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How To Sell on Etsy Successfully—While Maintaining Your Independence

Illustration that depicts what steps go into selling on Etsy's marketplace

Etsy is one of the biggest online marketplaces in the world. With more than five million sellers serving nearly 90 million active buyers it has the potential to turn a side hustle into a full-time business.

It’s a place where small business owners can meet their ideal customers. Millions of people search the marketplace with credit card in hand, ready to buy crafts, handmade jewelry, and art.

But, how do you get started? Get insights into making the jump from Etsy storefront to full-time business owners from founders and small-business owners who’ve done it.


1. Determine if Etsy is right for you

The first stage in opening an Etsy shop happens long before clicking the “Start selling” button on Etsy’s homepage. Take a moment to decide whether Etsy is the right marketplace for your small business. 

Much like Amazon or eBay, certain items sell faster on Etsy’s marketplace than others. Items in the home and living, art, and jewelry categories are the most popular with buyers—that’s why the sales channel is popular with crafters and those selling handmade items.

Similarly, while Etsy has buyers (and sellers) all over the world, the marketplace is more popular in some countries than others. Some 30% of Etsy sellers are based in the UK; another 11% in Canada. Other European countries—including Germany, France, and Italy—make the shortlist. However, it may not be the best place for your business if your primary audience is outside of those most popular regions.

Bar graph of popular handmade Etsy sellers worldwide June 2020

2. If Etsy is right for your small business, create an account

When you’ve decided Etsy is right for your small business, create a free account. Head to the Etsy.com website and click Get started. Enter some basic personal information—like your first name and email address—to create an account.

Etsy get started screen: "Millions can’t wait to see what you have in store"

3. Open your Etsy storefront

Once you create an account, use it to open your Etsy shop. Begin by entering your shop preferences, including the language you’ll use to describe your products, the country you’re selling from, and the currency you’ll charge customers in.

Etsy set up screen for "Shop preferences" including language, county, and currency dropdown menus.

Next, enter your shop name. This can be a combination of letters and numbers without spaces.

Unsure what to call yours? Find ideas with a business name generator. Choose one that suits the products you’re selling and isn’t already in use by another Etsy store owner.

4. Upload products

As soon as your new Etsy shop has a store, you’ll be able to start selling items. Create a new listing for each product you’re selling through the marketplace—be it vintage items, handmade goods, or arts and crafts supplies.

Arguably, the most important factor of each Etsy listing is the visuals you use to sell the item. When shopping online, people buy with their eyes. They can’t touch, smell, or see the item in the flesh. Their decision to buy your Etsy product rides on excellent product photography.

You can add up to 10 high-quality images or one video per listing. Each must be eye-catching enough to stand out against items being sold by other sellers on the marketplace.

Etsy product photo upload screen.

Scroll down and you’ll see an option to add more information about the product you’re listing. This includes:

  • A product title
  • Information about the listing, including who made it and when
  • The category it slots into
  • The listing type (more on this later)
  • Whether it’s a physical or digital product
  • A product description containing your unique selling point (USPs)

Think about search engine optimization (SEO) best practices when optimizing an Etsy listing. Remember: the marketplace is built on a search engine that connects buyers and sellers. Make sure you meet potential customers in the results page by including keywords in your Etsy listing.

Etsy product listing details screen with prompts and required sections such as "Title" and "Category."

Set the pricing for your product under the Inventory and Pricing section. Enter the amount someone will pay for the item, how many you have available, and the SKU (if you use them). You can also add variations at this point, such as items in a different size or color.

Etsy inventory and pricing page with sections such as "Price," "Quantity," and "SKU"

Finally, upload the shipping information customers will need to know when buying your product through your Etsy store. Specify where you’re shipping the product from and your average processing time—how long it takes for you to pick, pack, and ship the item once an order confirmation comes through. 

Choose whether you want to offer fixed postage prices or delivery upgrades. If you’re shipping items to international customers, add a tariff number for customs.

Etsy screen for shipping details and prices

As a new seller, it’s advised to upload at least 10 listings when you’re opening your Etsy store. Make sure to preview all listings before publishing. You don’t want customers to see a less-than-perfect listing when they’re viewing your products for the first time.

5. Choose how you’ll get paid

Happy with your inventory? On the next page, you’ll be asked to choose how you want to get paid. 

Select whether you’re an individual seller or incorporated business. Then, enter your personal information, including your name and address. Finally, enter the details of the bank account you want to receive your Etsy revenue in.

Etsy screen for merchant payment, "Where should we pay your funds."

6. Set up billing

While it’s free to set up an account and buy, it costs money to sell on Etsy. After entering information about how you’d like to receive payments, you’ll be asked to choose a payment method. This is how you’ll pay to publish your listing and open your storefront. 

7. Customize your Etsy storefront

The final step in opening an Etsy shop is to customize your new storefront: the information potential customers will see when visiting your store profile. To do this:

  • Upload a profile and banner photo. Put yourself, your products, or your business’s logo at the front and center of your Etsy store.
  • Create a user profile. Introduce yourself as the shop manager and put a face to the products you’re selling through the marketplace. Give potential customers confidence a human is on the other side of the screen.
  • Tell people about your new store. What do you sell? Why? How did your store come to life? Give first-time visitors to your new Etsy storefront a bit of background about you and why they should buy your products. 
  • Upload your shop policies. Delivery, payment options, returns, exchanges, and privacy policies are boring, but essential. Make the terms of buying from your store clear from the outset to avoid any confusion with Etsy customers.

Customized Etsy storefront for JewelleryGBShop with a necklace with "Brooke" on a purple background.

JewelleryGBShop’s Etsy storefront has a custom profile photo, banner, and featured items banner to impress visitors.

The costs of selling on Etsy

There are no upfront costs for selling on Etsy, making it a great place to there are charges associated when you make a sale. As Claire Westbrook, founder of TrendyJournalsl, says, “The biggest downside of Etsy is the numerous fees: listing fees, sales and tax fees, and transaction fees. Generally speaking, Etsy fees end up being close to a third of the product’s revenue.”

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest.

Listing fees

Listing fees are one of the most popular Etsy charges. Sellers are charged 20¢ for every new listing they upload to their store—regardless of whether the listing results in a sale or not.

By default, listings are shown on Etsy’s marketplace for four months (or until the item has been sold). If auto-renew is toggled on in the listing information, you’ll be billed the same 20¢ once the four months are up.

Transaction fees

Sold an item through Etsy? You’ll need to pay a 6.5% transaction fee to the marketplace in return for facilitating the sale. That’s in conjunction with the postage, shipping, and gift wrap pricing of each listing.

Sellers in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, and Turkey also need to pay a regulatory operating fee (ranging from 0.25% to 1.1%) on each listing. It’s charged on total revenue—the product price and any shipping fees you’ve charged the customer.

  • United Kingdom: 0.25%
  • France: 0.4%
  • Italy: 0.25%
  • Spain: 0.4%
  • Turkey: 1.1%

Payment processing fees

Throughout the process of setting up your Etsy store, you’ll have entered your bank information.

Store owners can also opt into Etsy Payments, where buyers can choose from a list of alternative payment options, like PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Klarna. Enabling Etsy Payments means being subject to its payment processing fees.

Sellers in certain countries—including Mexico, the Philippines, and South Africa—will also need to meet minimum payment thresholds before their Etsy revenue is in their bank.

Currency conversion fees

Etsy does all of its business in US dollars. While you can sell items in other currencies, all of the charges related to selling on Etsy will be billed in USD. The marketplace will convert your funds to your bank account’s currency before transfer, but note that this currency conversion won’t always be the market value.

Etsy may also take a 2.5% currency conversion fee when you’re doing business using a currency other than USD.

Offsite Ads fees

While you can have a perfectly optimized product listing that reaches potential customers in the Etsy search engine, the marketplace knows that, sometimes, buyers want to add fuel to the customer acquisition fire. It helps sellers do that through advertising.

Sellers can opt into Offsite Ads, where their products are shown across Etsy’s own marketing and advertising channels. Business owners can have their products appear in Etsy’s Facebook, Google, and display ads—all without having to manage advertising accounts themselves.

But this comes at a cost. Etsy sellers are billed when their product sells through an Offsite Ad. If your storefront made less than $10,000 through the marketplace within the last year, 15% of the order total will be taken as payment for their Offsite Ad program. Pass the $10,000 threshold and your Offsite Ads fee is discounted to 12%. Either way, Etsy promises that your Offsite Ad fee will never exceed $100 per item.

Etsy shipping costs

Sellers in certain locations that accept Etsy Payments or PayPal can purchase shipping labels through the marketplace and deductions are taken straight from their account. Rates vary depending on the carrier, origin and destination locations, and size of each package. Additional fees apply for signature confirmation and insurance.

Etsy Plus

All Etsy sellers have the choice to opt into Etsy Plus. Its subscription package promises to help sellers “take their shop to the next level,” with added perks for sellers opting into the $10 per month fee. 

Etsy Plus sellers are immediately gifted 15 listing credits and $5 in Etsy ads credit. They also get added features like:

  • Customizable shop options
  • Discounts on custom domain names
  • The ability to email shoppers when an item is back in stock

Sell on Etsy FAQ

How much does it cost to use Etsy to sell?

It costs nothing to open an Etsy storefront, 20¢ to list a product until it sells or for four months, and 6.5% as a transaction fee. International sales are subject to additional fees and currency conversion fees. Payment processing fees vary.

What can you sell on Etsy?

Handmade products Vintage items Crafts and craft supplies Digital products

What is the Etsy transaction fee?

The Etsy transaction fee is 6.5% of the total transaction value. This applies to every sale made on the marketplace.

Do you need a business license to sell on Etsy?

No, you do not need a business license to sell on Etsy.

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