Every craftsperson wants to showcase and sell their creations to a niche group of people who love unique stuff. The same holds true for people who like to buy unique things either for themselves or as gifts. Then, we also have sellers and buyers for vintage and other rare things.
For such persons, Etsy provides the best meeting point. Etsy is a marketplace where people can sell and buy unique, rare antique and vintage things as well as handcrafted products and get the money they deserve for such stuff.
Therefore, let’s understand a little more about Etsy.
Basics of Etsy
The best description of Etsy comes from the company’s own website. It says: “Etsy is a global marketplace for creative goods. It is home to a universe of special, extraordinary items, from handcrafted pieces to vintage treasures.”
Etsy is indeed unique. It has over 2.5 million sellers and caters to 39.4 million buyers from 200 countries, says European statistics portal Statista.com.
By June 2019, some 62 percent of all sellers were from the US, followed in the second position by the UK at 13 percent. Canada and Australia also have significant numbers of sellers on Etsy, according to Statista figures.
In 2019, Etsy accounted for $4.97 billion worth of sales worldwide, netting the eponymous company, Etsy Inc., a total revenue of $275 million.
Though these figures might sound trivial compared to those of other online sellers such as Amazon, it’s worth remembering two points. Firstly, Etsy doesn’t sell anything directly; instead, it provides only a paid marketplace for craftspersons and owners of vintage stuff to display and sell the stuff.
Secondly, Etsy caters to a very niche market, unlike common online retailers. Hence, buyers on Etsy are generally people who are looking for unique stuff instead of the typical run-of-the-mill products.
If you’re a craftsperson or have vintage stuff, Etsy allows you to sell at your price. There are no lower or upper limits for pricing your stuff. Furthermore, Etsy also enables a craftsperson to get orders from clients who require things made to their individual specifications for uniqueness.
In fact, countless people from around the world who’ve no other source of income are making lots of money selling homemade and handcrafted goods on Etsy.
If you’re also a craftsperson or have something that’s rare, antique, or vintage, you too can make a lot of profits by selling on Etsy.
How to Sell on Etsy
This brings us to the million-dollar question of how to start an Etsy shop and sell stuff on it. In this article, I will discuss all the nitty-gritty that goes into opening a successful Etsy marketplace, regardless of where you live.
1. Research Etsy Handmade Sellers
Research various sellers on Etsy if you’re selling handcrafted goods. You’ll find marketplaces on Etsy that either go by a brand name given by the owner or the name of the craftsperson.
This gives you a good picture of the price at which you can sell your handmade items. Observe closely how these sellers are pitching their products. And also study marketplaces selling made-to-order stuff.
The knowledge you get from this research will help you select the type of niche, marketplace, pricing, and other essentials, which I will discuss further in this article.
2. Curate Your Antiques & Vintage Stuff
And if you’ll be selling antiques or vintage items, get the stuff curated and evaluated. This can cost some money. That’s because curators aren’t easy to find, and the people in this profession get lucrative salaries.
Hence, this step can prove a bit difficult for some people if they have no clues about the market value of their stuff or haven’t used curatorial services earlier.
There are two excellent ways to get your antiques or vintage things curated. One is by hiring a professional freelancer and posting assignments on portals such as Upwork, FlexJobs.com, and other freelance websites.
The other is by asking for a curator from a nearby antique store to assess and evaluate your vintage and antique stuff. However, you’ll have to pay for both services since curation is a very fine art by itself.
3. Get Your Pricing Right
For antiques and vintage goods sellers, the pricing would more or less depend upon the assessment of a curator.
This depends upon several factors such as the overall condition of an antique or vintage artifact, furniture or other product, year of manufacture, brand value, and rarity, among others.
However, for a craftsperson selling homemade or handcrafted items, the pricing works in an altogether different way. Remember, there are no upper or lower price limits. Nor would you have much guidance except for what you’ve seen while doing research on Etsy marketplaces.
4. Pricing Your Wares on Etsy
For a craftsperson selling handmade, homemade goods, fixing the price of your wares can prove tricky. Therefore, I suggest you use the following formula.
Calculate the cost of the raw materials. Add to this the number of hours you spend making an item. Then, add the costs of listing on Etsy and service fees to get your money from your Etsy account, as well as other fees that come with the marketplace.
Let’s assume your raw materials cost is $100. And you’ve spent 16 hours creating something. If you would get $19 per hour, multiply that by 16 hours. We came to the figure of $404, including the raw materials.
Now add the $0.20 per product listing fee, five percent sale fee, and five percent fee for transferring your money from Etsy to PayPal. The amount would work to a staggering average of $450 per item.
Obviously, few sellers would be willing to pay $450 for something as simple as a handwoven quilt. Therefore, we need to fix the price more rationally.
You can arrive at a proper cost by calculating the cost of the material, $100. Pay yourself for creating that item- say $25 and add the $0.20 Etsy listing fee, five percent sales charges, and five percent Etsy to PayPal commissions.
The cost comes to just about $150 or one-third lower than the earlier calculation.
If you’re selling from outside the US or if you’re an American seller who gets foreign customers, Etsy charges an additional 2.5 percent of your sale price as Currency Conversion Fees.
You can also opt to sell in retail or wholesale. If you’re selling as a wholesaler of quilts, for example, you can fix a slightly lower price since the raw material would have cost less.
5. Superb Name for Your Marketplace
What’s in a name, as the old question goes? A lot, in fact. Before you open a marketplace on Etsy, think about a superb name.
The name of your marketplace matters a lot when people search online for goods. As a rule, people won’t be coming rushing to your online store to buy something.
The Etsy marketplace name becomes your personal brand. Hence, think of a good name that’s catchy, creative, and signifies what you’re selling. Remember, the name needn’t really be easy to remember.
Instead, it should aptly portray your personality. One of my favourite marketplaces has a very unambiguous name. It is known as Rose Hill Design Studio and is operated by American illustrator and author Heather Stillufsen.
Though Heather Stillufsen doesn’t rank as the topmost seller on Etsy, her designs have a very niche following.
6. Create a PayPal Account
I’m assuming you don’t have a PayPal account. Therefore, before creating an online marketplace on Etsy, you’ll need to create a PayPal account.
This is very simple. All you need to do is visit the PayPal website. PayPal has two main kinds of accounts. One is the Individual Account, while the other is the Business Account.
Open a Business account since you’ll also be receiving payments from the US and abroad. You’ll need proper documentation to open a PayPal account, such as identity proof and tax number or Internal Revenue Code from Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
This is compulsory for opening a PayPal account that you can link to an Etsy marketplace.
To get payments, the best thing is to link your PayPal account with your bank account. That way, the money directly goes to your bank. If you temporarily lose access to a PayPal account for any reason, you’ll still have the money intact in your bank account.
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7. Licenses for Antiques & Vintage Products
This isn’t strictly a rule, but the export of certain antiques and vintage products from the US or any other country requires clearances from concerned authorities.
That’s because the antique could be of national importance, or its export or import may be banned. Therefore, enquire with the local Customs authorities as well as antique dealers for accurate information.
Unless you have such clearances, selling an antique or vintage item to a local or foreign buyer is impossible. Worse, you might end up with charges of trying to sell antiques of historical, cultural, or religious importance to a country or community.
Selling antiques made with parts of endangered animals, including ivory and shark teeth, feathers, and other stuff, is also prohibited without due clearance.
8. Make Your Own Returns Policy
What happens if a customer is unhappy with the stuff you’ve sold? Like all online stores and marketplaces, the customer has a right to demand their money back or ask for replacements. Therefore, you’ll also require a proper Returns Policy that takes care of the buyer’s and your rights.
Etsy specifies that each online shop on its platforms is responsible for its own Returns Policy. Etsy doesn’t have a blanket Returns Policy, which makes it very important to have your own and display it properly on your marketplace.
That’s because an unhappy customer can file a case against your online store with Etsy. Or they can also seek redress through legal channels, which could cost you a lot of money.
9. Create an Etsy Marketplace
Upon arming yourself with the price of your goods and a good brand name, the next obvious step is to open an Etsy marketplace. There are two ways to do so. The first is opening a free marketplace on Etsy.
This is known as Etsy Standard. It entitles you to certain free, basic services, while those such as Etsy Ads, Etsy Patterns, and Etsy Labels come at a nominal fee.
The other is Etsy Plus, which comes at a subscription of $10 per month. This gives you 20 free listing credits, $5 Etsy ads credits, and a few other benefits. For example, clients can request restocking, custom web addresses through Hover, and advanced shop customization, among others.
The decision to go for an Etsy Standard or Etsy Plus account is at your discretion. Both have their own advantages. However, as a rule, most first time sellers on Etsy opt for the Etsy Standard plan while upgrading to Etsy Plus when they really need to propel the store to make massive profits.
10. What You Can or Can’t Sell
There are no set rules about what you can or cannot sell on Etsy. That’s because Etsy marketplaces have to comply with local laws, rules, and regulations in force.
Some of the bestsellers on Etsy include home décor, personalized clothing and gifts, graphic arts and paintings, ethnic showpieces, craft kits, and art sets, crochet items, antique furniture, vintage art, unique gift items, and handcrafted gold, silver, platinum or costume jewelry.
In compliance with American and other laws, the sale of tobacco products, weed, and other narcotics and psychotropic substances, Shamanic or non-traditional medicines, pictures depicting porn or vulgar nudity, liquor and books or literature deemed objectionable in any manner, explosives and fireworks aren’t allowed. Check the local laws for the sale of such items.
There’re also some restrictions on promoting Multilevel Marketing (MLM) or direct marketing products from an Etsy marketplace. That’s because most MLM companies don’t encourage online sales.
However, this clause is a bit ambiguous. During the Covid-19 pandemic, MLM companies were forced to allow their associates to use online marketplaces due to the need for self-isolation and social distancing.
However, as a rule, Etsy doesn’t allow MLM products for sale because they’re not handcrafted.
11. Tie-up for Inexpensive Shipping
Generally, the buyer pays for shipping when they buy stuff over Etsy. However, every buyer generally looks for economical shipping rates. Like any other online shopper, paying for the delivery is a major concern.
Hence, the best thing to do is tie up with a shipper, where possible. As an online retailer, you can get preferential rates from various courier companies.
While selecting and finalizing the shipper is purely your choice, you’ll find rates provided by the United States Postal Services (USPS) very attractive. For parcels, they have various options that you could consider.
They also offer special rates for bulk shippers in order to encourage business. An advantage with USPS is that they’re cheaper and deliver across all US ZIP codes as well as abroad. Additionally, you have the advantage of online shipping, too.
12. Use Free & Paid Apps for Marketplace
Before or even after you open an online marketplace on Etsy, use some of the superb free and paid apps. These apps help to automate the entire inventory, selling, tracking and accounting processes, editing of pictures, data analysis, and much more.
In fact, investing in some of these apps would create a pleasurable shopping experience for the seller and save you lots of hassles that come with running an online marketplace.
13. SEO for Your Etsy Marketplace
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of your Etsy store helps to increase its visibility and get more clients. Follow some of the superb SEO tips, such as inserting proper keywords in the description of your store and products as well as picture captions.
Finding a good theme to create the Etsy store combined with SEO and other digital marketing techniques such as Social Media Marketing and email marketing helps you to sell better on Etsy.
If you’re unable to perform the SEO process on your own, you could enlist the assistance of a freelancer for limited periods only.
14. Create a Blog
You might wonder why I’m suggesting you start a blog for selling on Etsy. Research indicates that 70 percent of consumers in America place their trust in blogs compared to advertisements by companies.
Additionally, between 60 percent and 80 percent of consumers read blogs during the early phases of buying something before making a final decision. These figures properly highlight the importance of a blog for any online business, including an Etsy marketplace.
Blogging isn’t complicated or the proverbial rocket science. You can learn blogging by reading any good online tutorial. In fact, blogging, on its own merit, helps you make money too.
15. Go Social on Facebook
Almost every seller on Etsy has a superb Facebook presence. There are several reasons to advertise your store through Facebook.
You can use the free resource known as Facebook Marketplace, which displays your ads within a radius of 80km from your location. Or you could opt for the paid Facebook Business pages.
Going social on Facebook has several advantages. You can promote posts of your products for a fraction of the cost of conventional advertising.
Facebook posts are easy to share, meaning people will share them with relatives and friends if they’re relevant and attractive. You can also sell through a Facebook Marketplace that complements your online Etsy store or through Facebook Business. It is one of the best ways to make money through facebook.
16. Create a Killer Profile on LinkedIn
Create a killer LinkedIn profile for yourself as a craftsperson or antique seller, as well as your Etsy marketplace. This helps to reach more and more people while taking your Etsy marketplace to a newer, higher level.
On your personal LinkedIn profile, clearly mention your credentials as a craftsperson, including relevant educational qualifications, if any, work experience, and other important details.
And for your store, create a LinkedIn profile that describes what your Etsy marketplace is all about. And get some testimonials from satisfied customers. Also, create short posts about your products and upload them with proper pictures on your and the store’s LinkedIn profiles.
17. Provide Affiliate Marketing
One of the best ways to promote your Etsy marketplace is by offering affiliate marketing. This means offering a small incentive as commissions to bloggers who will write superb reviews about your products and sell them through affiliate links.
Affiliate marketing ranks as a superb channel to promote your products for free. Because you’ll pay only when the sale is successful. Furthermore, affiliate marketing opens up numerous sales and promotion outlets for your Etsy shop.
18. Creating Ads & Special Offers
Etsy provides the facility of creating ads and special offers. They give $5 worth of credit for Etsy Ads if you’re subscribing to Etsy Plus. They provide all subscribers- Etsy Standard and Etsy Plus a dashboard where you can create such ads and posts.
You’ll have to activate this feature and use their dashboard to make such ads for regular use and campaigns. You can decide on the frequency of these ads and how much you wish to spend on such campaigns for promoting and selling from your Etsy marketplace.
19. Email Marketing
While many digital marketers falsely believe that email marketing is something old and irrelevant, successful stores and businesses use it as a superb resource to promote their products and brands.
In fact, email marketing is very economical and helps you target specific audiences only.
Get visitors to your online store to sign up for a newsletter or a product update. Inform these visitors and clients every time you have something new on your Etsy marketplace or launch special offers.
20. Regular Market Research
Online surveys or market research helps you understand what people love to buy or what they’d like to see on your Etsy marketplace. Therefore, add market research to your schedule of posting products and content on your Etsy marketplace.
It helps you better understand customers. Clients get the opportunity to express their opinions or inform us what they want from your store.
Before concluding, I’ll add that running an Etsy marketplace can prove to be a very enjoyable experience if you use the right resources and offer things that are in demand. Generally, most sellers stock seasonal as well as year-round favourites on the Etsy marketplaces. This ensures them a steady income all through the year. You, too, can become a successful seller on Etsy.
Is it worth selling on Etsy?
Etsy is an excellent platform for selling unique, handmade items. It's user-friendly and has an established customer base, making it easy to start. Furthermore, Etsy offers a range of tools and resources to help you promote and grow your business. Selling on Etsy can be a great way to make money.