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How to Sell on Etsy and Increase Your Profit Margins

etsy pottery seller using her laptop

You’ve made jewellery/painted canvases/handcrafted quirky key rings, or printed bags, and the praise you’ve received from family and friends has made you wonder if this hobby could become a small business. For many creatives, the answer is to sell on Etsy.

So, What is Etsy and How Does it Work?

The online platform was launched in 2005 by a group of friends, including Robert Kalin, an amateur furniture maker who was trying to find a better way to make sales via the internet. The inspiration came from old-fashioned craft fairs, where sellers were each offered their own “shop front” to list their handmade or vintage items.

Since that time Etsy has grown spectacularly and now has 7.5m sellers and a staggering 96.3 million buyers across the globe which, for people wanting to promote their wares, is a double-edged sword.

True, there is a huge audience out there but there’s also a massive amount of competition, so if you are planning on selling on Etsy, it requires a lot more than merely posting your items and hoping that the sales will roll in. You want to make sure your brand messaging is strong with unique, high-quality packaging that allows you to personalise every delivery. From bag toppers to jewellery display cards, personalised chocolate boxes to gift boxes for your own range of mugs, make the unboxing experience feel luxurious to encourage repeat business and happy customers.

Is it Worth it to Sell on Etsy?

Definitely, but your success will depend upon your input. Like most things relating to business, you get out what you put in. What makes the most money on Etsy? Niche products can obtain a higher price tag, but demand will be lower, however, very popular products will have high demand but lots of competition. The best thing to sell on Etsy? That would be jewellery.

Handmade jewellery is not only the most sought-after item but also one of the most profitable, so if this is what you’re planning to sell then you are on the right lines. That’s not to say there isn’t also plenty of opportunity for other items, particularly if you’re producing something that is very different to anything else available.

How Much Does it Cost to Sell on Etsy?

The first step to getting this information is to set up your Etsy shop. It’s a very simple process – just set up an account and you’ll get access to their handbook which explains how to sell and all about Etsy fees.

At the time of writing, the company charges 17p per item listing plus a small commission and standard processing costs for every sale. Etsy also pay to advertise your items via offsite ads where you only pay a fee if you make a sale from one of those ads.

Exactly how to sell on Etsy is fairly straightforward but if you are confused at all, consider joining one of the many online seller’s forums where people are usually more than happy to answer any questions you might have. If you’re starting to feel more confident, you may also want to consider Etsy Plus, which comes at a cost of £8.30 a month but helps promote your business and gives you a set of tools to help grow your brand.

Understandably, before you make any outlay on materials and spend your time, you’ll probably want to know is it worth it to sell on Etsy? It certainly can be, but it’s definitely down to how much time and effort you’re prepared to give it. Some people make a few pounds a month, while other people have given up their jobs to sell full-time.

Do Etsy Sellers Make a Lot of Money?

Well, they certainly can but that all depends on how serious you are about promoting your products. Which brings us back to the question every budding Etsy seller wants the answer to: how to make money on Etsy.

There are plenty of Etsy success stories – such as Californian Alicia Shaffer who went from being a mum of three who ran a small women’s clothing boutique in California to one of Etsy’s top sellers. She now sells 3000 of her scarves and leg warmers every day earns more than $65,000 dollars a month and has sold more than 86,000 items.

Those at the top of the tree also give similar advice: ensure you have fabulous images and don’t just rely on Etsy to promote them - use every social media platform available. It’s also worth considering ways that you can elevate your shop items to a higher level – which hopefully will attract more buyers and command a higher price. Your packaging says a lot about your brand, so ensure you invest in good quality shipping materials.

Etsy buyer with box, personalised sticker and thank you postcard

How Can I Make my Brand Look Expensive?

This is a question many Etsy sellers ask themselves – and thankfully, there are quite a few tips and tricks you might want to adopt.

Even if the item itself isn’t something that would automatically carry a high ticket price, you can elevate it with stylish packaging and attention to detail. A premium product is normally defined as costing more than 20% of the average price in that category – think about what that will do to your income!

What Makes Something Look Premium?

It’s worth spending some time considering what makes a successful premium product and how you can apply that to your Etsy shop. Think of top brands and how they do it. If you order something as small as a lipstick from a company like Chanel, for example, it comes in a beautiful personalised box, tied with a ribbon and often has a little pouch inside with some free samples.

Look at the packaging from companies like Jo Malone and Tiffany – the excitement for the product begins even before it’s opened with beautiful boxing. While you may not have the budgets that these companies have, there’s a lot to be learned from them!

How Do You Make a Product Feel Luxurious?

Think about your logo – create one if you don’t have one already. Consider the colours, the font and how that will appear to potential customers.

You may think it’s a risky strategy but one simple way to position yourself in a high-end bracket is to raise the price. It will certainly attract attention, but do ensure you can justify that price and do so when writing your product description. Wrap the item in branded wrapping paper and place them in a stylish box – perhaps with an embossed logo or custom sticker – so the unboxing experience is an exciting one for the recipient. Include a hand-signed thank you card or even a little extra gift to show your customers they are valued.

If you are offering something rare or a collector’s item, then naturally that commands a premium price. Currently, the most expensive item on Etsy is a one-off, handmade key which comes with a “secret ritual”, and sells for a staggering £38,651.39. Handmade to order, listed under “rare finds” it’s not something that is going to be bought every day. If and when it is sold, that’s a huge boost for the seller.

Stand out, unusual products command a high price, so find a way to make yourself a premium seller on Etsy and you could be giving up the day job before you know i!


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