Selling on Etsy

Etsy is one of the most highly visited and recognized online marketplaces for selling handmade jewelry, crafts or art of any kind. I truly cannot say enough wonderful things about this site and, once you get the bug, you'll see why people become addicted.

Having had direct experience with a couple of shops of my own I have decided to devote an entire page to this topic alone.

At virtually every craft show in which I exhibit I hear customers make comments about Etsy or ask me if they can find my jewelry there. While I do have my jewelry on their site, I have not devoted the time that is necessary to build my shop as most of my focus now is on building this website.

I have studied Etsy carefully for the past number of years and have come to the conclusion that their site is nothing short of brilliant. It's truly a work of art in itself.

They have taken a slice of life and culture on the internet and created a smaller version of the world wide web especially dedicated to the love of art. Within that world...is a wonderful community of artists, suppliers, crafts people and of course, jewelry designers.

From time to time, I come across comments on the internet about Etsy and how hard it is to get sales for jewelry as it is inundated with jewelry shops.

Of course, like all venues for selling jewelry, whether it be a craft show, a wholesale show, the internet, or online marketplaces... it's all inundated with jewelry. Don't let that stop you!

If the Beatles had listened to the first advice they received they would have never become "The Beatles." No one would bother to study acting or music if they focused on the competition, only to conclude that it's futile to pursue one's dreams. If you have the desire to create and sell jewelry then you must learn the way to sell it!

Just as Etsy has created a smaller world on the internet, you will create your own mini world within theirs. And just as it takes time and perseverance to build any business, it will take time and concentrated effort to build a successful shop.

A Positive Community

Like in the "real world" there are checks and balances within the Etsy system. In society we have policing and courts for keeping our world civilized. I find it remarkable that aside from the rules they put forth, the whole system seems to be essentially policed by its members.

This is done by using the "feedback" system. The feedback system offers, in my opinion, the much needed personal responsibility within the community. Being able to leave feedback as a buyer or a seller... for both buyers and sellers is a powerful way to build trust within the community.

No system is flawless and there will always be members who use the "feedback" tool to act out, or lash out, and typically while saying a lot about the other person, they say a great deal about themselves. If used responsibly the feedback system truly builds positive energy and trust.

Each one of us who decides to open a shop is then accountable and will likely strive to maintain good relationships within the marketplace. In my experience, I have found the journey to be overall a positive one and as for the occasional person that leaks negativity in the form of acting out, eventually their reputation precedes them until they stop.


Top nine Strategies for Building a Successful Etsy Shop


ONE - A Top Notch Product - Having a product that is well thought out from design concept, to execution, to continuity in style, is the first step to having an appealing shop.

It is better to only have twelve items for sale that reflect a theme, or style, that says you than it is to have thirty items that are all over the map in terms of design and technique.

We have all seen shops which have no definitive style, or product, displaying a cross section of what sells on Etsy. Shop owners that dabble in every medium and style available. This kind of shop presents poorly as it has no flavor of its own. In other words, there is no brand message other than confusion.

This is not to say that an eclectic line will not work. There are creative ways to pull this sort of line together with a common thread such as, a photographic style, a technique, or distinctive trademark and by making the shop name descriptive of your eclectic offerings.


TWO - Excellent Photography - Becoming an expert at photographing your product is probably the most important factor in attracting customers. Your product photography is the way you will get people to click on your listings. It is the store window that invites customers into your shop.

When photographing your jewelry, make sure to keep in mind that natural light is the most flattering and direct sunlight looks the most unprofessional. Items should be shot up close and kept to a sharp focus and the focal point should be the jewelry, not the background.

You are allowed multiple photos of your product and it's beneficial to use them all. Let your customer feel they can get close to the item by photographing your pieces from different angles, on different backgrounds and in action via a live model.

Show your customer how that necklace looks in a romantic setting, draped over an antique book, on a dramatic, rich paper and by all means on a human being!

By developing a photographic style that is uniquely yours, your are essentially branding your line and creating a world for others to escape into. That world should be enticing and offer personal gratification that keeps customers wanting and longing to come back.

Use the highest setting on your camera to achieve excellent quality photos, then edit and crop them in a photo editing software. Save your images at 300 DPI and crop each one uniformly squared. The rest, you can do on Etsy for there are built-in features that allow you to crop the photo to show just as you'd like.

Although customers will be able to view the photos in their full size when they click on them, you really want the small version to look absolutely impeccable so that customers will want to click on them and go into your shop.

Having impeccable photos will also increase your chances of having one of your items make it to the front page of Etsy... which is excellent business for you!


THREE - Enticing and Clear Descriptions - Be creative with your descriptions. Say a little bit about how you designed the piece, how you constructed it and what it means to you, but before you start talking about your yourself, make sure to create enticing copy about what your item can do for your customer!

After all, it is all about your visitors and what they need and want. As soon as they land on your product description they should start to feel what it would be like to own the item and your copy should stir about emotion. It is that feeling that will entice desire to make a purchase. Have a good look around at Etsy and when you find successful shops and products that appeal to you, have a closer look at the product descriptions. See which ones stir up feeling and make you want to purchase.

After you have written your heart out with alluring copy that draws visitors in, make sure to include the important specs on each item such as, size, color availability, type of metal, nickel free items, any custom sizing available, whether you can change hooks to clip-on earrings etc.

Don't forget to list sizing in both imperial (inches) and metric (centimeters/millimeters). The more the customer can feel satisfied with information, the more likely they feel confident to buy.


FOUR - Shop Information and Image - When you set up your shop start with a clean shop image by designing a striking shop banner and avatar.

If you do not feel you can design the banner of your dreams then find someone who can. There are many designers on Etsy who will do this for a small fee. Make sure that your banner is in focus and easy to read. A blurry banner looks unprofessional.

Before listing any items, think about what your shop policies will be and be clear in setting them in print. Make your policies clear, but at all times friendly. People do not feel comfortable purchasing from a shop that has all sorts of warnings regarding shipping and returns.

I find it always pays to guarantee my product 100% and let it be known. While I offer refunds it is on the item only and not on the shipping. It's very important to be clear on what your policies are. If you feel unsure, look at other shops and find what fits for you.

Write a good strong profile about yourself. Let your customer know a little bit about you, your goals, passions and the story of how you started your craft. When people feel closer to you, they feel closer to your product.

Lastly, make a shop announcement that is inviting and friendly. This is a great place to say a little bit about your product and any special additions to your line or even how to shop your shop.


FIVE - Pricing - While on the average it may be the lower to mid range priced items that sell in greater volume, do not concern yourself too much with pricing your items low. In fact, having low prices just drives the whole market down as other artists feel that it's necessary to compete for low pricing.

Although the average sale on Etsy may be low, you really must consider that this average is taken from a wide variety of shops. If you look at the top sellers on Etsy, there are plenty top-selling shops with non-jewelry products before we even reach the first top-selling jewelry shop.

Out of the many top Etsy shops, you will find numerous craft suppliers and jewelry finding suppliers. Since the top sellers on Etsy are mostly supply shops, it's very hard to get an accurate figure for the average sale, especially when the items are in the very low range. In other words, this is not a reflection of what the average sale is for jewelry on Etsy.

The list of top sellers is based solely on number of sales. While one shop may be way down the list, it could still be reaping in more in annual sales as it is relevant to what the price points are and how much they are selling daily or monthly.

What you might want to do is to research all the top-selling jewelry shops and investigate the average sale prices. Again make sure to check how long the shop has been listing items for sale.

This is important as one shop may be top-selling because they have been on Etsy for 10 years, having accumulated more sales simply by being around longer, while another shop may be selling ten times more per month but have only been open for eight months.

In other words, do your research in order to assess the success of other shops and the price ranges. After you have done that, you need to carefully consider the right price for your product. Do not under sell your work. It's difficult to substantially increase prices if you realize you have under priced your work. Most importantly, do not join the crowd who is pricing their work at two dollars! There is no where to go but out of business when you compete for pricing in the handmade market.

There are a select few jewelry artists on Etsy who sell their work in the seven hundred dollar range. One particular jewelry designer has developed quite a following and has no problem getting that kind of price for her work. Bear in mind that the technique, materials and reputation all seem to warrant this price point and not all of us will fit that model.

Another important factor in pricing is what you will charge for shipping. On the average I find shipping prices to be rather low on Etsy. In Canada we don't have the best shipping rates available and, funny enough, I can ship cheaper to the USA than I can across Canada.

In my Etsy shop I have put a competitive shipping price that sometimes does not actually cover the shipping cost. I feel it balances out in the end as the overhead is very low for selling on Etsy compared to the high costs incurred when selling at some shows.

If you feel that you cannot cover your shipping cost by being competitive with shipping rates from other shops you can try this alternative:

Offer a lower shipping rate and increase your item price by a couple of dollars to make up for it. This can sometimes be appealing to customers who are willing to pay the price that is listed for your item. Later, when they the shipping cost, they find themselves pleasantly surprised by the economical shipping rate.

To learn more about shipping from Canada please visit my Shipping from Canada  page.

You can also offer customers free shipping for larger purchases which is good incentive to buy more. For example, you might want to offer free shipping on purchases of $100 or more. There is often little, or no extra cost incurred when adding a second item to a package, especially when that item is a small piece of jewelry.


SIX - Networking and Promoting - There are many ways you can promote your shop with some networking and advertising. Consider starting a blog and writing about your collection and all things relevant to your brand and ideal customer. Don't forget to implement a way of collection email addresses on your blog. Once people get to know your jewelry, they like to get to know a little bit about you and vice verse.

Opening a Facebook business page, a Pinterest business account, and keeping an active Instagram account is another way to promote your work and lead customers to your shop. Research the internet for blogs on fashion, style, jewelry and crafts and see if you can submit your work. Sometimes sites will offer giveaways and it may be worth the investment to donate an item in order to get exposure.

Also, consider advertising on Etsy with great products, great photos of your products, and relevant keywords to get your items in front of visitors.

The worst thing you can do on Etsy is to be passive about your sales and your product exposure. Yes, some people may find your products organically through the keywords they enter in Etsy, but ultimately, like any business, it's up to you to drive customers to your product pages.

Lastly, always have business cards to hand out at shows and anywhere that you may travel. Make your card clean and clear showing that you have jewelry and include your Etsy site address.


SEVEN - Relevancy vs recently listed - It used to be that most recently listed item on Etsy would show up at the top of the pile. So, if you had just listed a necklace, your necklace would be near the top of the list as viewers searched on Etsy.

With this search system you could have your items viewed several times just based on the number of people who happened to be searching on Etsy at the time you listed your item.

Then Etsy introduced relevancy search which means that buyers view items based on their specific keyword searches. For this reason it's very important to become keyword focused so that buyers will find your products.

Keep in mind that at the time that Etsy introduced relevancy search they suggested that at some point they may revert back to the older search system, but search is still highly connected to keywords. Although, I do find recency still plays a role in how your product is discovered.

The top three ways to get your items found with relevancy search is by product relevant titles, keywords, and tags and by filling in any fields that Etsy offers for search help. Your product description will not necessarily help buyers find you, but will help once they have found you.

Let's start with the title. Your product title should include relevant information such as: Swarovski Indian Sapphire or Art Nouveau if that is what your buyer might search for.

Naming your  product title "Sophia necklace" will not help buyers to find your product if they are looking for a sapphire necklace, even if "Sophia" is made with sapphire crystals. If you wanted to include the name of the necklace you would be better to put "sapphire necklace" followed by "Sophia."

As much as possible, include keywords that are being searched on Etsy, in your title. Do some research on handmade items using the Etsy toolbar and make notes on which keywords come up as suggestions when you start to enter keywords related to the item you want to list.

For example: if you would like to list a vintage necklace that has an old Hollywood feel, use the exact keywords that come up as a suggestion in the Etsy search bar. You may see that "old Hollywood necklace" is a popular searched keyword.

Next, use as many tags as you have available with related keywords. Whenever possible use them all! I once listed a vintage glass German cameo in my Etsy supply shop and, when doing a search, my listing came up quite high on the internet.

I'm not talking about how it ranked on Etsy, I'm talking about the whole internet. I find that remarkable when you consider the millions of sites online. So yes, use all the keywords you can and consider them carefully. If your jewelry is nickel free, add that keyword and most importantly, don't forget to list the color as a keyword.

 The following are some random possible keywords to spark your creative keyword search for items:

French blue, bridal, one of a kind, women, mother's day, wedding, aquamarine, semi precious, black onyx, crimson, mother of pearl, vintage style, antique finish, retro, mod, kitsch, sterling silver, patina, re-purposed, estate style, modern, contemporary, bridesmaids, swarovski crystal, freshwater pearl, periwinkle, olive green, cameo hoops, eclectic etc. Don't forget when listing colors to include the basic names such as green as well as chartreuse.

Fill out all the fields that Etsy will allow such as, category type, occasion and style. All these details help buyers find your products. Lastly, resist the temptation to stuff you listing title with every keyword available. Keep your product title clean and on target. For information on Etsy keyword research visit Marmalead. It is a paid keyword research service, but you may find just the right keywords for your product.


EIGHT - Customer Service - Excellent customer service is one of the best things you can do to create trust and a loyal following. Offering guarantees on your work and a quality product will keep your customers coming back.

From the start, you can offer great service by simply replying to emails quickly and shipping orders promptly. Show appreciation to your visitors who are simply looking, or inquiring about your work, as well as when they actually make a purchase. It goes a long way.

Have you ever purchased from someone and you're the only one to say thank you? Does it leave you thinking, as you walk away, what happened to thanking the customer?

Sometimes it's a matter of not being conscious of expressing appreciation and sometimes it's simply a matter of the wrong attitude as in "you are lucky to have me serve you." Why leave your customers guessing? Let them know they are valued.

Packaging your product in such a way that says you are taking great care in sending their purchase and you take pride in your work, leaves your customers with a good feeling about you, and your product.

On Etsy it's quite customary to send jewelry gift-boxed. In Canada that extra few millimeter thickness to the package drives the postal fee way up. It's crazy, but a gift box within Canada can add several dollars to shipping.

If you are going to ship the item in a little velvet bag instead of a box, make it clear in your description and your product photos so customers know what to expect. Determine what your packaging will include and what your shipping fees are beforehand. Weigh out beauty and impressiveness against the shipping fees and your offer.


Including that photo of how the product is packaged is vital so that there are no surprises when it arrives. It might be very disappointing to receive a piece of jewelry in tissue paper when all the other shops send boxes with bows.

These are all important considerations in adding appeal to your overall presentation and creating a special feel for your customers. Good customer service leads to good customer feedback and it's all part and parcel of building trust online.


NINE - Do Your Research - If you want to learn how to sell on Etsy successfully, take a little time and do your research. Use the tools available on Etsy to see what other shops are selling and how they present themselves.

If there are fifty shops selling tile image pendants then it's probably not a good idea to sell tile pendants. There truly is no way to compete with a trend at the end of its cycle. More so, you are a creative person who can come up with many fabulous ideas.

If you already have an established line, it will probably be much easier for you to decide which items you'll list, but if you're looking to cater to trends then research is your best tool. There are some designers who sell less items at higher price points and some who sell high-volume, low-priced items.

Sometimes shop owners suddenly find themselves working like a little factory if their product takes off while others cannot understand why they're not selling.

None the less, it's important to plan and know what you're getting into. If your low-priced items will sell like hot cakes, it's good to be prepared mentally by making a conscious choice about what you would like and that which is your vision.

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