Here are 13 smart (and proven) tips on how to get sales on Etsy

Okay, you’ve done it; you started your own Etsy shop (yeah!) You know what you’re going to sell (from post #1 in this series), and now that you’ve committed yourself, you’re wondering the big scary questions… How do I get Etsy traffic? And more importantly, how to get sales on Etsy? You know there’s a lot of competition out there. So what do you do to actually make money on Etsy? Decent money, not just $7 a week from a random sale.

Well, good news, there are a lot of different things you can do to help you get sales and keep increasing them. Let’s go through the top 13 Etsy tips to give your shop the best chance. 

But first, let’s dig into what’s possible with having a successful Etsy shop.

how to get sales on etsy from day one

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How much can you make on Etsy?

A LOT.

No, seriously, you can make a lot of money selling on Etsy. You need a really good plan and a great product, and some good timing. Let’s take a look at some of the details…

That’s a lot of money in sales, and part of it could be yours, but let’s look at some individual shops dollars (source).

PlannerKate1

  • Opened her shop in 2014
  • Sells – planner stickers & planner organization
  • Had 582,977 transactions in 2020
  • Generated $2.5 million in sales in 2020
  • Averages 674 sales a day since inception

Wow, that’s a lot! Let’s look at something a bit more achievable.

Little Mia Bella

  • Opened her shop in 2015
  • Sells: matching outfits for moms & kids
  • Had 201,912 transactions in 2020
  • Generated over $1 million for the first time in 2020
  • Averages 133 sales a day since inception

Now, this started as a hobby for Yotzelin. Do you have a hobby you can turn into a business? I bet you do!

ThinkPinkBows

  • Opened her shop in 2009
  • Sells: hair accessories for kids and face masks
  • Had 237,437 transactions in 2020
  • Generated over $1 million in sales in 2020
  • Averages 159 sales a day since inception

Francisca was a full-time elementary school teacher, started her shop on the side, and now she employees 15 women, most of them moms, to help her run her business.

These are some examples of Etsy shop owners who have made it big! While that’s inspiring, it may not be realistic for you to focus on that dollar figure in the beginning. Etsy doesn’t release shop sales figures, so you can’t tell how much the average Etsy shop makes (which is frustrating). But knowing the possibilities is inspiring!

How to get sales on Etsy

Figuring out exactly how to get sales on Etsy is a very common question, as there’s so much competition; how do you stand out? Yet, it’s complicated to answer because there are so many variables, and they can change frequently. As an Etsy shop owner, here are 13 Etsy tips to get your shop found and your listings noticed by your target market.

1. Etsy SEO (Etsy search engine optimization)- 

Etsy SEO is similar to general online SEO yet, but there are specific strategies that work on Etsy. I’m not an expert on it by any means, as this is a hot topic, and people make a living by teaching online classes and courses on how to do this.  

This factor has the most significant impact on your Etsy sales, which is why so many people focus heavily on writing a fantastic product description, their listing titles, and shop info. We’re talking keyword-rich descriptions that entice the customer to buy. For example, if you’re selling candles, you’d want to include in your listing phrases that a potential buyer might mention.

  • beeswax candle
  • handmade candle
  • 8 hr candle
  • soft jasmine scented candle
  • small batch handcrafted candle with organic essential oils
  • … you get the drift. Say the same thing, lots of different ways so your item gets found. All while painting a beautiful picture with words on why they need this specific candle and why they should buy one for each friend!

If you’re sure you’re 100% all-in on selling on Etsy, then you absolutely want to take an online course from a reputable teacher. You’ll also want to invest in a keyword tool that can help you target the words that are the most searched for. Remember, Etsy’s algorithm adjusts, so what may work one season may not work another, so a keyword tool is a must!

2. Advertising

I hate to say it, but sales platforms have realized that people will pay extra to get more exposure – enter Etsy ads. This is a hot topic as there are requirements for some shops to participate if you make over $10,000 in Etsy sales in a 12 month period.

It’s been mentioned that newer shops won’t benefit as much from paid ads, as you need solid SEO in place for Etsy to put your ads in front of the right people, and Etsy SEO takes time for a shop owner to learn, practice, and perfect.

For the optional advertising, Etsy ad campaigns run on…

  • Cost per click basis – you pay on a bid for how much you will pay per click. This could be $.02 per click or $.10 per click; it’s up to you. Yet, the Etsy algorithm will place you appropriately in the mix, so if another shop outbids you for the same keyword (i.e., they pay $.10 per click while you pay $.05 per click, their ad will be seen more.
  • You set a daily budget of how much you want to spend. For example, you could cap it at $10 a day for a week. So your investment can be as big or as little as you want.
  • Be strategic with your promoted listing, know when its top sales times are seasonally (look at historical trends), and run ads right then. Or focus your ad dollars during busy Etsy sales volumes (aka Black Friday, but be prepared to pay more then).

3. Social media

One of the most used ways to try and get traffic to your Etsy shop is to have a solid social media game. We’re talking Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Tik Tok, etc. New shop owners tend to go towards this option as it’s seemingly easy and has a low barrier to entry.

While it seems easy, you definitely have to have an overall strategy and be consistent with it. You can’t go live once and expect sales. Again, this is an area where you’d want to learn from a reputable expert via an online course or membership group.  

You’ll want to know how to run posts to increase excitement over a new product launch or how to promote an upcoming sale. You’ll want to know how to use social media to grow your email list (more on this below) and how to run giveaways or contests. There are so many possibilities, so it’s exciting and overwhelming at the same time.

I want to say that putting all your focus on a great social media platform presence could have great results, yet those results aren’t always long-lasting. Once you stop being so active (and you will get tired of being on social), then the number of views to your shop will dwindle. That’s why people suggest you focus on strategies and tactics where the results compound over time (Etsy SEO, learning how to take fantastic product photographs, perfect your descriptions, etc.).

4. Customer reviews

One of the lesser-used ways for people to make their Etsy business stand out is to get good customer reviews, which can be challenging if you don’t have any customers. This one is a slow burn but absolutely worth the effort. If your friends like your product, don’t be shy; ask them for a great review!

One smart way to get more sales on Etsy is to offer your product at a lower price point than your competition to get more sales (and hopefully more reviews). Then, once you have a decent number of reviews, you can increase the price to align with your profit margin strategy.

Getting great customers reviews on your product is only part of the picture; your level of customer service also impacts reviews. Honestly, for myself, I don’t usually give reviews for a product I bought and liked. Almost all my reviews are prompted by either great or ghastly customer service.

How to deliver excellent customer service, an easy list…

  • Be prompt in replying to potential customer emails. Answer their question 110% of the way, give them details they didn’t know they needed. Be very polite, and always thank them for their interest in your shop.
  • Anticipate customer questions with a FAQ section. Chances are, if you hear the same question over and over again, you may have conflicting info on your site, which isn’t great.
  • Deliver your item with the intent to impress! Have nice tissue paper and cute boxes, include a thank you note. Also, offering gift wrap and gift boxes is a big plus!
  • Always be honest, and if you mess up, own the mistake and apologize for it and then make it right. (Yes, making “it right” for the customer may be costly, but it’s 100% worth it.
  • If you are working on a custom job that is very involved, send them updates of your progress, add pictures, so they know how it’s going (and that their order isn’t forgotten about).
  • If you get a bad review, answer it publicly and politely, so others can see you work hard to make things right.
  • For repeat customers, add a personal note of thanks or a small gift as a thank you.
esty customer review

5. Put your best face forward

This means that you create and showcase your brand in the best light. (You have a brand, right?). This means you have a great shop name – don’t try and be too clever, when people are confused they go somewhere else. Have a logo, have a color scheme that looks amazing. Your images are high quality. You get the idea; you want to look like an official business, not a lemonade stand.

Having an official shop also means that you have a presence. Ideally, you’d have a decent amount of listings. Think 20 items to start; that’s not an official number of listings, just a generally accepted number from Etsy experts and researching the Etsy Community forums.

6. Start an email list to get repeat customers (aka loyal customers)

You officially cannot get access to email addresses from Etsy purchasers through the platform. However, there are workarounds. But first, let’s understand the power of what an email list can do for you.

In 2020, Etsy’s active buyers increased 77%, which is a solid increase (primarily due to the pandemic and growth in online shopping all around). However, Etsy increased its habitual buyer market by 157% over LY.  Habitual buyers are Etsy shoppers who’ve made purchases on six or more days and spent $200 or more on Etsy in the past 12 months.  And an email list can help cultivate new shoppers into habitual shoppers!

Etsy habitual buyer growth in 2020

So if you can’t get access to your buyers’ email, how do you do it? Let’s go over one of the easier ways.

  • Have your shop banner (the big image at the top of your page), highlight that they can get a discount if they sign up for your email list, and say “the link is in the description.”  
  • There is a Chrome for everything, and Marketsy can help you with collecting your customer email addresses. However, it’s against Etsy’s shop policies to do this. Why do I mention this option if it’s not okay? Because I don’t want to do something that you didn’t realize was bad. Due to GDPR regulations, your potential customer must agree to be emailed before you start sending them marketing. (However, you can email them about their order).  
  • A clever way to collect customer email addresses is with every order, include a small card that tells them about a gift they get. It has to be digital, so maybe a printout of the many ways to use or style your item, or a free cute art print, or how to do XYZ that complements your product. Then when they type in the link, that’s where you ask them to sign up for your list to get that free item.
  • In each product listing photo gallery, have an image with the website info to a special page, a VIP group, where they can get extra discounts, or info on your listings, etc.

Once you have them on your email list, you nurture the relationship. You can email them…

  • Behind the scenes look into how you make your items (people love to look behind the curtain).
  • New product listings
  • Upcoming Etsy sales
  • New services – gift wrap, personalization, etc.

Again, nurturing an email list is an art form; you do want to take a course on how to write effective and engaging emails to help you turn a new shopper into a habitual shopper.  Kate Doster offers a fantastic course on how to build & grow your email list, as well as what to write to them and how to write it.

7. Have great photographs of your listings

Just like with a dinner menu, a bad photograph can sink a potential shopper. Seriously, your photos are a big deal. You need to make your products look as amazing as possible! Great lighting, nice backdrop (or on a model), and showing all the positives about it.

This is where you’ll really want to scrutinize the competition and see what the big sellers are doing.

Make sure you upload the correct sized images with the proper resolution, and ones are optimized (not too big as to slow down the customer seeing it).

8. Encourage them to buy more

Well, this sounds obvious. Of course, you want customers to buy more; but how do you get them to add more items to their cart? Don’t worry; we’ve got some great options…

  • Offer free shopping once their order reaches a certain level. You obviously need to figure out how much you’ll lose on having the customer pay for shipping and how much you have to gain. There’s a tipping point where you’ll make more than the cost of shipping, so be deliberate and strategic when you figure this out.
  • Create item lines that offer “special editions” of something. If people love your holiday candles, then make a new one or two in that same line.
  • Create a category in your Etsy store that is part of a “collection.” People are completists, and they love to have a full set of something. Now, this only works for specific product lines, so think this through and research your competition.
  • Offer upsells – Now we touched on this before, but a great upsell could be gift boxes and wrap, with delivery straight to the recipient, with a personalized message from them that you can write in your beautiful handwriting (or create as a digital card to print).
  • Suggest cross-sells – know which of your items complement each other and how, and share that with the customer. Within your Etsy listing, you can link to the complimentary item.

9. An easy to understand return policy 

No one wants to lose a customer over a wishy-washy or lame return policy. Make it very clear what your policy is and honor it without hesitation. Remember, these customers give reviews too. Yes, accepting a return stinks, but if you’re in it for the long haul, then the goodwill you create will go a long way.

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10. Share your story

Etsy is the place that people go to for handmade, custom, and unique items. This is the place for small business owners that love their craft. Share why you started, what inspires your items, and why you keep going.

Would you rather buy from a stark and stiff business or from Julia who makes her candles in her she-shed, with her 10-year-old daughter, who happens to name the scents “unicorny.” You need to tell your story in a way that inspires your Etsy shoppers to want to support you – but don’t be long-winded; keep it brief and moving.

11. Fight for your customers

Don’t worry; no boxing gloves are needed. But let’s be honest, how many times have you put something in your cart and then left it… for days… until you totally forgot about it. Yeah, me too.

Sending an abandoned cart follow-up campaign can put your listing back at the top of their mind. You can choose just a simple “hey, remember me” email or offer them a 10% off coupon to help motivate them into taking action. Don’t worry; it’s not complicated; Etsy is set up for this feature (which other sales platforms aren’t).

12. Know what your customers like and make more of that

This sounds a bit obvious but pay attention to not only your best sellers (and try and create something similar but new) but pay attention to what people are favoriting, seriously your Etsy stats can tell you so much. Start to brainstorm different things like your top item, or maybe lower the price point on it a bit, run a sale on it, etc.

“The best part of this is that the person who liked or favorited an item will be notified that the item was marked down, and in many cases, people will purchase in order to get the lower price while the item is on sale.” (source)

Not sure what customers like these days? Be sure to check out this post What to sell on Etsy – 25 Etsy Shop Ideas, this will give you some great ideas on what’s selling right now!

13. Bring more customers into your sphere

If you’ve mastered the other options/tips, you can work on expanding your reach. Note: this isn’t for new Etsy store owners. You can’t spread yourself too thin; you need to master one thing first before you move on to the next.

You can start a blog or start a YourTube channel. Both take time to develop and nurture, so this isn’t a quick fix for getting more traffic. It’s just another layer on the cake.

Maybe you don’t need more Etsy sales

Remember, having lots of customers is great, but if your expenses are way too high, you’ll never make the profit margin you need to stay in business. Yup, you have three options when it comes to being more profitable…

  • Attract more potential buyers and sell more goods.
  • Charge a higher price.
  • Lower expenses so it costs you less to make the same item.

For that last bullet point, when figuring out your profit don’t forget to include all your costs…

  • Seller fees – listing fee, transaction fee, payment processing fee
  • Etsy fees for advertising
  • Shipping costs – postage, boxes, tissue, tape, etc.
  • Raw product costs
  • Cost for support programs – keyword tool, social media scheduler, graphics program, photography equipment, email marketing program, online courses, and memberships
  • Time – your most valuable asset. If it takes you 4 hours to make something that you sell for $5 is it worth it?

A rough idea of how your costs go looks something like the formulas below…

Handmade Goods Pricing Formula

(supplies + profit markup) + your time + overhead costs = retail price

or

labor + materials = cost
cost x 2 = wholesale
wholesale x 2 = retail

A note about perfecting your Etsy shop

A few of these tips talk about how you should take an online course or learn from the best. Yes, this involves laying out money, sometimes a decent bit of money.  

A word of caution – Don’t try to piece together a strategy or learn from people’s freebies (something free you get for signing up for their email list). These freebies are often outdated and are usually basic in what they tell you. And when you’re just starting, it can be hard to tell who is a bonafide pro at Etsy AND if they are a good teacher.  

Besides, trying to learn everything for free from anyone who has a freebie can be confusing, as they sometimes offer different advice. Or it seems that you’re reading the same tips over and over again, which slows down your progress A LOT. Trust me, I tried to learn everything for free from anyone who had anything to say, and I regret it.

Research different gurus, ask around in Facebook groups who other people recommend and invest in your own success. It will save you lots of time, the information will be up to date, and you’ll see results faster.

When you’re looking at buying a course or membership, be sure to sit on it for a few days, don’t ever buy anything the day you see it! Be sure that you like the course creator, and the topic is something you want to implement within the next three months. Too many times, people get very excited about learning and they buy 15 courses, and never end up taking them. Sad but true.

A great place to start is to check out Morgan Nield, she started an Etsy shop of baby headbands and skyrocketed it. She now teachers others how to do exactly what she did. She has a few online course options on Etsy SEO, Etsy Marketing, and running profitable promotions. She also has a podcast, so be sure to check out that free resource too!

At the end of the day

Setting up an Etsy shop can be so exciting and nerve-racking. I get it; figuring out how to get sales on Etsy can be confusing, but hopefully, you’ve got a few ideas from this post that you can start working on right away! You want to start making some money soon and show that your amazing idea is really and truly amazing!

Okay, stop reading, go start doing all those things!

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Which of these Etsy tips will help you get more sales on Etsy?