A beginners guide answering all your questions about selling on Etsy in 2023. Even as a brand new Etsy shop owner, you can build a successful online business through the Etsy marketplace.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you find my content valuable and purchase through my links, I may make a small commission. It comes at no cost to you and helps me keep this blog going, so I can help you even more! I only recommend products I trust and/or use myself, and all opinions expressed are my own. Read full disclaimer here.
What is Etsy?
Etsy is a global online marketplace where sellers can sell handmade goods, vintage items, and craft supplies. If you are looking for an unusual handmade gift, or love everything vintage, Etsy is the place you’ll find it. If you are an artist or an avid collector of unusual items, you can list your treasures for sale on Etsy and run your own business.
Etsy is not the only e-commerce site that you can use to sell your goods, though it has quickly become one of the most globally well-known.
In fact, there are currently more than 100 online marketplaces people use to entice consumers to buy from them. Each platform has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Other e-commerce sites include Facebook Marketplace, Shopify, Ebay, Walmart, Target and behemoths like Amazon and Alibaba. Of course, you could also build your own website for e-commerce purposes. That is a great option for long-term success, but takes more time, money and strategy to launch.
Why Sell on Etsy in 2023?
Selling on Etsy has become so simple and accessible that I recommend it as a perfect starting platform for most entrepreneurs. If you haven't already read the 15 Reasons to Start An Etsy Shop Side Hustle, here are a few of the biggest benefits you should know about.
Huge market for your goods
Why would you sell on Etsy? Well, the size of this marketplace is nothing to scoff at. According to Statista, there were more than 2.5 million sellers on Etsy on the last count. Additionally, the platform had a whopping 39.4 million buyers worldwide.
A truly global marketplace, Etsy has sellers from 234 countries. Most of them are from the United States (62%) as of June 2019 and 13% are from the UK.
The company Continues to grow
Etsy has seen phenomenal growth since its founding in June 2005 by founders Rob Kalin, Chris Maguire, Jared Tarbell, and Haim Schoppik. Ten years after the company’s founding, in April 2015, Etsy became a publicly traded company. They traded on the NYSE at a valuation in excess of $3.5 billion while raising more than $287 million. At the time of this article, Etsy is valued at $2 billion.
Etsy supports sellers with TV ads
Etsy recently launched the ‘’Stand with Small campaign’’, which reminds buyers that by shopping on Etsy they are supporting someone’s small business. Shopping small supports creative entrepreneurs at a time when they could be struggling to make ends meet.
Etsy’s campaign ‘’Always Open’’ featured actual Etsy sellers from around the world and the unusual items they create.
Etsy sellers can be very successful
It’s possible to run a very successful business on the Etsy platform. Some sellers have managed to make serious money with their shops. Others have been able to grow their Etsy shops into profitable full-time businesses. Two outstanding success stories are Three Bird Nest and Bohemian Findings.
Alicia Shaffer, famously referred to as Etsy’s richest seller, attributes her success to how she presented her products photographically. She styles every product with accessories to make sure it is presented to its best potential. Her shop, Three Bird Nest, raked in almost $1 million on Etsy in 2015. She has since opened her own website where she hosts her shop.
Bohemian Findings sells charms and beads on Etsy and is one of the site’s most successful stores. Bohemian Findings sells everything you need to make jewelry. Many of their customers happen to be other Etsy sellers who make and sell jewelry. What a clever business providing what other Etsy shop owners need!
Bohemian Findings has also since launched its own ecommerce site. At one point they were receiving an unbelievable 500 orders a day on Etsy!
It’s easy to start a shop on Etsy
Opening a shop on Etsy is simple and affordable. It’s an ideal e-commerce platform for small-scale businesses that focus on a niche market.
To start your own store, simply create an Etsy account, set your shop location and currency (based on where you are in the world).
Then you name your shop and create your first listing.
You will also have to set up a preferred payment method for how you will accept payments and a billing method to pay listing fees.
From there, starting an Etsy store is as simple as uploading your first listing. You can have your own shop within an hour of reading this post. Oh, and if you want to make it even easier, check out my new course Etsy Shop In A Day: Launch an Etsy Shop In 24 Hours!
Benefits of selling on Etsy
The upfront cost to start up is low. Opening an account is free. To start listing items, you will be charged a listing fee of $0.20 for each item posted for sale.
[Pro Tip: Use a referral link like mine to open your shop to get 40 free listings!]
Technically, this makes it 100% free to open a shop and list your first 40 items. By using Etsy as your launch platform, you can start building your brand and your customer base with no expense. Yes, there are other Etsy fees (discussed below,) but those are paid after a sale is made. This means they can be paid out of your sales revenue.
Another benefit about starting an Etsy shop is the speed and ease to launch a new store. You can go from concept to Etsy seller overnight. All you need is your branding and a few photos to make your first product listings.
Additionally, the Etsy marketplace provides immediate traffic and a large consumer base ready to buy. Because consumers already know about these websites, you can make sales without spending a penny on your own marketing.
Etsy is filled with customers actively looking for shops to spend money on handmade goods. New sellers benefit and do not have to spend money on advertising and building awareness. If you try to sell on your own independent website, you'd have higher additional marketing costs to find and drive traffic to your business.
Start a Business From Home
Of course, my favorite benefit? Running a business on Etsy also allows you to work from the comfort of your home. In these challenging times, that is the best possible situation to be in. It allows flexibility of schedule regardless of whether it's a side hustle or your own means of income.
Even better? You can make Etsy a family affair and teach your kids about money and business savvy in a fun way!
Who Can Sell on Etsy?
Etsy is a global online marketplace open to sellers of all types. Anyone can sell their handmade products, vintage goods (at least 20 years old) and crafting supplies. You can be a small business or operating as an individual.
The Seller's Handbook focuses more on describing eligible products than detailing any restrictions on age, country, etc. Note that Etsy may change their policies at any time. They may also hold different policies depending on your country of operation. Make sure to check the guide yourself to confirm you are eligible to open a shop.
What to Sell on Etsy
Etsy sellers have drastically expanded in scope over the last several years. Ultimately, you can sell anything in the handmade, vintage or supply category on Etsy. Not sure exactly what counts? Here are some of the largest categories of Etsy items for sale today.
- Handmade/sewn clothes
- Customized goods (Grab yourself a Cricut cutting machine and open shop!)
- Toiletries and Self Care: Soaps, Oils
- Gifts: Christmas ornaments, bridesmaid gifts
- Jewelry, Wigs, Accessories
- Digital Downloads: SVG files, printables, ebooks, etc.
- Stationery, Stickers, Planners, etc.
- Home Décor: Wall Signs, Doormats
- Houseplants, succulents (Yes, live ones!)
- Custom-made cakes, food hampers, vegan chocolate
- Phone cases
What You Cannot Sell on Etsy
The following types of items are prohibited or restricted on Etsy:
- Drug Paraphernalia and Medical Drugs
- Animal Products and Human Remains
- Dangerous Items: Hazardous Materials, Recalled Items, and Weapons
- Hate Items: Items that Promote, Support, or Glorify Hatred
- Illegal Items
- Pornography and Mature Content
- Items that Promote, Support, or Glorify Violence
Additionally, sellers may not resell handmade items. This means a seller may not list a handmade item that they didn’t design or make themselves.
If you are interested in starting a store shop but having trouble deciding what to sell, here are some strategic ways to decide what to sell in your Etsy shop. You can also check out my list of over 101 things to sell on Etsy!
How to Start an Etsy Shop
It's easy to set up a shop on Etsy. First, you follow the steps to create an Etsy account. If you already have an account as a buyer, you can use the same to open your shop. Then, you will set up your shop preferences. That includes language, country, and currency. Also note whether you will be selling part-time or full-time. Not too much else needs to be done before you are ready to launch.
Steps to starting a shop on Etsy
Are you ready to open your shop? It’s a pretty easy process, but it’s helpful to know what you’re doing ahead of time so you can prepare for it. Here is a step-by-step guide you can use to open your shop through Etsy.
Take Action to Open An Etsy Store
- Go to Etsy.com and click on “Sell on Etsy.”
- Once you do this, it will give you the option to select, “Open Your Etsy Shop.”
- You will then be asked to choose your shop language, country, and currency.
- Next comes a fun part: choosing your shop name. Need some tips?
- Your shop name can be 4-20 characters
- No special characters
- No profanity
- New name (not something someone else already has)
- Doesn’t infringe on a trademark
- Add product listings.
- Choose your payment option. Etsy Payments is the primary way to be paid as of April 26, 2021
- Set up billing. This means entering a credit or debit card so Etsy can collect fees
- Launch your shop. When you’re finished putting in your information you can click “Open Your Shop.”
Starting a shop on Etsy is free. If you are interested in opening a shop to see the backend and learn how it works, you can get started without a credit card. The first fee you pay is when you publish a listing ($0.20 each.)
I have good news though. I have a link for 40 free Etsy listings which means you can truly start an Etsy shop for free. You will even save that $8 as you try out opening your shop.
After that, you’re ready to stock you shop by adding product listings to your shop. Make sure to take quality photographs (at least 1,000 pixels wide) of your products that show them off at their best. Remember, on Etsy this is the only way to distinguish yourself from the other shop owners on the same page.
Get Traffic To Your Etsy Store
One of the most frustrating things about opening an Etsy store is pouring your heart and soul into it and then getting zero traffic and zero sales.
Getting traffic to your Etsy store is essential if you want to make sales, and that can be difficult when you’re competing against millions of other sellers.
To help you with getting traffic to your store, here are some helpful tips that can get you started. Try using these methods to direct traffic to your shop and begin making your first sales.
- Etsy Search Engine Optimization (Etsy SEO)
SEO can be applied to Etsy just as any websites and blogs aim to optimize their pages for search engines like Google. That means there are key items in your shop to capitalize on search traffic when you do them better than other sellers. By focusing on some Etsy SEO basics, people searching for an item on Etsy in your category, have a good chance of finding your store ranking highly in their search results.
- Promote on Social Media
Social media can be an excellent way to drive traffic to your Etsy shop. If you can draw in a loyal (even small) group of followers to a social media platform, you can convert those followers into customers. Focus on a single social media platform as you get started so that you can develop brand recognition before trying to expand.
- Run Sales, Promotions and Special Coupons
The Etsy platform has marketing tools that makes it simple to run special promotions for new and returning customers. Set up discounts to run during holidays or new product launches. Also try out sending coupons to any shoppers who put an item in their cart or favorited an item but didn't complete the purchase.
Etsy Seller FAQ
Is Etsy safe/reliable?
Etsy is a publicly traded company that has been in business for decades. Millions of sellers have made a living from their shops on Etsy and they were able to do that because consumers keep returning.
Personally, I shop on Etsy and also own two Etsy shops so I am happy to vouch for its reliability as a great method to start an online business.
Just like in any business, fraud can happen and customer relationships are important. As a seller, ensure you deliver on time and work for five-star ratings so buyers continue to trust and shop with you.
Can You Sell Disney Stuff on Etsy?
Disney items are some of the most popular requests from customers, and poplar for crafters to enjoy creating. However, copyright and trademark infringement are taken very seriously on Etsy. While there may be some Disney items that are now in the public domain, a vast majority are protected intellectual property by The Walt Disney World Company and cannot be sold on Etsy (or any other platform)
without specific authorization from Disney.
What if I need to leave my shop for a few weeks?
There are many reasons why you may need to close your shop for some time. You might be ill, have a family emergency, or as often happens, you need time to catch up with some orders.
When this happens, you can use Vacation Mode to put your shop on hold for a period of time.
While the shop is closed, you’ll have access to your orders, cases, and Messages. You can do refunds, cancel orders, and print Etsy shipping labels, but buyers won’t be able to view any products or make any purchases.
Is it still worth it to sell on Etsy?
When one reads the online forums you quickly come under the impression that Etsy’s days are over. Countless sellers are totally disenchanted with what the platform has become commenting that is has lost its soul – which it appears to have done, judging by the mass-produced stuff it now lists.
But if you go by the figures, then obviously the platform is still worth if for sellers and buyers. In 2019, Etsy’s annual merchandise sales volume totaled $4.97 billion US dollars. Those are not sales figures of a failing company.
Etsy may not be the right or most profitable platform for every shop owner, but it’s obviously still serving a purpose for many.