The Ultimate Guide to Starting an Etsy Shop

Etsy is an online marketplace that allows independent artists to sell handmade and vintage goods. They are a well-known brand in ecommerce, just like Amazon and eBay.

They are not like Amazon or eBay and have a focus on micro-businesses.

They are also one of the most straightforward platforms for starting an online store. They address many ecommerce issues, especially the “just getting started” aspect.

Etsy, like all options, may not be the right fit for you based on your product and goals.

These are just a few of the reasons you might consider Etsy. Continue reading for more.

  • Get started now for nothing
  • You want to get going quickly.
  • Before you invest in product and inventory, it is important to make a few sales.
  • A platform that has built-in visitors is what you want.
  • In the beginning, you will likely have low volumes of sales.

Here are a few reasons why you might not want Etsy to be your first website.

  • You would like to create your own store, with your custom domain and design.
  • Your branding should be in control
  • Your product is not in compliance with Etsy’s guidelines.
  • Cross-sell and upsell products not in compliance with Etsy guidelines.

If Etsy is not for you, then my Shopify Vs. Etsy post or my How to Set Up an Ecommerce Website With WordPress might be of interest.

Let’s get started.

Select Your Products and Brand Name

Etsy requires that you create an account and provide a shop name.

This is how it looks: Shop Preferences-> Name Your Shop-> Stock Your Shop-> Payment Options-> Billing

It’s not something you want to know when signing up.

Naming your shop

Etsy’s seller Handbook provides a great primer on shop name considerations.

There are some things you should keep in mind.

  • Two things are different: your account name and your shop name. An account can actually have multiple shops.
  • To check the availability of your name, you can create an account and click “Sell On Etsy” for a partial set-up.
  • To check for potential conflicts, make sure you Google the name of your brand.
  • Go ahead, search for a domain registrar like Namecheap and GoDaddy and buy a domain name for future uses – even if you don’t need it for your Etsy Shop.

Although your shop description and logo do not need to be included in the initial setup, it is a good idea to start working on them.

How to Select Your First Product

You can list your product on Etsy for $0.20 If you’re starting a shop, you probably already have your first product in place.

However, before you list your product, there are a few things that you need to know.

It must comply with Etsy’s marketplace rules.

Photos are required. Etsy suggests to:

  • Use JPG, PNG, or GIF files of high quality that are at most 570px in width – but it is recommended to use 1000px.
  • Photographs should be taken with diffused or natural lighting, not flash lighting.
  • The thumbnails will show your photos with the option to zoom in and view them full-size.
  • Have your product description copy ready. You should strike a balance between clarity and conciseness. Here are my resources for copywriting.

The same goes for your product title. Make sure it is descriptive, memorable, and readable.

List the categories of your product. This page allows you to search for product descriptions. This resource provides information on how to create “tags” that are specific to your product.

Once you have chosen your shop name, product, and other details, you can begin your shop setup. After setup, you can easily modify everything else.

Set up your store

Let’s now set up our Etsy shop.

Etsy’s Onboarding

Etsy’s signup process for shops is simple and straightforward

First, create a general account and then click “Sell to Etsy.”

The setup process begins with your general preferences.

Then, you’ll name your shop. You can then choose from the list you have researched previously.

Next, you will need to add at least one listing. You can use the list you have already compiled.

You’ll be taken to the listing screen when you click on add a listing. Complete all fields as accurately as possible. You can edit your listing later.

Next, enter search terms to find your listing. Refer to your previous research.

You’ll need to enter your shipping preferences after you have completed the main listing page.

Finally, enter your bank information (for deposits), and your credit card information (for listing payment). Then confirm your location and open your shop!

Add More Products

After you have opened your shop, you will be able to navigate to your Listings manager to add, renew, and manage your listings.

Quick Edit and Organize In Sections are great tools to help customers sort and sort your products.

These are the Etsy rules and fees for listing.

Although a single listing may not be expensive, dozens of listings can quickly add up as they expire after four months. Etsy encourages you to concentrate on the top sellers with high margins. This section will discuss whether or not you should expand your store.

For low-volume cross-sell items, Etsy doesn’t have a lot of space.

Etsy’s Listing manager allows you to quickly activate, renew or delete items depending on how you want them to be used.

Change Options and Settings

Your Etsy shop is much more customizable than an online store that uses Shopify and WordPress. This is what the point of.

You have limited options so you can concentrate on what is important on Etsy, your products and services. Etsy can handle the design and functionality.

Etsy has many options. The options that you have are well worth your time.

Start with your homepage

  • Cover photo – Minimum 1200px by 300px
  • Shop title – limit 55 characters
  • shop logo – minimum 500px x 500px
  • Featured Listings
  • Announcement for shops

Don’t forget to scroll down to see other sections.

Start with your About page. Remember that your page is not only for you to share information about yourself, but also to build trust and promote your product.

Remember that mobile shopping is a major channel for many shoppers. Avoid using low-resolution imagery or “blocks” of text. Keep videos short. Link to other channels.

Next comes Shop Policies. These policies are not only boring, but they are essential for many buyers. These are important to remember when creating your store policies.

  • Etsy is trusted by buyers, but they don’t know you, your product, or your process.
  • Few policies that are clearer than many conditional or specific policies are better than none at all.
  • You can look at your policies as a customer, not from your perspective.
  • Do not try to solve problems that aren’t yet there.
  • To reassure customers, use policies. A clear process should be followed from the moment they click the button to purchase until their product arrives at the door.

Remember that policies can influence reviews by setting expectations. While having policies can improve your Etsy search placement, having good reviews and high expectations will help you even more. All of it works together.

A miscellaneous section is also available for questions and European sellers.

FAQs are not meant to be a comprehensive guide. You should answer all product questions in the product listing. Shop questions in the policies are also a good idea. You can find my post about FAQ best practices for ideas.

Etsy is constantly updating their features and improving their design. Check back often for new settings and options.

Using Etsy Shop Features

Etsy shops offer more than just a shop. You can also manage orders, view shop analytics and print labels.

It is impossible to explain every feature in this guide. But, just remember that Etsy features are not available for all sellers.

As with any new tool, success requires reading the owner’s manual. You can take a few minutes to click around and go through the Seller’s Handbook.

But definitely use Etsy Analytics. It will be used for marketing and inventory decisions as well.

Marketing is the next topic.

Marketing Your Store

The opening of an Etsy shop is not a guarantee of sales. There were 1.4 Million active sellers in 2015, with thousands more opening each day. This doesn’t include competitors on the Web.

Yet, you can also access a global market in a matter of seconds if your products are shipped internationally. It is your job to determine who you are selling to, and where you can market to them. The answers to these questions will guide your marketing campaign.

On Etsy

Etsy’s greatest benefit is their own community of Etsy Shoppers.

This means that there are more 20,000,000 customers shopping Etsy, even though they don’t know anything about your store.

It’s similar to a farmer’s market where people come looking for a stall. Once they arrive, you just need to grab their attention.

Etsy offers many options.

Etsy searches can lead to visits. The search engine used by Etsy is different from other search engines such as Google and Bing. Etsy has its own algorithms and data. They’ve discussed what they do with search here.

The rule of thumb is to use descriptive and memorable product names with clear, readable descriptions. This means listing products that you would buy if you were a customer.

Etsy Promoted Listings

You can pay to be listed in Etsy search results if you’re new or have a high profit margin. Remember that paid listings may offer additional traffic and sales benefits.

You first get feedback and data from customers. This is crucial at the beginning. It can be used to improve your listings, products, and overall marketing.

You also get reviews that can be helpful in Etsy’s search engine.

Etsy Affiliates

Affiliate programs are a type of partnership where you pay a percentage or a fee to anyone who makes a sale through your site. These programs are a great way to increase sales because you only pay an affiliate partner when you make a sale. They can be difficult to set up and police for fraud.

Etsy also offers an affiliate program you can join. Etsy handles all technical work. You can use the affiliate program for recruiting partners, such as niche blogs or sponsorship opportunities.

On Social Channels

Etsy also has the added benefit of being able to share your Etsy pages on social media platforms.


Pinterest and Etsy make a great match for marketing. Pinterest should be a great place to share every description and photo you create.

It is also an excellent place to do marketing research and spend on promoted pins.

This excellent resource is about Pinterest marketing.


If you’re a business, Facebook is becoming increasingly “pay-to-play”. You won’t be able to get much visibility if you only rely on organic likes from your business page for sales.

That’s okay in a certain way. Facebook has amazing paid options. With very low budgets, you can target extremely specific audiences and test your ads. Etsy is a well-known brand so you’re more likely to generate direct sales than through your website. However, you won’t be able to run retargeting ads on your Etsy page.

Twitter / Other

There are many niche social networks that you can use to market your products. It is important to reach your target audience. This is why it is important to decide who you are selling to.

It could be Wanelo or Polyvore, or Instagram. It could be Twitter, Reddit. It all depends on the product and audience.

Other Channels

Once you have moved beyond Etsy and social networking, you will need to think about your domain and your long-term brand.

Once you have started to build your brand through organic search, paid media, and PR, you need to ensure that you are building your own brand and not Etsy’s.

External links will need to point to your domain. Advertisements should point to your domain with your analytics and tags in place. Your PR mention should send people to your site with your experience.

You don’t need to start the right way.

You can find my complete marketing plan for Ecommerce here.

Organic Search / Search Engine Optimization

Google/Bing will index your Etsy shop. Google/Bing may bring you traffic, but it will mainly be “branded” traffic (i.e. people looking for your shop rather than your products).

Due to Etsy’s limitations and competition, it’s unlikely that you rank in Google for product terms containing volume (ie: “cloth napkins”) because of Etsy’s restrictions. Niche terms you might rank for include those with zero volume, such as “handmade 17th-century style napkins”.

It’s profitable and large in any case, so plan accordingly.

PPC / Paid Media

Small paid campaigns can be run to your Etsy shop. However, you cannot (and should not) add analytics or conversion tags to Etsy’s shop.

Multi-touch sales make up the majority of ecommerce sales. People leave, then come back to buy later. You should avoid spending too much on awareness or direct response ads.

It doesn’t matter what, you should definitely test your campaigns before you commit to larger campaigns.

Referrals / PR

My Etsy clients and ecommerce clients have shown me that even small mentions in publications or blogs can result in a surprising amount of sales. This is a great way to get started.

The actual links are the greatest long-term benefit of PR mentions. These links drive visibility on Google/Bing as well as referral traffic long after the post is live.

If you don’t have much, do not turn down a link to your Etsy shop. Don’t invest too much in outreach until websites can link to your domain[your shop].

Growing your brand beyond Etsy

Etsy is an excellent place to launch your online shop. What about when you want your brand to grow?

You might want to go above and beyond Etsy’s limitations on marketplaces, create a custom design, or get rid of transaction fees.

Many of these issues were covered in my Shopify Vs. Etsy article. Here’s the typical growth path.

Owning your domain

A custom domain is, as I said earlier, the foundation of your online brand. For future use, you can buy one from Namecheap and GoDaddy. You can also set up a redirect so your custom domain can be taken directly to your Etsy shop if you aren’t ready for a website yet. However, you don’t want to lose the domain name.

Etsy offers Patterns, a service that allows you to connect to a custom domain as well as a storefront. The cost is $15/month, but there are limitations to what you can do.

Build an ecommerce store

Many Etsy sellers create their own ecommerce site on their custom domain. They will keep their Etsy shop, but they will use it as a marketing channel to market to buyers who are already on Etsy.

There are many solutions, and this guide does not cover them all. These are the resources I have compiled –

  • Best Ecommerce Platform For You
  • Creating an ecommerce store using WordPress & WooCommerce
  • The Pros and Cons of Shopify to create an online store
  • The Pros and Cons of Using BigCommerce to Create an Online Store

Expanding other marketing channels

After you have built your ecommerce shop with your domain name, there are many options for growing your store. These are some resources I have compiled.

  • Using Shopify & Etsy Together
  • Inbound Marketing Plan
  • Website Data To Track Or Lose Forever
  • Pinterest used for Marketing Research
  • Ecommerce Guide for Free Shipping

Next steps

This is a lot of information. But, like any large project you want to succeed at, you need to take it one step at a time.

  1. Start with your brand name, and then start by introducing your first product.
  2. Create your Etsy shop.
  3. Maximize your Etsy settings.
  4. Get initial sales & feedback.
  5. Start planning, improving, and growing with an eye to your ultimate goals.
  • How to Generate Etsy Business Ideas
  • Shopify vs. Etsy Small Shops

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