I have been selling on Etsy since 2014. Pumpjack & Piddlewick was my first shop, selling vintage and antique finds from France. Then my passion for scarves meant it made sense to have a specialising boutique, and French Silk Scarf was born. A nice offset for the eclectic variety of P&P. And then, since I do love to create as well, I created Taking Time Too. It sells digital downloads of ephemera and some of my own creations. Collectively, I have some history, and knowledge. So what works when selling on Etsy?
But first, What is Etsy?
In case you are unfamiliar with Etsy, it is an online marketplace for handmade, vintage and craft supplies. Amazon it is not, though it does function very similarly. Its main difference is in what is sold, in that it offers artisans a way to sell their wares. It’s not about fast fashion, or the latest gadget, but rather quality and the unique.
It has grown quickly over the years and now boasts millions of sellers and almost a billion customers. Competition to sell here has become harder, but if you know what works you can stay ahead of your competitors.
There are lots of ‘helpful’ videos and blogs posts about selling on Etsy. Particularly of the ‘how to make gobs of xxxxxxx£$’ variety. And yes, this is possible. But personally I recommend you steer clear of reading or watching those types of posts. They don’t nor can’t reflect your business. Especially if you want to be in it for the long haul. I have watched many and none of them have proved to be actually helpful. They are just click bait.
I do have one go to for wisdom and help I would recommend and that is Kara Buntin on YouTube. As she puts it in her header she is all about ‘Etsy and Creative Home based Business Education without the Fluff‘. And it truly is. She does not suffer fools. Her Facebook group is a marvelous place to ask questions and get real experience and positive helpful answers. (It is a private group. You can only join if you have an Etsy shop.)
Selling on Etsy
Selling on Etsy is fun. And can be worthwhile if you put the time in. How much time is up to you. But I can tell you 3 things will take up most of your time:
- Making (handmade) or buying (vintage) – the real fun bit
- and then photographing – the can get boring bit
- And when something sells, parcelling up – the really boring bit
There is more, like actually listing the item on Etsy, social media, promotions, running a sale, etc., but I can guaratee you that these 3 things will be what you do most.
But What is Key?
Besides my own Etsy businesses, I have helped others open successful Etsy shops. (You can hire me here.) Helping others has truly made me aware of what works. Even though my shops are varied, each person does things differently with their own shop. And it is in looking at what is not different that highlights what is successful.
Some list more items (particularly in vintage), some spend more time on social media, some take the most amazing pictures. All of which truly help. Especially the photography. That is your shop window and what will entice people to buy, especially from mobile phones. So photographs are super important (as anyone selling successfully on Etsy, and including Etsy, will tell you – over and over again. There’s a reason).
However, there is one key factor when it comes to selling on Etsy, no matter what you sell. And for some reason this one rarely gets a mention. It’s repeating. Etsy love, love, loves when something sells. You make money, but more importantly they make money (as they charge the seller fees when an item sells).
If something sells, they want you to offer more of the same. Once an item sells, if there are more on offer, eg the listing repeats, Etsy will do more to promote it. I repeat, it is a win win for you and Etsy, so they will help you with what is a win for them.
So yes photographs are super important, but if you want to have a successful business on Etsy you need to be able to repeat items.
But what about Vintage?
Selling repeat items can be tricky with vintage, but it is also how I discovered this key fact. Vintage, or antique, by its nature is one of a kind. So typically a vintage shop on Etsy goes for listing as many items as possible. Yes, this does help, but it is not key. (And there is no magic number of ‘how many’ items you should list, no matter what people tout.)
To repeat, in vintage you need to find something you can repeat. It could be almost anything; silver sugar tongs, brass pot rails, WWII mess kits… Something you can find regularly. And where you can essentially keep the same wording of the listing. Ideally you might only change the photos, if needed.
As long as you can repeatedly find a similar, if not the same, item you will have an item that Etsy will repeatedly promote for you.
Etsy is not Perfect
Life of course is never always easy, and this includes Etsy. It may take time to get your repeat item to sell in the first place. Etsy (and google) regularly change their algorithims which can affect sales until things settle again. But it is a good platform to sell from none the less. (I still haven’t found better, and I regularly look as one should never put all your eggs in one basket.)
If you choose to sell online, whether it is a few items you wish to get rid of or to make a successful business, knowing what the platform you wish to sell on wants from you is key. And for them, as they are a business, they are looking to make money. Bottom line. So ask yourself, how can I make money for them – as then you will make money for yourself.
If you are interested in what I sell on Etsy (and TeeSpring), here is a taste…
Simply click on image to see more.