So you want to start an Etsy shop, but you’re not sure where to begin. I’m here to help!
I opened my Etsy shop on February 28, 2016. I had no guidance whatsoever, so I had no clue what I was doing. I just knew that I wanted to sell my paintings.
I searched all over Google, read so many articles, surfed the Etsy forums, and joined several Facebook groups for Etsy sellers. I fully immersed myself into the Etsy world. By June 2016, I had sold most of my paintings and started offering my vinyl creations and typography prints in addition to my paintings… and things just kept going up from there.
For those of you thinking about opening up an Etsy shop, I wanted to save you hours of searching the internet and give you a quick start guide to get you on the path to success. I’ve also released an entire planner for Etsy and Online Shop Owners, and I’m giving you the first section of that planner for free! To have the first section of my planner sent to your inbox for free, be sure to click the link at the bottom of this post!
Disclaimer: Some links in this post may be affiliate links. At no cost to you whatsoever, I may receive a small commission from the merchant if you choose to purchase a product or service through an affiliate link. For more information, please read my disclosure policy.
Perfect Your Craft
Whatever you make, make sure you make it well. Research everything you possibly can and practice, practice, practice. If you open up a shop and you’ve only made a handful of the things that you plan to sell, you’ll get off to a rough start and you’ll open yourself up to negative reviews from customers. I’m sure if you’ve been wanting to open an Etsy or Online shop, you’ve already done this step — but I feel it’s important to mention just in case!
Pick a Shop Name
First, you need to come up with a shop name. Make it as catchy as possible. Something that truly represents you and/or your craft.
I’m going to be honest with you here. I opened my Etsy shop in a spur of the moment decision, and I didn’t think twice about my shop name. I couldn’t even tell you what the original name was (I want to say it was ClydeArt but I might be wrong). I realized that I needed to come up with a new name less than an hour after opening my shop. I kept that name for a mere 2 days before coming up with a better name — Nap Time Acrylics. Nap Time Acrylics was a perfect name for my shop at the time, because I created all of my paintings during my son’s nap time, and all of my paintings involved acrylics. Once I started offering vinyl products in addition to paintings, I changed my shop name to Nap Time Design Co… and the rest was history!
If you don’t come up with a shop name you’re totally happy with in the beginning, you can always change it like I did! However, it’s important to know that Etsy allows you to change your shop name automatically only once. After that, if you’d like to change your shop name again, you will have to submit your new name, along with the reason why you’re wanting to change your shop name, for approval from Etsy. It’s honestly not a big deal to submit a new name for approval, but if you come up with an awesome name from the beginning — you’ll never have to go through that step!
If you’re struggling with coming up with a name, try out this awesome shop name generator!
Having great photos is an essential part of becoming successful on Etsy… and you don’t have to be a professional photographer with an expensive camera to have great photos! You can use your phone! You can edit photos directly on your phone by using a free mobile app called PicMonkey (the desktop version is $5.99/month) — or you can use image editing software such as Photoshop or Lightroom to edit your photos! Etsy allows you to have up to 10 images per listing.
Personally, I find Photoshop to be the software that I use the most for both my shop and my blog. Not only can you edit your listing photos in photoshop, you can also create awesome graphics for your social media accounts!
This is another essential to success on Etsy. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is essential for getting found on the web, period. Etsy makes its own set of rules for SEO, and I believe Etsy’s SEO is much more simple than the SEO for most other websites.
The best piece of advice I ever received regarding SEO is to think like a buyer. If you didn’t make your products, and were looking to purchase products just like yours, what words would you use to search for it?
You will need to come up with several “search terms” for each listing, and use these terms in your Title, Description, and Tags. The same terms need to be used in all three sections to optimize SEO.
Your keywords need to be 2-3 word phrases. Try to avoid one word phrases as much as possible. What I typically do is enter as many keyword phrases as I can into the title and separate them by commas. The title allows for 140 characters. Then I copy the title to the first line of the item description, then I copy it into my tags. Sometimes the keyword phrases are too long for the tags, and that’s ok! Tags allow for 20 characters, so you can divide your keyword phrases up. Also, you’ll usually have space for a few extra tags after copying the title (you’re allowed to have 13 tags), so use a few more of the keyword phrases you had come up with for that particular product!
Once I improved my listing images and SEO, these things paired together significantly increased my views, favorites, and sales. Before I knew it, my Etsy shop became a full time job.
Creating great listing images & mastering Etsy’s SEO are the two most important things you need to do in order to be successful on Etsy.
However, there are other things you can do to significantly increase your exposure and sales — AND I will also share the program that I use for bookkeeping that’s made specifically for crafters!
First, you’ll need a logo! You can create your own logo using Photoshop or Illustrator, you can hire someone to create a logo for you using Fiverr or Etsy, OR you can purchase a logo kit from Creative Market (you’ll usually need a software such as canva, photoshop, or illustrator to edit the pre-made logos).
In order to promote your shop outside of Etsy, you need to start business pages for your shop! You can create a business page on Facebook, and create business accounts on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Organize a giveaway or sale to promote the launch of your shop — this will lead to more followers and customers!
Another way to promote your shop outside of Etsy is to purchase a domain name (use your shop name for the URL), and start a blog! You can blog about your craft, post tutorials, talk about things that will pair well with your items, or what inspires you! The possibilities are endless with blogging. For this, I recommend purchasing a plan through BlueHost. BlueHost is a web hosting service that is partnered with WordPress, so you can build your blog from the ground up with little to no knowledge of coding! They are extremely user friendly and affordable, and all of their plans include a free domain name. My blog planner and guide on how to set up a blog is coming soon!
Order promotional products, such as business cards, flyers, and coupons, to include with your packaging! I recommend using VistaPrint or Moo for this. You can design your own using Photoshop or Illustrator, or you can fill in your information using the pre-made templates that are available on both websites!
Set up a newsletter for your shop! You can do this using MailChimp. MailChimp is totally free up to 2,000 subscribers, and it’s a great way to keep your followers informed of your new products, sales, or giveaways!
When you’re self-employed, knowing how to organize your business related finances can be tricky. CraftyBase is an online based accounting software that I used specifically for my Etsy shop, and I recommend it to all people in the crafting business. You can create “recipes” for each of your products, and it will deduct your materials as they’re used. If you choose the pro plan, you can also sync it with your Etsy, Shopify, Square, PayPal, or WooCommerce account so it will instantly add your sales and revenue!
Lastly, I recommend signing up for EBates. EBates is not a way to promote your Etsy shop, but I always recommend this because you can get cash back for some of your business related purchases! I use EBates for both personal and business purchases. Any time I order supplies from Etsy or Hobby Lobby, I make sure to connect through EBates for cash back. It is completely free to sign up, and they will either send you a check or deposit your cash back directly into your PayPal account every 3 months! I have received over $1,000 cash back in 3 years by using EBates.
Remember… Life Happens!
Running an Etsy shop full time (or even part time) is completely different than having a “regular” job. You are your own boss, but you also have to play by Etsy’s guidelines. Etsy is understanding that life can happen, which is why they have a feature called “vacation mode” which allows you to temporarily disable your shop for as long as you need. I’ve had to do this several times, and that’s ok! Every time I’ve re-opened, my sales have continued.
I opened my shop on February 28th, 2016 and worked on my shop and orders everyday until I put my shop in vacation mode on December 6, 2016. During that year, I made 976 sales.
I took my shop out of vacation mode on January 1st, 2017. In March of 2017, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. I had a lot of sickness during the pregnancy, and I was receiving 20+ orders per day, so I made the decision on April 8, 2017 to put my shop in vacation mode again. My shop remained closed until September 25, 2017, when I briefly re-opened. I went on vacation mode again for maternity leave on November 2, 2017. Even though I was closed for half of the year, I still made 858 sales that year.
I took several months for maternity leave, and took my shop out of vacation mode on March 20, 2018. When I re-opened, I had to deactivate several of my listings because a lot of my inventory is packed until I can get settled into my new office. Even with over half of my listings deactivated, I have made over 200 sales this year since re-opening.
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Online/Etsy Shop Planner
CLICK HERE to purchase the entire Etsy/Online Shop Planner.
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