Ten top tips for new sellers on Etsy

By Laura Wilson at Wafflemama

Setting up shop on Etsy is super exciting, but it’s also a bit baffling. There’s a LOT to take in, so many sections, fees and confusing boxes to fill in, it’s hard to know where to start. I’ve only had around 200 sales on Etsy so far, but most of those have been in the past few months, so I thought I’d share some tips that helped, and that I wish I had known from the start! You can see my shop by clicking here.

Do your research first

Before even starting to list, check out similar products on Etsy in your niche and see what they are doing. You don’t need to copy, but you can get a good idea of pricing, photography tips and what kind of things are actually selling. 

List variations separately to boost listings

Apparently, the more listings you have the better your sales will be, so with that in mind, instead of listing different colour options for example all in one listing, add the colours as separate sales listings so that you’ll appear in more searches. Also keep your listing simple, stick to vital info and make any variations or personalisation requests super clear.

Get the price right

Pricing really is a bitch and it can be so hard to get it right. Be sure to take into consideration how much your fees will be, what your posting packaging and production costs are and don’t sell yourself short. This is very often something of a learning curve for sellers, but if you can get it right from the off it does make things easier further down the line. You can also add coupons, abandoned basket discounts and create individual voucher codes for customers on the site too.

Have clear sections

Although this isn’t a must, I do love it when Etsy shops have nice clear sections. When it comes to jewellery for example, I likely won’t want to scroll through 200 listings when all I want is a ring. If I can go straight to a ring section I’m far more likely to not click away and to purchase something instead. With art prints like mine it can be harder as some prints may fall into more than one category, but do the best you can and these can always edit these along the way.

Work on your SEO

When customers search on Etsy, they are shown what Etsy feels they want to see most. Priorities will be given for items similar to ones they have purchased before, items from the same seller they used previously and other things their algorithms deem useful and more likely to yield a sale. This is all about boosting your item in searches again, first clearly describe the product at the start of the listing title, then make sure to add search terms in title as well as tags (more below). Think in the mind of a buyer and what they will look for to ensure your listings show up where you want them to, i.e in front of your target audience. Another thing you can do is to work some of the Etsy rules in your favour, such as offering free shipping to the U.S which help boost sales, and also include shipping in the price so shipping is free, as this is said to be favourable and likely to increase your reach. 

Use available tags

The tags are there to be used and as you only get 13 in total, use them wisely. Think in search terms as opposed to single words where possible, for example if you make bespoke dog collars, your tags could be ‘gifts for dogs’ or ‘bespoke leather dog collars’ as opposed to just dog and collar. Think what people will type in when they want to find that product and the more bang on your tags are, the more you’ll show up in searches.

Be careful link sharing

Algorithms can be helpful but also often a pain too. So the more people click on your link and don’t buy, the more the algorithms will think that people won’t buy from you. Etsy want to make their profit, so it makes sense for them to prioritise search results to show the buyers things they are more likely to buy. It’s all complicated and sounds a bit unfair, but once you get your head around it it is kind of logical, from their business point of view anyway. Sharing in an ad on your socials is great, having links in your profiles, great, but things like sharing a link to a huge crafting Facebook group, not so much. Many of those clicks will be to check you out but not buy, these are empty clicks that actually push you down the ranks, so try to only share when it’s to the audience that have chosen to follow you or are more likely to buy something.

Ace your packaging

Packaging doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy and people certainly don’t want to pay a premium for something that will probably be ripped open, but it does need to be right. If your products will get damaged when wet then they need waterproof packaging, if they could break on route then they need to be protected. There are many options out there, with eco friendly paper bubble wrap as well as reusing boxes to make protective packaging. Kraft letterbox boxes seem to be the most popular, as these can be reused, recycled and sealed with washi tape and a logo sticker. Things like stickers with a bit of branding make a big difference and are pretty cheap from places like eBay or other Etsy sellers too. Lots of people choose to put things like sweets in as a gift and although this is cute, you’ll soon regret sending non vegan sweets to a vegan and will be called out for it. So if you do choose something like this, make sure it’s eco/vegan/postage friendly and not something that would harm a hungry dog if they get to the post first! I just choose to put a mini print in with a thank you on the back, or just a business card. Easier! I also back my prints with a card back, inside a cello bag and then inside a hard backed envelope. A3 prints get wrapped in kraft paper and put into a poster tube. Eco friendly packaging is highly favoured, so it’s worth finding ways to send that’s more sustainable.

Have up to date and legal terms & conditions

There are templates out there and lots of shops to inspire your wording, but it’s so important to have up to date and legal terms. I see lots of posts on craft groups where people refuse returns and refunds when legally, they can’t do this. Make sure you look into what rights the buyer has so that you are both covered with post issues, faulty items and return options. Make things clear so that you can revert back to them and keep them simple.

Strike the right balance

Etsy has a kind of lovely community feel, with small business owners and hand crafted goods, so we don’t need to be overly formal, but seeing messages from sellers with ‘Hi hun’ and really unprofessional wording is often too far the other way. It’s your business, it could grow big one day and it’s good to stay professional even if the customer is a royal pain or asking the impossible, though do what suits you and your brand best! Stick to your terms, learn from your mistakes and every now and then you may have to take one on the chin money wise, but it’s worth keeping customers happy and keeping those reviews positive where possible. If you receive a negative review, don’t reply straight away as this can then not be removed by Etsy, but if it’s very unreasonable or something like a post service issue caused the problem, then ask Etsy to review/remove it. If it’s just a bit of a negative but something you can learn from, thank them for their feedback and say how you will improve on this so that future buyers aren’t put off. There’s nothing worse than seeing a business arguing with a customer! We all get the odd drop in stars sometimes and it can be a really good way to learn and improve your business. Sometimes customers may just expect something beyond the realms of possibility, so don’t take it to heart if you get the odd tricky customer.

I hope this helps! Etsy is a great selling platform and really reasonable in terms of fees compared to others, so it’s well worth a try!

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