5 Steps to Start an Etsy Shop
Welcome to Episode 10 of the Craft Seller Success podcast. In this episode I will go through the five steps need to set up a successful Etsy shop. Follow these steps to get your new business up and going as fast as possible.
Listen to the 5 Steps to Start an Etsy Shop Podcast here, download it for later or read the transcript below.
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Transcript of Episode 010
This is the Craft Seller Success podcast from Tin Teddy. Episode number nine:
5 Steps to Start An Etsy Shop
Welcome to the Craft Seller Success Podcast – helping craft sellers sell their crafts
Hi, I’m Deborah Richardson from Tin Teddy.
One of the most popular online venues for craft sellers to sell their crafts is Etsy. Setting up your own Etsy shop is fairly straightforward. And yet every day I see many new sellers, posting in the Etsy forums, that they are not getting visitors and not getting any sales. When I go look at their shops I can predict what I will see. Time and again they have the same issues.
In today’s podcast I am going to talk about the 5 stages of setting up a shop. If you follow each stage you will end up with an Etsy shop that is optimized for selling. I can’t, of course, guarantee you will get sales – there are too many other factors for that, such as what you are actually selling, for a start!
But I can confidently say that if you follow the 5 stages I am about to discuss, you will give yourself a significant boost over the huge number of shop owners that have missed one or more of these stages and are scratching their heads wondering why no one visits or buys from their Etsy shops.
Stage 1 – Research
This is the step that a rather large number of people skip over. And it is the main reason one sees so many unhappy people in the Etsy forums, wondering why they have no sales.
Before you make any move to start an Etsy shop be sure you have done some research on a few basic, but essential things. This will not take long but can make a shocking difference in your chances of success.
Seriously, don’t open or start an Etsy shop if you are not sure what the rules are on what you can actually sell there. You will just waste time and money setting up your shop only to have Etsy close you down again.
All items on Etsy must be one of the following:
- Handmade by you. If you have other people helping you create they must be listed as shop members. If you design your items but have someone else make them for you, you can still sell on Etsy. But you must declare the manufacturer of the products on your About Page
- Supplies for crafting. This includes tools and books on crafting and art subjects and products that are designed to be components or materials for crafting. You can not include finished items that are usable as they are. So knitting needles, paint, MDF blanks, digital collage sheets and beads are all legitimate Etsy supplies. But blank t-shirts, broken jewellery and blank mugs are not
- Vintage –Etsy definies this as itens that were made over 20 years ago.
There is also a list of prohibited items which includes things such as firearms, vehicles, items that incite hatred and so on. Be sure to check this list.
Etsy also forbids the sale of products that break any laws. This includes items that infringe on other’s copyright, trademark or patents. Be very sure you understand what those words mean and how they could relate to the products you sell.
You would be amazed at how often I see a new seller asking for a critique in the Etsy forums only to be told that all their products are things that are not allowed to be sold on Etsy at all. What a waste of their time and listing fees. And totally preventable had they read the rules!
For many business models, Etsy is one of the cheapest marketplaces available. But, the fees will have a significant effect on your pricing and profit margins. The Etsy fees are
- A listing fee – this is currently 20c for four months exposure of your product
- A transaction fee – this is currently 5% of the total price of the item, including shipping costs. Get 40 free Etsy listings by using this link!
- A payment provider fee – this is either paid to Etsy, if you are using Etsy payments or to Paypal if you use that service instead. The exact fee varies depending on your location, so you will need to check this
- An optional Etsy Plus (or Premium) fee – Etsy have recently launched a new seller-services package called Etsy Plus. This offers a few additional features for sellers. It is totally optional. If you choose to opt in then you will get an additional monthly charge for this (the price varies slightly between countries). In early 2019 they will be adding a second tier of seller service package called Etsy Premium. The price and full details of this have not yet been announced.
- An optional Pattern fee – you can choose to have an additional type of shop on Etsy, called Pattern. This is basically a skin for your Etsy shop but which gives your shop the appearance, and much of the functionality, of a standalone website. Pattern currently costs an extra $15 a month. VAT – if you are in the European Union you will be charged
- VAT on the above fees at your country’s current rate. If you are VAT registered in your country you can defer these fees by providing Etsy with your VAT number.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is basically the things you need to do for your products to be found when someone searches on Etsy.
Countless new Etsy sellers make assumptions about how Etsy SEO works, and so do it completely wrong. I would say this is the commonest error that new sellers make when they start an Etsy shop.
If you don’t do what Etsy suggests you do, your items will not be found in Etsy searches. It really is as simple as that.
I’d recommend reading the Etsy Seller Handbook, especially the bits on getting found. I’d also recommend, for obvious reasons, that you check out my popular blog post 10 Tips for Etsy Tagging which explains the basics of Etsy SEO in plain English. I am therefore not going to repeat all that here; I will just give a quick summary.
Update – Check out episode 30 of the Craft Seller Success Podcast – Etsy Seo – Tags and More – Getting Found on Etsy to find out the basics of Etsy SEO and lots of tricks and tips to get your products found.
When someone searches for something, using the Etsy search box, Etsy will decide what items match this search in an extremely logical manner. If someone searched for “gold cat bangle” and you have an item that has that EXACT phrase in the item’s title AND in one of the item’s tags, then the search engine will decide that you probably have exactly what this searcher is looking for. So your item will come up very near the top of the search.
If you have the exact phrase in just your title or just a tag, it will assume you MIGHT have the right item, so you will come up in search a little lower.
If you have all the words, gold, cat and bangle, but spread around your tags, not in one together, then the search engine will think it is possible your item matches. You will still come up in the search results but well behind anyone who had an exact match.
So make your tags short phrases, exactly what someone might type into the search engine. No one searches for just “gold” if they really want a gold cat bangle, do they? So having a tag of just “gold” is a waste.
Seriously, read my article, guys. Read the Etsy Seller Handbook. Even if you do no other research. Poor (or often basically non-existent) SEO is the main reason new sellers do not get many visitors. It is not really hard once you know the basics, honest. But you do need to look into it. It is essential. Hey, you can wait until you have finished listening to the podcast, I don’t mind.
Stage 2 – Create
Now to create your account and shop!
I am not going to give a step-by-step guide to this because a) it is pretty straightforward and you are promoted as you go along, b) there are loads of guides and videos available if you have any problems and c) it can change slightly over time.
First, create a basic Etsy account.
I’d recommend you then spend a bit of time poking around the site before going on to set up your shop. Ideally, buy something from an Etsy shop so you get to see the process from the customer’s point of view. I would go so far as to say this is something you must do. How else can you understand what your own customers will experience? Think about how you decided on what to buy, what information the seller supplied you with that helped you make that decision and any problems or confusions you had in the buying process.
Look at some Etsy shops – ideally ones in the niche that you are planning on entering. Think about what stands out. What jars. Look at their pictures and descriptions; do they help you to really understand what the product on offer is all about? Make notes. This will help you when you come to set up your own listings.
Check out the Etsy forums. These are a very useful resource for new (and not so new) shop owners. Here you will see announcements of any changes to the site – something you will need to be aware of as they might affect you quite a bit.
Read some of the posts in the Questions and Discussions sections. In particular the ones from new sellers who are complaining they haven’t had any sales yet! You will quickly notice certain trends, i.e. what it is that many new sellers aren’t doing, so you won’t make the same mistakes.
Important – Remember that people are far more likely to post in the forums when they have a problem or are unhappy about something than at any other time. This can give the impression that everyone on Etsy is grumpy, or things are generally very bad, or the sky is falling. For every person complaining that “Etsy is broken, I am not getting sales” there are dozens of successful sellers who are far too busy handling their piles of orders to post in the forums!
Stage 3 – Set Up
Now we are at the exciting bit! Create your shop account. This is pretty simple and you can start an Etsy shop in just a few minutes. But if you actually want a successful shop, it is going to take a little bit longer!
Consider your shop name very carefully. You can change it in the future if you need, although changing it more than once is a bit more complicated. But it is far better to have the right name from the start. You probably don’t want to go putting effort in to branding and marketing only to then have to redo it because it has the wrong name on it. Check out my article on the Tin Teddy Blog – A name for your Etsy shop for some handy hints on choosing a great name, there will be a link in the show notes.
Be sure you have filled in all the parts of your shop. There is no logical reason not to and a pile of reasons why doing so will help you. Few things are more off-putting to a potential customer than a shop that looks like the seller couldn’t really be bothered to make an effort. That’s assuming such a shop is even found by anyone in the first place.
Seriously. You can’t expect to start getting sales until you have an actual finished shop.
Fill in your Policies
Not doing so can cause you all sorts of serious problems further down the road. I personally would never ever buy from a seller without policies, and I know for sure that I am not alone on that one.
I make no secret of the fact that I strongly believe in returns policies for all but custom, perishable and digital products. There is so much evidence out there that customer-friendly returns policies seriously boost sales. I will discuss this topic in a later podcast, but for now, please, consider a returns policy. If only because it will make you look more confident compared to your competition. As long as you are selling quality products, and describing them accurately then you are unlikely to get many returns.
If you are in the European Union then there are some things you are legally required to include in your policies. That is legally required. I.e. these are not optional.
EU sellers must offer at least 14 days for returns on all but custom, perishable and digital products. It is important to say this as if you don’t it defaults to a returns window of a year.
EU sellers must display the physical address of their business. Yes, sorry guys, but that does indeed mean you need to put your home address if you are running your Etsy business from home. You can’t use a PO Box for this. Your only options are rent an office, unit or studio so you can use the address of that, or do what the vast majority of Etsy sellers do and just put your home address. Remember. Every single home-based EU seller is in the same boat on this, and there are vast numbers of those. Don’t fret about it, please.
Use the FAQs to add additional information that will reassure your customers about how you operate. Reminding them that you “double box each bowl, so it arrives safely” or “post every afternoon” or can be reached on Skype during the day, are all things that can give you another tiny edge over your competition. Sure, your rival shops may also offer reduced shipping costs for multiple purchases, but if you are the only one actually mentioning it then you have instantly given yourself a nice boost.
You will also need to fill in your Profile Page
Just add a little bit about yourself as a person. It helps potential customers trust you.
An About Page is the next thing to include
This has lots of benefits yet many sellers don’t bother with one. This is where you can tell your customers more about your brand and yourself. Great things to include are a bit about how you came to be doing your craft, your experience, qualifications and previous achievements. You can also include things like what inspires you, why your brand is different (better!) than others and so on. You could also include any upcoming shows you will be attending, magazines you have been featured in and so on. Basically all about your business.
Google can read your About Page too, so be sure to have some of your best key phrases in there somewhere.
You can add pictures to the About Page. Many sellers have a few “behind the scenes shots”. As lots of craft supplies are very photogenic, you could perhaps include a shot of some pretty yarn, a pile of beads or a palette with paint on it. Don’t worry if your studio/craft room/craft table is not very tidy. A picture of a craft area that is clearly regularly used is going to reinforce your “handmade by me” USP.
You can also add a short video to the About Page if you wish. Remember, you don’t need to add this right away, so perhaps it is something to think about for later on?
Etsy have said that they will apply a small penalty to search results for shops that are not properly set up and lacking policies and an About Page. Whilst this penalty is no doubt very tiny, there is no point in suffering it when you really don’t need to!
And the rest…
Include a banner or header picture to your shop if you wish. At this point, I recommend you listen to Podcast episode 5 Branding For Craft Sellers if you haven’t already.
You will need an avatar, especially if you are going to post in the forums. There is much debate on whether it is preferable to have a logo, a picture of yourself, a picture of one of your products or even a picture of your cat. Certainly, all of those are regularly used by successful craft sellers. Use whatever you feel most comfortable with, but please do use something. A blank avatar makes you look very temporary.
Add a logo too. Most people use either an actual brand logo, which is what I do, or a picture of one of their products.
Stage 4 – Populating
Populating is a fancy word for adding the content to your shop. Your products. This stage will probably be the longest, and indeed will often be ongoing for the life of your Etsy shop. Here are the elements that each of your product lists will require.
Each listing will need pictures
Usually more than one. You can include up to 10 shots. Show your potential customers all around the product, from every side. If it is something with an inside, like a bag, be sure to show that too.
Include some close-ups of details, or to show off how neat your work is. Have one shot that clearly shows the scale of the item. For example, someone with your bag over their shoulder, a bracelet on an arm, a painting on a wall near some furniture, a bowl with some apples in it.
Many sellers include a ruler in one shot, next to the item, so as to make the size very clear. If you sell internationally, do not use a coin for this – so many sellers do, but people from overseas may have no idea at all how big your currency is.
Also, do not use anything in your photos that has a trademark on it like a Coke can. It could be seen that you are trying to use the other brand to reinforce your own, and that could result in the other brand taking legal action against you!
Remember that your pictures are your biggest opportunity to really show off your creation. Use as many pictures as you can and sing your item’s praises. I will talk more about product photos in a later podcast episode.
Each listing will need a description
It is important that you tell your potential customer everything they will want to know about the product. I have seen so many product descriptions that read something like “Beautiful silver bracelet” or “Painting of a horse”. There are so many reasons why this is going to cost you sales.
Be sure to include the essentials such as measurements, ideally in both inches and centimetres, very clearly in your listing. Tell your visitors what the product is made from, how it works, what they can do with it, why it is special, why they need it.
Make sure you mention any unique or unusual materials or techniques that you use, especially if you know that some of your competition doesn’t use them. Reinforce the benefits to the customer wherever you can.
“These elegant earrings are made from super-lightweight plastic so they are very comfortable to wear.”
“Each of our hand-knitted jackets comes with a hank of matching yarn and two spare buttons.”
“Every toy is CE tested and has a label to show this. We take your child’s safety very seriously.”
Google can read your descriptions. It is one of the ways it will find your items when people search online. So make sure that your most potent keyphrases are somewhere in your descriptions. But do not group them all at the start or end –this used to be standard practice but Google no longer likes it, and indeed may penalize your page for it. Instead spread the keyphrases throughout your description in a natural sounding way. As these are key phrases that describe your items you will probably find you do this automatically when writing about your products.
Include line breaks to split up your listing into bite-sized chunks. Internet users do not like big blocks of text and are likely to skip over them. Spend time formatting your listing a bit so it looks attractive and easy to read.
Many sellers use simple bullet points to ensure the main facts about the product are easy to spot.
Be sure to include everything a discerning buyer may need to make a decision to buy, but try to keep your listings as concise as possible. I know it can be quite hard to do both!
Do not include all about your shipping, returns policy and so on in every listing description. This stuff should be in your policies. Your policies will automatically be at the end of your listings anyway.
Each listing will need a price
This can be one of the hardest things for new sellers. The very next episode of the Craft Seller Success Podcast, Episode 11, will be all about this subject! It will be out on the 4 September 2018.
Here is a link to Episode 11 – Craft Prices – Setting a Product Price for Craft Sellers
So I am not going to talk about pricing right now, other than to point out that it is very important, and that you will need to do some research if you want to get the most from it. After all, you do want your items to actually sell, but you don’t want to give them away!
You need a good quantity of stock to start with
Sometimes a new seller decides to just list one item, as a test. They then plan to add more when that one has sold. This might sound logical, but in practice, it rarely works.
- Firstly, a shop with only one item in it will always look rather temporary and unfinished. This can be quite a turn-off to potential shoppers
- Secondly, it doesn’t really take any more effort to market a big bunch of items than it does to market one. Why waste the time and effort on one little thing? You are making life harder for yourself in the long run
Add a good few items to get started. There is no magic number for this, by the way. It will partially depend on your products.
If you make large, complex quilts, for example, then it is to be expected that you will only have a few available, they take so long! But if you are selling “cheap and cheerful” necklaces then your competition is going to have shops that have loads and loads of designs to choose from.If your shop only has a few, you are probably going to be missing out on the sales. In some niches, it is more important than others to have lots of stock.
Check out your competition to get an idea of this, btw.
Many people say that a full Etsy page of stock is a good general rule of thumb if you really want a guideline.
So now you have a nice set up shop with a good range of attractively presented, fantastic products.
Congratulations, and welcome to the world of Etsy Selling. Hang on! This is not quite the end of this podcast. There is one more section I need to cover…
Stage 5 – Link and Market
Be sure to add links to your new shop on your other web presences. This includes your website or blog if you have one and your social media networks.
If you have a Facebook or Twitter page for your business you can link these to your new Etsy shop. Whenever you add a new product for sale you will be able to easily share it with the social metwork in just a few clicks. You can also easily share to Pinterest and Instagram from Etsy.
If you have great products, eye-catching photos and took my advice about SEO and researched how to do it properly, then you will probably find that you get a trickle of visitors to your store quite quickly.
Many sellers rely solely on Etsy search to drive traffic to their store. For some types of products, this works very well indeed – vintage and supply sellers often find this, for example.
But most successful craft sellers utilize some other forms of marketing. A recent episode of the Craft Seller Success Podcast, episode 8, was an introduction to using Social Media for marketing your crafts. I will regularly talk about marketing in future podcast episodes.
Your Etsy URL, website address, can be written in two ways. Either www.etsy.com/shop/YourShopName or YourShopName.etsy.com Many sellers prefer to use the latter of these as it is the shortest and therefore probably easiest to remember. Please note that your shop URL will not work until you have actually opened the shop.
You can buy a domain name and point it at your Etsy shop. Purchase the name you want from a company such as GoDaddy, which is who I use for own domain names. The domain name company will have instructions on how to point it at your Etsy shop.
My vintage shop on Etsy sells mainly vintage and antique dog prints. I purchased the domain name www.antiquedogprints.com and can now use that for my shop. It is. I think, much easier to remember than a name including the word Etsy.
Another advantage of doing this is if you ever want to move over to a standalone website in the future. You will be able to simply point the domain name at the new site, meaning all your previous links and marketing for the name will still be valid. So if you put the domain name on your business cards, it will now take people to your new shop instead of the Etsy one. This can save a lot of time and money in the long run and prevent you losing ground if you wish to change where you sell.
Can I have more than one Etsy shop?
You can have as many as you can manage!
If you wish to have more than one shop you may, but you will need a new Etsy account for each one. This means a new email address for each. You will have to sign out of each account to be able to sign into another one. Many sellers with multiple shops use different browsers on their computer so they can have one for each shop. I use Firefox for my Tin Teddy graphics shop and Chrome for my Antique Dog Prints shop on Etsy. There are also ways to do this using multiple tabs in one browser.
If you have more than one shop (or non-shop accounts too) then you must declare them all on the Profile Page of each account.
With multiple shops you will need to do a lot more marketing than if you only have one. If you think that your different products have basically the same target market then it is may be best to stick to just one shop. It is, however, often easier to have multiple shops if your product ranges are aimed at very different target markets and require different types or advertising. Or if there is a risk that your different products could cause confusion.
I have two Etsy shops. One sells mostly my own graphics, in digital form for crafters and craft sellers to use. The other sells vintage and antique dog prints, which are of course physical and not created by myself. If I had them in the same shop I think I would have problems with people buying a digital item and expecting a physical one and vice versa. Plus the two product ranges are aimed at totally different groups of people.
Setting up an Etsy shop can be a pretty quick and simple affair. It does require some prior research and if you want to be successful you do need to do things the way Etsy requires. Starting off with a properly set up shop gives you the best chance at getting sales quickly.
But please do remember that starting a new business always takes a little while. It takes time to get noticed, it takes time to build up a presence on social media and it takes time to gain favourites, sales and reviews.
You will need to be a bit patient. But don’t think that once you have set up your shop you should just sit and wait for something to happen. Be proactive! Keep researching, keep learning, keep improving things.
If you are considering using print on demand services to create and ship the products for your shop, check out episode 26 – Selling your Artwork or Designs using Print on Demand Services.
If you suspect there is a problem with your Etsy shop, as you are not getting sales, check out episode 17 Help! My Craft Shop isn’t Getting Any Sales!
You may want to check out episode 24, Free Websites that Could Help Your Craft Business.
Oh, and be sure to subscribe to the Craft Seller Success Podcast for lots more useful information!
Links to all the sites mentioned and a full transcript are in the Show Notes on the Tin Teddy Blog.
The next episode of the Craft Seller Success podcast will be Craft Prices – Setting a Product Price for Craft Sellers
. I know this is a subject that many craft sellers struggle with.
This episode will be out on the 4 September 2018.
Thanks for listening. Please subscribe to the Craft Seller Success podcast.
Check out www.TinTeddy.com for more Craft Seller resources.
Until next time, bye
The Craft Seller Success Podcast from Tin Teddy.
Featuring Deborah Richardson and Matthew French
Original music by Matthew French
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