How to Start an Etsy Shop: a Step-by-Step Guide
Learn how to start a shop on Etsy.Read the article
Discover the pros and cons of selling on Etsy!
Etsy is one of the biggest and most popular online marketplaces for all things creative – be it handmade, vintage, or digital downloads. There’s no doubt about it: Etsy certainly is a household name on the tip of everyone’s tongues when talking about the best venue for creative entrepreneurs.
However, with so many ecommerce sites out there, you might be asking yourself, is it worth it to sell on Etsy in 2023? Is Etsy still a good place to sell your products?
In this article, we’ll give you all the information you need to make an informed decision – the pros and cons of selling on Etsy, as well as other important things to consider when choosing a platform for your business.
On this article:
Pros of Selling on Etsy
Cons of Selling on Etsy
Is Etsy a Good Place For You to Sell?
Unique alternatives to Etsy in 2023
Frequently asked questions
Free tools to use to make Etsy work for you
Offhand, Etsy seems like the perfect marketplace, especially if you’re keen to target a very specific demographic, i.e. discerning buyers who want one-of-a-kind pieces. And it is indeed a good platform for sellers.
Below are some of the pros of selling on Etsy in detail.
Etsy averages almost 90 million active buyers, many of whom are repeat customers. It has a wide global reach.
It is also firmly established in the market as a top-of-mind website for customers looking for unique products like handmade goods, vintage, and other custom items.
If you’re a beginning seller with a limited following, Etsy is one of the best places to start online.
You don’t need any tech know-how to set up an online shop with Etsy.
Etsy has made its website very beginner-friendly and easy to navigate, with tools and features every seller can use for free or a minimum fee.
The website has set up everything sellers need to have a good and functional storefront that customers can use with ease and comfort.
If you’re new to the online business world and have close to zero tech know-how, opening a store on Etsy is a fantastic way to launch your side hustle.
Etsy has managed to foster a great community of sellers who are equipped with digital selling expertise and are willing to share their knowledge with newbies.
You can find them on Etsy forums, but a quick search on search engines and social media will point you to even more sellers who have written Etsy hacks and posted expert YouTube videos dedicated to running an Etsy store.
Etsy itself offers its sellers support through its many article resources.
As a seller, you grow when Etsy grows. Etsy always finds ways to improve its sellers’ experience on the site.
Giving out Star Seller badges to sellers with excellent customer service track records is one of the ways Etsy encourages growth onsite.
Nothing is perfect; not even the most popular sites can bypass scrutiny. While Etsy remains a good marketplace, it also comes with its own set of cons, such as the ones below.
With over 5 million active sellers, it’s easy for even the best stores to get lost in the shuffle. While there’s a way to beat the Etsy algorithm (powering up your Etsy SEO is a good place to start), it takes patience and extremely hard work.
Just because Etsy has millions of built-in buyers doesn’t mean you can just put up a store and wait for customers to find you.
Because of the stiff competition, the first step for most sellers to be more competitive is to lower their prices.
Another tactic sellers use is the free shipping guarantee, which can cut into the cost. All these can affect sellers’ profit margins.
Add to that the cost of operating the store on Etsy, which can add up, even if you’re just using the most basic seller features.
Selling on Etsy means there’s very little opportunity for you to customize your storefront.
The only way you can control the look and branding of your shop is through your shop logo and the product photos on your listings.
Otherwise, everything’s up to Etsy. So if you’re looking to grow your brand and make your name in your niche, Etsy might not be able to address your customization needs.
Etsy hiked up its transaction fee in 2022. From the former 5%, it is now 6.5%. This may seem small, but if you have a lot of listings, the cost can add up.
This is just one of the changes to the site that you don’t have any control over.
As the website continues to grow, it may need to hike up its mandatory fees for web maintenance and other needs.
Aside from Etsy, there are a plethora of other viable ecommerce sites and marketplace alternatives that you can look into. Before deciding if Etsy is the right place for you, perhaps it would be best to compare the site with its most popular competitors.
Etsy has a much more refined target market, which means if you have a very niche product, you’ll find your audience there.
eBay fee structure is also a lot more complicated compared to Etsy’s.
However, if you’re looking to scale your business, eBay might be the better option for you, as it has a wider reach with a more diverse demographic.
Etsy is a household name when it comes to creative, handmade, and vintage products, but Amazon itself is a popular marketplace for just about anything.
It has its own Amazon Handmade category, which directly competes with Etsy.
There’s no denying that Amazon may have a wider reach, but that comes with a price.
Though Etsy charges a listing fee and Amazon doesn’t, Amazon charges a 15% selling fee, which is considerably higher compared to fees Etsy charges.
Etsy has a distinct look and branding that may be limiting to online sellers. For this, Shopify is a better alternative, as it lets you design your store.
Unlike Etsy, Shopify encourages users to have their own domain, which adds to their branding value.
However, Shopify doesn’t have a built-in audience like Etsy does, so you have to put more legwork into finding buyers.
Etsy and its typical competitors aside, there are other beginner-friendly marketplaces where new and experienced sellers can list their goods for sale.
If you’re a font creator, illustrator, crafter, or needle art pattern maker, Creative Fabrica is a popular platform to sell your creations to fellow creatives. Some creators sell their design per bundle, while others put them for download as part of our site’s subscription plan inclusion.
To learn more about how to sell on our website, read this guide on How to open a store on Creative Fabrica.
You can likewise sell your designs as print-on-demand goods and partner with websites like RedBubble where you can upload your design and they’ll help you create the products with your designs on them.
If you get our All Access Subscription Plan, you can use our POD fonts and POD graphics with full POD license on any design you choose to sell.
Additionally, with CF Spark, our family of tools, you can create your very own brand-new product and unlock your full potential. These powerful tools enable you to generate images, patterns, sketches, transparent PNGs, and more, allowing you to bring your ideas to life and use your creations commercially for your creative business!
Every online marketplace has its own set of pros and cons. To make an informed decision, don’t just look at platforms’ advantages and drawbacks on their own.
You should also take into account your own unique seller needs and if your chosen platform can serve them well.
Much like leasing space in a physical store, operating a shop on Etsy or other platforms comes with a fee.
Research all the mandatory fees of your top choices and find which one fits your budget.
Can you and your products reach your target market effectively in your platform of choice?
Knowing your target’s consumer habits should help you decide which platform is best for you.
Will the platform increase your visibility to your target audience?
If a platform does not show up on your target market’s search results, it may not help you much with gaining exposure and visibility to the right demographic.
If you’re determined to make your online business a full-time venture, choose a platform that supports growth. Can you effectively grow your business on the platform?
Finding a site that has impeccable customer service is important, especially if you’re a beginner.
Research platforms that are beginner-friendly, offering tools and easy access to customer service to help you start and run your business.
Does the platform offer its sellers enough support and protection? Research every platform you’re considering and find out what their policies are to protect their sellers.
Deciding on a platform to start your business requires considerable research and a deep dive into your own priorities as a seller. Are you still just starting out or do you want to level up?
Are you okay with leveraging Etsy’s branding or do you want to establish your own?
There is no right or wrong answer – every seller’s need is different, and there’s a platform for everyone that can address this need.
It’s not risky to sell on Etsy as the platform is a well-known and trusted brand. Etsy has tools to keep your private information like your address and banking information safe.
However, you should still do your due diligence to keep your information. Don’t give out your personal details. Have a PO box address for returns. Don’t include your personal address on your shipping label.
Like many online marketplaces, there are scam customers who target Etsy sellers. That’s why it’s always recommended to keep all your Etsy transactions within the website – so you can have a record of every interaction you have with a buyer, should they turn out to be scammers.
Yes, Etsy is safe and legitimate as a marketplace. To protect both sellers and buyers, Etsy has a Purchase Protection Program which aims to give both parties a good experience on the site.
To learn more about this program, read this guide.
What sells best on Etsy can change every year and may depend on seasonal demands. However, here are 10 of the most consistent top selling items through the years:
Learn more about these top sellers and other selling tips on what to sell on Etsy on our blog on the topic.
People stop selling on Etsy for a number of reasons. The most common reason is that it’s hard to gain a profit, especially when you’re competing with so many sellers and you’re forced to lower your price just to make a sale.
Constantly lowering their price points to remain competitive makes it hard to earn a viable profit, so they have no choice but to leave the site.
Yes, selling digital prints or printables on Etsy is worth it. If you’re a digital artist or graphic designer looking for a good product to start with, printables is the best way to go.
Printables are also some of Etsy’s popular selling products.
Learn more about how to sell printables on Etsy with our guide, which includes tips on the best printable products to offer and which tools to use.
A realistic Etsy income depends on your success on the platform, your products, and the amount of work you put in. According to Etsy CEO Josh Silverman in 2020, the average Etsy seller makes around $2900 a year. However, in 2022, this average dropped to $1,800.
A beginner can earn $50 to $100 a month, while successful ones can make between $40,000 to 50,000 USD a year.
However, sellers are cautioned against thinking that you can automatically make this income just by selling on the platform. This amount of income can only be possible if you work hard at your shop, just like any other business venture.
The advantage to owning an online shop, though, is that it costs considerably less compared to having a physical storefront.
How much Etsy takes from a sale depends on the price of the product and your location as a seller.
In general Etsy charges a flat fee of $0.20 USD per listing, a 6.5% transaction fee based on the total price (price of product + shipping fee), and a payment processing fee which differs per region/country.
To learn more about how much Etsy charges its sellers, read our Etsy Fees Explained article.
If you’ve decided that Etsy is worth it for you and your business, get tools that are worth your while so you can run your shop as efficiently as possible.
To generate attractive product listing titles in a flash, use our Etsy product listing generator.
If you need help drafting well-written product descriptions, our Etsy product description generator helps you craft a draft within seconds.
Your bio profile needs work? Get assistance from our Etsy bio generator.
If you have other copywriting needs to promote in other channels like your blog or social media, CF Spark Writer can help you.
Is Etsy a good place to sell your goods? Any platform is only as good as the amount of work you put in.
To help you on your seller journey, we’ve come up with the Ultimate Etsy Guide, which aims to be your go-to page for all things Etsy-related.
Need an easy-to-read step-by-step guide to open your shop? Read our article on How to Start a Shop on Etsy.
Ready to open your shop but still on the fence about your shop name? Our How to Choose an Etsy Store Name will give you pointers plus tips and inspiration to help you decide on a name that suits your brand.
Finalizing your store offerings? Our guide on Etsy top selling items offers a list of the site’s consistent top sellers, plus tips on how you can sell better.
Reading this article, have you now decided if Etsy is the best place for you? Remember, Etsy is just as good as any platform to sell your products, but it’s up to you to decide if it can serve you and your products well.
In any case, the best move for any online seller is to eventually grow to have multiple platforms on which to sell.
Etsy is a good place for you to start, but don’t be afraid to dream big and create plans to scale up.
So many factors will affect your journey toward growing your business, many of them out of your control.
But one factor you have a say on is how you operate your business for maximum efficiency. Incorporate the savvy use of tools like the CF Spark suite of tools in your daily processes.
Under CF Spark Writer, you will find AI text generators to help you draft your Store Bio, Listing Titles, and Listing Descriptions within seconds. If you need to improve your store offerings, you can experiment with concepts and ideas with CF Spark Art.
You can even go as specific as generating repeatable images for digital backgrounds with CF Spark Patterns or creating transparent PNGs for stickers and crafts using CF Spark Crystalline.
To create your own success story on Etsy, find endless ways to grow as a business owner. Be open to constant learning and keep checking out our Ultimate Etsy Guide for how-to’s, guides, and tips to run your Etsy business.
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