10 Tips for Starting an Etsy Shop

I have had an Etsy shop two different times (although I’ve run both under the same username).  I loved having an Etsy shop, but I got bogged down with the business paper work from my state.  I decided it just wasn’t worth it.  But then, I just couldn’t help it — I missed it.  So, this summer, I reopened it with a new name (and am running it under my LLC).

I recently was asked by Tonya of Live the Adventure if I could share some tips about starting a shop on Etsy. 

So, here are some of my tips for starting out on Etsy:

1. Pick your username carefully – If you haven’t yet chosen a username on Etsy, pick something that goes with what you will be naming your shop.  Usernames cannot be changed on Etsy.  In my situation, I did do that originally but am using a different shop name now.  While I could open a whole new shop with a matching username, I won’t because it would make me look like it was a brand new shop, instead of one that is established.

2. Install Google Analytics in Your Shop – I love being able to see how people are ending up in my shop, how many people are stopping in, and what they are looking at.  The only way to know most of these is to install Google Analytics.  Here are directions on installing Google Analytics in your Etsy shop that I posted two years ago. (The only difference now is that you’ll click on Options under the “Shop Settings” heading in your “My Etsy.)

3. Spread Out Your Listings – When I first started my Etsy shop (back in January 2007), I spent a ton of time over about a day or two listing all of the things that I wanted to list.  It was probably around 50 items.  It took a ton of time!  And do you know what?  It wasn’t the smartest thing to do either!

It would have been better for me to list a few things the first day (maybe even 10), just to show that I didn’t have only one item in the shop.  Then, every single day, list a new item until all of my items were listed.  In this way, my items would have stayed higher up in searches (or at least my newest item).  This helps keep you more visible to shoppers.

4. Relist Items – If you have all of your things listed and nothing new on the horizon to add, make it a goal to renew one of your listings (only costs $.20) each day or every few days at least.  Again, this pops your item higher into searches and brings more people into your shop.  The biggest sellers on Etsy seem to all mention frequent additions or renewals.

5. Post the Best Pictures You Can – Descriptions are vital, but probably most vital is a great photograph of your item.  Etsy allows you space for up to five pictures — try to use as many as possible.  Of course, if it means using bad photographs, just use your best ones and use fewer.

6. Make Your Descriptions Personal – It may be easier to allow yourself to just give the facts about an item in its description, but you will attract more buyers by trying to gain some kind of emotional response.  Let’s look at Leo, for instance.  We had fun (the whole family!) taking him outside and doing creative pictures of him.  Then, I wrote up those adventures in the Etsy listing about him.  I could have just written the materials used and size of the creation.  Instead, I gave him a name and a story. (I even went farther into Leo’s story here on my blog.)

Yes, it is not lost on me that he still hasn’t sold yet, despite his story.  Still, I enjoy that people have enjoyed Leo’s story.  I know this because I have had many people contact me about it.  Honey (from Sunflower Schoolhouse) even said I should make a story book about this adventures.  (What a hoot!)

7. Connect with Your Clients, Friends, and Fans – It’s a great idea to have somewhere outside of your Etsy shop to connect with people who might be interested in finding out more about you and your products, as well.  A blog is, of course, a great place to connect.  If you already have an established blog, I think it’s best to see if you can incorporate some shop talk in with your current blog.  If you don’t, then you can decide if you want your blog to be strictly business or some business and some personal.

Another must-have way to connect with people is a Facebook Fan Page.  (Here are some great instructions on setting up a Facebook Fan Page.)   These are easy to set up and a great way to connect on a personal level with clients, friends/family, and fans.  This is somewhere you can ask questions, share new products, and help people get to know more about the artist/artisan behind the art.

(You can “like” Just a Tiny Owl on Facebook to keep up with what’s going on with my Etsy shop.  Don’t worry – I won’t fill up your news feed.)

8. Make Your Shop Design Unique – Either make or have someone else make a custom banner and avatar for you.  If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, there is a plethora of designers on Etsy offering premade banners and custom made banners.  These can be found for varying prices.  So, you could always upgrade later, if you couldn’t afford what you were looking for right away.  (Although I don’t have any listings up right now for custom Etsy banners, I could probably put up a listing if someone was interested.  Here is a listing of some premade Etsy banners that I did before.)

9. Connect with an Etsy TeamEtsy has something called Teams, which are groups of Etsy sellers who are connected by some common thread.  Perhaps it is that they all live in Vermont.  Maybe it’s that they all create vegan products.  Still others are all Catholic, all named Amy, all make ceramic beads, and many, many other commonalities.  If you can’t find some team that you fit into (which I seriously doubt), you can create your own.

The nice thing about teams is that you can get to know other people, work on cross promotion (which often happens in Etsy teams), and get ideas.

10. Research Local/State Laws About Small Businesses – Okay, so I actually think this should be first on the list.  I know that there are some sellers who don’t think they need to register with their state or collect sales tax.  Those people will often say that they aren’t selling much, so they don’t think it’s necessary.  You can make your own choices, of course, but let me assure you that if you are selling anything, your state and the federal government (if you are in the U.S.) want to know.

On the up side, if you’re declaring your income and register your business (which is pretty simple to do if you’re just doing a sole proprietorship), you can also deduct business expenses!

Are you a seller on Etsy or any other craft site?  If so, share a link to your shop!  Also, share some more tips — there are tons of them!

This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Works for Me Wednesday.


Comments

  1. says

    Thank you for posting this! I have an etsy account but haven’t set up shop yet . I need to get my sewing machine fixed first. :) Your tips will help out greatly.

  2. says

    Angie, I think I love you! I can’t believe that you wrote this post just for me- I feel so special! LOL Seriously, I can’t tell you how much this has helped. You mentioned things that I would have NEVER thought of- like spreading out your listings and adding Google Analytics. Very helpful. I know that I want to open up a shop but I am so hung up on that name! Thanks again, Angie. I really appreciate the time you spent writing this post and putting this information together. Oh, by the way, I think Leo is the cutest and he definitely should have an accompanying storybook! :)

    • Angie says

      I’m so glad that you found the post helpful, Tonya! Thanks for inspiring me to write it. I appreciate it.

      Naming can be the hardest part for sure. It’s so final. If you’re thinking of some travel stuff, what about naming it after your blog?

  3. says

    Lots of great tips there Angie! Wish you had told me about the listing all at once before I did that very same thing, but that is OK.

    One thing I have found VERY helpful recently with my Etsy shop it getting into not only a team, but building my CIRCLE and posting on the forums. At first Ididnt think I would like the whole circle concept, but I have found some wonderful shops this way. Also, it is nice to know immediately when you are in a treasury or someone adds you to their fav’s!

    Oh, here is my Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/AllThatScrap
    Thanks for letting me share!

    • Angie says

      Hey now! I *did* tell you not to list everything at once. LOL I know this because I specifically remember saying to Mom, “I told her not to list everything at once, and she did it anyway.” ;) And then Mom said to me, “She’s just excited, that’s all.”

      • says

        I had actually listed it all in one day, and then talked to you that day, which was when you said dont list everything in one day. I had all ready done it mere hours before chatting with you!

        • Angie says

          I meant that I told you about it totally before that (probably when you were just first talking about setting up the shop, like long enough before it that you would have had time to have forgotten it). Then, I probably did mention it after you did it too.

          But, it’s okay, we can just agree to remember it differently and we’ll just know that one of us has to be right. Well, you know, unless both of us remember it completely wrong, then we’ll be extra wrong in thinking that one of us remembers it right. ;)

  4. says

    Thanks for the tips! I keep thinking about opening up an etsy shop this summer but was so unsure of how to make it successful. These tips were really helpful and are things I’ll be keeping in mind if (when?) I open my shop.

      • says

        I think journals. Or maybe felt hair things for little girls. Those are both my fabulous ideas, but I have had trouble deciding between them. Or something totally different.

        Really, though, I’m leaning towards journals. I have gotten a couple of books on making journals. I have lots of ideas and a real passion in that area.

        • Angie says

          I have several book making books on my Amazon wishlist. I keep wanting to do some kind of journal type of thing with my Zutter. Nothing fancy, just for fun.

          I often have my eye on journals and the like on Etsy, so I’ll be extra excited if you do something like that.

  5. says

    Thanks for the tips! I’m just getting started selling my Pysanky (Ukrainian Easter Eggs) on Etsy. So you were reading my mind!

    I came to the conclusion that it would be good to spread out the listings, after seeing how the most recently posted items come up first in searches. So it was good to hear you say the same thing!

    I already have a blog, so I’ll use that for some networking for now. I think a lot of people are on facebook, but getting a facebook fan page started will have to be a later project. I’m already on the computer too long, lol!

    I totally agree about joining teams! I joined the Catholic Etsy Artists Guild, and I’m amazed at the great ideas and support they provide.

    The one thing I would add: don’t get overwhelmed! Other shops look so perfect with their gorgeous photos, descriptions, number of sales, etc. But they didn’t happen overnight! Just start slow and it’ll all come together.

    Thanks again for the post and the opportunity for a little plug! :)

    My shop:
    http://www.heathershomestead.etsy.com

    My blog: (a giveaway is going on now!)
    http://www.faithfunandfamily.blogspot.com

    • Angie says

      I agree! It can definitely be easy to get overwhelmed or let yourself do a lot of comparisons.

      Thanks so much for stopping by from the Catholic team! :)

    • Angie says

      You can totally do it, Beth! It’s not too hard, and it is just full of useful information. Love it! Good luck!

  6. says

    Angie,

    The only thing I would add to this list would be something about the tags: DON’T STUFF THEM, but do fill them appropriately with words that would actually be used to search for that item.

    Use all 14 if you possibly can; fill in each space too – but don’t repeat words.

    So if you’re selling produce bags, don’t use “produce” and “bags” more than once each; but go ahead and do a tag like “fruit vegetable bag” then another for “produce grocery” – Etsy searches on tag words (not phrases) and words in the titles.

    Then make sure the first part of the description is well-written, but also filled with keywords for the sake of internet searches (Google, Yahoo, etc).

    Also, include your shop name in the tags if you have space, as well as any promotions that you’re running (ie I provide free domestic shipping on all my items; reduced for international; so I include the words “free shipping” on all my items). And don’t forget to include team tags too ;)

    Whew. That’s my short tutorial! I’ve seen a huge positive difference in the products I’ve adjusted tags; my others are still sitting there – got to get to them ;)

    ~Jessica
    http://etsy.com/shop/gardenoffrancis

  7. Wendy-Lee says

    Awesome post! I had never heard of Google Analytics, so thanks for the info ;) . I am opening up my first Etsy shop, Farm Tales in a few days! If I could give one piece of rookie advice is to get all your ducks in a row before you sign up with Etsy. Once you register, Etsy gives you your “Opened On” date. I regisered two months ago. So when I do finally open my virtual doors it will look like I’ve been open for two months, without any sales.

  8. says

    My biggest tip — write a business plan before you start! If you want your Etsy shop to take off you need to have a good, solid plan in place. It will force you to look at your target market, to get a handle on pricing, venues for marketing, etc. It would be nice if we could all just craft a bunch of items, throw some pictures online and have them sell. The reality though, is that there is SO much more to having a successful Etsy than just that.

  9. Gypsy Chaos says

    Thank you! Your tips are well written and easily understood. You’ve provided yet another nudge to get me moving.

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