What I’ve learned in a year and 1,100 Etsy sales

Special Guest post by Michelle of FourLetterWordsCards


YAY! I am coming up to my 1 year anniversary on Etsy. Things have certainly been a learning experience and I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve accomplished in a year. Here’s some of the things I’ve learned along the way. (Also, add what YOU’VE learned too – the more helpful info, the better!)

1. Don’t expect everything to go as planned.

When I opened my first shop (A week before I started FourLetterWordCards,) I had HUGE ideas of making jewelry and selling pretty stuff. Except no one visited and it stayed stagnant. Part of the problem was my photos, my tags and titles, my descriptions and the fact that I was in an over saturated market. Once I put my time into something I truly loved and had fun with (this shop,) things blossomed and I started working on EVERYTHING.

2. You think you know…

I thought I had a good grasp on how to run a shop online. HA. HA. HA! LIES! There is so much crap to learn, it isn’t even funny. There will always be someone who does something better and someone who you can learn from. Be open to suggestion and pay attention to what other’s are doing. The more you learn, the better!

3. For only 1 million dollars, you can learn…

There are a lot of people that want your money. They’ll sell you this workshop, this plan, that online fail-proof business. If you don’t have the time to find free resources – then by all means, give your money away. But if you have the time to invest in yourself and read, GOOGLE THAT CRAP! You’ll save yourself money and not fall into the online ponzi scheme of learning from someone who may not even have an Etsy shop or know exactly what they are doing.

4. Invest in yourself.

Take the time to actually invest in your business and yourself. Buy the materials you need, purchase the organizing crap to make your life better. Put money where your mouth is and faith in yourself. If you’re always going crazy because you have a messy office (my own problem,) you need to find some time and resources to fix it. The less crazy you are, the more time you have to dedicate to your business.

5. Always work on improving!

Holy crap. I’ve changed my logo like 4 times to date. I have another change in the works soon and will be rebuilding my website this month. This is the third time I’ll be changing my website…in a year. Next year, I have new photos that will be taken of ALL my products and more changes in the works. There isn’t SOMETHING you can’t improve and if you remain stagnant, you’ll bore yourself eventually and your customers. Make things look as good as you can and then improve gradually. Your sales will thank you!

6. Do right by your customers!

Customers are the blood of your business. Without them, you have no business. Granted it can be hard to always see eye to eye with them, but it’s our priority to do right by them. I’ve had customers never get an item, even though it showed as delivered. I’ve taken care of them and even though Etsy would have supported my decision, I still tried to ensure they were happy with everything. Thank them for their purchase and make purchasing from you an experience! I always include a thank you note and other goodies – because I want them to have FUN and to feel like family.

7. Streamline

At some point, you’ll double, triple and quadruple your orders. You need to figure out a process that allows you to do the most work in the shortest amount of time. Streamline everything you can and find a pattern that works for you. I’m still learning this and have so much more to figure out. I can do 100-150 cards a day – eventually I’ll need to learn how to get more done, in a shorter amount of time.

8. Have an online presence!

Be somewhere online. I’ve gone mad trying to navigate ALL social platforms and have figured out I’m happiest on Instagram. Figure out what social media works best for you and do something with it. Fans will find you and eventually buy your stuff!

9. Price yourself correctly.

Don’t undercharge in order to be competitive. When I first started – I actually priced myself against competition. It was okay for awhile, but I realized in order to price well for wholesale and actually make money – pricing for myself and products was smarter. You’ll only ever have the chance to make as much as you ask for – so be fair to yourself. I’ve raised my prices and charged more for certain items and the world didn’t blow up. People buy my stuff MORE now that I charge accordingly. It is awesome!


Etsy and an online business or anything really – should be fun. Sometimes crap is tedious and boring and there are certain things we hate doing. But please for the love of GOD – HAVE FUN DOING THIS STUFF! If this is a side business, it should be a way to make money and enjoy yourself. If this is a full time business – it still needs to bring you enjoyment. I LOVE the fact that I work for myself and answer to me, myself and I. I don’t have to do something I don’t want to and I can plan out each of my days, based on my mood. That is incredibly powerful and having the freedom to choose – IS AMAZING! Never forget that you are here to make your life and those around you BETTER!

So what have you learned? What are you most proud of within your business? What are your goals for your business and what are you celebrating?

YAY! I am coming up to my 1 year anniversary on Etsy. Things have certainly been a learning experience and I'm incredibly proud of what I've accomplished in a year. Here's some of the things I've learned along the way.



This is a guest post from Michelle, a Marmalead customer, friend, and Etsy shop owner. Check out her shop (and buy some cards or mugs) FourLetterWordCards.

The Quick and Dirty Guide to Finding Great Etsy Keywords with Marmalead

** This article doesn’t contain the most recent information about Etsy search. For the most relevant info, head over to our Marmalead Help site! **


We’ve been getting a bunch of questions from our users lately asking;

“How does someone incorporate the data given by Marmalead to their shops?”


“How can I use Marmalead in finding great Etsy keywords?”

Well in this article, we show you how to make Marmalead work for you.

Let’s give you an example:

Coffee Mug

Suppose this mug is one of your items.

The first thing you would want to do is to brainstorm the keywords that you’ll use for this listing.

I would start off by typing in the keyword ‘coffee mug’ to see how popular this tag is.

With 50k results, I know that tag is going to be very competitive. Let’s now look at the two tools available for us to gather more keywords.

Tag Cloud

The Tag Cloud displays the relevant keywords that other sellers use. The larger the word, the more popular it is.


The Other Ideas, on the other hand: pulls out search terms that people type in Bing.

You can use both of these to help you build up keywords that you can then use for your listing.

I’ve picked the words ‘best coffee mug’, ‘big coffee mug’, ‘custom coffee mug’, and ‘personalized mug’.

I suggest you to build a list of 15-20 keywords, but for simplicity let’s use those words as an example.




Fire them up with the Keyword Comparison tool (this will save you a lot of time).


Based on this data, I can safely say that it would be worthwhile to experiment with using these keywords as target or lead keywords.

I have just 4k and 2k listings to compete with. Along with a high number of views per week: 49 and 165 respectively.

For higher relevancy in search: I will put my best keywords in the front of my title and tags (hat tip to Michelle).

It should look like this:

Big coffee mug – best coffee mug – custom coffee mug – personalized mug – unique coffee mug – funny coffee mug – quote coffee mug – coffee cup – ceramic coffee mug – gift for him – gift for her – birthday gift


"How can I use Marmalead in finding great Etsy keywords?" We've been getting asked that question a lot. Well in this article, we will show you how to make Marmalead work for you.

Related: The Buckets Strategy

Remember, you don’t have to be the best – you only need to be better than your competitors.

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How to Write a Great Product Description

You have a great product to sell, but you don’t know how to draw buyers in. Your product description has a lot to do with how your product is presented to potential buyers, so it’s important to get it right. There are a few key elements to include in a well-written product description. Follow these steps, and you’ll be on your way to more sales in no time!

1) Start with a strong statement of what your product is

Don’t beat around the bush. Buyers want to know exactly what your product is and what it does for them, so lay the essentials out in two or three sentences. Also, search engines like Bing, Yahoo, and Google only show the first one or two sentences in search results, so you have to make a strong impression within that short amount of space. Be concise and persuasive.


2) Make the rest detailed

Once you’ve got your customer’s attention, it’s time to really let them know all the amazing features of your product. Perhaps you have a knit hat for winter time that you want to sell; be specific about the product. Make sure to tell them how warm the alpaca wool is that you used to make it and that it has a special button for adjusting the hat in the back. Use good descriptors – really let your language flow. The only thing worse than no product description is a boring one.


Related: 4 Elements of an Excellent Product Photo

3) Use a first-person perspective

Your customers want to get to know you a little, so don’t be a robot. Use “I” statements that show you’re personable; it helps the customer connect with you. Talk about what your inspiration was for your product. It makes an interesting story of how the product came to be and the hard work that you put into it. Failing to show your humanity to customers will leave them feeling like you’re the cold corporate type who’s just there to make some money (although you are looking to make some money, to be fair).


4) Include links to relevant products

You know that scrolling list of items on Amazon that says “Other Items You Might Like”? People will buy more products from you if you suggest complementary items to go with the one they’re purchasing. They’re buying a bar of homemade soap from you, so why not suggest a handmade loofah or rag to go with it? It’s easy to put hyperlinks to your other products in the product description, so make sure to include ones that complement one another.


5) Use keywords

Put keywords in your product descriptions not so buyers can more easily find them, but you’ll actually assure your buyers they’re looking at the right listing if you carefully place them throughout your product description. Things like “handmade dog collar” or “hypoallergenic mittens” may be what users are searching for. Take a look at your Shop Stats to see what keywords pop up the most and use those in your product descriptions to drive even more sales.

You have a great product to sell, but you don't know how to draw buyers in. Your product description has a lot to do with how your product is presented to potential buyers, so it's important to get it right.

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Marmer Questions

marmer questions

Ah yes, you’ve arrived at the FAQ. Or what we like to call – Marmer Questions.

We’ve gathered questions asked and answered by fellow Marmers so we can all benefit from sharing the knowledge. This is a living document, we’ll continually add to it as the discussion continues. You’re encouraged to ask questions in our open forums (Facebook group, Etsy Team, Twitter, etc) so that we can all learn from one another.

Search Engine Optimization

  • Since I have been using your site I have moved up to the front – they seem to put 1 listing on front and 1 each consecutive page. Is that how it works? – Cynthia

That’s correct on the spreading out of the listings in search. Etsy will de-clump them and put one per page. Aim for your shop to be on pages 1-10 for each target keyword. The more listings you have show up, the greater the chances you’re going to get explored. – Richie

  • Can Marmalead be used to get SEO for a website? – Bethany

You will want to use Google Adwords to help with SEO for a website. I don’t think Marmalead can help as it is geared towards Etsy versus anything else. – Mina

  • I had written to Richie regarding a question I had about something an SEO expert had told me. They said that Marmalead doesn’t give you tags/keywords that are used by shoppers, only sellers. Whereas Google Keyword Planner gives you what is used by buyers. Maybe Richie could clarify what the differences between Marmalead and Keyword planner are pertaining to our Etsy shops. Thanks. – Gina

Google keyword planner is designed for selling ads on Google. If you’re buying Adwords, use Google keyword planner.

If you’re selling in an Etsy store, use Marmalead. You should be concerned with listing engagement, not what people Google.

Anyway, it’s the single biggest misunderstanding about Marmalead. We don’t say hey 10,000 people per month Google this word because it doesn’t help you. It only matters what people engage with (views and favs) on Etsy. The further down the funnel the better. We tell you how many views and favorites are there and what rank each listing is. – Richie


  • When I change my titles and SEO my items are landing on the first or second page, which is awesome. The down side is I’m still not getting any more sales. – Bethany

Compare your items to those listed on the front page of the search terms you are using. How do your photos look compared to others listed? What about your price points? Are your descriptions up to par and captivating?

Another good thing to check is how much buyer attention that keyword search seems to be getting. If you look at “Avg. Views / Week” and “Avg. Favs / Week” in Marmalead, you can usually get a good idea if there are lots of people interested in those products. A typical number of views per week will be in the 50’s or 60’s….any less than that and it may indicate a market where not many people are shopping. More than that and you’ve got a hot one! For favorites, the average is around 8 per week. – Gordon

Sometimes you have to look at the full picture and work on everything collectively. SEO can only get people on to your page; it is up to you to work on everything else for sales. – Mina


  • I used Marmalead a few weeks back, even though I did not get any sales, I was landing on the first 7 pages, mostly pages 2-4, but through a Paid FB group, I was told to use Google Ad Words, which I did and I went from 100 views in a week down to a few since I switched? I am so confused right now that I have stopped everything. – Brianna

Google Adwords is sooo different from Etsy. Plus it’s designed to sell Google ads. It’s even been accused of suppressing good keywords in favor of more profitable keywords for them.

Also, don’t make sweeping changes to your shop all at once. Test changes! – Richie


Keywords and Tags

  • Is it okay if we use “comma, dashes, and back slash” in our title? – Jay Ryan

In all seriousness those characters all perform the same in search. It’s just an aesthetic preference on how you want to break up the words to look best.

I’ll also add:

A lot of sellers don’t think titles are important to shoppers because a lot of people focus on the pictures. Yes, as a shopper I am initially drawn in by the pictures. BUT the title is what I look at next to assure me it’s what I’m looking for.

Make sure I can read it without a headache. – Richie


  • Bulk editing – How it will affect the shop listings if more than one item have the same title and tags? – Yassena

I don’t think bulk editing will hurt in some ways, but then you will be competing with your own listings too. – Mina


  • Question: My shop offers an online design service. I have placed most of my listings in the category of Home and Living, with the sub-category being Home Decor. On the 2nd sub-category, I usually grab something, but it doesn’t necessarily apply, does that make sense? My question is, how do I branch out to show up on everything HOME related, such as art, furniture, etc? Should I include these items in my Title, Description, and Tags, to gain that exposure? Thanks. – Catz

You can actually use Marmalead to compare different search results and how popular each one is with views etc. Honestly, I am not sure how many people use online design services, but you can use the Etsy search bar to type in the first word of what you offer to see how Etsy users are actually searching for your type of service.

If you type in “interior” into Etsy, you’ll see a few different search results that actually are useful for your titles and tags. You can then take them into Marmalead and compare which ones get the most hits to find the best keywords of value and match up your titles/tags with your new words. – Mina


  • Would it be a good idea to do half listings with certain top keywords and tags, and the other half with the other top? Just so you remain in the top of all searches? – Dara

Yes and no. I would vary some of the same keywords and titles so that it would hopefully scatter where you are on what pages for the first results. If you had 20 listings with the same exact titles and keywords, only one listing would ever be on each page. If you had 20 listings using the same titles and tags but in different orders, it would help ensure a more varied result. – Mina


  • I do have a question about renewing. Should we renew our listings every time we change the SEO? – Bethany

It’s better to renew so you know exactly where your listing would be compared to your competitors (who may get renewed automatically when an item is sold), and you want to compete with them right? – Joshua


  • What are the “Other Ideas” for? What purpose or how should I use that data? – Brenda

Those are what people search in Bing. You want your title, description and tags to jive with what people are searching for. When people are going to purchase your products what would they look for? If I wanted a Christmas wreath, I’d search for things like Christmas wreath, burlap wreath, snowflake wreath, etc. Make sure your tags, title and description all have those words in them; in the order you feel they are important. Marmalead helps you find where you rank to see if all the SEO work is paying off. – Dara


  • If my most searched keyword is nursery decor, and Marmalead shows that it can only find 6 of my listings in the first 101-500 results, where should I be adding the “nursery decor” keyword – in the title, the description, tags, in all 3?  I am also having a hard time ranking/ getting found in the browse sections… is there a trick to that too? Thanks – Yassena

Basically you should be matching your keywords in your title to the keywords in your tags. You want your STRONGEST or (the most important keyword you use) to be the first keyword in your title and in your tags.

Once you have your words- you’ll want to only use the same first word in your title and keywords on 6-10 items. People generally have a short attention span and will not usually look through 10 or more pages to find something they want.

So vary up your keywords in your titles and tags and try to use each set of the same keywords to hit other markets. – Mina

Etsy in General


  • Should I split my shop into 2 or 3 different shops? I have such an eclectic mix of items for sale. I don’t believe I would have the energy to run more than 1 shop. Does it matter if it’s all together? – Sue

I believe it’s best to have one shop. Each listing is an opportunity to get someone into the virtual door of your shop. An eclectic mix just means you have more opportunity. – Richie

  • I have found a strong keyword in Marmalead but it is not appearing in Etsy search drop down. Should I use this keyword? – Kim

I’d recommend utilizing the Etsy search bar to see what terms buyers are currently searching. For example, when I run a search for “X,” I can see suggested searches populating beneath the search bar. These suggested searches are popular terms that buyers are currently using on Etsy. Do any of these terms apply to your listings? If so, I’d encourage you to add them (or variations of them) to your titles and tags.

The terms you see in our drop down will be relevant to the term you are entering and not popular items for all of the site. – Etsy via email

  • Have any of you had issues with ETSY closing your account because of copyrighted products? I’m making custom NFL mugs and Stein. – Anthony

Yes, Etsy can and actually does go after people who break copyright law. If you do not have legal permission to print NFL merchandise, then Etsy can close the listings that have NFL logos, or can just close your whole shop. It is at their discretion. – Mina



  • I love talking about SEO and even more, experimenting to find out what is working and what isn’t. Recently, I’ve been trying to figure out effective places to advertise on the web. I’d love to hear what has worked for y’all! – Kim

Blogs have been a huge help in getting my name out there. I would also want to add that I have made friends with some smaller blog owners that have really helped because they feature my items from time to time. Making friends with others in your market can be a huge help. – Molly


  • Does anyone have any thoughts on paying well-followed Instagram accounts to advertise your work? – Molly

I have seen a few that have advertised services to feature an item etc. Do some researches before you agree to pay for anything. You can find the date the item was advertised for other shops and then look at their sales on Etsy. If you don’t see that product being sold or have many sales, you know that no matter how many followers they have, an advertisement or plug isn’t going to be worth it. – Mina

Keep in mind that advertising is all about context. If the account matches your niche it will work a lot better than one off topic. – Richie


  • My main focus is coming up on first page results as often as possible without any paid advertising through Etsy. There is an oversaturation in my market, which I’d like to stand out from using strong SEO. Do you have any tips how I can do that? – Molly

I’ve been told in a few Etsy groups and also in the forums that you want to pair up your title and keywords. That may help strengthen your search results. Also, try to find the words people are using to search for: e.g. “Wedding Cake Toppers”. – If you actually pull it up in Etsy, you can see at the bottom are other suggested categories. You can use that info in Marmalead to see what keywords and tags get searched the most. – Mina



  • For those of us who were not available for the webinar, was it recorded? If so, how can we access it? Thanks. – Pat

Yes, we recorded every webinar so you can watch it later. Check them out here! https://blog.marmalead.com/recorded-webinars/


  • I have a question about pricing. I am making at least 50%, should it be more? – Katie

You need to factor in materials, time and actual profit. Depending on the item – you could be making more than 400% – again, you are only worth as much as you say you are. – Mina

I’ll add that you need to price for the market. If you want a premium price, make shoppers understand why you’re worth it. Your true customers will pay for it. – Richie