How to Start an Etsy Shop

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In this guide, we show you how to start an Etsy shop step-by-step, and make your craft business ideas a reality.

Sellers can list handmade products, vintage items, and craft supplies. Once you figure out what you want to sell, it’s time to learn how to start an Etsy shop so you can get your products in front of potential buyers. When starting an Etsy shop, invest some time in learning about the platform. Then you can dive into best practices that take your Etsy shop to the next level — and start selling items.

Since its launch in 2005, Etsy has opened doors for millions of entrepreneurs to launch their own handmade businesses. The online platform allows any small business owner to easily open their own ecommerce store and reach customers around the world. In fact, the platform boasts over 60 million active buyers according to Etsy. So it’s one of the top destinations for online shoppers — especially those interested in unique or one-of-a-kind items.

How to Start an Etsy Shop in 7 Steps

So you are a handmade creator and need to find a market for your goods. You have an idea for a shop. Now it’s time to open your shop.

Start by setting up your seller account so you can offer your unique handmade items. Etsy has a set process for getting new sellers up and running. Therefore, it’s important to follow these steps.

Here, we walk you through exactly how to start an Etsy shop.

1. Set Up an Etsy Account

Before learning how to start an Etsy shop, you need a basic account. Even those who shop on Etsy must have one. So it’s possible you’ve already covered this step. If not, just sign up with your email address and password. Or you can use an existing Google or Facebook account. Add some basic personal info. You can even add a photo and a short bio. This is different than the information that will appear on your Etsy shop storefront. So you don’t need to go into products or marketing just yet. But buyers can click on your profile from your shop, so keep it professional.

2. Choose a Shop Name

Once you have an account, click “Open Your Etsy Shop” to start adding shop details. Then begin to set up your shop preferences.

One of the first things you’ll need to specify is your shop name. Think of choosing shop names as similar to choosing a business name. This affects your username and Etsy URL, so choose carefully. You can only change your handle once without needing specific approval from Etsy. Have this info ready when you sign up.

Many sellers find it helpful to include words or phrases that describe what they sell. This simply makes it easier for shoppers to find and remember your shop. But also include some creative verbiage to set your Etsy business apart.

If you’re struggling to find shop name inspiration, check out these unique craft business names. Additionally, make sure your name isn’t already taken or trademarked. You might also want to see if it’s available on your favorite social networks or as a dedicated domain.

3. Create Shop Settings

Before you officially open your Etsy shop, you need to select a few basic settings. These include things like your language, currency, and location. Etsy will walk you through the steps. And each option is pretty straightforward. So simply choose the option that is most applicable to your business.

4. Load Products to Your Shop

From there, it’s time to start adding items you want to sell. Each one gets a title, description, tags, and up to ten photos. Ideally, you should have these items ready to go before actually publishing products. Just make sure you include clear photos and descriptive keywords in each listing. Whether you’re selling jewelry on Etsy or including a full variety of items, you can continue to update your listing as you go. You can also edit your listing later on.

5. Establish Prices

Each product you add also must come with a price. When choosing a price point, consider your supplies, labor, marketing, and other production costs, plus enough extra to make your business profitable. It may also help to research what similar products on Etsy usually sell for since that can indicate what customers are willing to pay.

However, don’t feel pressured to have the lowest price. Stick to what you consider a sufficient profit margin. It’s more important to set your inventory apart in other ways, like through quality materials or customization options.

Consider adding shipping costs into your prices. You can set separate shipping rates or just add that into the cost of products and offer free shipping.

6. Select Payment and Billing Settings

Once you start making sales, you’ll need a way to collect your earnings. You’ll also need to pay your Etsy fees, which include a small fee for each product listing and a percentage of each item sold. Use your PayPal, bank account, business credit card or debit cards to make these transactions easier.

You can also specify whether you’d like to collect payments through Etsy Payments, PayPal, or both. Each option comes with processing fees. You pay Etsy directly through Etsy Payments, whereas PayPal fees automatically come out of your PayPal account. Etsy Payments make it easy for people to pay with a credit card or other options. Etsy Payments is the only way to accept Etsy gift cards as a payment method.

How to Start an Etsy Shop

Image: Etsy

7. Customize and Open your Shop

Etsy provides other ways to help shops stand out. You can add a shop description, profile picture, header image, and shop policies, which should include things like shipping times. This is where you should think about things like branding; create a logo, tagline, and brand voice. Once you’re pleased with how your online storefront looks, it’s time to open. Announce your new shop on social media or send out emails to start bringing in customers. You can also edit your shop photos, descriptions, and policies later on if needed.

Fees for Etsy Sellers

Learning how to start an Etsy shop also means taking all potential expenses into account. Etsy is a business. So Etsy collects listing fees from sellers to bring in their own revenue. There are a variety of fees that you might have to pay if you plan on starting an Etsy shop. Here’s what you should know before you get started.

Listing Fee

Each time you list a new product on Etsy, you pay a $0.20 fee. This is true when you renew listings that have already sold as well. Listings last for four months before they expire. So that fee won’t need to be repaid unless that time has passed or you want to list the item again.

How to Start an Etsy Shop

Image: Etsy

Transaction Fee

Each time you sell a product, you’ll also need to pay a transaction fee. Etsy takes 5 percent from the sale price of each item. This includes the shipping price. You don’t need to worry about fees for products that don’t end up selling.

Payment Processing Fees

Choose your payment system. There are multiple payment methods for Etsy. But Etsy Payments makes it simple. Each time you make a sale where the buyer uses Etsy Payments, you’re charged a payment processing fee. You pay 3% of the sale price, plus $0.25, to cover the cost of credit card processing. You can also accept payments through PayPal, but that comes with separate fees that aren’t paid to Etsy.

Other Fees

If you want to advertise through Etsy, you’ll pay additional fees. To promote listings on Etsy, you set your own budget.

However, the platform also offers an offsite ads program where products are promoted on Google and elsewhere online. Shops are automatically signed up for this program. But you only pay when you make a sale. For shops that make more than $10,000 a year in sales, the fee is 12% of the sale price just for items that sell through these ads. For those that make less than that, the fee is 15% of each sale. However, you can opt-out of the program.

If your shop currency is different from the currency in your payment account, Etsy charges currency conversion fees.

How to Manage your Etsy Shop

Once you’ve learned the basics of how to start an Etsy shop, the work isn’t over. you have to constantly update and improve your Etsy shop if you want it to be successful. Here’s a look at the ongoing tasks that are required as you maintain your online store.

Updating Your Listing

Maintaining your inventory is an important part of running any online shop. When items sell, you can renew the same listing description to save time. Or you can edit those listings with new photos or information. There’s also a good chance you’ll expand your product line through the years. So you’ll need to repeat the process of adding new items described above.

Adding Product Photos

Product photography is a huge part of a successful Etsy store. Each product you add should have pictures. These are essential for giving customers a look at your items so they can decide if it’s a good fit.

Each shop will have a different visual style. In general, try to have your main photos showcase your product in front of a plain background, like a white sheet or piece of poster board.

You get up to ten images. So you can also add photos that show the scale of your item or showcase how it looks in use. For example, when photographing a ring, you might include one photo of it on your hand and another of it next to a coin. If your item includes different variations, like color options, include at least one photo that shows the options.

Following Etsy Policies

Etsy has rules designed to protect both buyers and sellers. They’re constantly updating them. So it’s important to read through the full list carefully. However, the general idea is to only sell vintage, handmade, and crafty items and always be upfront with customers. You also need to pay your fees and avoid directing customers away from Etsy to complete transactions as a way of avoiding paying your seller fees.

etsy customize

Image: Etsy

Organizing your Etsy Store

If you have a significant amount of products in your shop, organizing them can help customers more easily find products they’re interested in. Within your Shop Manager dashboard, you can add categories to your shop to separate specific types of products. For example, a jewelry store might make categories for necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings, and pins.

You can also drag and drop products to control which items are shown first. For example, if you sell seasonal items like soaps with fall scents, you can move those to the top of the page during fall. Then move them down below other listings when the season passes.

Getting Paid From Etsy

Etsy allows sellers to collect payments through Etsy Payments and/or PayPal. Customers can even pay you via money order. With Etsy Payments, you connect your bank account and get paid automatically through direct deposit. With PayPal, you connect your PayPal account and collect sales automatically through that. Within your Shop Manager dashboard, click Finances and then Payment Settings to control these features. Etsy Payments is not available in every country. So PayPal is necessary for some sellers.

Marketing Your Etsy Business

Running an Etsy shop requires more than just signing up for an account and adding products. You also need to bring buyers to your shop. Here are some of the most popular ways to market your Etsy shop to potential customers.

Do Etsy SEO

When customers look for a particular type of product, they’re likely to enter relevant terms into the Etsy search bar. This means search engine optimization or SEO. And it is one of the best ways to leverage the Etsy platform to make sales.

Many concepts that apply to general SEO apply to Etsy as well. Start by thinking about the terms that customers are likely to use when looking for a product just like yours. Then work those terms into your titles, descriptions, and tags. People won’t be able to find your products if you don’t use the words they are searching for.

Don’t get too cutesy with your listing names. Be straight forward in the name but do allow your creativity to also show through in the description. For example, if you sell handmade ceramic mugs, your listing should probably include something basic like “ceramic mug.” If you use an odd term like “pottery chalice”, searchers may not find your mugs.

Colors, patterns, and materials can also fit into titles and descriptions. For more tips read: Etsy SEO.

Use Social Media

Social media is one of the best ways to get the word out about any business. It’s easy and extremely affordable, even for brand new Etsy shop owners. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter can all be useful for handmade business owners. Just be sure to include links in your shop description so customers can easily find you there. You might even include these handles on business cards or handwritten notes that you include with each shipped item. That way, those who are happy with their orders will be likely to connect with you there for updates. You can also promote posts on these platforms to get your products in front of more relevant users.

Once you start to get a following on social media, you can use it to promote new products, host flash sales, and learn more about your customers. Quality images and behind the scenes type content can help you really connect with customers in an authentic way. The more engagement you get on these platforms, the more visibility you’re likely to enjoy with each post.

Get Traffic to Your Etsy Shop

Learning how to grow an Etsy shop includes many of the same concepts that are useful when growing other types of businesses. Once you open an Etsy shop, you’ll want to bring traffic to that site so customers are more likely to buy. There are numerous ways to do this. So find the options that work best for you and your target market.

A popular way of bringing traffic to an Etsy shop is through an email list. Sign up with an email marketing provider like Mailchimp or Constant Contact and let customers sign up on your website or social media accounts. You can also start your own blog to give customers a behind the scenes look at your business and include relevant search terms so those who are looking for shops like yours on Google will be more likely to come across your brand.

Then there are online ads. You can use the options that Etsy offers or you can start your own campaigns on Google or your favorite social platforms. These ad options often provide very specific targeting opportunities and the ability to set your own budget.

Consider offline marketing methods to bring potential customers to your shop. This may be especially useful for Etsy sellers who offer items of interest to customers in their area. For example, if you sell wooden signs that are shaped like your state, it’s worthwhile to target local customers. So you may want to create printed signs or promotional materials to hand out at craft shows or local events. You can even create a website address that directs to your Etsy site to make it easy to share your URL in printed marketing materials.

10 Tips for Selling on Etsy

Once you have the basics of how to start an Etsy shop covered, it’s time to dive deeper. Upgrading your shop, customer service, and marketing can help you bring your business to the next level. So if you want your Etsy shop to go from a hobby or a side hustle to a legitimate business, keep these tips in mind.

1. Establish a Unique Niche

Find what sets your products apart. Today Etsy has 3.1 million active sellers. With this much competition, you need to find something to stand out. You don’t need to invent something totally new. But you should have some idea of how to position your products against others. For example, you might use higher quality materials or include more colorful options. Your niche should be evident to anyone who looks at your shop. You can include multiple products, but they should all fit into a category that is clear to your customers.

2. Brand Your Shop

Every business needs memorable branding. This includes Etsy stores. Once you determine the niche and mix of items for your shop, find ways to integrate those themes elsewhere in your shop. For example, a shop that sells jewelry made of crystals could include crystal and star motifs in the logo and shop banner. Use shop and product descriptions to emphasize the benefits or powers of crystals. The brand voice and design elements should then also carry over to other marketing materials like your blog or social accounts. This makes it easier for customers to quickly identify your business when they’re away from Etsy.

3. Think Like a Customer

When shopping, Etsy customers are often looking for something specific and sometimes that includes a certain style or something relevant to a current event or holiday.

To take advantage of popular categories, current events and trends, include two things in your product titles. Include a functional description such as ceramic vase, as well as a popular element searchers may be looking for. For example:

  • If Halloween is coming up, be sure to use “Halloween” or “spooky” or similar words in titles.
  • There are tie-dyed enthusiasts out there. So if you have tie-dyed design elements include that in the title. Not just “socks” but “tie-dyed socks.”
  • Perhaps you create items with gold or glitter. Be sure to indicate so in the title as some people look specifically for such designs.

If you are not sure what is popular or currently selling, check the Most Popular section on Etsy. It’s sure to trigger plenty of ideas.

4. Take Eye-Catching Photos

Your main product photo is likely one of the first things a potential buyer will notice about your listing. So clear, quality images are essential. Take as much time as you need to find the right image before you post it. Keep the background simple and limit extra props in the main image so your product can really shine. Then include extra images that show your product from every angle.

Props or models show the scale of the item. For example, someone selling scarves should include the product laying flat but also on a model. You may even show it next to a yardstick to show the exact length. Regardless of what you sell, proper lighting and a quality camera are essential.

Learn how to take high-resolution images that highlight your products. Or outsource this part of your business to a professional.

5. Be Consistent on Pricing

Pricing can be tricky for new Etsy shop owners. And there’s no clear formula for finding the perfect price. However, you should always factor in the cost of your materials and other expenses, along with the time it takes you to create your products and run the other aspects of your business.

Check out the competition — see what other shops are selling similar products for. But don’t sell yourself short. Etsy shoppers aren’t as price-conscious as those on Amazon or other marketplace sites. If your products are a bit more expensive than others, you can always make up for it with quality materials or exceptional customer service.

6. Answer Obvious Questions in Your Descriptions

Your product listing title and product description give your customers a deeper look at what you’re selling. It gives you the opportunity to go beyond a few descriptive keywords and product photos. When crafting your product descriptions, think about what questions customers might have about your products. Then try to answer them as best you can.

Include measurements, materials used, color options, and shipping fee information along with your listing descriptions. Additionally, if your photos include any props, state clearly what is and is not included with their purchase. For example, a photo of a stack of rings shown with others may confuse buyers into thinking they’re getting a full set. Avoid confusion by including a disclaimer in your description.

Answering FAQs also means you don’t need to spend as much time answering each individual customer.

7. Create Honest Policies

Your shop policies should outline exactly what customers can expect when they buy from your Etsy shop. These should include policies on shipping, returns, and exchanges. For shipping, tell customers what carrier you use, how often you ship products, and when they can expect them. These vary by seller, since some offer in-stock items that are ready to go right away and others make each item to order.

It’s also a good idea to offer some opportunities for refunds or exchanges. Just outline in what situations you’ll accept these. For example, you might require proof that an item arrived damaged or never got to its destination. Or you could offer refunds for anyone who contacts you within a specific amount of time. Just be sure to provide clear information and then stay consistent.

Additionally, Etsy does allow for the sale of some mass-produced goods that were designed by independent shop owners. So your shop policies provide an opportunity to be honest about how your products are actually made or manufactured.

8. Respond to Customers Fast

Etsy makes it easy for shoppers and browsers to reach out to shops with questions or concerns. The platform even displays how quickly each shop owner typically responds. So it’s important for you to check messages regularly and provide satisfactory responses. You can set up email alerts so you don’t miss messages. Or use an Etsy app from our list to help you sell and manage communications on the go. No matter how you check messages, always be polite and helpful to try to garner positive experiences and cultivate repeat customers.

9. Create Processes for Managing Inventory and Shipping

Once you actually start selling, you need to keep your inventory organized. This allows you to get orders out quickly and create new product listings as needed. Create a spreadsheet or whatever system works best for you. Etsy also lets you add SKUs to your listings to easily track items and sales if you have a large inventory.

You also need supplies to ship your inventory to customers. Find some wholesale boxes or other packages that fit the size of your products. And then invest in some supplementary supplies like box filler and printable shipping labels. Keep track of these items as you do with your shop inventory so you can invest in new supplies as needed. You can also check out these must-haves when shipping products from home.

10. Ask for Reviews

Each Etsy shop has a star display of their average customer review score included on their shop page. So customers can easily see if other buyers have been happy with their purchases and the overall experience. Shops with lots of positive reviews are also likely to show up higher in search results.

To garner more of these for your Etsy shop, reach out to customers after their purchase has arrived. Ask if they’re pleased with the item and see if there’s anything else you can do. Then include a link to leave a review to make it easy for them. Some shops also include a quick link and reminder in a handwritten note shipped with each purchase.

As always, prioritizing customer service and quality products can go a long way toward garnering these positive experiences. Customers who have a positive experience with your Etsy shop are also more likely to become repeat customers.

For more tips on how to start an Etsy shop, see Etsy’s seller handbook.

How Much Does it Cost to Start an Etsy Shop?

It costs nothing to sign up for Etsy and create your shop. Once you start listing items, you’ll pay a $0.20 listing fee for each one. Then you’ll pay 3 percent for each item sold, along with another 3% plus $0.25 for items sold using Etsy Payments. Etsy sellers should work these fees into their prices to cover the costs and still turn a profit.

What are Some Etsy Shop Examples?

If you’re just learning how to start an Etsy shop, you may find it helpful to gather inspiration from others. Check out these examples for a candle business. Or check out some cookie business shops on Etsy.

For those interested in other categories, the easiest way to find examples is by searching for your niche on the Etsy home page. Then browse the results to find shops that inspire you. But do not copy exactly what they do — no one likes a copycat. Just use it to inspire ideas.

Is It Worth It to Sell on Etsy?

Yes, starting an Etsy shop is worth it provided you price your products correctly and maintain a decent profit margin. In the end, remember that Etsy is a business so you must work at it. You can’t just start an Etsy shop and expect to be a success without any effort. Etsy reaches over 60 million shoppers — where else can you find such a potentially large market without leaving your home or studio?

Some sellers view Etsy as an additional marketing channel to increase their existing customer base and sell products on their own websites, as well. This may be best for those who have already built a significant following on social networking sites or their email list. So while we think it useful to learn how to start an Etsy shop, it doesn’t need to be your sole marketing channel.

Do You Need a License to Sell on Etsy?

You do not need a business license to open an Etsy shop. As you learn how to start an Etsy shop, remember this: Etsy does not require a license and will not ask you to provide evidence of a license. However, your underlying business may require one. Licensing is typically a state or local matter. Some jurisdictions may require a license to produce and sell certain products to the public — for example, handmade soap or cosmetics. Check your state and local business license requirements.

Images: Etsy

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