15 Etsy Seller Tips for Beginners

15 Etsy Seller Tips for Beginners

Are you new to selling on Etsy and looking for a little guidance? Or, maybe you’re already an established seller and you want to improve your Etsy shop? Either way, the following 15 tips will definitely be of some use to you and your shop.

I’ve been selling on Etsy since the early spring of 2014, so I’ve definitely learned a thing or two.  Since I opened up my shop I’ve gotten over 10,000 sales and I currently earn 6 figures a year on Etsy.  But, I didn’t achieve these stats overnight, trust me.  Growing your Etsy shop takes a ton of determination and skill.  You’ll learn your own lessons along the way, but you’ll get a jumpstart if you follow these 15 Etsy tips for beginners.

Don’t Sell Items That Contain Material Protected by Copyright

If I had to give only one tip to every new Etsy seller, this would be it. A lot of new sellers honestly don’t know that they can’t sell items that contain material protected by copyright. What do I mean about material protected by copyright? Disney characters, Hello Kitty, Chanel, Paw Patrol. Get my drift? Unfortunately you cannot sell items that contain any of these characters or brand logos.

Surprisingly enough, copyright infringement is the #1 mistake that Etsy sellers make.  Etsy does not take IP claims lightly. In fact, over 5,000 shops were permanently shut down between the years of 2014 and 2015 due to IP claims.  So if you’re serious about owning an Etsy shop be sure to avoid selling things that are protected by copyright and trademarks.

Research Shipping Costs First

Assuming that you’ve already got products in mind that you want to eventually sell, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with shipping costs before you list your items.

Typically, if your products weigh less than 4lbs then your cheaper option would be to ship through the USPS rather than FedEx or UPS.  If your products weigh less than 1lb then I would suggest shipping via USPS First Class (arrival in 1-3 business days). However, if you’re shipping products that are over 1lb then make sure you check out all of your shipping options. To my surprise it’s usually cheaper to ship via USPS Priority Mail (arrival in 1-3 business days) than USPS Ground Delivery.

Also consider factoring in the cost of shipping supplies into your shipping fees. If you ship items via USPS Priority Mail you can order free shipping supplies through USPS.

I personally ship all of my packages in a padded USPS envelope, which costs $6.50 for 1-3 day delivery. You can check the costs of shipping by using the Postage Price Calculator

Perfect Your Item Photography

When you sell on a platform such as Etsy, you’re competing with thousands of other sellers. In order to stand out from the crowd you must have excellent product photography. Photograph your items with a lot of natural lighting, use a model if necessary, and don’t photograph your items on the floor.

Related: 10 Product Photography Tips for Your Etsy Shop

Price Your Items Right

To my surprise, a lot of sellers on Etsy are not pricing their items correctly. Make sure that you’re pricing your items to include materials AND labor. After all, you do have to pay yourself a wage. You don’t like working for free, do you?

To learn more about pricing your items check out how to price your handmade items. I’ve even included a workbook that you can use for FREE!

Learn About SEO

If you want to earn some serious cash selling on Etsy, then you’re going to have to learn about SEO (search engine optimization). Sounds scary, right? Don’t worry, it’s not!  SEO is basically a strategy that involves placing the right keywords in the right areas of your listing to help your placement in search. The higher placement that you can get in search the better chance you will have getting a sale.

To learn a few tips about SEO check out my 10 Tips to Improve Your Etsy Shop SEO and Rank Higher in Etsy Search

Don’t List Everything at Once

If you’re just starting out on Etsy and you have a lot of items that you’re planning on listing right away – don’t. Why hold off? I think starting off with 10 to 20 listings is enough to get started. Selling on Etsy is definitely a learn-as-you-go experience which is why I don’t recommend going full force right away. You may want to adjust your listing descriptions, pricing, SEO, etc. after you’ve gotten your feet wet and it’s hard to edit each and every listing individually.

Add More Items

Once you become more comfortable selling things on Etsy then you should focus on adding more items to your shop. Become a product making factory. Remember, the more items that you have listed for sale the bigger chance you will have obtaining more sales.  Just remember to always produce items with quality and not quantity.

Think of Selling on Etsy Like It’s a Game

Growing up do you remember playing any of those tycoon games? Lemonade Tycoon? Rollercoaster Tycoon? I loved those games so much. One of my biggest Etsy tips for beginners is to treat your shop like it’s a tycoon game.  In other words, don’t start selling on Etsy with the expectation that you’re going to earn thousands of dollars a month. Instead, open up your shop and start selling with no expectations at all. That way you’ll succeed no matter what.

Be Patient

Another big tip for new sellers is to just be patient. You might not get your first sale until a month after you list your first item. It just takes a lot of patience. Meanwhile, you can take the time to learn more about selling on Etsy.

Discount Your Items at First

As stated above, obtaining your first sale can take days, weeks, or even months. One of the reasons why it may take a while until your first sale is because you have no reviews yet as a new seller.  To get over this slump, sell your items at a discounted price at first. Do a search on Etsy for items that are similar to yours and compare the prices. If possible, offer your items for cheaper. Do this until you gain a few decent reviews and then raise your prices back up.

Provide Excellent Customer Service

Once your orders start to roll in you should focus on providing excellent customer service.  Make it a priority to communicate with your buyers if necessary.  Sometimes buyers aren’t familiar with buying on Etsy so I directly message every customer to inform them when their package will ship out and how long the package will take to arrive.

Ship Orders on Time

When you receive an order on Etsy you’re given a specific date to ship by based on the processing time that you set when you initially created your listing. It’s extremely important to ship your order by that specific date for two reasons. For one, shipping your orders on time will keep your customers happy. You don’t want to receive negative feedback because you didn’t ship an order on time.

Another reason why it’s important to ship your orders on time is because Etsy does track your shipping rate. If you are constantly shipping orders late then your placement in search will be affected.  Etsy may “punish” you by having your items fall behind in search, which isn’t good if you want to achieve sales.

If you ever feel that you’re starting to fall behind on an order you should contact the customer directly and let them know what’s up. If they are okay with their order shipping late then update the scheduled shipping day immediately.

Join a Community

The most wonderful thing about social media, in my opinion, is that there are so many resourceful communities. Facebook groups are my absolute favorite. If you really need help or advice for your Etsy shop then I would suggest joining a Facebook group. My favorite Facebook group at the moment is The Joyful Entrepreneur.  

Work Hard

If you really want to become successful on Etsy then you have to work seriously hard. You’re not going to achieve success overnight. I started selling on Etsy in the spring of 2014 and it took almost 2 years for me to be able to quit my job to become a full time seller. I really, REALLY worked my butt off to get to where I am now. I worked full time, attended school and grew my Etsy shop all at the same time. There were nights that I would work until 1 or 2 in the morning. Serious dedication, yo.

Don’t Give Up

Last, but not least. My very last tip for Etsy beginners is don’t give up. I witness so many new sellers get so discouraged because they aren’t getting any sales. Seriously, don’t give up! If you feel as if you’re struggling with your shop then feel free to reach out on the Etsy forums or a Facebook group (OR leave a comment below!). You never really know what you can achieve if you shut down your shop. Just take it day by day and don’t have set expectations right away.

I really hope that these tips have helped you, whether you’re a new seller on Etsy or not. Is there anything that you struggle with as a new seller? Feel free to ask questions in the comments below!

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10 Comments

  1. I want to start my business but do you have to have a permit or license to sell on Etsy? Or do I have to make sure I just don’t sell anything that is copyrighted and/or trademarked?

    1. Hi Sasha! You don’t need to have a permit to sell on Etsy. Once you become an established business you may need a business permit for the county that you live in.

  2. Hello Christina!

    Thank you for taking time to put together a clear and concise post on this subject. I am just in the very beginning stages and post’s like these are very helpful. 🙂

    -K

  3. Q – Is it okay to copy previous (similar) listings and edit for new item. Or should you create a new listing for each/every new item (currently have over 70)
    Example – bucket style purse organizer insert – edit dimensions, color, prints, etc. + change tags accordingly.
    It saves so much time to copy/edit instead of starting from scratch.
    Thanks for all the great advice.

  4. Taxes for a sole proprietor/LLC scare me the most. Any words about that topic? I’m just thinking about starting an Etsy and want to know what I’m getting into! Thank you!

  5. If I use a prepaid padded envelope from the post office, my items are not heavy, can that envelope be shipped anywhere in the US at a flat rate of 6.50?

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