Like many people, I opened my Etsy shop without many expectations. In 2013 I started creating custom, printed invitations and announcements. That year, in April, I officially opened my Etsy shop and set a goal of making two sales for the month. Much to my surprise, I made my first sale within 24 hours (cha ching!). The sales kept on rolling in and by the end of April I had sold over $1,300 on Etsy. There were a few things that led to my early success.
Do Your Research
This includes knowing your product, knowing your market, and knowing your competition.
By know your product I mean know how to replicate it effectively, customize it for different needs, and ship it quickly. Opening an Etsy shop is a lot of work and a huge learning experience, so make sure you’ve got this part covered prior to selling!
Before you make your first Etsy sale, you should have an idea of who you are selling to. For me, I was selling graduation announcements so my market was college seniors. More specifically, female college seniors who had a lot of school pride. My designs included university colors and monograms, which was very on trend at the time. If you know your market, you will know how to communicate with them in a way that will lead to bigger sales.
I was successful my first month on Etsy because no one else was offering customized graduation announcements with university colors. I had a unique product and little to no competition which allowed me to make more sales. Consider your product and how you can take it a step further to make it different from the competition.
Stand Out Photos
One of the biggest keys to Etsy success is having great photos. When a buyer searches on Etsy, they are shown thousands of options of items to purchase. By having a stand out photo, you increase your chances of them clicking on your shop, thus increasing your chance of making a sale.
Take a lot of photos of your product from different angles, on a solid colored background, with natural light. I use my iPhone for Etsy photos all the time and edit using Pic-Tap-Go. Depending on what your product is, you can buy styled mock up photos to use in your listings. I’ve used mock up photos for my paper products and have also seen them used for things like mugs and t-shirts. Search for mock up photography on Etsy or Creative Market.
Have Great Descriptions and Tags
Make sure your Etsy listing descriptions include keywords someone searching for an item similar to yours would use. Think like a buyer! Use the keywords in your title, description, and tags. The stronger these are, the more likely Etsy will show you item in searches, leading to more sales.
Your description should contain general information about the product, it’s uses, sizes and dimensions, the materials used to make it, and anything else you think a buyer might find interesting. Answer frequently asked questions in the description space and use language encouraging the person reading it to press the button and buy!
Under Promise and Over Deliver
This is my number one tip in growing your Etsy shop sales. I highly recommend this strategy, as customers will be singing your praises in reviews and referring them out to their friends. In the product listing, set your shipping time to slightly longer than it actually is or provide a wide range. For example, if you’re able to ship an item in 3 business days, list it at 4-6 business days. Buyers will be pleasantly surprised and so excited to receive their items “early”. This also gives an extra buffer just in case something takes longer than expected on your end.
Are you ready to open an Etsy shop? I want to give you all the tips you need to get started! Download my guide now!
Awesome — Great idea on the custom announcements, too.
(I’m always looking for more people to share stories like this, if you’d be interested: http://www.mashupmom.com/work-home-bring-side-income-featured-mashup-mom/ )
Thanks Rachel! I will definitely check it out!
This is awesome. I used to do flower headbands on etsy. I was in a sorority so it was awesome knowing my exact clientele since I lived with 50 of them!
It makes life and biz easier when you ARE you target market (or very close to them)!
This is such great advise for anybody just starting an Etsy shop. I love your last point about under promising and over delivering. I think this is so true in any industry. Great post.
Thanks Monashee! Yes, that strategy does apply in any industry and has been one of the ways I turned it from just an Etsy shop into a full blown business!
Such a helpful post (even when I don’t plan on opening an etsy shop any time soon, haha)
Much love, Ilka x
I’m glad you found it helpful, Ilka! Many of these tips can apply in any business, thanks for reading!
I am stuck writing return and refund to people. Please help with tmy policy. Thank you
Hi Susan! I think that your refund policy will depend on your product and what you feel comfortable accepting as returns. No matter what it is, make sure it is clearly stated within your shop policies – and stick to it!
Hi steph, is there any chance you could look at my shop and just give me some tips if I am doing anything wrong? Thanks https://www.etsy.com/shop/freshbuilt?ref=search_shop_redirect
Thank you so much for this free information, I have been procrastinating long enough now is the time for me to take the next step. The shipping still scares me a little, but with your information I should be okay.
As to finding my type of customer I am still not sure, but will press ahead and find out soon.
Again thank you and wish me luck.
Regards John C
Hi John! I’m so glad you found in helpful! Make sure to check out my post here on shipping – I was overwhelmed with it at first, too! Sending all the best of luck! 🙂
Right Steph. Got it. I will now up my game. Perfect my shop listings. Small query. On my listings My first and last paragraphs are usually the same. (Middle paragraph -description etc different). Can I transfer the above from another listing or elsewhere to save having to repeatedly type it???Thank you and good luck to all ??? Christelle
Hi Christelle! Cheering you on! 🙂 Yes, there’s an option to copy a listing – this will save the original and create a new listing where you can edit the details and photos. I do all of my Etsy listings this way, it saves so much time versus starting from scratch!
Thank you Steph. Briliant?. I will look for it now.
Next query. Other Etsy Artisans seem to be on lots of media. i.e. Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest etc. I don’t know how to do that. Do you have a tutorial/ course? that would help me?
I am an oldie ( but young at heart) jewellery designer and not up to speed with social media like you young uns. I so would like a few more sales rather than one every blue moon. Good luck to all Christelle ???
I highly recommend Pinterest and Instagram for promoting your Etsy shop and products! I don’t have a course, but might create something in the future! Make sure you’re on my email list for updates 🙂
The below posts have some great information on getting started on the platforms and linking your Etsy shop –
Best of luck!
Thank you very much for all the great information. Your article incoureged me. Thank you.
Thanks for this encouraging post! However, as a reader, I now want to have a look at your Etsy store and couldn’t find a link anywhere on your blog! Maybe I missed it, but you should make it more visible! JMHO! Thanks again!
Hi Tamara! You’re welcome, I’m so glad you found it helpful! You can check out my Etsy shop – ohmydesignsbysteph.etsy.com!
Hi Steph, you have encouraged me to take a step, a step I was afraid to make until now , seeing your post, I have the products on hand and wanting to have an online store and don’t Know how. Thanks much.
Hi I am Helena from HelenCraftCrochet, this is my second month since I added my listings on Etsy. I sell handmade clothing for women and I am struggling with getting sales. Been updating my listings, improving SEO, marketing on social media but still just don’t know what else I need to do in order to start getting sales.
Here is my link if there’s anyone who would like to check out my Etsy shop.