How to sell on Etsy – a simple guide

Craft business owner doing admin

Selling on Etsy is becoming increasingly popular for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Around 7.5 million sellers sold goods through Etsy in 2022, with the platform attracting approximately 500 million monthly visitors worldwide.

Etsy has become the marketplace of choice for people who create handmade craft items or sell vintage products such as jewellery, clothing, or art.

But what are the benefits of selling on Etsy and how do you get started?

Read our in-depth guide to find out:

  • five steps to start selling on Etsy
  • how much it costs to sell on Etsy
  • tips to create the best listings
  • paying tax and buying insurance when selling on Etsy

How to start selling on Etsy in five steps

Two fifths (40 per cent) of businesses started as a side hustle, according to Simply Business research from 2023.

And whether you’re running a side hustle or creating crafts is your main job, it’s likely you’ll have thought about selling on Etsy if you aren’t already doing it.

Below we outline the key things you need before you get started.

1. Decide on your product

Before you start selling on Etsy, you’ll need to decide what you’re going to sell. Some of the best selling items on Etsy are handmade or personalised items.

Our research shows that craft stalls and photography were in the top 10 fastest-growing small business trades, with respective growth of 15 per cent and 17 per cent in 2023 compared to 2022.

Even if you already have an idea of what you want to sell, it’s worth doing some research to see if other people are already selling it on Etsy. You could also do a competitor analysis or market research.

Read more: How to start an online shop – the ultimate guide to selling online

2. Create a brand

Once you’ve decided on your product, you’ll need to come up with a brand. Here are some of the things you’ll need at first:

  • logo
  • name
  • basic messaging or strapline
  • short bio or owner’s story

Building a brand can help your listings stand out on Etsy and support your social media strategy.

Read our guides on developing a brand identity and how to use tone of voice for some top tips, while our Business Name Generator can give you some light-hearted inspiration if you don’t have a name yet.

3. Come up with a pricing strategy

Setting the right price for your products can be difficult. On one hand, you want to make sure the price is appealing to customers. However, you also need to make sure the sale price factors in your costs and is worth your while.

It can be useful to see how other Etsy sellers price similar products, while creating a budget is a useful way of making sure you’re on course to make a profit.

4. Work out your delivery and packaging costs

This is an important part of your business strategy. You’ll need to make sure your packaging protects your products, but isn’t so expensive that it eats into your profits.

When setting your postage price, remember that buyers like round numbers and are unlikely to pay more than it costs to send the item. It can help to play around with different price points, or even offer free delivery to encourage more sales.

It’s important to note that Royal Mail expanded its delivery services in 2023 to include DPD and Evri. Read our guide to the best business couriers for an overview of the options.

5. Create a marketing strategy

Hopefully, you’ll get lots of eyeballs on your products from the Etsy search results. However, you’ll also need to promote your product in other ways.

Posting images and videos of your products on Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok could help you to build your brand and drive traffic to your Etsy shop.

The platforms you decide to promote your products on will depend on your target audience. For example, TikTok could be the best platform if you’re trying to reach younger customers.

Be careful to mix up your posts so that they’re not all about your product. For example, could you share images and videos showing how it’s made? Think about what’s interesting to your audience and share it.

Read three top tips from a successful small business owner on how to build a content strategy that uses pillars to tell your story and develop an online community.

If you’ve got the budget, social media advertising can be a good way to get your posts in front of a wider audience.

Meanwhile, if you’re doing something a bit different, why not get in touch with the local press to see if they’d be interested in writing a story on your business?

How much does it cost to sell on Etsy?

The costs of listing on Etsy are fairly simple:

  • you may need to pay a £12 set-up fee once your shop is open for business
  • you’ll pay a £0.16 fee for every listing you publish. This will last for four months or until it sells, and you can set up listings to renew automatically
  • when you sell an item, you’ll pay a 6.5 per cent transaction fee
  • there’s also a payment processing fee, which works out at £0.20 plus 4 per cent of the sale price

For example if you sell a homemade candle for £12, you’ll pay a £0.78 transaction fee, plus a payment processing fee of £0.68. This leaves you with a total of £10.54.

You’ll also need to factor in the listing fee (£0.16), postage costs (which the buyer will pay separately), and the cost of creating your item.

Listing fees are charged on a monthly basis. Once you start selling items, they’ll be taken out of your fees so you won’t need to pay them upfront.

When you sell an item, the funds are sent to your Etsy payment account. Through your Etsy seller account you can then decide how often they’re deposited into your bank account, for example on a weekly or monthly basis.

Etsy last increased its fees in 2022, which led to more than 14,000 sellers boycotting the platform. Read about Etsy fees in more detail on their website.

What is the Etsy Purchase Protection Programme?

Launched in August 2022, the Etsy Purchase Protection Programme allows buyers to receive a full refund for items that don’t match their description, arrive damaged, or don’t arrive at all.

The initiative is estimated to cost Etsy in the region of $25 million a year, as in some circumstances it allows sellers to keep their earnings when things happen outside of their control.

In cases that meet Etsy’s requirements, buyers can be refunded up to $250 without sellers having to foot the bill.

Sellers are protected if:

  • an item doesn’t arrive or arrives late, but was dispatched within the seller’s stated processing time
  • a buyer claims an item isn’t accurate, but the seller’s photos and descriptions show that it is
  • an item arrives damaged (once each calendar year)

Read more about the terms of Etsy’s Purchase Protection Programme for sellers.

How to get sales on Etsy – 5 tips to create the best listings

Once you have a listing template that works, you can use it repeatedly. Below are some of the key things you should consider when creating your listings.

1. Take time over your images

Etsy is a competitive marketplace, so it’s crucial that you take the time to make sure your images are of the highest quality so they stand out in search results.

You can include up to 10 images per listing. Here are some tips on how to get the best out of your images:

  • include objects for scale. For example, if you’re selling a garden gnome put it next to a plant pot so customers can get a sense of its size
  • take photos of your product from every angle, showing as many variations as possible, including close-ups
  • use natural light and no flash. Try to take your images on a clear day in a bright space
  • take photos of the product being worn, used, or held
  • make sure you have a clean and light background (although styling a scene can be beneficial)

Read more: Product photography for small businesses – how to take better photos

2. Add video to your listings

As well as descriptive photos, adding videos to your listings can make them more appealing to your target customers.

According to Etsy analysis of over five million sales, shoppers are more likely to purchase an item if the listing includes a video.

Etsy’s tips for adding videos on listings include:

  • using a model if you’re selling wearable items
  • showing functional items being used or displayed
  • recording high resolution videos in 1080p or higher
  • cropping videos after uploading to get them in the right dimensions

Read more about how to make Etsy videos and YouTube videos that can help to sell your products.

3. Why search is all important

When selling on Etsy, you need to think of it as a search engine. This means you need a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy. It’s all about making it easy for customers to find your products with the description, tags, and categories you choose.

Firstly, you’ll need to make sure your products fit into the right category. For example if you’re selling a vintage lamp, you could choose these categories:

  • Home & Living
  • Lights & Ceiling Fans
  • Lamps, Shades & Bases
  • Lamps
  • Accent Lamps

You’ll also need to add a range of tags to your listing, with the aim of mirroring what your customers might search for. For example, if you produce personalised golf gloves, “golf glove gift” is a good tag to include in your listing.

Even if you’ve got a big social media following or have your own shop, if you want people browsing Etsy to find your products, you’ll need to choose the right tags and categories.

4. Write a considered description

As with selling any product online, your description should be detailed and easy to read. When it comes to Etsy sales, you can provide information such as:

  • materials
  • height, width, and depth
  • any occasions the product is suitable for (such as birthdays or anniversaries)
  • rooms the product is suitable for or could be used in (e.g. living room or bedroom)
  • style – is it vintage, art deco, or contemporary?

You can also use the description to answer any FAQs customers may have about your product.

5. Why reviews are so important

On a site like Etsy, where people are buying from small and often unknown businesses, it’s highly likely that people will look at reviews before buying a product.

Positive customer reviews can be very powerful and even have a bigger impact than your marketing material.

Although it can sometimes be difficult to get buyers to leave a review, you should treat them as a priority. You could improve your chances of getting reviews by adding a note to your orders asking for one, as well as offering discounts on future orders or a loyalty reward scheme to those who do.

The reviews you receive are included under your listings at the bottom of your shop. You’ll get an average item review score, and if you get an average score of 4.8 stars or above, you could become a “Star Seller”, which will help your listings appear in front of more buyers.

Selling on Etsy – what you need to know about tax and insurance

Before your Etsy shop is up and running, there are just a few more things to consider.

You’ll need to make sure that your shop and its products meet Etsy’s “House Rules” and Seller Policy, which covers what can be sold, communication standards, and Etsy’s terms.

On top of this, you’ll need to complete a Self Assessment tax return if you earn more than £1,000 a year from selling your products. From 1 January 2024, HMRC introduced new rules requiring side hustle platforms like Etsy to report how much sellers are making, so it’s important to stay on top of your tax obligations.

It could also be beneficial for Etsy sellers to take out product liability insurance. This could protect you financially if one of your products is faulty and injures someone or damages their property.

Read more about insurance for crafters and the type of business insurance that could protect you if you’re selling products online.

What are your tips for selling on Etsy? Let us know in the comments below.

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Conor Shilling

Conor Shilling is a professional writer with over 10 years’ experience across the property, small business, and insurance sectors. A trained journalist, Conor’s previous experience includes writing for several leading online property trade publications. Conor has worked at Simply Business as a Copywriter for three years, specialising in the buy-to-let market, landlords, and small business finance.

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