Are trips to the craft store breaking your budget? Do you prefer to make gifts rather than buy them? Have friends and family exclaimed "you should really sell that!" more times than you can count? If you've ever thought about monetizing your craftiness, consider opening an Etsy shop.

Etsy is an online marketplace for vintage items over 20 years old and handmade pieces — everything from jewelry to art to knick-knacks and more. For $.20, you can list an item on Etsy for 4 months. If it sells, you give Etsy 3.5% of the sale price. The Etsy market has a global reach and allows you to craft, sell, and ship from home. Plus, you have the opportunity to connect with Etsy community members across the world who have similar interests.

Etsy is not a quick fix to get rid of old craft projects that have been gathering dust around your house. Creating a successful shop requires time, a little trial and error, and patience. Simply put, it's hard work. But if you are dedicated to making money off of your hobby, it should be fun work!

1. Window Shop Before You Sell

If you have a good handle on how Etsy operates, you will more likely be a successful seller. Start by creating an Etsy account and start exploring! You probably already have an idea of what you would like to sell, so browse similar shops to see what they have to offer. Pay attention to how other sellers market their items. Take notes on what appeals to you and what doesn't as a shopper. As you explore, keep your eyes open for a small heart-shaped icon. By clicking on it, you can "favorite" different items and shops, then easily access them later for inspiration or ideas.

2. Focus on One Type of (Unique) Item

Before you open a shop, you have to decide what you are going to sell. Remember, there are already millions of Etsy users and shops selling almost every type of handmade item under the sun. Can you add something interesting or new to the market? Once you decide what item you will focus on, begin to think about who your target market is. By visualizing your ideal customer, you can try to tailor your shop towards them. Etsy gives you the chance to make money off of doing something you already love, but you might need to sway from your own personal taste to create products that appeal to your target market.

3. Connect with the Etsy Community

Etsy is a marketplace to buy and sell, and it is also a community of creative people who come to the site to connect and share ideas. Get involved in the Etsy community by joining a team. Etsy team members come together over common interests or themes, which could be anything from where they live to the type of products the team members sell. Joining a team is a good way to meet more experienced sellers who can offer advice or mentorship as you are just starting out with your new shop. Plus, getting out there and meeting other users is the best way to promote your business and let the Etsy world know you exist.

4. Put Care and Time into Creating Your Shop

You might be antsy to get your Etsy shop launched so you can start making sales. Be patient. Although there's no money value on a shop that took time to create versus one that didn't, your time really is money. Create a shop name with a little personality, then add a shop banner to match. Your name and banner should give buyers a quick snapshot of what type of items you're selling. If your creativity does not reach into the realms of creating banners, ask friends or family if they can help. Or, take your search to Etsy, where some shops sell banners. It's also important to take time to write your seller terms and conditions and your bio. Buyers need to know what they can expect from shopping with you, and they're more likely to trust you if they can envision the person behind the username. Straightforward terms and conditions will also come in handy if down the line a customer wants to return an item.

5. Make Your Items Searchable

The key to being successful on Etsy is making it easy for people to find your items. Since it is such a big marketplace, your first sales will probably come from people who searched on Etsy or on Google for something in particular and landed on your shop. Put yourself in the place of someone who might be searching for what you're selling. Then, try to use those words in your item's title, description, and keywords. The more descriptive you are, the better chance someone has of finding your item. You're permitted 13 search tags when listing an item, and you should use them all. Be as specific as possible in describing the item's shape, color, material, and style.

6. Learn More

These are just a few introductory tips to launching your Etsy shop. Luckily, you have a wide variety of resources available if you want to dive in deeper and create the most successful Etsy shop possible. Grab your most giant coffee or tea cup, and and read the Etsy Seller Handbook, a collection of resources with tips on everything from setting up your shop to pricing your items. You can also sign up for the Etsy Success Newsletter for additional ideas. See if there is an Etsy 101 class in your area taught by a certified Etsy Educator by searching events in your area, which is also a good way to meet new Etsy sellers who live close by.

6 Tips for Starting an Etsy Shop