When you think of Etsy, you might think of knitted tablecloths or handmade wicker baskets.
But this is so much more than a marketplace for arts and crafts. With over 90 million buyers visiting Etsy’s marketplace, the platform is a space where anyone—crafter or no—can earn a living. There are even store owners making six figures without inventory or delivery costs, all from the comfort of their own home.
Why Starting an Etsy Store is Worth It
Starting an Etsy store can be a full-time job or a part-time hobby. It can be as easy or as involved as you want it to be. And it’s that flexibility that makes Etsy so popular for creating a new stream of income.
Like starting and running any business where you’re the boss, starting an Etsy store will give you freedom and potentially unlimited room for growth. If you get it right, you can expand your store to sell multiple products, and scale until you’re able to make Etsy your full-time job.
If you want to start an Etsy store because you’re into arts, crafts, or creative endeavors, then this is especially valuable. You’ll be making money by doing something you love, appreciated for the things you make, and you’ll have total creative control.
And, unlike opening a physical store, starting an Etsy store is something you can do from your home. You have total flexibility to work how you want. You can invest in inventory or sell digital products. You don’t have to worry about renting a store or warehouse or hiring sales staff.
And, because Etsy is a trusted platform where people routinely go to buy things, some of the marketing is done for you. If you were to start your own website with a brick-and-mortar or typical web store, you might struggle to establish yourself or get on people’s radar for the first year or two. With Etsy, you’re already one step closer to getting discovered.
The Investment Needed to Start an Etsy Store
Another benefit of the flexibility that comes with Etsy is that you can start with very little investment. And no upfront investment may be needed if you sell digital products or downloadables.
If you want to sell physical products, you will need to invest at least some small chunk of change in your business to create your initial stock of inventory and packaging, plus budgeting for delivery and order fulfillment costs.
It’s up to you and your store model to determine how much you need to invest, but make sure you spend some time thinking about this before you launch your shop. If you underestimate the investment at the beginning, it will lower your chances of running a sustainable business.
A great, cost-effective way to make things easier when you’re launching your Etsy store is Canva. You can use it to create your logo and business cards, or you can use it to create digital products that you then sell.
There’s a free version of Canva that works great for most things. But, if you want to establish a strong brand or use the platform to make digital products, it’s worth investing in the paid version. You’ll be able to access thousands of templates, including printables, logos, and product mockups, and you’ll have your own brand kit, complete with personalized fonts and colors.
Six Steps to Starting an Etsy Store
If you’ve weighed the benefits and potential investment costs and Etsy still feels like the right choice for you, read on for the roadmap to make your store a success.
Step 1 – Make a Plan
Starting an Etsy store is still a business venture. And, like with any business venture, you should have a strong business plan before you start, simple as that.
Think about a few things before you actually sign up for the platform and launch your store.
First, will you sell digital products or physical products? If you are going to make and sell products, then you need to take a lot more into consideration. You need to buy inventory or materials and you’ll need to pay for postage to actually deliver your products to your customers. You also need to think about how long it takes to create your products if you’re building or assembling them yourself.
If you want to sell digital products, you’ll still need to set aside some time to create the products. But after that, things are likely to be a little easier for you.
Next, who is your target audience? Etsy has been growing in popularity over the last few years—and that means competition. If you want to have a chance of competing against the millions of other sellers on the platform, you’ll need to decide on who you are selling to and how to position your products based on that.
There are quite a few opportunities for branding when you set up an account, so keep your audience in mind. Think about the colors and language you’ll use and try to keep it consistent with what you’re selling.
Last, how much can you afford to invest?
Think about the different scenarios before you spend all your savings on inventory.
Etsy does take a small percentage of your sales and there will be delivery costs. How much, realistically, are you going to make when you first start selling? Is it sustainable? Is it enough to keep growing your store? Is it worth the time it takes to make the products? And what will you do if you sell out of products faster than you expected?
Once you have clarity on what you’re doing and you’ve set some measurable goals, you’re ready to actually open your store.
Step 2 – Set Up Your Store
Setting up an Etsy store is pretty straightforward.
You’ll have to fill in standard details like your name, contact information, tax details, and payment information. You’ll also need to decide on your store name and logo and create a description for your store. Try to utilize effective keywords in your name and descriptions, including product descriptions.
When you are making a logo, try and keep your target audience in mind. An easy and free option for creating your logo and branding is Canva. They have ready-made logo templates for users to help you speed up this process and avoid becoming overwhelmed.
Step 3 – Create Your Products
Once you’ve set up your store, you need to have your products ready to list and upload. Again, how complicated this will be and how long it takes is totally dependent on what you’re going to sell.
For digital products, try to make mockups or high-quality images in Canva to boost your chances of getting sales on Etsy. It’s also essential that you test run everything regarding your digital products to make sure the customer-side process of purchasing them works.
If you are selling physical products, quality is key. And not just regarding the products themselves, but also the photos you upload. Etsy is a visual platform and, with all the competition out there, subpar product images just won’t cut it.
When you are writing your product descriptions, try to give as many details as possible and use any keywords that you can. Sometimes, these descriptions can make or break a sale.
If you’re unsure of how to write them, do some competitor research on bestsellers in your niche. See how they are showcasing their products and writing their descriptions and try to take some inspiration from this. Don’t just straight up copy them though; plagiarism is never a good idea!
Step 4 – Get Your First Customer
Once you have your store set up and products listed, it’s time for the hard part—getting your first customer.
With all the competition on the platform, you can’t just rely on having solid keywords or a great product to get sales. You’ll need to go out there and market your products.
Start social media accounts specifically for your store and post on your personal social profiles about it. Try and get the word out about what you’re selling and why people should be interested. You can also join niche Facebook and Linkedin groups. Just make sure that if you do share images or posts about your products in relevant groups, you are following group rules. Otherwise, your posts will get taken down or you’ll be blocked.
Another smart way to get some free publicity is to send products to bloggers or influencers in exchange for reviews. If you make niche products like candles or jewelry, try and get them in front of relevant audiences with the help of micro-influencers. This is a modern, cost-effective way to reach a big potential customer base.
You can also ask friends to post on your behalf and try to grow some interest in your new store that way. Just be careful; fake reviews are a big no-no on the platform.
Step 5 – Deliver the First Product
Once you get your first customer, make sure that whatever you need to do to fulfill the order is done ASAP. Whether that’s providing the digital download link or delivering the product, have a plan in place so you can satisfy your first customer straight away.
Try to give your customer a tracking number once you’ve shipped and maybe include some instructions or a personalized card in the postage. For digital products, you can do the latter in the form of a PDF or email.
This should be the case for all customers, but giving a five-star experience for the first few orders is essential. Etsy has a review and rating system that can help get your store promoted, so making sure that you go above and beyond to give great service will boost your chance of being found by new customers.
Step 6 – Check In On Your Goals
Once you’ve started making some more sales, go back to your business plan. Are you making a profit? Are you making enough sales? Are things slow? Are you overwhelmed?
Now’s the time to change your strategy or improve it to get closer to hitting your goals. If your store has been a resounding success, then you might want to think about adding new products or expanding ahead of schedule.
And, if you’re seeing a lot of positive reviews about your products, consider that Etsy has an affiliate program. There’s no shame in reminding happy customers that they could make a small commission by promoting your products—and it will help you get a little more exposure!
On the flip side, if you’re struggling with making a profit, maybe you need to rethink your prices or your process. See where you can make improvements to streamline your store and give a better experience to customers.
The first few sales might be rocky, but once you get into the swing of things, the sky’s the limit on Etsy. Look at scaling and growing your store, making it your full-time job, or even hiring an assistant to help you cope with the flood of orders.
Want to dive deeper into some of the tips we shared today? Check out these Crazy Egg posts to help you push your store even further: