Seller Handbook

Advice and inspiration for successfully running your Etsy shop

Seller Handbook

Ready for Etsy Success? Start With an Etsy Goal

Got a big goal but don't know where to start? Use this three-step process to chunk it out into chewable, bite-size bits.

By Amy Schroeder Jan 9, 2013
How to start an Etsy shop
Photo by Merriweather Council

If you could actualize one really awesome goal for success this year, what would it be?

If you’re like many other creative thinkers and entrepreneurs, I’m going to guess that you have no shortage of ideas, but you need help creating a plan for accomplishing some of your biggest goals (a few more hours in the day wouldn’t hurt, either).

I’m in the same boat. Sometimes I feel like an idea machine without enough years in life to accomplish everything I want to do.

Start an Etsy shop

When I was 19 years old, I started a fanzine called Venus about women in music and DIY culture in my college dorm with a starting budget of $10. Fast-forward seven years, and I’d grown Venus into a glossy, internationally circulated magazine and website — all without a formal business plan. Instead, I used a “DIY business plan” that consisted of a series of goals and milestones, ranging from building an email database to full-color production to hiring staff to getting a real office space. Eventually, I had set and attained so many goals that I was able to sell the company to a larger publisher.

Without this process of setting incremental goals over a reasonable amount of time, I would have been completely overwhelmed by the idea of growing a scrappy fanzine into a legitimate business overnight. Over the years, I’ve refined goal-setting into the following three-part system to help creative small businesses.

Ready to get started?

Getting started on Etsy
Photo by PinQuotes

1. Create Your Etsy Goal

Thinking Big and Visionary

Take a step back from the nitty-gritty details of the here and now and think about the big picture of what you really want for your Etsy shop.

For new sellers, your Etsy Goal might be to make 10 sales in the next three months. If you’re an experienced seller, you may want to become a top seller or quit your day job within the next three years. For advanced sellers, your Etsy Goal might be to become nationally known as an innovative designer. These are just a few examples of the kinds of Etsy Goals you could set for yourself.

Every Etsy Goal is unique to the seller. In the words of Lucy Berkley of berkleyillustration in this Quit Your Day Job feature: “You have to find your own path. There isn’t an exact formula for success.”

The same goes for time frames. Depending on the scope of your Etsy Goal, you may need, say, six months, a year, or several years to accomplish your goal. What’s reasonable and doable for you? One of the most important aspects of your Etsy Goal is creating a goal that will keep you motivated, inspired and moving toward completion. Once you reach your goal, you’ll feel a deep sense of accomplishment, which will, in turn, inspire you to create a new Etsy Goal — and then another, and another. In a nutshell, this is how businesses grow.

Before we progress to the next two steps, visualize yourself having already achieved your goal. Then, ask yourself these questions: What does life look like now? How do I feel? How will this Etsy Goal benefit me? What hurdles did I jump to get here?

2. Set Major Milestones

Laying the Groundwork for Accomplishing Your Etsy Goal

Congratulations! You’ve created an Etsy Goal, and you’re going to feel on top of the world once you accomplish it. How are you going to get there?

To lay the groundwork for your Etsy Goal, setting major milestones are the next critical steps for getting the work done. Major milestones are the significant points in development. Major milestones aren’t a “to-do” list per se. Major milestones are the significant achievements that you accomplish along the way to the finish line of your Etsy Goal. I recommend developing a calendar of major milestones — a map could be over a six- or 12-month span or up to several years. Your time frame depends on the scope of your Etsy Goal.

Examples of Major Milestones

Let’s say your Etsy Goal is to earn enough income from your Etsy shop that you can quit your day job within two years. After you’ve done the math to figure out how much money you’ll need to earn to pay yourself a decent salary, you should develop a list of the major milestones that you want to achieve before leaving your job. Here’s an example of what these major milestones might look like in this scenario:

  • Create a strategic marketing plan that includes social media, newsletters, and blog coverage
  • Create a new line of products
  • Double sales
  • Research, select, and budget for a new health-insurance policy
  • Save six months of living expenses for a “just in case fund”
How to start an Etsy shop
Photo by decoylab

3. Move Forward With Next Attainable Action Steps

Chunking Out the Work, One Month at a Time

Now that you've written your list of major milestones, you’re ready to break the work into Next Attainable Action Steps (NAAS) — an ambitious yet realistic set of to-do list items. NAAS are chewable, bite-size tasks that take you one step closer to accomplishing your major milestones. I recommend setting NAAS in monthly increments. Once you accomplish a month’s worth of NAAS, you’ll create the following month’s NAAS.

NAAS Criteria:

  • Based on the amount of time and energy you have (not wish you had), set a month’s worth of clear and attainable steps toward accomplishing your major milestones.

  • Be specific about numbers and quantities whenever possible. Without numbers, you’ll tend to be wishy-washy. Here are some examples:

    • Create one engaging Tweet every day.
    • Friday, research how three similar Etsy shops are handling their marketing.
    • Set up an auto-draft with my bank so that I’m automatically putting $100 per month into my savings account.
  • After writing your list of attainable next steps, briefly visualize yourself doing the tasks, and calculate the estimated hours to accomplish them. Add up the hours of all your NAAS. If the task hours exceed your available hours, trim the fat, and place leftovers on your NAAS list for the following month.

The Final Step: Make It Happen!

  • Get the word out. Share your Etsy Goal with a supportive friend or fellow Etsy seller, write in your journal, create a poster or vision board, or post it in your blog. If you announce your Etsy Goal, you’re 100% more likely to actually accomplish it.
  • Chunk out your NAAS into even smaller tasks, such as daily or weekly increments. Use calendar and to-do-list tools like Google Calendar, Evernote, TeuxDeux, etc.
  • Connect with people who can help you. Share your ideas and questions with other Etsy sellers and people with common interests. Join an Etsy Team.

Share your goals and milestones in the comments below!

Feeling inspired? Start your Etsy shop today!


Amy Schroeder

Amy Schroeder started her first business, a women’s arts and DIY magazine called Venus Zine, in her dorm room at age 19 and later sold the company. Her goal is to help creative people develop their dream jobs. Follow her on Twitter @amyschroeder and on Instagram at


Continue reading in Productivity