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.

Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 12.29.12 AM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 12.30.50 AM.png

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. 

Justin Wood

JPW Design Studio, California

Minimalist Website Designer