Welcome to selling on Etsy! When you’re getting started, it feels like there are so many things to do for your new shop. You’ll also want to check out the Seller Handbook — it contains links to lots of great articles to help you sell. Other posts to get you started include Welcome to Your Online Presence and A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Shop on Etsy. Consider this article the quick-start guide, with the most important things to consider for launching a successful shop!
The Three P’s: Products, Photography and Pricing
Let’s start with products. What items will line the walls of your virtual boutique? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What are you ready to share with the world?
- What does this work say about you?
- Who would you most like to share it with? This will be called your niche or target market.
There are so many wonderful shops on Etsy that many newbies wonder how they can make an impact. Here are some tips for making your shop shine:
- What to do in crowded markets: If you notice that there are lots of other sellers with items similar to your, say, children’s hair bows, you may try creating the items in a different and surprising material, or creating a new style of hair bow to stand out. You may stand out with fabulous photos, a great shop assortment, and lots of items for your buyers to choose from.
- Create a new product, or find a new way of making something that’s been around for a while. Some great examples are neawear, who became Etsy-famous with her “Wall Wear,” a modern art incarnation of cross-stitch samplers, and girlsavage, who reinvented taxidermy as “Feltidermy” — stuffed animal creatures on trophy boards.
You don’t need all the answers, yet. In fact, even if you’re not quite sure what you want to say with your Etsy shop, I still encourage you to get out your digital camera and start taking photos. Hundreds of photos. Photography is the most important aspect of selling online. The sooner you get started the better. You’ll need a very simple background, some natural diffused light, a digital camera (it doesn’t have to be fancy) and a model if you are selling something that should be worn by human or beast.
Item photography is perhaps the most important aspect of your shop. In an Etsy item listing, you have one main photo and you may upload four additional photos. Use them all! Below are some tips, and be sure to explore these posts for further, in-depth suggestions.
Here are our top 10 tips for perfect product photos:
- Shoot against a plain background that will complement your item. Large pieces of drawing or watercolor paper work well.
- Use the macro mode (flower icon) on your camera when shooting close-ups or small objects. If the photo is blurry, try adjusting the zoom, or getting closer to or farther from your subject.
- If you’re shooting small items like jewelry, simple props can help show scale.
- For larger items, look around the inside of your home for good locations. Think interesting architecture, beautiful natural settings, walls with interesting textures, or even plain white walls. Is there a location nearby — perhaps a church, library, or abandoned building — that would capture the mood of your items?
- If you sell items that can be worn, always use a live model. Adults, babies, and pets all draw in the shopper and help them imagine these items in use.
- Use soft natural lighting. Either morning or early evening light works best. Avoid direct sunlight and harsh mid-day lighting. Set up your shot inside, near a window, or outside (but not in direct sunlight).
- Never use flash.
- Go beyond the overhead or straight-on shot. Make your photos more dynamic by taking the shot from a variety of angles and distances, and then choosing the one that best complements your item.
- Edit your photos to make them brighter, crisper and the colors truer. You’ll also want to crop in interesting places to create movement in the photo. It may allow you to get closer to the item for a detail shot.
- Use all 5 spots for photos in your item listings: show the item in use, show your creative packaging, place the item near a complementary prop to show scale.
Final tip: Be aware of the time you spend creating or curating your items, taking photos and doing research. Your time is valuable and you should reflect this in the price of your items. Here’s a post I wrote about calculating the right price.
Setting Up for Success
The Shop Setup Help Guide will give you step-by-step instructions for getting started. I’ll give you one important tip for each step!
Your Etsy shop starts with the right shop name. Having a memorable name is one of the more important things you can do to brand your shop and encourage sales. You want it to be easy to pronounce, easy to spell and it should speak to your style or what your shop is about. Shorter tends to be better than longer. Avoid common words like “designs” or “creations,” as well as number strings and consonant strings that don’t sound like a word in your name — these make your exact shop name hard to remember. Avoid generic-sounding names; something unusual will be more memorable. Do some research on the Internet to make sure that another company doesn’t already have the same name.
Exercise: What shop names have drawn you in? Get out a piece of paper and jot down the first 25 business names you can remember. What makes them memorable? What do these business names say about the companies behind them?
Banner: If your shop was in the physical world, your banner would be the sign above the front door. Choose something that looks professional and that will give shoppers a sense of the mood or feel of your shop and makes them interested to scroll down to see more! If you’re not a great graphic designer, you can save time and frustration by buying a ready-made or custom banner from an Etsy seller.
Avatar: Share a sneak-peek into your personality with a well-lit, well-cropped 75 by 75 pixel photo of you. Have one of you and your most interesting item? Bonus! Here are a few examples:
Shipping: Ship internationally — international orders comprise a big chunk of the market on Etsy! Sound intimidating? It’s not that bad! Here’s a blog post, Shipping How-To: Custom Forms, Duties and Taxes, to help guide you.
Shop Policies and Profile: Fill them out! Policies define the rules for your shop and can answer buyers’ questions. The Profile page personalizes you; Etsy shoppers love that they buy directly from the artist, so tell them about yourself and your craft to get them interested in your work. Having these sections filled out will help build trust for your buyer, especially if you are a new seller and don’t have feedback yet. Here are some tips for your Shop Policies and Profile Page.
Let’s Get Some Items in Your Shop!
Etsy’s Item Listing guide will lead you through each step of listing an item. We talked about photos and pricing but there are a few other important parts of the listing process we haven’t touched on: titles, descriptions and tags.
Your titles should be descriptive instead of whimsical. This will help search engines better understand your item listings. Here’s an example: “The Malarie Collection Tee” wouldn’t mean as much to Google (or Etsy search) as “Floral Fuschia T-Shirt – Screen Printed Organic Cotton.”
Descriptions should be in first person; just think about talking directly to your customer in your own voice. Remember to answer all the questions your buyers might have in your item listings while telling your unique story.
You can attach the important keywords to your item listings — we call these tags. Think about the type of words your buyers would use if they were looking for this item. Get specific! Color, texture, style, and size are as important as the type of item it is. Here is an article with a list of types of tags to help you brainstorm.
Exercise: Next time you’re making (or photographing) an item to list in your shop, keep a notebook nearby and jot down keywords to use in your titles, descriptions and tags during the process.
Get a little help from your friends. If you already have a Facebook account, setting up a Facebook Fan Page can help you let all your friends and family know about your new Etsy shop. Ask them to share the word with their Facebook friends who might be interested! This Etsy Seller Handbook post will help you set this up.
Stay active: Don’t put a few things in your shop and then sit back and wait for magic to happen. Imagine if you opened a store in your town but just put a few items on a shelf and then sat behind the counter waiting for customers. Buyers want to trust you, and the more active you are on Etsy, the more they know you’ve invested in your new endeavor. Keep adding stock to your shop and check out other ways to connect with our community. Create a treasury or join a team!
Being active on Etsy can also increase your chances of being featured in several places: Treasuries, the homepage, Etsy Finds emails, and the Etsy Blog. The key to getting featured in all of these locations is having great item photos, using tags well, and being an active member of the community. Additionally, look at the merchandising articles each month to learn about upcoming themes and holidays that will be promoted.
Whew! There’s a lot that goes into opening up a new Etsy shop, but believe me, it’s thrilling! Just take it step-by-step and be realistic with your expectations. Cherish your first views, hearts, conversations and sales. Before you know it you’ll be a pro and will hardly remember how nerve-wracking these first steps were. I’ll leave you with some links you’ll want to bookmark:
- Sell. Etsy’s Sell page is constantly updated with new posts from the Etsy Seller Handbook.
- Etsy Seller Apps. These are helpful tools for Etsy sellers built using the Etsy API.
- Etsy Help. Type in a question and get an answer, or chat with one of our Support Team members in real time!
- Online Labs. Pop by a live workshop with an expert.
- Mailing List. Sign up for the Etsy Success newsletter and get tips delivered to your inbox.
The biggest key to small business success is to learn from all your experiences – keep evolving and trying new things until you hit your specific keys to success (there’s no one track that works for everyone!). So start here and keep moving!
What are your top tips? We’d love to hear them in the comments of this article!