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How to Start an Etsy Shop: Everything You Need to Know to Succeed on Etsy

Do you have what it takes to succeed on Etsy? If you’re a creative individual with a passion for the products you make, then we think you do. But here’s the thing, before you can find success as an Etsy seller, you need to know how to start an Etsy shop. And that means understanding the fundamentals of selling on the Etsy platform.

It’s easier to learn than you think. So, let’s take a look!

If you get these wrong, real success will always be just outside your reach. But there’s no reason success should be unobtainable for you, especially if you follow this guide.

We’re laying everything out for you in this easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide on how to start an Etsy shop to become a successful seller.

— Etsy 101 —

The Complete Guide for Everything You Need to Know to Succeed on Etsy

Whether you started your Etsy shop as a side-hustle or you’re in it to make a living, follow this step-by-step guide to elevate your Etsy shop game and put more money in your pocket.


The Complete Guide for Everything You Need to Know to Succeed on Etsy has been painstakingly curated for the budding Etsy entrepreneur. Starting your own business can be scary (at times) and just plain overwhelming. But you don’t have to go at it alone.

Success is achievable. All you have to do is have a great plan and execute it to the best of your ability.

With this guide, you have your plan. We encourage you to read through its pages entirely. But please, take your time. Gradually apply these methods in your own Etsy shop, one at a time. If you do it right, success will follow.

If you want to know how to sell on Etsy successfully, it’s important to remember that success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes patience, diligence, and hard work.

Once you apply what you’ve learned within this guide, you’ll have more time to focus on the parts of your business that you love. You can get back to creating the products you’re passionate about, with peace of mind that everything else in your Etsy shop is set up for success.

With each chapter, take what you learn and apply it to your own Etsy shop. Keep track of what works, so you can stop doing what doesn’t.

A little about us

how to start an etsy shop - and why marmalead is the best etsy seo tool to help you start

If you want to know how to start an Etsy shop the right way, we’ve got your back. At Marmalead, we’re dedicated to helping Etsy shops find success in eCommerce through tried and true practices in search engine optimization (SEO).

Helping Etsy sellers find the best keywords for their Etsy listings is our bread and butter. And when we’re not helping you optimize your listings with the best keywords, we spend the rest of our time providing valuable advice and insight into becoming an outstanding Etsy entrepreneur.

We’ve worked with hundreds of thousands of Etsy sellers over the years (including the upper 1%) and we’ve learned a thing or two from their successes, and of course, their mistakes.

How to start an Etsy shoop: Learning from other seller’s mistakes

Mistakes. We all make them. But when it comes to selling on Etsy, a simple mistake can cost you. Just how much are we talking?

A couple dollars?

A couple hundred dollars?

Repeating the same mistake over and over again in your Etsy shop can cost you thousands of dollars in the long run.

That’s hard-earned money that you could be using to put food on the table for your family.

We want you to make more money doing what you love.

And it all starts here.

how to start an etsy shop - three women brainstorm etsy product ideas in their workshop

Ask yourself, why did you start an Etsy shop in the first place?

Is it because Etsy is the ideal marketplace to buy and sell one-of-a-kind handmade products online? Yes!

Is it because you can get paid to create what you’ve been enjoying as a hobby for years? Yes!

Is it because you get to be your own boss and work when you want? Yes!

These are great reasons to start an Etsy shop! And we applaud you for taking a leap of faith to do it!

But what happens when things on Etsy don’t pan out like you expect?

→ What if nobody wants to buy the products you create? Well, they probably do, they just don’t know how to find your products.

→ What if your Etsy shop traffic started out great but has now fizzled over time? Well, when’s the last time you updated your Etsy keywords? Or your title and descriptions? Or your listing photos?

→ Do you know what worked for your Etsy shop in the past? If you do, we’ll show you how to apply it to your Etsy shop for the future. If you don’t, we’ll show you how to find out!

→ What if Etsy turns out to be far more complicated than you expected? Well, it’s not as complicated as you think, you just have to tune out all the noise that distracts from the fundamentals.

If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, then this guide is right for you.
man inside his woodshop writes down his goals for starting an etsy shop

8 Steps to Starting an Etsy Shop

We created the Complete Guide for Everything You Need to Know to Succeed on Etsy to teach you how to start an Etsy shop the right way. You can position your Etsy shop for longterm success by following these core principals.

  1. How to Do Etsy Market Research for Your Products
  2. Know Your Etsy Shop Branding Before You Open
  3. How to Create & Maintain an Etsy Shop Aesthetic
  4. How to Master Your Etsy Product Photography
  5. How to Research Etsy Keywords
  6. Etsy Shipping Costs and How to Calculate Them
  7. A Crash Course to Etsy Taxes & Accounting
  8. The New & Improved Quick and Dirty Guide to SEO for Etsy

Why You Should Sell on Etsy

Understanding the ins and outs of the Etsy platform (and who shops on it) before you start an Etsy shop

Undoubtedly, Etsy is the best online marketplace for selling one-of-a-kind, handmade goods. It’s designed from the ground up, just for handmade sellers like you.

And while Etsy has gone through some changes over the years, it’s been in the business of handmade for as long as it’s been around, circa 2005.

On top of that, the community of makers on Etsy is a tight-knit group of sellers. Through all the online forums, YouTube channels, and various blogs, Etsy sellers all across the world help to foster a positive culture with a can-do spirit.

No matter where you’re selling on Etsy, the greater community ultimately works together to help your business prosper, both in the long term and the short term. There aren’t many other online communities that do that!

Etsy’s Roots

empty etsy workshop with decorative plants and clothing

Etsy launched in Brooklyn back in 2005, and like most famous startup stories go, its first headquarters was in a New York apartment with three founders at the helm, Rob Kalin, Chris Maguire, and Haim Schoppik.

Robert Kalin is said to have coined the term Etsy simply because he “wanted a nonsense word to build the brand from scratch.” Apparently, after watching Italian flicks, Robert wrote down what he heard: “Eh si” which in Italian means “oh, yes.”And from there, Etsy was born.

By 2007, just two years later, Etsy had nearly 450,000 registered sellers (“Estians,” as they called them back in the day). Etsy was quickly carving out its own indie niche in the handmade and design world!

Where is Etsy Now?

In 2013, after leadership roles evolved, the platform took a major turning point. Etsy began allowing non-handmade goods on the platform, which turned out to be bombshell news for sellers.

What started as a tight-knit marketplace for indie designers and artisans was beginning to show signs of developing into a greater online marketplace for all unique and yes, even vintage goods.

Fast forward to 2021 and Etsy is continuing to evolve into a powerhouse for eCommerce entrepreneurs, doing its best to fit in with the greater consumer landscape.

How to Start an Etsy Shop: What products actually sell on Etsy?

man writes shipping labels for his etsy customers

Before you start selling, you need to know how to start an Etsy shop that actually sells its products

This cannot be overstated. On Etsy, your product is everything.

A good-looking shop with great photos awesome product descriptions won’t make any money by selling a product nobody wants.

So ask yourself this, “Is there a demand for my product?

  • If the answer is yes, how do you know?
  • Do you see other listings on Etsy similar to yours? What makes your product different?

Before you start selling your products on Etsy, you need to answer these questions.

And the best way to answer these questions is with thorough market research in the product category you’re interested in selling in.

If you want to start an Etsy shop by selling a product that’s already available there in abundance, you may be disappointed rather quickly. 

That’s because Etsy is a fierce marketplace, and competition can be brutal. Without the right Etsy SEO tools and fine-tuned optimization, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd and get noticed. And sometimes, even when you are noticed on Etsy, it’s not always easy to land the sale.

Avoid competing in a saturated market

One of the best ways to avoid competition is to “niche down.” If, for example, you specialize in selling “handmade leather accessories,” you’re up against a lot of competition. If you position your business as a specialist in “handmade organic leather men’s wallets,” then it’s much easier to stand out. 

The saying “jack of all trades, master of none” is applicable here. If you start an Etsy shop and become the go-to brand for a single product, you’ll dominate that niche. This will translate into not only more traffic, but a ton more sales.

Know why you want to start an Etsy shop and align your goals 

how to start an etsy shop - close up of calculator and notepad on top of a pile of money

Why are you starting an Etsy shop?

For a bit of fun? To make some money off something that you enjoy doing? Because you’ve got an idea you know is profitable?

It’s crucial that you know why you’re going to start an Etsy shop. This helps you define your goals, and goals are important to justify the time and money you’ve invested in your venture. 

Maybe you’ve seen the stories of people creating an empire almost overnight by selling on Etsy, and you think, “Yup, I want to do that!. Well, the truth is that for every one of those “unicorn” stories, there are hundreds, if not thousands of sellers that don’t make it past the 6-month date. 

That’s because they start an Etsy shop with no planning, no goals, and no overall direction other than wanting to be the next “success story.”

S.M.A.R.T. goals are a great place to start to establish what you’re working toward. SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound
starting an etsy shop means keeping track of the goals that matter most to you

So make sure your goals aren’t written down as: “I want to make a few extra bucks by selling on Etsy!” Rather, it should be: “I want to sell X number of Y products on Etsy by Z date to make a total profit of A dollars!”

Related: The Secret Formula to Etsy Promos Without Hurting Your Bottom Line

Working backward, you can easily define your version of success and then take small, manageable steps toward reaching that goal! 

Using the right tools when starting your Etsy shop

The most successful Etsy shops set high standards for themselves. They meet that standard by using a wide range of digital tools to create the best product listings. 

These high standards include:

Every single one of these points is a separate topic on its own, and we’ve linked to some of the best resources for more details.

snapshot of etsy keyword stats inside of marmalead

Hungry for more? Check out these Etsy tips for newbies!

The main point is this: there’s a wealth of information out there about starting an Etsy shop. So, do your research (like reading this guide) rather than blindly jumping in. This way, you’ll put yourself in the best position to make that first sale and increase your business’s sustainability.

Yes, you’re running a business.

Think like a business, not a hobby

Even if you want to start an Etsy shop for a bit of fun, you must think like a business rather than a hobby that makes a little cash on the side. 

The most successful Etsy shops think like this. Whether each product is handmade to order or sold in high volumes, it’s operated as a business, not a hobby.

The BEST businesses take an enormous amount of effort, time, and energy to make them successful. And there’s very little emotion. Ask yourself, how much emotion is in the production and sale of your Etsy product?

A little bit is good. In fact, a little emotion is important. But if you can’t look at your products objectively and try and find ways to improve, then there’s too much emotion and your shop might not make it. The fact is that data says a lot about your Etsy shop, your sales, and your products.

snapshot of etsy shop stats from the etsy seller dashboard

If you’re not willing to both look at that data and act upon it, then the growth and success of your Etsy shop will be hard to come by. 

Everything you need to know to succeed on Etsy

Are you ready to start your Etsy shop? Hopefully, this article has put you in the right mindset and given you the right resources get started with your own Etsy shop, but there’s still more to learn!

If you’re ready for the next article in our Complete Guide for Everything You Need to Know to Succeed on Etsy, then here it is:

↓ ↓

How to Do Etsy Market Research for your Products

Research. It’s undoubtedly the most important (and overlooked) part of selling on Etsy. And with the tools we offer here at Marmalead, you’ll learn just how to make your products stand out from the rest.

Learn how Marmalead can help you find your untapped potential!

Good luck, and know that we’re here to help you along your journey.


If you’ve enjoyed this article then you’re sure to enjoy reading The Squeeze, our weekly newsletter for entrepreneurs just like you. Stay up to date with everything going on in the eCommerce industry when you subscribe to The Squeeze below!

the squeeze - an ecommerce newsletter for etsy sellers and handmade entrepreneurs
Grow your online business, develop your SEO, and launch your sales into the stratosphere.

Read The Squeeze each week to see what’s new with Etsy and the growing industry of eCommerce. There’s a lot of noise out there getting in the way of your success. Cut to the chase with tips and tricks you can implement in your business right now. Let The Squeeze be your guide.


 

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