It was May 2014.
I was gearing up for my DIY wedding that July, and was knee-deep in ideas for ways to personalize our big day. After designing and printing bags for our popcorn bar, I had an idea:
Why not list the bag sample I created for our wedding on Etsy and see if there was any interest?
So, at 6:00 AM that morning, as I jogged on the treadmill, I downloaded the Sell on Etsy app to my iPhone and made my first listing.
For the first week, there were crickets.
I'd forgotten that I listed the bag, and went about my merry way. I continued to plan my wedding, choosing wine bottle labels and putting down deposits.
But the following weekend my phone made a funny noise. A noise that sounded like "ca-ching!".
I'd made my first sale.
The next day, I made my second, and over the weeks leading up to my own wedding I made enough to pay for our accommodation on our honeymoon, and I knew I was onto something.
Over the next year, that one $0.30 listing on Etsy paid for my entire wedding and then some, and my income on Etsy is capped only by a conscious decision to keep my shop as a side business.
Selling on Etsy isn't rocket science. It's not difficult to build a side business on Etsy that will allow you to earn an extra $1,000/month or more.
You just have to take action.
Here's how to get started.
1. Brainstorm Ideas of What to Sell on Etsy
When Etsy first opened their doors as an online marketplace back in 2005, it was really just a platform for crafters and artists to sell their art to people who appreciated it.
Slowly, Etsy began to accept sellers focused on vintage items, and now it's broadened even more since. According to the Etsy Seller Policy, "everything listed for sale on Etsy must be handmade, vintage, or a craft supply."
To put it simply, Etsy is split into two broad categories:
- Vintage goods
- Handmade goods.
Vintage is anything at least 20 years old, and handmade goods can be anything made or designed by you. Well, sort of. You're allowed "outside manufacturer" help.
So to sell on Etsy, you can sell anything that fits into these categories.
But how do you come up with the idea of what to sell, and make sure it will be profitable?
Here are a few things to consider when looking for the perfect idea:
- What do people compliment you on?: Have you ever made something (or purchased something) that other people loved? Maybe you knitted a monkey hat for your toddler niece or are complimented on your eye for retro boots or fur coats.
- What have you needed or wanted in the past that fits into the Etsy selling categories?: This is how I started in Etsy - I wanted customized paper bags for my wedding, so that's what I offered. This plays into the timeless business success factor: finding a need and filling it.
- What do you enjoy doing or creating?: You want to start an Etsy shop so you can express your creativity and be paid for it. So start with what your hobbies are. If you love crafting, consider selling your favorite craft. If you love shopping for vintage hats, consider selling vintage hats. Don't stray away from that which you enjoy creating.
- What is your area of expertise?: We usually like things that we're good at. If you're a graphic designer, an architect, or an expert wood-carver, share your expertise with the world on Etsy. Use it to create something that you can sell.
Once you've found a product idea that fits the bill, you can validate your idea really easily...
2. Validate Your Shop Idea
Arguably one of the best things about Etsy is that it's one of the cheapest and lowest risk ways of starting a business.
When you're starting a brick-and-mortar business, you have loads of startup costs, from rent, to fixtures and decorations and stock.
When you're starting an eCommerce business, you need advertising and stock and credibility to start making those sales.
But Etsy is different. Etsy already has credibility. Etsy already has exposure. And on Etsy, you don't even need to have a lot of stock.
All you need is one prototype of the product you're going to sell.
This is what makes selling on Etsy so low-risk. You don't need to make dozens of the same product. In fact, you shouldn't. After all, you don't want to pour your energy into something that doesn't work.
So create one prototype of the product. Then...
3. Write a Breathtaking Description
There are a few things that can make the difference between actually making sales on Etsy, and not earning a single dime.
One of those things the images you list of your product, and one of them is the description you create. We'll get into product photography in the next section of this article, but let's talk about writing a breathtaking description.
Your description needs to be descriptive, but also have personality and flair. Here are a few tips to creating a compelling description:
- Get personal. The best Etsy sellers create listings that are funny and enjoyable to read. Each description shows a bit of their personality, this is cohesive throughout their entire shop. Reading a description with personality makes you feel like you're buying from an actual person, and this is what customers come to Etsy to do! A listing with personality is something you won't find when reading a description from a big box store.
- Have your most important information at the top of the description. Don't go into a lengthy story before describing the best things about your product. The best qualities should be the first listed. What are the top five features a customer cares about relating to your product?
- Use short paragraphs and bullet points to keep your reader's interest. Nothing will make a potential buyer click away faster than a wall of text. Text can be intimidating, so don't make reading your item's description a chore. The entire buying process should be fun and easy.
- End with a link back up to your shop. Etsy allows you to include Etsy URLS to work as a hyperlink to bring customers back to your shop. Often customers stumble upon a listing that may not quite right for them but they still may be interested in your shop. Don't let a potential sale slip away. Include a link back to your shop so buyers can keep browsing.
4. Include Enticing Product Images
It doesn't matter how amazing your description is, how in-demand your products are, or how many people want to buy them. If you aren't representing your product in the best way possible through images, you won't make any sales.
Here are a few tips to take enticing photos of your product so that it's almost impossible for your customers to click away:
- Don't worry about expensive equipment: If you're new to product photography, start taking photos with your phone. Phone apps such as VSCO Cam, Snapseed, and Litely are free and excellent resources to take and edit beautiful pictures using just your phone.
- Take advantage of great lighting: It is always best to shoot during the daytime to take advantage of free natural lighting. Try shooting near a large window or even outside if you can. If you can't shoot during the day, pick up a lighting kit from eBay or Amazon. A three-point light kit is a great starter (two lighting umbrellas and an LED light stand) and will cost about50. This price point will not afford you the highest quality equipment, but it will work to help you shoot your first items. Start with minimal investment and upgrading your equipment as your shop grows.
- Don't overlook your backdrop: A bad backdrop can easily ruin an otherwise great photo. A rule of thumb is to always make sure your background is clean, simple and clutter free. Photograph in front of a white wall or buy a professional photo backdrop. White muslin cloth, paper or vinyl backdrops are great options. Photograph smaller items on a table or on a large piece of construction paper from any art store. Photographing small items over a white piece of construction paper will immediately make your photo look more professional.
Getting started on Etsy is not complicated.
In fact, you can get started with just a $0.30 listing, one product, and a rock-solid description.
So take action. Get started. Get your first product listed. You can worry about the details later.
Want to learn how to build a successful Etsy shop? Sign up for a free Webinar to learn how to earn $1000/month on Etsy by clicking here and enrolling.