3 Steps to Be Successful on Etsy

by myklist

My husband and I launched a new print-on-demand art shop on Shopify in 2019, and started selling on Etsy in the summer of 2020.

This new business now makes combined sales of over $100,000 per month.

With more than 50% of those sales coming from Etsy.

If you want to know how we did it keep reading because I’m going to share with you the 3 steps to Etsy success.

Hi, my name is Mei Pak and I helped makers, artists and designers make a living from selling their handmade products online.

The Importance of Diversification

If you’ve been following my posts for a while, you know that one of my philosophies is to not put all your eggs in one basket, namely the Etsy basket.

In fact, one of my top YouTube videos is why you should get off of Etsy.

I believe that if you want to make a living selling your handmade products online, you should always start on your own website, which is what we did.

Once your own website is established and you’re making regular sales with that, then it’s a good time to start branching out and diversifying to sell on Marketplace sites like Etsy and Amazon.

I’m not saying, never sell on Etsy.

But what I am saying is, sell on Etsy after you’ve already established your own home base on your own site.

Etsy is great at bringing you a new stream of income, but it’s not the most reliable.

Now that I’ve mentioned that disclaimer, I made this post for those of you who are ready to branch out and diversify into Etsy.

Or maybe you’re a hobby seller and you don’t really care if you make sales or not.

#1. The Etsy Algorithm

The first step to Etsy success is understanding the Etsy algorithm and how you can rank high in Etsy search results.

It’s actually quite simple to do and understand if you simply put yourself in Etsy’s shoes.

Etsy only makes money when you’ve made a sale.

They will prioritize showing product listings that make them money.

For example, engagement is a large factor in Etsy’s decision on how high to rank your Etsy listing.

Engagement

Engagement is when people see your product photo in a search and click on it.

Once they’ve clicked on it:

  • Are people engaged enough and interested that they want to click on all of your product photos to get a closer look at your product?
  • Are people clicking on the description tab to read more about it?
  • Are they adding your item to their cart?

All of these are engagement points that Etsy can track.

The more engaged customers are with your product listings, the more that sends signals to Etsy that you have a good product.

Etsy will naturally want to boost your listings because when you make a sale, then Etsy makes money too.

Sales

Another component of the search algorithm is sales.

Just like engagement, when people buy your products, that sends signals to Etsy that people love your products and it converts into sales well.

If you have a lot of people clicking on your product listings, which means you have engagement, but no one is buying, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

That sends the signal to Etsy that people aren’t interested enough to buy your products.

So Etsy will rank your products lower in the search.

Let’s translate all of that into practical action steps.

You need both engagement and sales conversions to rank highly in Etsy search.

That means you need to make sure that you have:

  • A good product that people want to buy
  • Good photos
  • Well written product descriptions
  • Accessible price point

These are the foundations of any business regardless of where you sell.

It behooves you to have more product photos than less, to give people something to engage with. But from a sales perspective, you also want to give people a good idea of what they’re going to get.

So show good photos of your products from all angles. Have photos of your products on models if it makes sense, and even have photos of your product packaging.

You don’t want to give your customers any reason to doubt or question your products because once they do they’re not going to buy.

Product Descriptions

For your product descriptions, take the time to talk about the features and the benefits.

You’ll need to address the measurements of the product, the materials you used to make it, color, weight, anything you can say to describe the product.

Then you also want to talk about how your product is awesome and what it can do for the customer.

Often times, this will come in the form of how your products make people feel.

  • Will it make them smile?
  • Will your product alleviate stress or help someone stay more organized?

Come from a place of emotions and you will do well here.

I have a video that talks about how to write product descriptions that you can check out here if you need more help on that.

If you’re like me and you just struggled writing product descriptions, check out Fiverr for hiring freelancers to help you write them for very affordable prices.

When it comes to sales, I hate to say it, but on a site like Etsy, your price is what will help tremendously here.

The more affordable your product is, the more appealing it is to the customer.

I know it’s not sustainable to charge low prices forever, but I do think that in the beginning when you’re just starting out on Etsy, that it is advantageous to start with a lower price point first.

Once you get momentum and you’re getting more consistent sales on Etsy, then you can start increasing your prices.

#2. Product Photo

The second step to Etsy success, which ties into understanding the Etsy algorithm, is having a standout primary photo.

This ties back to what I just talked about with having engaging product listings.

This is so important that I want this to be a standalone step, especially because this is something a lot of people don’t do.

How you get found on Etsy is based on keywords that you put on your listing.

I’m not going to talk about how to do keyword research here because there are a gazillion other resources on how to do that.

Let’s assume that you are starting to show up for the keywords that you are targeting, but maybe you’re not on the first page yet, which is everyone’s goal.

An easy hack for quickly boosting your Etsy search rankings is by designing your primary photo in such a way that it is the first thing people want to look at when they’re presented with a search page filled with products.

Here’s an exercise you can do.

Open a new incognito browser, it should be incognito so that Etsy isn’t showing you biased search results based on your previous activity on Etsy.

Then in the search bar type in your keywords and press enter.

Now, you’re going to be presented with about 65 product listings.

I want you to squint your eyes and ask yourself which photo stands out to you.

It’s usually going to be the product photo that has colors in it that the other product listings don’t have.

Think about how you can incorporate some of the more rare colors into your primary image, and in the photoshoot itself.

I’m not telling you you have to use a different colored background, but you can apply graphic design into the image using something like Canva or Photoshop to help it stand out.

This will help you stand out, grab attention, and get people clicking on your products, which is all good for the Etsy algorithm because now your product listings are engaging.

This can be such a small thing to add to your listings that can make a big difference and you can do this in 10 minutes.

#3. Etsy Ads

The third step to Etsy success is to take advantage of Etsy ads.

If your Etsy listings have a strong foundation, which is everything we just talked about (photos, product descriptions, and prices) then you might be ready to take on Etsy ads.

It takes time for you to do well with Etsy organically, but Etsy ads can really help fast track your success.

For example, you might want to rank for a certain keyword, but maybe you’re only showing up on page 20 of search results.

How are people ever going to find you and engage with your product listing if you’re on page 20 and you know most people aren’t going to get past the first few pages?

One answer to that is you can drive your own traffic to your Etsy listings.

When people buy them you are getting that signal boost to Etsy that you have sales conversions and Etsy will start ranking you higher.

However, I don’t recommend this because any traffic you are bringing yourself should be brought to your own website and not to Etsy.

If you want to know why go watch my Etsy video here.

Instead, you can start using Etsy ads to get your listings showing up higher in search for your targeted keywords.

When you’ve done step #1 and step #2, then it’s so much easier for those sales to happen.

What we found is the more sales we were getting, even if they were from Etsy ads, the better we started doing organically.

Etsy ads have been very profitable for us, but even if they aren’t super profitable for you, I still think you should consider doing them if only to accelerate your organic sales.


It has been a very effective way of growing our Etsy shop to 1,500 sales from scratch in just a few months, as of this post.

If you have your own Etsy tips to share or have any questions please leave a comment below.

Don’t forget to also check out my YouTube channel for more tips and handmade business secrets.

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