What I Wish I Knew Before Starting An Etsy Shop

Starting an Etsy shop in 2019 was a wonderful addition to my online business. It helped grow Pennies Not Perfection by leaps and bounds and also gave me a new creative outlet that I fell in love with.

Etsy fulfilled many personal and business needs for me, but I wish had known more about Etsy when I started. Today I’m sharing a few of the lessons I wish I knew before I started my Etsy shop.

So what lessons did I learn after 450 sales in the first few months of my Etsy shop? These are the top 4!

SEO Is Very Important For Etsy Success

I get 55% of my traffic from Etsy, not my Youtube channel, my Instagram account or my blog. The majority of my traffic comes from Etsy itself and much of that is from search.

Some of that search traffic is from people searching for my Etsy shop because I’ve created a strong brand. Minus the people searching specifically for “Pennies Not Perfection” there are many many more who are searching for keywords to find items they want to purchase. Because Etsy functions as a marketplace driven by search, it makes sense that a big chunk of my Etsy traffic and sales comes from people using the search function.

Because search is so important that means SEO (search engine optimization) is important to a shop’s success. Knowing how SEO works and how to create good on page content for your listings is very important.

Your Effort Level Determines Your Success

Your Etsy shop succeeds based on the level of effort you put in to making it succeed. This has been very evident to me after many months of experience, experiments, and observation.

I’ve never been super pushy or sales focused because that’s not my natural personality. I love making helpful tools and want to be compensated for the work and value I provide, but being loud about my products is not my style. However, I’ve watched people in my Etsy groups who focus on promotion and they’ve gotten three times as many sales in the same amount of time.

Promotion matters. If you really want to succeed you have to promote your listings. You need to find ways to share and get your products out there into the world, either on Facebook or YouTube or Pinterest or wherever.

I’ve also noticed that the level of effort you are putting into your shop with adding listings and doing sales and being active will affect your sales numbers. When I’m actively adding new listings and updating things in my shop I make more sales. When I’m ignoring my shop the number of sales drops. The level of effort I put in during a month definitely changes the amount of sales I make.

It Is Just As Easy To Sell Expensive Items

When I started selling on Etsy, I was scared to sell anything over $2 or to ever raise my prices. Because I wasn’t confident in my ability to create and sell, I told myself the false story that it is easier to sell cheap items.

As it turns out, it takes just as much effort to sell a more expensive item than a cheaper one. While it might take more effort to create the more expensive item because you are putting more value into it – the effort to sell it on Etsy is pretty similar to selling something cheaper.

This revelation only came recently – 6 months after I started an Etsy shop! I played it way to safe in the first 6 months of my shop and my revenue was much lower because of it. Once I started higher priced items packed with value the amount I was earning went up. In fact, the best seller in my shop is one of my most expensive items!

Etsy Controls Your Shop

Unfortunately the last thing I wish I knew before I started selling on Etsy is not a positive one but it is true. Etsy controls your shop and can change the rules whenever. This is true whether it benefits your bottom line or not.

Recently Etsy enacted a change with mandatory off site advertising for your listings if you make over $10k a year. It’s not something you can opt out of and you have no choice whether or not your shop participates. This has led many people to plan on leaving Etsy because that type of advertising is not part of their business strategy and the 12-15% fee that Etsy will collect means their profit margin drops drastically.

Using a site like Etsy has many positives but you are giving up a level of control in order to use it and benefit from their marketplace. Unfortunately that means at any time Etsy can make a change that benefits their business model without your consent. Ultimately all the benefits of having an Etsy shop can be wiped out if they make a decision that negatively affects your shop strategy.

This is actually one of the reasons I recently started selling budgeting printables on my own website via Shopify which allowed me to keep more of the money from my sales and have more control over my marketing.

shopify store vs etsy shop
starting a shopify store to sell printables

Opening An Successful Etsy Shop

Those are a few of the things I wish I had know before starting my Etsy shop in 2019. However, despite the good and bad, Etsy has been an incredible addition to my online business! It’s been a great way to get started with selling products and interacting with customers in the marketplace.

If you are interested in opening your own Etsy shop, I’ve shared instructions in the video below.

You can use this link to get 40 free listings on Etsy when you start your shop. When you open a new shop Etsy recommends starting with at least 10 listings but I have started both of my shops with 1 item.

Tips I’d recommend for building a successful Etsy shop from the beginning:

  • have a strong niche where your products are very focused on either one niched area or style
  • create a strong brand story and share that in your shop and listings
  • continue your brand elements throughout the shop via colors and fonts
  • share photos that clearly show your items and how they can be used
  • make your descriptions clear and very descriptive – the more the better when you are explaining what comes with your item and how it can improve someone’s life
  • clearly articulate your shop’s policies if you don’t offer refunds or have specific policies that a buyer needs to share
  • build your shop with more listings to bring in new buyers and more traffic
  • make sure you promote your listings both on Etsy with seo and ads and off Etsy with social media

Those are a few of my best tips and I hope your new Etsy shop thrives!

Mary is the founder of Pennies Not Perfection where she shares her journey to build wealth through online income. She quit her day job in 2021 after she paid off her debt and doubled her 9-5 salary.

Mary's favorite free financial tool is Personal Capital. She uses their free tools to track net worth and work toward to financial freedom.

Her favorite investment platform is M1 Finance, where she built a custom portfolio for free with no fees. She shares her portfolio growth and savings progress every month on YouTube.