How to research your competitors on Etsy

Before starting on Etsy or even thinking of a new product line, a great place to begin is completing some basic research on your competitors on Etsy. This makes perfect sense, but how do you research your competitors on Etsy and why?

Doing this type of research before you begin is probably the best investment of your time and can save a lot of heartache and money later on down the line.

Ok, so if you are like me – you tend to approach new projects like a windsock. Each day over your cornflakes up pops another breeze of an idea, like a dog with a sweet bone, you can’t help but start chewing. But most of the time, you procrastinate enough to drop said bone and moved on.

This is a problem for many of us. We see things we want to have, feel the excitement – but quickly realize this could be a lot of work. And move on.

I’m not proud of myself. 

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more) Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

A necessary mindset to have since otherwise, we will never try anything and who wants to be in that business.

Other helpful posts for Etsy sellers

How to open an Etsy shop

How to use Pinterest to promote your shop

Quick tips to improve your shop today

What is an Etsy shop announcement and how to use it

Like a scene out of pride and prejudice, this way, we can go about our whole lives without actually achieving anything.

How do you begin researching your competitors on Etsy?

If you get an idea, write it down. Don’t skip this – my preferred choice is this easy to use planner where I can bring together all of the ideas I’ve jotted down in my Dot Journal.

Don’t let your idea run from you to someone else today. Take a big notebook and write down your thoughts, anything that comes into your head. Even if it seems impossible and you can think of 10 reasons why it won’t work. Just write it down.

This small step will put you ahead of 99% of the population already on the train to work and read their meeting notes.

We are moving into a world where anyone can make money, and it no longer requires a degree in sociology to communicate.

What a great time to be alive!

If you have spare time and a little bit of a risky streak in you – the world is your oyster.

“If you put off everything till you’re sure of it, you’ll never get anything done.”

Norman Vincent Peale Quotes

Let’s verify that your product is a goer….

If you haven’t already started an Etsy shop, now is the time to start – find my full instructions as well as 40 Free listings.

What is market research? 

From big companies to young artists, anyone can quantify if their product has legs. They do this by surveying their audience or customers to see if the product is of interest and solves a problem. If you own a business, you will be aware of competitor analysis and how these insights can drive your business forward.

But wait, what if I don’t have any customers to survey?

Well, this is where we are on our own for a while. You must use a few little innovative tactics to dig out some gems to understand what we are up against on Etsy.

I conducted a survey of my customers from the Email address I collected off Etsy – they told me their biggest struggle was learning how to rank in a sea of competitors on Etsy – this lead me to write this huge guide on how to get found on Etsy and also a post on how to create a best seller on Etsy.

Why do any research on Etsy in the first place

  1. Give us an idea of what we are up against already out there and established on Etsy. 
  2. Inspires ideas and how to present your products 
  3. Understand what is already selling on etsy 
  4. Permission to find your own space on the platform and what is the expected norm for your product

Before we go any further – you should consider, that this is not a way of seeking out and copying other people’s work. There is never an excuse to copy someone’s hard work directly and believe me, I’ve had this done to me when other sellers have bought my artwork and sold it on etsy as their own.

It’s just very unpleasant and, to be honest, does sort of put you off the craft. But fortunately, when it happens, I’m able to write to Etsy with photos of my original work on my desk, and they remove any offending items.

Once you have decided to sell digital – you can read our full post on How to sell digital items on Etsy

So, yes, be inspired, but don’t copy – it’s just not a nice way to play in the sandpit.

Ok, for example, you see a picture of a beautiful outdoor home in a magazine, and on the wall is a very unusual print of a cat. (I’m using a print as an example because this is what I know about on Etsy, but the same applies to any product)

This cat looks so pretty, and instantly you can see how you could make a collection of these prints for walls, maybe for children’s rooms or because your style is more mixed media, your head runs off with the idea you can paint something with cats and add something of your style.

Product: cat image, digital (because that’s how we roll in 2021) – print with maybe a mixed media feel.

How do I know my product will sell on Etsy?

Ok, first, let’s see what you are up against if you start looking at your competitors on Etsy?

Type in search on Etsy what it is your want to sell. 

Cat print wall art

Holy Smokes, there are many cat lovers on Etsy with a result of 113K with ads.

screenshot of cat prints for sale on Etsy

The first thing you will want to do is open up a few shops at the top and anything that looks interesting to you. 

Use command to ensure you open a new window on a Mac. 

Now the first thing to do is filter is digital for a printed and shipped item.

I’m going with digital.

These are your first few shops to look at.

Cat print on Etsy

Don’t forget you mustn’t play it safe at this point – you are researching and seeing what’s out there, so keep searching using multiple words in the search bar.

Cat print wall art

Cat print

Printable cat art

image of search results for cats in etsy

Wow – cat print now has 226K results…. Holy moly, that’s a lot of people to be up against. But let’s see what they have now.

Because we didn’t specify print, I see results for all kinds of things with cats on. But an excellent variety and slightly higher quality overall results than cat print wall art.

Interestingly many of these seem to be from actual artists sat at home doing their craft, rather than images of stock photos.

(Nothing wrong with stock photos, but these are not what we are looking for as direct completion as an artist in watercolor.)

Ok – so now we know there is a tonne of things out there. This is good, because now we know there is a market for cat prints.

But what should you be looking for now?

Back to your big notebook

Please spend some time clicking through each shop and see what they are selling now.

Are they selling just cat prints or just animal prints? 

Are they artists themselves, or have your competitors on Etsy purchased images of cats and created their artwork?

(This is important to me because buyers who are looking for original artwork will not be looking for photos of cats)

The first thing that strikes me is that many talented people create art these days. I love all the beautiful simplistic cats on chairs with plants, and digital artwork.

Who wouldn’t want this on their wall? I wish it were digital – since my Christmas card from my parents arrived on Feb 26th.. go figure!

There are also some sellers offering personalized items too.

Personalised cat prints on etsy
Custom cat print CrystalLaceDesign

The best thing about personalized items is you can command a much higher price for specialized work.

However, I’m thinking passive income, so I want to set it and forget it on this one.

I never offer personalized stuff because it’s pretty hard to get it right for people. By the time the product is ready, the purchase’s excitement has worn off, and now they often want more for their money. This is just how I feel about it.

A good way of offering personalized items is to offer only limited changes. So in this example, you can see the shop offers various offers of cats in different styles to choose from.

It is a great way to add personality but not too difficult to fulfill in a short space of time. The customer has a good idea of what to expect from the outset, and you can deliver the item in a relatively short length of time.

Well, I think from all of these examples, we can safely say there is a market for cat art on Etsy. But now we want to see precisely what each shop is selling and how we can make our cat print convert better.

What to look out for in each shop when doing research?

What are they selling?

I found several shops selling not only prints but keyrings and mugs and cards and lots of other things.

These shops, although they have their place on Etsy – are not what I would recommend. The reason for this is that much like a website if your keywords for your shop run into the hundreds – you have 20 shop windows for cats, 20 for knitting patterns, 10 for shirts, and 50 for keyrings. I’m confused.

Don’t let the big word of ‘website’ stop you from the beginning. I wrote a full post on how to start a website for your shop

I believe each shop should concentrate on one product. If you want to sell other items – then open another shop.

How many are they selling?

Usually, shops hide their sales from browsers, so you can still see the total sales number, but not which items were sold.

Click on their sales totals, and either it shows you their previously sold items, or the link is dead.

If this is the case, don’t worry – we can have a good guess at their best sellers from their reviews.

Read our full guide about Etsy reviews, find out why they can make or break your shop.

You can go into the reviews and see what was reviewed over the last two pages or even the previous 30 days. As a ballpark figure, I probably receive one review every seven sales – this drops significantly if I am running a sale.

review on etsy example

Probably the buyers feel they paid less, and subsequently, they don’t feel the need to review the item.

My reviews don’t come in chronological order – so you might have to go back a few pages. At the moment, I’m receiving one review for 11 sales. But I have been running a sale for two months.

You can also change the view to recent reviews, which helps.

If you see a shop with 30 reviews in February – there is a good chance they have sold around 10 x this amount. It is not a definitive measure, but it gives you a good feel for how much they are selling, especially when you compare shops side by side.

Another factor that you may need to consider is what the seller is adding to their products. Perhaps they are going above and beyond with the instructions and making a connection with the buyer. Lots of things can affect reviews. So keep that in mind. 

Be on the lookout for bad reviews as well, if this is something you will also stumble into – it’s better to know in advance. If you received a bad review recently, check out my post on how to deal with reviews on Etsy.

Other ways to track competitors’ sales numbers on Etsy

The next way to do this is to note the number of sales the shop has on a Monday, come back in 10 days, and retake a note. Ensure you have included the weekend too.

I know I did this once a month when I researched selling wedding invitations digitally online.

I noted down how many they had in sales on day 1 of the month and 30 days later. Believe me; it was a lot. – I did a lot of research into the wedding invitation shop before starting.

ie. if you see 4800 sales in 30 days, that’s 160 sales a day with an average of $8 per sale. equals approx $1280 per day. If this is mind-blowing to you, just remember as I always say, Etsy is a numbers game. Think 700-3000 items to achieve these numbers.

It wasn’t a success.

But I did start it and had a few sales but didn’t pursue it. Why? – Well, I forgot the golden rule. Anything worth having takes time effort and commitment. Don’t do what I did. Do as I say!

So once you have a method of collecting how many they are selling, let’s look at other things we can track to help us out.

How do they offer their products? 

Are they offering digital or printable? – in today’s climate being 2021, I’m avoiding anything which involves postage since I see repeated conversations of buyers wanting a refund when it doesn’t arrive, gets lost, and any number of things go wrong.

When selling digital items, problems with postage are avoided since Etsy sends the files for you, and it’s instant. What’s not to like about that?

What is their unique selling point?

Look at the shop overall – what are they doing which is different? – maybe their shop has a humorous edge to it.

image of cat petting chart print
Funny cat print The Squad store

They advertise their craft at the top of their shop, telling the buyers that it’s unique to their shop and can’t be found elsewhere when they purchase.

For example, this shop sells these pretty paintings; the unique point is that it’s of a cat eating pizza. Most of the others are selling cats playing, lying down, or sleeping.

I love these prints – I love the branding mostly. Stuck on branding? – Read our guide on How to brand your Etsy shop

This seller has made it clear in her description that she does not sell digital art files, leading me to believe she often gets requests for digital files. An excellent point to note down.

This shop has had 35k sales

Note this down also.

But how long has she been open? 

The first review is dated 2012. That’s a long time in Etsy sales.

image of cat faces in drawing print
Little cat draw

What are these shops good at which will help our research?

Make notes in your book on what these shops are doing well. I don’t mean – oh, that looks nice. I mean, put your thinking hat on and look at them.

Some things to think about 

  • photos
  • sales
  • Titles
  • Description
  • Photos 
  • Photos 
  • photos
  • header
  • Shop icons
  • About section
  • What are these shops weak at? 
  • Are their images very dark and unappealing?
  • What price point are they at?
  • Have they made mistakes in their keywords by using the exact words at the front of every listing?

There is no point in researching shops that sell the same items but are obviously in a different market. It would be best if you compare apples with apples. Not Apples with bitcoins. (Did I say that?)

Other things you can note about your competitors on Etsy.

  • Do they have a shop announcement? 
  • Are their items unique?
  • What are their top-selling items?
  • Do they post shop updates?
  • What sort of sale are they using?
  • How many listings do they have in their shop?
  • Is their Etsy profile friendly, professional, and relaxed?
  • What is the style of their images? Have they invested in mockups or just taken photos themselves?
  • What categories are they using?

Please write a few words about how their shop makes you feel. 

Do you feel excited to buy, interested to know more, or perhaps they leave you with a connection?

Deep dive into their description

Have they included all the information which a buyer will need? Have they been specific on some points which might persuade the buyer to buy from them?

  • Did they use internal linking in their description? 
  • Do they have a presence off Etsy?
  • What sort of website do they have?

If you are reading this because you already have listings on Etsy, now is a time to do a deep dive into the main differences between their shop and yours? – and can you those ideas also.

Anyway – moving forward off etsy.

Well, I was going to suggest looking at Craftcount – but they shut down three days ago, sadly.

You can also look at google trends that may not be so relevant for this item, and you can probably guess that new Apple Watch straps become popular when a new model is released.

For example, a print with a yearly calendar would be more prevalent in January than in June.

Let’s look at Pinterest to complete our research.

It would be best if you got to the bottom of Pinterest. 

Search for cat print – you will now see that it prompts you to click on art to get better results.

screen shot of Pinterest results for cats

Now cat print black

screen shot of Pinterest results for cats

Now you can see what Pinterest buyers are looking for when they search for Black cat print art

There are many ways you can use Pinterest to promote your Etsy shop. But for now, you must research what is out there and what people resonate with.

There is no point in creating something which only has little interest for anyone.

What have we learned from Pinterest? Well, we now know that Black is the preferred search on Pinterest. This means a lot of people are on Pinterest and they are looking for black cats. So if you have a great idea for a cat print, you should consider at least one black on.

You will see which ones are on Etsy by hovering over the image – it will show an Etsy link.

One thing to note is that it is often straightforward to knock out a few very similar items when it comes to prints. I would advise you to make the most of each of your items.

I once made a print and used a zoomed-in version in one of the mockups to make it look similar. I’ve had lots of people contact me directly asking for that print. Which I never made, it was just a screenshot. But next time, I will know to try and make a few similar items.

What other tools are there to spy on your competitors on Etsy?

Marmalead and Erank are excellent platforms that help you understand why a listing does better than the next. You can discover the competition in your keyword and see how they are ranking on Etsy.

Remember, don’t let all this discourage you and walk away muttering – well, it’s already out there 100’s of items, and I’ll never compete.

If there is one thing I can tell you in this post, Etsy is a numbers game. The more skin in the game you have, the more sales you will see.

Of course – you do need to provide good quality products, but don’t get despondent if you only make one sale for the first two months getting started.

Write out some of your goals for your shop and beat them. If you need help setting goals, my planner can help.

Put in your efforts into making a great shop with good products. It takes time, effort, and a willingness to go the extra mile.

Keep going.

Final thoughts on how to research your competitors on Etsy. Spend some time carefully looking for products you know you have an interest in and can produce. My post is for digital sellers, but there is no reason why the same doesn’t apply for shipped items. Do a deep dive into what you can see from other shops. Remember everything is relevant.

Take a lot of notes and check all angles before deciding.

Please pin me to your favorite Pinterest board – as it helps so much.

Image of flowers with text how to research your competition on etsy

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions and if you enjoyed this post don’t forget to share me.

You can find more information about starting on Etsy in these helpful posts.

Worried your Etsy photos are not doing well, read our guide to Etsy listing images

If you think you have a best seller on Etsy – let’s check in this post on Best sellers on Etsy

How to get started with your Newsletter for your Etsy shop

Image of desk with text what is research on ETsy

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  1. Not sure why you wouldn’t be using links to Etsy small businesses instead of Amazon…

    1. Hi Luke,
      I do link to Etsy where I can do so. I use a plugin that allows me to add Amazon links quite quickly and a lot of these were placed before I was approved to use Etsy ones.

  2. Thanks for the aritcle. One thing I have been trying to find out with no success is who the top ten sellers are in a particular area on Etsy. For example: Who are the top ten T-shirt Mockup sellers and also who are the top ten T-shirt sellers are on Etsy. I have been searching but no one ever discusses this question. 🙁

    1. Hi Barbra
      With regards to searching for the next new thing in t-shirt, you could try or Pinterest. You can also sign up for Insight Factory – (affiliate link) and get 20 free searches. I believe you just sign up for the free account to access. Here you can find the best selling and the trending products.

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