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Hi! I’m Lucy.
Chardonnay and vintage finds lover, founder of the handmade jewelry brand bel monili *and* your new guide to making your handmade business WORK online.
If you’re a handmade seller, you know about Etsy. It’s THE online shop for all things handmade. But just because it’s the online site most people know, doesn’t mean it’s easy to make money selling your products on Etsy. It can be tough to figure out how to be successful on Etsy. How can you work with the “algorithm”, entice customers to your shop, and get them to buy from you?
One caveat before we get into it: this takes time. Many new sellers think that they just need to post their product on Etsy and BOOM – the “cha-chings” will start!
The truth is, you’re still competing with other sellers, and Etsy’s algorithm takes time to find your products and present them to customers.
So go into this with patience! Etsy can be a great way for a new online handmade business to get started, but it takes work and patience.
Okay? Okay! Let’s go!
Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
I know, I know – you see “SEO” and your eyes glaze over. But part of running an online business is knowing and understanding Search Engine Optimization.
And Etsy is a search engine. A powerful one that searches all the listings on the platform. So you need to know how it works. More importantly, you need to know how to format your listings so they utilize Etsy SEO in the best way.
Have you been on maker chat boards or Facebook groups where other sellers complain how they can’t seem to make it work? They just don’t know how to be successful on Etsy. Many times, they don’t understand or use SEO, and that is the missing link.
There are soooo many tutorials and articles on Etsy SEO to guide you through the nuts and bolts of how it works. I encourage you to take the time to read up on it.
Etsy has their own guide for their SEO here: Shop Improvement and Search Engine Optimization
Don’t skip this part! Being able to construct your listings so they show up in search is the top way you can be successful on Etsy. The time you spend learning SEO will pay you back with increased traffic and (hopefully) sales.
Yes, having more listings on Etsy can help your items be found. “But Lucy,” you say. “I only make five things! How can I increase my listings?”
There are several ways you can “stretch” your products to increase the number of listings you have in your Etsy shop.
I know it seems redundant, but creating more listings with different titles and tags will help customers find your items.
Here’s another example: Let’s say you make t-shirts with fun sayings on them. You can list each color shirt as a different listing, rather than making the color a choice on the same listing.
Now, I understand there’s a cost involved. Etsy charges you $0.20 for each listing for 4 months. But this is part of the cost of doing business.
A shop with 5 items in it is just not going to get enough eyeballs to make a difference. Figure the Etsy fees into your pricing strategy and list as much as you can!
No one is telling you to copy someone else’s work – that’s just a big NO NO.
But competitive research is part of business. You want to see what’s working (and what’s not working) for others in your category.
Let’s say you sell handmade soap, which is a very competitive niche. If you search “handmade soap” on Etsy you’ll get back over 180,000 listings!
Now I’ll go into each shop that has a lot of sales and is landing on the first page (not including the ads), and I’ll look closer.
Some things I’ll look at:
Then I’ll see, what can I do with my products and shop that could make me more competitive? Let’s say the competitor I was researching offers a lot of bulk options, like a bulk order of soap for wedding favors. That’s something I could try to offer in my shop if I wasn’t already doing so.
Again, the object isn’t to copy anyone. It’s to be knowledgeable of what your customers see when they’re shopping for items that you make. You’ll come to find trends and themes that recur with the most popular shops, and you can then use those ideas to help your shop compete.
These days, you MUST do some form of advertising if you want to gain customers and increase your sales. There is just too much competition out there to think you can just open a shop (on Etsy or elsewhere) and wait for the customers to find you.
You can advertise for free, or you can spend money (or do both). Each way has its pros and cons.
Free advertising these days comes down to social media. Creating an Instagram, Facebook and / or TikTok account for your business is vital to maximizing your potential on Etsy.
Post your products, your process, how your customers might use your items. Post about yourself and let your customers get to know you better. And of course, make sure you have links to your Etsy shop in all your profiles!
BONUS TIP: TikTok is a BIG player when it comes to advertising Etsy shops. If you can, start a TikTok account, watch other makers’ videos, and start posting!
Etsy offers onsite and offsite ads. It’s important to note that these ads do not work well for everyone. If your shop is new, you may want to wait a bit before using them, at least six months.
You can set a spend limit and control how much you pay per ad, and you’ll need to do some testing to see what amounts work best for you. It depends on the competition (how many other ads there are for the same types of products), and other factors that Etsy uses to determine whose ads are seen.
This article is a good read for going over the Etsy Ad system: Do Etsy Ads Really Work?
I feel like you can get a lot of traction doing free marketing through social media, so if you’re worried about spending money on ads, just focus on content for now.
And don’t forget Pinterest! It’s a great tool for promoting your Etsy listings as well.
Your email list is the one piece of marketing that you own. Instagram can shut down tomorrow – and poof! All your followers are gone. But if you have an email list of customers, that is yours forever.
The Pandemic taught crafters just how valuable an email list could be. For those of us who cultivated a list while also doing in-person shows, we were able to continue to reach our customers even when shows didn’t exist.
One of your top priorities should be to start collecting email addresses from your customers. If you’re doing shows, that means having a sign up sheet for people who are interested.
To entice them to sign up, give them a little freebie! Many shops offer 10% off coupons. You can also offer a free item that you will send with their next order, or maybe a printout or PDF of information that compliments the products you make.
Also just a note: Etsy does not allow you to supply links to the same product that they can purchase elsewhere (like your own Shopify site). So don’t do that! You can post a link to an email list sign up, though.
Your email list is golden. You can nurture these relationships, and talk to these customers whenever you want! It is something every single handmade business owner should do, so don’t miss this important opportunity to grow your business.
Hopefully by now you can see how to be successful on Etsy in 2024! It’s completely possible to use the platform to increase sales, find new customers and develop a business that is blooming.
And speaking of email lists, if you like what you see here, why not sign up for my email list? I’ll send you weekly tips and advice for getting your handmade business blooming online. Sign up below!
After running bel monili (my handmade jewelry business) for 10 years, I launched Bloom in 2019 to create a community where handmade business owners could learn, grow, and support each other in this wild venture of small business ownership. Welcome to Bloom!
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