How to Sell on Etsy

by Lisa Jacobs

When I started on Etsy in 2010, there were approximately 400,000 active sellers on the marketplace. Today, there are well more than a million and counting.

Even though it’s a crowded marketplace place, I regularly encourage other creative businesses to create an online storefront there because it’s highly recognizable, reputable, well-organized, and user-friendly. I also see it as a great starter home for what can become a successful small business.


Here are some tips for getting a head start when selling on Etsy:

Take fresh photographs

I’m sure you’ve heard this tip before, but it bears repeating. Make your pictures bright, crisp, and clear. Always be sure to center the piece that’s for sale without distracting backgrounds. Imagine the front page of your online storefront as a counter in a department store. Keep the pictures clear, concise, and well-organized.

Write proper listings

Please remember: (1.) Your customer can’t touch the product, so you have to describe the physical experience for them, and (2.) if you don’t take the time to list your product properly, you can’t expect the customer to give you the sale.

I see too many Etsy shop listings that look like they belong on Craigslist, i.e.:

5″ x 11″
Black with white trim
wood frame

No – n.o. Your visitor will not go for this! Welcome them into your shop by pretending that you have a physical storefront. A potential customer just asked you for more detail on this particular item! In actuality, that’s what they’re doing when they click on a picture in your shop, and you need to take the time to properly respond to their interest.

Create an experience for your customer

Think about your favorite booth at an art show. It’s an experience. It has atmosphere and ambience, and it compels you to take a piece of it home. That’s what we’re going for inside your Etsy shop.

Think of what your brand represents: is it warm? Magical? Cozy? Bright? Exciting? Innovative? Informational? Dainty? What adjectives describe it best? And once you’ve identified those adjectives, does your shop send that message upon arrival?

Most importantly: What might you do to create an atmosphere and ambiance that compels your visitor to take a piece of your business home?

Etsy is only the beginning

Please remember: I consider Etsy a starter home for a budding creative business, and I suggest you do too. It’s not the end-all, be-all of selling online, and it’s a common disillusion that your business will take off the minute you open a shop on Etsy.


I offer one-on-one small business coaching and teach a course for online sellers, and it typically takes a few sessions to crack three common Etsy myths:

  1. “If you build it, they will come” – the idea that everyone will know about your store as soon as it opens on Etsy
  2. Share the maker’s story in your listings
  3. List as many items as possible

Save yourself some time, and throw those outdated ideas out the window. To have a successful online storefront (regardless of the hosting website), you need to actively market and spread the word about your business, think of the customer FIRST, and focus on building a quality (over quantity) inventory.

Here’s wishing you much success!



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