Etsy is one of the top internet marketplaces in the United States and has a consumer group that reaches worldwide.
The site allows small businesses, crafters and artists to set up an online store and sell their goods to a built-in customer base. Unlike large online stores, it fosters a personal shop owner/customer experience with small, independently-owned shops.
Opening an Etsy shop happens one of two ways:
1. You have a hobby/craft/stockpile of handmade goods and need to know how to sell them.
2. You want to take part in the online marketplace, but aren’t exactly sure what to sell.
If you’ve been thinking of opening an Etsy shop, you’re not alone. The site currently boasts 1.6 million sellers, some with more than one shop. But now that you’ve decided to open a shop, how do you know what to sell? Luckily, we’re here to help you. Today we’ll help you determine what you should sell on Etsy so you can start stocking your online shelves.
Do Your Thing
The most common reason people start an Etsy shop is because they enjoy making a certain thing and decide to sell it. Do you crochet, sew, paint, screen print, wood work, etc. in your spare time? Is the thing you enjoy making something that could be sold and enjoyed by others? That’s what you should sell. There’s a good chance that you’ve already got a supply of items to start with and you can just continue adding to your stock once your store is open. Plus, if it’s something you like making anyway, it will feel like you’re getting paid to do your hobby instead of work.
Chances are, if you’re passionate about creating something, it will show. Your craftsmanship will be good, you’ll enjoy coming up with new designs or ideas for items to sell, and you’ll derive joy from the fact that someone else out there enjoys it too. And that they’ll pay money for it! There’s nothing like the first time a stranger buys something you’ve lovingly made. It’s part of the small business, crafter-to-customer spirit of Etsy.
Fill a Gap
Have you ever searched for an item on Etsy or online and weren’t able to find exactly what you’re looking for? It’s likely that if you’ve searched for it, someone else has too, and that means there’s a demand that is not being fulfilled. You could be the supplier!
Even if you’re not a crafter, you could operate on the designing end and work closely with someone who can make your idea a reality. Do you want a shirts with quotes from your favorite movie? Commission a graphic designer and make your own shirts. Or, use this as an opportunity to learn a new skill and start creating your own pieces.
Find a Niche
If you already have a skill, but don’t want to be yet one more shop on Etsy competing with others selling the same item, refine it down to a niche market. Take an idea and specialize in a particular area.
Let’s say you make hair bows for girls, but you don’t want to get lost in the sea of hundreds of shops that already do that. Find a specialty that makes you stand out. Make bows for holidays, or with custom initials, or that are only superhero themed. When you take a broad idea and narrow it down to a specific area, you’ll appeal to a certain audience that searches out your particular item. And, rather than being one of many shops doing the same thing, you’ll be “that one shop that makes leather wallets emblazoned with sport team emblems that would be the perfect gift for Father’s Day/your brother’s birthday/your anniversary.”
This approach also allows you to share your passion with like-minded people, which is really what Etsy is all about. Thought you were the only one who would like a throw pillow made from a vintage Smiths t shirt? You’re not alone.
Search Top Sellers
If you want to jump in with both feet and try your hand at succeeding in a competitive marketplace, this approach is for you. Researching the top-selling items will give you an idea of what’s doing well and what’s in high demand. You may find something and think, “I could do that differently, or reach a different audience.” Or, apply the aforementioned ideas of paring it down to a particular niche or adjusting an idea to fill a need that is not being met.
Searching out successful shops is also a great opportunity to learn about what works and why those sellers are advancing. What tips would they have to share? How did they begin, and how were they able to grow their shops? The Etsy community is a really supportive one and there is an unending library of blogs, articles and comment threads of people sharing ideas about how to grow and have a flourishing store.
No matter what you choose to sell, it’s worth taking a chance and opening an Etsy shop. If you really like making and/or selling an item, your customers will recognize your passion and the work that you put into your products. Share your gifts with the world!
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