second, you want to use those keywords in your product listing. Your title should include your most important keywords, and then include others in the tags and description.
For a much more detailed look, please see this guide to Etsy SEO.
Get Friends and Family to Help in the Beginning
Reviews are critical to your success as an Etsy seller. At first, you’ll have no reviews. Getting sales without any reviews can be hard, so you’ll want to try to get reviews quickly.
One of the best ways to get a few reviews is to ask for help from friends and family. You can create a coupon code to give them a deep discount on your products (see this page for details on coupon codes) and ask them to order your product and leave a review.
For physical products, customers won’t be able to leave the review until the expected delivery date, and then they will have 100 days to leave the review. For digital product sales, the 100 days will start when the product is downloaded.
Getting a few good reviews can be enough to encourage other visitors to consider buying your products.
Make Your Items Unique
Although there are a lot of opportunities involved with selling on Etsy, there is also a lot of competition (there are more than 2 million sellers). That means that you’ll want to make your products unique in some way. Don’t try to sell the same thing that everyone else is selling.
If your products are too much like everyone else’s, customers will buy from the established sellers that have thousands of reviews instead of the new seller that only has a few reviews. But if your products are unique, you’ll face much less competition.
Organize Your Shop and Items
Etsy allows you to have a lot of control over the way your shop appears and how your products are presented. You can arrange them so that your products are nicely categorized and so that your best-selling or most profitable products get the most exposure.
Expand Your Product Line
The best way to increase your sales and profit on Etsy is to add more products and build out your shop. Think about all of the different related products and similar types of products that would fit well with your shop and your brand. You don’t have to add a lot of products right away, but work on continually adding more to increase what you have to offer.
Focus on Your Brand
The top Etsy sellers have done a great job of branding. This includes things like product lines that are closely related and will appeal to the same customers, as well as the images that are used throughout your shop and in your product listings.
Not only do you want to have quality images, but you also want to have a consistent look or feel that creates consistency in your branding. If you’re not able to create your own images, hire someone who can do it for you.
Promote on Social Media
Your social media profiles are perfect for getting more exposure. You can use your personal profile, set up a business profile, or both. Sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are ideal for getting more exposure and more sales.
Building a social media following will take time, so don’t expect quick results from a new business profile. But if you’re in the for the long haul, it’s worth the time and effort. I’d recommend focusing on one social network at first, rather than spreading yourself thin by trying to be active on a bunch of different sites.
Use Shop Announcements
The shop announcements feature can be extremely effective for promoting your new products, sales, and bundles, so be sure to use it.
Create Your Own Website
Although this article has been all about selling on Etsy, you can also sell products on your own website. At first, I would recommend focusing on getting sales on Etsy, but once you’ve got some momentum, you may want to think about creating your own website. You can use a platform like Shopify to create your site pretty easily and inexpensively.
Selling on your own website will not only allow you to increase your income, but you’ll also be less dependent on Etsy and you’ll have more flexibility to do things your own way.
Building an email list should also be a priority, so you can easily promote your new products and any sales or discounts.
Create Your Own Etsy Shop for Free
If you’re ready to get started, here is the link to create your own shop on Etsy. Good luck!