So you want to get into selling things online, but you aren’t sure where to start? Etsy is an excellent jumping-off point for all sorts of online businesses and ventures.
Etsy began as a spot for craftspeople to share their wares, but the site now allows all sorts of products. They still retain the shop-small vibe, and many sellers are crafty people. But Etsy has enough variety and traffic to warrant a serious look from those thinking about starting an online business.
What is Etsy?
Etsy is an online marketplace where anyone can sell their “goods” to others. In some ways, it is very similar to eBay, but with a few crucial differences. Selling on Etsy is more like owning your own store, where you set the prices and handle all of the fulfillment.
However, the important thing to remember about Etsy is that the site was designed to be used to sell handmade goods. For many, this means arts and crafts. In Etsy’s words, it’s home to “a universe of special, extraordinary items.”
As the platform has grown over the years, Etsy has allowed more and more things to be sold. A large part of their business now involves reselling “vintage treasures” or antiques. The key is that it must be unique–people go to Etsy for things they can’t find elsewhere. Etsy is also popular with crafters as a place to buy and sell supplies for their hobbies.
Think of browsing the stores on Etsy as a stroll through your town’s Saturday morning arts and crafts fair. But on Etsy, it’s more than just the sidewalk–it’s the entire world. The Etsy e-commerce site now has over 60 million items listed for sale, and the number grows every day!
According to some sources, Etsy has over 2 million sellers in over 1.6 million different stores. Some stores makeover 500 sales every day. The site also has 39 million unique buyers.
How Do You Make Money on Etsy?
Selling on Etsy is very much like running your own store. You sell money by selling things directly to customers. You can sell things globally, or you can choose only to have domestic customers.
What you sell is up to you, but there are some limits. And, of course, you’ll usually be responsible for boxing and shipping your goods off to your customers.
Etsy makes the entire process very easy. The website handles all of the payment and security issues with online sales. They take the money and handle payouts. And with their huge base of unique site visitors, all of your advertising is handled by the company.
One of the best things about selling on Etsy is the fact that you need no web page or web hosting of your own. Everything is easy to set up, and there is a minimal cost to you.
How Much Can You Make Selling Things on Etsy?
Since there is such a variety of things that you could sell on Etsy, it’s impossible to pin down exactly how much one could make selling things on Etsy. Some things are more profitable than others.
It’s also imperative that you consider your time when selling on Etsy. Much like the Saturday art market mentioned earlier, people enjoy operating their stores and selling wares online that they spend a lot of time making themselves. For a craftsperson making something like a needlepoint artwork, the item’s price cannot possibly cover the costs for their time to create it.
For people producing and selling these types of artwork, the experience is about much more than the money. They get to do their craft, which they enjoy. And in return, they share their creations and make their buyers happy. Not all sellers hold money as the most crucial form of currency.
This ethos probably does not describe most sellers you find on Etsy, but it certainly applies to some of them. The point is that if you want to make some serious money on the platform, you’ll need to think like a business person.
To more directly answer the question, some people make a lot of money on Etsy. A quick web search will uncover many blogs and stories of people finding huge success on Etsy. Some people report monthly sales of $4,000, while others claim six-figure annual incomes.
How Do You Set Your Prices on Etsy?
To make some cash, you’ll want to carefully calculate just how many hours you put into something and include that in your price. In other words, if you’re selling something genuinely handmade, part of the cost of the goods sold is your production time. So you’ll need to figure out how much you want to charge for your time.
Once you know how much you’d have to sell something for on Etsy, the next step is to figure out how much similar items are being sold for. If there’s no competition, you can set your prices.
Setting a price for a product with no competition is all about basic economic theory.
You’ll know it’s priced too high if many people see the product, but no one buys it. On the other hand, if you price it too low, you’ll quickly sell out. If you’re dealing in homemade items, your sales should have a steady flow that matches the rate at which you produce the item.
If there is some competition, you’ve got a starting point from which to base your prices. You’ll have to decide if you think their prices are fair and if you’ll make enough selling at that price.
Another factor to consider is how exactly your products compare with the others. If it’s genuinely a unique item, is yours better than theirs and worth more money to buyers? Or are they doing something that makes their product unique and more valuable?
The problem with this approach is that even if someone is listing similar items on Etsy, it’s nearly impossible to know whether or not they are actually selling those items. Listings do not equate sales–there are many things listed on Etsy that no one wants or that no one wants to pay that much for.
Shipping and Handling Costs on Etsy
Finally, you’ll be responsible for paying for all postage costs. You can add shipping costs to your items’ prices inside the Etsy listings, but always be very careful with this. Do your research and price the shipping accurately. It is extremely easy and very common to undercharge for shipping.
If you choose to offer free shipping, make sure you’ve built the shipping cost into the product’s price already. If not, you’ll be losing money before you even make any!
How Does Etsy Make Money?
Etsy is in business because they’re making money, too. How? Etsy charges you three things when you sell on their platform. First, there is a very small listing fee. Then, if and when your product sells, Etsy keeps a cut of the total profits. They also keep a transaction fee if you use their payment service, and also give you the option to boost your post for advertising.
There is no charge for opening an Etsy store, and setting up the account is entirely free.
The listing fee on Etsy is $0.20 per item for four months.
For every sale you make, Etsy keeps five percent of the price as a commission. If your product does not sell, Etsy does not make a commission.
Finally, Etsy also keeps a transaction fee if you accept online payments. Since Etsy is an e-commerce site focused on online selling, taking online payments is a must. You could use Square or PayPal, but these also keep a cut of your online sales.
Etsy Payments keeps three percent plus $0.25 per transaction. If the seller is located in other countries, the fees may vary slightly. Etsy Payments works in 36 different countries.
While it’s not a required part of doing business on Etsy, many sellers also purchase ads. Search results are presented to Etsy visitors as a mix of promoted and non-paid listings. Sellers who have chosen to pay for advertising get their listings boosted and presented first.
Ads on Etsy are billed like Google Adwords on a pay-per-click pricing model. There is a $1 per day minimum, however. They also offer the option of getting Offsite Ads, which means your wares will appear on other websites like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Top Selling Items on Etsy
So, what products sell best on Etsy? Or, you may be thinking of an even better question–what can I sell on Etsy to make money?
Etsy is often described as a home for creative people selling handmade arts and crafts. But as we’ve discussed, there are some problems with selling this type of item. Most of the top earners on Etsy have found products that reproduce quickly and cheaply and are easy to deliver. They are also usually small, so they don’t have high shipping costs.
To get your creative juices flowing, here are the catagories that Etsy allows you to list your products in.
- Jewelry and accessories
- Clothing and shoes
- Home and living
- Wedding and party
- Toys and entertainment
- Art and collectables
- Craft supplies and tools
Within these categories, the following items are commonly listed as the best-selling items on the site. Note, however, that best selling doesn’t necessarily mean most profitable!
- Printables – These are items that customers can download instantly and print out at home. There’s no cost for the actual product once you’ve created the digital file. Papercrafts, patterns, images, artwork, and planners are popular examples.
- Digital art – Some digital artwork falls into the printables category, but you might not want to share your digital files for a variety of reasons. By using a print-on-demand fulfillment company, you can sell stickers, mugs, phone cases, t-shirts, mousepads, pillows, and just about anything else you can imagine. The company will print your artwork on the item and ship it directly to your customers!
- Pet supplies – Pet owners love pampering their pets. And many owners love personalized mugs and tees featuring their favorite furry friend. An example of great niches are products that feature rare dog breeds that are hard to find products for, like Lakeland Terriers or Chesapeake Bay Retrievers!
- Handmade jewelry, beads, and jewelry supplies – These are things that you immediately think of when you go to Etsy. They are still popular, but they require production time and fulfillment on your part.
- Unique party and wedding decorations – People spend big money on events, and if you like to decorate and plan for big ones, Etsy provides a great way to sell your goods.
- Recovered vintage items and antiques – Love antiquing? Etsy provides a great way to list unique, vintage items at low cost.
- Fashion and accessories – If you’re good at making your own clothes bags, or purses, Etsy is the perfect place to sell them. You can also resell vintage clothes or clothes that you’ve customized or personalized in some way.
Free Things to Sell on Etsy
The ideal things to sell on Etsy to make serious money can be reproduced easily and do not cost you anything to create. To meet Etsy’s community standards, they still need to be unique items.
An example of the perfect thing to sell on Etsy is the “printable.” A printable product is unique and exciting to buyers that they can then purchase and print out on their home printer. All you’re selling is an electronic document, which can be sold and delivered instantly. And you can repeat that transaction with 100, 1,000, or 1,000,000 different customers.
Printables range from planners and journaling kits to elaborate three-dimensional papercraft objects. Sewing and needlecraft patterns are other popular printables on Etsy.
Another excellent example of a digital good applies to photographers and photography enthusiasts. Like printables, you can sell it many times over, and it’s easy to make. It’s a Lightroom preset.
Lightroom is a photo cataloging and editing program used by many shutterbugs, and a preset allows you to automate adjustments to images and sell your unique look to others. It’s trendy with folks who have branded a unique look on social media platforms like Instagram.
Some photographers also sell their photography as a digital download, allowing the purchaser to license a copy to be made for their personal use. This is usually called “Instant Download Printable Art.”
What is the Easiest Thing to Sell on Etsy?
Printables are an example of easy things to sell, but they still require a level of creativity and technical skill to produce them. The most popular printables are created by enthusiasts sharing a product that they’re passionate about.
Take, for example, sewing patterns. These are printables–they can be sent electronically and printed out by the purchaser’s home printer. But to make them, you have to be a fashion designer or have some sewing skills and experience.
It’s unlikely someone would get into the world of selling patterns without some experience in these things. This is just an example, but the idea applies to many printables that you’ll find on the site–planners, journaling supplies, three-dimensional papercraft objects, and many others.
What is perhaps more approachable for less creative people is the concept of selling print-on-demand products. Fulfillment companies enable you to upload your designs and artwork, and they’ll print it on various products to send to customers.
Is There Anything You Can’t Sell on Etsy?
To be eligible to be sold on Etsy, all items must be either handmade or hand-designed. In other words, it has to have a personal touch of something that you can’t get anywhere else. Etsy also allows you to sell vintage items that are more than twenty years old and craft supplies.
Can you sell a new t-shirt you didn’t sew together on Etsy? Not if you’re selling the shirt–because the customer could get a t-shirt anywhere. But if you print your artwork or design on a t-shirt, that is the perfect Etsy product.
How Do I Get Started Selling on Etsy?
Starting on Etsy is about as easy as it gets. The hardest part is deciding what you want to sell. If you’ve already crossed that bridge and decided to give it a shot, all you need to do is set up an account and list your items.
When listing your items, remember you will be charged per listing. But interestingly enough, you can list multiple items in one listing. If you have multiples of an item in stock, you can use one listing to sell over and over again.
Alternatively, you can list all the options under one listing if you have a product available in different sizes or colors. This saves a lot of time if you’re selling clothing, and it will help keep your Etsy shop nice and tidy.
Here are a few more tips for a successful Etsy shop.
- Have professional and authentic photography on every listing.
- Establish your store’s brand identity and stick with it.
- Focus on a product niche that you’re good at–be specific.
- Use social media to boost your brand and drive traffic to your store.
- Spend time researching the best keywords and use solid SEO practices in your listings.
- Keep your prices on point to generate sales.
- Run your business like a business, and keep accurate records.
Is it Worth It to Sell on Etsy?
Whether or not you find it worthwhile to sell on Etsy is a personal question.
Sellers come to Etsy for a variety of reasons. Some find it to be an easy way to establish a presence on the web. They may already sell goods at craft shows or in a brick-and-mortar store. These sellers probably already have customers and a marketing program. Etsy allows them to sell online easily and at a low cost. It’s a lot easier than setting up a website from scratch, especially when looking at other e-commerce solutions.
Other types of sellers choose Etsy because they are selling as a hobby or a side hustle. Their total income isn’t as important as a professional full-time online retailer because they have fewer costs to cover. These folks want to share their unique goods with others and be paid a fair rate for their time. But they know that they probably won’t get rich on Etsy.
Some sellers have found tremendous success selling on Etsy. Like any business, if you’re in the right place, at the right time, with the right product, selling at the right price–you can hit it big. But getting all the pieces right requires study, research, and maybe some trial and error.
So, is it worth it? No one but you can answer that question. Take a look at the product you want to sell and how popular it is on Etsy. Then look at your costs to produce and ship that item.
You can look at the “is it worth it” question purely from a money standpoint. But there’s also a personal connection to the work that you should take into account. Don’t set to selling a product you dislike or have no personal connection to.
One of the keys to success with a site like Etsy is to keep your account authentic. Yes, you can sell nearly anything in your store. But it does help your brand–and your overall success–if you’re selling products you’re passionate about.
Etsy is a wonderful online marketplace that has come into its own in the last few years. What started as a small niche e-commerce site is now a powerhouse of unique goods, with enough variety to draw in buyers and sellers from all over the world.