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5 tips for starting a successful Etsy shop

Experts and successful sellers share their tips for how to start an Etsy shop that stands out.
Ready to start an Etsy shop? Here's what you should know
The best part is that you can start small and end up really big!TODAY Illustration / Getty Images
/ Source: TMRW

So you have an idea for an Etsy shop, but don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered.

Whether it’s handmade products, vintage goods or craft supplies, you can turn your passion into a business on the online marketplace. And the best part is that you can start small and end up really big!

TMRW got the scoop from an Etsy expert and some successful sellers to find out everything you need to know about creating a shop that truly stands out. From pricing and photos to marketing and customer research, find out their best tips and tricks below:

1. Create a memorable brand

Creating a stand-out Etsy shop isn't just about the product (although that's a big part of it!).NataliaDeriabina / Getty Images

The first step in starting your Etsy business is not only coming up with your product, but also your brand. “To me, a showstopping Etsy product focuses on quality, creativity and craftsmanship,” said Etsy trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson, who is also a judge on NBC’s “Making It.”

“It’s also important to develop a cohesive, recognizable brand identity that will make you stand out on Etsy and elsewhere,” she said. Take some time to really plan everything out before you launch. Brainstorm a strong name (these tips can help if you’re stumped), choose your brand’s design palette and build your shop.

2. Price your products correctly

Christine Grant, owner of Brown Butter Beauty, said one of her best pieces of advice to new Etsy sellers is to make sure you price products correctly from the beginning. (C)Christine Gant

They say the difference between a hobby and a business is whether or not you make money. That’s why pricing is really important for beginners. Christine Grant, owner of Brown Butter Beauty (which sells artisan, small-batch hair, body and skin care products), said when she first opened her shop in 2007, she was just so happy that people were buying her products that she was selling herself short.

“I realized that I wasn’t creating the kind of profits I needed to grow my business,” she said. “It was important for me to really do the calculations on how much I’m spending on each product, like really calculating everything that goes into making the product — the packaging, the labels, the printing, the boxes, the shipping, everything.”

After that, don’t forget to include how much you want to pay yourself.

3. Take beautiful photos of your products

Good photography is one of the most important aspects of selling your products. China Kautz, owner of design shop Olive Creative Co., said she’s found that images are what set you apart from the thousands of other shops and products on the platform. “You definitely need to stand out,” she said.

Isom Johnson agreed. “Photos play a critical role in a shopper's purchase decision, so making sure to have clear, high-resolution and stylized photos is a must,” she said. “However, that doesn’t mean shoppers need to go out and purchase fancy equipment to capture great photos — a smartphone is usually all they need.”

4. Get the word out

There are lots of things you can do to market your product but what will probably have the biggest effect is word of mouth.

China Kautz, owner of design shop Olive Creative Co., says her doormats really started selling when an influencer posted a photo on social media. China Frost / Olive Creative Co.

Kautz said she really saw a jump in her sales when a famous fashion designer bought one of her doormats and shared it on her website and social media. “Since then, doormats have been one of my bestsellers,” she said.

Grant said a positive review from a customer on a hair care forum boosted her sales exponentially. “People bought the products, liked it and then told other people, and it kind of spread like that,” she said.

Besides getting people to rave about your products to their friends, there are also other things you can do to spread the word, like plan a smart social media strategy, advertise online and sell at a craft show (just don’t forget to include business cards on your table).

Having a good search engine optimization (SEO) strategy will also help people find your shop online. Grant said one of her biggest pieces of advice for sellers is to research keywords and figure out how people would search for the item you’re selling so your product is in the top results.

5. Be flexible and open to evolving

As with everything in life, change is inevitable for your Etsy shop. Kautz said her business goals would have been derailed if she hadn’t been open to making changes through the years. Whether it’s working with the platform’s changing algorithm, keeping up with market trends or analyzing customer feedback, you should be ready, willing and able to adapt or try something new altogether.

Keep an eye on seasonal trends, ask your friends and family for honest feedback on your products and track what’s selling and what’s not in your shop so that you can make sure you’re giving your customers what they want.

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