If you are thinking of starting an Etsy shop there are a few things that you need to be aware of before diving in. In order to make the most of your new online business and get the most return for your investment (whether that be a time investment or financial investment) take note of each of the items listed below.

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32 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE SELLING ON ETSY IN 2021 – TIPS FOR BEGINNERS

  • Devour free educational content
  • Decide on a niche and stick with it
  • There is likely a community for your niche
  • Figure out your target market
  • Assess the competition and demand
  • Do your keyword research
  • Investing in yourself is worth it
  • Find a mentor
  • Choose a shop name in advance
  • Secure all social media handles
  • Secure your domain
  • Learn Etsy SEO
  • Consider joining Marmalead or Erank
  • Figure out the shipping and return policies ahead of time
  • Use all tag slots given when creating your listings
  • Provide high-quality products
  • Good product photos can make or break you
  • Write detailed descriptions
  • Consider how you want to layout your store ahead of time
  • Collections and variations of your products are a good way to experiment
  • Done is better than perfect
  • Consider opening a separate bank account
  • You need to keep your books
  • Understand all of your expenses
  • Understand how Etsy fees work
  • Branding is important
  • Use Pinterest to your advantage
  • Make a game plan
  • Set realistic goals and reassess frequently
  • Etsy can be a stand-alone business or a stepping stone
  • You can take this business as far as you are willing and wanting to take it
  • Don’t waste your time with follow for follow and like for like games

A smiling girl pointing to text that reads "Free education".

1. DEVOUR FREE EDUCATIONAL CONTENT

There is an almost endless supply of amazing free information all over the internet, whether in blog format or YouTube video.

From the basics of setting up your Etsy store to sharing tips and tricks on how to promote your products on social media to explanations of Etsy’s terms of service. There is someone out there that is more knowledgeable than you and has likely already taken the time to explain it on their preferred platform.

If there is something that you are stumped on when it comes to your Etsy business, someone has probably created a video or blog post to help you out. It may take some digging, but there are tons of golden nuggets of information all over the internet.

 

2. DECIDE ON A NICHE AND STICK TO IT

It’s common to have something similar to buyer’s remorse after opening up your Etsy store when you’re first starting out. You start to panic and notice all of the other niches you could have gotten into instead and are tempted to start all over. But don’t throw away all of the work you have put into your shop already by falling into shiny object syndrome.

If you are absolutely sure that you should have pursued a different niche, you can open up an additional Etsy shop to test the waters or just add a few products in that different niche to your current shop to see how they do and if it is even worth pursuing.

 

3. THERE IS LIKELY A COMMUNITY FOR YOUR NICHE

Social media can be a bit of a time-sucking anti productivity/procrastination tool, however, it also can be incredibly beneficial if you use it to your advantage.

There are tons of helpful communities all over the internet for you to join, especially on Facebook. There are multiple Etsy selling communities on Facebook and they all target a slightly different aspect of selling on Etsy.

Facebook has communities for sellers that sell only printables, as well as marketing communities, general advice type groups, groups for print on demand sellers, and many many more.

There are tons of communities to join, however, some are better than others, so join a few and test them out to see which groups you want to be a part of and engage with.

a poster pinned to a wall that reads "Know your target market"

4. FIGURE OUT YOUR TARGET MARKET

This is something that so many sellers struggle with. How do I figure out my target market on Etsy?!

A lot of marketing articles talk specifically about age, gender, hobbies, sports, and those sorts of tangible characteristics about a person.

However, another way to think about your target audience is by feeling. What is my target audience going through? Where are they at in life?

For example, the target audience for this post could be someone of any age or gender and who knows what their hobbies are! However, they are likely someone who is trying to build a stream of revenue. And someone that is trying to build another source of income is probably someone who is not 100% satisfied with their current situation, or sees potential and wants to work towards something for a bigger and better future.

 

5. ASSESS THE COMPETITION ON ETSY

Once you’ve decided on a niche it’s time to look at the competition. Do an Etsy search and see what types and styles of products are listed on Etsy and how well they are selling.

If you see tons of results in the Etsy search, you know that the competition is going to be stiff and you’ll need more products listed in order to stand out.

If there are very few results you may have found an underserved niche and have an easier time getting found. However, you want to make sure that it is something that is being searched and bought before diving in headfirst.

 

6. DO YOUR KEYWORD RESEARCH

Keyword research is the name of the game with any online venture. Without keywords and tags you stand an almost 0% chance of getting found.

You can have the best product in the world, but if you don’t use targetted keywords to get your product in front of the right eyes, it will get lost in the sea of other products and sink to the bottom.

At first, keyword research is really daunting and confusing and makes almost no sense. Just keep doing it and it will start to make more sense over time, but it does take a while to figure out.

 

7. INVESTING IN YOURSELF IS WORTH IT

This can be a really hard one to take in and grasp, paying for a course for something that you have no guarantee will pay off is not an easy thing. But if you want to take your Etsy business seriously and accelerate your progress then taking a course is absolutely something that you should invest in.

Depending on what you are selling there is a multitude of different courses that you can invest in. There are courses specifically for selling printables, print on demand products, wedding products, and more general courses. So it’s up to you to find the right course for you.

Yes, there is tons of free resources full of helpful information all over the internet, but a course will hand all of that information to you in a concise and easy to follow way. It will save you tons of time.

 

8. FIND A MENTOR

There’s nothing better than having someone that you can go to directly when you have questions. Having a mentor can save you tons of time along your Etsy journey to success.

A mentor can come in the form of a course, as they usually have a Facebook group to go along with the course where you can ask questions. Or you can find someone one on one that has experience selling on Etsy and pay for coaching.

 

9. CHOOSE A SHOP NAME IN ADVANCE

Ideally, you want to pick a name in advance and have some flexibility with it. Etsy has millions of shops live and there is a pretty good chance that your first pick for a name will be taken. That being said, there is still tons of availability for less generic names and with a little creativity, you should be able to come up with a great Etsy shop name no problem.

a photo of different social media icons coming out of a phone

10. SECURE ALL SOCIAL MEDIA HANDLES

Once you’ve picked your shop name, but before you finish registering it, make sure that all of the social media handles are available as well.

Even if you don’t think you want to pursue social media marketing at all, you never know what the future will bring and it only costs you less than an hour to secure all the handles. Just do it.

 

11. SECURE YOUR DOMAIN

Another thing to consider is securing your own domain. This doesn’t need to be done right away, but it’s something to keep in the back of your mind.

If you are doing well on Etsy in the future, you may want to jump over to your own self hosted online store to cut down on expenses/Etsy fees.

 

12. LEARN ETSY SEO

Just like doing keyword research, you need to learn and understand SEO. Specifically, Etsy SEO.

SEO stands for search engine optimization and it’s all about understanding how people will find your products through the search bar. Etsy is a search engine, and your products and shop is what people are searching for. Without proper SEO your shop stands little chance of getting found.

 

13. CONSIDER JOINING MARMALEAD OR ERANK

Marmalead and eRank are online tools to help you improve your listings, rankings, and sales on Etsy.

Each tool is a little bit different, but overall, they both deliver the same product.  I haven’t used Marmalead, but I do have experience with eRank and it is a helpful tool. They have a free version and a two tier paid subscription version. Get started on the free version to give you a bit of a leg up when creating listings.

a chalkboard that reads "free shipping" with a drawing of a cardboard box.

14. FIGURE OUT THE SHIPPING AND RETURN POLICIES AHEAD OF TIME

This is crucial! You need to know what your return policy is going to be before you go live. Does your store accept returns? Do you accept returns within a certain time frame or only on unopened goods? Or is your store completely digital? In which case you still need to decide if you accept returns or not.

You also need to know exactly how much it is going to cost you to ship each product. You will have to measure and weigh each listing in order to print Etsy shipping labels. Or, if you are doing print on demand, the supplier will have the shipping rates already listed for you, you may just need to integrate them over to Etsy. If you are selling digital products then you won’t need to worry about shipping costs at all!

 

15. USE ALL TAG SLOTS GIVEN WHEN CREATING YOUR LISTINGS

When creating a listing you are given 13 spaces to put tags/keywords. Use them all.

This is where a service like eRank or Marmalead can come in handy if you are struggling to come up with keywords for your products.

Some things to include are the color, the size, the shape, who is it for, what is the theme/niche, is it holiday related?

 

16. PROVIDE HIGH-QUALITY PRODUCTS

It’s exponentially easier to run a successful business when you have repeat customers. This is why you need to provide high quality products (and service.)

People won’t come back to shop at a store that sells cheap junk, whereas they will want and make an effort to come back if they are happy with their order.

 

17. GOOD PRODUCT PHOTOS CAN MAKE OR BREAK YOU

People want to know exactly what they are getting when buying online, so make sure to take good quality, clear photos from different angles if you can. Or, if you are using digital mockups to display your products, use multiple.

You should fill all 10 picture slots to display your product in a way that gives the customer a look at is from multiple different perspectives so that they are confident in knowing exactly what they are getting.

 

18. WRITE DETAILED DESCRIPTIONS

Fill in any important information in the description.

Anything from product title, size, color, uses, and backstory if there is any. This gives the customer a better idea of what they are getting and the more information there is readily available the more a customer trusts and feels comfortable buying from you.

You can also make note of your shipping and return policy as well as any copyright information in the description box.

19. CONSIDER HOW YOU WANT TO LAYOUT YOUR STORE AHEAD OF TIME

Customers appreciate an easy to navigate and organized shop for easy browsing. You don’t have to work out all the kinks just yet, but think about how you will organize your shop knowing that you can only put each product into one section.

Sections are essentially like folders in your shop. On the left sidebar of each shop, you will usually see multiple sections, some are organized by collection, holiday, product type, or color. It just depends on the shop and what they are selling.

So think about how you will organize your sections ahead of time as this can be a make-work project to rearrange once your catalog of products starts to fill up.

 

20. COLLECTIONS AND PRODUCT VARIATIONS ARE A GOOD WAY TO EXPERIMENT

When you are just starting out it’s hard to know what is going to sell. So rather than make 10 of one product, you are better off making one or two of a few different products that are similar to see which one does best.

Let’s look at selling printables as an example. Say you are selling wall art printables and you stumble upon a cactus lovers niche. You can make one cactus poster and then wipe your hands and move on to another niche, or you can make 10 variations of the cactus poster and see which one sells the best.

You can experiment with collections by selling products that complement each other, so when customers find and buy one they are more likely to buy another to match. A good example of this is the wedding niche with invitations, save the dates, bridal shower, bachelorette parties, etc.

four hand giving a thumbs up with text overlaying the image that reads "Done is better than perfect"

21. DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT

You are probably waiting for the perfect time to launch your shop. Maybe you think you aren’t quite ready yet, but the reality is, there’s never a perfect time. Launch it, get your listing up, and learn as you go.

You will always find a million reasons not to get something done, don’t let that stop you from trying.

Your product listings do not need to be perfect to be published. You can edit them later and perfect them as you learn more.

 

22. CONSIDER OPENING A SEPARATE BANK ACCOUNT

You may not need to do this right away, but in order to make things a lot simpler, financially, you will want to open a separate bank account to use solely for your Etsy payments, deposits, and any other expenses that are Etsy business related.

 

23. YOU NEED TO KEEP YOUR BOOKS

This sounds a lot scarier than it is, but you do need to keep track and stay up to date with your bookkeeping.  It can be as simple as starting an excel spreadsheet and giving yourself a column for the date, description, the vendor,  and the amount to start.

It’s easier to stay up to date with it as expenses go out and deposits come in rather than to try to play catch up at the end of the year.

 

24. UNDERSTAND ALL OF YOUR EXPENSES

You need to understand all of your expenses in this business. If you sell physical products that will likely include any materials that you have paid for or equipment.

If you sell digital products it may be the program you are using or something along those lines.

Be sure to track all of your expenses when keeping your books.

 

25. UNDERSTAND HOW ETSY FEES WORK

Etsy has multiple fees involved. From a $0.20 listing fee to a shipping and transaction fee.

Currently Etsy charges $0.20 for each listing and to renew each listing as well as 5% transaction fee and 5% shipping transaction fee. Plus advertising costs if you choose to go down that route.

Here is a link to Etsy’s help page explaining all of their fees in detail.

 

26. BRANDING IS IMPORTANT

Branding is really important when it comes to running a successful Etsy shop. Think again of the organization of the shop, the color schemes, the product collections and so on and so forth. Make sure you have a logo in the shop profile and a banner to showcase some products or highlight a sale that’s going on in your shop.

But again, done is better than perfect, you can work on your branding as you go. Don’t let not having your branding figured out yet stop you from opening your shop.

 

27. USE PINTEREST TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

Pinterest is one social media platform that doesn’t take years and years to build, doesn’t drown out your posts after 30 seconds, and has the potential to bring you paying customers.

If you are filling all 10 of your product images, you have 10 pins ready to go for Pinterest for each product already.

You can also make vertical pins that are optimized for Pinterest to increase your reach.

a collage of letters pinned to a cork board forming the words "game plan"

28. MAKE A GAME PLAN

Now that you’ve read through the above things to know it’s time to make a game plan.

Write down your shop name, target market, keywords, and a rough draft of your policies. Set a time to get your shop live and set yourself a work schedule for your new Etsy business.

 

29. SET REALISTIC GOALS AND REASSESS FREQUENTLY

You’ve got a game plan and your new Etsy work schedule figured out, now it’s time to set your goals. What do you want to have accomplished in one week, one month, three months, six months, and one year from now. Write it down.

Set the bar high but not completely out of reach. You want to push yourself but it still needs to be achievable.

In one week’s time, take a look at your goals and reassess. Were you overeager and set unrealistic goals? Have you surpassed what you thought you could get done in a week? Or are you right on schedule?

Look back at your goals regularly and be flexible and willing to make changes to the timeline if things aren’t going as you initially thought they would.

After all, things rarely go the way we think they will and it’s important to be adaptable.

 

30. ETSY CAN BE A STAND-ALONE BUSINESS OR A STEPPING STONE

Etsy can be whatever you want it to be. It can be a little side hustle that helps you pay for entertainment each month, or maybe you put the money in a savings account and go on a trip every year with the funds. Or, maybe it becomes your full-time income. Or you could use your Etsy business to leverage yourself into another business venture.

It’s up to you to decide how you want to proceed with your Etsy store and to decide where you want to take it.

 

31. YOU CAN TAKE THIS BUSINESS AS FAR AS YOU ARE WILLING AND WANTING TO TAKE IT

There are plenty of people making a full-time income from their Etsy shop, there are also tons of people making just a couple of bucks here and there.

This business is not going to explode overnight, but if you want to grow it to be a 6 figure business, you likely can as long as you are willing to put the time and effort into learning and growing.

 

32. DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME WITH FOLLOW FOR FOLLOW AND LIKE FOR LIKE GAMES

When you are getting started as an Etsy seller it’s pretty quiet in your shop for the first little while and it’s tempting to join in with other Etsy sellers in these follow for follow or like for like games. Don’t.

They are a complete waste of time and can actually hurt your shop in the long run. Think about this, every time someone goes to your store and leaves without buying anything, it tells Etsy that you don’t have the products that people want, it lowers your conversions rate which results in Etsy showing your products less in searches. You are better off waiting for organic views and sales or paying for Etsy ads. You want paying customers coming into your store.

a post it note stuck to a keyboard that reads "Good luck!"

Hopefully these 32 beginner tips and things to know before opening your Etsy shop have been helpful.

Don’t forget to sign up for your Etsy shop using this link here to get your first 40 listings free!

For more articles on selling on Etsy click here.