How to start an Etsy store

What is Etsy?

Etsy is an online marketplace where independent designers, artists, crafters and collectors can set up shop and sell what they make. It’s an easy and quick way to start a business from home. Etsy is  probably best known for selling unique pieces that you wouldn’t find elsewhere. Whether it’s vintage, handmade or custom made, it’s easy to join this creative community. 

The e-commerce platform was founded in New York in 2005. It aimed to connect small, independent sellers with people looking for original products with a more personal touch. Within two years of launching it had half a million users and racked up $26m in sales. 

Unlike other well-known online marketplaces, everything is made, curated and sold by its sellers. These sellers not only produce their own goods, but manage their own orders and inventory. Etsy is simply the go-between, giving sellers the space to attract customers and sell their work. 

Read on to find out: 

  • Why you should sell on Etsy
  • Setting up an Etsy shop and how to start your own business 
  • How to publish listings to your Etsy shop 
  • Creating an Etsy brand 
  • Things to bear in mind when selling on Etsy 
  • Opening and customising your Etsy shop 

Why sell on Etsy?

Clicking on the checkout button to finish your shopping has become the norm. Since the pandemic, it’s been the only way some people have been able to do their shopping. This time last year, Etsy sold 12 million face masks in one month, proving it to be one of the most well-established online retailers.  

It’s easy to set up a shop and can be at a relatively low cost. Etsy provides the shop window for specialists to showcase their work and make sales. It also allows sellers to widen their net and capture a global audience. 

The site already has a well-established audience, which means that you could be more easily found by people who want to purchase your product. You can set up your shop exactly how you want it on Etsy, with customers able to visit immediately. 

The site is also a good way to start building your brand and getting to know your customers. You won’t need to build your own website and then market it, saving you time and money. There’s no domain or hosting fees and it’s simple to add, edit and remove listings and update your shop. 

How to sell on Etsy

Selling on this successful e-commerce website is easy when you know how. Here’s how to get started: 

Create an Etsy account

Visit etsy.com, click  the ‘sell on Etsy’ link and fill in the required details before hitting ‘register’. You can also create an account using a Google, Facebook or Apple account if you have one. 

Select your shop preferences 

Shop preferences include things like selecting your language. You’ll also select your home country and the currency you’re listing your products in. Be careful if your bank currency is different to your shop currency, as there’s a conversion fee of 2.5% when customers pay. Etsy will ask whether you’re a full or part-time seller or other, but this has no impact on your shop. 

Choose your shop’s name

This is your chance to get creative. Ideally you want something that’s attention grabbing and easy to remember. Your name should also represent your products and values. 

There are a few rules to follow. For instance, the name needs to be 4-20 characters long without spacing or special characters. It has to be original without trademark infringements and profanities aren’t allowed. If you choose a name already in use, Etsy will suggest similar, available names. The site recommends using words and phrases that conjure up the feeling of your brand and describe what you’re selling. Unusual or abstract names might be more memorable, or you could simply use your own name.

It’s well worth spending time thinking about your shop name because once you’re live, you can only change it once. Also, if you think you might eventually move away from Etsy to a business website, or create your own Facebook or Instagram page, do some checks first to see if your chosen business domain name is available. 

Add items to your shop

Now you’re ready to list your products. Ideally, you should use between five and ten photos so your creations can be seen from different angles. If you have variations of a product — perhaps the same item in different colours — include photos of the available options. Make sure your photos are clear and at least 2,000 pixels square. 

Also think about your thumbnail. This is the first image potential customers are going to see in your shop, so it needs to be good. 

You’ll need to give each item a title describing what you’re selling in as much detail as the 140-word character limit allows. You’ll be able to add a more in-depth description with bullet points, category and type further on. It’s a good idea to try and think of descriptive words that’ll help you get higher up in Google searches. 

There are 13 potential tags for each item which will help shoppers find you when they search certain keywords. Think about what a customer might be looking for in order to get to your products and work backwards – these keywords are what your tags should be. 

Inventory and pricing

This is where you add prices, sales tax if applicable, item quantities and variations (such as different sizes, colours and materials). 

You’ll also need to add details about how your customers will receive their products. This includes the shipping process, who you use, how much it costs and the products’ size and weight. 

You can leave it to Etsy to work out all the shipping prices for you – this will be recommended during the set-up process. You’ll still have to fill in the item and weight after it’s been packed. Then, based on that information you can preview the shipping details that the buyer will see. When your shop is open, you can set ‘shipping profiles’ so that you can efficiently update items with the same shipping costs. 

Publishing your listings

You’ll be able to preview listings to see exactly how they’ll look before making them live. Etsy suggests having at least ten listings when you start off, but you can have as many as you like. The more you have, the easier it’ll be for the customer to find your shop. Bear in mind though that your listings can’t go live until you’ve finished the whole setup process. So, if you’re keen to get your shop open or launch quickly, you may want to start off with ten and then add more after the shop’s virtual doors are open. 

Choosing your payment preferences

You need to choose how to accept payments with options including PayPal, credit and debit card, and Etsy gift cards. Sellers eligible to offer Etsy Payments need to give their bank details and home address. This will then allow you to receive payment deposits directly from the site.

Setting up your billing

In certain countries, Etsy asks sellers for a credit card as proof of identity. Even if that doesn’t apply, you’ll still need a card on file so the site can charge you selling fees.

When you start selling and making money, the Countingup business current account and accounting app can help you to manage your finances while keeping admin to a minimum.  The app comes with free built-in accounting software, helping you manage and record your expenses, send instant invoices and view a live profits and loss report. 

Opening your shop

When you’ve got this far, it really is as simple as clicking ‘Open Your Shop’ and you’ll then get your URL in one of two formats:

Selling on Etsy – other things to bear in mind

Your public profile 

Your public profile is how your customers get to know more about you both inside and outside of the business world. You can give a little background information in your bio, including your interests, the story behind your products, and why you love what you do. 

Your policies

Here’s where you get to pre-empt and answer questions about your manufacturing, shipping and payment processes. Make sure you include a time estimate for processing orders and shipping them, so customers have a clear idea of when they can expect to receive their items. This is especially important if people are ordering for time-sensitive occasions such as birthdays and Christmas. 

You’ll also need to make clear what your refunds and exchange policies are, as well as the payment methods you accept. If you’ve used ‘other’ in your payment settings, you have to explain what this method is in this section and with each listing. 

Your ‘about’ section 

You have 5,000 characters to explain your business history. Remember that a genuine story is more valuable than regular marketing copy. This is a good section to add photos or a video of your workspace, and to add links to any social media sites you use. 

Using social media to advertise your Etsy store is essential for drumming up new business and updating your existing followers. Etsy does make this easy for you and has its own social media tool that allows you to update all your social channels with announcements, special offers, new listings, brilliant reviews or new products you’re keen to showcase. 

Etsy fees

Although setting up your shop is free, Etsy makes its money by charging its sellers a fee for listing and selling products on their page. If you’re using Etsy Payments, these fees will automatically be deducted from your sales. If at the end of a month you still owe extra fees, you’ll be responsible for paying them just the same as any other bill.

Customise your shop 

Just like a shop in a building, your Etsy store needs to be easy to find, constantly updated, well organised and beautifully laid out. 

You’ll want it to be memorable, professional and to stand out for the right reasons. This will help you grow and develop your reputation and establish yourself as a reputable and trusted brand.

You need to showcase your work in the most appealing way, which will give you the confidence to use social media to promote and flaunt your shop.

It’s a good idea to look at other people’s Etsy shops and pick the ones you like most. Think about why you’re drawn to them – it could be the colours, fonts or language they use, for instance. Also check them out on social media to see how they interact with their followers. 

It’s important to be consistent. Stick to two or three colours and the same amount of fonts and use them wherever you present your products. Not only are you establishing your brand, you’re saving yourself a lot of work by not having to start from scratch with every post. 

Less is definitely more when it comes to presenting your shop. Whatever you’re selling needs to be the centre of attention. While the interesting pot plant in the top right of the picture might look good, it could just end up being a distraction. You want your customers’ eyes firmly fixed on the items for sale. 

Thanks to Etsy’s user-friendly site, it’s really simple to set up your shop and there’s a wealth of resources to help you make it a success. 

Don’t be disappointed if you’re not instantly bombarded by traffic. It takes time and effort to build a loyal audience base. If your products and services are good, word will spread. Once you land your first sale, keep it personal by engaging with your customer and asking for feedback. Reply to all queries promptly and address any concerns immediately. With consistent action and attention to each detail, you’ll be setting your Etsy business up for success.

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