So you’re thinking about starting an Etsy shop or maybe you already have. I’ve been there and I want to share with you 5 things you simply must understand and accept before you can have a successful Etsy shop. This post is a bit detailed but I promise when you’re done with it you’ll have a clear understanding of just what it takes to run a successful Etsy shop so let’s dive in!
(This post contains affiliate links. This just means if you purchase something by clicking one of my links I may receive a small commission at no cost to you.)
There are other people making the same things as you
Etsy has millions of shops. That’s millions of people selling any kind of handmade or vintage item you can think of. You may make something super unique but I promise you someone else makes it too and they already have an Etsy shop. If what you’re making or selling isn’t unique then you have even more competition. Know this and accept it if you want to have a successful Etsy shop.
Now just because there’s competition does not mean you cannot be successful on Etsy. I sell vinyl decals and SVG files. The market for this is crazy saturated and I still make a fulltime income selling on Etsy.
This will not happen overnight
I cannot stress this point enough. If you expect to put a few items up on Etsy one day and start watching the money roll in….just stop now. Unless you’re the unicorn of Etsy, that rare 1% of shops that are an overnight success (and it does happen occasionally) then you are going to have to put in some work. Actually, not just some work but a lot of work. It takes a good deal of time to create a successful Etsy shop. Know this and accept this before you start your Etsy shop.
Etsy has an algorithm that has to learn you and your items and then there’s Google with its own algorithm. You need both Etsy and Google showing your listings to potential customers before you can start making real money on Etsy. Stick with it and little by little you’ll see your orders and revenue increase. Give up after a few months and you’ll never know what your Etsy shop could have been.
Here’s an online course that is super detailed (it’s actually 3 courses bundled together) that will teach you everything you need to know to set your shop up for success right from the jump.
Photography is important
Photography is the make it or break it component for your Etsy shop. You may be rocking your Etsy listings with great keywords and descriptions. You may be offering the most sought after products. You might have the absolute best customer service and super competitive prices but if your photography is subpar, you are not going to make sales. You want to have a successful Etsy shop then you have to have good listing photos. My advice is to take a few online photography courses and make sure you have everything you need to take good photos or make good mockups.
I found this course to be one of the best because it caters to crafters needing to take photos of their items to list online…and well…that’s exactly what Etsy is all about. I also have this post on how to make mockups if you’re offering digital listings.
If you skimp on photography you will be setting yourself WAY back. Know this and accept it before you start your Etsy shop. Set photo standards for yourself from the start and stick with them. It’s really hard to go back and redo the photography for your shop a year later once you decide to learn more about photography (just ask me how I know).
You have to pay to play
This topic is a bit controversial. You’ll see people both for and against what I’m about to tell you. This is what WORKS for me. In my honest opinion, if you’re not doing these 2 things your missing out on a ton of money.
Thing 1: Free Shipping
Not too long ago Etsy announced that they were going to prioritize shops that offer free shipping on orders of $35USD or more. This means exactly what it sounds like. If you don’t offer the free shipping Etsy will knock your items down in the search in favor for items/shops that offer free shipping. This announcement caused a huge uproar in the Etsy community. There were sellers that were livid about this and posting all kinds of negative things about Etsy for doing this. Some sellers flat out refused (which you can do) and some left Etsy all together.
I opted to offer the free shipping. It’s just a setting you turn off or on. I raised my product prices a bit to cover the offset (here’s a post I wrote about how to do that) and I moved on with my day knowing Etsy was still going to give my shop priority. Why did I just jump on board without a concern at all? Well because Etsy aint dumb!
Etsy is a giant in Ecommerce. No matter what you’re looking to buy, if you type it into a search engine you will see Etsy listings pull up. Etsy has a highly skilled marketing team and they know what they’re doing. They knew free shipping was expected by online consumers and they knew they had to get onboard. So how do you get millions of individual sellers to offer free shipping because it’s what’s best for everyone? You reward them for doing so….simple!
Etsy wants you to succeed
Etsy doesn’t want their sellers to fail; they want you to have a successful Etsy shop because when you make money, Etsy makes money. I trust that Etsy knows better how to make money than I do because they have a whole team devoted to it. Not to mention over a million dollar budget to put towards marketing. If Etsy says, “Hey, we’ve done some research and we’re going to roll out some new policies based on this research.” I say “Thanks Etsy, good looking out. I’m on board!”
(Funny side note, I started writing this post on 2/25/2020 and on 2/26/2020 Etsy announced the new offsite ads program. So of course I jumped right on board and thankfully hadn’t posted this yet so I was able to update it with the new offsite ads info.)
Thing 2: Etsy Promoted Listings and Offsite Ads Program
You can pay to promote your listings. This is separate from being a preferred shop by offering free shipping. Promoted listings are basically ads you take out on your items to be promoted within Etsy and or outside of Etsy on sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google and Bing. There have been recent changes to how Etsy handles promoted listings. Previously you would choose a daily budget (just whatever you felt comfortable spending on ads every day) and you’d choose the listings you wanted to promote. Etsy would then source out your ads within Etsy and also to Google Shopping. When your daily budget ran out, they’d stop showing your ads. Easy Peasy.
Now Etsy is offering 2 different methods for your ads. You can do Etsy promoted listings just like before. Select your budget, select the listings you want to promote and Etsy will promote them within the Etsy platform. The new method is the offsite ads program. This is where Etsy will pay to market your listings on other platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google and Bing. Etsy sets the budget and pays for all of the ads upfront. You only pay if you get a sale and then it’s simply a set percentage of the sale.
Why would you want to participate in ads at all?
It is super important for your listings to be shown in the first 3-4 pages of the search results. Most people will NOT go past 5 pages when searching for an item. Beyond that, most people associate with the first few items they see and then compare everything else to them. Paying for promoted listings will put your item at the top of the search in the Ad section. There are some tips and tricks when it comes to choosing what listings to promote and how much you should spend. Be looking for an article on that coming up soon.
Etsy is not a “set it and forget it” platform
Remember earlier when I said Etsy takes some work? Well it’s daily work. You have to visit your Etsy shop daily and put in some time. Believe it or not Etsy is actually paying attention to YOU. They note your activity within your shop. They take note of how often you log in, how often you create new listings, how often you edit and update listings and so much more. If Etsy sees you coming in every day and working on your shop they start moving you up in search results. If they see that you never log on or do any kind of maintenance to your shop, they drop you in search results. Having a successful Etsy shop takes time and dedication. Know this and accept it before you start your Etsy shop.
I have an email course that will show you how to manage your Etsy shop in about an hour a day so that you’re getting that good attention from Etsy and you’re increasing your standings. Just sign up for my email newsletter and I’ll send you the course for free.
So just to recap those courses I mentioned
Turn Your Etsy Shop into a Sales Machine. This course is offered by Creative Live and it actually 3 courses (Build an Etsy Storefront that Sells, Market Your Etsy Shop to Sold-out Success and Advertising for Creative Business Owners) all rolled into one. You simply cannot find a more inclusive course for the price.