How to Achieve Success on Etsy
I have been selling on Etsy for over three years now. I opened my first shop whilst I was still working as a teacher to sell my knit, crochet and embroidered items. I opened my second shop in February 2017 to sell craft supplies and kits that didn’t seem to fit in with my handmade items. I have since made almost 6,000 sales and am in the top 100 Etsy sellers in the UK. I have learned a lot along the way!
- Great product photography;
- Excellent SEO;
- Find the right keywords;
- Do your research;
- Write an amazing About section;
- Keep your policies up to date;
- Never stop learning;
- Don’t expect magic!
Etsy takes work. You can’t create a shop, fill it with items then expect lots of sales. They like to see that sellers are active. This means regularly adding more listings, tweaking older listings, updating your policies, adding to your ‘about section’ etc. In turn, you will be rewarded by showing your listings to more customers.
Good product photography is essential. Just by having a quick browse on Etsy you will quickly be able to identify the good and the bad. Your images need to be nice and clear and to show your product in the best natural light and from as many angles as possible. Lifestyle photos are great but don’t use them for your first image. Etsy have been experimenting with image recognition software. If it’s not clear what your image is it will not be found by the computers or by your customers. Your images should be 800px by 800px.
Etsy has its own SEO system. It does not work in the same way as google. You should choose long tail key words and put them in your title, tags and first paragraph. You need to start with the term most relevant to your listing as this is seen as the most important. Make sure it is still readable. The customer will see the first 30 characters under your thumbnail in search. Do those first few words tell them exactly what your item is?
Marmalead is an excellent tool for checking your SEO and for researching keywords. They use data directly from Etsy so their figures are fact not estimates. It will help you to identify long tail (three words or more) key words that have lots of engagement (customers searching for them) but with not too much competition. The website uses a simple traffic light system to help you spot terms that will work well for you. This video demonstrates it well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dkNXx4yupo
When choosing your key word phrases, you need to look for phrases that customers will actually search for; not the title of your painting or name of your handmade doll! If you use promoted listings, you can look at the search terms that Etsy has matched to your items. You can also look at your most popular terms in the Stats section. I use these most popular terms (e.g. school supplies, bullet journal accessories, stationAry) in most of my listings but then add more specific terms with lower competition e.g. cacti planner stickers. Remember to use seasonal terms (e.g. stocking filler) but also to edit these when they become less relevant.
Etsy is not great for one off items. When you sell an item and relist it, Etsy pushes that item up the queue as they see that it is desirable. If your customer then gives it a five star review it will push it up even higher. The more you sell of a particular item, the more Etsy will share it for you. This makes selling unique items more difficult. Can you reuse a listing for a similar item? Do you have lots of dog paintings or vintage deckchairs so that you could simply add new photos and relist?
Keep an eye on what sells and what doesn’t. Just because you love something, doesn’t mean that your customers will. Check out your Stats section. This shows you which listings have been the most/least popular over the last 30 days. It may just be that your listing needs a little work or that you need to renew the item to bump it up to the top again.
Shop maintenance is important. Do you have a photo of yourself in the Shop Owner section? Customers want to see you, not your logo, here. There is space for that elsewhere. Etsy is a community and people like to know who they are buying from and what makes them special. Complete your About section in as much detail as you can. Tell them a little about your processes and why your items are what they need. Avoid a sob story or the working mum vibe; it has been done too much!
Make sure your policies are up to date and accurate. Remember, Etsy is a US site so you need to ensure that your policies reflect UK law. Take time to set up your shipping classes and to choose which countries you are going to sell to. I get almost as many orders from the US as I do the UK as my items are cheap to post. If your items are more expensive and difficult to replace if they go missing, I would consider only offering tracked postage.
Make it very clear in your About section, policies and descriptions what your turnaround time is and when customers can expect to receive their items. I get lots of messages from international customers asking where their items are even though I have written everywhere I can think of that orders can take at least two weeks to reach the US and six weeks to Canada.
Avoid using holiday mode. If you are going to be away or busy for a period of time, update your shop announcement and extend your shipping times. You can use the bulk edit tool to add a sentence to the top of every listing. As long as customers know when to expect their items they are usually happy to wait.
Etsy are constantly experimenting and testing new features. What worked before might not work now. Keep an eye on the Etsy Handbook and tutorials and make the most of the wealth of expertise on YouTube and in Facebook groups. Don’t get bogged down by all the information and don’t get into like for like games; they don’t work. Rather than discussing the finer points with people on Facebook, get in your shop and get working on your listings.