Aug 282013

In this article we’re going to show you step by step how to sell on Etsy and make money from home selling crafts. We’ll go through the signup process, the listing process, fees, shipping, and self promotion. There’s actually quite a bit to learn but its not too hard if you break it down and learn it section by section. You can have your first listing up in a few hours with no trouble at all.

Their site receives millions of page views a month. Provided that you have something decent to sell, you should be able to make some sales within your first week. After a few weeks you should make a few sales a day.

Learn to Sell Things on Etsy in 7 Steps
  1. Make or find some vintage items to sell.
  2. Understand the fees for selling on Etsy before you get started.
  3. Setup a seller account.
  4. Setup an Etsy store.
  5. Make your first listing with a good description and photos.
  6. Learn how to ship your items properly and inexpensively.
  7. Promote your items through social media websites.
Make or Find Some Items to Sell

There are 3 types of things you can sell on Etsy. Crafts, craft supplies, and vintage items. Crafts can be just about anything that is handmade such a jewelry or clothing. Craft supplies are anything used in the making of crafts like beads or cloth. The vintage category includes anything that is 20 years or older. Antiques or retro clothing that is no longer made would qualify as vintage. Whatever you choose, make sure you can sell it for more than you bought it for. For the official item rules see this Etsy article.

Understand the Etsy Selling Fees You Will Have to Pay

Etsy charges fees to sell on its site. You will also have to pay a credit card processing fee on any money your buyers send you. And don’t forget to include your shipping cost. For the quick and easy way to figure it out use our Etsy Fee Calculator. Read on for a detailed explanation.

Fees are pretty simple for selling on Etsy. Each item costs $.20 to list. Then you are charged a transaction fee of 3.5% of the selling price. If you sold something for $10.00 you would owe 3.5% of $10 which is $.35 plus $.20 for a listing fee for a total of $.55.

The payment processing fees are a bit more complex because you have a choice between using Etsy Checkout or Paypal to accept your payments. Etsy Checkout charges  $.25 + 3% and Paypal charges .30 + 2.9%. If you sell a $10.00 item your Etsy Checkout fees would be $.55. Your Paypal fees would be $.59. Remember these fees are charged in addition to your Etsy selling fees.

Shipping costs are the most complex to figure out. You have figure out how much your item weighs when fully packaged and then use that  to get a shipping estimate. If you know your weight go to our calculators page and find the calculator for the carrier you intend to use. Put in the weight and it will tell you how much they will charge. If it asks for a zip code to do the calculation choose one that is across the country from you so you will know what your fee will be for the farthest distance possible. Once that is done and you know your estimate add in the price of your packaging (box and tape) and that will be your total shipping cost. To save some money, learn how to get free boxes.

Setup an Etsy Seller Account

Now that you’ve got an item and you know how much it costs you have to register before you can sell on Etsy. If you’re already registered as a buyer just click the sell link at the top of any Etsy page to register as a seller too. If you want to, check out this video about how to register on Etsy. When you’re ready proceed to the register on Etsy page. Once you have completed the registration Etsy will ask you to setup your store and add your first listing. Come back here for some tips before you do.

Etsy screen capture showing how to fill in Etsy store details.

Click for larger image.

Setup Your Etsy Store

The hardest part of setting up an Etsy store is picking your name. You want something unique and catchy yet something that won’t limit you in the future. You want unique because it will enable people to find your name if they Google it (more about search engine optimization here.) Nancy’s Necklaces might sound good today but what if you decide to start selling home made candles too? Then you have a problem. Perhaps Nancy’s Nicknacks would have been better. Plan ahead when your name your shop. Take some extra time to think about it and make it good.

Etsy will also ask you to fill in a shop title, a banner, and an announcement. The shop title can be a slogan or a short description of the items you offer. The banner is an image that has your shop logo. Not to fear, this is easy because a while back we wrote an article about how to get a free Etsy banner which also includes simple ways to make one. It may take you a while to find something perfectly suited for you, but it’s not difficult. The announcement section is where you put your latest news. “Grand opening specials” might be appropriate for now. Later on you can change it highlight special items you want to sell on Etsy.

You’ll also have to fill in some shop policies by clicking on the “policies” tab on the top of the screen. Here you’ll have to place details about what kind of payments you accept, how you ship your items, and how you deal with refunds.

Lastly, you have to setup payments and billing. Of course you should sign up for Etsy checkout to process credit card payments. Don’t forget about those fees we mentioned! If you have a Paypal account you can also select that as a payment method. You can accept checks and money orders as well but I don’t recommend it. To complete the billing portion you can enter your credit card information or use a Paypal account for payment if you have one.

Screen capture showing Etsy listing information.

Click for larger image.

Make Your First Etsy Listing

To create an effective listing you have to take some good photos of your item and write a good description. The better your photos are the more likely your item is to sell. If you need a little help, check out this article on how to take good photos for Etsy. Always upload several photos of your item in your listing.

When making the title for your listing try to include as many search friendly terms as possible. That means words that people are likely to use when they are searching for your item. Not just what your item is, but also what kind of item it is.

When writing your description include all of its specifications. Tell about the color and the texture. Give sizes like width and  height. Include the weight. Describe what materials it’s made of. Also include what the item is used for or alternate uses. When you have done all that then flip your perspective around and look at your item like a buyer. What would you want to know? Will it be a good fit or a good match to something you already have? Is it durable? How was it made? Include answers to any questions you come up with in your listing. View this video for a really good overview on how to write an Etsy listing. Then when you are ready go to the list an item on Etsy page.

 Learn How to Ship Your Items

There’s more to it than tossing an item in a box and putting postage on it. First you want to consider your customers point of view. Would they want their item to show up nicely wrapped like a gift or in a recycled shoebox? Whatever box you use make sure it looks new and sturdy. If you can get a fancy one cheap or free even better. Package the inside nicely. Make sure there is enough padding to protect your item. Spend the extra 3 cents and wrap your item in some tissue paper as well. Appearance is everything when it comes to the feedback you customer will leave you.

At first go to the Post Office or UPS and have the people who work at the counter talk you through the shipping process. When you get the hang of it you can purchase your shipping labels at the automated kiosk and save some time. Later you can get a postage scale and print your labels online at home through Paypal or

Promote Your Etsy Store and Items

Etsy does a pretty good job of getting your items in front of customers. But if you want to give your sales even more of a boost you can do quite a bit of advertising for free through social media. Post on Facebook and Pintrest. Start some profiles just for the items you sell on Etsy. Join online groups and communities for Etsy users. There’s a ton of stuff out there. Too much in fact to list here. Check out our article on social media marketing for Etsy.

Final Tips for Etsy Sellers

Once you’ve got things up and running you’re going to want to tweak things a bit. Learning good product photography will take a while. As you get better at it go back and replace your old photos with better ones. Check out what your competition is doing. Find out if you’re pricing your items too high or too low. Read other listings for better ideas on how you can describe your own items. If you find your items are better than the competition, add the reasons for it to your listing.

You’ve heard the saying that the customer is always right. Abide by it. From time to time you’re going to have a sale go bad. Somebody is going to return something or you’ll have trouble getting a payment. These things happen. Don’t get upset, just move on to the next sale. Everyone who sells on Etsy has to deal with it sometime. Whatever you do, don’t upset a customer and get negative feedback. There are more sales to be had so focus on the next one.

Remember that learning to sell on Etsy will be an ongoing process for you. Sometimes they make changes to the site or user policy. To keep up with new suggestions from their own staff remember to check in on Etsy’s own seller handbook.

  5 Responses to “How to Sell on Etsy – A Beginner’s Overview”

  1. Would I be able to sell homemade Royal Icing Decorated Ccokies on Etsy?

  2. Would you need a vendors license ? And doesn’t this change everything when filing taxes?
    Thanks, Mindy

  3. In order to achieve a profit, you want to price the product for roughly double what
    it costs to produce. Apart from it, you can also use some affiliate programs like Amazon.
    Affiliate programs are almost all free (there may be exceptions but I don’t know of any)
    and although there are rules to follow, it is up to you how to get the customers
    to the merchant.

  4. A few things should be added to this. First, by far the largest segment selling on Etsy is handmade (non craft) items. Things like furniture and hand made items for all over the house. These kinds of items offer the opportunity to make the most profit. If you are making something from raw materials and selling it on Etsy there is nobody in the middle to take some off the top.

    Second, Many Etsy sellers do not take Paypal so sometimes that is not an option. Either way the fees are very reasonable. Pricing items should follow basic pricing rules. If you start with raw materials you should be charging twice what it cost you as a wholesale price and 4 times as a retail price. This price should include everything from the actual cost of the material, your supplies etc right down to electricity and office supplies and don’t forget your hourly labor rate. Remember you will have to give up about 30% in taxes so if you are selling for less than this formula you are just treading water.

    Don’t waste time looking for boxes at the grocery store or on craigslist. The time it takes you to go get them is not worth the time you lose making items. Plus recycled boxes look like butt. You want someone getting an item in the mail in a bananas box? no. Uline sells boxes for a reasonable price their shipping is a little high but if you order online you cost yourself very little time ordering shipping supplies.

    Box items with lots of extra cardboard and/or paper. Remember to always assume that the shipping company will not handle it with care even if you have it written all over the box. I recommend using paper bags for small items and heavy paper as filler. packing peanuts let stuff move around in a box too much. Paper bags and brown packing paper is the cheapest, most effective packing material for handmade items.

    When setting up an item on Etsy always use standard words in the title, no capitals in keywords and commas in between key words. You can also use key phrases worded every combination you can think of. These non capital key words will come up on searches on Google without paying for it.

    Take photos outside if possible. In front of a wall or fence or on a table with a generic background.

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