How To Make Money Online – Set Up Shop On Etsy
You’ll hear a lot of talk about earning money online, but not a lot of people can actually walk the walk when it really comes down to it. The main problem is that people tend to think that working from home doesn’t require much effort. However, no matter how many times more comfortable and satisfying it can be to set up a small home office than to go to a 9-5 job each day, it still takes plenty of dedication and effort to be able to earn online.
A great example of this are websites like Etsy, where you use the internet mainly as a means of offering your work to a broader audience, but at the end of the day, you get paid for plenty of good old fashioned hard work.
If you are a creative person with a particular set of skills, selling items on Etsy can be an excellent way to supplement your income, and it can even become your primary source of income. In this article we will be looking at what it takes to set up a successful Etsy shop, and how to go about it in order to ensure the best results.
Find something that you are good at and passionate about
It goes without saying that you have to be able to actually create something that people will want to buy. Look at your skills, hobbies and interests, and try to find an interesting way of putting what you know to good use. People are getting very creative with their crafts these days – offering crochet underwear, folding book pages into letters to spell out a word, creating unique jewelry pieces, working with leather and metal, etc.
You can also go the vintage route, finding and selling beautiful vintage pieces like classic leather shoes, old cameras, and clothing.
Etsy also allows the sale of crafting supplies – e.g. materials like leather, pins, handmade picture frames, fabrics and buttons, and so on – for those who may not be that artistic, but have some skill and a knack for business.
Even if you are more of a businessman than artist, you can assemble a team of talented people to help you craft the items and then sell them.
Dig around to see what the competition is doing
Once you’ve thought about what you are going to be doing, it’s important to get acquainted with the market. You should be looking at existing shops that sell items similar to what you have in mind. Let’s say you plan on creating custom greeting cards. You’d do a search for different kinds of greeting cards, and look at the prices range, styles, materials, product descriptions and so on.
You’d also need to pay attention to the quality of photographs, i.e. how the most successful sellers on Etsy present their work to the public. It’s always a good idea to learn from the seasoned veterans of the business, and emulate their tactics.
It’s best to sort items by price and examine the most expensive offers to see what makes them so special. In the picture above we can see a few interesting trends right off the bat – personalized sound greeting cards, custom artwork, quirky designs, cards with geometric cutout designs, etc.
You can use these ideas and add your own personal twist, perhaps a unique and recognizable art style, natural materials like stones or pressed flowers glued to the card and so on.
Make sure you know the rules
There are three basic categories of items that you can sell on Etsy:
- Handmade goods – these have to be your own work, made by hand, and can’t just be a mishmash of mass produced items, e.g. gluing a variety of store bought miniatures to a base and calling it handmade decoration, although modifying commonly available items in a creative way is perfectly fine, e.g. making a handbag out of soda can tabs. Your goods can be both physical and digital, e.g. printable templates or photographs.
- Vintage items – these have to be over 20 years old and kept in good condition
- Craft supplies – again, you can’t offer mass produced items, but you can create tools and materials and sell them.
You will have to pay a fixed fee of 20 cents for creating each listing, and you can add five images per listing to showcase your product. There is an additional fee of 3.5% of the price of every listing sold that goes to Etsy. If there are multiple items of the same type available, you can simply set it up so that the listing is immediately put up again after a single item is sold, for as long as you have more in stock. The 20 cent fee will be automatically charged for each updated listing.
As far as payment goes, Etsy allows PayPal, and have their own Direct Checkout as a fairly good option. You will receive regular payments from Etsy, minus the fees, each week, but they also allow for shorter payment periods if this is what the seller prefers.
Setting up shop
Etsy is actually quite good towards its new sellers, providing ample advice on starting a shop. Getting started is quite simple:
- Set up an account
- Click on the set up a shop button
- Go through the user-friendly process
After setting the language, country and currency, you will have to state the purpose of opening a shop, e.g. selling full time, and choose a name for your shop before moving on.
Be sure to go with a name that speaks out to your target demographic and is easy to remember. You might have to fill in your credit card information as well – they accept all major credit cards. After these initial steps, you will be given the chance to add a number of listings.
Develop an inventory before you start selling
When you start your shop, you will be allowed to post listings, so you will need to have some kind of inventory ready before you can start to earn money online.
Devote some time to preparing your first items. You can start slow – invest in the right tools and supplies, and dedicate a couple of weekends to creating at least 10 flagship items. This way you will have a bit of variety, and you’ll get to practice applying your skills. If you’ve never done any sort of art or crafts before, don’t expect the initial items to be perfect, but know that you will definitely improve with time, especially if there is a demand for your work.
Get a good camera and take plenty of product shots
A major point that you need to consider is that to be a successful seller on Etsy you need to be a decent photographer on top of being a skilled and creative artist or craftsman. A good part of your initial investment funds needs to go towards getting a good camera and setting up some form of effective lighting.
If you are really serious about making money online and selling on Etsy, it’s best to go over a few YouTube photography tutorials, get some books or take a photography class, so that you can present high quality images for your work.
Make sure you show all the different angles, and for apparel and accessories you can have someone model the item. If you offer digital goods, this may not be required, although you can also sell your photography or incorporate it into a piece, e.g. creating custom t-shirt designs.
By investing in good photography, you are actually taking that significant extra step in ensuring that your Etsy shop attracts customers. The key to success is in the little details that show that you are a tireless professional who strives for perfection.
Use product names that are easily searchable and multiple word tags
Etsy gives you ample room for creating an accurate and somewhat detailed description of each listing. You have 140 characters available to name each product, so make good use of it. It’s best to go with more descriptive names like “Blue and Yellow Personalized Picture Frame” or “Exotic Wood Hand Carved Dog Figurine” than for artistic-sounding or vague titles like “Man’s Best Friend” or “Dog Figurine”.
All listing will also incorporate a number of tags, and you should strive to use words that people looking for a product similar to yours would type into a search.
Make sure to use multiple word tags, as single word tags aren’t specific enough to distinguish your product from a sea of similar options. For the hypothetical examples mentioned above, you can simply use a few words from the title, and add a few more descriptive word clusters that pertain to the product. Your tags would then look something like this: wooden dog figurine, wooden home decoration, exotic wood dog carving, your shop name, etc.
Take the time to write informative product descriptions
You can also add a few bits information about the item, but the meat and potatoes of each listing is the description, which can be as long as you like. So, don’t lose out on the opportunity to talk about the product, materials used, and history behind it, share some of the inspirations and creative process, suggest how it can be used, and so on. Through in a strong call to action for good measure, and any variations in colors and size if applicable.
It can be a bit of a hassle to provide extensive information on each item, particularly if you have quite a few, but it is definitely worth it. Just as learning a bit about photography can help you enhance your Etsy shop, a few lessons in grammar and writing will enable you to grab a customer’s attention, showing him or her that you are a serious professional, that you passionate about what you do and that you do it well.
Customizing your Etsy Shop
When all the listing have been updated, and you have plenty of picture and text to help showcase your work, there are just a few more things you can do to customize your shop. Your profile picture is an important detail, but don’t think of it as a kind of formal matter – business suits and a serious face are all good and well for LinkedIn, but people come to Etsy expecting to see true artists and craftsman, regular people who love expressing themselves through art or just enjoy creating things.
This is the kind of image that you want to get across, so make sure you choose a picture in which you look somewhat serious, but at the same time relatively casual and positive. Another way to go is to have your logo as a profile picture, or perhaps one of your trademark pieces – this tells the buyer that you are a dedicated professional, and can give them insight into the type of work you do right off the bat.
Adding a custom banner is the last bit of modification you can do, and it needs to be something that goes along with the theme of your shop. The banners are 760×100 pixels, and they are what sets your shop apart from others aesthetically, so make it count.
Treat it as a job
The final piece of advice comes down to being fully committed to improving your skills, offering new items on a regular basis, and evolving based on customer feedback. You have to put in a good amount of time into your work on a weekly basis, and that means both crafting and reaching out to the community for feedback, taking new pictures, writing descriptions and being active within the community. Dedicate several work hours to your Etsy shop, even if you can only manage a couple of hours a day or 4-5 hours on the weekends, and treat it as you would any other job.
The thing that isn’t talked about a whole lot, is the fact that you can’t make money online, not any serious amount anyway, if you think of it as just another project. Creating an Etsy shop doesn’t take a whole lot of work, but starting a good Etsy shop, growing it, and making good money from it is another story altogether.
As Kartikeya Sharma says Money doesn’t fall from the sky, no matter what some people will have you believe, and it takes passion and some hard work to go over all the points in this article and earn a living on Etsy.