What is Etsy?
Etsy is essentially an online shopping mall where people just like you connect to produce, buy and sell mostly handcrafted, vintage, or one-of-a-kind items. According to Esty, they’ve helped 1.8 million sellers thrive by providing support and training for making their web-based stores successful. If you’re an artist, jewelry maker, interior designer, craftsperson or collector, Etsy is the perfect platform to showcase and sell your work to a global audience.
Got something to sell? Before you set up your free online Etsy shop, here’s 13 things you should consider:
- Decide What to Sell
You may have one product or several handcrafted items that have potential to be best sellers, but the key is to narrow down your product line and make it profitable. Browse the Etsy website and see what other vendors are selling and be sure to adhere to the site’s stringent policy on what you can and cannot sell. For instance, handmade items must be made exclusively by you and you should personalize them with your own logo labels. Sellers are prohibited from buying items in lots and passing them off as original one-of-a-kind items.
- Make It Well Made
Etsy shoppers are looking for one-of-a-kind items at an affordable price. They want a bargain but most will insist on quality goods that won’t fall apart or fall short of their expectations. As a shop owner, you want to carry unique items constructed or fabricated from top quality materials that rival merchandise that can be found in a retail brick-and-mortar store. Browse Etsy’s categories and look at what other vendors are offering and how much items are selling for. You will get an idea about what Etsy shoppers prefer and what they are willing to pay.
- Verify That It’s Vintage
Etsy has certain criteria for anything vintage: items have to be at least 20 years old. That means you can’t just empty out grandma’s closet and expect to get top dollar. The key to successfully selling vintage is the condition of the merchandise. Vintage collectibles like fine china, jewelry, home accessories or books should be in new or gently used condition without cracks, stains, dirt, or tears. Toys, notions, or clothing in the original packaging is extremely desirable for collectors. Customers will pay big bucks for vintage items in mint condition, so make sure to list items that are worthy of your customers’ time and money.
- Be Ready to Meet the Demand
Once you list an item or a line of products, you need to be able to meet what could be a high demand. Items are sold on a first-come, first-served basis; but you don’t want to earn a reputation for not being able to fill customer orders. Stock enough inventory to ship purchases within a reasonable amount of time and let customers know in advance if orders will take longer than 2 weeks to ship. As orders start coming in, can you keep up with them? Buyers expect orders to be filled within a certain time frame after paying for merchandise. But if you can’t get the orders out fast enough, you could gain a bad reputation as a vendor. Establish and post your delivery policy onsite so buyers will know what to expect.
- Define Your Buying Audience
You want to reach a certain demographic or target market that will want to spend money in your store. Moms with infants and toddlers will typically buy handmade baby items, like crib accessories and layettes that they cannot find at a commercial outlet. But custom designed and printed T-shirts, tanks, or ball caps might have a broader appeal more to adults ages 18-35. Establishing a web presence that speaks to a specific audience or potential buyer lends credibility and helps to establish your brand.
- Pick a Good Store Name
Your online store should tell potential buyers what you sell and reflect your brand. Do an online name search or surf existing Etsy vendors to make sure that your store name is not already being used. If you’re not sure about infringing on someone else’s brand, just add your first or last name to your store. Personalizing your store name makes your online enterprise uniquely yours without confusing the customer. Etsy offers a downloadable Seller's Handbook that offers tips and guidelines for selling most products online.
- Build a Seller Profile that Sells
Since potential customers don’t have a clue about you, give them an accurate but transparent image about who you are and what you have to sell in an online Etsy profile. You may want to include a quirky photo from your studio or a well-written narrative about how you first began crafting, sewing, making jewelry, or designing clothes. Your Etsy profile is essentially a calling card that can make a potential customer either want to buy from you or pass you by.
- Establish Policies and Stick to Them
As a trusted Etsy vendor, you need to enforce policies for returns and exchanges, payments, shipping and handling, and how you will communicate with buyers. Extending a hearty welcome to first-time buyers, sending out reminder emails for pending deliveries, thanking shoppers for their patronage, and replacing damaged goods are all issues that need to be determined before you make that first sale. Your online store should list all policies, which protects your business and builds trust with buyers.
- Count Up the Cost
While it costs nothing to set up shop on Etsy, you will incur three small selling fees to list your items, transact business and pay for processing. The fee to list an item is just 20 cents for a four-month posting or until your product sells. When you sell an item, Etsy charges a 3.5% transaction fee on top of your sale price. If your item sells for $5, you will pay a $1.75 transaction fee, plus shipping. You can choose to accept payments through PayPal or Etsy Payments. If you opt to collect money on Etsy Payments, they will assess 3% of your price, plus 25 cents for processing every sale. Since you’re selling to a global market, American vendors should let buyers know to pay in USD (U.S. dollars).
- Be Sure to Get Paid
As an Etsy vendor, one of your primary objectives is to get paid. Sure, you love making baubles and bows, but you have to watch your bottom line and the bottom line is making money. Fortunately, Etsy’s platform offers customers several secure payment options: PayPal, Google Wallet, Apple Pay, and Etsy Gift Cards and Etsy credit and debit cards. Be sure to include payment options on your store’s website so there’s no confusion about payment but plenty of reassurance buyers' information is safe and secure. Customer payments are deposited automatically into your designated bank account for withdrawal.
- Verify How You Want to Be Paid
Etsy has a great payment portal called Etsy Payments that safely and securely collects customer payments for vendors. Buyers can use their PayPal account, credit and debit cards, Google Wallet, Apple Pay, or Etsy Gift Cards. Etsy then deposits monies made from every sale directly into a designated bank account in your country's currency.
- Keep Good Records
While Esty should have a digital record of all of your transactions, you will also need to keep good records for tax filing purposes. Consult with your accountant or log onto go to irs.gov to see if your online store has to file certain taxes. It’s a good idea to set up your online business with a corporate structure and Employer Identification Number. The Internal Revenue Service offers free advice for individuals operating an online business.
- Get Ready, Get Set, Open Up!
Now that you've considered almost every aspect of opening up your online Etsy store, just follow these five easy steps:
a. Log onto Etsy.com and set up an account;
b. List your shop’s location and currency
c. Post your store name or logo. Surf the Etsy website to see what other vendor websites look like. Then, design a logo that distinguishes your store and one that is easy to remember. The first rule of successful branding is developing a graphic that accurately reflects your product or image. Check out what other Etsy vendors that sell similar products are using, but don't plagiarize.
d. Write a brief listing that best suits a specific category of merchandise. Categories include clothing and shoes, home and living, wedding and party, toys and entertainment, jewelry and accessories, art and collectibles, craft supplies and tools and vintage.
e. Designate how customers will pay for products.
f. Set up your method of paying Etsy fees. Fees can be deducted by electronic transfer from your checking account, debit or credit care, or PayPal account.