The true benefit of a marketplace model is that it offers immense visibility for your brand. While major marketplaces like Amazon and eBay top the visibility game, not all retailers may be immensely successful there.
For example, if you sell handmade products, vintage g, ods and decor items, you are looking to sell to a very specific audience segment. So, you need to be seen by people who appreciate and value the product enough to want to own it.
Etsy is an exclusive marketplace for those who like to build a business with their senses. Do you buy, curate and refurbish vintage objects? Are you good with your hands? Are you a designer, an illustrator, a figurine-maker, a potter, a painter, a writer? If so, selling on Etsy can help you turn your passion into a viable business.
What’s more, retailers who sell these products through their store will find that taking the products online through Etsy gives them greater visibility and helps them build a brand. It also opens up yet another channel for their customers to purchase from.
This article serves as a comprehensive checklist of things you need to know and have before you can begin selling on Etsy. You may notice that selling online is quite different from selling in-store but once you get the hang of it, the experience can be very rewarding.
Are Your Etsy-Ready?
Before you jump at the lucrative offer of making money with something you know how to do, you need to decide if Etsy really is for you.
Thankfully, as a platform, it is very straightforward to set up and use. All you need is a PayPal account to accept payments, good pictures and a small fee you pay upfront.
So, what questions should you be asking before setting up the Etsy shop?
Do I have time?
Selling on Etsy involves managing the inventory, shipping, and delivery all by yourself. Etsy is only ever a platform on which you receive orders. How you fulfill them is up to you.
Most patrons on Etsy are willing to wait for their custom-made product to be ready. That said, you should still aim to keep all local shipment deliveries to within a few weeks and international ones to within a month or so.
If you offer international shipping, you need a thorough understanding of the customs laws in each country and how your product’s price will change based on them.
If what you provide is a digital template, such as the soft copy of a customized wedding card, your timelines will be much shorter. As orders begin to come in, Etsy can well become your new full-time job.
Customers almost always message sellers for more details before buying anything, and not answering is a direct loss of business.
So the first question you need to answer is if that is indeed your vision. Unless it is, you will simply not have the time to juggle a day job and Etsy sales.
What should I sell?
There is no single answer to this question. Since Etsy is all about creativity, the logical first answer is to sell what you’re good at making and sourcing.
However, let’s dive a bit deeper into this aspect. Today, everything from a sock to a silver stick can be custom-made. It is well-known that jewelry is one of the top-selling categories on Etsy.
You can also take a look at CraftCount to get a summary of Etsy sellers who are performing well, the categories they operate in and the countries they sell from.
Another excellent way of understanding what sells is to look at trends around the same time period last year- occasions such as the festive season and specific seasons are places where you will likely find a wealth of information about current trends.
Also, don’t forget to take a look at Pinterest boards for your product category and see what is being repinned and DIYed the most. Inspiration is all over the internet!
Have I thought about logistics?
When you sell on Etsy, you have to fulfill all of the orders by yourself. When it comes to logistics, here’s what you need to think about:
- How will I fulfill my domestic and international orders? What timelines will I stick to?
- Who will my shipping partners be? Should I opt for expensive, yet dependable partners or is a slightly cheaper, but perhaps not-as-dependable partner good enough?
- If I begin to produce and sell in bulk, how do I store my creations? Is a warehouse model right for me, or should I only produce stuff once I have an order?
- For products that you will email to clients, how do you ensure that they do not further use it for commercial gain? Or, if you intend for them to use it for commercial gain, how should you price the product?
These are some questions you should consider before deciding to sell on Etsy. Like most other marketplaces, Etsy also works on a review system, so you need great reviews to stand out.
Making mistakes in the very beginning and disappointing customers can crush your business even before it takes off.
Do I have the necessary technical skill?
Basic knowledge of computers, as well as the understanding of your country’s laws about buying and selling, is absolutely essential. It also helps if you are a fairly decent photographer.
You will need a seller account to set up shop on Etsy. You must be comfortable navigating around web pages. Etsy has a very easy user interface, so you can also figure things out as you go.
Likewise, be aware of what taxes, fees, and customs charges are applicable to your product.
If you were to list a product’s price without all of these parameters in place, you would then lose profits when you have to pay buyer taxes from your own pocket.
A Case For Good Product Pictures
Good pictures have visual appeal. They are a must-have for any e-commerce site, and more so for Etsy where every product is unique.
You may choose to invest in some camera equipment and take a product photography class to get it right the first time around. Websites like Skillshare have classes in photography that you can take at your own pace.
Here are some of our favorite products from Etsy that make a great visual impact.
Image Source: Etsy
This picture brings out the simplicity of the product and highlights the gold very well. It is not easy to shoot metal and whites under all lighting conditions.
Image Source: Etsy
There is something very charming about a rustic setting for wood items. The personalization on the product also comes through very well.
How Long Will It Take Before I Make A Sale?
Aah, trick question!
On Etsy, the visit-to-conversion ratio is 100:1. In other words, for every hundred people who visit your store, only one of them will likely buy anything.
Many retailers find that it often takes longer than a few months to get to that point. Having great on-page SEO and a solid marketing strategy helps immensely.
For example, consider how you can actively promote your product links. There are groups on Facebook where promotions are permitted and the audience is huge.
Some sellers suggest that the more products you have, the greater your chances of conversion, which is basically saying that you need to improve the probability of making a sale by showing customers more products.
What are some challenges I can expect to face?
- Some people operate their business solely by reselling on Etsy. This is not a bad idea, but know that customers will come asking questions. Unless you have made the product yourself, these questions may be tough to answer. A dead giveaway such as this can drive customers away permanently.
- There’s also the obvious one- that many other retailers will be selling products similar to yours. Think back to the quilling or decoupage revolution when everyone seemed to be buying and selling just that.
- Sometimes, a simple error in product pricing can cause you to lose more money than you make. While it is tempting to price at par with other retailers, add a generous profit margin and account for situations where a damaged product is shipped out and you need to replace it.
- You may be buried in search pages by sellers who have more reviews than you. Until you build up your shop, be sure to promote it on any and all plausible platforms. Ask friends and family to buy and leave reviews. It takes time to become reasonably visible on Etsy, which can be frustrating.
What are some other aspects of Etsy that you have questions about? Share with us in the comments, and subscribe to the blog to read more about selling online successfully.
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Armed with a degree and a pen, loves to tell stories. When not telling stories, she also works. Hard to decide which one she likes more.