How to Sell on Etsy in 7 Simple Steps (Etsy Shop Guide for 2021)
One of Etsy’s best sellers is a frog with tits.
…No, no, you read that right.
You wouldn’t be the first in thinking that Etsy sells nothing but candles and wicker baskets – but you couldn’t be more wrong.
With over 60 million products and top sellers making over $10,000 a year, Etsy’s slowly taking over the world.
Whether your tastes are more ‘cottage-core’ or decidedly tongue in cheek, there’s something for you to buy … or sell.
If a second income has been playing on your mind, chances are you’ve considered Etsy.
So what’s stopped you?
The fear that you won’t make any money? Or that no one will like your art? Or is it just that it seems way too complicated?
It’s true that there’s no guarantee of getting rich from Etsy.
But we promise that opening an Etsy store can be easy.
If you want to make money doing something you love – whether that’s making sock puppets or drawing sexy frogs, you should get paid for doing it.
Opening an Etsy store is very straight forward. And, with Etsy’s popularity steadily rising through 2020, it’s become a firm favorite for people looking for passive income.
Follow this easy guide to learn the fastest way to sell on Etsy.
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a modest commission if purchases are made through those links. This adds no cost to our readers and helps us keep our site up and running. My reputation is of the utmost importance to me, which is why I only provide completely honest, unbiased recommendations.
How to Sell on Etsy
Here’s are 7 steps teaching you how to sell on Etsy in no time!
1. Choose and create your products
Obviously, you can’t sell on Etsy if you don’t have something to sell.
The first thing you need to do is choose whether you want to sell something digital, or physical. There are pros and cons to each, so choose wisely.
If you’re selling a physical product, it’s easier to create something unique. This way you’ll have less competition, and physical products make a lot more money.
If a marketable hobby doesn’t immediately spring to mind, you should browse through the listings on Etsy for a while and see if there’s something that inspires you.
Make sure it’s something you’ll enjoy doing, though. If you’re making dozens of a product in your free time, it has to be something you won’t get bored with!
Once you’ve decided on a product to sell, make a few copies (if you haven’t already). Etsy recommends having 10 different listings when you open a store, in case you’re an overnight sensation and you suddenly sell out.
The most popular physical products on Etsy last year were:
- Home Decor
Digital products are great because they don’t require postage and once you’ve made one, your work is pretty much done.
Because this is so easy, a lot of people are doing it, meaning high competition. Remember that the range of digital products isn’t as varied as physical, and people are unlikely to pay a high price for them.
Before you start designing, spend some time looking through Etsy to see what digital products perform best. Then all you need to have before opening your store is a high-quality file for the customers to download.
The most popular digital products on Etsy last year were:
- Coloring book templates
- Knitting and crochet patterns
- Website design templates
Be realistic about how much time you are willing to invest in Etsy.
If this is just a way to make a little extra money, go for a digital product. You’ll only succeed in making physical products if it’s something you LOVE doing, because the time and effort required are far above that of making digital downloads.
2. Decide on your name, logo, and branding
Once you know WHAT you want to sell on Etsy, you’re ready to plan your branding strategy.
The likelihood of you creating something truly unique on a platform as popular as Etsy is low, so a strong brand is essential to success. You need to create a memorable store, because that’s what will keep customers coming back.
Try to choose a store name that is relevant to your product (but don’t waste time trying to think of something perfect, because you can always change it later)
It’s also a good idea to choose a name that’s available on social media (like Pinterest or Instagram) in case you choose to promote your store through other channels down the road.
You’ll be asked to add an icon for your store later on. You can easily create a logo for free with Canva – try to choose a memorable color scheme and include your brand name.
The goal is to have a cohesive look across your store, that reflects the kind of products you’re selling. This will attract the right kind of customers to your Etsy shop.
3. Sign up and create an account
To get started go to the ‘Sell on Etsy’ page (located in the footer menu) and then select ‘Open your Etsy Shop’.
Fill in the basic registration details like password and email, and you’ll find yourself at a screen called ‘Shop Preferences.’ Fill in the information and then save and continue.
Then, on the next page, you’ll be able to choose your store name. Aim for something that relates to your brand or your product.
Etsy will tell you if the name has already been taken, and generate ideas based around your search or your username.
Once you’ve found something you like that’s available, you can go to the next step.
4. Set up your 1st 10 listings
The next step is to set up your listings. Etsy recommends you have at least ten before you open your store, but if you have a digital product, one or two will work just fine.
Start by adding photos, and make sure these are good because Etsy is first and foremost a visual platform. You get suggestions of the best angles to showcase your product for optimization.
Some things you might want to think about when taking your pictures are:
- Flattering (or natural) lighting
- Simple and aesthetically pleasing backgrounds
- How the primary picture looks with the rest of your listings (approach this like an Instagram feed)
- Photos that show the scale and detail of the products
You can add videos too, which a lot of customers prefer because they’re more detailed. If you want to make your products more visually appealing, plants, candles or Christmas lights can work miracles in the background of shots.
If you’re selling a digital product, it’s a little harder to showcase. Ideally, you should print a copy yourself and take some polished photos at home with decorations or a frame.
(If this isn’t an option though, don’t worry – you can make a mockup like we did with Canva. Just use a free stock photo of a frame and edit in your digital product.)
(You can see here that we’ve taken the digital checklist and put it onto a mockup using a free stock image by Ann Nekr on Pexels.)
You’ll then be asked to fill out the listing details – and you want to be as detailed as possible here. Not only do you want to add a personal touch, so your listing stands out, but you also need to add some keywords to make sure you get noticed.
Look through listings in Etsy that are similar to yours – you’ll probably see recurring words, and those are the ones you want to use. You’re not limited to one key phrase here, so choose a few terms that are popular and use them all to get your listing noticed.
(If you really want to give yourself an SEO edge, eRank specialised Etsy SEO and optimization, and it’s free to sign up!)
You can add keywords to the description too – but try to add a story about the product and as much extra information as you can think of – the more detailed and helpful the description, the more likely the customer will choose you over similar products.
Be careful to fill out all the information – ESPECIALLY if you have an occasion or seasonal product. These sell really well so if you don’t check these boxes, you could lose out on some high-volume traffic.
Remember to mark whether your product is physical or digital – if you miss this step, you won’t be able to add your digital download later on.
If it is digital, you can mark it as automatically renewable, because you’ll never run out and it saves you time. If physical, it’s best to do it manually so you don’t run out of stock with a listing still up.
Filling out the tags says optional – but it isn’t.
This is crucial to optimize your listing and be seen by your target audience.
You can add up to 13 tags, so make sure you use all 13. Use the same keyword strategy you did for the title, by seeing which tags have worked for similar listings and copying them.You can then choose what price you want to sell at. Have a look at what prices people are charging for products like yours – and remember to factor in shipping if you’ll be sending your product via mail.
For physical products – set the quantity for however many you have. For digital, set it as high as you can to save yourself time later.
If you’ve chosen something digital to sell on Etsy, this is where you upload it. The file needs to be extremely high quality, or you’ll get bad reviews.
If you’re selling a physical product, you can now fill in the delivery details.
When you’re calculating the postage prices, it’s highly recommended to add the cost of shipping into the cost of the item.
Customers are much more likely to buy something if the shipping is free, and they don’t have to worry about additional costs as they go through checkout.
You should also try to go for the fastest shipping method available in your country because if a customer sees that they have to wait for 3 weeks to get the item, they’ll probably just find a different seller.
The aim here with delivery is to create a shipping process that’s as easy for the customer as possible, so they choose your product over others, and they come back or recommend your store.
5. Fill out your payment information
To finalize the listing process you’ll need to add some payment information.
The first screen you’ll get to will ask you to fill out your bank details in order to receive payment.
You’re required to pay taxes on your Etsy earnings, so make sure you select ‘sole trader’ so Etsy can send you the correct tax form.
The next screen will ask you for your credit card details. This is because there are a few fees to sell on Etsy, which are listed on the right.
The fees for Etsy include a listing fee, a transaction fee and a payment processing fee.
The listing fee is $0.20 per item – and that renews every time the item sells. So, realistically, it’s $0.20 per sale. If you’re selling physical products, this shouldn’t be a huge loss.
If you’re selling digital products, though, these fees add up. That’s why most downloads are high value with multiple pages – you need to charge more to make the fees worthwhile.
It’s normal for online marketplaces to have these fees, and on Etsy, they’re lower than most. Still, it’s good to keep in mind that you won’t get 100% of your sales with Etsy
6. Optimize and edit your shop
Now that you’ve set up your store, you get to have some fun customizing it and adding some personality.
The first thing you’ll want to do is to add your profile picture and your shop icon. The profile picture is up to you but ideally, the store icon should showcase your brand or your logo.
You can see the logo we created fits with the color scheme and theme of the printouts we sell. That makes it easier for our audience to find us and recognize our store.
You can add videos or photos to your Etsy shop; maybe showing your workspace, or your creative process.
When filling out the information, talk about why you started the store, what it does and what makes you different. Customers love to be able to connect with a story.
Take this opportunity to link to your social media or websites. The best social media sites for promoting Etsy are Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.
Once you’ve filled in all the information you can start to navigate and optimize your dashboard.
The statistics section shows you which listings are performing well, how people are finding you and whether you have any uncompleted deliveries.
If you go into the settings tab, you’ll have the option to update your shipping preferences and your shop policies.
You should also explore the dashboard to see all the features – it’s really innovative, and sellers often cite it as the best thing about Etsy.
You can also edit your information and appearance, including any messages you’d like to automatically send to customers.
7. Set up delivery and shipping
The last step for you to sell on Etsy is actually getting the product to paying customers.
If you have a digital product, you don’t have to worry about this. Customers can just download the file and all you need to do is answer any question they have.
If you have a physical product, you now need to get that sent out.
Make sure you organize your shipping supplies ahead of time, so you’re ready to go when you get a purchase. If you want to go the extra mile, you could get shipping materials that reflect your brand – every little detail counts.
Make sure that the packaging is good quality and, if your product is fragile, or can’t be bent, put that on the box!
Etsy does give you the option to create a shipping label, but these cost extra (and vary by location and shipping provider.)
Stay on top of sales, and get them out on time – especially with a new store. Building a good reputation is huge for success, so do what you can to make happy customers.
And there you go – you’re all ready to start selling on Etsy!
In case you need to refresh your Etsy knowledge, here are some Q&A about all-things related to selling on Etsy.
What is Etsy?
Etsy is an online marketplace, specifically for buying and selling handmade items, like artwork, jewelry, or clothing.
It’s designed to save creatives from the hassle of setting up an online store, so they can focus on making products instead of building a business.
This makes Etsy a perfect side hustle. Not only is it insanely easy to use, but it’s also mostly passive income and there’s a huge variety in what you can sell.
Etsy stands out against other eCommerce sites because it has low listing fees and a dashboard that delivers you great sales statistics.
Most people use Etsy for a little extra cash, or a way to sell their art. But some sellers make a comfortable living on Etsy.
Believe it or not, some products are priced as high as $100,000!
What Can You Sell on Etsy?
The range of things you can sell on Etsy is a huge pull of the site. You have the choice of selling physical products or digital products.
Some of the most popular physical products are:
- Art and Sculpture
- Clothing and Shoes
- Home Decor
Popular Digital Products include things like:
- Planners and Trackers
- Designs and Printables
- Fonts and Wallpapers
- Knitting or Embroidery Patterns
If we take a look at Etsy’s homepage, we can already see how varied the products are:
If you have even one creative bone in your body – you can sell on Etsy.
You’re probably already making something in your free time that someone would love to own – so why not get paid for it? The more unique and creative your product, the more likely people will love it.
And even if you’re more business savvy than artistic, you can make some great side money with digital products. Stores that sell downloadable planners or knitting patterns are consistently high performers on the platform.
The other best thing about Etsy is how simple it is to set up.
With just 7 easy steps, your store could be up and running in less than 24 hours. We’ve detailed everything you need to know, and even set up a ‘mock’ store to show just how simple it is to sell on Etsy.
Other Tips to Improve Your Etsy Store
If you feel like there’s more you can do to boost your chances with Etsy, you’re right.
Viv Hughes is listed as a best seller on Etsy, but when she started, she didn’t expect to make any money. After signing up to promote her art, she gained popularity (via the famous ‘frog with tits’) and we’ve asked her to share some advice for those just starting out:
Ask friends to support you
The Etsy algorithm promotes products that get orders – so every sale in your store is important.
Viv’s first sales were all via friends, but that helped to build a good reputation for her store and get her some great reviews.
Utilize social media
Not only should you be promoting yourself through your own social media but getting yourself noticed via forums or groups is a great way to bring people to your Etsy shop. This is exactly what happened to Viv before her store blew up:
“My sales suddenly increased one day in May, and I had no idea why until I checked my phone. My friend told me someone had posted one of my stickers, a frog with boobs, in a frog-themed Facebook group called ‘Frogspotting’ with 350,000 members. It was shared hundreds of times, had thousands of reactions and comments, and people really wanted them.”
Share your art in Facebook groups, or on Reddit forums related to your product. Try to avoid a full-blown sales pitch, but get yourself some exposure, and see if you pique anyone’s interest.
Always have more stock than you think you need
It’s better to oversupply everything – including packaging for delivery and materials to make your products! Like Viv says, running out of stock can lose you weeks’ worth of income.
It’s better to take the risk of over-stocking than to take a loss.
Be prepared for ups and downs with sales
Like any business, Etsy selling is unpredictable, so don’t worry too much if some months are good and others aren’t. Don’t panic when things are slow.
Just focus on self-promotion and trying to reach a new audience.
Personal touches go a long way
Customers choose Etsy because they know the products are handmade and unique. Anything that reminds them of this is great for your reputation. Don’t forget Etsy uses reviews and ratings in their algorithm!
“I also put a little handwritten thank you card with all of my orders, which people seem to like! I genuinely love doing it because I’m so thankful and grateful to every single order I receive.”
So now nothing is stopping you.
You have everything you need to get on Etsy and start building a side income that you actually like! Just take your time with the planning and branding, and don’t worry if you don’t go viral overnight!
As long as you’re doing something you love, it’s worth it.
If you’re thinking about selling on Etsy or you found this post helpful, let us know in the comments!
You can find Viv Hughes on Instagram (@vivhughesart) Twitter (@vivhughesart) or on her website.
About Matt Collins
With a rapidly growing team of readers, my mission is to teach hungry professionals how to maximize their net worth with scalable side hustles and responsible financial management practices.
My reputation is of the utmost importance to me, which is why I only provide completely honest, 100% true, unbiased recommendations for systems and software I know and trust.