Starting an Etsy Business For Dummies
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If you're looking to channel your passion for crafting and artful creation into a business, consider selling your work on Etsy. Countless crafters have ditched their day jobs to start their own Etsy craft business or have supplemented their existing income by selling their own crafts, vintage items, or crafting supplies.

If your dream is to "make a living making things," then Etsy is for you!

For this Cheat Sheet, we’ve assembled some of our favorite cheats to highlight some key practices for running a successful Etsy shop.

Setting up a striking Etsy storefront

The key to creating a striking Etsy storefront is to personalize your shop. This helps ensure your Etsy business stands out from the crowd. It also helps promote your brand. And anyway, it’s fun!

You can personalize your shop in any number of ways. Here are a few examples:

  • Add a shop banner. A shop banner is a graphic that runs across the top of your shop’s main page. You can create a shop banner from scratch by using any number of graphics programs.
  • Choose a strong shop icon. Your shop icon is an image that represents your store across Etsy. Be sure to select a shop icon that reflects well on you, your brand, and your shop.
  • Include a shop title and shop announcement. Your shop title is a bit like a tagline. It briefly sums up what your shop is about. In contrast, your shop announcement trumpets what you sell, the types of materials or ingredients you use, and/or your artistic philosophy. Your shop announcement could also broadcast when your next sale will be.
  • Populate your shop’s About section. Sharing your shop’s story in the About section helps garner additional interest in you and your shop among buyers.
  • Organize your merch with sections. If you sell different types of items — say, magnets, notebooks, and picture frames — you can use sections to organize your shop by item. Even if you don’t sell different types of items — maybe you’re all about knit caps — you can use sections to organize your goods by, say, yarn type, size, or price.

Pricing your goods

Running a profitable Etsy business means being comfortable with doing a little math — especially when pricing your pieces. Putting a price on your Etsy creations may seem challenging, but don’t freak out! You’re not dealing with calculus here, or even trigonometry.

To price pieces for your Etsy business, all you need are two simple formulas:

Wholesale Price = (Materials + Labor + Overhead) × 2

Retail Price = (Wholesale Price × 2) + Shipping

Here’s a breakdown of the various factors in the wholesale price formula:

  • Materials: This figure reflects the price of the materials you used to produce one item. So, add up how much you spent on materials in total, and then divide that number by the number of pieces you produced (or could have produced) using those materials.
  • Labor: This is your hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours you spent to make one piece. Just be sure to pay yourself a fair wage — one that accounts for the skill required to craft your piece. Also think about how much you want or need to earn for your time. If you’re just starting out, you might opt for a lower hourly rate. You can give always yourself periodic raises as your skills improve.
  • Overhead: This is the costs you incur to run your business — for example, on office supplies, utilities (like your Internet connection), your Etsy fees, and the like (but not shipping costs) — amortized over a given time period. For example, say you calculate your monthly overhead at $50, and you produce 50 pieces a month. In that case, your overhead is $1 per piece.

    This gets tricky when you purchase items like tools and equipment used to manufacture your products. For these items, you need to amortize them over their life span. So, for example, if you buy a $250 sewing machine that you plan to use for five years, and during that time you anticipate that you’ll sew 500 pieces, your overhead for the machine is 50 cents per piece.

If you simply can’t face calculating all these overhead costs, add up your materials cost and your labor cost for each piece you make, multiply the sum by 10 or 15 percent, and call that your overhead. It won’t exactly reflect your actual overhead, but it’ll probably be in the ballpark.

As for the retail price formula, you simply multiply the wholesale price by 2 and add shipping costs. Some sellers may choose a higher multiplier — for example, multiplying the wholesale price by 2.5 or even 3 (assuming that the market will bear that). The multiplier you choose is really up to you.

Composing product photos for your Etsy business

Great product photos can boost sales for your Etsy business, but you don’t need to hire a professional photographer (although you can). Composing your own photos for Etsy is a breeze. As you shoot your pieces, keep these compositional points in mind:

  • Angle the camera. Angling, or tilting, the camera puts the subject slightly off-center and creates movement and flow. The result is a more dynamic, intriguing image.

  • Shoot tight. Filling the frame with your subject not only adds visual impact but also enables potential buyers to see how well made your piece is.

  • Blur the background. By using a shallow depth of field (a low f-stop setting on your camera), you can blur the background, dramatically highlighting your piece. When the background is blurred, you can shoot in almost any setting; just make sure that the background colors don’t clash with your subject.

  • Less is more. Don’t crowd the scene with extraneous objects. Otherwise, potential buyers may not understand exactly which item in your photo is for sale.

  • Frame your subject. One way to draw the viewer’s eye to your piece is to frame it — that is, place some darker element in the perimeter. This technique helps keep the viewer’s eye from straying from your item.

  • Group pieces together. Especially if you make itsy-bitsy goodies, you can try grouping them to catch a buyer’s eye. Not only does this make for a more eye-catching photograph, but it also shows potential buyers how pieces in your collection work together.

  • Use the rule of thirds. Divide the scene you’re photographing into nine equal parts by using two horizontal lines and two vertical lines (like a tic-tac-toe grid); place key elements at one of the four points where the vertical and horizontal lines intersect. In addition to conveying a sense of tension and energy, this helps pique the viewer’s interest.

3 keys to composing effective Etsy listing titles

Your listing title in Etsy acts like a good headline. It’s designed to grab a buyer’s attention. It also factors into Etsy’s search system. That means your listing title must do double duty: piquing a buyer’s interest and being optimized for search. When composing listing titles, keep these three points in mind:

  • Keep it short. Your item title must be brief — no more than 140 characters (including spaces).
  • Clearly describe your item at the beginning of the item title. This helps improve the chances that others will find your item when searching on Etsy.
  • Use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters. Too many all-uppercase words, and it seems like you’re shouting. Too many lowercase words, and it seems like you’re e. e. Cummings.

Marketing your Etsy business

Etsy recognizes the importance of marketing your business — which is why it offers several built-in promotional tools. Marketing on Etsy is easy when you use these tools:

  • Promote your listings on Etsy. When you sign up for Etsy Ads, you can improve the ranking of your listings within Etsy search results when prospective buyers enter specific keywords.
  • Create promo codes for your shop. Promo codes increase sales, improve branding and awareness, reward current customers, and entice former customers to return.
  • Create a video post on Explore in the Etsy Seller app. Your video might offer a sneak peek at a new item, announce an upcoming sale, or just share a cute shot of your dog in your studio. All of this helps to embed your shop firmly in the “shoppocampus” portion of your buyer’s brain.
  • Promote your shop on social media. Sharing your Etsy listings with friends, family, and fans on social media is a great way to remind them they want to buy your stuff.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Kate Shoup is the author of numerous crafting books, including Not Your Mama's Beading, and Rubbish: Reuse Your Refuse. Kate Gatski is an artisan, an entrepreneur, an educator, a veteran Etsy seller, and a member of the Full Time Etsy Crafters Team an exclusive group for full-time or high-volume Etsy sellers.

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