As the most popular online marketplace for crafters, artists, and makers to sell their wares, Etsy is a powerful outlet for makers around the globe. The Etsy marketplace is teeming with makers who use its technology to facilitate international sales and sustain their creative businesses.
But success on Etsy doesn’t come easy.
As with all profitable businesses, sales on Etsy are the result of hard work, strategic thinking, and consistent execution. You can’t just make fun stuff and wait for the customers to flock to your store. You have to take action.
To help you on your road to Etsy success, we talked with a cohort of Etsy sellers and experts and assembled their insights into one place, so you can benefit from their experience and hard-earned acumen.
Don’t let any more sales pass you by. Apply these insights from Etsy veterans and write your own Etsy success story.
Meet the makers:
Lisa Spinella, Co Captain and Social Media Liaison for the SFETSY Etsy Street team – I am a fiber artist and painter. I have been selling sewn goods and bags on Etsy for years. I am now transitioning to a new line of framed embroidered artwork/home decor working together with my illustrator husband. etsy.com/shop/TickleAndSmash
Hello! I’m Marlo Miyashiro (Marlo M. for short) and my main Etsy store is imakecutestuff.etsy.com where I sell mainly custom personalized sterling silver “”Secret Promise Rings””. I recently opened a brick and mortar retail storefront, The Handmade Showroom TheHandmadeShowroom.com in Seattle’s upscale shopping center, Pacific Place (alongside designer shops like Tiffany & Co, Coach, Michael Kors, etc) where we currently feature the work of 80+ artists from all around the Pacific Northwest region of the US.”
My name is Lauren Venell and I make plush toys (mostly). I used to run the sweetmeats shop on Etsy but will be closing it soon. My current projects can be found at shop laurenvenell.com. I also sell digital invitation templates with my husband in the burninghousesf shop.
My name is Jess Van Den, and I am the maker behind the jewellery label Epheriell.
How has Etsy helped your handmade business?
Although Etsy gave me the opportunity to host an online e-commerce site – for me the sense of community, education and experience I gained from it was priceless. I found heroes and peers struggling and succeeding in their dreams and learned so much from it. That confidence I received from showing my work online gave me the courage to transition my hobby to a small business and take the next steps in my career. Finding an audience that large was overwhelming and inspiring. Knowing my work can be found all over the world is nothing short of amazing.
I began my line of contemporary sterling silver jewelry, Marlo M. Jewelry Design in 1993 as a full-time wholesale business, selling to over 200 store and galleries all over the US and abroad. When I joined Etsy in 2007, I found it a fantastic way for me to create custom pieces much more easily than I was able to manage selling through traditional retail stores.
Being active in the Etsy community is really what has made all the difference in the success of my Etsy shop. I joined the Seattle Etsy Team early in its inception in 2007 and eventually taking over organizing the group. Formally known as etsyRAIN and today as Seattle Handmade, we have amassed over 1500 members statewide.
I started selling on Etsy in 2005, the first year they launched. The best thing about Etsy is that it requires virtually no investment in time or money to start selling things, which makes it the perfect place to do market testing. Using Etsy I figured out which products were popular enough to have manufactured, what kind of packaging drove the most sales and what my ideal price points were.
Etsy was the gateway to entrepreneurship and starter home for my online business. It offers a trusted platform and a uniform storefront for my products.
Etsy is where it all started for me. I began my business as a way to sell off the jewellery I was making as a hobby… and now, 8 years later, it’s my full-time business – and it employs my husband, too.
[Find your Etsy team on the Etsy community site]
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made on your Etsy profile and how did you fix it?
The biggest mistake is not jumping on it sooner. It took me awhile to utilize social media to bring people to my shop. My mistake was relying completely on Etsy for online traffic and not taking the initiative to drive traffic to my shop via my own personal social media and branding. Plus when I started my tools weren’t the greatest so my photos were not helping!
There are two places to create a “profile” for your Etsy shop. The first is the “public profile” that pops up when someone clicks on an account name and/or profile photo that both buyers and sellers are encouraged to fill out (edit by using the top navigation: You > Shop Settings > Public Profile). and the other is an “About Page” that sellers are able to create to allow a more in-depth view of their business and processes (edit by using the top navigation: Your shop > Shop Settings > About Your Shop). Do both.
Ignoring it for a while. Etsy is constantly changing things and adding features. I got on the auto-renew train way too late.
The biggest mistake I’ve made on Etsy was poor copywriting. A customer always tries the product on in their mind before they buy. When I first started out, I spoke in “I’s” and “my’s” in my product listings; it was all about me and what I was doing. Now, I join the customer in their mental dressing room.
Name the single most effective action an Etsy seller can take to increase their sales.
To utilize the social media tools, the about page, and the profile information Etsy provides each seller.
Honestly, the single most effective thing any Etsy seller can do to increase their sales is to have a lot of product listings in their shop – at least enough to fill their first page, which, at this writing is 24 listings (not including “featured” listings). It takes effort to run a successful business, so even though it takes a lot of work to put together 24+ listings, it is worth doing to create an online shop that looks full and offers options.
Use all of your available tags and make them specific. For example, In my case it was way more effective to think of all the ways I could say “ham” (meat, pork, pig) than all the ways I could say “plush toy” (plushie, softie, stuffed). Steer away from general descriptors like “weird,” “cool” or “unique.”
Start using shop updates (you’ll need Etsy’s mobile app). It’s free! It’s like Instagram for Etsy! And most important, it scrolls right across your buyer’s home page.
Stellar product photos are crucial. They really will make all the difference.
Best way to get a customer to check out?
Having a great, bright beautiful photos of your item that explains what something looks like, details, size reference, editorially styled, packaged or any other useful manner . You have 5 photos…Every one of them should be used.
The best way to encourage people to click on the “add to cart” button is to create listings that have beautiful, clear photographs, descriptive copy to describe each item in detail, including measurements, weights, and words that evoke the imagination of the reader, and confident pricing that accurately reflects the perceived value of the piece. Include answers to any of the questions potential customers might have up front making it ultra-easy for them to go ahead and click that button now.
Remove friction from the process–make sure customers can see your product in every way they would want to, like close-up or in situ/next to a person, and provide answers to any frequently asked questions right in the listing. Also, give your customers ideas for how to use/wear/gift it. Is it the perfect birthday gift for science nerds? A great baby photo prop? Something you wear to cheer you up? Say so! Helping your customer picture exactly where it fits in their lives and the emotions it will stir in them/their recipient is what bridges the gap between curiosity and desire.
Invest in the presentation of your product: practice to achieve excellent photographs, take the time to edit them properly, title and describe your product with love and respect (for both it and the customer).
Answer any question they could possibly have in the description – and, failing that – in your policies.
What is your favorite new Etsy trick?
Using the Etsy search to find popular tags
Increasing SEO by rewriting titles of each listing as well as the descriptions so there is less repetition is a good one to try. Search engines discourage a lot of repetition of keyword phrases so changing it up not only increases SEO but also creates a more interesting shopping experience for the customer.
Particularly if you have a lot of items in your shop, you can post more than one listing for the same product (assuming you stock more than one). Listing frequency influences sales more than any else and also lets you A/B test things like tags and titles.
Etsy admirers AKA shop favorites: the most underutilized marketing technique on Etsy. When someone hearts your product, and then it sells or renews, it shows up in 3 places on the buyer’s home feed. Take advantage!
Shop Updates! They’re fun, they show people ‘behind the scenes’ and they show up in people’s feed.
Any bonus tips for enhancing your Etsy shop?
Join a Etsy team whether it be local or educational. They have so much to offer especially a newbie. I participate in ten teams on Etsy all of which have educated me on small business practices, social media, sales and customer service
Starting an Etsy shop is relatively easy. What makes a shop great is interesting products of original design presented in a cohesive manner (aka: Branding) and exceptional customer service that encourages referrals, great feedback scores, and a focus on the ultimate satisfaction of of every customer. In the end, take a good look at your Etsy shop and ask yourself, “Is this a shop that I would highly recommend to all of my friends?” If the answer is anything less than an enthusiastic, “Heck yes!”, then you have work to do.
Hook it up to Google Analytics. Etsy makes it super easy and you’ll learn a ton about what’s driving your customers–way more than through Etsy’s own analytics dashboard.
Imagine the customer shopping the product in the store. How far away would they hold it? If it’s a larger item, how far away would they stand to take it all in? That’s the vantage point from which you should take and center your photographs.
Anything you’d like to add?
Etsy is a great place to start showcasing your work but don’t be afraid to explore any and all opportunities that come your way to ensure your handmade business is a success. Practice your elevator pitch and speak about your work.. Your enthusiasm is infectious and you never know who your going to meet and where the next sale or opportunity will come from.
If you have questions or need more advice, feel free to contact me anytime at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Etsy handles the entire sales funnel, from marketing to processing payments. Though that makes it incredibly easy to set up shop, bookkeeping can be more complicated than for many other retail situations. Get a good bookkeeping system in place as soon as possible to minimize the complication of recording your sales and expenses correctly.
Etsy is an overcrowded market, and that’s a good thing! You just have to learn how to use it to your advantage.
Get more great insights on improving your handmade business in the Make a Profit Guidebook. You’ll get advice and inspiration from creative experts on everything from improving your Etsy shop, to increasing your prices, to socializing your products and post for maximum impact.
Courage is a Habit: Advice from Etsy CEO, Chad Dickerson
7 Ways to Make Your Instagram Marketing More Awesome
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