Seller Handbook

Advice and inspiration for successfully running your Etsy shop

Seller Handbook

Four Keys to Successfully Selling on Etsy

Wondering how to get more sales and views in your new Etsy shop? These four fundamentals will help you grow.

By Michelle Spaulding Apr 11, 2012
Photo by jodyvanb

As a new seller, you're not the only one asking: how do I get people to view my items and then purchase them? There's no secret passageway to success, but there are four fundamental keys.

Key 1: Sell Great Products

Sell what you love. Sell something that you love and believe in. If you're like most new sellers, you have other commitments such as work and family, and you only have a limited amount of time for your new business. Selling something you love will help keep you motivated!

Get inspired. Is there something that you would love to have that isn't out there yet? Read magazines and blogs, notice what people are wearing and buying. Look on Etsy. You don't want to copy someone else, but looking around may inspire ideas for something you can make that's uniquely yours.

Do some research. Is there something that you feel is a great product that no one, or few people, are selling on Etsy? Selling something different will help you stand out from the crowd! Look in various categories and subcategories. Where can you make your mark?

Key 2: Add More Items to Your Shop

Get found. Buyers are most likely to find your shop from an item listing — via search, or because it was featured somewhere. The more items you have, the more opportunities you have to be found!

How many items? This depends on what you sell. Generally, the more expensive and time-intensive the items, the fewer a seller will stock. Look at successful shops who are selling similar items and see how many products they keep in stock to get a rough idea of a goal to work towards.

Start with what you have. If you only have one item now, list it! Don't wait to build up an inventory — consider adding more items and creating fresh merchandise an ongoing goal to work towards, not a prerequisite for getting started.

Key 3: Learn to Take Great Photos

Looks are everything. Well-lit, attractive photos will entice buyers from search results and will help your item be featured on Etsy and around the Internet.

Take the clickability test. Search for your item, and look at the other items on the page. Does your photo make you want to click? Which do? What can you learn from them?

Bring your item to life.Your buyer can't touch or see your item. Therefore, your photos must tell them all about it. How big is it? What is the texture? If it's wearable, what does it look like on? What are the important details? Showing these in the photos will give your buyer the info they need to make the purchase.

Key 4: Get Found in Search

Search suggestions. Find out what buyers are searching for by typing what you sell in the search bar with Handmade, Vintage, or Supplies selected. The terms that appear are recent customer search terms.

Improve your chances. Use all of your tag spaces with good keywords and phrases that buyers are likely to search for. Add plenty of accurate, descriptive words in your titles.

Learn how. Check out our step-by-step tutorial about How to Get Found in Search.

Bonus Key: Ship Internationally

Sell all over the world. A good number of Etsy transactions involve a buyer and seller from different countries. You give yourself more chances to sell by selling all over the world.

Get found by more people. In order to appear in searches made by people in other countries, your item must ship to that country (this includes the destination "Everywhere Else").

It's easy. A lot of people are intimidated by international shipping. You'd be surprised by how easy it is. Simply go to your shipping carrier's website, and get prices for the following: your own country, U.S., Canada, Europe (get an average for this region), Australia and New Zealand. Look at various other countries' prices to get an average rate for "Everywhere Else." Set up your shipping profiles accordingly. Be sure to mark it as a good for sale, not a gift, include a customs form (available at the post office or printed with your postage), and voila!

Learn more. Check out our shipping tips, which include tips for international shipping.

Still Having Trouble?

"I'm getting views, but not getting sales."

  • Anticipate and answer all questions. Make sure all of your buyer's questions are answered in the description and photos. Common issues are confusion about what exactly the buyer will receive as a result of purchasing the listing and photos that don't show the entire item. See this list of 20 Questions Your Buyers Are Asking for brainstorming help.
  • Eliminate policies that are working against you. Make sure you don't have confusing or unfriendly policies, especially stated in the listing. For example, saying, "I'm not responsible for packages lost in the mail." Your policies should reflect how you would like to be treated as a shopper. And if your buyer used PayPal, PayPal's policy is that you, the seller, are responsible for getting the item there. See our tips for Shop Policies.

What key to success would you offer a newbie?

Stop dreaming and start doing. Start your Etsy shop today.


Michelle Spaulding from HeyMichelle

Michelle is currently working on solving a mathematical mystery that is thousands of years old, and discovering amazing and beautiful things.


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