Etsy is one of the most popular platforms for buying and selling handmade. Its low prices and simple registration form make it easy to sign up. But is it easy to sell on Etsy?
Is Etsy Easy to Sell On?
Etsy is easy to set up a shop and list your products; it’s not as easy to make sales. There are over 5 million sellers on Etsy (source) and approximately 60 million products (source). This volume makes it harder to get a small piece of the Etsy buyer pie.
Many people close their Etsy shop in their first year. I believe they go into the endeavor thinking it will be easy; they can simply list their crafts and make sales.
Imagine Etsy was a physical store housing 60 million products. You drop off your handmade product at Etsy’s store and they place it on a shelf.
How long do you think it would take for a shopper to find your item among the 60 million?
A long time.
But there are strategies to make your product stand out, ways you can direct people to your product, and best practices that will encourage Etsy to place your products in a better location.
The problem is many Etsy sellers aren’t willing to put in the effort required to move their product up the Etsy rankings.
If you start an Etsy shop knowing it will require more work than listing a bunch of items, it will better equip you to deal with the adversity.
Here are steps you can take to make your Etsy journey easier.
Steps to Make Selling on Etsy Easy
Etsy sellers who have an easy time making sales follow three key steps. Produce an in-demand product that thousands of other sellers aren’t offering, create a cohesive and professional-looking shop, and develop a marketing strategy.
Let’s take a closer look at each critical step.
Step 1 – Target a different customer
Most Etsy sellers are going after the same customer within a category.
For example, most Etsy shops selling jewelry are targeting women in their 30’s. That’s similar to opening a burger restaurant and trying to target the same customers as McDonald’s; you’re never going to win. It’s too competitive and too hard to stand out.
The better approach for a burger restaurant would be to target the customers McDonald’s doesn’t serve. Such as a burger joint for vegetarians, or offering Keto burgers, or gluten-free burgers.
For an Etsy shop selling jewelry, it may be targeting new moms and making birthstone jewelry for moms. Or, targeting travelers with travel-themed charm jewelry. Or, targeting people who practice spiritual healing, or witchcraft, or who have an interest in astrology, etc.
As an Etsy seller, you can make it much easier on yourself by targeting the right customer.
Many handmade business owners get this process backward. They make a product and then try to find a customer/market to buy it.
Consumers aren’t going to conform to what you want to sell them. They already know what they want. If you want them to buy, you have to provide what they want.
So instead, find a profitable target market and then create a product for them. (“Women in their 30’s”
Research the existing target markets, learn what they want and where they’re currently getting it, and then determine how to offer something better or different.
How to Find a Goldmine of Customers will help you with that process.
Step 2 – Have a marketing strategy
Creating products, listing them online, and calling it a day is the equivalent of setting them on a shelf in a store with *60 million products and walking away (*if you missed it earlier, 60 million is the approximate number of items listed on Etsy).
Marketing is the step between creating a product and selling it. And it’s one too many business owners skip.
You can’t make a sale without marketing.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the most important marketing strategy on Etsy. But there are many others.
SEO is the art of knowing what your target market is typing into Etsy’s search bar (or even Google), using those words in your listing/shop, and making your listing/shop the most appealing to your target market.
A search engine takes the keywords a user types and matches them with the best options on the platform that match those keywords.
(This is where targeting a different customer helps. If someone types “women’s jewelry” into Etsy’s search bar, there are over 8 million results. If they type “astrology jewelry” there are less than 50,000 results; much easier to compete with.)
You have to keep in mind, there are typically thousands of options for Etsy to match to a search. So Etsy’s search engine must use other factors than keywords.
Etsy’s search engine algorithm changes all the time. Not only to improve shopper experience and help them find exactly what they’re looking for quickly. But also to prevent sellers from cheating the system.
However, to better understand search engine optimization (SEO), imagine you’re a personal shopper for someone who wants a rose quartz necklace.
You don’t want to bring your client thousands of choices. You’ve been hired to narrow things down for them.
How would you sort the results and choose the best rose quartz necklaces to present?
You might look at:
- a shop’s rating
- how many products a shop has sold
- how many years a shop has been in business
- how much effort the owner has put into shop elements (e.g. is their About section blank?)
- how professional a shop’s photos are
You’re going to present the rose quartz necklaces that look the best in photos, that are bestsellers, that are being sold by a reputable shop with high customer ratings, etc.
Etsy’s SEO algorithm works similarly. Learn more about Etsy SEO here.
It will take time for you to learn and implement, and then for your shop to become known to Etsy’s SEO algorithm, and trusted by it.
But there are many other ways to market your Etsy shop while you wait for your SEO to kick in.
Business owners are lucky if they find three effective marketing channels. Most marketing efforts won’t work, but you’ve got to try a variety of methods to see what does.
The key is, you must put effort into marketing, no matter how difficult it is.
When you work on your marketing, selling becomes much easier.
Step 3 – Create a cohesive shop
Another big mistake is making something just because you can make it, and listing it in your Etsy shop.
An Etsy shop should not be a mishmash of every type of craft a seller feels like making.
In my free email challenge (Beat Last Year’s Sales), I share a story about how one Etsy seller lost me as a customer.
I was ready to buy their pillow but first, went to their shop to check out the other items they were selling.
Once in their shop, I questioned the pillow I was about to buy because nothing else they were selling looked similar.
They didn’t have any other home decor products listed, let alone other pillows. No two items had the same style, and nothing was photographed as nicely as their pillow.
It made me question if the seller actually made the pillow I was interested in or if they were reselling it and using a stock photo. I was then worried about the quality of the pillow and had realized; this seller doesn’t understand my home decor style after all.
I left their shop without buying.
The seller’s products and shop lacked cohesion. So even though they had done a good job of SEO and getting me to see their product/shop, they lost me at the finish line.
Handmade business owners have enough things to master, such as product photography, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, taxes, etc. Learning how to create a wide variety of products successfully takes time away from essential tasks.
Focus on making a limited number of products for the same target market.
For example, let’s say you make jewelry. Would the woman who wears rhinestone jewelry also own plastic beaded jewelry? Not likely.
If she finds a beautiful rhinestone necklace in your shop, she wants to be able to buy the matching bracelet and earrings.
If you’re focused on creating as much variety as possible, not only will the plastic pieces in your shop make that shopper question the quality and authenticity of the rhinestone pieces, it also makes it hard for her to spend more money with you.
Give her a rhinestone set and different varieties of rhinestone pieces so she’ll have a hard time deciding what not to buy.
Once you’ve determined your target market, make every single element of your shop catered to them.
The props in your photos and how you edit them, the products you offer, and the keywords you use to describe them. It should all appeal to your specific target market and create a cohesive experience for them.
Selling on Etsy can be as easy as 1-2-3 if you know the proper steps to take.
Be sure to create a shop that buyers feel safe buying from by taking into account what they’re looking for.
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!