Etsy Listings 101: the anatomy of a listing

etsy beginners how to sell on etsy technical Jun 10, 2021
Etsy Listings 101

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When you’re just getting started with an Etsy shop, setting up your listings can feel a little daunting. It’s so important to get this part right so you attract buyers and make sales! Etsy does a great job of keeping it as simple as possible and guiding you through it, but still--- I remember wondering if I was doing things correctly and stressing about all the details.

That’s why I created this Etsy Listings 101 post--- to give you some advice on setting up your listings from an experienced seller. 😊 I opened my Etsy shop in 2016 and have had several years’ experience with thousands of sales and a full-time, consistent income. Now I love consulting with new shop owners (or sellers looking to grow and optimize their shops) to help them reach their goals without the same learning curve I had to go through.

So while this information can be a little dry and tedious—I put a lot of time and thought into including exactly what you need to know to make your listings the best they can be. Whether you’re brand new to Etsy or trying to learn how to up your listings game—this is just for you! Let’s learn how to sell your stuff on Etsy!


The anatomy of a listing

We’re going to go section by section through the “Add a listing” page and I’ll take you through the details to consider and some tips to maximize each field. So get a fresh mug of coffee, tea, or whatever you love to sip on, make yourself comfy, and let’s dig in!


As with any visual based product sales, your photos on Etsy are EVERYTHING.

Your product photos on Etsy are the first, and possibly only, impression you get to make on shoppers. Your primary thumbnail photo will be presented along-side hundreds of others, beauty pageant style, and you have a split second to grab the shopper’s attention.

Make sure your first photo is the best one, and use up as many of the photo spaces you can but uploading pictures that will answer a customer’s FAQs.


Further reading: Are your product photos selling or repelling potential customers? Get some Etsy Photography Tips here: 



If you have this option in your listings, it is worthwhile to spend the time to put together a quality video that will show shoppers a bit of the behind-the-scenes story of your product. The max length is fairly short—only 15 seconds at the time of this writing—but in our video-loving culture, that 15 seconds can really draw in a customer and help them feel connected to your brand and products.

This isn’t the time to cobble something together. Leave this slot empty until you have a clip you can be proud of!


The key to being successful on Etsy is being found and seen on Etsy. Your ability to create a product that shoppers want, photograph it in a way that attracts them, AND pick the right words to describe your product will determine whether or not potential customers discover your products and choose to buy them.

The words you use in your Title line will largely determine if your product is found—so maximize this space!

For specific details on how to leverage this and other sections of your listings to grow you sales--- request my free download: 4 Strategies I used to grow my Etsy shop from $25 to $6,000




About this listing:

These drop-down menus should be fairly self-explanatory. Just select the options that are most accurate for your product. This will be most important to your customer if you sell vintage items, or a supply rather than a finished product.

Etsy also uses this space to eliminate illegal listings. You can learn more about this in Etsy’s guide to what’s allowed.


ATTRIBUTES: (you most likely won’t see this specific word on your listing, but Etsy uses the word “attributes” to refer to the specific fields that describe your product that will appear depending on what you choose in the “Categories” section)

This area will expand and contract with additional fields depending on what you select. Many sellers skip this section, thinking it’s a waste of time, but that couldn’t be further from the truth!

Fill out every possible attribute field Etsy gives you for your product with as much specific detail as you can--- because the Attributes operate as powerful keywords that will help your product to be discovered by shoppers.



Here’s where the magic happens! Type in the category that most accurately describes your product and then follow the prompts to continue filling out every field they offer.



Renewal Options:

This section allows you to determine if you want Etsy to automatically renew your listings when they’re sold out or expired--- of if you’d rather do it yourself. Each renewal costs 20 cents at the time of this writing.

This is a surprisingly important decision because every time you renew a listing, it puts you closer to the top of search results. AND when a sale is made—your listing goes the absolute highest. So if you’re not watching like a hawk—you could miss out on more potential sales if your final product on a listing sells and the listing goes dormant until you act on it.



This field helps your customer and Etsy know if you are selling a physical product or a digital one. The radio button (option button) you select here will determine some of the additional features of your listing.

For example—if you sell a digital item for immediate download—you will upload the files at the bottom of your listing so Etsy can deliver it to the customer immediately upon purchase. Talk about convenient!

The rest of this article will still be helpful to you since I make mention of some strategies, but I focus on physical products specifically below. If you want to see more about setting up the technical aspects of a digital product listing, Etsy has a resource for you here.



The description is another key element to your listing.

To be quite honest, as of this writing, I personally think the product description is not the easiest thing for a customer to find and it’s one aspect of Etsy that I don’t like. If a shopper is using the app, they have to find a small blue line of text that says “Read item description,” and on a website browser, they have to find a small black line of text that says “Learn more about this item” quite a ways down the screen.

For an interesting foray into the customer experience—go view one of your listings as a customer both on mobile and the computer to see what this is like! I think it creates more questions than it should because they often can’t find it.

This is why I always emphasize the importance of using photos that answer customer questions (rather than create them!) and filling in all of your attributes. These two places on your listing are much more visible to shoppers.

HOWEVER—when a shopper does find the Description of your product, it’s a GREAT place to give them lots of information. Make sure it is easy to read and navigate, provides answers to all FAQs, and it written with correct spelling and grammar.


The description is an important place to convey the feeling of your brand—since the customer will “hear your voice” in how you write. Are you edgy? Formal? Do you want to feel like a boutique or a big box store? Do you want to encourage or discourage customers reaching out with more questions? These are important considerations as you decide how to write your product descriptions.

One more PRO-TIP for good measure:

Use this space to introduce shoppers to more of your listings! Since most people will encounter your shop through a listing, have some links to other items in your shop that might appeal to your customer. This makes it even easier for them to discover everything you have to offer.


Custom Orders:

Offering customization to your customers is optional, but do this when you can! Etsy shoppers love being able to order something custom or Personalize (more on this below!) their purchase—not to mention it’s often an easy way for you to make a larger profit.

When you check this box, a button will appear on your listing for a shopper to send you a message to Request a Customization.”

There is also a place in the Settings of your shop where you can turn on the Custom Order options. If you’re going to offer them, I strongly recommend activating this section of your shop because it allows you to create a custom link for a customer quickly and easily within your Conversation.

Turn it on by going to your Shop Manager --> Settings (vertical menu on the left of your screen) --> Options --> And it’s the second box “Custom order requests” --> Select “Enable”



Using Sections for your products can help shoppers (and you!) find their way around your Etsy shop more easily. For the customer, they appear at the top of your shop on the app and as a list on the left-hand side of the shop on a browser.

The way you set these up can be a branding statement based on the words you use and the font choices you make (ie. all uppercase, all lowercase, normal text, special characters).

Most importantly, Sections should be used as a tool to help shoppers find exactly what they’re looking for, so choose Section Titles that are super clear and then take care to assign the right Section ID to each listing. Each Section should have a carefully curated selection of your products that fall under that category.

You can add a new Section to the list by clicking the drop down--- “Add A Section” will appear at the bottom of the list. Use the dropdown menu to assign the appropriate Section to your listing.

Sections can help you in the Dashboard of your shop too! When you have lots of listings, the Sections filter on the right hand side can help you navigate to specific products easily and quickly for edits, etc.




Keywords! Keywords! Keywords!

Keywords are the words and phrases that shoppers will type into a search box to find exactly what you sell. When you place them in all the appropriate places within your listings, you increase the odds that the perfect customer will discover your products.

Every chance you get, you should maximize the use of keywords in your listing--- and Tags are an important place to do this. As of this writing, each tag can have up to 20 characters--- so take advantage of this gift from the Etsy gods!

Use every Tag field available and add all the words and phrases you can think of that a shopper might use if they were looking for your products. I highly recommend doing some research of your successful competitors as you decide what to include.

To get the skinny on how I do research for keywords--- request my free download: 4 Strategies I used to grow my Etsy shop from $25 to $6,000+/month



Just more keywords! Add any and all materials you use to make/produce your products that might help you show up in additional searches.




This is pretty self-explanatory! Just make sure, if you’re offering a Free shipping guarantee (which I recommend by the way),that your sales price includes what it will cost to produce, package, and ship your product.

If you opt to add Variations to your listings (also recommended!) that have pricing differences, this field will not be available and you’ll add the pricing in the Variations section. We’ll go into that more in a few minutes.



Here’s where you can tell the backend of Etsy how many of each product you have available. Once they are sold out, the listing will deactivate so that you don’t sell products you don’t have. You can always go in and add more products and then renew the listing (for 20 cents).


When you have 3 or less of a product in your Quantity field, Etsy lets shoppers know with a little red sentence beneath your thumbnail photo saying “Only ___ left.” You can use this to your advantage when appropriate and keep your quantities between 1-3 to create a feeling of urgency for shoppers. This little visual cue lets them know that you may sell out soon.


These are optional and so far I’ve never used them. Customers won’t see your SKU numbers. This field is totally for your reference as you manage your inventory and would become more important if you began selling on multiple sites. These are just codes to help you identify a product by numbers and letters.


Allow Restock Requests:

If you turn on Restock Requests, once a product is sold out a customers can request to be alerted when it’s available again. This is a great feature for when you sell out of something and have to wait for supplies to come in before you can list it again.



Variations allow you to give customers the option to specify a color, size, or other variant on your product without having to create a new listing.

Some of your variations will have different price points, and Etsy makes this easy to apply within the Variations section of your listings. The best part? In the search results, Etsy always displays your lowest priced listing to draw in more shoppers.



When you turn on the Personalization feature, additional fields will populate so you can give the customer instructions and a space to type the personalization they’d like. *You can make this optional for a customer—it doesn’t have to be required.

As the customer checks out in your shop, they will be prompted to provide you with their personalization details.


When you offer personalization—it’s always a good idea to reach out to the customer with a high-quality mock-up soon after they purchase so they can approve the design and correct any typos.




I highly recommend use shipping on Etsy. They make it very easy and streamline (no copying and pasting or hand-writing your addresses!) and you can save up to 30% on shipping fees because of Etsy’s negotiated rates with the carriers.

You can bypass the majority of this section if you’re offering a Free Shipping Guarantee in your shop. When this guarantee is on, your listings are flagged (in a good way!) with a little green badge showing customers that the item ships free. You also get priority placement in the Etsy search for your listings when this feature is turned on.

You can turn on the Free Shipping Guarantee by following these steps from your Sell on Etsy Dashboard within a browser:

Left hand horizontal menu --> Settings --> Shipping Settings --> Free Shipping Guarantee

If you do decide to charge for shipping separately, you’ll need to carefully go through each of these fields (it looks worse than it is!) and fill them out. The most important considerations are where you’ll ship to and which shipping services you’ll use. You don’t have to offer all of them!

Here is a great resource provided by Etsy to take you step by step in setting up your shipping profiles:


PRO-TIP: If you decide to sell on additional platforms, it might make sense to look into a different shipping platform, such as Shipstation, so that all of your orders from the varies sites can be pulled into one place for convenience.




If you use Etsy Ads—which I highly recommend—you can determine at the bottom of each listing whether or not you’d like the listing to be advertised by Etsy.

Your advertised listings can also be managed over in Etsy Ads on your Dashboard:

Left hand horizontal menu --> Marketing --> Etsy Ads

I hope this guide for setting up your listings along with some of my tips and tricks was helpful for you! Don’t worry—if this feels overwhelming now, it will get better. Once you’ve set up a few listings, you’ll feel your confidence grow and this will feel very doable. Feel free to bookmark or pin this page to refer back to. As you become more comfortable setting up listings, some of these tips and explanations will become ever more helpful and relevant!

For my fellow Etsy veterans, what other suggestions would you make to someone getting started? I’d LOVE to see your feedback in the comments!




Check out my eCourse Suite

Are you ready to dig in and learn exactly how to get your listings seen and sold on Etsy? You can do this! More than likely, you just need to make a few tweaks!

Learn at your own pace with my digital courses that are immediately available or hire me for a coaching session.

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