Nine Lessons For a Successful Etsy Store

Nine Lessons For a Successful Etsy Store

In September 2020, I was terrified when I clicked on that orange “Open a Shop” button. I didn’t know if this would work out, and I knew I could potentially lose a lot of money if things didn’t. Now, seven months later, I know that my Etsy shop could be a huge income stream for me.

This article will show you how I made $1423.02 from a single design on Etsy, which I ordered on Fiverr. There are no magic tricks or secret practices you need to do — only honest work to get you noticed.

Let’s get started!

Potential Clients Resonated With The Design

The first and foremost reason this worked was the design spoke to its intended audience. My audience for this particular design is anyone who writes code. And the design highlighted one of our daily struggles.

I knew this design would work well because I am a developer too, and that design spoke to me.

Action Item: Choose a design that you know you would enjoy wearing or one that highlights a shared struggle or joy for a particular group of people (it’s even better if you’re part of it).

I Used All 13 Tags

Tags on Etsy are super important. If you don’t choose your tags carefully, Etsy might show your item to people who aren’t even interested in the design topic — let alone the product.

For maximum exposure, it’s best to use all tags in your listing. It’s even better if you choose tags that convey what a person would type into Etsy’s search bar. Remember that not only your intended audience buys stuff for them. It could be their mom, their significant other, or their friends, too.

Action Item: Use all 13 tags in your listing. Type in tags that convey what people would search for on Etsy’s search bar. Don’t restrict yourself to just your design. Think about the broad topic. If your product attracts Engineers, perhaps add the tag “engineer gift” as well.

I Used The Design In Multiple Products

When you use a design in your shop, it’s often best to use it in multiple products. In my case, people bought t-shirts the most, but the rest of the revenue came from hoodies.

Hoodies are also a more high-ticket product. If you go to the store, you’ll see hoodies that cost anywhere between $30 to $40. So to buy a hoodie with an original design for $39.99 is not so outlandish.

Action Item: Create more products with your design, and make sure to add all tags for those products as well. You may never know if there’s one combination of product and design that could explode on Etsy if you don’t try.

I Used Etsy Ads

From the dawn of my store on Etsy, I used Etsy Ads. It’s the most significant sales driver for my shop because I don’t have a social media audience.

That bodes well for you since it means you could start a shop without a preexisting audience.

To make Etsy Ads work for you, you should always make sure that you use all tags in your listing and that the tags convey what people will type in the search.

Many sellers are afraid that if they set the daily budget for Etsy Ads too high, they’ll lose money instead of earning more. The truth is the opposite. Etsy only charges you for an ad when people click on it. And if a person clicked on your ad, that’s already one step closer to buying from you.

In other words, if you set your budget to $25/day and people constantly click on your shop and don’t buy anything — there’s something you need to fix in either your pricing or your product.

Or perhaps you need to start with a lower Ad budget, build some reviews, and then increase the funding. People want to see what others think of your service and that they aren’t taking a chance with you.

Action Item: Set a daily budget for Etsy Ads. Start with $10 and see where that gets you. Make sure all advertised products have all 13 tags.

I offer Free Domestic Shipping

Etsy loves it when you offer free shipping. You don’t have to provide it to every buyer that comes into your shop. But even if you provide it only to your US shoppers, that’s already a massive boon for your shop’s visibility.

Etsy also allows you to filter by sellers who offer free shipping. That’s a place you want to be for potential domestic customers.

Don’t be afraid to offer free shipping and charge more for your product to cover the cost. Most shoppers, myself included, would often be more interested in a product with free shipping than one without.

Action Item: Offer free shipping to your US shoppers. Price your items accordingly.

I Chased Reviews

5-star reviews are the holy grail of any shop on Etsy. It’s what your credibility as a seller rests on more than anything else.

You might have thousands of followers on Social Media, but if I come to your store and see that there are no reviews (or even just a handful), I’ll hesitate to buy from you.

That’s why you need to chase reviews and be proactive about getting them. Not only is it a chance to practice your customer service skills, but it’s also a constant reminder that behind every sale, there’s a human being that decided to invest money in your business.

You should applaud them for that decision.

Action Item: once a week, go over your delivered sales and send a neat little message that asks your customer if everything was to their satisfaction.

If it wasn’t, ask to know why. If it was, ask for a review as a new seller on Etsy and tell them it would mean the world to you if they could award you a 5-star review.

I Included More Than 500 Characters In The Listing Description

Etsy is also a search engine. In simple terms, that means you need to optimize your listing page.

Just like every basic SEO guide will tell you, you need to have a specific title, description, and tags that correspond to the item you want people to find when they search for products.

But Etsy has more complex advice for sellers:

“Items with longer descriptions sell better — shoot for at least 500 characters (about 150 words). Buyers want to know the story behind their purchase.”

People who browse Etsy have a lot in common with people who browse Amazon. The difference is that Etsy’s catalog features vintage or hand-crafted items. And people who browse Etsy sometimes shop for stories more than they shop for the actual items.

That’s why it’s so essential to weave a story around your design. It doesn’t have to be a fully-fledged microfiction (even though that would be super cool), but it could be an anecdote about how you relate to your design, or what inspires you about it, or how you feel about people getting it.

There will be some designs that speak to people just by looking at them, as I described at the beginning of this article. But if it’s not that obvious, your description could connect the potential client with the design on a deeper level.

Aside from the positive effect that more text has on search engine bots, think about this as an opportunity to really connect to what you’re doing. This journey is more than just the money aspect of starting a shop on Etsy. It’s a journey to share something profound with the world.

For example, let me share with you a review that I got on a design that I shared after some people in my inner circles got the coronavirus:

Screenshots from the author's product reviews.

Tiana survived covid-19, and that connected with the design on a personal level. That review warmed my heart! Your designs could do the same.

Action Item: Spend some time understanding how you relate to a design of yours on a deeper level. Weave that into the description of your listing.

I Took An Existing Idea And Repurposed It

Your designs don’t have to be 100% original. For example, if you’ll search Etsy for “that’s what she said,” you’ll find so many variations of this phrase on many items. That phrase isn’t copyrighted.

But you know what is copyrighted? Brand names, images, and trademarks. Don’t put those in your designs, and you should be fine. I understand that the thought of putting Sailor Moon or Goku on t-shirts is tempting — but it’s illegal. Plain and simple.

I highly encourage you to browse Etsy for broad topics that interest you and see the various designs on offer. Do market research.

You’ll quickly find out that you could recreate many of the designs you find using a tool like Canva. Nobody owns everyday language, and many of those designs are simple sentences.

You could add your unique graphics using Canva, and voila, you have your own representation of an existing idea. It won’t be the first time that humans took an existing idea and repurposed it. Don’t be afraid of doing so.

Action Item #1: Browse Etsy on the topics that matter to you and find designs that you think you can repurpose as your own. Make sure they don’t include copyrighted names, graphics, or trademarks.

Action Item #2: Browse Fiverr to find sellers that offer t-shirt designs. Get to know the environment. You might find yourself ordering designs in bulk very soon.

I Don’t Make My Shirts Myself

I don’t make shirts. I use services like printify.com or printful.com to print my orders on demand, which means only when an order comes in.

That way, I don’t have to keep storage, and I can also let things work automatically through software magic.

Both sites I mentioned have software integration with Etsy. Meaning, I could be sleeping when an order would come in and automatically would go to fulfillment.

As a small shop owner, you don’t want that yet. You need to be involved in the process and make sure that there are no misspelled names in the orders, that the addresses are correct, etc.

When you grow with your catalog, reviews, and sales, then you might consider putting some stuff on automatic fulfillment, or hopefully, hire someone to eject you from the process. It’s a game of income vs. outcome, and for now, you have zero income coming in.

Action Item: Check out printify.com, printful.com and do your research for additional fulfillment services that integrate with Etsy. Then, sign up for one of them and start creating product templates to push to your store.

Conclusion

In this guide, I shared how I made $1423.02 from one design on Etsy.

I walked you through the essentials of tags, making sure the design and its description speak to people, and taking the ideas that work and repurposing them to your own needs.

In each section above, I also gave you an action item that will help you get a tangible result from this article.

I highly encourage you to follow through and ask questions along the way. If I could do it, and I’m working a full-time job, so could you.

Good luck!