How to Sell on Etsy: Open an Etsy Shop!

In this post: Have you always wanted to open an Etsy shop? How to sell on Etsy is easy if you follow these three simple tips!

 etsy shop image red ticking half aprons on hooks

This blog, On Sutton Place, is eight years old and it’s been an amazing eight years. What I’ve learned, the people I have met, and the changes that have taken place in my life are all a result of that day when I clicked on a little button that said PUBLISH BLOG. Starting this blog happened with no planning and very little thought. I didn’t even own a camera. During a kitchen update in 2011, I had been looking online for cabinet ideas and discovered shelter blogs. I jumped in with both feet and figured things out along the way. (By the way, I am NOT recommending this!)

During that first year, when my blog was very new, I made another discovery that literally stopped me in my tracks. That discovery was Etsy. At first I wasn’t sure exactly what it was…and I had no idea how to sell on Etsy. However, I soon had it figured out, and had opened my own shop. Once again, I jumped in with both feet, without much planning or thought. Once again, I learned by doing. I would like to state for the record (again) that I don’t recommend this path.

Things would have been much easier if had I saved some money and prepared a business plan. But I didn’t. Thanks to an extremely user friendly platform, I was quickly in business and at my sewing machine. I’ve learned the hard way, with many hours spent googling the ins and outs of Etsy.  I’d like to share how to sell on Etsy, with the hope that somewhere, somehow, it will help another creative person’s dream come true.

How to Sell on Etsy

how to sell on etsy shop image french ticking half aprons on hooks

*Affiliate links included. Click HERE for my disclosure statement.

Etsy Shop Tips: Marketing

  • Paid Advertising: I knew when I opened my shop that I had to get the word out. Etsy is so, so big that being found is a challenge. Initially, I counted on the Etsy search engine and did get a few sales. When I had a little money put aside, I placed ads on a few of my favorite blogs. These ads, and the promotion posts that were sometimes part of the deal, were extremely helpful. 
  • I also promoted my shop on my own blog. Which leads me to more marketing advice.  A blog and online creative business go hand-in-hand. I know it’s possible to have one without the other, but it’s so much easier if you have both.
  • Promoted Listings: The next thing I discovered that helped my sales immensely was a feature Etsy offers called Promoted Listings. I honestly don’t understand exactly how it works…but I set a weekly budget of my choice and with that in mind, Etsy moved my listings up in their search engine results. The more you spend, the higher you get placed in their search results.
  • A newsletter is also a very good marketing tool. My emails have varied over the years, but I am currently using ConvertKit. I include signup incentives at the end of every blog post I publish. My subscriber list is growing steadily.  It was a wonderful way to announce new items and sales.
  • Etsy makes it very easy to offer a discount or free shipping. These are marketing must-haves…everyone loves a sale.
  • Social Media is also an excellent (and free) way to promote your shop. I used Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to show off the items in my shop. Every little bit helps.

etsy shop image christmas stocking hanging on hook

How to Sell on Etsy: Presentation

I honestly believe that this is the element that will make or break your Etsy shop. All the promotion and marketing in the world won’t do you a bit of good if you have an unorganized and poorly photographed shop. I put as much effort in my Etsy photos as I did my blog photos. Styling, lighting and editing are all extremely necessary. I invested in a background and props that I left assembled in my sewing room.

Here is the Etsy shop where I purchased my backgrounds: Ink and Elm

My photos became much more uniform and professional. An Etsy customer can’t pick up your item and look at it. You have to make that item come alive through photography. Listing descriptions are also vital in drawing the customer into your shop. I was very specific. I gave measurements, color information and any other details that I could think of. You would be surprised how many people emailed me to ask if they could throw a pillow cover in the washer. I included laundering information too!

etsy shop christmas packaging ideas

How to Sell on Etsy: Packaging

I’ve saved the best for last. Packaging and branding were my favorite aspects of owning a creative business. I was a stickler for continuity and quality. All my packaging matched my Etsy banner. My Etsy banner matched my blog header. And so it goes. When I opened my shop, the first thing I bought was a gigantic stack of tissue paper. Next was ribbon. Lots and lots of ribbon. After that came labels, tags and business cards. Later came return address labels and postcards. 

I wanted my customers to feel as though they were receiving something very special. After all, they spent their hard-earned money in my shop. I wanted them to feel appreciated and valued. The best way to make sure that happened was to go all out on packaging. I firmly believe it was money well spent and that it made that all-important good first impression.

For the Christmas 2013 season I had special labels (pictured above) made with a holiday message. I used brown kraft paper in addition to the white tissue paper. Red and white twine was the finishing touch. It was a success, as I had many customers remark how much they appreciated it. I continued this packaging through Christmas 2015.

Packaging materials can be purchased right on Etsy, or on websites like vistaprint.com and gotprint.com.

After packaging comes shipping. My shipping station was not big or elaborate, but it served the purpose. It’s important that you invest in a good printer and a postage scale. Etsy provides everything else you need right in your shop dashboard. 

how to sell on etsy pin with text grain sack heart on hook

From the time my Etsy shop opened, until it closed in March of 2016, it underwent many changes. As I learned and grew, I was able get better at the three aspects of being a successful Etsy shop owner. With the help of a business partner, I branched out into selling handmade clay tags. To read more of that story, click {HERE.}

etsy shop air dry clay dove christmas ornaments

In closing, if you have ever thought about opening an Etsy shop, I want to encourage you to take that leap of faith. You have absolutely nothing to lose. Opening a shop costs nothing…the fees don’t apply until you sell something. It’s never too late to try something new! After I stopped selling handmade items, I really missed the creative outlet, so I began teaching myself graphic design. I now sell printable wall art and themed alphabets in my Etsy shop. To take a look, click {HERE.)

Click {HERE} to see my best sewing tips!

10 Comments

  1. The post comments are not dated, so I don’t now if this is an older article, but I’d really like to read the answers to the questions posted in the comments.
    Thank you for this post. Informative.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Carol…this is a new post. I have been on vacation so I’m a bit behind, but all the questions are answered now. Thank you!

  2. Rose Anne says:

    Hello Ann, Your Etsy shop is lovely! I’ve been on Etsy since 2010 so I was happy to see you have a shop, too. Thanks for sharing your tips.
    Rose Anne

  3. I love the look of your website. Did you create your banner yourself or have someone design it for you. If you designed it yourself what software do you use? Thanks – Laura

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Laura! I design all the graphics myself. I use Photoshop Elements most of the time but I still use PicMonkey when I want something fast. Thank you!

  4. Donna Perlee says:

    Out of curiosity why did you close your shop?

  5. Ann, thanks for this article. I have thought about opening an Etsy shop for years. Maybe this is the year! I love all of your printables available in your shop!

  6. Is it ok to ask HOW selling on Etsy works. How much of a commission do they take….or what would be the upfront costs. I have been thinking about selling some of my fabric stash, but have NO idea what it entails. Perhaps you can share some of this on your blog…..guessing I am not the only one curious 🤔

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Annelies! Etsy charges multiple fees but in my opinion, they are still very reasonable. There is a 20 cent listing fee every time you list an item. The rest of the fees are added when you sell something. That amount depends on the price of your item. I believe it’s a percentage. As far as up front costs, you could open a shop with no money involved. I would suggest making a shop banner (or have one made) so that your shop has an identity when someone visits. You can buy shop banners right on Etsy for a small amount of money. To sell fabric you will need light, clear photographs. If you have an iPhone, you could definitely use that to start out. There are editing apps to help too. If you have a specific question, the Etsy help search is very good. The Etsy dashboard is very user friendly and explains everything well. Your first few listings will be stressful but after that, they become easy and fast. I hope this helps…I’m happy to answer more questions and I may write another follow-up post. Thank you!

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