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What Can I Sell on Etsy? (Rules, Bestsellers & Tips)

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There are thousands of items to choose from on Etsy.com that are handmade, vintage, available for digital download or print, and are full of creative and innovative materials that artists and entrepreneurs use today!

If you’re familiar with our article “3 Reasons Etsy May Suspend Your Sellers Account,” then you might be familiar with all the things you CAN’T sell on Etsy.com.

If not, feel free to check out our article today!

But if you are curious about what you CAN sell on Etsy.com, we’re here to break it down for you!

What can you sell on Etsy?

  1. Handmade Items
  2. Vintage Items
  3. Clothing, Knitted, Sewn or Stitched Items
  4. Art, Photography, Paintings, Digital Downloads & Prints
  5. Books, eBooks, & PDFs
  6. Candles, Oils, Soaps
  7. Home Goods, Planners, Pillows & Carved Wood

Note: We are going to list quite a few shops as examples for most of these categories; however, we do NOT endorse, support, and are not affiliated or paid by Etsy or any of these shops in this article.

Thanks!

(See References below for links to all shops mentioned in this article!)

What Are the Rules for What You Can Sell on Etsy?

Etsy’s major three categories of sale are as follows:

  • Handmade Items
  • Craft Supplies
  • Vintage Goods

This means that there is a lot of subcategories for each of these main three. Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be an end to what sellers have figured out how to sell on Etsy.com.

However, Etsy’s regulations are very strict and come with a lot of rules about what you can sell online.

This means no food, no weapons, no hateful imagery or quotes, and no generally illegal things, such as human remains or poached animals.

Other than that, as long as you work within those three categories, you’re golden!

Handmade Items

Handmade items are the most popular category on Etsy and can have many different subcategories, such as:

  • Leather goods
  • Digital designs & Downloads
  • Art
  • Clothing
  • Jewelry
  • Photography
  • Quilts
  • Knitted Items & Goods

And many more!

The requirement is that the owner of the shop is the one who designs and creates each of these items before the sale, and cannot be derivative of others’ works or commit copyright infringement.

Craft Supplies

Craft supplies are anything that someone who handmakes their items may need in order to do so.

This can include:

  • Beads
  • Yarn
  • Thread
  • Fabric
  • Paint & Paintbrushes
  • Knitting Patterns or Clothing Patterns
  • Metals & Gemstones
  • Fake Stones or Plastics

And many more!

These items are generally required to be made or crafted by the seller as well, so be careful what you’re selling.

Used or resold items are not allowed on Etsy.com.

Vintage Goods

Finally, we come to vintage goods.

Vintage items are the most costly on Etsy and are usually 20 years old or older.

These items can include:

  • Jewelry
  • Clothing
  • Small Furniture
  • Memory Boxes & Jewelry Boxes
  • Mirrors
  • Photo Frames
  • Antique Hairbrushes

And many more!

These items must be in good condition, redone by the owner of the Etsy shop, and be at least 20 years or older to qualify.

How Strict is Etsy With Their Rules?

Etsy is incredibly strict with their seller policy rules – with a few exceptions, we’ll talk about later.

This means that any violations of these policies will cause your account to get suspended or even banned from the site altogether.

Keep an eye on the seller handbook and Etsy’s rules and regulations in order to prevent yourself from getting banned, and check out our list of items here!

What Are the Most-Sold Categories on Etsy?

The most-sold categories on Etsy fall between the three major categories that are for sale on Etsy that we mentioned before.

Among those categories, the more popular items fall into these categories:

  1. Wedding & Bridal Shower
  2. Favors & Decorations
  3. Planners, Stationery, Stickers & Organizers
  4. Antiques, Heirlooms
  5. Jewelry & Gemstones
  6. Art, Photography, Prints & Digital Downloads
  7. Knitted & Handmade Clothing
  8. Printed Clothing

These are only a few of the most popular and most-sold categories on Etsy – Wedding favors and decorations being a top contender.

Can You Sell Used Items on Etsy?

Selling “used” items on Etsy is a tricky business.

Etsy rules and regulations basically state that an appropriate item that has been used before is a vintage item, and must be at least 20 years old to qualify as “vintage.”

You can’t treat Etsy as an eBay store where you sell all your old stuff that you don’t use or wear anymore – especially brand name items or things that you’ve had in your closet for years.

Now, vintage heirlooms like rings and clothing are available for sale, as well as clothing you made yourself from used fabrics or other materials.

Other than that, no, you can’t sell used on Etsy.

Can a Company Sell on Etsy?

Companies that didn’t grow out of an Etsy shop are not allowed to sell on Etsy.

This is because items must be handmade or created through third-party manufacturers that Etsy approves.

Brand names are prohibited on Etsy, as it violates their policies with copyright infringement, and most name-brand companies wouldn’t need to sell on Etsy anyway.

Furthermore, if you are found to be selling items from companies that are name-brand or otherwise not your own creation, you will be banned from the site.

Etsy Shops that Made it Big

Those select few Etsy shops that found nationwide or even international success on Etsy.com usually move away from the Etsy platform to bigger and better things.

These shops can eventually become a “corporation” and sometimes even a brand-name online!

However, they do like to keep an Etsy shop around – both to remind themselves of their roots, as well as to keep another big moneymaker open even if they have their “main” shop elsewhere online.

Furthermore, many fans don’t know a shop has moved to a new location until months or even years after the shop has switched platforms.

Therefore, closing down the shop and greeting thousands of fans with an empty page would be a big no-no for an Etsy seller.

Can I Sell Disney, Fan Art, and Other Branded Products on Etsy?

This is an incredibly grey area on Etsy.com

While Etsy explicitly states that branded products and copyrighted products are NOT allowed to be sold on Etsy.com, there are a lot of shops that DO sell those things.

In fact, it has become such a hot topic in the Etsy seller community, that some Etsy shop owners are angry that those shops haven’t been taken down yet.

This can be a big problem when dealing with copyright infringement, and should not be taken lightly.

Disney Products & Recognizable Characters

AlibellBoutique – a shop we’ve mentioned before on Techpenny.com – is an incredibly popular and successful shop on Etsy that sells printed designs and slogans of Disney characters, movie quotes, or other recognizable content onto shirts or other items.

While this is clearly a violation of copyright infringement, the shop has been open on Etsy since 2018, with more than 33,000 sales!

Now, this is not to say that perhaps AlibellBoutique hasn’t gotten the rights or license to sell Disney products.

In fact, the shop is located in Orlando, Florida, where Disney World is located, and Disney does offer very particular licensing to some small businesses in order to sell items in their style or with their characters’ names.

While this could very well be the case, it is not explicitly stated on her shop and therefore calls into question whether or not Etsy does take the time to shut down shops that violate their policies – or even more, is there a loophole that shops are exploiting that we don’t even know about?

Fan Art & Making Money

It is generally accepted that fan art, fan fiction, quotes, images, and other such homages to popular culture and media are harmless and not necessarily illegal or copyright infringement.

However, this is only if those artists or writers don’t make any money off of it.

There’s a distinct line between artists and writers who received Patreon donations each month to continue the free work that they share to fans and those who are selling their fanfics or art on commission for money.

It is known that selling your fanfics or fanart for a profit is against copyright laws, and on Etsy is no exception.

As we’ve mentioned, some shops seem to get away with it, but we don’t know the full extent of their licensing or exceptions that might allow them to do so.

Can I Sell Copyrighted Products?

So what’s the real truth?

If some shops get away with selling fanart, Disney art, and other seemingly copyrighted items, what is the real rule?

Well, when in doubt, create it yourself. Don’t follow the lead of those other shops that may or may not end up banned within a month or even a year. Instead, stay true to you and your own brand, saving yourself time and legal fees in the future.

Furthermore, the reason people go to Etsy.com to shop is to find something unique – not anything run of the mill.

Be yourself and stand out from the crowd with solid, legal business practices!

Can You Sell Books and Ebooks on Etsy?

Many Etsy shops are utilized for advertising and selling eBook PDFs and hardcover or paperback books.

Indie authors have started utilizing sites like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and accept donations to their Patreon in order to fund their creative works.

NightBlooming on Etsy.com has released not only their book but hair dyes and oils that they base off their characters in those books in order to garner support and interest in the story.

Other shops like KellyMarieWatercolor sell mostly eBook downloads where customers will purchase the item and be sent the full eBook PDF as a digital download purchase.

Since books are technically handmade “prints” or digital downloads and are created by the author or shop owner, you ARE able to sell them on Etsy.

It is really cool to sift through the many different novels, eBooks, and creative projects that authors and artists are constantly putting out on Etsy.

Can I Sell Electronic Stuff on Etsy?

A lot of items in regards to electronics on Etsy are usually accessories to go with your electronics – such as laptop cases, phone cases, camera bags, leather watch straps, and more.

However, there are a few select shops on Etsy that sell reworked or modified GameBoy Colors and GameBoy Advances – such as GodofGaming on Etsy.

Other shops like Rakit sell premade electronic project kits or analog sequencers that you can use to help you with your soldering projects.

While actual electronic items are not that popular on Etsy, you can bet you’ll find nearly any accessory you can think of your electronic items at home.

Can I Sell Fabric on Etsy?

Fabric is actually an extremely common item to be sold on Etsy.com.

Many artists and graphic designers create these amazing designs that they then have printed onto fabrics. Once that’s done, they put them on Etsy to sell!

An amazing Etsy store, SpoonFlower, creates and sells fabric on their site – but they also have their own website where they help teach you how to make your own fabrics to use or sell as you wish!

Other shops like LambAndLoomFabrics follow the same sort of shop structure, and have so many styles and materials to choose from!

Furthermore, some shops will let you send your own design and send you fabrics with those designs on them to your door!

Can I Sell Food on Etsy?

Etsy states in their prohibited items policy that food products are NOT allowed unless your business is following the proper laws, licensing, and regulations required for a business to sell food.

In their seller handbook, they’ve written an article on the subject (see references below) about how they would suggest an Etsy shop handle this situation properly.

However, food is a huge industry on Etsy – but not necessarily for the food that you can eat.

On Etsy, shops will sell:

  • Food photography Lightroom presets for Instagram (Artmyhouse on Etsy)
  • Recipes and Recipe Books
  • Fake Food Jewelry & Decorations (HappinessInHandful on Etsy)
  • Food trays & plating accessories
  • Paintings of Food or Stickers of Food

…and a seemingly endless supply of things that are about food, but not really edible.

What About Edible Food?

The problem with selling edible foods online is that by the time something gets to you, it has the potential to be spoiled, rotten, or dangerous to consume.

Furthermore, online stores that can sell edible items to customers are usually licensed by the Food and Drug Administration or have a pre-existing license to do so.

Etsy shops don’t have the ability to do this, and furthermore, most shops prefer only to sell foods that are not going to spoil by the time they get to you.

There are some safe and edible items on Etsy that are shipped to your doors, such as tea, jerky, extracts (like vanilla extract), and dry powders.

Shops like Danrussco sells tea in gorgeous canisters as well as tea accessories, while other shops may sell artisanal jerky.

Can I Sell Photos on Etsy?

Photography is a HUGE market on Etsy, with thousands of amazing shops, styles, themes, and photographers.

Selling photos on Etsy is pretty simple, either selling “ready-to-print” or those that are printed and sent to your door.

Other categories of photography are:

  • Photo albums or books made by the artist with their images
  • Photo albums or books made from YOUR photos
  • Photo collages
  • Photos printed onto mugs, T-shirts, phone cases, etc.

There is really an endless amount of things you can do with the photos that you’ve taken to sell them online with Etsy.com.

If you are interested in sharing your amazing photos, consider checking out shops like TheParisPrintShop or EyePoetryPhotography for some ideas of what a successful photo print shop does in order to garner customers and sales!

Can I Sell Gift Baskets on Etsy?

The term “gift basket” can mean a ton of things on Etsy, some of the more popular being paired with terms like “wedding,” “romantic,” “wellness,” “health,” etc.

There are a lot of great ideas and things to look at when it comes to combined gift baskets on Etsy – as we mentioned before, Danrussco’s teas also have gift baskets for their amazing tea and accessories.

Furthermore, selling gift baskets on Etsy is pretty common – as long as ALL items within the basket meet the Etsy selling requirements.

If any items within the basket, group of items or item packs don’t meet those requirements, you could get your account blocked.

Can I Sell Soap and Oils on Etsy?

Soap and oils are also a common item to be sold and bought on Etsy.

Shops like SoapSavant and SoapySweetTreats (another non-edible food theme on Etsy) sell amazing soap designs and smells in nearly every flavor and category.

SoapySweetTreats sell soaps in the shape of popular baked items like cake and pie, while SoapSavant caters toward wedding parties, birthdays, or other themed events.

Other shops will sell essential oils in different smells or for different uses, such as to help customers sleep, meditate, get energized, and more!

One reminder, though, is that to sell oils and soaps on Etsy comes with a HUGE responsibility to use the proper materials and to test all products before sending them out.

If customers get sick or itchy or even worse from you soaps and oils, you can kiss that Etsy store goodbye.

Can I Sell Toys on Etsy?

Many parents like to think outside the box when it comes to their kids, and finding toys and items for them that are totally unique from their friends is a fun thing to try and do!

Shops like BannorToys sell amazing, handcrafted wooden toys for children and babies that are safe and of high-quality materials.

Toys that are handcrafted on Etsy tend to be wooden rather than plastic, but there are some amazing plushes on there as well, such as teddy bears, tigers, lambs, and others!

If you’re looking for something unique, check out Etsy!

Note: After doing some research, we realized that there are many toys on Etsy.com that are NOT appropriate for children. If you are going to shop for toys on Etsy, make sure to shop without kids present just in case.

Can I Sell Dog Treats and Pet Food on Etsy?

Searching for pet food on Etsy is a little bit of a wild ride, depending on what you’re looking for.

From dog and cat food to exotic things like food for your pet snails or dead, dehydrated crickets for your lizards, Etsy does have a wide selection of things to check out.

Now, if you are considering selling pet food on Etsy, you will need to remember that you still need to follow the rules and regulations that selling food online requires.

So while it is okay to sell on Etsy, you need to have a professional license in order to comply with their food requirements, as stated in their seller’s handbook (see reference link below).

8 Tips for Choosing the Best Products for Etsy:

Here are a few last-minute tips and advice for selling on Etsy:

  1. Only Sell What You’ve Created and Give it 100% of Your Effort
  2. Choose Items or Crafts that You Enjoy Making – You’ll be making a lot of them
  3. Utilize High-Quality Materials – It’ll help you stand out from the crowd
  4. Choose Items That Are Easy to Make in Bulk
  5. Keep an Eye on Trends & What People Are Buying
  6. Stay Away from Copyright or Recognizable Characters & Quotes
  7. Don’t Work with Food, Animals, Oils, Soaps or Dyes – unless you’re a professional this will be very hard to get right
  8. Sell Work-Appropriate Items that Customers Will Trust – stray away from inappropriate or explicit items, which don’t sell well

And that’s about it!

There are a lot of industries on Etsy to choose from – whatever you think you will like best, do that for sure!

References:

Etsy Shops Mentioned

Etsy Seller Handbook

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