Finding items with too much competition on Etsy & knowing what to sell

We've been selling on Etsy successfully since 2014. And over 3 years later, we've had a lot of ups and downs. Etsy isn't always as stable as we'd like it to be. But by learning from our successes and failures, we've found that the ability to grow a sustainable business through Etsy is mostly in our own hands.

A new and important thing we are learning is knowing when to pivot away from particular types of product on Etsy, and move towards other, new types of products. 

These days, our Printable Artwork isn't selling at the volume that it used to. But that's okay, because there are so many other new and exciting types of products we can make on Etsy that have thousands of people eagerly searching and waiting to buy. 

Before I make a new product, I always think of keyword ideas first. This is the number one and more important step before doing anything else. 

For instance, let's take a look at some keywords. When I type in "Printable" into the Search Bar up at the top of Etsy.com, I get some keywords that Etsy suggests to me as being popular. In this case, "Printable Wall Art" is the most popular, followed by some other similar keywords. 

Next, I like to see how many search results I get. In addition, I want to see how many of these Etsy Shops have lots of reviews (like in the thousands of reviews). 

For instance, for the keyword "Printable Wall Art", I get over 399,000 results. That is insane! Let's assume that on average each of these shops have about 500 Items to choose from. That means I am competing with about 798 other Shops who sell items with the keywords "Printable Wall Art" within their titles or tags. Imagine that you go to a Mall where there are 798 stores, and they all sell the same thing. What is the likelihood that they will pick your shop? If you're lucky, the customer enters the Mall from the entrance where your store happens to be. Maybe they go inside and take a look, and most likely they leave to see what other people have to offer. And maybe they come back later. But most people are simply not going to ever see your store, because there are 797 other shops they can choose from, and many doors they could be entering to get inside the Mall.

In this case, the keyword "Printable Wall Art" is simply an oversaturated market. It's going to be hard to maintain a spot in the top 48 boxes that Etsy allows on the 1 page of Search Results, because so many other Etsy Shops are competing for those 48 boxes. Maybe your product will show up there. And maybe it will not. But chances are, if your items are not selling on a regular basis, you'll quickly lose the top spot on the 1st page of results.

Now let's look for a keyword that has less competition, but high probability that there are a lot of customers out there looking for that product. 

In this example, I am going to look for a new product I would like to match with my minimalist high-end painting shop on Etsy. So I am going to look for some popular keywords in Etsy that have the word "minimalist" in it. 

This time, I find that "minimalist bookends" is something that Etsy recommends as a popular keyword. Whenever Etsy pre-populates a Keyword into their search bar, it means that there is at least a moderate amount of people searching for that phrase.

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Once I hit enter to look at the keyword results, I am going to investigate two important things.

First, I want to see how many results show up. In this case, only 125 Results are showing for that keyword phrase, which is great. It means there is very low competition for this keyword. 

Second, I want to find at least 1 other Etsy Shop that is having success with this keyword phrase. The best way to find this out is to see how many reviews a particular product has. 

You want to find something that is as close to what you'd like to sell as possible. Either in price point, or style, or both. You want it to be very similar so that you have a high probability of someone else purchasing the item that you end up making, because you know there is a demand for that kind of product elsewhere on Etsy.

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I personally like this design below. Although I wouldn't necessarily make my bookends just like this, the overall minimalist style is something I specialize in and probably something my minimalist artwork customers on Etsy would like. 

The item also sells for almost $100 USD, which is on the expensive end for bookends, and there are also several 5-Star reviews for this item, as well as other variations of this item in their Etsy Shop.

Because there is low competition with this keyword, and a few other Etsy Sellers obviously getting some sales with this keyword, this gives me the information I need to figure out what my next Etsy Product will be. I can now go out and find some sample materials to build a prototype that I can then photograph and put on my Etsy Shop to sell the first iteration of my new product.

I obviously cannot have 100% assurance that my variation of a minimalist bookend will do well. But at the very least, I can have some confidence that my time will not be completely wasted. At the very least, I can try to sell my new Minimalist Bookend design to my previous customers who have given me 5-star ratings on the Minimalist Artwork they have purchased in the past, and I can continue to develop my Etsy Shop and my own brand overtime.

More recently, this process has been the best way for me to figure out what to do on Etsy. Instead of tinkering around with the same old products, I can continue to find new opportunities on Etsy so that I am not putting all of my hope and energy into just 1 simple idea that might end up being too hard to keep growing. 

I hope this information has been helpful. And I hope to share more new insights for selling on Etsy soon. 

Episode 04: Do Etsy Keywords Really Work?

In this Episode, I discuss a topic that keeps a lot of Etsy Sellers up at night. Do Etsy Keywords still work? Can you still find lots of buyers on Etsy, or are all the algorithm changes making it hard to sell on Etsy? In my opinion, and from the experimenting and selling I am doing on Etsy, I think that Keywords are still a good place to find customers, and that there is still tons of opportunity to start or grow your Etsy Shop. I hope this new episode helps you gain a new perspective on Etsy.

Etsy Shop Ideas For Fall & Winter 2017

There is nothing complex about selling on Etsy. All you have to do is figure out what people want to buy, and use the right keywords to help them find it. 

If you're just getting started on Etsy, you're in a great position to start making and selling items that people want to buy right now. Since we're almost in October of 2017, it's the very start of people buying for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Holidays.

The first thing you want to do is look at some of the current Top Etsy Shops, and current best selling items in Etsy. The best way to do that is to look at Etsy is letting us know about the top trending keyword searches. To do this, simply click into the "Search Bar" on Etsy.com and wait a second for this to load. From there, you should see something pop up like this below.

Under "Popular Right Now" are the top items that people are searching for in Etsy, and this is a great start to see what the best items to sell on Etsy are for 2017. From here, look for some keywords that appeal to you, which are things that you can easily make on your own, or if you have a skill in making. 

Once you click on one of these keywords, you'll be able to see how many people are selling these items and how much competition there is. I personally have an interest in "vertical gardens", so I'll see what is going on with that keyword.

From there, I am going to look at how many results I get for the keyword "Vertical Garden." If you look below, you'll see how many results Etsy has for that keyword. In this case, there are only 2,021 results for that particular keyword.

From my experience, any keyword that has less than 10,000 Results is something that you have a chance to do well in. If a particular keyword has a lot more results, such as 100,000 Results or more, then it is going to be very hard to compete in that Category. 

For instance, a Popular item to sell on Etsy is "Printable Art." But if I do a keyword search for "Printable Art", there are over 700,000 results in that category, which means it is extremely difficult to rank for that keyword and it is way too competitive if you are just getting started. 

Once you find the right keyword that you are interested in, look at which shops seem to be doing very well and getting lots of sales. If you see 2 or 3 shops which have a couple thousands sales selling something similar, there is likely a lot of interest in that item, but not too much competition.

So you want to find the following criteria when searching for new Etsy Shop Ideas:

  • A keyword or keyword combination that is currently trending, according to Etsy
  • Once you look at that keywords, you see 10,000 results or less
  • You are able to find 2 or 3 Etsy Shops which have had a lot of success selling that item

Once you are able to find that out, you are likely in the right place for getting started with an Etsy Shop product.

Continue to look for new ideas that you can make on Etsy. A lot of successful Etsy Shops get used to selling the same Etsy Items over and over, and see their sales go down. So never stop looking for new Opportunities on Etsy. 

Here's How To Find Out What You Should Sell On Etsy

If you are struggling to figure out what to sell on Etsy for the first time, or if you need to take your Etsy Shop in a brand new direction because Sales are slowing down, here is the best way I know how to figure out what you should be selling on Etsy. 

It is super easy to figure out, and you don't need any expensive tools to do it. Simply look at the keywords on Etsy which are currently trending. Then find a few good examples of other Etsy Sellers that are getting reviews on their products and figure out why people want to buy those particular items. Then, if you are able to quickly make something similar, and the item is something you feel like you would enjoy making or that you are talented at creating, then there is likely a big opportunity in making that product.

 This is the easiest way I know to stay relevant on Etsy and to keep making stuff that other people want to buy. 

How To Use Etsy Promoted Listings

Etsy's Promoted Listings is just one more way to bring more people to your Etsy Shop. In addition to Etsy Ads, you want to bring people in through good keywords, social media marketing, and you own marketing efforts offline. But in order to create monthly stability, Promoted Listings helps you bring some extra sustainable income through your Etsy Shop. 

In the following video, I go over some of the basics on how to use Promoted Listings by looking at your best sellers, then promoting them with the right Max Cost Per Click, and ensuring that you maintain a good conversion rate for each Etsy Listing. 

Did Your Etsy Sales Stop All Of A Sudden in 2017?

Lots of Etsy Sellers are saying that their sales have dropped dramatically in 2017. Ours have dropped as well since the beginning of January 2017, almost cut in half from the previous year, which is a horrible feeling and has definitely given me moments of panic.

I have thought this through, and I think there are 2 big issues here. One is that since Etsy keeps making changes to how their platform works, it's going to make things better or worse constantly for different Etsy Sellers at different times. The other issue is that relying on Etsy as your only place to sell and make money is a risky way to do business.

I still believe Etsy is a great place to sell handmade stuff. There are tons of buyers out there, the platform is super easy to use and get started, and there is tons of potential.

So in light of these issues, here's what I recommend doing:

  1. Focus on growing your business as big as possible, in as many places as possible, with a variety of products. Don't rely just on Etsy, and don't rely on just one "Category" within Etsy. Build your own website, gather email addresses, build social media, sell locally, develop more products, and keep growing. 
  2. Think of Etsy as your primary tool for experimenting. There are millions of shoppers on Etsy, and you can sell all over the world. Once you experiment and figure out a business concept on Etsy, push further and look beyond your core products, as well as look beyond Etsy to see where else you can start selling your products.
  3. Don't give up on Etsy entirely. I hear that sentiment a lot from Etsy Sellers, but there is so much opportunity there. Stick with it, but grow to other places as well. 

One thing I am learning right now is to develop a range of products. If one market is oversaturated, or people no longer have an interest in it, if you expand your product line, you can prevent large drops in Views & Sales. For instance, if you make leather handbags, consider expanding your products to other similar items, like leather wallets, purses, fashion accessories, belts, or other leather products. This way, you'll reach more customers, be able to use a larger range of keywords, and you'll prevent huge swings in Sales as Etsy changes their platform, or as seasonal changes occur.

You might want to be a sole business owner and entrepreneur because you want the flexibility to do what you love. But if your income relies solely on one place, in one source - you are just as vulnerable as an employee losing their own job one day. If you get fired, you have to find a whole new job somewhere else. Selling your products on just one platform, with one kind of product, is just like being an employee. One day, it could all disappear. 

So focus on building a company by building a brand and selling more than just 1 kind of product. That way, as they economy changes, and as the online marketplace changes, you can easily adapt and find new opportunities. You just must find a way to continue to survive, grow and dominate as a business person. 

Have questions? Leave a comment below. Visit our Etsy Shop here.