There are no guarantees that what you make will sell. But there are a few places I like to look for clues that an item is popular before spending money on materials and time on production.
It’s also important to have a good idea of what’s out there and if you can offer something better or different.
Use the techniques in this article to research a product idea.
Before you start using search engines, be sure to clear your cache (or use a browser you don’t normally use). When researching on Etsy, you can log out of your account.
If you don’t take these steps first, the results you see will be influenced by your past shopping behaviour (not reflective of the behaviour of a search engine’s users).
Clue #1 – Popular keywords
A keyword research tool is best (e.g. Marmalead, Moz, SEMrush) because it will share information such as search volume and keyword difficulty (i.e. how much competition you’ll have).
But if you don’t want to use a keyword research tool, there are free ways to conduct keyword research, which I’ll explain below. Although not as accurate or detailed, it can still provide some insight.
The purpose of this keyword research is to see if the type of product you’re planning to make appears in popular searches.
Step 1 – Use a search engine such as:
Step 2 – Type the general product you’re considering making into the search bar
For example, if I’m thinking about making farmhouse Christmas wreaths, I would type “Christmas wreaths” into a search bar.
I want to see if “farmhouse” is a popular term when it comes to Christmas wreaths, so I’ll search the general term (Christmas wreaths) first.
I could also go more general and search terms such as “Christmas decor” or “Christmas decorations”. If farmhouse style is popular among Christmas decor and decorations, it’s likely to be a popular wreath style too.
Step 3 – Look for your descriptive keyword in the following places:
A) Autofill suggestions
No matter which search bar you’re using (on Google, Etsy, or Pinterest), you’ll see autofill suggestions below the search bar as you type).
Check to see if your descriptive keyword appears in the autofill suggestions.
For example, if I’m searching “Christmas wreaths”, I would look for “farmhouse Christmas wreaths” to appear in the suggestions.
Because a search engine will only show a handful of suggestions, there’s a way to “cheat the system” and find more specific results.
Put your cursor at the beginning or end of a search term and start typing your descriptive word.
Only type the first letter and see if your descriptive word appears. If it doesn’t, try typing another letter or two.
I got different results when I started to type my descriptive word at the beginning of my general phrase versus at the end, so play around with where you start typing.
To see if “farmhouse” is a popular style when it comes to Christmas wreaths, I typed “fa” at the beginning and end of my Christmas wreath search.
The fact that “farmhouse” appears several times, as well as “farmers” and “farm”, tells me that a farmhouse style of wreath is popular and likely to sell well.
B) Google’s related searches
Hit enter after typing your general search term (e.g. Christmas wreath) and scroll down to find the “Related searches” section to see if your specific product/descriptive word (e.g. farmhouse Christmas wreath) appears there.
C) Etsy’s subcategories and filters
Check the categories and subcategories you can shop by in Etsy’s drop down menu. Seeing your product there tells you it’s commonly shopped for on Etsy.
For example, “stackable rings” are obviously having a moment right now as they appear as a subcategory under Etsy’s main shopping categories.
You’ll likely be researching a more specific product than what appears as a shopping category, so once you get to a shopping page, click on “All Filters” to see what type of filters are currently popular.
If you see the product feature you’ll be focusing on in the filters, it’s a good sign it’s a popular style/color/type of product.
For example, if I’m thinking of making Farmhouse style Christmas wreaths, I’ll follow the main categories to get to my shopping page: Home & Living -> Home Decor -> Holiday Wreaths
I could also type my general term (Christmas wreaths) into the search bar and hit enter.
Then I’ll click on “All Filters” to see what type of product features shoppers like to sort by.
Seeing “Country & farmhouse” as a filter tells me it’s a style of wreath Etsy shoppers commonly search for.
Once you enter your search term, look at the tabs along the top (not all searches will have them). It’s a good sign if you see your descriptive word there.
As you scroll through results, you’ll also come across a “Related searches” section. Look for your product’s keywords there.
If your product doesn’t appear in autofill suggestions or related searches, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not in demand. Try the other techniques to look for clues consumers are looking for the product you want to sell.
Clue #2 – Top Results
The second step I like to take is to analyze the top results for my search term.
Search engines want to best match users with what they’re looking for. They also have a LOT of user data to determine what the majority of people are specifically looking for.
For example, if thousands of people search “Christmas wreaths” each week, and the majority of those people click on a result for a farmhouse style Christmas wreath, that tells the search engine that farmhouse style Christmas wreaths are popular.
Even though I may not type “Farmhouse Christmas wreath” into the search bar, the search engine is going with the odds and betting that I’ll be interested in a farmhouse style wreath. So, more farmhouse style wreaths are going to show in the top spots.
What appears at the top of search results is often reflective of what people are specifically looking for.
Step 1 – Type your search term into a search engine
Start with the general term (e.g. Christmas wreaths) and then get more specific (e.g. Farmhouse Christmas wreath) to uncover more details (e.g. what color, size, shape of farmhouse wreath is popular).
Step 2 – Look for product features that appear multiple times in the TOP results
You will see a variety of results, however, what appears at the top of the results (e.g. first few spots, first page) is often what’s the most popular.
For example, I would type “Christmas wreath” into Etsy to see what style of wreath appears the most on the first page of search results. I want to see if there are several farmhouse style Christmas wreaths in the top results.
I would also try searching “Farmhouse Christmas wreath” on Etsy to see if there is a certain color, shape, size, material, etc. that’s popular when it comes to farmhouse wreaths.
When you enter your search term into Google, Etsy, or Pinterest, what type of style is most commonly shown on the first page of results, or at the top of results?
Seeing the style of product you’re planning to make (e.g. farmhouse Christmas wreaths) is a sign that it’s popular.
It’s also a good idea to pay attention to details outside of product features, such as:
- Price – what’s the average price point of the products in the top results?
- Photography style – do the top results show wreaths hanging on an exterior door? Are photos close up or taken from further back?
- Discounts – do the top results offer free shipping or a discount?
Clue #3 – Etsy sections, badges, carts & reviews
The badges Etsy adds to certain listings can give you clues for which products are more popular.
A) Most Loved section
Etsy currently has a “Most Loved” section that appears at the top of search results, when you use the search bar. This section indicates products that are popular on Etsy at the moment.
B) Bestseller badge
Look to see what type of items have the “Bestseller” badge in your search results.
A trick to see more bestseller items in your results is to use the “All Filters” section and check off “Star Seller” and click the “Apply” button.
Once you get to the results, click on the URL and delete “star” in “star_seller” and replace with “best”, so that section of the URL reads “best_seller”. Hit enter to refresh the page results.
It doesn’t work perfectly, but it does pull more listings with “Bestseller”, “Etsy’s Pick”, and “Popular Now” badges.
A great sign that consumers are loving a particular product or style of product is if several people have the item in their cart.
Type the specific product you’re planning to make into Etsy’s search bar.
Find products that are as close to what you’re planning to make as possible and click on the listings.
Look for “In X carts” text above the price on the right side of the product listing page.
You can get an overview of the types of products shoppers are interested by heading to a seller’s shop page and looking for “X people have this in their cart” text below a listing’s price.
I might look for an Etsy shop that sells a wide variety of Christmas wreaths and see if there are certain styles that people have in their carts. It would be a good sign if the seller offered farmhouse style Christmas wreaths and several people had those items in their cart.
If you’re able to find a shop that’s selling similar items to what you’re planning to sell you can get a general idea of how popular their products are.
Go to a shop page and use the number of years the seller has been on Etsy and the number of sales to determine approximately how many sales they make in a year (number of sales divided by number of years on Etsy).
This isn’t an exact science, but it can give you a general idea of how popular their products are.
It’s important to use shops that consist mainly of the specific type of item you’re thinking of selling.
For example, I would try to find an Etsy shop full of farmhouse style Christmas wreaths.
If I analyze a shop that only has a few farmhouse Christmas wreaths and the majority of their listings are for other home decor items, it’s harder to determine if their sales are due to their farmhouse Christmas wreaths or unrelated items.
You can look at the number of reviews a certain item has to get a rough idea of what type of items a shop sells the most of…
When on a product listing page (rather than a shop page), scroll down (just below the product photos) to find how many reviews there are for the product.
You’ll see how many reviews the shop has, compared to how many reviews the item has.
Number of reviews doesn’t directly reflect how many sales that item has, but it will give you a rough idea.
If the seller has 1000+ reviews, but there are only a few reviews for the item you’re looking at, it may be a sign that the item doesn’t sell as well as the other items in their shop.
A high number of reviews for an item suggests it may be a bestseller for the seller.
If you don’t see your keyword appear in autofill suggestions, related searches, filters, etc. it doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t sell.
And on the other hand, finding your keyword in searches doesn’t guarantee your product will sell.
Use these techniques to look for clues, but also use your discretion. You know your market and customers best.
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!