Playing now

Playing now

How to sell on Etsy: Top tips for creative businesses

Back to search results

If you have a creative business that sells handcrafted artistic goods, craft supplies and vintage products that aren’t easy to find in traditional e-commerce stores, Etsy might be for you.

Etsy has 1.9 million active sellers, a mixture of people who are either using the online marketplace as a creative outlet, part-time side hustle or full-time business.

According to Etsy, it had 81.9 million buyers in 2020, a sharp increase from 46.35 million in 2019, so it’s a fertile market for e-commerce.

If you’re interested in selling your goods on Etsy, we cover what you need to know in this article.

Here’s what we feature:

What should you sell on Etsy?

Naming your Etsy shop and setting it up

Finding and listing products for your Etsy shop

Managing your Etsy finances

Final thoughts on selling on Etsy

First of all, it’s worth understanding that Etsy is quite strict on what can be sold on the online marketplace.

Everything listed on Etsy must be handmade, vintage or a craft supply.

Here are some important rules to remember:

  • All handmade items must be made or designed by you, the seller. Reselling is prohibited in the handmade category.
  • If you have a production partner, you must disclose this information in the listing. You must accurately describe every person involved in the production and use your own photos or video to promote the item or items.
  • Vintage items must be at least 20 years old.
  • Craft supplies are tools, ingredients, or materials whose primary purpose is to create items.

Like any other popular online marketplace, it’s relatively easy to set up an Etsy shopfront on its website. You need to select your language, country and currency that you want to work in.

When you first start, one of the more critical decisions you’ll have to make is around your Etsy name because this will be your Etsy brand.

Although you’re free to change your shop name down the road, it’s better to get it right sooner rather than later so customers can remember your brand.

Here’s some tips on choosing your Etsy shop name:

  • Be prepared to brainstorm and test names. They can be descriptive and straightforward or a little more creative and abstract. Have a play with words.
  • What kind of feelings does your name convey? Ask friends and family what they think. See if the emotions it inspires in others are what you expect.
  • Is it easy to remember? And how easy is it to type? If you are selling on other channels, what type of SEO (search engine optimisation) value does it have?

Other shop features you will have to think about include:

  • A banner and shop logo. This might be the first thing your potential customers see, so you need to spend some time looking for imagery that will work with your brand. A logo will be a nice touch and can show off your creative energy, while helping your business stand out.
  • Announcement and about section. Again, think carefully about what you’re going to put here. You can upload photos and videos that could showcase the vision you have for your business brand.
  • Policies. Avoid problems in the future by outlining your e-commerce policies, providing customers with need-to-know information such as delivery, returns, exchanges and payments. A good returns policy will give your buyers confidence of decent customer service if something unforeseen happens.

So where to start when it comes to selecting products for your Etsy shop?

You could add products that you’ve been creating and selling elsewhere, such as your own website. Or you might decide to research and develop a new range of products to sell specifically on Etsy.

No matter what approach you opt for, here are a few tips and things to consider:

  • How much time and money does it cost to make one of your products, and how much would it be acceptable to sell for? You don’t want to undersell yourself, as you’ll be continually creating without hope of a decent profit.
  • Research the product (or similar products) you’re selling and how other sellers are promoting them. Make a note of their branding and what their reviews are saying. What are they doing on social media? What can you take on board for your business strategy?
  • Check out Google Trends for keywords to see if any relating to your product is trending. With your Etsy shop, think about how can you use this information to improve your offering.
  • Spend some time perfecting your listing title copy. In addition, use the right keywords to maximise the chances of your product being found. Longer keyword-rich titles with the buyer in mind tend to do well. This is good for SEO as well.
  • Copywriting on your product description could make or break your chances of it being sold. You have a few short lines on the listing page to convince the buyer to click on your item. Put full details of what the customer will get, but don’t make it too wordy or confusing.
  • Select the right categories for your items. Do your research here to understand where it might have more visibility. Niche categories may be better than popular categories depending on the item.
  • Attach great photos and video. This will help you to showcase your products in the best light.

Listing fees

Be aware that for all of its merit in selling artistic goods, Etsy is a business, and it does have fees which it adjusts from time to time.

Etsy will charge you a listing fee of $0.20 (15p) for each item you list for sale on your Etsy shop (although you can list multiple quantities of the same item), and it will expire after four months.

Within that time, you can edit the listing for free. These fees are reflected in your payment account and deducted when the listing is published or renewed.

Etsy Payments

Etsy requires that you offer Etsy Payments, which means buyers from around the world can use one of the online marketplaces’ payments options.

To turn Etsy Payments on (which requires a small payment process fee for each sold item), you have to supply your credit or debit card details, bank account and residential address for receiving deposits.

You must also verify your personal identity.

Pricing your products

As an owner of a creative business, you need to be particularly careful about the prices you set for your products, as it’s not as straightforward as it would be if you were marking up prices from products you bought from a manufacturer.

You have to develop a pricing sweet spot that considers the materials, time, labour and overheads you spend making an item.

This can be a matter of experimentation and trial and error because it’s perfectly possible to adjust certain parts of your creative process to make the time and materials cost of making your product cheaper.

Charge for your expertise.

Make sure you take into account your reputation and experience when pricing the products you make.

If you’re selling paintings you’ve worked on, for instance, you should be able to charge a lot more if you have a great deal of experience and made a name in the art world, as opposed to someone who is just starting out.

You also need to take into account any services you offer in supplying the product, such as free delivery, or even costs such as hiring studio space or purchasing equipment.

Another way of working out pricing is doing it in reverse—researching and testing a price you think a product is worth and figuring how much time and money on materials you need to spend on your creative process to reach this pricing goal.

Because you’re in charge of the creative process, your pricing will be a continuous work in process. You are the one who is going to make adjustments, such as cutting out tasks and using more or less material.

It’s a tricky balance, but the one good thing is that you are in control.

Expenses, income and forecasting

Although you are running a creative business, you need to put a serious hat on when running the finances of your Etsy shop.

You’ll need to plan for responsibilities such as taxes, and understand if and when you need to pay business expenses.

It will undoubtedly help to have a clear and accurate understanding of your Etsy shop’s financial health.

If you can keep track of your income and expenses, you can make informed decisions and make the right decisions in the future.

Decent cloud accounting software could be good if you want to know exactly how much you’re spending on supplies and materials, which, as we’ve mentioned, is very important if you’re creating the product yourself.

You can look at using software to scan your receipts, which is a quick way of tracking both money going in and out of your business.

If you have a clear view of your finances, you can identify where you might need to cut costs to boost your profit.

Track your expenses for an extended period.

This information can help you make long-term decisions about how you can expand your product line or focus it on the items that are doing exceptionally well.

If you’re forecasting for the next few months or even years, it’ll tell you which products will help you grow and which ones you should stop making.

Forecasting can also help for future expenses, such as hiring new equipment or taking on staff if the work becomes too demanding.

If you’re offering handmade artistic goods, craft supplies or vintage products, Etsy is a quick and easy way to get your products online to a community of shoppers who will immediately be able to shop with you.

Financially, creating a professional-looking shop on Etsy will cost less than the outlay needed to build an e-commerce website and promote it with digital marketing.

However, you want to get your product out to as many people as possible, so there’s no harm in having both an e-commerce website and an Etsy shop if you have the time and inclination.

Maximise success as an online seller

Discover why understanding the basics of accounting can help you increase your chances of running a successful e-commerce business.

Download your free guide

Never miss an episode

Subscribe by email and get Sound Advice delivered to your inbox every two weeks with the Sage Advice newsletter with a ton of related articles, templates and problem solving guides for small businesses so you can put our sound advice into practice.

Ask the author a question or share your advice

If you are a customer with a question about a product please visit our Help Centre where we answer customer queries about our products. When you leave a comment on this article, please note that if approved, it will be publicly available and visible at the bottom of the article on this blog. While your email address will not be publicly available, we will collect, store and use it, along with any other personal data you provide as part of your comment, to respond to your queries offline, provide you with customer support and send you information about our products and services as requested. For more information on how Sage uses and looks after your personal data and the data protection rights you have, please read our Privacy Policy.

Sage Advice Logo