Overview: Full Details on How to Start an Etsy Business
Nowadays, the Internet economy offers entrepreneurs a multitude of money-making avenues. The options are endless, with something for nearly every skill or expertise area. One of the best outlets for artists and craftspeople is etsy.com.
Etsy, according to its site, describes itself as “a market place where people around the world connect, both online and offline, to make, sell and buy unique goods.” The company was founded in 2005, and its headquarters are located in Brooklyn, New York, with additional offices worldwide.
The site has over 60 million items for sale, with buyers and sellers from almost every country in the world.
As Etsy continues to gain in popularity, many people are wondering, “Is Etsy a reliable site?” The answer is, yes. Many creative professionals are starting Etsy businesses, and Etsy has protection policies in place for both buyers and sellers.
Another common query regarding the site is, “Can you make money on Etsy?” Yes. Some artisans have grown to make thousands of dollars per month starting an Etsy business.
So, how to start a business on Etsy? AdvisoryHQ has listed below the key details for planning and launching a product line and, ultimately, how to start and maintain a successful business through Etsy.
Starting an Etsy Business: the 4 P’s
Starting an Etsy Shop
Whether you’re extending a hobby into a money-making venture or just trying to capitalize on your creative skills, you need to treat starting an Etsy business like any normal business.
That means researching to get a clear idea of your goals, your offerings, and the marketplace.
You can make money on Etsy by following the “4 P’s of marketing” when doing your initial planning.
Product: How to Start a Business on Etsy by Aligning Your Product with Customer Needs
You need to know why Etsy customers would want a particular product and then why they would want your product. Starting an Etsy business requires knowing your target customer. The more specific you are, the better:
- Who is the ideal customer for your successful Etsy business?
- Can you make money on Etsy by solving a specific customer problem?
- What do your customers look for in a product like yours?
- Who else is selling what you’re selling?
- What differentiates your products from theirs?
These questions help you hone your value proposition. How does what you sell meet a unique need in the market? Leading with your uniqueness will help you launch an Etsy business that stands out with artistry, technique, novelty or a combination of different factors.
Understanding your value when starting an Etsy business helps you price, position, and market your products.
The next part of how to start a business on Etsy is to determine which products you want to list when you launch. Are there products that share the same components? Reusing materials for different items can limit your costs while you figure out what sells and what doesn’t.
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Place: How to Position Yourself to Make Money on Etsy
Traditionally, placement starts with where you are going to sell your goods. Obviously, you’re starting a business on Etsy, but this step also includes how you can best present your work.
Think about the difference between a discount, big-box store, and a high-end department store. Lighting, ambiance, and presentation tell shoppers that they’re somewhere special where they can expect quality products and service.
Approach your store with the same mindset.
One of the number one areas where people stumble when starting an Etsy business is having dimly lit photos and lackluster presentation of their work. You want visitors to see the care and artistry you put into what you sell.
It’s best to hire a professional photographer, but if you do it yourself, think like a professional photographer and follow some Etsy photography tips.
- Use the best camera you can and find the macro settings to help you take good close-ups.
- Daylight makes the best pictures, but you can invest in some simple studio light kits or build your own light box.
- Get the correct props and tables to best display your work from multiple angles.
- Use backgrounds that make your crafts stand out.
- Include attractive groupings of products so you can show visitors how items work together.
Don’t just take pictures of the products. Include some photos of the creative process that takes place when you’re making your products. Etsy shoppers connect to the craftsmanship and personalized touch when they see your work in progress.
Another part of brand placement in a brick-and-mortar store is positioning goods where consumers can easily find them. In the online world, that means making sure shoppers see you as an option when they search online using keywords.
What search terms will your ideal customer use to find your Etsy business? Use Google’s Keyword Planner to see how your customers look for you. Make sure that you include those keywords in your Etsy store and product descriptions.
Pricing: How to Start a Business on Etsy with the Right Pricing
One of the hardest parts of starting an Etsy business is figuring out the optimum market value of your product. Striking the right balance is part art and part science.
Craftybase offers a useful calculator that gives you a suggested price based on:
- Cost of materials
- Labor cost
- Your markup
- Etsy & PayPal fees
How to Start a Business on Etsy
When you’re learning how to start a business on Etsy, it’s especially important to factor in all of the transaction fees covered by the seller, including shipping. Calculate the cost of returns and craft a return policy that balances customer service with your finances.
Then, be sure to factor in the cost of storing inventory, accounting software or services, legal services, etc. What is the cost of Etsy advertising and other marketing expenses?
Can You Make Money on Etsy?
You can make money on Etsy if you account for the value you place on your own time and skill. Remember that shoppers may also associate low prices with low quality.
Instead of assigning herself an hourly wage when she started her Etsy business, one seller put all the variables into a spreadsheet and experimented with various outputs on the labor/profit side of the equation.
What is the minimum profit that makes a product worth your time? How does that fit in with the range of prices for similar items? Research competitors’ pricing and look at their pictures and reviews. Who is running a successful Etsy business? What is their perceived value at different price points?
Before starting an Etsy business, order from the competition. How does your work compare? Can you convey what’s better through your photography or item descriptions so prospects know why your items command a higher price?
The final determining factor will be what a customer is willing to pay. That will require experiments once you start selling to figure out how you can make money on Etsy.
Promotion: How to Start an Etsy Business with the Right Marketing
Starting a business on Etsy isn’t enough. Shoppers may not come if you don’t think in advance about how to market your store. If you know how to promote yourself, Etsy is a reliable site that can bring you new customers.
Many new entrepreneurs—especially creative ones—are skittish about promoting themselves and their work. However, if you believe in the value of what you have to offer and know what sets your products apart, you don’t have to think of promotion as self-promotion. You’re evangelizing the great value that you offer through your Etsy business to target customers who want what you provide.
Your promotion efforts start with your branding. Pick a shop name that ties in with your unique value, but don’t forget that it has to be something a customer will easily associate with the type of products you sell.
To find out if your chosen name is available, don’t just search Etsy to see if there’s a shop with the same name. Check availability through the registration process. Double-check this before you start branding with graphics or a website.
You should also make sure a simple and relevant domain name is available for a website—regardless of whether you plan to launch with one. You don’t want to establish a successful Etsy business with one name and then find out that the web domain is reserved by another company. Check GoDaddy, 1&1, NameSilo or any other domain registrar to see what’s taken.
Next, you can decide on the images and colors to incorporate into the graphics you use when you start your business on Etsy. That look should carry through your business cards, invoices, and product tags.
Don’t Scrimp on the Visuals
A creative business should present itself creatively and attractively. Your brand is your prospects’ introduction to the quality of your goods.
For your marketing plan, explore the site’s promoted listings to bring your items to the top of a visitors’ search results. Etsy advertising provides results for your promotions on a dashboard with the number of impressions, clicks, cost per click, and other metrics.
Business planners also suggest identifying the right social media platforms, focusing on those that are visual, like Instagram and Pinterest. This is where the attractive photos you’ve taken can link prospects back to your shop.
With a Plan in Place, It’s Time to Start Your Etsy Business
A key resource for you is the Etsy Seller Handbook. It covers the details of how to start a business on Etsy. Here are the important steps listed below:
1. Register your shop.
You’ll need to upload your store’s banner and profile picture. You can hire someone to create your graphic or use a service like Canva or PicMonkey.
Review the graphics and make sure they are crisp and easy to read—not only on a computer but on mobile devices as well.
2. Write your store description.
Refer back to your unique value proposition and the search terms that your customers will use. Include these keywords.
Add some of your personal story or mission to your description. Remember: personal craftsmanship is one of the selling points of an Etsy business.
3. Create prototypes of a few items to list on your site.
Rather than offering multiple colors and options for each product, focus on showing some representative pieces for your Etsy store launch.
Beginning with a narrow set of options lets you test your production process when starting an Etsy business to see which items sell before you spend time and energy creating a large, diverse inventory.
You can expand designs once you know which products move and which ones don’t have a market.
4. List your items.
Organize your items into simple categories to allow your customers to shop easily for specific products.
Keep the titles brief and use keyword-rich descriptions along with your well-lit photography. Bullet points for the key specifications and details keep each listing clear and easy to read.
Don’t list every single item the first day. When you spread out your listings, the newest items will be at the top of the Etsy listings, keeping your items more visible for a longer.
5. Launch your Etsy advertising and marketing plan and track results.
Let everyone you know that you’re starting an Etsy business—in person and on social media.
Consider launching with Etsy advertising on day one. The site provides search-term analytics so you can know which keywords brought a customer to your item.
Track the terms and other data daily in a spreadsheet.
- Which pieces get the most views?
- Are views translating into sales?
- Which colors or options sell best?
If people are viewing items and not buying, take another look at your photos and descriptions. You might have the right keywords to bring customers to your Etsy store, but your presentation fails to close the deal.
Tweak the display, pricing, and keywords to find what works.
6. Build your Etsy business with excellent customer service
Beyond creating quality work, the experience of your store is what will bring repeat customers for a successful Etsy business. In fact, if a customer has a poor experience, the quality of the work may not matter.
Delivering poor service can leave customers wondering, “Is Etsy a reliable site?” Be part of the reason shoppers can count on Etsy.
- Be direct about shipping and handling times.
- Have a clearly stated return policy.
- Answer questions within 24 hours, if possible. Any longer and the prospect will shop elsewhere.
- If you produce custom items, know your production times inside and out.
- Keep track of your inventory so you know if an item is sold out.
In the end, starting an Etsy business begins with the same principles as any business—careful planning, thorough execution, and iterative review of your operation for continuous improvement.
Can you make money on Etsy? Absolutely. Stay patient and focused on quality products and quality service and, before you know it, you’ll be on your way to success!
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