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Blog / Beginner's handbook / How to Sell on Etsy: A Beginner’s Guide

Beginner's handbook

How to Sell on Etsy: A Beginner’s Guide

How to Sell on Etsy: A Beginner’s Guide
Ilze Elizabete Strazda

By Ilze Elizabete Strazda

15 min read

Are you looking for a step-by-step, easy-to-follow guide on how to sell on Etsy? Well, look no further. In this blog post, you’ll find everything you need to know about starting your very own Etsy shop.

Etsy is one of the biggest online marketplaces with over 96 million active buyers, and like any other marketplace, it has steep competition. So, if you want to know how to succeed on Etsy, you’ll need to do a little bit of research first.

Why sell on Etsy?

Let’s start with the basics. How is Etsy any different from other ecommerce platforms like, for example, Amazon or Shopify? Etsy sets itself apart from other online marketplaces by heavily focusing on unique and handmade goods. One of the main rules for Etsy sellers is that all products listed on the platform must be either handmade items, vintage, or craft supplies. 

OK, but what if I want to sell custom hoodies or custom t-shirts fulfilled by a print-on-demand company like Printful? Don’t worry—as long as your designs are your own, you can easily sell products fulfilled by a print-on-demand partner.

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How to sell on Etsy in 7 steps

I’ll begin with the basics of how to sell on Etsy, like creating an account and opening a storefront.

Then we’ll get into more advanced tips about how to get more sales on Etsy, like Etsy SEO, fees and shipping. If you’ve decided to sell art on Etsy or start your own apparel brand, this article will be a helpful guide for everything you need to know about running an Etsy shop. 

1. Create your Etsy account

First off, if you don’t already have an Etsy account, you need to create one. Creating your free account only takes a few seconds.

Open the Etsy webpage, click on Sign in in the top right corner, and then Register in the pop-up window. Enter your information and voilà! You’ve created your Etsy account.

2. Open an Etsy storefront

To open your online store, click on your profile picture in the top right corner. In the menu, choose Sell on Etsy.

Then, go through the steps to set up your shop preferences, like shop language, shop location, and currency. After setting up your shop preferences, you’ll be able to choose your shop name. 

A quick tip: don’t get too stuck on figuring out the perfect shop name—you’ll be able to change it later on.

3. Find your niche and USP

If you want to make money on Etsy, it’s important to know your audience. In other words, you need to find a niche for your Etsy shop and what we call USP—your unique selling point. There are over 8 million active sellers on Etsy, which means you need to find something that makes your online store special. What are you offering that your competitors aren’t?

A niche will allow you to narrow down your focus. It’ll also help you pinpoint who your customer is and what they want. If you know exactly who your customers are and what they like about your products, you’ll be able to cater to your target audience more effectively and make products they’ll want to buy.

Identifying your niche is no easy task, but don’t worry—we have good resources with tips on how to find the right niche for your business. If you want to see some examples, check out our blog post on the most profitable print-on-demand niches in 2023.

4. Create high-quality products

Your Etsy shop can have the best marketing campaigns and the most beautiful high-quality photos, but that won’t mean anything if the quality of your products isn’t great. If you’ve decided to sell on Etsy, you have two options—you can either create your products yourself or work with a print-on-demand partner.

When deciding which option will work best for you, it’s important to consider a few factors. First off, what do you want to sell? If you want to sell handmade goods, you’ll probably want to do everything yourself. But if you’re selling t-shirts, notebooks, and mugs with your designs on them, you should consider partnering with an on-demand provider who will take care of things like fulfilment and shipping.

Let’s go through the pros and cons of printing your products at home vs. printing with a fulfillment partner.

Doing it yourself

If you choose to print at home, you’ll be managing your own printing equipment. You’ll print, pack, and ship the products, and take care of any issues like product returns or shipping issues.

This means you’ll have full control over every step of the production process—from quality standards to how long it takes to produce your products. You’ll be able to decide where you want to cut costs and optimize your production processes.

However, printing at home requires a major investment of both time and money. You’ll need to buy printers and stock up on t-shirts, hoodies, or any other products you plan to sell. If your business grows, you’ll need to think about hiring additional staff, especially during the peak season.

If you want your Etsy shop to be a side business while you work full-time, you might have a hard time catching up on orders and keeping track of all the other aspects of owning a business. If that seems overwhelming, it may be worth looking into print-on-demand partners.

Working with a print-on-demand partner

A print-on-demand provider will take care of the technical aspects of your business, like product fulfillment, packing, and shipping. This will allow you to devote your time to the creative side of owning an Etsy store, like branding, designing, and marketing.

Print-on-demand is also a good option if you don’t want to invest much money upfront by buying equipment and materials. You’ll be free to experiment with different product categories and designs without having to buy in bulk or learn how to work expensive printing machines.

5. Upload products

Once you’ve opened your Etsy storefront and you have your shop name and niche figured out, it’s time to upload your products. When you add products to Etsy, they’re called product listings. For every new product you upload, you’ll need to create a new Etsy listing.

As soon as you’ve opened your Etsy storefront, you’ll get to create your first Etsy listing. Begin by adding as many photos as you like. Make sure your product visuals are high-quality and eye-catching—it’ll help your product stand out.

a screenshot of a computer

Once you scroll down, you can add other listing details, like product title, description, category and tags. In the Inventory and Pricing tab, you can set a price for your item, and specify the quantity and SKUs, if you use them.

Finally, you’ll have to add in shipping details—the country you’ll be shipping from, how much time it’ll take to process an order, and where you’ll be shipping to.

a screenshot of a shopping list

To upload more products, just go to your Listings page. As a new Etsy seller, you should upload around 10 listings when starting out.

If you’re planning to use Printful as your production partner, you’ll need to connect your Etsy shop to your Printful account before you can upload your products. It’s a quick process that'll only take a few seconds—follow these steps to start selling on Etsy with Printful.

6. Set up payments and billing

Alright, you’ve uploaded your first products, now it’s time to choose how you’ll get paid. To set up your payment account, you’ll need to specify whether you’re an individual Etsy seller or a business.

You’ll also be required to add in personal details—your country of residence, full name, date of birth, and address. Next, you’ll have to enter the details of the bank account you want your Etsy revenue to go to.

a screenshot of a computer screen

The simplest way to handle payments between you and your customers is by enrolling your shop in Etsy Payments. Etsy Payments will allow your buyers to choose between various payment options, like credit and debit cards, Etsy gift cards, Apple Pay and more. Learn more about Etsy Payments here.

Finally, you’ll have to set up billing. Opening your account is free, but there are fees you’ll need to pay for running a store on the Etsy platform. So, once you’ve given information about your payment account, you’ll have to specify a payment method. Etsy will use this to collect the various fees that come with selling on Etsy.

7. Customize your storefront

The last step is to customize your Etsy shop. This is important because the storefront will be your customers’ first impression. Here’s how you can make sure that your store design reflects your brand:

  • Upload a shop icon and banner photo. These should immediately communicate the visual identity of your brand.

  • Add your shop story. Tell your customers the story of how your business became a reality. This will help shoppers get to know you and connect with you on a more personal level.

  • Add featured listings. You can add 4 products to display at the very top of your storefront—choose the most eye-catching items you have to attract potential buyers.

  • Add a shop announcement and title. A shop announcement is a small text at the top of your page. A shop title is a brief text where you can describe your shop. Adding a shop title can help you influence SEO or search engine optimization (more on that later on).

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Etsy sellers’ fees to note

While creating your Etsy shop is free and there are no monthly subscription costs, Etsy collects various small fees, like transaction fees or payment processing fees. Here are a few Etsy fees you should keep in mind.

1. Listing fees

In order to add a product to your Etsy shop, you’ll have to pay an applicable listing fee. Etsy charges a flat rate of $0.20 and you’ll need to pay these listing fees for each individual product you post.

The listing fee is charged even if the item doesn’t sell, so be mindful of the items you add to your online store.

Each listing will expire after four months. By default, listings automatically renew after four months and you’ll have to pay the listing fee every time you renew an item.

However, you can turn off automatic renewal and opt for manual renewal instead. Read more about listing renewals here.

2. Transaction fees

Another fee Etsy collects is the transaction fee. Etsy charges the transaction fee only on listings that sell, so you’ll only pay this fee when someone purchases your product. The transaction fee amount is 6.5% of the total order amount and it applies to the total cost, as well as shipping costs.

3. Payment processing fees

A payment processing fee is a set rate plus a percentage of the total transaction value of your product. These fees are taken from the total sale price of your item, as well as shipping fees and any applicable sales tax.

The payment processing fee rate and percentage differ from country to country. For example, in the US, this fee is 3% plus $0.25. Take a look here to find out the fee amount in your country.

4. Ad fees

Etsy ad fees are charged when you take advantage of Etsy’s advertising services through Offsite Ads or Etsy Ads.

Offsite Ads

Etsy advertises its sellers’ product listings on various social media sites, search engine results, and partner sites—these are called Offsite Ads.

If you’re a shop owner, you don’t have to opt into these ads, nor do you have to pay for your listings to be considered for an Offsite Ad. Etsy and its partner sites use an algorithm that will match users with relevant listings from all over Etsy.

However, if a customer buys your product through an Offsite Ad, you’ll have to pay Offsite Ad fees. These depend on your Etsy shop revenue in the last 365 days. Find out more about Offsite Ads fees here.

Etsy Ads

You can also set up ads to advertise your listings on Etsy. These ads will be shown in Etsy search, Category Pages, and Market pages on the Etsy webpage and mobile app.

To set up these ads, go to your Shop Manager and select Marketing.

Choose Etsy Ads and set your daily budget. Once that’s done, select Start advertising.

You can also choose which countries you want to advertise in and set ads for specific listings. Learn more about setting up ads here.

5. Other fees

Currency conversion fees will be charged if the currency of your listing differs from the currency of your Payment account. In these cases, the funds you receive will be subject to a currency conversion fee.

In certain countries, you can also purchase shipping labels through Etsy. This way you won’t have to spend as much time at the post office and you’ll have access to some postage discounts.

To learn more about Etsy fees, take a look at this guide.

Etsy selling tips to kickstart your success

Now that we have the basics down, let’s take a look at how you can attract customers and earn more sales.  

1. SEO-optimize your listings

Search engine optimization will help make your products easily searchable on Etsy. Here are a few ways you can ensure your listings are easily discoverable on Etsy search results.

Keywords

One of the reasons why figuring out your niche is important is because it’ll help you understand what keywords you should be targeting. If you know your niche, you know your potential customers. And if you know your customers, you know what they’re searching for.

You can use free tools like Google Trends or Ahrefs Keyword Generator to research keywords for your Etsy store. Once you have your top keywords, use them in your product descriptions and titles.

Tags

Tags are a useful feature that will help potential customers find your products in Etsy search. You have 13 tags per product—you can use either single-word tags or short descriptive phrases.

When choosing tags, keep in mind your main keywords, and don’t be afraid to be specific. If your tags are very general and broad, like “notebook,” you’ll face a lot of competition. But if you go a bit more specific—think “cottage core journal” or “witch spellbook”—you’re much more likely to target the right audience.

Product categories

Categories are similar to tags: they’ll help potential customers discover your products on Etsy search. With tags, you can get creative and target specific niches, but categories are more about what your product actually is.

a screenshot of a phone

2. Stand out with high-quality product photos and videos

When potential customers are scrolling through Etsy, the first thing they see are product photos. People react to visual cues—if the photo is high-quality and visually appealing, there’s a higher chance potential buyers will click on your product. So if you want to build a successful shop, you need to make sure the photos and videos on your Etsy store look great.

But you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment and crazy photo editing skills to create attractive high-quality photos. Nowadays, our phone cameras and a little light editing can go a long way.

Take a look at this video for some practical tips on how to create product visuals at home.

a collage of images of books

Source: QuirkyCupCo

3. Promote your store on social media

No successful Etsy shop is complete without a smart marketing strategy. Use social media to amplify your reach, connect with your customers and increase online sales.

First, you need to figure out which social media platform will work best for you. What platforms do your target customers use? If you want to market your products to a younger audience, you should focus on platforms like TikTok and Instagram. And if your audience is a little older, you’ll do great on Facebook.

You can also think about what makes your products special. If you’re creating beautiful, intricate designs, you should utilize a platform like Pinterest. Pinterest is all about aesthetics and product visuals. But if your main selling point is the story behind the products—for example, you’re trying to raise awareness for a social cause—then you’ll do better on platforms that are more copy-friendly, like Instagram or Facebook.

Share content that will help your customers build trust with you like behind-the-scenes moments of your artistic process. Pair that with things like social media contests and making use of trends and you’ve got a great recipe for engagement. 

Remember, you can market your store on several platforms, but don’t stretch yourself too thin. Quality over quantity, as they say.

4. Offer free shipping

Does free shipping help increase sales? The short answer is yes.

Extra fees like shipping costs or taxes are one of the main reasons why customers don’t go through with a purchase. Research shows that these extra costs are responsible for 47% of cart abandonments. So, by offering free shipping for your products, you’ll ensure that customers are less likely to walk away.

One of the easiest ways to offer free shipping is to adjust your product pricing to include the shipping costs. This way, shipping fees won’t cut into your profits and will be covered by your customer. Your customers will know what they’re paying upfront for and won’t be surprised by any extra costs at checkout.

5. Provide outstanding customer service

When I’m buying from an Etsy seller, I always make sure to read the reviews carefully, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. As an Etsy store owner, reviews can make or break your business. 

To ensure stellar customer service, the most important thing is to communicate the product details clearly—your customers should know exactly what they’re getting. If you’re working with a print-on-demand partner like Printful, you should order product samples before you start selling them in your shop. Otherwise, you won’t know what your customers are buying.

Be honest about the production and shipping time estimates, and make sure you add sizing information. Your product descriptions should be clear and concise—avoid using flowery language that exaggerates the quality of the product.

It’s also important to maintain multiple communication channels with your customers. Make sure your customers can easily find information on how to reach you in case they need your help. You can also use these channels to encourage customers to leave reviews of your products. 

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Ready to start selling on Etsy?

Alright, there you have it: your ultimate guide to selling on Etsy! Did you find the information useful?

Starting your own Etsy store is no walk in the park, no matter if you’re working with a print-on-demand partner or creating your own products using craft supplies. But, in order to have a successful Etsy shop, it’s important that you remain dedicated and consistent in your work. 

Make sure to learn as much as you can about branding and marketing strategies to help your store rise above the competition. Don’t forget to stay on top of social media trends and engage with your customers. All of these things will help you build your success little by little. 

Take a look at our Printful Academy courses—you’ll find helpful resources about ecommerce, design, and marketing. If you still have some questions, check out Etsy FAQs, they’re sure to have all the answers. 

Follow the steps in this guide, keep learning from your own journey and have fun selling on Etsy! 

author

By Ilze Elizabete Strazda on Nov 29, 2023

Ilze Elizabete Strazda

Guest author

Ilze Elizabete is a freelance writer with a background in law and international relations. In her free time, Ilze is an avid reader and painter.

Ilze Elizabete is a freelance writer with a background in law and international relations. In her free time, Ilze is an avid reader and painter.