7 Shortcuts to Starting an Etsy Shop (For Beginners)

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If you’re a creative person who likes to make things, but you’re new to Etsy, you may be wondering where to start to get your shop off the ground.

Let’s face it, Etsy’s been around a while, so a lot of the trial and error of becoming a successful Etsy entrepreneur has already been made by numerous other shops.

Now that the way has been paved, here are some shortcuts to help you launch the best Etsy shop you can, right from the get-go:

Starting Your Etsy Shop

If you’re not feeling very tech-savvy, don’t worry!

Etsy’s Seller Handbook walks you through all of the physical steps of setting up your online shop, creating your listings, and getting your profile live.

These tips we’ve outlined will help you get a step further—making your shop one that stands out in the Etsy marketplace:

1. Have a Unique Product Line

If you’re starting a shop, then you probably already have an idea of what you want to sell.

Whether you’re a pro basket weaver, a quilt maker, or a curator of fine antiques, you want to have a product line that is unique to your shop.

Trust your instincts and follow your own style. Just make sure that your items are one-of-a-kind.

Etsy shoppers come to this platform because they want something they can’t get anywhere else, and you get to provide it. 

It helps to have a bit of cohesion to your style. Maybe your products are 1920’s flapper-inspired, maybe they’re boho-chic, maybe they’re taxidermic birds from along the equator.

This doesn’t mean you have to stick to one type of item or a theme, but your customers will want to know what kind of style they can expect to find in your shop.

2. Give Your Shop a Snappy Name

The name of your Etsy shop will set the tone for your brand. Think about what vibe or style you want your shop name to evoke.

Try to let your shop name give a clue as to what type of products your customers can hope to find in your shop.

Your shop name can be abstract, or it can be a little more on the nose. It can (but doesn’t have to) include your own name.

You can even get creative here and make up a word, or mesh a couple of words together. Whatever you do, make sure it’s memorable and fits with the story of your shop.

You can easily make a simple shop name concept sound more official and professional by ending it with “Co.,” “Designs,” “Artifacts,” “Inc.,” “Aesthetics,” or a number of other descriptive words.

3. Make a Shop Budget

Admittedly, making a budget may seem like somewhat of a buzzkill, especially for us creative types who are ready to jump into the making of things.

But having this as one of your first steps will make your business startup go far more smoothly than if you tried to figure out how to manage your funds as you go.

There are a ton of budgeting apps that can make this easier, or you can go back to the basics and make yourself a nice Excel spreadsheet.

If you go the spreadsheet route, have a page for your monthly income, and a page for your monthly overhead costs, and chart it out for the year.

At the end of each month, enter your gross income into the first page, and plan out where that will go in the coming month on the second page.

Ideally, you should invest a bit of your own money in your shop upfront. That will account for your first month’s budget, and maybe for a while after before you’re turning a profit.

Overhead costs will include things like:

  • Etsy’s fees and listing costs
  • Costs of your materials
  • Costs of your labor time (Tip: Calculate how much time, on average, it takes you to create and/or customize each product, and set yourself an hourly wage. This will help you to set your prices fairly and realistically.)
  • Shipping
  • Other (In case you incur occasional extra fees, such as having business cards printed or acquiring or repairing equipment.)

Once you know what your expenses will look like, you can make sure that you’re not going into debt by having to pay for your materials and shipping out of your own pocket.

A successful business is a self-sustainable one.

Having a budget will also help you to set your prices, which can be tricky.

It helps to make sure your prices are affordable for your target market, appropriate for your products, and also allow your business to stay afloat.

4. How to Make Engaging Shop Listings

Without a physical store, your customers aren’t able to see your products in the flesh before they purchase them.

This is where your shop listings come in, and there are a few ways you can give them an edge:

Only Use Professional-Looking Photos

Your listing photos are important. Make sure you have good lighting (daylight is best) and stage them well.

Have multiple shots so your customers can see your products from different angles.

Crop out anything outside of your staging—you don’t want your piles of laundry in the background, and you certainly don’t want to take a mirror selfie of you modeling the product.

Keep it professional.

Create Engaging Product Descriptions

If you’re not excited about a product, how will you get your customers excited?

Tell them about the product, tell them why it’s unique and exceptional.

If there’s a personal story behind your inspiration for a product’s design, share your story!

Optimize Your Keywords

Searches are a big way for your products to be found by potential buyers.

Make sure you’re using as many key search words as you can.

Don’t be too abstract in your listings and listing titles—you want to be very descriptive and concrete so that your listings will be posted in relevant product searches.

5. Utilize Etsy’s Excellent Shop Tools

Etsy has a ton of great resources to make setting up shop and selling your products easier.

The Etsy Help center has a lot of resources to answer your questions and support you as a shop owner. Every setup has step-by-step instructions.

One tool on the Etsy site that you should definitely take advantage of is your Shop Video.

Shop Video allows you to create a video introducing your shop to potential customers. Here is where you, as the shop owner and the brains behind your product line, get to shine.

Tell your visitors your story, share your vision, and let them know what they can expect from your product line.

If you have a unique designated workspace, show it off! If there’s an interesting story behind your inspiration, share it!

And if you’re not a professional cinematographer, fear not. The Etsy app has all the tools you need to make your video, and the app will walk you through it step by step.

It even has background music that you can use without having to worry about copyright infringement.

6. Connecting With Your Customers

Customer relationships are a key component of a successful small business.

Connecting with your customers is a great way to spread your brand and promote your product line.

Customer relationships begin at a broad level and trickle down to every individual buyer. For example, the first way you can connect with your customers is via personal listings, your shop video, and your seller profile.

Tell your customers who you are, and what they can expect from your shop, your products, your customization, and how you’ll keep in touch through their transaction and shipment.

It helps to set up an email address specifically for your shop. Here your customers can reach out if they have questions about their product or shipment.

Set Up an Email List

You can encourage customers to return by setting up an email list to let customers know about new products in your line, or promotions and discounts.

Make sure that your customers have the option to sign up or opt-out, so they don’t feel pressured or bombarded by promotional emails they didn’t ask for.

But your email list can be a way of rewarding your customers for their loyalty and encouraging them to keep ordering from your store and to recommend your store to friends.

Add a Personal Touch

A small hand-written thank you note with your shop logo and website in every package you ship can go a long way.

Let your customers know that you appreciate their business and remind them that a real person is behind every item in your shop.

Keep open communication from the time of the order to its arrival in your customer’s mailbox. 

If one of your raw materials is still in transit to you, and its creating delays in getting your product to your customer, make sure you let them know and thank them for their patience.

Do everything you can to answer their questions and let them know when they can expect their item.

Encourage, but Don’t Demand Reviews

You can always ask your customers to leave you a review if they were satisfied with your product!

But this is a bonus for you; it’s not a requirement, so don’t make your customers feel pressured to leave you a review.

And make sure to respond to your reviews—if someone leaves you positive feedback, say thank you.

If someone leaves you negative feedback, ask them to private message you so that you can figure out how to make it right.

7. Connect With the Etsy Community

No shop owner is an island, and your fellow Etsy shop owners aren’t scary competitors for you to avoid.

On the contrary, other shop owners can help you learn the ropes—especially shop owners who have been around a while.

They might have a few tips and tricks that they can share, and it’s always good to learn from others’ mistakes and experiences, to save yourself the trouble of making your own mistakes.

In addition to its many other useful tools, Etsy has a community forum where sellers can connect with each other and ask questions.

If you run into a problem that you’re not sure how to handle, you can post your question to the forums, and someone else may have been in your position and have some pointers. 

It’s always good to take a look at what your peers are doing in order to figure out how to solve your shop’s problems, streamline your processes, market your brand, and improve your shop.

But remember not to play the comparison game too much! Learning from others is an excellent resource, but your shop/brand should still remain uniquely your own.

How Long Does it Take to be Successful on Etsy?

No two Etsy shop experiences are the same, so there’s no set time frame for success.

However, there are a few variables that can affect the startup of your business.

Here are some things you can pay attention to as you start your Etsy store:

What’s in Season?

It may seem obvious, but if you’re trying to sell novelty holiday decorations, you probably won’t have much demand in spring and summer.

If your product line is seasonal, try to time your launch with the appropriate season, or broaden your product line so that you’re meeting changing demands all year.

What’s on-Trend?

No matter what phase your shop is in, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in business for years, it’s always important to pay attention to what’s on-trend.

What’s selling around you? What’s coming back into style, in fashion, home decor, etc.?

You don’t have to sell out, but follow your own passions and taste while still meeting customer demand.

How Well-Marketed Your Shop Is

Social media presence goes a long way.

Don’t just rely on the Etsy app to get your shop out there.

Market your brand on social media, start a free informational blog, or make your shop its own website.

What Your Listings Look Like

Your listings are an important component in selling your products.

Make sure you have professional product photos to feature your line.

Your listings should be descriptive, with plenty of SEO keywords, to ensure that your products are featured in customer searches.

Make sure your prices are set reasonably, for you, as well as for your customer and your product.

How Much Competition you Have

Make sure whatever you’re selling on Etsy is one-of-a-kind. If a product can easily be found in a department store, it’s not going to move as well in your shop.

Your product line should stand out among similar items.

Don’t worry too much about comparing your prices to other shops—it’s better to focus on creating an exceptional product line than it is on competitive pricing.

If it takes a couple of weeks before you sell your first product, don’t panic. It can take time for your shop to get exposure.

Keep promoting your brand, and take another look at your listings and see if you can punch them up.

But don’t be too quick to scrap the hard work you’ve put into your shop just because you’re still waiting for your first sale.

3 Products You Should Probably Stay Away From:

Etsy is pretty broad in terms of what types of items you can sell.

Of course, Etsy’s emphasis on uniqueness can help you rule out certain types of items from your product line:

Items That Aren’t Niche Enough:

Shoppers on Etsy are likely there because they want something that stands out, and that they couldn’t find just anywhere.

Don’t be afraid to branch out in your artistic prowess and make your product line full of one-of-a-kind items.

Mass-Produced Items:

Etsy considers anything over 20 years old to classify for their vintage category.

However, this comes with the caveat that the products not be mass-produced.

If they’re still easily acquired now, or if the items are still being manufactured with essentially the same design as they were a couple of decades ago, they don’t belong in your Etsy product line.

Handmade Items Made by Someone Else:

Reselling is a big faux pas on Etsy. If you’re marketing a handmade item, it should be made by your hands.

And remember, this doesn’t include taking mass-produced items and making adaptations to them.

When Etsy says “handmade,” they mean it.

Keep learning and adapting!

It’s completely okay if you don’t have all the answers right now for starting your Etsy shop.

There are plenty of tools and forums to get you started, but a lot of things also have to be learned through experience.

Try out your product line, see what sells, see what works, and stay adaptable!

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