I have been a creative, crafty person ever since I was little. Doing arts and crafts was my jam, and I used to churn out rainbow drawings like it was my JOB.
I was in my 20’s, working at a non-profit from 9-5, when I heard about Etsy for the first time. An online marketplace for craft sellers. Sounded amazing. I spent hours browsing all the fun products that were for sale, and then totally on a whim opened up my own shop.
I didn’t even know what I was going to sell.
Since I had recently taken up knitting, I figured I would throw a few baby booties up there. Sell a few of those. Man, was that ever a lame idea. It took me FOREVER to make those booties and I think I came away making like less than $5 a pair. But… I was hooked.
I moved onto selling some original art.
Then, after my husband Dan was like “Gemma, make these into prints and then you don’t have to do a whole new painting each time”, and I was all “duh!!”, I moved into art prints. For quite a long time I did mostly custom prints where I would be adding on names or wedding dates to prints of my watercolour map paintings. They sold, but just like a slow and steady stream. Nothing crazy.
I learned and refined what I was doing. My style evolved and I started to work with manufacturers. I now sell mugs, tote bags, pouches, pillows, and art prints (none of those watercolour maps anymore, though!). I sell regular retail but also on the wholesale side to boutiques, which has doubled my revenue. This is my shop.
I took that first 20 cent listing fee and have turned it into a lucrative revenue stream for myself. It’s part of how I have been able to take my blogging business full-time.
Are you interested in doing the same?
I know lots of people who say they want to sell on Etsy, but keep putting it off because they think it’s going to be complicated or because they need to have everything “just so” before they launch. I say to just jump in. Done is better than perfect and it’s always best just to get started and improve as you go.
I’m a perfect example of that.
How to Start an Etsy Shop
Alright, let’s jump in….
Getting Started: Sign up for an Etsy Account
You may already have an Etsy account, but if you don’t have one yet head on over to Etsy.com and create one.
Click “Sign In” then “Register” to create your username and password. Do it through my link and you’ll get 40 free listings (disclosure: I get 40 free too)!
Step 1: Name Your Shop
Once you have your account setup, you will need a name for your shop in order to open it.
This is often where people get stuck. Naming can be HARD.
Do a brainstorming session, write out as many ideas as you can, and let them sit with you a day or two. Ask your family and friends for their opinion. Do some searching online to make sure no one else has that name already.
I don’t want you to get stuck on this step, but I also don’t want you to take it too lightly either. Etsy gives you one chance to change your shop name should you want to, but getting it right the first time means that you won’t have to go through that headache. And you want to just start building your brand from the beginning – changing names midway through is not only a pain, but not great for brand recognition and credibility.
So once you’ve landed on a few good options, head on back to your Etsy account and see if the name is available. If it isn’t, can you add “boutique” or “shop” or “company” to the end of it?
Done? Congratulations. You officially have an online shop!
Step 2: Choose Brand Colours
This is a step that a lot of people don’t think about, but at this point I want you to consider your overall brand’s look. Having a shop hosted on Etsy means that you can’t do a ton of branding in terms of fonts and design (you just have to inherit the overall Etsy look), but you can have a colour palette to create an overall aesthetic.
Pick 2-4 colours that you will stick to in your logo and look. By favourite way of doing this is to head on over to Coolors.com and create a palette. Use those exact colour HEX codes anytime you are creating a logo, graphic, or anything else for your shop. It will become like your shop’s “style guide”.
Step 3: Create your Logo and Header
Using those colours you came up with above, and your shop name, it’s time to put together a logo and header for your shop.
If that feels overwhelming to you, don’t worry, there is a super easy way of doing it.
Go to Canva.com.
Click on the “more” button to see all of their templates.
Then check it out… one for Etsy shop logos and Etsy shop cover photos!!!! They are perfectly sized already and have a bunch of templates to choose from.
I would start with your logo, and just have a browse through all of the different template options. There will be tons that are free, and others that might cost $1. Go with the one you love. Even if it’s $1, think of what you saved by not having to hire a graphic designer!
Play around with the logos, insert your own shop name and text, and switch the colours to the ones you landed on when doing your branding.
Once you have your logo, go ahead and make a cover photo that matches. Have a look through other Etsy shops to see what they put in their cover photos. Some put some text indicating what items they sell, or coupon codes, etc. You can even change your Etsy shop cover photo seasonally, if you like.
OR you don’t even need a cover photo at all! I personally find that they take up a lot of room and I prefer to have my products right up high when someone lands on my shop. That’s why I skipped the cover photo altogether.
Step 4: Get your Photos
Product photography. I would argue that this is the MOST crucial element of setting up your Etsy shop.
If you have lacklustre photos, you are not going to make sales. When was the last time you bought a product online where the listing had crappy photos? Probably never.
So, you have a few options:
#1 – Learn.
Take a course. Play around with your camera. Create backdrops, shoot near a window with lots of natural light, get familiar with editing tools.
If you are going to go this route, then I would start out by keeping it really simple and using a plain white backdrop (you can use white foam board from the dollar store) for your items. Get fancier with your shoots as your photography skills improve.
#2 – Use a Mock Up.
If you are selling a product like art prints or 11 ounce white mugs, there are tons of mock up images out there that you can purchase, digitally add your design on to, and then use it as your product photo. The beauty about this is that you can use the same mock up photo over and over again for the various designs you might be selling.
My fave sources for mock ups?
- Creative Market – search for just about anything in here.
- Etsy – yep, Etsy itself has a bunch of sellers who are selling mock up photos.
Can’t find a mock up you like, or can’t find your product? Get in touch with one of the mock up photographers whose shop you like and see if they do custom work. You could send them your blank product and have them take mock ups just for you.
#3 – Hire a photographer.
This option is obviously the most expensive of the bunch, but if you are going to invest in anything for your shop, this should be it. Getting professional quality photos of your products is going to be what makes your shop stand over the rest. If you sell one of a kind items, then this is going to get insanely expensive if you have to professional shoot each individual product for only 1 sale. However, if you make something that you are going to sell again and again, but can just shoot it once, then the return on investment will be worth it.
Step 5: Land on a Price
Pricing. Don’t just pull a number out of thin air. You should be pricing your product according to a formula.
Step 1. Calculate your total cost for the product.
Step 2. Add in an hourly wage for the time it takes you to make each product.
Step 3. Add up your total cost and hourly wage, so you know exactly how much each product costs you to sell.
Step 4. Do some market research on price to see how your competition stacks up.
Step 5. Land on your price. Don’t price too low – always aim to be in the mid to higher end. Low price just makes your item appear low value to buyers, and it will take you many more sales to make the same amount of profit.
If you want to sell your items wholesale, make sure you have a big enough margin to do so. Wholesale buyers will generally expect to buy your product from you for half of what you retail it for (so that they can double the cost and re-sell to their customers). This means that your margin needs to be big enough to support that, and still make money.
Step 6: Brainstorm your Keywords
Etsy Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a whole art of its own. There are different rules to play by then what you might be used to with optimizing for Google, so do some reading on how to optimize your listings on Etsy.
Start out by brainstorming all the keywords and phrases that people would use to search for the item you are trying to sell. Check out similar shops and see the keywords and phrases they are using in their listing titles and tags. Keep this in a big excel spreadsheet.
Once you have that list, enter the best keyword phrases into your listing title and tags. You can also get specific in your listing with things like attributes and who the product is for.
Don’t use the same primary keyword phrase for all of your listings, as Etsy will only show you a limited number of times on the first page of search. If all of your listings are trying to “rank” for the same keyword phrase, then you’re just competing against yourself.
Watch how your listings do and edit the keywords every now and again to try to improve how often you are getting found.
Step 7: Create your Listing
Now that you have your photos, your price, and your keywords, it’s time to actually create the listing.
In terms of the text in the main body of your listing, what I recommend is looking around on Etsy at other shops. See what other people are writing who sell similar things to do and figure out what you do and don’t like in terms of how the listing is written. Don’t plagiarize anything (obviously!!) but try to take the stuff you like best and incorporate that into your own listing.
It’s better to put too much information than too little. Try to include:
- A detailed description of what your product is and who it’s for (ex. “A great gift for grads!”)
- Materials used
- Size (give dimensions)
- Any special instructions (possibility of custom work, whether there are printing instructions for digital products, etc)
- Shipping information
- Any “as seen on” type of promotion (if the product has been used/featured by a blogger, include a link to the article in your listing!)
- A small sentence about you, your shop, your values
I also like to include a “back to the shop” link at the bottom of the listing that returns customers to my Etsy shop.
Here is a snapshot from one of my tote bag listings in my shop…
In terms of number of listings, generally the more the better.
A shop with 50 listings looks a lot more legit than a shop with only 5. I know this can be difficult depending on the type of product you sell, but I would suggest that you aim to have at least 10 listings to start out with.
Step 8: Promote, Test, Tweak, Learn
Once you have your shop up, it’s time to promote it. Reach out on social media, use your email list (or build one if you don’t have one already), pin images of your products on Pinterest, send free products to influencers to see if they will write or post about your product, try to get press features by sending emails to editors. Do everything you can do to create buzz about your shop.
Then monitor what is and isn’t working. Check in on your analytics every week or at least once a month to see what you could be doing better and where the majority of your traffic is coming from. See which listings are doing well and which aren’t. Try to discover why that might be and tweak them to see if things improve.
Don’t get discouraged if it takes a while for your shop to grow. These things can be a “slow burn” and it can take time for it to build up. Just keep working at it and when you find something that works, try to repeat it.
Get on some newsletters by Etsy educators to keep learning. A few I recommend: Morgan Nield and The Merriweather Council.
And that’s it.
Boom. You’ve just opened up an Etsy shop!
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