3 Steps For Starting An Etsy Shop

Just getting started on Etsy? The worst thing you can do is wait until that "Perfect" time to get started. The best time to get started in right now, right away. Here are 3 steps you can take right now to kickstart your Etsy Shop and get moving today. 


Step 1 - Make 1 Product
If you have not started your Etsy Shop yet, get on it today, even if it is just 1 item. I have managed and worked with over 400 clients in the past 6 years. One of the biggest set backs that most business owners have is that they are afraid to put out their products early. They want everything to be as perfect as possible before anyone sees the items.

The problem with being a perfectionist is that your business never grows, and your ideas just stay in your head. The most important thing you can do to grow your business is to get customer feedback as soon as possible, so that you can develop your products into something that people want to buy. And the only way to do that is to get your products visible in the market place as soon as possible. 

So just start out with 1 product as soon as possible, and get it live on your Etsy shop. Most likely, no one will buy that product. But you need to take that first step.


Step 2 - Make 24 Products, Build Keywords, Talk to Customers
Once you have gotten past setting up your Etsy Shop and getting one item up, it's time to start building your shop to somewhere between 24 and 48 products. You don't want to make more than 48 items when you are first starting out, because you need to test your ideas and products before making too much. You also want to test your keywords, your shipping prices, shopping polices, and Item Details to make sure everything is working.  Spend the time each day to make 1 new product, if possible, so that you have at least 24 Items. Don't rush it. Take the time to think it through and watch your Etsy Stats, Keywords, Favorites, and Etsy Conversations.


Step 3 - Try to get Sales
Do not wait until you have 24 products to make a sale. Try to get a sale immediately. There are many ways to get a Sale on Etsy early, and you have to be willing to build up sales to 200 Sales about 20 five-star reviews to establish yourself as a credible Etsy Shop. Here are ways to help kickstart your shop:

  • Adjust your prices temporarily for new products, to see if price effects your sales
  • Offer coupon code incentives
  • Get your shipping costs as low as possible
  • Offer "free returns and free shipping" to lower the risk your customers are taking
  • Improve your keywords so that you get more shop visibility
  • Improve your item descriptions and photography
  • Always get back to customer inquiries as soon as possible
  • Always take great care of your customers - you absolutely must have five-star reviews
  • Offer free customizations or alterations to see if you can get more interactions with customers

Focus on these three steps for several months. Keep your products at or under 48 items until you get 200 sales, and get as many five-star reviews as possible. Once you reach that goal, you can start to relax a bit and grow into the next phase of your shop.

5 Mentalities To Avoid For Making A Successful Etsy Shop

I've spoken with hundreds of Etsy Shop owners, and helped them with easy ways on how to improve their shop. After reviewing many of their stores, there are 5 common issues I am seeing with Etsy Sellers right now that you ought to address with your own Etsy Shop immediately:

1. Stop using the same keywords over and over
It seems like most Etsy Shops use the same keywords over and over.  I have had numerous Etsy Sellers come to me and say "I am not seeing an increase in sales!" Then, I look at their Etsy Shop and they are using the same words on every single product. You must, must, must use new and different keywords and keyword combinations on your products. Stop getting stuck on using the same words!

For instance, I see Etsy Shops using the same word, like "Blue Dress"  "Blue Dress"  "Blue Dress" over and over. But there are so many other things you could do, like "Navy Dress"  "Blue Skirt"  "Turquoise Dresses" "Dress Blue" "Blue Evening Dress" and so on. These are subtle differences, but it makes a huge impact on helping Etsy Customers find your Etsy Listings faster through Keywords. 

2. Don't create a ton of products when you have very few sales
In the early stages of your Etsy Shop, it can be very tempting to make a billion Etsy Items. If you spend too much time on Product Development, you are neglecting other areas of your shop, such as: Shop Optimization, better Product Descriptions, analyzing your Stats, improving your Keywords, providing good Customer Service. You must balance your time between each of these things.  If You have 800 Items, but only 100 Sales, you have too many items! People will look at your shop, and say "Why are you making so many designs that no one buys?"  And then they will leave your Etsy Shop and find a different shop that is more successful. So you need to grow slowly. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 1 Sale for every Item you have.  For instance, 50 Sales and 50 Items is perfect.  At that point, you know you can make a couple new items based off of your best sellers.  In the very beginning, it is okay to have 50 Items and no Sales, but don't keep making more items. If you are not getting sales, you need to focus your time on other areas of your Etsy Shop, and not just keep pounding out new designs that no one will buy. 

3. Don't expect overnight success
You may have been working hard on your Etsy Shop for the last 1 or 2 months and say, "I haven't seen a big increase in View or Sales."  And that is okay. Your Etsy Shop is going to take time, and you are going to learn for many years to come. However, you should set your expectations to be realistic.  If you implement changes over time, and do it intelligently, with a plan, you should expect to see a realistic growth of maybe 10-20% each month, but not overnight success.  We have seen some Etsy Shops that have had wild success after using our Guide, which is great. But our Etsy Guide is a tool for good information, and it does not replace the need for you to critically think and analyze your own Etsy Shop. You must have a plan, and you must write out your own plan, and expect to see slow, steady growth each month.  It is not going to happen overnight. 

4. Make your product descriptions easier to understand
This is an easy one, but with lots of Etsy Shops, I am seeing big blocks of tons of text in their Etsy Listings. Here is a news flash: No one is going to read it!  You need to make it easy for someone to read, and to be able to read it very quickly. People need to understand what your item is within 5 seconds or less. Which means, use less text, use bullet points, and use the most simple language you can possibly use. Keep it simple! Help your customers understand what they are buying! 

5. Learn from your past mistakes and past successes
This one is really important, and is a concept you must use for any business. When you are successful and make a sale, you need to use that information to tell you: "You Are Doing The Right Thing - Keep Doing More of This".  If something you are doing is not working, Stop Doing It! For instance, we get featured in a Treasury probably 10 Times per day.  I look at that person's Etsy Shop (because everyone who has a Treasury has an Etsy Shop) and they have maybe 50 Sales in the last 2 years.  These people keep doing Treasuries over and over. I think they are trying to get Sales from it or something. NEWS FLASH: It's not working! They need to stop doing treasuries and do something else. But it seems like in their mind they are thinking, "If I just do 1,000 Treasuries, then that will be enough."  No!  If it doesn't work within a few days or even in a few weeks, stop doing it. Try something else. Build off of your successes. Stop doing the same things over and over that are not working. Keep learning something new every day. And write those things down so you don't forget! 

5 Things To Work On To Improve Your Etsy Shop

When I speak with Etsy Sellers, I find that many of them tend to focus most of their attention on 1 aspect of their Etsy Shop. It's either a hyper-focus on redoing their keywords, making more products, or worrying about Views & Stats.

Based on my experience selling on Etsy, I personally believe it is not good to focus on just one aspect on your Etsy Shop too much.  Instead, you want to evenly divide your time between all the tasks that are needed to build a good Etsy Shop.

When getting your Etsy Shop off the ground and built up to your first 200 Sales, there are 5 main things you want to equally spread your time on with Etsy each day, with each area using an equal 20% of your daily efforts.

Add these 5 items to your daily Etsy To-Do List:

1. Improve your Keywords (20%)
2. Optimize your Shop's Layout (20%)
3. Improve your Listing Descriptions, Policies & About Sections (20%)
4. Improve your Listing Designs & Photography (20%)
5. Analyze your Stats & Analytics (20%)

If you are neglecting any of these 5 areas, or spending too much time on just one, then you are going to see slow growth in Etsy, and you'll be likely wasting your time. 

  • Do you have more products than you have sales?  If you have 100 Items in your Etsy Shop, but only 20 Sales - slow down!  You are not spending enough time keywords, listing descriptions, quality product design, and analyzing your Stats.
  • Do you have more than 50 items, but no sales?  Spend more time on keywords before making new products. Make sure your listing descriptions are clear and helpful. Make sure your Shop Policies are concise and not to strict. No one wants to buy from a strict Etsy Shop that won't offer refunds if something goes wrong.
  • Are people even viewing your Items or favoriting them?  Make sure your Etsy products are beautiful, inspiring and high quality. Even if your Etsy Listings show up in keyword searches, if your photos and designs are not beautiful, people will not bother to click on them and view your items more closely. 

As you work to get your first 200 Sales on Etsy, keep track of your work, set out daily to do lists, and get in the habit of spending your time wisely.

Should I Sell Physical Items & Digital Items In The Same Etsy Shop?

Etsy Seller Question:
Have you found a good way to incorporate printed art listings in with your printable listings? Is it better to have an add-on, separate listings, custom request or a different store all together? I'd like to be able to offer both options but don't want to confuse customers or make it hard to purchase.

I have seen Etsy Shops do it both ways. I've tested this out numerous times on Melinda Wood Designs, and most of the time, you are selling to 2 totally different customer profiles.  Printable Art customers want affordable, DIY options.  And Physical Art customers want to pay extra so that they don't have to do anything except wait for the item in the mail. Physical Art customers also want to have access to higher quality materials instead of figure out how to print something on their own.

My suggestion is to test it out on your Etsy Shop both ways. I have seen some successful Etsy Shops sell a very even mixture of Physical & Printable items all mixed together. Personally, I find mixing the two very confusing unless you make it really obvious from your Photos that this is a "Physical Print" and other items are "Digital Prints." 

For our own shop, mixing in Physical Prints has not worked out that well.  Instead, we have a "Print & Ship Service" listing which has been the most effective. Physical Prints only account for about 5% of our sales, so it's not a huge opportunity for us right now.  The main thing I recommend is to test out both options, and record your results, the move towards the option that seems to make the most money for you.  Every Etsy Shop is different and will have their own results after the test this out. Also, having a single "Print & Ship" option as a Section/Category or as a "Featured Item" is going to be the fastest and easiest way to get this up on your shop, instead of creating a bunch of new individual listings. At the very least, this can help you get started by just having one "Print & Ship" option.

Also, to answer your question about having a 2nd Etsy Shop, I always advise Etsy Sellers to avoid having a 2nd Shop until they are really happy with how much income they are getting out of their first Etsy Shop. If you feel like you have made a ton of money on Etsy and understand everything that goes into running a successful Etsy Shop, with thousands of Sales, then I think it's okay to think about 2 Etsy Shops at that point. But until then, I highly recommend that you focus mastering your skills on a single Etsy Shop first. Otherwise, it's going to be too difficult to figure out everything, and then apply what you have learned to multiple Etsy Shops. Most likely, that's going to be a huge time waster, and only set you back.  I think that only once your Etsy shop hits 5,000 Sales would it be an okay time to start thinking about a 2nd Etsy Shop if you really, really want to do it. 

Should I Renew My Etsy Listings Or Let Them Expire?

I made a big mistake early on when we started to get success on Etsy. Within 12 months of selling on Etsy, we were making $7,000 in revenue per month selling mostly printable artwork. And we had roughly 300 Listings at the time. My thought was that if I just kept making more items, that we would bring in more revenue. So if I made 600 Listings, then maybe I could make $14,000 per month, and so on.

But as I continued to create more and more Listings on Etsy, I would also continue to renew all the expired listings that no one bought within 4 months. Etsy forces Listings that do not sell within 4 months to expire. 

The thing is that if not a single person wants to buy a certain item you make within 4 months, it likely means no one wants to buy it at all. That might not always be the case, but I would say somewhere around 80% of the time, it is best to allow old listings to expire if no one purchases that item within 4 months. 

When you allow items that do not sell to Expire, you can then spend time making brand new items that people actually want to buy. You'll build a reputation for making quality, relevant items, and stay high in Etsy Search results. Because the more and item sells, the more likely it will stay high in search results. 

This is one of the biggest mistakes we made early on, is not allowing bad items to expire. Today, we're having to rebrand and take the shop in a new direction and build items that people want to buy in December 2017 and January 2018. 


How Many Etsy Items Should I Have In My Etsy shop?


For a long time, there has been this theory with Etsy Sellers that the more Etsy Items you have, the better. 

I've tested this theory out many times. At one point, we had nearly 1000 listings in our printable art Etsy Shop, Melinda Wood Designs. It brings us in nice amount of income each month. Right now, it gets round 500 Sales per month on average.

But I recently built a brand new Etsy Shop that has only 30 listings. Because I know how to make items people want to buy, within just 2 months of work, this new shop is already bringing in about 250 Sales per month. 

So one shop which has hundreds of listings, is only bringing in twice as many sales as my other shop with just 30 listings! 

So my point is this: It doesn't matter how many Etsy Listings you have.

It really matters that you are making things people want to buy, and that people can easily find those items on Etsy through keyword searches. It's also important to start an Etsy Shop that is not super saturated with thousands of other Sellers. Instead, find things with low competition, but a lot of demand.

What I've found that is more important than anything else is to simply create things that people actually need and want to buy. Then, match those items with simple, clear keywords. 

As long as you do this, it doesn't matter how many Etsy Listings you have. As long as you create things people want to buy right now, then you'll naturally reach a certain number of listings for your Etsy Shop. 

When certain items don't sell at all, then let them expire. Etsy forces items to expire after 4 months if it never sells. You can set this to automatically renew, but I recommend you don't let them renew. Instead, let that item expire. If no one buys the item in 4 months, it typically (but not always) means that item is a total dud.