5 Things You Should Know Before Starting An Etsy Store

After years of creating styled photography for my graphic and web design clients I noticed a growing demand for unique, affordable options.  Bloggers, store owners and creative entrepreneurs were approaching me wanting styled images but not necessarily graphic design services.

Armed with a small collection of 17 styled images and the motivation to create passive income, I took a leap of faith and launched my Etsy store on November 8, 2014. I made my first sale three days later and in less than eight months I had 100+ listings and 403+ sales! I learned a lot from those first eight months and now I’m sharing that with you. Here are the 5 things you should know before starting an Etsy store.

1. Visual Branding

Create a visual story that expresses who you are and what you are selling in a concise, unique way.  Be authentic! The key areas are the Etsy banner (3360 pixels x 840 pixels ), the avatar, the shop announcement, the about page (you can add a video too!), listing descriptions and your product photos (more on that below).

When Choosing your store name make sure it’s easy for buyers to remember and easy to spell. Be decisive because changing it requires time and Etsy only lets you do it once. Choose a name that is cohesive and consistent with any other branding you have (website, blog, social media etc)


2. Understanding Cost

Listing Fees

Starting an Etsy store is free to open and they charge .20¢ USD for every listing and a 3.5% commission on all sales.  What you may not know is that your listings have to be renewed every four months (or when the product sells out you can renew) at the cost of .20¢ per listing. It’s not a huge amount of money for what you get in the way of services but if you have 300+ listings it starts to add up.

Processing Fees

If you accept Paypal in your shop then you will pay 2.9% for all sales and $0.30 per transaction fee on top of Etsy’s so make sure when pricing your products you keep that in mind. Lastly, if a buyer chooses a Direct Checkout option (Credit card, Debit card, Apple pay etc) you will pay3% of total sale price (incl. shipping and tax) plus $0.25 per transaction.

Marketing Fees

Etsy offers promoted listings through cost per click ads that put your listing at the top of searches. You choose your daily budget and they cost as little as $1.00/day. This feature is optional so you decide if it’s beneficial to sales (more on that in a future post) but make sure your store is in tip top shape before you start.

Etsy goes into more detail on their website. you can read all about Etsy pricing here.

3. Your Product Photos

Etsy gives the option of loading up to five product images. Make sure they are good quality, bright photographs. Try to use all five and show variation, how it can be used, close up of details, colour options, packaging etc. These photos will best reflect your visual brand and build trust with the buyer so be sure to use consistent colors, lighting, and props throughout your store. Using styled Photography is a great and easy way to do this! Find out what NOT to do according to Etsy here.


4. The Dreaded SEO

Let’s face it, understanding Search Engine Optimization can be about as much fun as sucking a lemon but it is critical to success and so we must do it. Your goal is to create content that will make you visible in search engines and drive traffic to your store. Choose keywords that your potential buyer might use when searching for your product. In short, think like a buyer. Include these keywords in the title, description and tags. Etsy lets you add 13 tags to each listing and you have the added benefit of being able to track their success.  Be descriptive and make sure your tags are no less than two words!

5. Your Store Policies

Don't be intimidated by shipping. Etsy makes creating labels easy and shipping companies make shipping well, easy. You can get access to costs and create tracking labels online or in store. Find out what the costs would be to ship locally and/or internationally and price out any shipping materials you would need and include that in your cost. You can always start by only offering shipping in your country. Determine your production time, store hours and your return policies and state them very clearly. This is another important area where you can build trust with your buyer.

Lastly, be patient. Sales may not happen as fast as you like but they will happen! Devote lots of time to tweaking your listings and continue to add product. Try different things (tags, promoted listings) and check your shop stats to see your progress.

xx Sandra Manton Mills

Have you launched an Etsy store? What did you learn from your experience?