Many of you who are looking to start creative businesses may be considering using Etsy to reach your audience. Etsy started out as a small online marketplace for handmade wares only to explode into one of the largest global e-commerce platforms. The potential that Etsy offers is HUGE and one would be foolish to undermine it. It has created careers and the lives of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands who now sell full time on Etsy.
But… what does it take to sell successfully on Etsy? Follow these 8 pointers and you will be on your path to selling like a pro in very little time (I don’t say “no time at all” because, well, time is a factor!).
I have not listed “good product” as a criterion because, well, of course you first need to have a good product aimed at a clearly defined target audience in your head – these are absolutely ESSENTIAL requirements before you even consider hitting the Login button. Take care of these two, and then follow the 8 below!
Good Product Titles & Tags
This is probably the most important aspect of setting up a listing on Etsy. You want your product to be found by relevant people a.k.a people who are searching for what you offer or something like it. An effective product title should describe what the product is (eg. Red woven hat), mention what general category it would come under (Red woven hat, women’s knitwear), and also mention other purposes it could fulfil, like if it could be a gift and for whom (remember, a large number of people go gift shopping on Etsy) (Red woven hat, women’s knitwear, birthday gift for her). You can step in an add some more descriptive tags in there to make sure your product comes up when people are searching for these things (Red woven hat, women’s knitwear, birthday gift for her, handwoven clothes, women’s fashion, christmas gift for women). Make sure you use up all, or almost all, the characters available. Try to be as descriptive as possible, and use long tags.
For filling up the “tags” field (which you must, because these count), try to repeat the same tags which you’ve used in the product title for more effective results. Again, fill them all up, be as descriptive as possible, use longer tags, and think of what your target audience could possibly be searching for.
When you list multiple variations of the same product, you can mix up the tags a little so that you reach a wider audience.
2. Great cover images
With good product listings in place your listing will now show up when someone searches for it. However, you also need them to click on your listing. To do this, you need an attention grabbing cover image. Make sure your cover image is attractive, shows the essence of your product (what it is), and is a good photo. Shoot in natural light, use a DSLR camera (with the appropriate settings) (head to photographyconcentrate.com for some super quick and easy to learn guides on photography), and keep it distraction free. Preferably shoot with a white background, and keep it as clear as possible. If all this is getting too much, just hire a professional photographer to do this for you. If you sell something which can be digitally placed on backgrounds (think stationery, cards, planner stickers, mugs, cushion covers, etc.) try to instead buy stock photos & mockups and use those to place your product on them. It will be fast, and effective. Trust me, photos are super important and what immediately creates your “visual brand”. If your photos look clean, professional, neat and welcoming, then your customers will view your brand as being professional and welcoming. So make a great first (and lasting) impression!
3. Good, clear, crisp product images that show your customer how they win with your product
The same rules as mentioned in 2 apply for all your other product images. Your images should tell the viewer: what the product is, a close up (details), and how it will improve their life. Now this last bit sounds super vague, but is super important. This is what will set your product apart from others in your category, and make your product irresistible (a.k.a more sales). So show your viewer how they will gain (i.e. they will look fabulous/ be a wonderful gift giver/ create beautiful products…) by purchasing your product. If you’re selling a red wollen sweater, show a model (or a photogenic girl) wearing that sweater and looking super chic while having coffee. That creates an instant “I wantttt” reaction in your viewer and they’re going to want to buy your sweater. Just images of your sweater lying on your bed or even on the model would not have the impact that showing her wearing it and having a good time will.
Now, when you buy from an online store, don’t you check the reviews? I do. I don’t think I’ve ever bought something online without reading a couple of reviews. So make sure, you focus on getting reviews from happy customers from Day 1. Politely ask them to leave a review. This is the secret – you need to ask. Even the most angelic of clients will get busy and will probably forget to leave a review. But, if you politely ask for it and make them know that their taking their precious time out is valuable to you (you could offer them a discount code for their next purchase), then they will do it.
Reviews go a long way in building a brand’s trustworthiness, so make sure you’re working on it from the beginning.
5. Number of Listings
I do think there is something like a “critical mass” of listings which will help take your shop from one level to the next. What this number is depends on your category. For eg. if you take a look around, most shops selling woollens which are doing well have at least a 100 products listed, however, if you look at shops selling planner stickers, that number would be somewhere around 250. So it really differs and depends. More listings generally means more sales on Etsy, i.e. provided all your listings are for good products and aren’t repetitive.
More listings means more search terms covered by your products, means more times your product is shown to prospective buyers, means more people are looking at your products, means more are likely to buy. Secondly, more products gives the impression to whoever lands up at your shop that you’re a “well established store” with many products to offer. You’re more likely to buy from a shop which has 50 options to choose from rather than 5. Same logic – give more variety and options to those who visit your store.
6. track statistics
You should regularly check your Shop Statistics to check what kind of products and tags are working, what’s not working, what kind of products are being searched for (and try to cater to that demand), and work on it. Now, what constitutes “regularly” could mean different things to different people. I used to check stats every day when I started. Now I check on a weekly basis. Sometimes I check just once a month. It really depends. See what are the snag points, and look for data in your shop stats which will help you solve those snags.
7. Website / Social Media
When you’re selling on a platform like Etsy which has a great search engine and has millions of buyers, you don’t necessarily need to promote your products outside of Etsy to see some sales. You will have sales if you follow the tips above and have a good product which is useful to people. However, you can use social media to turbo charge your sales. Get more people introduced to your brand, get more inbound links to your etsy store – all of those things help. People also love to see “behind the scenes” and the creative process behind a product. They love to get to know the person behind the product – it is, after all, a place for handmade goods, which are made by real human beings with a lot of love and care. So show that. Share your story, show your process, show some action shots of you at it. All of this will help people who come across your brand relate to your, remember you, and at some point, may be even buy from your shop!
Yes guys. Everything takes some time, and Etsy is no different. I promise though, that if you do all of the above, you will meet your goals. There is no way you will not. How much time it takes, will depend on your category. Give it some time. Whenever you implement a new measure, give it at least a couple of months to test whether it’s working, whether you need to adjust something about it or remove that measure altogether.
That’s it, folks! It’s really all that it takes to have a successful shop on Etsy.
bonus – get 40 free listings with your new shop!
If you’re excited to open your own Etsy shop – you can do it now! And bonus! You get 40 free listings if you open a new shop using this link:
If you’ve just opened a new Etsy Store and these tips have been helpful, I’d love to hear from you. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section & I’ll do my best to answer them.
If you’re ready to start selling successfully on Etsy, and you’d love to get started with a logo, you can follow this step-by-step tutorial on designing a watercolor logo. It’s super simple and will take you less than 15 minutes!