Successful Etsy shop owners will tell you it’s not enough to craft or curate unique, awesome products and post them to your Etsy storefront. With more than 2.5 million active merchants on the global ecommerce platform selling everything from craft supplies to vintage items and handmade items, Etsy business owners need to put in extra effort to stand out on the online marketplace.
Fortunately, there are seven easy (and nearly all free) initiatives you can take that will help your handmade wooden picnic tables, custom dog coats, or [fill in the blank] products get in front of the right customers.
Ready to boost visibility and sales on your Etsy shop? Whether you’re a crafter or a curator, read on for seven brilliant ways to grow your Etsy business.
Table of Contents
- Include Gorgeous Visuals
- Maximize Your Etsy Listings for Optimal SEO
- Re-Post Your Listings Frequently
- Encourage Word of Mouth
- Leverage Email Marketing
- Promote Your Etsy Shop on Social Media
- Use Etsy Advertising (aka Promoted Listings)
1. Include Gorgeous Visuals
Considering the attention span and speed of internet shoppers, you have about two seconds to seduce potential customers, and it has to happen with product photography. (No one reads product descriptions unless they’re already interested.) This means your photos need to be shot in great light with minimal distractions so images are crisp, professional looking, and clearly focused on your products. Include more than one photo per product if there are multiple angles worth showing.
Sometimes a product shows best all by itself, as evidenced by the personalized tech organizer below, sold by CathanCreations.
Other times, merchandising in a lifestyle setting or another context helps buyers imagine your item in their world. Or better yet, it can help them see how it will solve a problem for them (Everyone buys problem-solving products!) or aspire to experience your image projects. The image below of a wool rug from CarpathianCrfts shows a casual, barefoot-chic lifestyle that their target customers aspire to.
There are also times when adding graphics to an image may help sell your item by giving it context or sharing important information. The Ruth Bader Ginsburg ornament below by Studio118Art is case-in-point for both.
It wouldn’t be as obvious that it’s a holiday ornament if it was hanging against a solid-colored background, so the seasonal festivity gives it context. The announcement in the upper left-hand corner entices (It’s great a gift! You have time to order it!), and proactively problem solves for shoppers worried they won’t get it in time for the holidays or can’t gift it without wrapping it themselves.
You don’t have to be a graphic designer to add graphics to images of your Etsy products. There are free online tools that can help you make all kinds of magic with your photos. Here are two you need to know about:
- Free background remover: Got the perfect photo of your artisan cupcakes, but there’s an unwanted person standing behind them? Want to photograph an ornament hanging from a tree then eliminate all but one branch? This free tool helps you easily remove any background.
- Free graphics maker: Want to add a graphic background or a text overlay like in the RBG ornament image? This tool will help you combine your image with whatever background, text, and text style you want.
2. Maximize Your Etsy Listings for Optimal SEO
When someone arrives at etsy.com with a product in mind—let’s say llama stickers—they’re likely to type “llama stickers” into the search bar. If you’re like Etsy shop owner SAMingleThings, who created the vinyl llama sticker above, you’ll make sure the words “llama” and “sticker” appear in your product title. This way, your product is more likely to appear in search results.
But SAMingleThings took it a bit further. Perhaps knowing where people who buy such stickers like to adhere them, they included more specific keywords to help keep their product searchable. The title for their llama sticker is, “Happy Llama Sticker Vinyl Decal – Window Bumper Laptop Wall Glass Mug Skateboard Snowboard.” It’s not elegant, but it covers a lot of ground in reaching customers looking to decorate their gear with a stick-on happy llama.
Some Etsy sellers may stop at title keywords, but to do so would be a huge missed opportunity. There are many more keyword-related efforts you can make to help your product rise to the top. Read Etsy’s Seller’s Handbook (aka The Ultimate Guide to Etsy Search) and follow its guidelines to get optimum visibility for your products.
3. Re-post Your Listings Frequently
Beyond relevance, factors that affect Etsy listings’ SEO rankings are high-quality ratings (which will come with time and sales), and how long ago the product was listed (Etsy pushes new products to the top in search results). For this reason, you should repost your products regularly so they rank as new items in Etsy’ search-engine algorithm.
Etsy knows this game, too, and rather than try to beat the crafty small businesses hacking the system, they joined ‘em. Etsy offers an auto-renew tool, which charges Etsy sellers $0.20 per item they schedule to be bumped up. Is it worth it? It’s sure worth a try.
After all, there were 44.2 million active buyers on Etsy in 2019, and those numbers rose dramatically in 2020. If you renewed your best-sellers every single day for a whole year, it would cost you $73 for each product you promoted. If your profit from promotion exceeds that amount, your marketing efforts are working, and you’re building a consumer base.
4. Encourage Word of Mouth
A personal recommendation is still one of the strongest and most powerful ways to generate new business. While you shouldn’t expect all your existing customers to be so excited about you that they run to their social media accounts and post to everyone they know, there are some incentives you can offer to encourage them to do so. Try these:
- Create a referral program that offers discounts to existing customers who send new customers your way. (Perhaps include it in a thank-you email where you can also gently suggest they review you.)
- Host contests that require your customers share your product or ad on their social media channels in order to enter for a chance to win a prize.
- Invite repeat customers with strong social media followings to promote your brand as brand ambassadors.
- Comment on posts your customers create on their social media accounts that feature your product and mention you.
5. Leverage Email Marketing
Everyone’s busy. All. The. Time. Don’t expect customers to remember your Etsy shop and seek it out. Instead, reach out and remind them with an email newsletter (you get a customer’s email address when they make a purchase).
Newsletters are free to create and reach an audience that already knows and supports you. Any money you’ll spend on email marketing software to produce your emails will be multiplied by the resulting sales.
Effective newsletters go beyond promoting your new products. They feature valuable content that makes your customers want to open your emails every time they arrive.
When considering what types of emails to send, try these:
- How-to guides
- Holiday-related gift guides
- Easy DIY tips
- Sales and promotions (occasionally)
Create a regular email schedule that doesn’t overwhelm your customers (think once a week or so).
6. Promote Your Etsy Shop on Social Media
Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are fantastic visual platforms for posting your gorgeous product photos. Use the free graphics maker tool mentioned above to add text or GIFs, and to make stories, too.
Along with showing products, this is where you can showcase yourself in action, making or accompanying your offerings. (Who doesn’t want to see the ceramicist who made their favorite coffee mug, sitting at the wheel with some fresh clay?)
Here are some best practices:
- Post with regularity (the algorithms like that).
- Use free social media graphic templates to enhance your posts through texts and graphics (If you like the shoe example above, tap the template to customize it.)
- Respond to comments.
- Share any customer posts about your products in your stories.
- Use hashtags that your audience would use if looking for products like yours. (If you need hashtag guidance, check out this article.)
- Hold occasional giveaways and ask entrants to tag a friend.
7. Use Etsy Advertising (aka Promoted Listings)
All of the tips above are free, but it’s also worth considering putting some money toward Etsy’s paid advertising opportunities, especially if you don’t yet have a lot of product reviews.
Etsy’s Promoted Listings boost your product visibility by ensuring your product is at the top of relevant Etsy search results. The model is pay-per-click, and your product will surface in search results with the word “ad” included. (This shouldn’t matter to the consumer since they are looking for what you’re selling.)
Once your ad generates sales, you can ask your new customers to write reviews, which will help boost your future organic search result rankings.
Whether your Etsy business is an adjunct to your brick-and-mortar business, a side hustle, or a full-time gig, employing the smart business practices above will help your Etsy store get the attention it deserves—and the sales you need.
Just remember nothing happens overnight. Pace yourself, go slow and steady, give lots of love to your Etsy account, and keep on creating!