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Blog / Ecommerce platform guide / How to Make Money on Etsy: A Step-by-Step Guide

Ecommerce platform guide

How to Make Money on Etsy: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Make Money on Etsy: A Step-by-Step Guide
Madara Zalcmane

By Madara Zalcmane

15 min read

Etsy is an online marketplace full of potential buyers and a ready-made audience looking for exactly the type of products you make. 

For experienced small business owners and those of you selling your creations for the first time, starting an Etsy store is an exciting step in turning your hobby or creative passion into a money-making endeavor. 

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about how to make money on Etsy—whether you’re looking for a side hustle to your day job or trying to turn your craft into a full-time career.

Why sell on Etsy?

Etsy's homepage

Source: Etsy

Etsy isn’t a platform for you to host your own website. It’s an online marketplace focused on handmade, vintage, and craft items. For artists and craft connoisseurs, the creation of Etsy in 2005 was an opportunity to bring their products to a wider audience. 

If you’re wondering whether Etsy is a marketplace you should invest your time in, just look at the stats. In 2023, close to 90 million active buyers visited the Etsy marketplace, and previous years have shown that around 40% of the buyers are returning customers.

These numbers prove that Etsy has a huge audience you can tap into. So, if you have something original you want to share with people all over the world, Etsy is definitely the place to be.

Read also: Is Etsy Print-on-Demand Profitable in 2024?

How to make money on Etsy in 7 easy steps

Succeeding on Etsy requires more than just talent—it involves strategic planning and execution. 

We’ll walk you through the key steps to build a profitable Etsy shop, from selecting a niche to marketing your store. By following these steps, you can create a thriving online business that stands out in the competitive Etsy marketplace.

1. Pick a niche

Choosing the right niche is crucial to make money on Etsy. Start by exploring trending Etsy niches—what’s currently selling well on the platform? Popular categories often include handmade jewelry, custom clothing, vintage items, artwork, and unique home decor. Analyzing these trends can provide insight into what buyers are actively looking for.

Aligning your niche with your personal interests and skills can make your business more enjoyable and sustainable. Think about your hobbies and passions—do they translate into something you can create and sell? For instance, if you love photography, consider offering custom wall art, postcards, or digital prints.

 

Additionally, it’s important to understand market demand to avoid oversaturated categories. Use tools like Etsy’s search bar, Google Trends, and social media to gauge interest in different niches. This research helps you identify gaps in the market where your products could stand out.

Finally, consider what people genuinely want and need. Look at customer reviews and feedback on existing products to spot potential improvements or variations that could meet buyer demands. Offering something original yet desired ensures your Etsy shop captures and retains customer interest.

2. Select your products

Once you’ve identified your niche, the next step is to pick specific products to offer within that niche. It’s no longer necessary to sell only vintage items and handmade goods on Etsy. Things have changed, and creative entrepreneurs can now become successful Etsy shop owners using only their designs. 

You’re allowed to use a third-party manufacturer, like Printful, to craft the final product, but as the seller, you must show your involvement in the creative process

Consider your strengths and what you enjoy creating—your passion and expertise will shine through in your work, making it more appealing to potential buyers. From custom t-shirts and hats to personalized calendars and even digital downloads, your options for what to sell on Etsy are limitless. The most popular products typically fall into the following categories:

  • Art & collectibles

  • Clothing and textiles

  • Personalized items

  • Jewelry

  • Homeware

  • Handmade cosmetics and spa products

  • Wedding items

  • Craft supplies

We’re not here to give you an exhaustive list of all the products you can sell, but we’ll take a brief look at some of the most popular Etsy product categories to give you an idea of the available options.

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Art and digital art

Etsy's product catalog of wall art

Source: Etsy

If you’re an artist looking to sell on Etsy, you’ll need to decide what type of artwork you want to sell. When you spend hours creating single pieces, you can charge more as they’re one-of-a-kind. But you’ll ultimately only be able to sell it to one buyer. 

However, if you create digital art, you can sell the same design or product as often as you’d like and earn consistent income from your art. This approach allows you to reach a broader audience and maximize your earnings.

Learn more: How to Sell Art on Etsy: Tips and Tricks for Success

Prints and photos

Etsy custom canvas product example

Source: CreateYourOwnGift

If you’re a photographer or designer, selling your work on Etsy is a great way to showcase and monetize your creative talents. Just like digital art, prints and photos can be sold repeatedly. You’ll need to decide whether to sell physical products (like custom wall art or stationery) or if digital downloads are the best way to go. 

Stickers

Etsy custom stickers category

Source: Etsy

Logos, bumper stickers, and kiss-cut stickers are the most popular sticker types that Etsy customers tend to buy. Offering stickers is one of the fastest ways to sell lots of products with low manufacturing and shipping costs, and, just like artwork and photography, the designs can be resold. 

T-shirts

Etsy personalized t-shirts

Source: GloryTribeUS

If you want to make money selling custom clothing on Etsy, there are a number of different avenues you could take. Vintage or upcycled clothes have become very popular on the site, but making and selling your own handmade creations is also a great business model.

If you learn how to make money on Etsy with t-shirts, you’ll be well on your way to starting a clothing brand, which you can easily expand later with custom hoodies and other apparel. The best designs usually feature funny sayings and memes or are customizable for bridal and baby showers.

Read also: POD Expert Tips on Creating Viral T-Shirt Designs

Using a print-on-demand (POD) service like Printful is a great solution if you want to avoid having to create and stock hundreds of products at home. Instead, whenever your customer places an order, your products will be automatically printed and prepped for shipping by Printful.

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3. Create designs

Etsy is known for offering original products that customers can’t find in brand-name retail stores. As a photographer, artist, or graphic designer, you likely already have ideas for designs you could sell. However, it’s important to tailor your designs to the preferences and trends of Etsy shoppers to maximize your sales potential.

Start by researching what designs are currently popular on Etsy within your niche. Check out other Etsy sellers and take note of common themes, colors, and styles for their top-selling products. This research can inspire your creations and ensure your designs align with market demand while maintaining your artistic touch.

Whether you’re making digital downloads, prints, or custom products, the quality of your design work and product photos will significantly impact your success. Well-considered product listings will stand out in the Etsy search results, encourage sales, and help you make more money.

If you plan to sell physical products, consider how your designs will look on various items such as t-shirts, mugs, or home decor. With Printful’s Design Maker, you can create or edit your designs and download mockups to visualize your design on the final product. You can also use these mockups for your Etsy listings to attract more buyers.

Source: Printful

Source: Printful

The Design Maker includes:

  • 20K+ clipart images

  • Customizable ready-made designs

  • Text Tool with 790+ fonts

  • 660+ background colors and graphics

  • Pattern Tool that creates a pattern from any design element

Explore these features and experiment with your products to create something that fits your brand niche.

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4. Calculate your prices, fees, and profits

To become a successful Etsy seller, you need to figure out how to price your product listings so that your item is affordable, but you’re also making money. When setting up your prices, it’s important to do proper market research and know your niche, including how much your target audience is ready to pay for your products.

Expenses

While there’s no single method to calculate the prices you should set, you must remember to include all the expenses of creating, marketing, and selling your products. Otherwise, you might wind up losing money. 

Consider production costs, payment processing fees that a credit card processor will charge, along with the fees that Etsy charges for using their service. While there’s no seller membership cost on Etsy (unless you opt for the Etsy Plus plan), you’ll be charged 20 cents for each item you list and a transaction fee of 6.5% for each product you sell. 

Finally, factor in taxes, as these are significant expenses that can impact your profitability. Tax regulations vary by state and country, so find out what applies to your business or hire a professional to make sure you’re abiding by all rules. 

Read also: How to Start a Business in the US: Taxes and Legal Requirements Handbook

By carefully considering all these costs, you can set prices that cover your expenses and provide a healthy profit margin. Proper pricing ensures that your business remains sustainable and competitive in the Etsy marketplace.

Learn more: Etsy Calculator—predict your Etsy fees and profit

a screenshot of a web page

Source: Printful

Shipping fees

While shipping fees are often paid by the customer, it’s important to consider them when setting your prices. Offering free shipping can be a crucial strategy for success on Etsy, as 66% of customers expect it on all online orders. Many Etsy sellers use free shipping as a selling point, but it can significantly cut into your profits if not managed carefully.

ecommerce meme

Source: loveforquotes.com

One way to handle free shipping is to include the shipping fees in the product price. You’ll need to work out an average cost for shipping each product to long-distance locations compared to local customers to find a middle ground and fairly charge everyone for those products.

We wouldn’t recommend providing free shipping to international customers, as those costs can add up very quickly. As you’ll be charging the shipping cost to the customer, offering them a small discount when they order multiple products to acknowledge the higher shipping fee can be a great way to encourage overseas shoppers to buy from your store.

An important point to note: only stores with free US shipping receive priority in the Etsy search algorithm, so it’s really only worth offering it to US-based customers. 

5. Set up your store

Etsy is incredibly user-friendly for sellers, and they’ve made launching a store as easy as possible.

Head to the “Sell on Etsy” page, then log into your existing account or create one. Etsy will walk you through all the steps you need to take to become a seller on the marketplace. 

Here’s a video guide on how to set up an Etsy store when you’re using Printful.

preview play-button

6. Market your store

There isn’t a set formula when it comes to how many followers you need on Etsy to make money. It all comes down to good marketing and having a product that your target audience wants.

Make sure that you’re tagging your products and writing keyword-rich descriptions. Like with Google Search, relevant keywords in descriptions and product titles will help the Etsy search algorithm highlight your items to potential customers looking for something similar. 

Tagging a product on Etsy means adding a word or short phrase that describes your item. Etsy matches tags with shoppers’ searches to find relevant results. 

If you have the budget for it, you can try out Etsy Ads. Your promoted listings will be more prominent in buyers’ search results, and your Etsy Ads will automatically be shown to shoppers in the countries you ship to.

a screenshot of mugs sold on etsy

Source: Etsy

 

You can also make use of broad hashtags on your social media accounts to drive people to your Etsy store. Cross-promoting your products and store as a whole on your social media platforms can help draw your audience in from different places around the web.

Collaborating with other sellers is also a good way to cross-promote your products to new audiences. You’ll increase your store’s visibility by getting your products in front of a new and possibly well-established audience. You’ll also be seen as a trusted seller by that audience and other sellers, which is a great way to boost your name within the Etsy community.

If you do in-person events, make sure that you have business cards with a URL for your Etsy store printed on them. Alternatively, you can add packaging inserts for your online buyers. Leaving a memorable impression on shoppers can turn them into repeat customers. In other words, this can help you build a customer base.

Get creative when it comes to your marketing and try different approaches until you find what works for you. Check out the Etsy Seller Handbook to get inspiration for your marketing materials and analyze other successful shops to see how you can improve your own Etsy store.

Read also: Etsy SEO: 5 Must-Do Steps to Help You Get Found on Etsy

Read also: 9 Successful Print-on-Demand Store Examples and What You Can Learn From Them

7. Analyze and improve your store

To ensure long-term success on Etsy, it’s crucial to regularly analyze and improve your store. Start by monitoring your shop’s performance using Etsy’s Search Analytics and Google Analytics. These tools provide valuable insights into your traffic, conversion rates, and sales, helping you understand what’s working and what needs adjustment.

Pay close attention to customer feedback and reviews. Positive reviews can highlight your strengths, while constructive criticism can point out areas for improvement. Use this feedback to make necessary changes to your products, descriptions, or customer service practices.

Experiment with different strategies to see what drives the most engagement and sales. This might include tweaking your product titles, tags, and descriptions for better search optimization, or running promotions and sales to attract more buyers. Track the results of these changes to determine what has the most positive impact.

Stay updated with Etsy’s trends and policies to keep your store competitive and compliant. Join Etsy forums and communities to learn from other successful sellers and stay informed about best practices. Continuous learning and adaptation are key to maintaining and growing your Etsy dropshipping business.

Why should you start an Etsy shop

If you’re a beginner, working with a well-trusted marketplace means it’s easier to get your first sales and reviews than just starting with a standalone website. Here’s why:

1. You can get in front of an existing audience

Selling on Etsy means displaying your online store for a huge market of potential buyers. Millions of users trust Etsy, so there’s a whole audience ready and waiting for the type of products you sell, which means that you can spend less time marketing and more time creating.

For example, if you’re thinking about how to make money on Etsy as a graphic designer, you can be certain that the site’s algorithms are helping users find products made by designers like you.

2. You can skip the payment headaches

While you’ll need to get your shop up and running, selling directly through a marketplace means you can skip the hassle of figuring out secure payments for your customers.

Etsy marketplace customers have a secure member login, and there are a number of safe ways for them to pay directly through the website. When you’re eager to learn how to sell on Etsy and make money, the less time you need to spend on setup, the better.

3. You don’t have to invest a ton of money

There’s also the cost to consider. Running your own website isn’t cheap—there’s hosting, domain, and management fees to think about, and those can become pricey when you’re just starting to build a business. Etsy takes care of this for you. You’ll still need to pay some fees to use Etsy and sell your products, like:

But becoming an Etsy shop owner often works out to be cheaper than self-hosting. That means more of your budget can be used for marketing or product development.

4. You can use it as a supplement to your other sales channels

If you already have your own website, you can develop a multichannel selling strategy that allows potential customers to find you and buy your products across the internet. With this strategy, you’d increase customer reach and offer your target audience a convenient shopping experience. 

Working across different channels improves conversion rates and increases customer retention by meeting potential customers wherever they are. This way, a brand can target certain segments of a customer base uniquely on each platform, further increasing the chances of a sale and building customer loyalty. Whether you’re looking for how to make extra money on Etsy or simply trying to cast a wider net, operating on a multichannel basis is an excellent approach. 

Make money on Etsy with Printful 

Once you’ve decided what you want to sell on Etsy, you’ll need to nail down how you’ll stock your shop and build up your merchandise. If you’re just starting out, working with a POD company like Printful solves both of these problems. 

Printful integrates directly with your Etsy shop, taking care of all of your customer fulfillment and shipping needs. Once you’ve created your Etsy account and published your first few products, Printful’s system takes over so that you can spend your time managing your online store and marketing your products.

Printful has no monthly fees, so you’ll only be charged when an order is fulfilled (unless you subscribe to the Printful Growth membership to access its perks, like lower product prices). Printful products are all white-label, which means no Printful logos are placed on your products. It’s all your own designs and branding, just like it would be if you had created and shipped the product yourself.

Embrace your creativity (and make some money too)

With the basics out of the way, you’re ready to launch your Etsy business and start earning some income from your creative endeavor. How long it takes to make money on Etsy really depends on your effort, your brand niche, and a little bit of luck.

Regardless of whether you’re trying to become a full-time creator or make some extra cash on the side, selling your products on Etsy is the perfect way to build a business. 

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Learn more:

As with anything, there’s a little bit of trial and error involved (and that’s half the fun of trying something new anyway). Keep testing different strategies until you find the ones that work for you, and you’ll soon start to see your Etsy shop pulling a profit.

Read next: 

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By Madara Zalcmane on Jun 10, 2024

Madara Zalcmane

Madara is a content marketer for the Printful Blog. Her background in linguistics and belief in the power of SEO come in handy when she’s creating content that inspires ecommerce store owners and helps them grow their business.

Madara is a content marketer for the Printful Blog. Her background in linguistics and belief in the power of SEO come in handy when she’s creating content that inspires ecommerce store owners and helps them grow their business.