Before Opening an Etsy store, what you need to know
Whether you want to sell your artwork online, produce a craft or even supply something – starting an Etsy shop is the first step. But wait, there are several things you should do before opening an Etsy shop. Read on to find out what they are.
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I started my first Etsy shop in 2013. It took me 3hrs to find out how to get 40 free listings. Then I listed one item and left it there for a month. I put my first item up for 20cents as it was just a picture from my phone.
I had little idea what I was doing, how I was going to do it, or where I was going with my shop.
Luckily these days there is a lot more help out there – and although Etsy is moving on daily, you can begin selling immediately and with little worry, or cost upfront.
Here I will walk through the steps you need to complete even before you begin.
Let’s start by deciding what you should do before opening an Etsy shop.
If you are ready to open your Etsy shop today – jump over to this post where I explain how to How to open an Etsy shop
Decide on your niche for your Etsy shop
So you have already decided on your product. Of course, or you wouldn’t be here. You know what you would like to sell and potentially you think you might be able to make a little money.
Now go ahead and search Etsy for your product. Grab a notebook and start making some notes.
Firstly you’ll want to check that Etsy allows you to sell these items. Please see the Etsy handbook for more information
Is it already being sold successfully on Etsy? – How do you do this?
- note down 4-5 shops selling the same item you would like to sell, perhaps they are not exactly the same, just go with similar items.
- Make a note of the date and how many items they have sold. How long their shop has been open, and how many reviews they have got. Get the dates.
- Make some notes on the branding of the shops you see, what do you like about them, would this relate to your product? – what’s their header like?
- Now go to their social media and see how active they are. Can you see they are posting each day, are they only active on one platform?
Some people might not think this is the right way to research – but really, it is essential to know where your sweet spot will be. Perhaps you need 20 items, or maybe you will need 200 items if your market is huge and has lots of competition. You can check shop stats in more detail on Craft count.
What else can you do at this stage. ?
Take some time to think about branding.
Most shops don’t worry about this in the early stages, I mean really you wouldn’t be thinking about your overall look even before you open an Etsy shop. But getting this acceptable from the start can save you a lot of time in the long run.
Changing the overall look and feel of your shop takes you away from the critical tasks in your shop. So getting it right or at least nearly right from the start can make a lot of difference.
There are lots of branding ideas on Pinterest. Search branding in my shop. You can find my own board on branding, for logo ideas and colors.
I wish I had read any of these books before committing to my first branding colors.
Most shop owners use Pinterest to promote their Etsy shops? – the best part? Any shop owner can improve their traffic with Pinterest
Do your own research before opening an Etsy shop.
- Check out google trends. Search a few keywords and see if your product is trending or indeed if it is receiving any upturn in trends. You can also look at breakout searches here. Say you intend to sell Home Made Slime – (I know, every parent’s nightmare) but google trends indicate a breakout of White Frozen slime. You just never know.
Here is a graph for Wedding searches I did recently for my shop. You can see clearly that Wedding filters are trending now. What can you do with this information? How can I profit from this? Is there a way I can incorporate this into my shop?
I read this book about eliminating the competition by selling something which no one else has yet thought of.
Or selling something that everyone has thought of, but in a way, the next best competition can’t compete. Putting a new spin on an old product.
Give your customers what they want. Which might not necessarily be what you want to make.
Check out Pinterest
Do a Pinterest search for your product. Are there lots of pins? How do they look? Are they receiving lots of repins, who is repining these. ? Are they your customers? Follow a few of these links and see where they are selling, how many items they have.
This will help you decide if you can compete, think about how you can offer something new or different from these shops. How are you going to beat the competition?
Don’t worry if this rolls out some surprising results or in fact, those who might make your smile turn down. There is room for everyone on Etsy. Don’t let these figures stop you or make you feel lost.
This is just to grasp if and how much your product sells on Etsy.
Forewarned is forearmed.Advanced warning provides an advantage
Test your product
Now it might be worth ordering a few samples of your product. If you are selling prints or something which is physical, order some sample prints. Get some feedback from friends or family.
- think about pricing, ask them how much they will pay for it
- Have they seen it sold before
- What do they like about it, or indeed would they buy it, if not, why not?
Before I began selling prints, I printed some at home and framed them. Posted them on Instagram to see if I could get some feedback. For my first shop selling patterns – I sent the files to 20 people in a Facebook group and asked them to open them and see what they looked like.
Could they open them on a Mac? What would they use them for?
Now – you might think, but I love my product and everyone else will too.
That is fine. But the more you can get down on paper, the more ideas you can think of now before you have spent 30hrs on your first product – will leave you in a much better position to move forward with momentum.
Think about cost v time
So your lovely product seems to go down well, now it’s time to see how many you need to sell and is this achievable.
How much will your items be priced at? Don’t make the mistake of selling your items cheap. You will spend far too much time creating and not see the results of your labour.
Go back to the research you did when finding your niche.
- how much free time do you have to dedicate to your shop? Is this 3hrs a week or 4hrs a day for example. How many of your items can you make within this time?
- Factor in time spent on travel, time spent on organising, buying supplies.
Start to imagine how many items you would like to sell – and what difference that would make to you. To your family, to your overall wellbeing.
Set yourself a target which you would like to earn. This doesn’t have to be exact. Just a rough figure of how much you would like to earn in a year.
For example – by the end of the year I would like to earn 3000$
- How many do you need to sell to make this money?
- How much time will it take you to make these items?
- Do you really have that much time to dedicate to just making the items?
For example – by the end of the year I would like to sell 50 items
If each item takes you 4hrs to make – that is 4×50 = 200hrs.
200hrs is approximately 16hrs a month
Allowing for mistakes, shopping, organising etc., maybe that’s around 20hrs a month.
But it’s already March, so now you only have 9 months left.
Realistically you probably need more like 26hrs a month – or 6.5 hrs a week.
Ok – but you’re not done yet.
Extra time you need to add on top of that
- Photos of your product – Etsy had 10 image previews to fill and although you don’t have to use all of them. You will need a decent amount of photos. – And pictures sell, so this is not going to be a 5 min task.
- Will you make your items on demand? – Or will they be ready to ship? Now you need to allow time to get a few in stock before you open or potentially you might need to drop everything for a rush order.
- The time it takes to upload to your shop and work on your SEO
Other things to think about
- Packaging – how will you send your items? – will you include something special for them to receive? – if your packaging and overall service are off, Etsy customers will tell you, and they will not be kind.
- Transportation to the post office
- Help at busy times. Seasonal peaks and troughs
Now, this is just the basics – but you see how much thought you can do before you start.
You can go much further into this with Goal getting for makers – (updated for 2020) It goes through your Etsy shop stats and gives a goal to work to and how you will get there.
Choose a name
Ok – so you’ve already got an idea of your ideal Etsy shop name. Ensure you have at least 3 alternatives in case this name is already taken.
- is it logical? – Makes sense to someone who can’t see your items or your shop. What does the name say to you?
- Is it easy to remember?
Take a look at this post on how to Choose an Etsy shop name for more ideas.
Plan for the long term
Are you creating a hobby or a business? – is this something you would like to start as a hobby for now, but make into a business later?
Ok – well you need to invest then.
What shall I invest in?
Open a separate bank account.
There are many reasons why this is important –
- you will want to keep your money separate from the black hole called household bills
- You can see what’s happening at a glance, how well you are doing
- Seeing your little pot of money grow will encourage you to do more, go faster, increase sales etc.
- It will be easier if you make enough money to make taxes, which hopefully you will
- It stops that leaky pipe of money drifting into nowhere – you can see where it’s going and what you are spending on.
Need help asking how to pay yourself – you can find all the answers in this book about putting your profit first.
Now you might need a small pot to begin your adventure.
Well, there are some things which for Etsy sellers are worth the investment straight off.
Marmalead – a very helpful site to brainstorm tags and long-tail keywords.
Both of these are Etsy approved apps and well worth the investment – you can stop and start your subscription any time, so it is possible to just buy a month of access when you need it most.
If you would like access to all our freebie in the resource library. Find even more help before you open your Etsy shop- Click the image below and sign up to access. You will find the list of investments I made for my Etsy shop. There is even a free print in there.
Learn about SEO
This is a huge topic and not something you can master overnight. The Etsy search algorithm changes, so the best you can do at the beginning is to learn how to be found in search from the Etsy website.
Knowing how to compose a super great item title and what your tags should be will ensure you are at least 10 steps ahead of most new shop owners.
What have I also invested in?
Update: As of August 2019 I’ve discovered a new email marketing platform called Flodesk and I really love it. It was a lot cheaper thank Convertkit and has beautiful email templates. Which is important for busy girls like us.
You can read all about why I switched my email platform and get started with Flodesk here.
Convertkit – this is an email service provider, I used to gather email addresses for my customers who receive a free print and a discount code for the shop. Convertkit is not a free option. For most shops, it’s fine to start with a free service such as MailChimp.
See Flodesk in action here – when you sign up for the free print.
Now if the thought of emailing lots of customers frightens the bees out of you, maybe save this for later.
Tailwind – a Pinterest scheduling tool to get your Etsy pins out the masses, drive traffic to your shop or elsewhere should you decide to do so. Currently, in my blogging circle, this is the only one worth investing in. Not cheap, but it does save lots of time.
If you later decide to start a website or blog you can drive lots of traffic to them also.
Ok – you might start a blog later. That’s ok, – BUT
Purchase the URL
Do this when you open your shop – not when you are in the thinking stage. The URL might not be available and once you open your shop – you might hate your chosen name. (it happens) But worth the 14$ from the outset for peace of mind.
I purchase all my URLs through GoDaddy.
Start your finances off the right way – bookkeeping from the beginning
Ensure you have some way of writing or keeping tabs on how much you are spending. This is even before you start. Make a note of every item and service you sign up to.
Save any receipts and keep them in order – this way you will be ready to show your profit and losses from the get-go and won’t be caught out when it comes to taxes.
If bookkeeping isn’t your strong point – you can find bookkeeping for Etsy spreadsheets right here.
Or take your bookkeeping to a more serious level on Etsy with this course on how to keep professional books on Etsy
Join a Facebook group or several
Why ? – well because it’s here you will learn more, test your ideas, ask your fellow sellers and lots more besides.
- Etsy sellers only – no promotions allowed
- Etsy Mastermind your marketing – large friendly Etsy sellers group
- Etsy Sellers group – a huge group of Etsy sellers asking lots of questions
- Your first 1k on Etsy – Ran by Fuzzy and Birch and very active
Facebook groups are the best way to test and research your shop ideas. I’ve found lots of friendly people and in the larger groups, you can pretty much ask anything. Very helpful if you just need something answered quickly.
If you are not familiar with Facebook Groups – here are some tips
- Read the group’s instructions, pinned post and description before you join.
- Do not add the .. in the comments to follow a post, use the drop-down menu of the post and press turn on notifications – in larger groups you just annoy everyone with unnecessary notifications.
- Anything interesting I use the drop menu and save the post for later – I have lots of them
- Remember everyone can read what you write – so stay on the subject and don’t say anything rude. It just looks bad. I’ve done it, my bad.
Invest in a course
Hang on I’m not even open yet?
There are several courses out there that will roll you through the opening, a few are exceptional at the information. Believe me, I’ve bought courses on course, because of courses, for courses, just for the sake of it. And I only recommend a couple.
Mastermind Your Marketing – a massive course on many aspects of owning an Etsy shop. Run by the very likable and equally talented former shop owner. Morgan is genuinely lovely and active in her role on Etsy. It is relatively pricey for a beginner though.
But then no pain, no gain right?
Read the Etsy Seller handbook
Etsy has worked really hard to help sellers – they give you helpful tips on what to do seasonally and new articles. Find articles on How to achieve your goals and many others.
Browse the Etsy seller community for advice and tips on opening your Etsy shop.
Just begin today and open your Etsy shop
Having a great idea is perfect. Taking action on it is hard for some of us. Don’t let all this noise get in the way of what you want to do.
You will make mistakes of course. But if you don’t start, you will not achieve any more than the next person who had the idea and did nothing.
Fortunately, Etsy shops are free to open and only cost a small amount to list items, so the initial outlay is minimal.
So just begin.
Here are 40 free listings on Etsy to get you started. (Note: I also earn 40 Free listings)
So here is what we covered and the 10 things you should do before opening an Etsy shop
- Decide on your shops’ niche – check you are allowed to sell on Etsy
- Jot down some ideas about your branding – colours, overall feel – create a mood board
- Research your product and your competition. Know how many items you will need to stand a chance in search
- Test your product on friends and order samples
- Plan a rough strategy for your shop. How will you manage your time?
- Choose a name for your shop and buy the URL
- Open a bank account and get a business credit card
- Organise your finances, start with saving your first receipts
- Sign up for
Marmaleadand Erank. You can have a free account first and get some ideas
- Gather some SEO information. Knowing your keywords from the outset will help with branding and when it comes to making your first listing
- Join a few Facebook groups
- Read the Etsy handbook and how to get found in Etsy
- FINALLY, DOWNLOAD THIS FREE printable to find out my top 5 investments for your Etsy shop. This and many more freebie are available in the resource library, simply sign up below.
FREE PRINTABLE DOWNLOAD OF MY TOP FIVE INVESTMENTS FOR ETSY
Get the password to the library and access all my FREE printable downloads by clicking the image below.
I hope you found this article on what to do before you open an Etsy shop useful.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.