Did you know that Etsy is currently the fastest growing online retailer in the US? It’s the perfect time to learn exactly how to sell on Etsy to make the most cash for the least amount of your time. Who knows? You might even turn your side hustle into your primary income.
Etsy has two broad categories of products you can sell: physical products and digital downloads. I have one Etsy shop in each category and have found smart ways to pursue each one. Let me show you how.
1. Get more eyes on your Etsy shop with great keywords (SEO).
When a shopper does a search on Etsy, the only way they will find your store is if you’ve used the same keywords from their search in your product or store description. This is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and basically just means getting a search engine to show your website when a potential customer searches for your product.
I will talk more later about Etsy Trends, but color is a huge factor in Etsy searches. People want jewelry to match an outfit or home decor to match their current color palette. So including color in your listing title, attributes, or tags is super important. This is just one aspect, though.
Once you’re a seller, you’ll get full access to the official Etsy Seller Handbook, which goes into great detail about how their search engine works and how to pick the right keywords so your customer can find you.
2. For passive income, sell digital downloads on Etsy.
I honestly like my digital download shop on Etsy the best. Back in the day, I created printable place cards for my wedding, uploaded them via Etsy’s selling platform, and listed them for a reasonable price.
I’ve got the shop on autopilot. When someone wants to buy the template, Etsy delivers them the digital download immediately after they pay. I don’t have to lift a finger. That’s passive income (the best kind).
3. Etsy jewelry, vintage or handmade items sell really well.
I also have a shop for physical items—some antique dinnerware that I got for free and wanted to turn a profit on. The shop is mostly empty at this point as vintage items sell well on Etsy, but so does anything handmade or unique. People flock to Etsy for unique jewelry pieces in particular.
4. Check out Etsy Trends for direction on what sells.
Etsy Trends shows you what shoppers are buying on the site. If you took a peek in Summer 2021, you’d see home decor items.
You’d also see spring and summer jewelry in hot pink, gold, white, and Etsy’s 2021 color of the year: Sky Blue.
By keeping on top of trends, you’re increasing the odds that your product will be seen.
5. Help buyers find you using strong keywords in your bio and shop description.
When people buy on Etsy, they want to know a little bit about who they’re buying from, and feel good about supporting you with their dollars. Plus, they need to find you by typing in search terms, or keywords that explain you and your products.
That’s why writing your story with rich keywords is important. Tell your buyers how you started with your product, what this venture means to you, and how your product will fulfill their needs. Here’s a great example from the Midnight Orange Etsy shop.
6. Price your items competitively.
Search for items on Etsy that might be similar to yours. Look at the top results. If you have a higher quality product—or even just higher quality pictures—you could potentially set a higher price.
7. Do high-quality photography with your phone to sell your Etsy products.
Etsy is all about beautiful images. The better your products look, the more likely they’ll sell. Some people recommend you pay for professional photography.
I found that using a newer iPhone was good enough. With a decent camera and trendy background images, great-looking photography isn’t something you need to outsource.
8. Gain more visibility with Etsy’s Star Seller status.
Etsy’s Star Seller status debuted in September 2021. Star Sellers have a special badge on their store name that tells buyers that they are trusted and have excellent customer service. Plus, Etsy will promote Star Sellers. More eyes = more sales = more money.
To earn this status, your shop needs to do these things for at least three months:
- Reply to 95%+ of all messages within 24 hours.
- Receive 95%+ 5-star reviews.
- Process at least 10 orders.
- Earn $300+ in sales.
9. Send Etsy promo codes directly to potential buyers.
When shoppers “Favorite” your products or put them in their shopping carts, Etsy notifies you. At this point, you can send shoppers a promo code to get them to buy those things just hanging out in their carts.
You can automate the whole thing, too, via the Etsy Shop Manager platform. This way every time shoppers lurk about in your shop, they get a promo code that will lead them to buy!
10. Follow up with Etsy coupon codes for repeat customers.
Want someone to shop with you again? You can send them an Etsy coupon code exclusive for your shop to try to win their repeat business. They get savings. You get another sale. And you can automate this, too! Wins all around.
11. Set up your own Etsy shop sales to move inventory.
If you find yourself in a place where you need to move inventory, you can alway initiate a shop-wide sale. For example, in the summer of 2021 the Etsy shop Up2OurNecksinFabric was offering 15% off for customers who spent $100 or more. They also ran a sale where you could get select items for 40% off and free shipping.
Incentives like this can get customers who already like your product to buy more, which allows you to profit at a quicker pace.
12. Etsy fees are more than 8%.
Etsy is a thriving marketplace that provides its sellers with a tremendous amount of free training and data to help ensure their success.
Selling on Etsy isn’t free, though. You’ll incur the following Etsy fees:
- $0.20 listing fee on each item. This fee renews every four months.
- 5% transaction fee/commission on each item sold.
- 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee.
Let’s say you sold a painting for $100. It didn’t sell for the first four months, but after the listing renewed it sold in month five. The fees would be:
- $0.20 listing fee for the first four months.
- $0.20 listing fee renewal charged in month fourth before the painting sold in month five.
- $5 transaction fee on your $100 listing.
- $3.25 payment processing fee on your $100 listing.
That would make your total profit $91.35 before shipping.
13. Bundle listings to save the money on Etsy listing fees.
If you’re selling one item in multiple colors or designs, put them all under one listing to save on listing fees.
These enamel pins sold by TitinaAccessories come in four different colors. By listing all four colors under one listing, the seller pays $0.20 in listing fees for the next four months rather than $0.80 for separate listings for each color.
PRO TIP: When someone purchases, that resets your listing fee period. So even if you have three items left on your listing, if one is purchased, you’ll be charged $0.20 anew. If your shop has high turnover and sells out of a listing within four months, it ends up being just as expensive as four separate listings. If you don’t have high turnover, consolidating your listings can help you save money.
14. You can pay extra for advertising….
If you want your item to turn up in Etsy searches, you can advertise directly on Etsy, which will up your odds of popping up at the top of the page.
You can run an advertising campaign on Etsy for $1/day, with a maximum daily spend of $25.
Etsy can also help you advertise your shop on other websites. If you opt into Offsite Advertising, you’ll pay a 15% advertising fee on any sales referred by the offsite advertiser.
PRO TIP: If your shop has brought in more than $10,000 in revenue over the past 12 months, your Offsite Advertising fee goes down to 12% of any sales made.
15. …but ads only make sense if you ask these questions.
Ads do not work equally well for all products. Before you spend money on advertising, ask yourself:
- Is my price tag high enough to justify this? If you pay for your ad to be shown 10 times and you make one sale, a higher listing price can help justify the ad spend.
- Are my photos high quality enough? If your photography is anything short of stellar, you’re going to have a hard time converting ad views into sales.
- Have I done proper SEO research? Bust out your Seller Handbook. Your keywords will be extra important. The more people competing over your keywords, the more expensive the advertising costs.
- Do I have enough budget to give this a real try? If you turn on Etsy ads for one day, the data you get isn’t going to be great. A general rule of thumb is that your buyer needs to see an ad seven times before they purchase. If you only run the ad for one day, you’re not giving them the opportunity to see you seven times.
So if you have subpar photography, an item with a low list price, and don’t really want to learn the whole SEO thing, Etsy ads aren’t likely to be worth it to you.
16. Calculate if the $10 Plus Package makes sense for you.
Etsy’s Standard seller platform is powerful and sets you up for success for free. However, if you want access to even more tools, you can choose to purchase the Plus Package for $10/month. The Plus Package for Etsy sellers includes:
- More customization options for your Etsy shop.
- You own, unique .store domain. This makes it easier to share your shop’s URL on business cards and social media.
The ability to notify interested customers when popular items are back in stock.
- 15 listing credits per month.
- $5 in Etsy ads credit each month.
Let’s say you’re already paying $5/month for Etsy ads. You also already pay at least $3 per month in listing fees. That means the additional cost of this package would be just $2.
For that $2, you get your own, easy-to-build website and the ability to reach potential shoppers when you put popular items back in stock. In this circumstance, the Plus Package can be well worth it.
But, if you’re not already paying $3 for listing fees and $5 for Etsy ads every month, the free standard package will do just fine.
17. Set your shipping fees correctly to avoid absorbing costs.
If you don’t estimate shipping costs correctly, it can really eat into your profits. This is a step you want to make sure you get right.
USPS offers flat-rate shipping and free boxes. But, your item has to fit in the box. And if you have a light item, you may end up paying more for a flat-rate box rather than paying based on your package’s weight and dimensions.
I always make sure that I have the box and shipping materials I’ll need before I even list. Then I pack it all up and weigh it with my at-home scale. I input this data to get an estimate at USPS so I know I’m charging enough for shipping—or if it would be cheaper to ship in a flat-rate box. I pay $9 and some change for items that won’t even fit into the flat rate boxes using this weight-based shipping system.
You can print shipping labels for either method using the Etsy seller platform.
18. Offer free shipping to bypass Etsy filters. Hear me out….
Free shipping is a major draw for potential customers. But you don’t have to eat the cost. Let me explain…
Etsy’s first filter is for “Free Shipping,” so some buyers immediately use it and don’t even see the prices other sellers, who don’t offer free shipping, charge for the same products.
By adding a free shipping offer, you appeal to a specific audience who won’t likely ever find out you’re charging, for example, $15 more than the guy who doesn’t offer free shipping. (Which you would, because you have to build the shipping back into the item’s price.)
You get past the filter and the other guy doesn’t, even though after you add in his shipping fee, your prices are exactly the same in the end.
But if you do offer free shipping, you’re probably going to want to raise your listing price a bit to compensate for the overhead costs you’re taking on yourself.
PRO TIP: You don’t have to offer completely free shipping to make it past Etsy’s Free Shipping filter. You can also offer “Free Shipping when you spend $X dollars at my shop.” This way, you’ll be included in the “Free Shipping” filtered searches, but only be on the hook for shipping costs of larger orders with higher dollar profits.
19. Set your own return policy.
You can allow returns if you want, and some shop owners do. But it makes the entire process a lot harder. Because there’s so much artsy stuff on Etsy, it’s hard to allow for subjective returns. Handling return shipping is also a hassle, for you and the customer.
Etsy relies so heavily on happy customer reviews and a good star rating, that there’s a culture of making things right among sellers if there’s truly something wrong. The default language for a lot of return policies is:
“I don’t accept returns or exchanges.
But please contact me if you have any problems with your order.”
Recently, I bought an iPhone case on Etsy that didn’t live up to my expectations. The seller had a no return policy, but it was so bad I reached out anyway. She let me pick two new cases, which ended up being much better quality, and shipped them to me for free.
20. Access free data and discounted accounting software with built-in Etsy tools.
Etsy’s Shop Manager allows you to delve into all the data about your shop. This dashboard shows you how much traffic your shop is getting, where that traffic is coming from, and if it’s converting into sales. You can then use this data to adjust your listings and marketing efforts to get more sales.
The Shop Manager also gives you the option to sync your Etsy shop to financial tools, like Quickbooks and TurboTax at a discounted rate. These are programs you’ll need as you file your self-employed or small business taxes every year. Here’s what you save with Etsy:
I’ve done the math below, and it looks like it’s cheaper NOT to bundle ($194 a year as opposed to $204 for the bundle). But if you don’t bundle, you’ll end up paying for your state tax return filing, which you can expect to cost you about $50 more. That makes bundling a smarter choice if you don’t have an outside source to do your state and federal income taxes.
PRO TIP: Want access to even more deals? Download the KCL app today.
21. Join an Etsy Team to expand your network.
They say that in business, it’s not so much what you know as who you know. A healthy network can help your business grow.
Etsy facilitates networking through Etsy Teams. These teams are built around different themes, like local sellers in your physical community or sellers who sell products similar to your own. Then there are teams built around similar interests, social networks, or personal values.
By networking with other sellers, you’ll be able to keep on top of not only the latest and greatest trends, but also the newest opportunities in your own community.
22. Help your teen start an Etsy side hustle.
You must be at least 13 years old to open an Esty shop. Those between the ages of 13 and 18 must have parental consent and supervision in order to operate a shop.
That means that this selling on Etsy thing could be a great side hustle not only for you, but also for your teen. If they love finding collectibles or are a maker themselves, this can be a great opportunity for them to bring in a little cash and have you guide them through the basic concepts of entrepreneurship.