You’ve finally decided to put your creativity to use and start an Etsy store. Go you! There are few things more gratifying than leveraging your talents to earn revenue.
But veteran Etsy sellers will tell you there’s more to success than crafting the coolest T-Rex air-plant planter or Dunder Mifflin “Faces of Scranton” infographic poster.
According to Statista, there were 2.5 million active Etsy sellers showcasing their small business wares on Etsy in 2019. No surprise; an Etsy account has a low barrier of entry. It allows you to sell great products through your own online store without having to worry about how to deal with shipping costs, credit card and PayPal payments, and other ecommerce essentials on your own website.
If you’re wondering whether COVID adversely affected business, consider this: For the first quarter of 2020, Etsy reported a 34.2% year-over-year increase in sales, a 16.4% increase in Etsy shoppers, and a 26.4% increase in active Etsy sellers. This means that today there are more Etsy sellers then there are people in the entire country of Mongolia!
The good news is there are also upward of 53 million Etsy shoppers worldwide, all of whom are looking for fantastic handmade or well-curated items, often through an Etsy search or Google search.
So how do you make sure your shop rises to the top of the Etsy small-business owner crowd as a full-time or part-time seller? It’s simple! In fact, far simpler than selling on Amazon’s online marketplace, and far easier to get traction than via your own website.
Just follow these steps to design an Etsy store that stands out.
Start With an Original Product Line for Your Etsy Shop
Since you’re considering starting an Etsy store, you probably already know what you want to sell on the ecommerce platform. Whatever you choose—paper goods, stickers, artwork made from craft supplies, T-shirts, homewares, jewelry, accessories, clothing, vintage items, or something else—make sure you have distinctive, appealing offerings.
Come Up With an Etsy Shop Name and Shop Title
While many of your potential buyers will find your products through an Etsy or Google search, you should still come up with a shop name that is either memorable and fits your personality or describes your specialty. Then, you’ll need to create a shop title (a field on your Etsy shop page that briefly describes your online shop).
Let’s look at the Etsy store Mudpuppy. While the name doesn’t tell you what the Etsy business sells, it’s cute and memorable, and the shop title clarifies: “modern hand crafted ceramics.”
Adobe Spark Insider, crafter, and Etsy seller Lianne Evanov takes a more straightforward route. The name of her Etsy store is Face Mask Party. Can you guess what she sells? If you’re not sure, her shop title hits it home: “Quality Face Masks with Custom Finish.”
In both instances, the names and shop titles create a vibe and some visibility into the style and substance of the shop.
Regardless, when deciding on a name, be sure to search Etsy to make sure your moniker of choice isn’t too similar to that of another Etsy seller.
Develop Your Brand Identity as an Etsy Seller
If you’ve determined what you plan to sell, named your store, and wrote a shop title, you already have a basic brand outline. Now comes the fun part: crafting your brand’s personality.
There are four key ways to communicate your brand on your Etsy shop:
All of these convey information about your brand to potential customers. Consequently, it’s important that you clarify for yourself what your brand is about and make sure everything you add to your Etsy shop underscores your brand.
A good way to start is to write down a description of what your brand would be if it were a person, i.e., to create your brand’s personality.
Is it serious or playful? An authority or a friend? More goth or more VSCO girl? Would its preferred decor be midcentury modern or country French? Would it use emojis or slang? You get the idea.
The best Etsy sellers know that the more you define and understand your brand’s personality, the easier it is to craft images, graphics, and words that underscore it.
Now, as you fill in your Etsy shop page, you can keep your brand attributes in mind.
Areas on Etsy to emphasize your brand personality include:
- Shop name
- Shop title
- Shop announcement (This can be a greeting, news, or a longer description of your brand; see Mudpuppy for an example.)
- Banner (See more about this below.)
- Shop logo or icon (While not required, it makes an impact to have a distinctive logo or icon; think of this as your brand’s profile picture.)
- Product images (More on this below.)
- Product listings and product descriptions (Though these need to be straightforward and informational, their tone can echo your brand personality.)
- Product videos
- Seller profile (This includes a photo and area for a brief bio, which can include any fun details about you, and links to your website and social media accounts. You want this to be personal and to convey a real, small-business crafter is behind the brand.)
- About page (Your store has to be live to access and activate it.)
Follow Successful Etsy Sellers by Welcoming Customers With an Awesome Banner
Your banner is the first impression and the largest thing people will see when they arrive at your Etsy shop. Think of it like a billboard announcing your brand, and invest your time in crafting a great one. (You can design free, beautiful Etsy banners with Adobe Spark.)
Though a banner is not required, it’s free marketing, so don’t pass it up! There are a variety of ways sellers use this large strip of in-your-face space to market themselves.
Other elements to consider adding to your Etsy business banner include:
- Logo (make a free logo using Adobe Spark!)
- A quote from a satisfied customer
- A call to action (“Shop our summer collection!”)
- Shipping time (“Ships in 1-3 business days!”)
- Customer service phone number
- Anything else you think will appeal to shoppers
Showcase Beautiful Product Images for Your Etsy Business
Think of your shop as the online dating profile for your products. Since you can’t interact with, touch, smell, or taste new items when shopping online, the primary selling point is visual. Thus it’s essential you make your product look its very best. Every. Single. Time.
Just like dating app pics, your new product photos should be well lit and clear without too much distraction to attract the most suitors. Some products show best with a basic background and no “environment.” For those, you might want to invest in a small lightbox. Others, such as some home items, are best presented in context. Selling a hand-crafted vase? Show it on a shelf with a flower in it.
You have the option to include many photos of each item, so consider doing both, as Mudpuppy does to market their handmade items, including their outdoor wind chime.
Etsy also offers the following photo tips:
- Use natural light and no flash.
- Include a common object for scale.
- Show the item being held, worn, or used.
Regardless, when photographing your new products, try sticking to a look that fits your brand and creates symmetry between your product images. You can do this by using a series of similar backgrounds as well as consistent lighting, propping, and styling.
You know how Martha Stewart or “Bon Appétit” magazine photos have a consistent look and style to their photography and design? That’s what you want—a consistent brand “voice” through product photography and beyond.
Whatever you do, follow the lead of top Etsy sellers and avoid muddy, dark, grainy, or cluttered images. They make handmade and other products look unprofessional. They’re about as appealing as dating app photos with cropped-out exes.
Use SEO-Friendly Keywords to Name Your Etsy Products
What’s in a name? Everything! SEO extends to Etsy.com, so forget clever product titles and instead describe your product as someone might search for it on Google or Etsy—with search-engine friendly keywords that describe your product at a basic level and also have more specific descriptors. These are breadcrumbs that help search engines lead potential customers to you.
For example, if you’re selling a friendship matchbox card featuring cute rabbits, you’ll want to include “Matchbox Card” in the product name. This ensures your product shows up in all “matchbox card” search results.
But don’t stop there. Add a bit more detail (think “Cute Rabbits Friendship Matchbox Card”) and your product is more likely to surface through SEO for those who search for a friendship matchbox card, a rabbit-centric matchbox card, or both.
Keyword-centric product names are critical to ensuring your new products get found through search engines and SEO, so do your keyword research and name your products for success.
This, along with filling in Etsy’s optional “Sections,” “Tags,” and “Materials” fields when uploading your products, creates more ways for people to find your product through an online search. Including your location (another field) can also elevate your business traction, thanks to the “shop local” movement and a never-ending need for last-minute gifts that can ship and arrive quickly.
Improve Your Shop Once It’s Live Through Social Media Marketing and More
If you’ve done all of the above, you’re off to a great start on making your online business stand out—without even having to pay a listing fee! But just as important as designing a compelling Etsy shop is maintaining it and promoting it via social media and beyond.
Etsy wants you to be successful, so they offer Etsy store owners plenty of tools to help you direct your destiny through a variety of small-business channels. But there are additional things you can do to attract attention.
Here are six easy ways to continually improve the visibility of your new online business, whether you’re a full-time or part-time seller:
- Whenever you log into your shop, check “your shop’s checklist.” This is where Etsy sometimes shares tips on how to improve your storefront.
- Get to know their shop manager functionalities and the stats they provide. These will give you insight into where your customers are coming from, including social media, search engines, and Etsy search. They also hint at what Etsy shoppers are most attracted to so you can refine your efforts.
- Provide excellent customer support. It will further encourage excellent customer reviews.
- Promote your Etsy business through Google ads and social media, using custom photos, graphics, and videos.
- Create social media accounts for your shop and link them to your Etsy listings.
- Consider paid advertising on Etsy; they offer promoted listings programs.
We know it sounds like a lot to do. But with a little effort, your Etsy store will stand out from the pack and may even go from being a profitable side hustle to a successful full-time job.
Erika Lenkert is a writer in San Francisco and founder and Editor in chief of “GFF: Gluten-Free Forever Magazine.”