In the third post in this series on selling your craft online, I focus on tips for selling on Etsy and marketing strategies to get things moving! If you haven’t yet, you can catch up on how to set up an Etsy shop, and the best crafts to sell online first. Disclosure: this post contains commissioned links.
Now that you’ve set up your Etsy shop with a viable craft that you know you can sustain, and established your shop structure for success from the start, here are some strategies to make your products sell. It’s not enough to just set it up – creating a crafty business and potentially earning a full-time income from it IS a full time job!
Here’s what I’m going to tell you from the start to be totally frank: there’s no “set it and leave it” strategy in these tips for selling on Etsy.
If you want to have real success on Etsy, you have to treat it like a legitimate business and put in the effort. While it is possible to earn some passive income from Etsy (I do) it won’t be very much.
These strategies are actual real marketing strategies that bigger businesses will use. While you may not be able to afford to lay down big bucks for expensive ad campaigns, these are things that you can DIY, paying only fees and services for the tools you use.
Some of the tools I use are free, some will cost you a little. If you want to take yourself seriously as a business, you’re going to need to treat these tools with the attitude you treat the craft supplies you purchase for your business: necessary to make things work.
I recommended in a previous post on this topic setting aside a small ($50-$200) monthly budget for running costs, at least until you can see it’s worth it and start spending more.
And here, I’ll be showing you how to maximize it and get the most out of it.
Take the time to read this and give yourself a good few hours to implement these tips for selling on Etsy as you go along! Treat this as a course with actionable steps. I was considering selling this as a course, but decided to offer it as a free blog post instead (I’ve simply been working on too many projects now and didn’t want to delay this post any more).
So take notes where relevant, bookmark this post, and go through it when you have time. You can either set aside an hour a day/week and go through one step at a time, or give it a solid few hours one day.
Tips for selling on Etsy step 1: LEARN SEO
You want search engines – both within Etsy and outside of Etsy to actually find your products. This is actually the single most passive Etsy strategy – setting up listings for success to begin with.
You can learn more about basic SEO HERE. Implement these strategies to make your products findable and is one of the most basic foundation tips for selling on Etsy.
In-Etsy SEO uses similar concepts to general SEO.
Here are some SEO basics:
- Choose a keyword – but choose it wisely. Use a keyword tool to find the right balance of exact phrasing and popularity vs. how much competition you’ll have vs. who your competition is. I personally use Serpstat. Keep it relevant! The research step is critical and often missed but it’s the very foundation to getting search traffic. You need it.
- Implement the keyword – as much as possible, but keep it natural. Don’t “keyword stuff”. Use it in your title (preferably the beginning), your description (aim for once every 100 words), your tags. But… KEEP IT COMPELLING! Don’t lose your description and title accuracy and value for the sake of SEO!
- Backlinks – Backlinks are when people link to your products and show search engines that an item is popular. Some of the strategies that I share below will also help you build backlinks besides for helping with marketing.
- Social media – Search engines recognize when an item is popular on social media. So get going with some of the social media strategies I’ll share below.
Tips for selling on Etsy step 2: BUILD A COMMUNITY
People who purchase handmade goods LOVE connecting with the artists. You may want to consider building a community around your target audience.
NOte: this does not mean a craft group! If you want to connect with other crafters and share your ideas, find inspiration, etc. you’ll want to join an existing craft community. To sell your craft, create a group that shares the interest you think your typical customer would have.
For example, if you’re creating beautiful centerpieces for events, you may want to create a community of event planners. If you’re more into crafting cool home decor, you can create a home decor inspiration group.
Currently, the Facebook algorithm favors groups, however most groups don’t allow self-promotion (to avoid it becoming annoying…)
Create your OWN group, so that you can maintain an effective community where YOU may advertise your products, but others might be more focused on learning. That way you have a more captive audience. Offer advice and tips, give people a reason to join your group other than seeing you market your products. I’d even wait before marketing products until the group is active, engaged, and strong, and people feel comfortable asking for advice and sharing inspiration.
Many people ask whether or not they should start a blog to promote their Etsy shops.
This CAN have the effect of community building when done right, but it takes lots of time and effort to drive traffic to a blog. If you are ready to invest that time and effort, do it. But do it with the same community-building mindset as I shared above.
If you’re selling home decor, do a home decor blog, if you’re selling baby stuff, consider a parenting blog. Offer helpful advice, not just shop updates, and make sure to stick to a subject in which you can be considered an expert or go-to source for advice.
A blog does have the added perk of backlinks to your shop.
Tips for selling on Etsy step 3: CHANNEL SOCIAL MEDIA EFFECTIVELY
Yes, you should use social media to create your communities. I strongly believe in social media as a powerful tool sell your product. And as an added perk: you can build social media popularity that shows the search engines how cool you are!
I personally have sold most of my adult coloring pages and books PASSIVELY through social media. Meaning, I haven’t spent a ton of time marketing them at all, but I established a good framework of promoting them on Pinterest, and therefore earn a decent chunk of cash from existing products with NO extra time spent (because my products are instant digital downloads, I don’t have to even fulfill the orders. But the price point is very low. With a higher price point and more maintenance you can do the same.)
WITH extra time spent, it has the potential to sell enough to support your family.
I use the following social media to create my community (see my above point…)
- Instagram: You can create an Instagram page. Use hashtags in your niche and keep on posting. Be personal, show behind-the-scenes – people love that! And you don’t need a huge following to sell things via Instagram! You DO need great photos, though. I use a cool tool called Grum that I got from AppSumo (a really cool website for entrepeneurs – and they have freebies too!)
- Facebook: While a page can be hard to build and maintain, if you are creative, you can make it work for you and it can be a great forum for selling crafts online. Make cool videos of your products, and reach out to larger page owners who are Etsy affiliates. (they earn a commission if they refer customers to buy an Etsy product at no extra cost to you or the customer). Ask them if they’d like to crosspost these videos with you. As always, offer value for your target customer, don’t just promote your products.
You can also create a Facebook group. That’s more of a community with give and take, where, as I mentioned above, people can share their own inspiration and they feel a part of it. The Facebook algorithm favors groups and will show your posts to more people if it’s in a group.
- Pinterest: This is an enormous tool and possibly the easiest to set up to passively generate Etsy income. If you try none of my other tips for selling on Etsy you should set up a Pinterest account and get pinning! All you need is one pin to go viral and you’re good to go. But how do you do that? It’s obviously not that simple, or everyone would do it!
Unfortunately, you don’t have complete control over it, but you can do your best and take the right steps, with the right product, to get your pins going. For discipline, and to really get the most out of Pinterest, I highly recommend a tool called Tailwind. You can keep your pins cycling through different boards that way, constantly repinning them. Most large and successful pinners use this to keep their Pinterest constantly active with theirs and other people’s pins. Tailwind can also be used for Instagram although I’ve never personally tried it.Tip: make vertical collages with your product to upload to Pinterest! In your shop, you’ll probably find that square images look best, but on Pinterest vertical ones do well.
Be flexible when implementing these tips for selling on Etsy and you’ll go much further!
Tips for selling on Etsy step 4: NEWSLETTERS
I’m going to venture out there and say that this is probably the biggest thing that sets apart most retail businesses and Etsy sellers.
YOU. NEED. A. NEWSLETTER.
Every brand worth their salt has a newsletter. It’s one of those tips for selling on Etsy that I don’t see mentioned nearly enough. You need a newsletter.
So what’s a newsletter? Essentially, it’s a legally, legitimately build list of subscribers that you email with helpful tips and information on a regular basis. Newsletters can get expensive, so you probably want to know more about why you actually need one: It’s the only audience that no one can take away from you.
- Social media can be finicky. Algorithms change. One day Facebook is showing your products to people, the next it’s not. A newsletter doesn’t rely on algorithms to get shown to people. It lands in their inboxes. Obviously they can choose whether or not to open it, click, and buy but the first step that people struggle with the most – actually reaching people – is there.
- You don’t own social media. Technically, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest can remove your account in an instant. Usually it’s because of some type of violation (for example, too many reports of copyright infringement) but there have been many reports of glitches. I have friends who have had their Pinterest accounts removed accidentally. I have friends whose Instagram accounts have been hacked, and they struggled to prove that they were the rightful owners. A list is yours. You can download it, back it up. It can’t be deleted by anyone (besides for the subscriber unsubscribing.)
- Even Etsy has the power to close your shop. (They won’t unless they find a really good reason but they can). You’ll still have your audience. Your list.
This is how I’ve sold the largest chunk of my printables – through my newsletter.
So, how do you start a newsletter?
The best way to build a newsletter is to offer an incentive for subscribers. You can do this by offering a significant discount for potential customers. Etsy does NOT offer the option through their platform, however you can do it through your own website, using a pop-up plugin. And when people join, you send them a private coupon code for your Etsy shop. In my post on setting up on Etsy shop, I recommended having your own website. This is just another perk of it!
Another great way to build a newsletter is by offering a cool freebie that’s related to your business. That can be a “cheat sheet” of sorts that can solve a common problem your target subscriber has. So, for example, if you’re targeting new moms, you can do baby registry checklists, diaper changing/feeding trackers, etc. the bigger the problem it solves, the better your chances that people will download it.
Promote your freebie through Pinterest and your other social media.
To power your newsletter, you need a newsletter provider.
They will provide the forms, deliver the incentives, process your emails, and more. Meaning, you can’t just collect email addresses and “bcc” a whole long list. That’s spam, illegal, and will red flag you. Gmail won’t allow you to do it. You need a legitimate provider.
Sign up with ConvertKit (you get a free month trial to make sure you like it) and you’ll get guidance through them to help set up your list. They’ll even deliver your opt-in incentive for you. It’s hands-down the best email marketing service for creatives, because it’s run by creatives for creatives, and I personally use it.
So what do you send to your newsletter?
Keep ’em happy. Give them tips that they want. Share blog posts, even if they’re not yours. Share trends. Trends in the market you sell in are a big way to promote your shop! And of course, seamlessly weave in your products. Announce the launches of new lines, sales, etc.
Another cool marketing strategy, which I use as well, is to use a Facebook messenger tool such as Botletter.
I use them in addition to a newsletter, and send quick, short, to the point updates to my subscribers. It’s harder to get people to sign up for but it’s not impossible, and much, much more people click what you send.
Tips for selling on Etsy step 5: MARKETING, SHMARKETING
No business runs without a marketing strategy, and this is where low-budget Etsy sellers struggle the most.
It can be REALLY tough to market without a big fat budget, but there are a few things you can do:
- You can reach out to bloggers and social media influencers in your target niche and see what they can offer in exchange for a sample of your product. If your product is worth less, it’ll be harder. If you product has real value and you can afford to give away samples, this might be simpler, but you’ll probably get a lot of “no”s before you get a yes.
The reason is simple: bloggers get LOTS of request for product-compensated promotions. But these products don’t help pay the bills… But if you’re flexible and don’t expect a full blog post, you may be able to get some influencer coverage, such as Instagram shares.
I, for example, will often agree to post a social share to help a small business if it’s a product that I’m interested in and it fits my audience. I also sometimes feature people in product roundups (such as this one).
Tip: when you reach out to a blogger, mention that you sell your product on Etsy and they can use their Etsy affiliate link to share! Make sure to reach out to those with good interaction on their posts, and those who reach your target customer.
Keep in mind that bloggers will be required to use a nofollow link to link to you since they are compensated in some way for doing it. That basically means that the links are coded to show Google: this was paid for. It demotes the link in Google’s eye BUT it still has some influence on search engines.
- You can also search which product roundups are ALREADY popular on Google and reach out to the blogger to add you in exchange for a sample. So, for example, if you create beautiful personalized leather wallets, you can google “gifts for men” – or something more specific, if that’s your target audience, find which links are product lists from bloggers, and reach out to them. Again, you might get a dozen no’s before you get a “yes”. But keep trying.
- Another tip: I mentioned this above – create your own Facebook videos showcasing your UNIQUENESS and offer them to bloggers in your niche with large pages to post with their affiliate links. You’re making it easy for them, AND offering value (since we’d earn a commission off these sales.) The video should be a well-produced, high quality video. You can use free programs such as iMovie or Windows Movie Maker to edit it.
Note: the Etsy affiliate commission comes from Etsy’s cut – not yours! So it you get the same pay!
- IF you have a marketing budget, you should definitely consider paying for some blog posts as long as they’re in your target audience. You can maybe ask the blogger, once you’re paying, if she or he can run a giveaway where you capture the entrants’ emails (with permission) and then you have them on your mailing list so that you can market to them again!
- Learn more about targeting Facebook ads, especially for your videos, where the ROI (return on investment) is usually pretty good. It’s another way that’s possible to succeed if you have a budget left over.
- Other marketing techniques would include ads, sponsored post campaigns, and more. But those can cost you $$$. You need to keep in mind that one feature will not do the job, but repeated marketing of a strong, recognizable brand is what would get you there. It’s called “brand recognition” – you want people to be familiar with you so that when they ARE looking and see you somewhere, they feel like they know and trust you and will purchase.
This is why it’s worth being in a few places – having your social media platforms, having your newsletter, and doing some influencer marketing.
Tips for selling on Etsy step 6: MAINTAINING YOUR SHOP
Regularly add new items. Keep them in line with the seasons – people tend to spend on seasonal needs! Create more variations of the items that sell best.
Keep your marketing strategy running. Whatever you did when you set it up, keep on doing that!
Follow up with trends. If people are going for unicorns, do unicorns. This is NOT a contradiction to what I said to “do you”. You need to bring the trends into your shop, not the shop into your trends. If you’re known for your quirky purses, then doing one with a unicorn twist makes sense. If you’re adverse to unicorns, or if you do classy home decor, research color trends instead. If tassel jewelry is the rage but all your items feature Swarovski crystals, you can do a necklace that features a crystal tassel…
You get my drift.Always keep things fresh.
Tips for selling on Etsy step 7: RUN IT LIKE A BUSINESS
Keep your customers happy.
Follow up with them.
If they complain that something arrived broken, malfunctioning, etc, don’t assume that they’re trying to swindle you. If it’s a high value item, send them a shipping label to return it and get a replacement. If it’s a low value item, just send the replacement and cut your losses (or refund it).
Package your items beautifully. Get custom branded packaging so that they remember who they bought it from – not just Etsy. YOU. As a seller, as a brand!
Include a hand-written thank you note with the package, so that they can see that they are supporting a human, with a family. Let them know that they made your day by purchasing handmade.
Wear, use, and gift your product, but always have a business card ready, and include it in any gifts. Yep, you need business cards. Make sure to showcase what you do on your business cards (the back of the card is the best part for it!) and don’t cheap out. It’s not THAT expensive to get an extra touch that makes a difference – a glossy finish, a cool image on the back, a unique shape.
Treat your business with the respect and professionalism that you want others to view it with. Treat it with the attitude of where you’d like it to be, not where it is now.
Your business card is a 2×3.5 inch opportunity to make a lasting impression. Do it.
Remember, even Amazon started out as a guy with a computer and a dream… By implementing as many of these tips for selling on Etsy as you can, step by step, you CAN succeed!
Do you have any tips for selling on Etsy to add, any advice to share, any questions on the tips that I shared? Comment below!
I hope you enjoyed these tips for selling on Etsy! It can be hard, but you can do it! If you have any questions, or would like to set up a shop audit or individualized strategy, just email me at menucha at momsandcrafters dot com.
Loved these tips for selling on Etsy? Check out the posts below:
- Crafts for Teens to Make and Sell
- Things to Make and Sell at Home
- Free Printable Gift Boxes
- How to make a gift box from a sheet of scrapbook paper