Getting Started on Etsy - Where to begin and what steps to take


I get asked this question all the time. Usually it is random places like the car rider line to pick up my kids or the church lobby when I'm trying to grab a doughnut.

But it always goes something like this:

I’ve heard you sell on Etsy and I have this (insert random product that they make) that everyone keeps telling me I should sell. Do you have any advice on how I can get started?

Such a loaded question, and definitely not something that I can answer on the spot in casual conversation...I tend toward the wordy if you haven’t realized yet.

But, I do have lots of advice, so here it is (in no particular order).

Get started

No one ever wants to hear this advice because it makes them nervous. They think that they need to do more research - researching products, researching marketing, researching pricing, and other random research to figure out how to be a marketing pro right out of the gate.

But you will never learn everything you need to know about selling on Etsy until you dive right into.

And while I think ongoing learning is key to being successful in ANY job, there’s a reason why things like on the job training exist -- you learn SO much more once you’re actually in the position doing the job than you ever will just sitting at a computer trying to learn how everything works without doing it yourself.

So get started, take the leap, and see for yourself -- if you need some help taking the first steps, try my free 5 day email course Etsy Setup Success for a step by step guide to getting started.

And if you want to see some really horrible product photography from when I first took the leap and started my shop, head over to the “Stop LEARNING and start DOING” blog post here.

Define what your brand is

Often times, hobby sellers or hobby sellers turned “I want to make this into a full time job” struggle to define exactly what they are selling and who they are selling to.

They want to sell everything to everyone (or, more likely, anything to anyone). But you can’t make a brand out of selling a million different unrelated things.

Narrowing down your niche - the niche of products that you sell, the niche of dream customer you are appealing to, and the niche of what your brand stands for is KEY to standing out on Etsy.

It is 100% impossible to appeal to everyone - you just can’t do it. That is why so many retail outlets exist. There’s something for EVERYONE in the market, but you can’t be the one place for every single person.

Defining your niche of products and your branding vision allows you to deeply appeal to your dream customer and forget about the rest. You don’t need to sell to EVERYONE, you just need to sell to a specific enough crowd that you can appeal deeply to and build a brand around.

Don’t worry about oversaturation

Oversaturation is such a hot topic on the internet these days. “Etsy is oversaturated” or “Jewelry is an oversaturated category.”

I don’t buy it.

People who say that they can’t make any sales because the market is oversaturated are making excuses for why their shop is not successful.

Tough love? Yep, I just gave you some.

There is PLENTY of room to be successful, and all of retail is oversaturated.

Does that make it more difficult to stand out than maybe it would have 10 years ago? Of course. It also means that the buyer pool is MUCH larger than it was 10 years ago, because e-commerce is so much more of a norm than it was then.

How do you become successful in an oversaturated online world? Well, there are lots of ways (mostly having to do with branding yourself!), but I would recommend you start with the blog post “Standing out from the crowd” if you have no idea how to stand out.

Figure out pricing and profits

In order to be successful at the business end of Etsy, you have to actually make a profit. Sounds simple, right? It’s harder than it seems, because there are so many things that you often times  don’t account for when you are calculating up costs, pricing, and profits (shipping supplies, wear and tear on your machinery or equipment).

Make sure that you understand Etsy fees, understand the costs that you have going into the raw materials of your products, and then don’t forget to actually pay yourself a wage (and there should be some profit on top of all of that!)

Need some more suggestions about how to increase those profits - read this blog post about increasing your revenue in your shop.

Really work on the business side of your business

Whenever I do an interview for a podcast or a blog, people always ask me why I think my shop was successful when there are so many Etsy shops out there that are not successful or don't have the kind of success that they're looking for.

And the thing that I always say when I'm asked this question is that from the very beginning of having my shop I always worked on the business part of it more than the creative part.

As creative people who a lot of times started out creating things for a hobby or just for fun, we tend to focus more on that side of the business -- the work of “making.”

And that’s super important work, because without it you wouldn’t have anything to sell.

But it’s not the only important work.

Without the business side of things, you also won’t have a business -- you’ll just have a hobby that takes up a lot of your time and/or can get really demanding!

Make sure that you work on the business side of your business - figuring out your profits, figuring out what is selling well and what is not selling well, figuring out how much time you are spending making things, and what your hourly wage is when you’re making them.

I promise these are important metrics to have, and you’ll be so glad you have this information as your shop grows.

Find a mentor

This is something I wish I had done earlier in the game, but is so very important. Finding a mentor doesn’t have to mean investing in some super expensive one on one coaching or attending a $20,000 mastermind (although certainly it can, but I’m assuming if you’re reading this blog post you probably aren’t there yet).

Finding a mentor just means finding someone who is where you want to be in your business, or at the very least is further along in their business than you are and headed in the direction you want to go, and *listening* to them when they offer advice about your shop.

I’d love to be this mentor for you, but even if I’m not it I hope you’ll find someone that is.

Having a “business bestie” in the online space is SO important, because it can really be lonely working online and trying to build something when no one around you necessarily really gets what you’re trying to do.

Finding that mentor will allow you to grow your shop faster, get over mindset hurdles as you grow, and have a sense of community and support in the online space...It’s a win all around!

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