If you've been thinking about selling some of your own products online, Etsy is the top online marketplace for selling handmade items, as well as print-on-demand gifts. And while you might question if you're too late to the game – that the market is too saturated – now would be the perfect time to set up your shop.
Online sales only continue to rise, so take advantage of the historically-slow shopping months (May – August), to build up your online shop.
As I’ve talked about before, I currently use four main methods to sell my art – art licensing, commissioned requests, print-on-demand, and sourcing my own products. You can read more about that over here, but the final two methods I do by selling on Etsy (as well as my website).
If you’ve been thinking about selling any of your artwork (or products with your artwork on it) on Etsy, here are 12 key steps to getting started.
Create your Etsy account: Sign up on Etsy's website and follow the prompts to set up a basic seller profile.
Set up your shop: Choose a shop name that reflects your business. You may already have a brand name or perhaps you’d like to just use your real name. Either way, take the time to add a fabulous shop banner, logo, and shop description. If you don’t have a logo you can easily use a photo or sketch a quick piece of art for it.
- Photograph your artwork: Take high-quality photos of the items you’re selling. You can easily use a smartphone, and you’ll need good lighting and a clean background. Good lighting can often be accomplished by using a window as your main light source. Capture different angles and details so potential buyers can fully grasp what they’re buying.
You can also use your photo app, or Lightroom, to edit your photos and adjust things like exposure, white balance, and vibrance. You might also wish to use a filter preset to help make your photos pop (which you can buy on Etsy!), so long as they don’t change the color of your prints or products. I talk a little about presets here.
Write compelling listings: Create detailed and engaging descriptions for each artwork’s listing. Buyers love info so be sure to include everything they could possibly need, like dimensions and materials used. You can also add a little blurb about your artistic process if you think it might intrigue.
Set your prices: Research similar items on Etsy to get an idea of appropriate pricing. You want to be competitive but also fair to the work you’ve put in. Consider factors like size, materials used, complexity, and your experience level. As it’s a marketplace, buyers are notoriously looking for a good deal so it’s important not to outprice yourself from those who may have similar items.
Choose shipping options: Determine how you'll ship your product and calculate shipping costs based on size, weight, and destination. Offer multiple shipping options to accommodate all sorts of buyers. But be sure to do your due diligence here. Underpricing on shipping will take profits away from you.
If you're creating your own in-house prints, I've set up some links to the shipping materials I use here.
Payments and Policies: Set up your preferred payment method and establish your shop policies regarding refunds, exchanges, and shipping times. It’s only a matter of time before you get a tricky customer so stating your policies upfront is always a good idea.
Promote your shop: Utilize your social media platforms, personal website (if you have one), and artistic community to promote your Etsy shop. Share high-quality images, engage with people, and use relevant hashtags. If you sell at in-person events, such as craft or farmers markets, put your Etsy details on your business cards. You’ll be surprised how many people have regrets when they leave the markets and now they have a place to find you.
Optimize for search engines: Use keywords in your titles, tags, and descriptions to get visibility in Etsy's search results. This is a key factor that will help you show up in searches. BUT this doesn’t need to get too brainy. Just think about what words you would use if you were searching for a product like yours. Research what others who sell similar products are using for keywords on Etsy.
Provide stellar customer service: Your small business is directly linked to you – and your art – so you want to ensure you run it in a way you can be proud of. Respond promptly to inquiries and always provide helpful information, no matter the difficulty of a customer.
Etsy runs on reviews, which also help your search ranking. Reviews will build your shop's reputation. So going the extra mile for a customer is always worth it. Even just a little handwritten note with your product is such a nice touch. For example, I love shipping my washi tape in cute colorful mailers, just to give my packages a special touch.
Take advantage of Etsy features: Utilize tools and features provided by Etsy, such as promotional listings, advertising, and the Etsy Seller Handbook, to gain any further tips and insights, reach a wider audience, and optimize your shop. I like to offer a "thank you" discount on a future purchase to anyone who shops in my store for the first time.
- Learn and Adjust: Pay attention to your Etsy analytics, including views, favorites, and sales. If one of your products is selling above and beyond any other item, have a think as to why – is that type of art trending? Is there nothing else like it on Etsy? Do you sell a lot in one particular country? My plant pattern washi tape is my top-selling product because of its larger, colorful pattern and the trendiness of houseplants.
Success on Etsy doesn't happen overnight. It requires dedication, perseverance, and commitment to continually improve your ideas and business strategies. I started my Etsy shop almost 10 years ago and my storefront now looks completely different than what it looked like on opening day.
But by setting yourself up right, and staying true to your unique artistic vision, you can boost your chances of thriving as a business on Etsy. For a ton of awesome tips, I highly recommend checking out the videos (and Friday livestreams!) by Starla & Marc.
Best of luck to you if you decide to open up – or revamp – your own Etsy shop! Please let me know if you do. I'd love to check it out and give you a follow! ;-)