A small business guide to selling products on Etsy

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While there are probably thousands of online marketplaces today, Etsy.com still corners the market when it comes to handmade goods and vintage items, as well as other arts and crafts. In fact, the site has close to 40 million active buyers and over two million active sellers around the world.

With so many potential buyers in one place, there are plenty of opportunities for Etsy sellers to turn a profit. As such, creating your own online store on Etsy is a smart choice for small business owners who specialize in handmade items. So, if you’re the type of person who makes her own birthday and Christmas gifts every year, or you enjoy painting, knitting, or crocheting, Etsy might be your ticket to turning your hobby into a full-time gig.

If you’re interested in growing your company and brand with an Etsy business, the first thing you’ll need to do is open an Etsy store. Here, we’ll walk you through the steps to create your very own online store and give you a few tips on how to sell your products on Etsy once you’re up and running.

How do I create an Etsy store?

Naturally, if you’re going to sell your lovingly handmade items online, you’ll need a place to list them — your own online store. Luckily, Etsy makes the process relatively simple with only a few easy-to-follow steps.

1. Register

In order to open a shop online, you must first become a registered site member. Once you have an Etsy account, you’re qualified to open a shop.

2. Create your shop

Etsy will direct you through the process of creating your online shop. After clicking the “Open a Shop” button found at the bottom of the Etsy homepage, the site will prompt you to set your language and currency preferences. Doing this is important because Etsy features buyers and sellers from all over the world.

By specifying your language and location, your Etsy listings will be more likely to reach potential customers in your target market.

3. Choose a name

Next, you will need to choose a name for your Etsy store. Because the site requires each shop owner to use a unique name, it’s common for sellers to find that their first choice is unavailable. In some cases, you can circumvent this issue by adding a word like “store” or “boutique” to the end of your shop name.

The goal is to choose a name that’s interesting and memorable to buyers and that represents the unique style of goods you hope to sell.

4. Start listing items

After your shop name has been approved, you can get started listing items for sale online. Upload photos of the product in question. Then you’ll be able to edit the thumbnails for display on your shop’s homepage.

You can give your listing a title totaling no more than 140 characters, select the appropriate categories and subcategories, and determine in which section of your shop to place the product. Etsy allows each shop to have up to 10 custom sections for its wares, so be sure to choose wisely.

It’s also important to take the time to provide detailed and intriguing descriptions of your products. This is your opportunity to catch a shopper’s attention and show him or her what’s unique about your offering. The description is also the place to detail the size of the item, the materials used, and any exciting features it includes.

If you offer variations, such as manufacturing a ring in both yellow and white gold, you can use the “Listing Variations” tab to detail this information as well. You should also tag your item with keywords and phrases to make it easier to find in the Etsy search engine.

Search engine optimization is also something you should think about when writing your product descriptions.

5. Set the right price

While you might think only buyers would need to pay for things on the website, there are actually quite a few seller fees associated with creating your own store. As such, it’s important to know just how big of a cut Etsy will take from the sale of your goods and to price your wares strategically in order to make a profit. The most common Etsy fees are:

Listing fees

In order to post your products on the site, Etsy charges you a 20 cent listing fee for each individual item. The product listing fee allows you to have your product on the site for four months with the option to auto-renew the listing for another 20 cents if your item doesn’t sell within that time frame.

Transaction fees

These are essentially commission payments made to Etsy for the use of their online marketplace. Currently, Etsy charges 5% of the total item price (recently up from 3.5%), including any shipping costs to the customer.

Etsy payment processing fees

In addition to the transaction fee, if customers check out with a credit card using the direct checkout option through the Etsy store (as opposed to paying through a third party payment processor like PayPal), there is another associated fee of 3% of the item’s total price, plus 25 cents.

PayPal fees

If buyers choose to purchase your items via PayPal, you will pay 2.9% of the value of that transaction, plus a flat fee of 30 cents per transaction.

Shipping fees

Etsy charges a shipping label fee for USPS, FedEx, and Canada Post shipping labels generated directly via Etsy. These fees depend on the origin and destination of the package, and are important to keep in mind when setting prices and determining shipping policies. Some of the payment and shipping policies that sellers should express on their shops’ homepages include:

  • Accepted payment forms
  • Shipping times and costs
  • Refund and exchange policies
  • Custom and duty fees for international purchases

Advertising fees

If you’d like to increase your visibility on the site, you can pay Etsy an optional, additional fee to have your items featured as promoted listings for certain keywords.

To make sure these fees don’t eat into your profit margins, you’ll need to price your wares strategically. Let’s say you’re selling one-of-a-kind portraits and want to make a $25 profit on each item.

You’ll need to work backwards in order to determine what your listing price should be to achieve your desired profit. In particular, you should take into consideration all related costs associated with making those portraits, including materials, the hours of labor you put into painting, your expenses, and the profit you want. A good formula to ensure you do, indeed, make a profit is:

Craft Supplies + Labor + Expenses + Profit = Retail price

For example, let’s say the cost of the paint and canvas used for one portrait is $10. You spend about three hours painting the portrait, and value your time at around $25 per hour. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say you do your painting in your spare bedroom, so your only expenses are the associated Etsy fees — the listing fee, transaction fee, and processing fee — and $10 for shipping. In total your expenses come to $20.85. Your equation will look like this:

Craft Supplies ($10) + Labor ($75) + Expenses ($20.85) + Profit ($25) = ($130.85) Retail price

You would need to price your personalized portraits at a little over $130 to make money on your goods.

Selling successfully on Etsy

As mentioned above, Etsy has over 2 million active sellers on the site. In order to stand out from the crowd — and finally sell your perfectly priced goods — you’ll need to develop a few complementary skills relating to marketingbranding, and customer service. Some of the best ways to make sure your store is a success are:

Practice your photography

One of the keys to selling items on Etsy is utilizing attractive product photography. For best results, experiment with different lighting options and camera angles to come up with the ideal photography style for your brand.

Brand your business

Speaking of brands, Etsy is a great place to build your own brand among customers and clients. For best results, design your shop to reflect your unique visual style and product offerings. You may want to create a custom banner, avatar, and background image to tie your brand together in the eyes of customers.

Focus on customers

It’s no secret that today’s online shoppers have a plethora of options, and Etsy alone features hundreds of thousands of sellers. To encourage customers to choose you over the competition, strive to be available to buyers and answer their questions and inquiries quickly. You should also be as honest as possible about materials and how much time your items will take to ship, and take care to ensure the finished product looks just as it did in the photo.

Get social in real life

Need a little added inspiration for your Etsy shop? You may want to consider joining one of the existing Etsy Teams. Teams serves as a gathering place for sellers with shared interests and allows you to find answers to questions while collaborating with like-minded folks. The end result is a more successful Etsy shop and a better, more enjoyable selling experience.

Strategically use social media

In order to get the word out about your products beyond the marketplace on Etsy.com, the Etsy seller handbook recommends harnessing the power of social media for your business. By sharing information about your goods — and your brand — on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, you can help many more potential buyers discover and delight in your handmade items.

Get crafting

With your Etsy store set-up complete, you can now get down to the business of doing what you love. Whether that’s making personal portraits, flower-shaped pottery, decorative wreaths, or any number of other creative items, Etsy lets you easily turn your creative passion into an entrepreneurial endeavor.

Want more tips on getting your small business off the ground? Check out our guide on how to start a business.

This article was produced by the QuickBooks Resource Center and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

Featured Image Credit: LightFieldStudios / iStock.