How to Set Up an Etsy Shop

If you’re a skilled crafter looking to turn your hobby into a day job, Etsy might be the best place to start. The Etsy marketplace currently boasts an incredible 1.9 million active sellers and 31.7 million buyers trading everything from blog layouts to vintage stamps.

Etsy is ideal for creative businesses that are just starting out. You don’t need to buy hosting or build a layout, and it comes with a built-in customer base. It’s more customisable than eBay and makes it easy to showcase your brand and skills.

Read on for our best tips for UK Etsy sellers.


Find Your Niche

Your products should be handmade or vintage; beyond that, the scope is huge. The best offering is products that you love making or curating and can fulfil within a couple of days.

If you have training or expertise in a certain area, make the most of it. Etsy is all about craftsmanship and sharing your story.

Take a look at Etsy’s product categories for inspiration:

  • Jewellery and accessories
  • Clothing and shoes
  • Home and living
  • Wedding and party
  • Toys and entertainment
  • Art and collectibles
  • Craft supplies and tools
  • Vintage

You’ll need to either have product on hand, or be able to make orders quickly. If you use specialist materials, be sure to have the basics in stock.

If you’re skilled in graphic design, consider offering digital products like printable art, stationery or scrapbooking supplies. Digital products require no inventory, cost nothing to ship and only need to be made once, so they can be a very lucrative business.

Etsy is especially popular for custom pieces, so if you’re a talented artist or calligrapher consider offering personal portraits or designs.


Keep It Focused

Listing lots of products is a good way to make your shop more visible, but it’s important to be focused and realistic. Trying to be a one-stop shop will exhaust you and confuse your customers. Instead, stick to one common theme like toiletries. You can always branch out later on.


Choose a Name

Your name should give a simple idea of what your shop sells or who it’s for. One tried-and-true method is to pick a word or phrase that resonates with you, then combine it with Studio, Workshop or Co. Check that it’s not already in use, then you’re set!

Luckily, Etsy will let you change your shop’s name as many times as you like before you launch. Once you’re up and running, you can only change your name once – any further changes will have to be approved.


Take Product Photographs

Photographs are the first thing your customer will look at, so make them count! What sort of style goes best with your product and client – rustic and bohemian, or clean and modern?

You don’t need to be a professional with thousands of pounds of equipment to take good pictures. Photos that are well-focused, taken in natural light and show different angles are perfect. Err on the side of simplicity, but consider adding carefully chosen props.

If you plan to sell clothing or accessories, think about displaying your product on a model – it can completely transform the look of a garment and give your shop more personality. Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso did this in the early days of her business and attracted a new breed of vintage shoppers with her cool girl aesthetic.

You can upload up to 10 photos for free, so make the most of them.

For further reading, check out Etsy’s ultimate guide to product photography.


Price Your Products

There are a range of ways to price your products, and much of this will come down to your costs and your competitors. As a rule of thumb, you should sell for at least twice as much as the cost of materials, plus overhead costs (for example, electricity).

You also need to take Etsy’s costs into account – 16p per listing, plus a 5% transaction fee. There’s a further 4% and 20p fee for payment processing.

If your product is labour-intensive, like a patchwork quilt, you might want to charge the cost of materials plus a living wage for the hours you put into it.

Scope out your competition and get a feel for pricing before you start listing.


Work Out Postage Prices

Free or cheap shipping is a great selling point, but it’s important to cover your costs. Arm yourself with a food scale and Royal Mail’s price list, but remember to think about packaging, too. Plastic mailing bags can help you to reduce bulk and keep costs down, but fragile items will need more protection. Reusing packaging is a huge money saver, but it comes at the cost of looking less polished.

British-made goods are always in demand, but shipping internationally comes with a host of responsibilities. You’ll need to check whether your products can legally be sent abroad and decide who pays import taxes. Your products will also need to survive weeks in freight.


Choose Effective Tags and Keywords

Be descriptive! Tag the materials and style of your products so that they can be found. If in doubt, choose simpler words over specialist jargon.

If you’re selling vintage clothing or homeware, estimate the era and where it was made, then describe interesting features such as silhouette. Point out any flaws and highlight pieces that are in especially good condition for their age.

A good listing answers any questions a buyer might have. Measurements, time to make and whether you take custom orders are all good details to include.


Promote Your Etsy Shop

Share your shop with friends, and don’t be afraid to advertise in relevant hobby groups. Craft fairs and car boot sales are two great ways to meet your customers and spread the word.


Keep Your Customers Coming Back

With so many sellers out there, loyal customers are invaluable. Encourage them to come back to your shop and recommend you to friends by going the extra mile – enclosing a personal note, small gift or discount code for their next purchase are all great options.


Manage Your Finances

Finally, remember to keep track of your finances. A simple spreadsheet listing sales against costs will go a long way. Once you’ve started making money, don’t forget to declare your taxes – either as income tax or by registering for corporation tax. Good luck!