Podcast Episode 37: How to Start an Etsy ShopApr 21, 2022
Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/OR-AlHgGF_M
Hey guys!! I’m sooooo happy to be joining you again this week. We’re mixing it up! If you didn’t gather that from the title. Hahaha!
Lately we’ve been exploring lots of intermediate to advanced and specialty Etsy topics here on the podcast and it’s been a blast! I’ve been learning a bunch along with you! And don’t get me wrong! There’s lots more of that to come. But I thought this week I’d slow it down for our newer friends joining us or people who have been searching far and wide for some reliable first steps to Etsy.
Today we’re going to get back to the basics of how to start an Etsy shop—and I wouldn’t be completely shocked if even some of our seasoned Etsy sellers hear something new or at least get reminded of something that will help them where they are! (I know that happens to me all the time when I’m listening to something that I’m thinking will be elementary! Haha!)
So let’s dive in! This is exactly what I would coach you to do—or what I personally would do—to start a new Etsy shop.
- Research: The very first thing you need to do BEFORE you decide 100% on a product, pick a shop name, or do any other business planning--- is RESEARCH.
Doing a lot of research up front is going to help you achieve success a lot faster and hopefully save you from a lot of headaches. Haha!
All you need for this research is Etsy.com and possibly a Sale Samurai membership which comes with a free trial and is currently just $8/month if you use my link and discount code. But we’ll talk about that more in a little bit.
What you want to do first is open an incognito window or private browsing tab in your internet browser. I really recommend you do this on a computer if you can. It will make it easier for you! But what the incognito window is going to do is help you search on Etsy without any of your past searches or browsing history influencing the results Etsy shows you.
Every browser is a bit different—but if you just go to Google and type “how to open an incognito window” you will be able to find quick and super easy instructions for how to do this. I PROMISE--- it’s easy! And you need to get used to looking for answers like this on Google and YouTube--- it’s going to be critical to your success in business that you develop the skill of finding answers. The good news is—they’re always out there!
So—just a little background here on the need for private browsing--- every website, app, or social media platform we use is constantly collecting information about us. That’s why if you have a conversation with a friend about a pair of shoes, you’ll start seeing ads from that brand show up on your phone in the next few days. It’s kinda creepy if you ask me! But they all do it!
So if you’ve ever been to Etsy before, it remembers what you searched, what you clicked on, what you hovered over for awhile—all of it—and rather than showing you what the standard algorithm would kick out in a search, it’s going to show you what it thinks you want to see based on information it previously collected from you.
That’s great when you think about shoppers who’ve looked at your stuff before, because Etsy will serve them your listings again giving you a higher chance of a sale—BUT when you’re trying to do some unbiased research about current trends—you don’t want your search history influencing the search results.
If all of that went over your head, DON’T worry about it! If you have to just go to Etsy.com, it’s not the end of the world. And if you can use an incognito browser—great! Do it!
So--- your browser is open, now type in Etsy.com and our research will begin!
The main goal this phase of research is either to help you decide what product to sell OR establish that the product you want to sell will actually sell on Etsy. I’ve had a number of coaching clients recently who have beautiful shops, great keywords, they’ve done everything right—but they’re not getting views or sales. And we start digging into the research together, and it turns out that shoppers are simply NOT searching for their product on Etsy. There’s no market it for it. If that’s the case for your product, we want to learn that up front if we can.
Let’s start with those of you who have no idea what you want to sell yet.
There are a few different components to consider:
-What can you create (or learn to create) at a high quality?
-Is that product currently selling on Etsy?
-Based on the competition’s pricing, can you make a profit selling that item?
If you have zero ideas, let Etsy guide you! Immediately below the Etsy search bar will be a horizontal list of the most common categories on Etsy. It changes a bit throughout the year, but right now you’ll see phrases like “Mother’s Day Gifts,” “Jewelry and Accessories,” “Clothes and Shoes,” “Home and Living,” and several others. You can be sure that those are all safe categories to pick a product in and you can (and should) get even more niched down ideas by looking at the first page or two of listing results.
Dig in there and find out where they are lots of best-sellers. What products show that bunches of shoppers have put the listing in their cart? What products have shops that have tons of sales and reviews? These are the keys to solid ideas for your shop.
Now, if you already have a product in mind, I want you to type it in the search bar and check the results. Keep in mind that the phrase you would use to describe a product may not be the same phrase the rest of the market uses. This 100% happened to me. When I started my reclaimed wood sign shop back in 2016, I thought the keyword phrase “reclaimed wood” was going to be gold—but it turned out no one really searched that phrase back then. I quickly learned that “farmhouse sign” or “weathered wood” got a lot more searches.
But typically the phrase you start with will lead you to the better phrases if you study the listings that come up or test a few different phrases to describe your product.
Here’s what you’re looking for:
You want to first make sure that there are best-sellers that already exist for the product you want to make, make sure that you can compete with them on quality, photography, and pricing. I want to you research the heck out of those top competitors.
Don’t you dare copy them or we can be friends anymore hahaha! We keep it high integrity over here!
BUT—just like any artist who is inspired by what already exists around them, use those best sellers, those top competitors—to learn how to set up your shop, what FAQs customers might have, what pictures you should take, what your photo gallery needs in it, what the pricing and turn-around time should be. Get inspired by them and learn from them. You’ll use this skill regularly in your shop as you add new products and pivot and grow. It’s a critical skill to master!
And if you want to see exactly how I do this--- how I do niche and product research--- you guys, seriously, get my Etsy course. It’s only $97 right now and (I say this humbly)—I should charge a lot more because I share every secret and strategy I’ve got! Hahaha! Learning from it could make you hundreds of thousands of dollars like I have. I will hold your hand through exactly how to use research to create a powerhouse Etsy shop. Every student I’ve met with so far that’s completed my course has gotten their listings showing up on the first two pages of the search results in their niche—which is bananas. So consider it. I’d be honored to have you. Genuinely. The course is called “Etsy Listings that Sell” and it’s linked in the shownotes so you can find it easily. https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/etsy-listings-that-sell
Bottom line--- learn how to use Etsy as a research machine and it will always show you what to test, try, and tweak. You’ll use this same skill over and over again in business. It’s priceless!
Also--- I want to talk here about the tool Sale Samurai for a few minutes. You don’t have to have it--- I didn’t when I got started because it’s a newer tool. But I use it with my clients DAILY now and I really recommend it because it can save you buckets of time and just give you information there’s no other way to get without a tool like this.
If you’re a visual person like me--- I created a short youtube tutorial showing you the behind the scenes of exactly how this works—so before you go grab a membership, feel free to check it out. Little videos like that help me so much so I don’t have to figure out a new tool by myself. LOL! I’ll link that Youtube video right in the shownotes for you along with the link to Sale Samurai’s website. If you’re a maverick and you like to figure stuff out yourself, I have mad respect for you! If you’d like, just use my coupon code “howtosellyourstuff” (with no spaces and all lowercase) to get 20% off for the lifetime of your membership.
So—Sale Samurai integrates with your Google Chrome (I promise it’s easy) or you can just use it free standing—and when you type any keyword into the Etsy search bar, this magical tool is going to literally tell you how many times per month that keyword is searched by shoppers, it’s going to give you hundreds of other terms they use to describe the same item, AND it’s going to tell you how much competition there is.
You simply cannot get such powerful information another way. This is a tool you’ll also use again and again and again in your shop. Like—almost daily. I know this has already gotten a bit technical without watching me do it—so if you like—check out the Youtube video tour I created and I’ll show you exactly how it works and how I use it.
One heads up--- when you use Sale Samurai in Google Chrome, it will not work with an incognito browser—so just be prepared that you’ll have to flip back and forth from a normal browser depending on what you’re trying to achieve. I usually use the normal browser with the Sale Samurai extension to figure out the data and which keywords to research and then go to the incognito window to see what listings Etsy shows me for those keywords.
The point here is --- make sure the product you’re considering has a market on Etsy right now. It helps so much to know how often people are searching for something and what the competition is like. Information like that can really help guide you right in those early days.
- Setting Up Your Business
In this segment, we’re going to talk about what you need to do to set up your business, pick a shop name, and take steps keep your shop out of legal trouble. Hopefully some of this will help prevent your new shop from getting suspended which is more common these days with tons of new sellers joining the Etsy platform.
So first things first--- I can only speak for the United States on this—so I genuinely apologize to my friends in other countries. I LOVE YOU—I just don’t have the brain space to remember all the rules for all the different countries. BUT if you search on Etsy, I find that their help guide and forums generally can give you answers to this stuff.
The other thing is--- this podcast and the information in it should not be interpreted as legal advice. This is just for general educational purposes. So use this as a reference, but don’t assume it covers all your bases ok? I love helping y’all from my experience, but it’s always best to get a professional’s opinion especially since every town, state, county, and country has different rules.
Here are some of the basics:
To start an Etsy shop in the United States, all Etsy requires is a social security number--- you can set up shop as a sole proprietor.
Etsy does not require that you register your business BUT--- your state or county or city MAY require it for tax purposes. This is where you need consult an expert or pull out your trusty Google.com and search something like “Do I need to register my business in San Antonio, Texas?” (inserting your own city and state of course) and find out what is required.
I know that for many of us creative people, searches like this are the bane of our existence, but the consequences could be really bad if you don’t cover your bases. So just put on some music that makes you happy, sit somewhere comfy, pour your favorite drink--- and have a Google research party. It will be ok.
Another question I often get is--- do I need to register my Etsy shop as an LLC? Etsy does not require it BUT last week, I had creative entrepreneur attorney Paige Hulse on the podcast and she strongly recommended filing an LLC as soon as your start earning money from your shop. I’ll link that episode in the shownotes for you. It was episode #36.
And I have to say, you guys, I’m the first person to shy away from dryer topics like that, ok? Like my favorite podcasters will have episodes about law, accounting, terms and conditions—anything like that and my brain hurts just reading the title. I almost always skip those! Hahahaha! BUT—I was genuinely surprised by some of what Paige taught us last week and I wish I’d taken this stuff more seriously earlier in my business. On top of that--- I actually heard from more of you THANKING ME for the insight in that episode than any episode I’ve ever done before. So it’s safe to say it was good stuff!
Again—as someone who delegates to my husband anything super detailed like taxes and law lollllll--- Paige actually broke it down SO SIMPLY. I was impressed. I could understand what she recommends and why and I know you will too. I think it helps that she was also an Etsy seller at one point. She just gets us! So check out that episode to get your LLC and other legal questions answered: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/blog/Llc-to-start-an-etsy-shop
The next topic I want to touch on is trademarks.
As you decide on your shop name and the products you’re going to sell--- you need to be aware of this because new shops are getting shut down by Etsy DAILY for trademark and copyright violations.
Again—Paige covered this from a legal standpoint in our last episode (#36)—and I don’t want to suggest for a second that what I’m saying here is all you need to know (I can guarantee you it’s not)—but you can get shut down FAST or in legal trouble if your shop name, your listing titles, your products—if any of it uses trademarked words, phrases, likenesses, graphics and more.
For example—I was personally so surprised to learn that things that feel like every day phrases like “happy camper” and “mama bear” and “love over fear” or a simple smiley face are all trademarked. So be careful. And ALSO--- something that isn’t trademarked today when you create it—COULD BE trademarked later. Part of your ongoing shop management will need to include checking them for updates periodically.
Your best bet is to come up with something totally original (although still make sure it’s not trademarked!) but if you’re going the print on demand or digital product route—do your research. Those are the ones that seem to get nailed the fastest after someone who is selling an obvious pop culture trademark like a Winnie the Pooh picture or Harry Potter tshirt.
I totally don’t want to discourage you guys. This is still totally doable. You can do this. It’s just not the wild wild west that it used to be and you have to know these things.
A simple way to start learning what is and isn’t trademarked is to search on USPTO.gov. I have a little YouTube video that will show you a quick tutorial on how to use the site for a trademark search. I will link that and the site URL in the shownotes for you guys!
How to search for an existing trademark: Use www.Uspto.gov
YouTube video showing how to search: https://youtu.be/Vq4mfFj0Nis
Ok so let’s end this segment on a gentler note shall we? Let’s talk about choosing your shop name! I know this can feel kind of intimidating—and if you’re inclined to overanalyze this is where it will happen! LOL!
Apart from checking to make sure your name or part of it isn’t trademarked, the good news is: it doesn’t really matter. If you know you’re going to be totally devoted to a particular niche, then it’s great if you can get a relevant keyword from it in your shop name. BUT—I personally like to keep my options open—so unless your CERTAIN you will forever be in that niche, don’t lock yourself in.
I think the best advice for a shop name is to make it memorable—really easy for a shopper to remember and be able to spell if they want to find you again.
See—that one’s pretty painless! Just keep it as simple as you can and don’t let analysis paralysis keep you from moving forward. Pick a name and move on. The last time I checked you can actually change it at least once with Etsy anyway!
3) Prepare for launch
OK—so now that you have your research done—you know what you’re going to sell. You know it’s currently selling well on Etsy and you can compete in that space—it’s time to create your first products.
The next steps are kind of going to depend on what niche you’re in. But ultimately it’s going to be: 1) Create and perfect your product, 2) Take great photos or create gorgeous mockups, 3) Decide on your initial packaging and be ready to ship/deliver your product, 4) Create your Etsy listings.
If you’re in the physical product space you can get away with maybe 10 products to start with. However your goal should always be to regularly add more if you want to make a consistent, solid income on Etsy. When I’m coaching a client with physical products I usually tell them to keep adding listings until they have at least 100 or enough sales each month that they’re happy.
For Print on Demand and Digital Products---- I encourage my clients to regularly keep adding listings until they have thousands—or again—enough sales to make them happy.
Keep in mind—you can have several listings per product! I usually have at least 5. I would switch out thumbnail photos and try different keywords for each one.
No matter what niche you’re in—the Etsy algorithm will be in your favor if you regularly add listings. It’s just like social media—if you want your account to grow, you have to post consistently. It will boost your visibility.
AND—pro-tip here: batch your work. If you do your work in one-offs, it will slow you down. It’s better to do any part of your process in a batch. Create a bunch of listings at once, but keep them in drafts. Then a couple of times per week (or whatever interval you decide on)—list a few live.
I will also say--- it’s a great idea to use drafts for your listings from the get-go BECAUSE one of the reasons I’ve heard of new shops getting suspended or dinged is that they listed too many products live at once and Etsy interpreted it as spammy behavior. So keep it under 5 at a time or per day. So far that’s seemed like a safe number to not trigger Etsy’s bots. I’ll let you guys know if I hear otherwise!
A few other pointers as you prepare for launch--- make your shop as clean and professional looking as you can. I cannot believe how many new shops I see that don’t have an about section or seller pic of their face or a shop banner.
Until you have sales and reviews—these things are the ONLY way you can create trust with a shopper. They’re taking a total risk buying from a shop that’s brand new and you can give them so much confidence with these little branding steps.
Think about what it’s like preparing your home for a party. We think through what our guests might need or enjoy while they’re visiting:
-We clean the house and deal with any odors that might be unpleasant
-We make sure there’s a hand towel in the bathroom
-Maybe we light a candle or put out some fresh flowers
-We prepare a meal or snacks
-We consider what they might like to drink
The point is we try to anticipate our guests needs and you should do the same thing in your Etsy shop. If you have no idea what they might need--- go back to the research! If you study the best-sellers and the shops with tons of sales—they’ve already figured this out. It’s why they’re thriving. You can learn a ton by looking at how they set things up and what their customers say about them in the reviews!
4) Launch your shop
It’s the step we’ve all been waiting for! And the good news is—if you’ve taken your time to do the other steps right, this should be quick and easy.
At this stage you should double check that your shipping and turn around times are set up correctly (the shorter the better---especially for a new shop) and make sure you’ve got a plan for printing your shipping labels. I personally use Etsy shipping which offers way lower rates than USPS.com or going to the post office, however my clients often rave about Pirate Ship for even better rates. I don’t have a relationship with them yet although I hope to soon so I can get more info for you guys. From what I understand it integrates right into your Etsy and you can also use it for other sites like a Shopify store to streamline all your orders. Sounds pretty magical if you ask me! But if that feels like a lot for now, definitely do Etsy shipping because it will save you some money and it’s right there.
You can use a normal at home laser or inkjet printer to print your labels--- I set mine up to print two per page and I ordered 2 per page adhesive shipping labels from Amazon. I’ll link those for you in the shownotes! At first I just used normal printer paper and packing tape but that got old sooooo fast y’all. Packing tape is surprisingly expensive and I just got tired of messing with it for my boxes and my labels. So this is a time saving hack for you! LOL! Also—since I mentioned it--- I save a TON of money by ordering an off brand packaging tape from Amazon and I’ll link that for you too because it really helped us. I personally think it smells bad but my husband does the boxing and doesn’t mind it a bit. He says it’s slightly lower quality than Scotch brand but not frustrating to work with like the really cheap stuff. It was a bit of a boxing game changer for us so try it if you’re looking to save on your packaging!
I’ve tested some different scales for weighing my packages for shipping and found one I really like. It’s battery operated and works for all different size products. I’ll link that for you guys as well. It’s served us well! Shipping scale: https://amzn.to/30cfcTT
And then finally--- if you know you’ll be in business for a while and shipping stuff out—I really recommend that you get a dedicated label printer. It’s going to save you so much on ink and printer wear and tear—honestly, way more economical than using your home printer for tons of labels. This is also the best choice if you don’t have at in home printer already. You buy the labels in rolls instead of sheets—so I’ll link a good brand of the label rolls and a label printer in the shownotes for you too. Hopefully these little tips help you not half to hunt around so much for stuff and you can get going (and save yourself from headaches) faster.
From here, my friend, you are essentially ready to go. Here’s what I’m going to tell you: You’re never going to have all your ducks in a row. You’re never going to feel 100% ready. So just do your best to get responsibly prepared and then allow yourself to learn as you go.
Once your shop is live--- let it roll for a few weeks and watch the stats before you make any changes. It takes time for Etsy to figure out how to index your shop and your listings in the algorithm. After a few weeks, if you’re not making sales, go back to research. Compare your listings to the top sellers in your niche and evaluate why you may not be competing yet. It doesn’t mean it won’t work—as Marie Forleo says—“Everything is Figureoutable!” You’ll have to keep testing, and tweaking, and trying stuff the entire time you’re in business. If you find yourself stuck—you need to consider taking a course or hiring a coach. It's probably just a few tweaks that you need!
And I very much hope you’ll continue along on your journey here with me on the podcast. I’m always looking for new ideas and tools and guest and strategies and stories that will help you guys.
For my brand new listeners today--- another resource you might enjoy is my free PDF download: “4 Strategies I Used to Grow My Etsy Shop from $25 to $6000k/month”: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/site/4-strategies-opt-in
Which I’ll link for you in the shownotes. It will give you some solid tips to help you with your shop once you have it launched.
Basically what happened is--- the first 6 months of my Etsy shop were super slow. So I did exactly what I’m telling you to do and I dug into the research. That time of studying Etsy taught me those 4 strategies in that download--- it really changed the game for me—and after that is when I cracked the code and started making real money. It was so fun and rewarding and I really want that for you, too.
The very last thing I think I’ll go ahead and link for you guys is the Resources page on my website. It just has the business books I’ve learned a lot from, some tools and courses that I recommend, some additional shipping tools, stuff like that. Just the things I love using for my business and stuff I’m comfortable recommending for y’all.
And that’s all I have for you today, my friends! I hope this was super helpful—no matter where you are on your Etsy journey—and I’m just so grateful for the gift of your time spent with me. I know how precious it is and I’m genuinely honored. You guys mean the world to me and I’m SO for you and your success.
Until next week--- go make something awesome. <3
This week I am teaching you everything you need to know about how to start an Etsy shop. We’re covering everything from how to pick a product, whether you need to register your business, how to compete in your niche, my recommendations for shipping—and so much more. If you’re thinking about an Etsy shop—this episode will prepare you with details you need to get started.
**“How to Sell Your Stuff on Etsy” is not affiliated with or endorsed by Etsy.com
STUFF I MENTIONED:
My Etsy Course where I teach all my secrets and strategies (currently just $97): https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/etsy-listings-that-sell
Sale Samurai (recommended research tool)
YouTube tutorial of Sale Samurai: https://youtu.be/HIw0oqF1aJc
𝗚𝗲𝘁 Sale Samurai https://salesamurai.io/324.html
𝗣𝗟𝗨𝗦 use my 𝗗𝗜𝗦𝗖𝗢𝗨𝗡𝗧 𝗖𝗢𝗗𝗘 to get 𝟮𝟬% 𝗢𝗙𝗙! ▶ howtosellyourstuff (all in lowercase)
Episode 36: How to Keep Yourself Out of Legal Trouble in Your Etsy Shop-- with Attorney Paige Hulse:
How to search for an existing trademark: Use www.Uspto.gov
YouTube video showing how to search: https://youtu.be/Vq4mfFj0Nis
Pirate Ship for Shipping: https://www.pirateship.com/
2 per page printing labels (8.5x11” pages for inkjet or laser): https://amzn.to/3rAGGgv
Off-brand but decent quality packing tape that will save you money: https://amzn.to/3v0sX4C
Shipping scale: https://amzn.to/30cfcTT
Label Printer: https://amzn.to/3HhKuJV
Printer Label Rolls: https://amzn.to/3wv9kRm
Free PDF Download: “4 Strategies I Used to Grow My Etsy Shop from $25 to $6000k/month”: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/site/4-strategies-opt-in
My favorite resources: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/resources
FREE ETSY MASTERCLASS: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/masterclass
FREE PDF DOWNLOAD: “4 Strategies I Used to Grow My Etsy Shop from $25 to $6000k/month”: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/site/4-strategies-opt-in
Grab my Course “Etsy Listings that Sell” and learn how to skyrocket your Etsy business:
Find me on Instagram and TikTok @HowtoSellYourStuff
HOW TO SELL YOUR STUFF WEBSITE: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/
HOW TO SELL YOUR STUFF INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/howtosellyourstuff/
HOW TO SELL YOUR STUFF SHOWNOTES: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/blog/how-to-start-an-etsy-shop
*Some of the links above are affiliate links which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. You can see my affiliate disclosure here: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/affiliate-disclosure
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