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How to build a successful Etsy shop from scratch, according to the experts

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Have you got a crafty talent that you’d like to turn into a business? Starting your own Etsy shop is an incredible first step towards your goal.

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Selling things that you’ve made is an incredible first step to starting your own business; it’s also an amazing side hustle, something creative you can do on the side of your full-time job. However, the logistics of it might seem a little overwhelming and time-consuming.

That’s why marketplace sites like Etsy are so great. They take a lot of the hassle out of the process of selling your items, from marketing to website building and they also offer templates to help you sell your own items. The best thing about it is that Etsy already has its own customer base, so the difficult task of finding your customers is made a lot easier. 

According to a 2020 report, there are about 519,000 active sellers on Etsy in the UK, 43% of whom have a full-time creative career alongside it. Clearly, starting your own Etsy shop is more than doable, then. But how do you make your shop stand out and grow your business on the marketplace site?

We asked Dayna Isom Johnson, trend expert at Etsy, as well as two UK-based successful Etsy sellers to share their secrets on how to build up your Etsy shop, whatever it is that you’re selling. 

Dayna Isom Johnson
Dayna is Etsy's trend expert.

Create a memorable brand

When creating an Etsy account as a seller, you have the opportunity to build your own brand and Dayna says that you should really make the most of this. “Treat it like a shopfront,” she says. “What is it that pulls you into a brick and mortar shop? The same things should apply to your Etsy shop.”

One of the ways you can do this is by creating an interesting ‘about’ page. “Tell your backstory and make it as engaging as possible,” Dayna advises.

The name of your shop is also important to your brand, although you are able to change your Etsy shop name later down the line so don’t stress too much over it. “I didn’t put a lot of thought into my name but I was able to make it my own,” says Natalie Manima, the founder of Bespoke Binny, an eclectic homeware brand that Natalie sells via her Etsy store.

Price your items correctly

One thing you might be unsure of when you start your Etsy shop is how to price your items. It’s worth doing some research into this so you can ensure you’re being fair, to encourage customers to buy from you, and that you’re making enough to make a profit. “Take a look at what similar sellers are charging for products like the ones you’re selling and mirror their prices,” Dayna advises.

“When I started out, I realised I wasn’t charging enough so I wasn’t making a profit and I had to readjust my pricing,” Natalie says, explaining that sometimes she has to change her prices even now, when the cost of supplies change, for example.

Jodie Bond, who runs the Etsy shop The Letter Loft, says her prices are at the upper end of the price bracket for the category she sells within, but she has been successful because the quality matches that price. Jodie also packages all of her products in luxury packaging, which helps to justify the price too.

“One thing I always do is mark my products with a free shipping label and add the shipping costs into the price as this can help with sales,” Jodie adds. It costs 15p to list on Etsy and they take a 5% cut of all sales, so it’s also worth considering this when you set your prices.

Natalie, Bespoke Binny
Natalie runs the Etsy shop Bespoke Binny

Take engaging photos

Etsy is a very visual site so it’s important to prioritise showing off just how great your products are via images. “If a photo doesn’t draw you in, you’re not going to click through to it,” Dayna says. “The photos don’t have to be perfect but they need to be simple, sharp and illustrated.”

You should take simple products of your photos and lifestyle shots too. “Finding good lighting and using props can really help,” Natalie says. “Lifestyle shots where you see the product in action can help bring your brand to life.”

Jodie agrees adding that “your featured photo should be a lifestyle photo, from my experience, as customers tend to like imagining how they could use the product.” Jodie adds that you should make sure to use all 10 of the photo slots Etsy offers you. 

The Letter Loft
Bespoke Binny
Jodie emphasizes the importance of using lifestyle photos on Etsy, Natalie uses a professional photographer to take her Etsy photos

Make the most of Etsy’s features

Etsy is designed to optimise sales, so use all the features it offers you. One thing Dayna emphasises the importance of is using tags to categorise your products. “You’re allowed 13 tags on Etsy and each of these provide an opportunity for your products to appear for a different search term,” she explains.

“Most of my customers find me through Etsy’s search engine,” Natalie says. “Think about what people will be searching for and tailor your description and tags to that.” 

The Letter Loft
Jodie founded The Letter Loft with her dad

Have clear shop policies

Etsy allows sellers to build positive and authentic relationships with their customers. In order to get to this point and build positive customer relationships, Dayna says it’s important that your shop has clear policies. “Be as transparent as possible and be clear about what customers can expect when they make a purchase from you,” she explains.

This will also save you time, as you won’t get as many messages from people who are asking what you might consider to be obvious questions. 

You can find more expert tips and tutorials on The Curiosity Academy’s Instagram page.

The Curiosity Academy is Stylist’s new home for learning, packed with workshops, guides & video classes from the UK’s most in-the-know people.

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Images: Dayna Isom Johnson, Bespoke Binny, The Letter Loft, Getty

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