7 Things to Know Before Selling on Etsy

7 Things to Know Before Selling on Etsy

If you’ve been around the block a few times, you’ll know about Etsy. It’s this magical place where just about anything can be found from the most ordinary of items to the most extraordinary. Bird house lovers will leap for joy, crystal collectors can rejoice, custom prints can be found, clothing, jewelry, and more. Etsy is a place where crafters far and wide can come together in a creative marketplace to share their work. Have you ever wanted to get in on the Etsy game? Let’s talk it over in today’s post.

Etsy Isn’t Just for Traditional Crafters

You may have this idea in your mind that Etsy is mainly for those who are good at sewing, or jewelry making, or pattern printing. I’ll be honest, that is the image that comes to mind for me. Spools of thread and thimbles on a craft table. But did you know that Etsy is home to so many more crafters than what one might consider traditional?

There are folks who sell crystals, greeting cards, digital goods, shelves, psychic readings, and even this totally real chewing gum holder! So really, there is room for anyone on Etsy who makes or provide goods, and in as diverse of a marketplace as it is, it’s really good at letting the unique items shine.

My Experience on Etsy with Digital Products

I started an Etsy shop mostly as an experiment. I wonder if this will even work… I thought to myself as I set up my first shop, Light & Lavender Co. The vision I had was to sell digital products that could be printed out from home or at a print shop. I created and listed printable designs such as postcards, business cards, and labels, and sure enough, they started to sell. I kid you not, when I got my first sale, I actually jumped on the couch with excitement!

Not only was this my first sale on Etsy, but this was also my first experience selling digital products. I’m telling you right now, the thrill of that $5.00 sale trumped even my highest paycheck as a working freelancer. I was on top of the world! Intellectually I had known this was possible to do, but I had no idea I’d be doing it for the first time with a little Etsy shop, and that it would feel so good! For digital items, once the purchase is made, Etsy takes care of the rest, and the buyer can download their digital file without me doing a thing. Etsy made it easy for sellers in in a nontraditional craftwork setting, such as graphic design, to enter the platform. I found that really impressive. 

7 Things to Know Before Selling on Etsy

Now, you may be wondering, is Etsy for me? Maybe you don’t sell digital goods. Maybe you have an idea for physical merchandise, like clothing, jewelry, or coffee mugs. It’s Etsy a good place to start? Here is a list of 7 things I have learned in my journey so far with Etsy, and I’ve separated this list into pros and cons.

The Pros: 

1. Internal search is like woah: Etsy is a platform with built in search feature, which means users can type in what they’re looking for and save or buy their favorite items. This search feature resides solely within Etsy, meaning that there’s a much higher chance that someone who is searching (and is often ready to buy) will stumble upon your listing and you’ll make the sale. Most of my Etsy traffic has come from internal search. You can also use keywords and tags to optimize your listings. 

2. Incredible functionality: Everything you need is right there in the Store Manager dashboard. Once you open your shop, you’ll get access to the dashboard that shows you all of your orders, customers, and includes one of my favorite features - the conversations tab - which helps keeps shop inquiries out of your inbox and keeps it all within Etsy. The dashboard is amazing and you can also access it on your phone with the Sell with Etsy app. 

3. Low start-up costs: It costs hardly anything to get started. Sure, there are optional add-ons such as Etsy Plus or the ability to purchase a website feature, but if you want just the straight edge Etsy shop, all it requires is 20 cents per listing, and that you have at least one listing to open your shop. Each listing is always 20 cents, and that 20 cents renews if you have multiple items. Often, that 20 cents is simply taken out of your earnings or paid at the end of each month. Ultimately, the low-startup costs mean that someone doesn’t have to pay for hosting, doesn’t have to build a website, and can get up in running in as little as 30 minutes. 

4. Heightened share-ability: Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve noticed that Etsy images do really well on social media and Pinterest. People trust Etsy, so when they see the words “Etsy Listing” underneath an image on Pinterest, they’re likely to save or click on it. I spent one afternoon pinning my Etsy listings to my Pinterest account and now a good chunk of traffic I get is from there. It’s also easy for people to share listings with their friends because of Etsy’s user friendly interface. 

The Cons: 

5. Listing fees and transaction fees: Ok, we all knew this part was coming. But remember that 20 cent listing fee I mentioned? Well there’s also a 5% transaction fee and a 3% plus 25 cent payment processing fee. So this means that Etsy does keep an amount of the earnings from each sale. However, you can also go into your dashboard and see just how much is left from fees and how much is take-home cash. All in all, I think this is a minor tradeoff in reference to the pros above. See more about the fees and processes here.

6. Some niche markets are saturated: Certain items within Etsy are pretty saturated. For example searching for a calligraphy print can yield thousands upon thousands of results on the site. In the same vein, there’s jewelry galore, coffee mugs are aplenty, and t-shirts by the thousands. So if your idea or product exists in a market that is saturated, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a chance of success, but it’s more a matter of getting creative and taking into consideration that internal Etsy traffic alone may not be enough to drive the sales you’re looking for. In that case, a social media plan may help you out a ton.

7. Price competition: I’d heard that many crafters on Etsy grew frustrated with the platform because some sellers were driving down prices as a result of competition. With the platform’s fast growth, suddenly there were high-quality products being sold for $5, which drew many shoppers away from the more higher priced finds. My stance on this? Charge what you believe your work is worth, don’t charge based on just being competitive with other sellers. Many buyers would gladly pay more for high-quality goods, otherwise brands like Louis Vuitton or Coach wouldn’t even exist. 

Would I Recommend Starting an Etsy Shop?

Yes, I totally would! If you feel drawn to it, Etsy can be an amazing platform to offer your products for sale. It’s also a great tool to test things out and see what performs well. If you and Etsy don’t get along, it’s all good, there are so many other platforms out there to sell on such as Shopify, WooCommerce, Squarespace and more. If you’re wondering if Etsy might be a great platform to start with, a great way to go about it would be to take inventory of your business, your idea, or your product and do some research to see what already exists on Etsy in your niche market.

Ultimately Etsy is a great community to sell your crafts, products, and goods (even digital ones!) and I have loved my experience on the platform so far. I hope this helps you make your decision on whether opening an Etsy shop is right for you!