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Learn How to Sell on Etsy Successfully

A step-by-step guide to setting up shop and ideas on what to make.

how to sell on etsy successfully
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The Etsy e-commerce platform started in 2005 and has grown into a marketplace with millions of items for sale that range from art to vintage items to craft supplies and more. According to Etsy, everything listed for sale must be handmade, vintage or a craft supply.

Etsy’s definition of "handmade" includes items that are made or designed by you. This means that you can sell items that you design but are made by a third party or sell printable items like cards or other digital downloads. So even if you're unsure of your art skills, there are still plenty of options that allow you to set up shop. If you’ve ever wanted to sell your DIY projects or start a side hustle, here’s everything you need to know about how to sell on Etsy successfully.

How to set up an Etsy shop

If you’re a beginner, it may seem intimidating to set up an Etsy shop, but there are really only a few simple steps:

  1. Sign up for an Etsy account. You’ll need an Etsy account in order to set up a shop to sell on Etsy. Signing up takes only a few minutes, and you can use your email address or Google, Facebook or Apple account.
  2. Create your Etsy shop. Once you’ve signed up, creating your shop is easy. Simply go to the Etsy selling site and choose your language, country and currency. You’ll also need to set up your payment account and two-factor authentication.
  3. Set up your storefront. Etsy allows each seller to create their own storefront by adding their own personalized banners and logos. You can also add a bio to let buyers know who you are. Once your storefront is set up, you’re ready to start listing items.

    How to make things to sell on Etsy

    Once you’ve set up your storefront on Etsy, there are endless options of what you can sell. The good news is you don’t need to be a professional artist to make items to sell. Here are some ideas of what you can sell to get you started, or use these as a springboard to get your creative juices flowing for other items to sell.

    • Tie-dye: Tie-dye is great for beginners because even if it doesn’t go as planned it often still looks good. Also, the cost to get started is lower than some other craft projects. You can tie-dye just about any fabric-based item from clothing to bedding, just be sure the dye you are using is compatible with the fiber type.
    • Embroidery: There are many items that can be embroidered to sell on Etsy. Some popular items include hoodies, t-shirts, decorative patches, towels and even dog collars. If you’re selling on Etsy, you’ll want to use an embroidery machine to help speed things up. We love the Janome MB-7 Seven-Needle Embroidery Machine for selling on Etsy because you can thread the seven needle heads in advance for quicker embroidery speeds; even though it's pricey, it's great for someone doing extensive embroidery. If you're just starting out and want to find a less expensive embroidery machine than the Janome, our top pick is the Brother SE1900 Sewing and Embroidery Machine.
    • Sewing: There’s a learning curve when it comes to using a sewing machine, so if you’re just starting out you may want to try easier projects such as cloth napkins, baby headbands or simple throw pillows. If you’re a more advanced sewer, the options to sell on Etsy are endless — from plush toys to clothing and more.
    • Rug tufting: In the last few years, rug tufting has grown in popularity, and if you’ve ever watched a rug tufting TikTok you know how satisfying it can be to tuft your own rug. There are a lot of rug tufting supplies on Amazon, with most rug tufting guns priced under $200.
    • Stickers: Stickers are popular to sell on Etsy, and they're also low-cost to ship since they're lightweight. To make stickers, simply design your stickers using the design software of your choice, print on sticker paper and cut. You’ll want to make sure your printer has the capability to print stickers and that you’re using the proper paper for your printer. You can cut out stickers with an X-acto knife, but if you’re going to be cutting a lot of stickers, consider purchasing a Cricut machine, which makes the task easier and saves time.

      How to sell on Etsy without shipping

      Depending on what you’re selling, shipping can be one of the highest costs. It can also be a hassle to pack each item and get to the post office to mail it. Luckily, there are plenty of options for digital items such as planners, wall art, resume templates and more. Buyers download these directly from the site, which eliminates the cost and inconvenience of shipping.

      An added bonus, if you’re not especially crafty with your hands, these items are made using design software such as Canva. Once you’ve designed your digital item, simply upload the file and create the listing as an instant download, which customers will receive immediately when they make the purchase. There’s also an option for “made to order,” which means you can customize the item to the buyer's preferences after they buy it.

      How much does it cost to start selling on Etsy?

      The cost to sell on Etsy can vary depending on how many products you sell and the expense of shipping costs, here’s a list of the fees and costs on Etsy.

      ✔️ Listing fee: There is a listing fee of $0.20 per item, which lasts four months. After four months, you’ll need to pay the $0.20 fee again to keep your listing active. This fee applies for each listing no matter if your product sells or not.

      ✔️ Transaction fee: Unlike listing fees that apply regardless of whether your product sells, transaction fees apply only to products sold. The transaction fee is 5% of the total order amount, including shipping and any other applicable costs like gift wrapping. Keep in mind that starting April 11, 2022, Etsy plans to raise the transaction fee to 6.5%.

      ✔️ Payment processing fees: Payment processing fees vary depending on where you live in the world, but for the U.S., the fee is 3% + $0.25 USD for banks in the U.S.

      ✔️ Shipping costs: This will vary depending on the size and weight of the item as well as which carrier you use. To save money on shipping, consider purchasing USPS shipping labels on Etsy, which can save up to 30% compared with the USPS retail rates that you would pay at the post office or elsewhere online.

      ✔️ Ad fees: Etsy has fees for two types of ads — Etsy ads and offsite ads — each with a different fees structure. However, these fees are optional, depending on whether you choose to use ads and whether your shop makes under $10,000 in a year.

      • Etsy ads. If you choose to participate in Etsy ads, Etsy charges a fee every time someone clicks on your ad, which is based on a variety of factors, so the cost will change. However, you can set a daily budget maximum where Etsy will stop advertising your listings when it gets to that maximum. The minimum you can set for ads is $1.00.
      • Offsite ads. Etsy will automatically run ads on other sites such as social networks or search engines. If your shop has made less than $10,000 in the previous 365 days, the fee is 15% on the total amount for orders made as a result of offsite ads. Sellers who made less than $10,000 in the previous 365 days can also choose to opt out of offsite ads altogether. If your shop made more than $10,000, the fee is discounted to 12%.

        Is it worth it to sell on Etsy?

        The short answer: It depends. Below are the pros and cons to help you decide if selling on Etsy is right for you.

        Pros:

        • There are no monthly subscription fees, so it’s low risk to start selling on Etsy, costing only $0.20 to list an item, even if it doesn’t sell.
        • Selling on Etsy can be a great creative outlet because you can sell just about anything you can make by hand, design or even produce digitally.
        • It’s easy to get started. Setting up a shop only takes a few minutes.
        • Dana Levy, the managing editor of Good Housekeeping and owner of DV Design Shop, likes using Etsy and says, “It’s easy to post items to sell and promote them. It’s also a trusted website.” She loves that it eliminates the need to build and maintain an independent website where you must drive your own traffic, as Etsy already has millions of people searching for items in one place.

          Cons:

          • Even though listing items is low cost, depending on what you decide to sell, the upfront cost for equipment can be steep. For example, Cricut and embroidery and sewing machines can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. So if you’re unsure whether you want to sell on Etsy, you may want to consider starting with a low-cost craft.
          • Setting up an Etsy shop is easy — but running the shop is a bigger and more continuous time commitment. You’ll need to maintain your inventory, respond to potential buyer questions and ship products.
          • You're not guaranteed to make a profit and may even lose money if you’re not careful with setting prices and monitoring advertising fees.

            Set up your Etsy shop now

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