Have you decided to start selling on Etsy? Congratulations! I’ve just celebrated my two year “Etsy-versary” and I’ve become a huge advocate for the platform. In fact, my Etsy shop is what enabled me to quit my corporate job in January to pursue self-employment full-time and for that I’m very grateful.
If you haven’t read it, check out my post on what you need to know about selling on Etsy. It covers the types of products you can sell, why I recommend selling on Etsy, and how fees work.
In today’s post, I’ll be walking you through step-by-step how to start selling on Etsy. It’s a bit of a long one with several steps, so be sure to bookmark it and refer back to it as you embark on your Etsy journey. Once you’re up in running, check out my post about making money on Etsy. It covers how I doubled my income on a tiny budget.
Choose Your Product(s)
The very first step in starting your Etsy business is deciding what you’ll be selling. As I covered in my prior post, you’ll need to decide whether you plan to sell vintage items, handmade goods, or craft supplies.
In an ideal world, you would find an unmet need in the marketplace, identify and interview your target audience, and create a product that would address these needs. If you have the ability to do that, go for it!
In many cases, however, you may already have a product in mind already based on something you know how to make, source, or market. And for the sake of simplicity, we won’t delve deeper in this post about choosing your product(s). We’ll move forward with the assumption that your product is viable.
When I started selling on Etsy, I chose to sell planner stickers for a few reasons. First, I was familiar with the market and consumer needs, having bought stickers often in the past. Second, I had learned how to design, print, and cut my own stickers so manufacturing was accounted for. And third, it was relatively easy from a startup capital perspective. Meaning, I didn’t have to spend a lot of money on supplies or machinery, making the barrier to entry pretty low.
Name Your Shop
This next step, naming your shop, shouldn’t be rushed. When naming your shop, consider what you’re selling, the problem you’re solving, your target audience, and your plans for expansion. My shop name, Kate Lauren Design, is broad enough that I can expand beyond stickers and gift labels and into cards, stickers for wedding favours, and more. If I had named it “Kate Lauren Stickers”, I couldn’t expand into greeting cards as easily. Likewise, if I had named it “Kate’s Shop”, it would be too broad and not grounded in anything creative like “design” implies.
In my introduction to selling on Etsy post, we used an example of a shop selling knit hats. Using that example, we want to give some thought as to what else (if anything) we plan on selling. Will we sell knit items of all types? Or just knit hats? Who are the hats for? Kids? Women? Are they fancy or casual? What purpose do they serve? Ask yourself questions like these in coming up with a compelling name.
If you’re stuck, Etsy has a great article on tips for choosing your Etsy Shop Name.
Find Your Suppliers
Next, determine what supplies and materials you’ll need. If you’re a vintage shop, this may involve finding vintage stores and antique shops in your area to frequent, and if you’re a craft supplies store, you may be looking at wholesale retailers. For a handmade shop, you’ll probably have several materials and supplies involved in the making of your product.
Start by listing out everything you’ll need, and then one by one, research your options. Focus on the most expensive categories first since saving money on these will have the biggest impact on your bottom line.
Determine Your Shipping Strategy
Ahh…. shipping. Before you get too far into planning, investigate your shipping options and ensure there is a reasonable shipping option available for your customers. Nowadays, consumers are spoiled by programs like Amazon Prime, free shipping on most online orders, and quick delivery times. While it may not be “fair” to hold a small business owner to the same standards as Amazon, there is a heightened expectation when it comes to reasonable shipping costs and delivery times.
To determine your shipping costs, first figure out how you’ll be packing your product. Vintage clothes, for example, can probably be shipped in a bubble wrap envelope, whereas paper goods like cards can be sent in a flat envelope. Heavier items and housewares might require extra wrapping and corrugated cardboard boxes.
Wrap a product the way you would for shipping it to a customer, weigh it, and measure it. Then, price your options. Check Etsy shipping, international suppliers like FedEx, Purolator, and domestic companies like Canada Post and USPS. Lastly, check out new shipping providers like ShipStation and Stamps.com who may offer better prices and more convenient options.
Lastly, be sure that when you’re setting your shipping prices you’re taking into account the cost of your shipping materials, along with some buffer in case your shipping materials increase in price.
Price Your Products
There are several schools of thought when it comes to pricing your products, but I’ll provide a few things to keep in mind in determining your pricing strategy.
First, calculate your wholesale price.
Wholesale price: (Cost of Labour + Cost of Materials) x 2
In our knit hat example, let’s assume you’re looking to pay yourself $10 per hour for your work and that you can knit two hats per hour. Let’s also assume that each hat requires one ball of yarn costing $3 each and uses knitting needles that you received as a gift and have no plan on replacing (so with a cost of $0). Your price per hat would be: [$5 (which is the $10/hour divided by two hats) + $3 in materials] x 2 which would be $16.
Second, calculate your retail price.
Retail price: Wholesale Price x 2
In our example, this would be $16 x 2 or $32.
Third, check your price against others on Etsy. How does it compare? Look at things like size, materials, and shipping costs to put yourself in the shoes of your prospective customer. Is your hat $2 more expensive than most, but does it offer cheaper shipping? Is it less expensive than others but does it come with fewer embellishments? Try to get inside the mind of your customer and look objectively at their options.
Fourth, give some thought as to whether you’d like to be more of a budget/value product or more of a premium product. If your target audience is wealthy women who want fancy knit hats that they can wear to elegant winter events, perhaps a premium price matches the quality and the purpose of the product. If you’re targeting moms who want an affordable hat for their ever-growing kids, maybe a value play makes more sense. This caters to the fact that they may be buying new hats every year to keep up with their growth spurts. In this case, you may sell a greater volume of hats, but at a lower price per item.
Photograph Your Products
Probably the most important thing in getting eyes on your product is to have great photos. A great photo is accurate, descriptive, shows the product from multiple angles, brings it to life, and makes it feel real. One of the biggest challenges of online shopping is that the customer can’t see the product in person. They can’t touch it, feel it, or examine it. Great photography helps to break down those barriers.
My post How to Use a Lightbox for Product Photography outlines the exact products and tools I use to take product photos at home. How to take great product photos on your own, including the products and tools I use every time.
And if you’re looking for more tips, Etsy has some great articles about product photography that I’d recommend checking out. You’ll definitely want to take multiple high quality photos of each product before listing them.
List Your Products and Start Selling on Etsy
Now for the fun part: actually setting up your shop! By signing up through my link, you get your first 40 listings FREE, so be sure to click here to do just that. It will save you some money in getting your shop up and running.
Follow the prompts to set your preferences and then add listings. You’ll start by adding up to 10 photos of your product and adjusting your thumbnail. This is the primary photo shoppers will see when they browse Etsy, so make it your best photo (you can drag and drop the order of your photos to make it first) and then use the Adjust thumbnail feature to change its positioning and crop.
Writing your Listing Details is a big topic in and of itself, so I’d recommend reading this article from Etsy about optimizing your titles, descriptions, and tags.
Once you’ve filled out everything, you can click Save and continue. You can edit and update listings as often as you’d like.
You’ll be prompted to add more listings and can choose to add more now or to wait until your shop is up and running. My recommendation would be to launch your shop with at least 5 listings to give your customers a sense of what you offer.
Once you’ve entered that, you will be prompted to enter payment details and then Open your shop.
Looking for a step-by-step guide for actually setting things up on Etsy? Check out my Quick and Easy Guide to Setting up an Etsy Store!
Congratulations – you’re now selling on Etsy! Whether this is your first side hustle or a new channel to sell your wares, I wish you the best of luck. Please leave me a comment and let me know what types of Etsy insight you’d like to see in future posts.
And be sure to check out my post The Best Investments I’ve Made In My Etsy Business for more advice.