What You Can Learn By Spying on Etsy Top Sellers

by

Everybody I talk to wants to know the secrets of the Etsy Top Sellers. What are they doing that’s so awesome and great and making them money? Why do some Etsy shops succeed when others fail so miserably?

The way to do this…is to be a little bit of a detective. Because no matter how many “success stories” and how many interviews you read – the truth is you’re never going to really understand what these sellers are doing differently. In fact, some of these sellers may not even know why they are doing so well!

If the word “spying” makes you feel a little uncomfortable {and I understand some of you may think this is unethical} – what we are really going to do here is not spying, but actually what every business has done since the beginning of marketing and advertising: It’s called Researching the Competition. We’re not after their trade secrets. We’re not after trademarked or patented or copyrighted information/products. I would never suggest doing any sort of the thing!

Think of it like this: You’re opening a hamburger stand. Wouldn’t you take a few minutes to walk into McDonald’s and check out their menu? I’d hope so! I’m not saying you should copy their menu or start selling your own version of the Big Mac two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. No way. But you should at least see what they are doing and then determine what you are going to do differently that will make you stand out from them. This is called your unique selling proposition…Your brand position…

So don’t worry – I am using the word “spying” quite loosely here!

What I am going to show you however are some interesting ways to gather publicly available information about your competition and how you can effectively use this in your marketing strategy.

Before you launch any type of product or business, it’s very important to do your due diligence in market research and marketing. Whether you’re looking for ideas for product line development or want to understand how these sellers got so popular, the things you can learn quickly are pretty interesting!

The Top Sellers on Etsy…are all selling the same things?

Today I researched the top sellers on Etsy only to find the top 10 shops on Etsy were all pretty much basically selling the same things: charms, beads, pendants, and that sort of thing.

Weird. Why are they all selling the same thing?

Here’s the questions I ask myself right away:

  • What are these Etsy Top Sellers selling? Beads, Charms & Pendants
  • Do they have a website? Most do not.
  • What social media accounts do they use? Facebook & Pinterest.
  • How many products are listed in their shop? Over 10,000.
  • Are these products unique? What is special about them? I am not really sure, most of them look like the same things available at Fire Mountain Gems and other wholesale bead/jewelry suppliers.
  • How many people each month search for their product? According to my keyword research tool – over 50,000 people are searching for charms to purchase.

My Opinionated Conclusions:

#1. Sheer Volume of products listed is a huge factor: These types of shops buy stuff at wholesale and sell at a profit, giving them a huge amount of inventory. Reselling non-handmade items is a touchy controversial subject amongst Etsy sellers, so I won’t open that can of worms here. However, the takeaway from this is that if you are handcrafting a one-of-a-kind unique product, you are not going to be able to realistically make 10,000 items to list in your shop. Therefore, because they have larger volume, they will certainly show up a whole lot more all over the place online.

#2. There is a HUGE demand for their product. 50,000+ searches a month on Google’s Keyword Tool shows people are very much interested in buying these things. Compared to say the 1,900 searches for “knitted baby blankets” – you can see the difference in demand and therefore a difference in the amount of sales volume.

What You Can Learn From the Etsy Top Sellers

#1: Sales volume does not necessarily mean huge profits.

Most of the sales for these sellers due to the nature of their products are about $1-$5 a piece. Contrast this to a seller who offers products priced at a few hundred dollars making 10 sales a day, and you’ll find both stores very well could be producing the same amount of revenue.

#2: Don’t Do What Everyone Else is Doing:

There are tons of shops on Etsy doing basically the same thing. I look at all their charms and see several vendors selling the exact same things. No one stands out to me, and I’m definitely not going to become a true fan or love the product, especially because this makes me believe I may be able to buy the product elsewhere at an even lower price since these sellers obviously are marking up the price. Basically, when you are a copy cat, you cheapen your product. It’s the laws of basic supply and demand: Too much supply = the less a product perceives to have value.

#3: There must be demand for a product:

So you are selling whatchamacallit gadgets you invented yourself? They are awesome, except no one knows what they are or that they need one. Do you research on the demand for a product. You can look up how many monthly searches a phrase or industry gets on free keyword tools like Google’s Keyword Planner. Unless your specific craft or product is getting over 20,000 searches a month and you have very few competitors, you will likely need to focus on small business branding and marketing to reach your target audience.


If you want your small handmade creative business to succeed, here’s my best advice: Don’t follow the crowd. Stop caring about the Etsy Top Sellers. You need to focus on YOU and YOUR BUSINESS! Carve a niche for yourself and understand there’s no one single factor that makes your business successful. Do your market research, understand your customer, build your brand, and focus on creating awesome things, because that’s what the real joy in a handmade business is all about!

What are your thoughts? Any questions about the tools I used in my market research? Share any comments you’d like below!

You may also like