How to Start an Etsy Shop

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If you have a handmade business but don’t have an online presence yet, then Etsy may be for you! Etsy is one of the largest online marketplaces, and probably the largest for handmade goods. But, it’s not just a matter of setting it up and hoping it succeeds. There are other things that you should do and, if you do them right, you can possibly find great success. In this post, I will describe how to start an Etsy shop with step by step directions.

How to Start an Etsy Shop

I’ve had my Etsy shop for a little over 5 years, and I’m coming up on 50,000 sales. It took a lot of trial and error, and testing new techniques and theories, to get things right. But it paid off. If you make an effort with your shop and follow the same basic steps and guidelines, you should find some success too!

What you’ll sell

I’m going to assume that you’ve already decided what you’re going to sell on Etsy. If you don’t know that part yet or are undecided, then take some time to do some soul searching and a little research before setting up your shop

If at all possible, try not to choose a category that is overly saturated already, such as jewelry. Unless, of course, jewelry is your passion. I’m not saying that you can’t find success in a saturated category because you probably could. It would just take a little more work.

Whatever you do, though, be sure to choose something that you truly love because you’ll most likely be living and breathing it as long as you have your shop!

Your shop name

Once you know what you’re going to sell, you have to come up with a shop name.

The best thing that you can do for your shop name is to include a keyword for your niche, or what you’ll be selling. This will help with your SEO (search engine optimization) greatly. You might think that it would be fun to choose a name that has some sort of special meaning to you, such as the nicknames of your children, but you don’t really want to do that. I get it–I’m sentimental too. But for the good of your business, choose a name that matches what you sell.

Open your account

It’s very possible that you have already gone through the steps of opening up an Etsy account because you may have one for purchasing things. You could use that account if you wanted to. If it had a previous shop, and you want to change the name, you can do that.

Navigate to Shop Settings>Info & Appearances.

The very top line is for your shop name, and there will be a link to “change” it.

You are allowed to change your shop name, where it’s instantly changed, one time. If you want to change it again after that, you’ll have to fill out the form and Etsy will review it.

If you don’t have an Etsy account yet, go ahead and go through the process of setting one up. It’s fairly self-explanatory and they walk you through it nicely.

You’ll only be able to “open” your actual shop once you have something to list. Your shop opening happens when that first listing is made.

Design your shop

There are a few places that you can add some personality to your shop.

Cover Photo

This is the large image that shows at the very top of your shop. You can use it to display your shop name and logo, some of your products, or marketing material. It’s a large piece of real estate in your shop, so use it wisely. Etsy doesn’t like a lot of text in that space so keep that to a minimum. The ideal size is 3360 pixels x 840 pixels.

Also, since it’s a large space, you’ll want to use only your best photos and images.

It’s also fun to change this one out for certain occasions or holidays. Have a new one for each season, major holiday, or even an event or sale happening in your shop.

Shop Icon

This will show at the top of your shop page and is pretty prominent. You want this to be a picture/image that represents your shop well. One of your products, a logo, or something of that nature.

Profile Photo

This is the chance to include a photo of yourself in your shop. It lets your customers know who you are and gives a sense of connection to the person they would be doing business with.

This displays on the right-hand side of your shop page, underneath the Cover Photo.

Important stuff about you and your shop

There are several places in your shop that allow you to include information for your customers about who you are, what your policies are, and other general, but important, information.

Don’t leave these blank! They’re important for informing your shoppers, making a connection with them, and making your shop complete.

About Page

This part is one of the most important parts of your shop, and you want to use it to its fullest.

The About page is a place where you can tell your story about your shop, what you do, about yourself, and your journey. You’d probably be surprised at how many people take the time to read these pages, before making a purchase, just because they like to know a little about the shop owner.

And don’t just fill it out half-heartedly. Put some real thought and time into it, so that it really grabs the attention of a potential customer. Tell your story and help them understand why they should buy from your shop.

I’m not sure if Etsy admits this, but it’s widely rumored that having your About page completed helps your items show up better in Etsy search. That reason alone, whether it’s true or not, is a good reason to fill it out!

Shop Title & Announcements

These spots are also a great place to tell people about your shop, but they are a little more “in your face” because they’re right there on the front page of your shop. A customer doesn’t have to click through to another page to see it.

The Shop Title displays right underneath your Shop Name, and it’s a fantastic place to insert some important keywords for SEO! It’s only one line long, so make good use of it by briefly describing what your shop sells.

Your Shop Announcement is another great place to get those keywords and a good description in. You can use it to describe more of what you sell, or as a place to let customers know about new products, special events, sales, or specials in your shop.

Create your shop sections

Shop sections act as “categories” for your items, and they can be very important for helping your customers find what they’re looking for, and for SEO.

Etsy allows you to have 15 shop sections, so you can really be specific about what your items are. This is what will make it easy for your customers to navigate through your products.

Be sure to include keywords in your shop sections, too. Don’t give your sections cute, quirky names. Instead, state exactly what the items are.

Listing your first item

Ready?! This is the exciting part!

First, I should tell you that the exact listing process, in regards to specific steps, does change from time to time on Etsy. However, it’s never difficult! They make everything very clear and it’s only a matter of choosing from drop-down menus and filling in your item specifics.

As of the writing of this post, here is how it works:

Add images

Right off the bat, Etsy asks that you add images for your item. They like them to be 1000 pixels wide, but anything over 570 pixels will work.

JPG, PNG, or GIF files are all acceptable.

If there’s one other thing that I can suggest for making your shop successful, it’s MAKING YOUR IMAGES GREAT!

Take the time to get good pictures, edit them properly, and make them represent your item in the best way possible. The more you can add, the better.

Title

The title of your item is possibly the single most important aspect of your listing. This is where you will describe your item, and optimize it for Etsy search and Google search. Very important!

You get 140 characters to describe your item, and I would suggest using all of them.

Put your most important keywords at the beginning, and fill the rest with more keywords and keyword phrases. I like to use a separator of some sort, like a dash, pipe, or comma, in between the keyword phrases. This makes it easier for your customers to read.

Use descriptive words that clearly explain what the item is, and words and phrases that your customers use to search.

General information about the item

These are drop-down menus for things like who made it and when.

Category

This is where you’ll choose the Etsy categories to put your items into. You’ll begin with one main one, but then you’ll have the option to drill down and continue to choose more specific sub-categories. The more detailed you get, the easier your item will be to find.

Next, you’ll choose if you want your items to automatically renew, or be renewed manually by you.

Description

The item description is, again, one of THE most important aspects of your listing, along with the title.

Describe your item as completely and in as much detail as possible. Answer any question that you think a potential customer may have about your item so that there are fewer obstacles to the point of purchase.

Also make sure that you include your main keywords, and keyword phrases, near the beginning of the description. This helps with all searches, including Etsy and Google, and is a huge factor for good SEO.

I like to add a little about my shop policies here too. Shipping, return, and other useful info is also logical for the description. Tell them what they need to know, even though there are other places in your shop where they can find that information.

Section

Choose the section of your shop where the item can be found.

Tags & materials

The tags for your items are ANOTHER place to connect them to important keywords and keyword phrases. Ideally, you’d like your tags to match your title as far as the keywords go.

Think of words and phrases that your customers might use to search for your item, and add them to the tags. Etsy allows 13 tags, and you’ll want to use every single one.

The materials are the things that are used to make your item, assuming that it is a physical item. For example, if you’re selling a hand-knit scarf, you could include materials like yarn, wool, alpaca, acrylic (or whatever fiber your yarn happens to be made from).

It’s really just another place to add those keywords that people may search for and help your item get found. Use these if they apply!

Price, quantity, SKU

These are self-explanatory. The SKU is something new that Etsy just added to help you keep your items organized.

Variations

These are more specifics about your item that your customers can choose when purchasing. They vary depending on the category but include things like size, color, etc.

Shipping

This is where you’ll fill in all of your shipping information and options. There are a lot of options here, but it allows you to be very detailed with where you’ll ship, how much it will cost, and can even calculate/estimate shipping charges based on weight and size.

That’s it then! Review what you’ve added to your listing and hit the publish button. You’ll officially be an Etsy shop owner!

Number of listings

Filling your shop is something that can take time, but it’s also something that you should make a priority.

Ideally, when a potential customer does find your item, you want them to click through to your shop. Once they’re there, it’s best if they have other things to look at too! A lot of people will purchase multiple items from a shop at once, especially if there are shipping discounts for multiple items.

Another reason to add a nice selection of items to your shop is that it will help you get found in Etsy search much easier too. The more things in your shop, the better chance you have of being found when someone searches for those items.

Add your shop policies

Making rules and policies for your shop is extremely important. They help your customers understand the terms of their purchase, and what they can expect.

They also help you because, once you make your policies, you’ll know how to handle certain situations that may arise once or multiple times.

Policies should address things like returns, refunds, how custom orders will be handled (if you choose to offer them), and anything else that you think could potentially come up. Try to think of as many situations that you can so that you can come up with your rules for them before it happens.

Frequently asked questions

This option for your shop gives you the opportunity to answer any questions that a customer may have before they even ask. Think about what the most commonly asked questions may be for your items, and address those questions in the FAQ section of your shop.

There are rumors about this too, implying that Etsy may “favor” shops who fill this out. In my opinion, it’s worth the time and effort.

What’s next?

So now you’re on your way! Getting your shop opened and set up, and getting those first few listings up, is a huge step.

Work on inventory

Your next step is to list more things and fill your shop up. Remember, the more items you have, the better chances you’ll have of getting them found on Etsy. Take your time and make quality items, but get them listed in your shop as soon as they’re ready.

Start marketing

If you don’t have at least one social media account for your shop yet, do that right away. I suggest starting with Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook. To me, those are the most logical social media venues for handmade shops.

Once you have one of those (or some), start promoting and sharing your products! Post pictures and links to your shop, and ask people to share. Do this consistently so people don’t forget. Before you know it, you’ll begin getting traffic to your listings and will begin making sales!

From there, it’s just a matter of making more things, keeping your shop up to date, and doing more promoting.

Be sure to check back in with my blog because I’ll be adding more posts about handmade businesses and running a successful Etsy shop. I’ll talk about things like the best SEO techniques for getting your shop noticed and found, how to find the most useful keywords and tags, taking photos of your products, and marketing to your customers.

If you’d like to get updates on my new posts, subscribe to my email newsletter!

Best,
Tammy

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