Deciding what to sell on Etsy can be harder than you'd think.
Some sellers already have a craft and know they want to sell one very specific product. Other sellers may dabble in several arts and be wondering whether to sell a wide array in a single shop. And even more sellers out there may not consider themselves artists yet, but actually have a lot to offer to Etsy. (Hint: This was me!)
Whether you have a stockpile of inventory ready to go or have a blank slate up ahead, these seven tools will help you hone in on what makes the most sense for you to start selling.
Have you already read the Ultimate Guide to Selling on Etsy? That post is jam packed with everything you need to know to get started. Then, use this guide to help you come up with an idea (or ideas) of what to sell in your Etsy shop.
Check Out the Competition
When you’re considering what to sell on Etsy it’s always a good idea to first look at the potential competition.
Consider the item(s) you want to sell. Ask yourself some – or all – of the questions below.
- What makes the competitor's products special? What makes yours special in comparison?
- How many positive or negative reviews do existing sellers get? Can you improve on any of the frequent complaints with your own offerings?
- How many sellers are already selling the type of product you want to sell?
- How well are competitor shops performing?
- Is there room in this particular niche for more sellers?
The answers will help you evaluate whether there is a strong customer base interested in your product. They will also help you understand how many “copycats” are out there and encourage you to brainstorm ways to stand out.
Once you perform competitor research, you will have an idea how saturated your niche is.
For example, there may be thousands of people on Etsy selling crocheted or knitted items. If crocheting or knitting is your thing, does that mean you shouldn't bother? Is it too late to start an Etsy shop for that product?
Instead of worrying about the number of competitors, think about how will you differentiate yourself from the competition. What’s special about your products that will drive customers to fall in love with your shop over another shop?
An example of differentiation in the woodworking niche might be a seller who solely upcycles old furniture. Another seller might only use reclaimed wood, or drift wood found along the shore. You may also make one-of-a-kind art pieces that can’t be found anywhere else.
Whatever your niche is, you’ll want your items to be better quality, more unique, or competitively priced compared to other sellers on Etsy. (FYI – I almost never recommend to compete on price! Your time as a creator is valuable!)
Compare Digital Versus Physical Products
If you don’t have a lot of time to spend making products, you may want to consider selling digital products.
Etsy may have started as a platform of physical, handmade products. However, in recent years sellers have figured out how to make personalized digital items that sell just as well, if not better!
Selling digital products gives you the freedom to make a product once and continue to make money from it over and over again. This is a much more passive way of creating an Etsy income than making physical products every day.
I won't go into the long list of pros and cons for each of the product types here or we would chat all day. Just make sure to do some research and make sure you tie it back to your “why” for starting a business in the first place.
Are you looking for ways to make a few extra dollars in your free time, or are you trying to build a business for the long-run?
Many popular Etsy shops make customized and personalized items for each individual customer.
While those are great ideas and always popular, they are highly time consuming and may take awhile to build a customer base.
Until or unless you are making custom products unique to each customer, you’re going to be making the same product over and over again. Think of products or product sets that you will enjoy spending many hours creating. Choose something that you won’t tire easily from, and one that you can make fairly quickly.
If you do sell items that are not easily replicable, make sure customers know that each piece may have its own unique flaws.
One thing you don't want is a majority of customers returning items because they are expecting carbon-copy perfection rather than hand-painted art.
There are several tools that can help determine what products might sell well on Etsy. Here are two tools specific to Etsy that I have used for my own Etsy research.
ERank for Etsy
ERank is the first tool you can use to understand the search engine optimization (SEO) for Etsy. It was launched in 2016 by Anthony Wolf, a man who used his knowledge of SEO to help his wife increase her sales on Etsy.
Like most platforms, Erank offers both free and premium services. This tool provides insights including:
- Keyword ideas
- Listing audits (with suggestions for how to boost your sales)
- Rank checkers (shows you how well your products are ranking)
- Personal shop listings analyzed
- Keywords that shoppers are searching for
- Monitors list rankings over the last two weeks
Marmalead is another tool you can use to help develop your marketing plan. At the time of this post, Marmalade has a $19 monthly fee and it offers:
- Information on what’s trending
- Keyword Suggestions
- Similar Searches
- Search volume to your Etsy Page
- Engagement on your Etsy Page
- Keyword seasonality
- Keyword forecasting
- Side-by-side keyword comparison
- A letter grade for your site
- SEO information
- Most recommended Etsy SEO products
- Connect multiple shops
You can also pay for Marmalead by the quarter or annually to get a discount on the price.
Both Marmalead and eRank give you the opportunity to learn what products people are interested in. From there, you can continue using these tools to help you sell more options in the future.
After 2020, the supply chain became more important to small business owners than ever before.
Sellers with fast and reliable processing times may suddenly be caught off guard if their supplies can't be purchased at the same delivery speeds as usual.
Imagine being a candle maker who promises a 24-hour delivery. Then one day, you can't source beeswax, soy, or paraffin to make your candles. No matter how great your product is, customer will eventually will start to leave for another shop.
Try to choose items to make that are made from materials you can trust and reliably source consistently.
Unfortunately, simply enjoying creating your art doesn’t make it profitable.
Many creative entrepreneurs are admittedly not strong in finance. But that is not an excuse to give away your hard-work and one-of-a-kind pieces at a discount.
If you’re spending a lot of money sourcing materials for your products, you may have very thin profit margins. You could also be spending a great deal of time making something, but the market won’t support the prices you would need to receive a fair wage.
When you’re choosing a product, carefully calculate the time it will take you to make and the cost of the resources. Will this product be worth your time and money, and will it turn a profit?
Mom Has The Last Word
Excited about getting started on Etsy, but think you might need a little more help? Scan through all of my Etsy seller resources here, and check out my new Etsy seller course if you want some personal, step-by-step guidance.