Are you thinking about opening an Etsy shop to share your artwork or creative side hustle? I opened my home and paper goods shop, Shop Marley Sue, in May of 2020. I'm so grateful to have hit 100+ sales selling printable wall art, stickers, boho earrings and more! I'm still learning so much each day, but there are quite a few things I wish I knew BEFORE I opened my shop. I hope this blog post saves you some of your valued time and energy so you can open a successful Etsy shop and feel confident in the process.
1. You can get FREE listings!
Etsy charges a 20 cent fee for every item you list in your shop. This may not sound like much, but after you add 20, 40, 60 items in your shop it adds up! Plus, as a small business owner, I'm sure you're grateful to save every penny you can! (I know I am). I had no idea that I could get my first 40 listings for free and by the time I found this out I had already opened my shop. To get your 40 free listings, click this link and then create your shop. (I'll also get free listings if you open a shop through my link.)
2. Don't rely on Etsy ads.
In the first few months my shop was open, I tried using Etsy ads with a low daily budget of just a few dollars and for just a few days. I wasn't ready to fully invest in Etsy advertising so I kept the stakes low. I repeated this pattern a few times for different listings to see what would happen. I definitely gained more views and exposure, however Etsy ads never brought me any sales. Once I noticed that I wasn't getting any sales through this feature, I wrote it off. (Maybe with a higher budget or longer ad duration would have brought my shop more views and sales, but if you're just starting out I don't find this necessary). Try to increase your exposure on your own and network with others to create new sales without paying for them.
3. Download the Sell on Etsy App
This is a game changer when it comes to running an Etsy shop when you've got a full-time job or other responsibilities during the day. The Selling On Etsy App is super easy to use and you can manage so much right from your phone! Easily check your daily sales, monthly revenue, who has favorited a listing, and more! You can even create new listings on the App, upload photos and message your customers. I turn on the notifications for purchases so I can quickly send the customer a thank you message.
4. Add Video to Your Listings!
Etsy just launched a brand new feature where you can add a 5 to 15 second video to your listings. As with any social media algorithm, it is always a best practice to utilize every feature that is available to you. By adding short videos of your products to your listings, you are showing Etsy that you are paying attention and trying to improve your shop. Plus, videos can be helpful to prospective buyers when deciding whether or not to purchase your item. I haven't done this with all of my listings, but I try to add some simple videos when I can. Even better, when I have a video that I can repurpose such as an Instagram Reel I already published, I upload that!
5. Use Etsy Shipping Labels
Buy shipping labels from Etsy to save money on shipping costs. For example, it costs $3.80 to ship one of my small bubble mailers at the post office, but the same package only costs about $2.75 with Etsy shipping labels. That means you can save a dollar on every order you ship! This adds up and it's easier to print the labels and get your packages ready in the comfort of your own home. *Another feature is to request a USPS Pickup to have your orders picked up from home and you don't have to go to the post office. I haven't tried this yet, but I definitely will in the future!
6. Follow Etsy's Seller Tips
Follow @Etsy and @EtsySuccess on Instagram for tips and updates straight from the source! I highly recommend checking out Etsy Success. They do live listing critiques on IGTV and discuss the best ways to set up your own listings. Submit your own listings when they are taking submissions for listing critiques. Subscribe to Etsy emails to learn more about trends and what's selling. Take advantage of their learning courses if it fits in your budget. Read through the Etsy community questions to discover tips from other sellers.
7. Expect Upfront Costs
You'll probably spend more money in the first few months than you'll make. Don't worry, it makes sense! When starting a small business, you have to purchase all of your packaging materials and mailers to actually send out your orders to customers. You'll probably do some work for FREE and offer giveaways to get your name out there. Maybe you make a few mistakes or realize you want to take your business in a different direction based on feedback and sales. That means spending money on materials you may no longer need or use. It's okay if you are still figuring things out! Keep in mind that you'll have more upfront costs in the beginning of your Etsy shop journey in addition to the Etsy fees.
8. Utilize Pinterest to Promote Your Shop
Every little bit of promotion helps! Upload your product photos to Pinterest and fill out the Title, Description, and Link fields. Always add a link to your website, Etsy shop, or Instagram page so people can find out who you are and where to buy your stuff. My own work has not yet taken off on Pinterest, however you never know when a pin can go viral or reach a new audience so I still think it's worth it. *You can probably find some group boards to join for small business owners too where you can promote your work. If you do, let me know what you find!
More Helpful Tips for Running Your Small Biz:
Make sure your business name is available, find out more information here.
Announce your shop, share with friends and family, showcase your hard work! Word of mouth goes a long way to start the cycle and spread the word!
After a month or two, consider registering your business with your state and getting an EIN number. Etsy doesn't require you to have this completed in order to open a shop, however you may want to make your biz official once you start bringing in more sales. This way you're legally set up and you'll file your business income with your yearly taxes. It cost me $70 to register my shop in Pennsylvania.
Connect with other creators and engage with their content. I love connecting with other small business owners and hyping them up. Remember, creatives grow together!
Offer giveaways to bring new eyes to your products and page! Everyone loves free stuff and you will gain some new followers this way, especially if you do group giveaways with other shops.
Use an Instagram planner app, like Preview, to plan and schedule your content. This App saves me so much time! Take advantage of the hashtag groups option to rotate between different hashtags and simply copy and paste them to your post!
Don't expect to make a bunch of sales or a lot of money right away. It takes time. You'll have more expenses in the first months of opening your shop because you'll need to purchase packaging and shipping materials, organizers, office supplies and other necessities for running a small business.
Find the cheapest shipping options. Here are the USPS flat rate shipping rates. When shipping anything larger than an envelope, I use Etsy shipping labels. These labels are less expensive than those at the post office. Print them at home on regular paper and use packing tape or invest in label paper/a label printer.
Try new things. Experiment with new products, different color schemes, and branch out to see what sells. Offer sales. Adjust your prices. Research other shops selling similar products and scope out the competition.
Don't rely on custom orders. Make sure you have some products that are ready to ship! Holiday shopping is upon us and some people wait until the last minute so they won't have time for a custom order. Examples of what you can do is always helpful to new buyers.
Lastly, don't compare yourself to others or get discouraged by another's success. Your time will come and your hard work will pay off. Remember that everyone's journey is unique. Keep going! You got this. :)
If you have any questions at all related to Etsy, opening a shop, how to run a small biz, or anything of that nature please comment below or send me a direct message on Instagram @shopmarleysue. I am more than happy to help!