If you are selling in a popular category on Etsy in 2019, then you will likely need to use Promoted Listings in order to appear higher in a search result.
The primary reason a shop shows high in a search result on Etsy is likely because their item is selling on a very regular basis.
So let's say you sell silver jewelry necklaces. If you do a search for that keyword, most of the items are going to show up as items which are about $20 USD or cheaper, and many of those items are not truly handmade by someone. They are likely mass-produced and shipped out quickly.
A better option is to go after keywords which are more specific and niche, such as "Customized silver necklace gift" - which will have fewer search results, but less competition.
Once you can find a good niche that the right kind of customer will type in, you can then use Promoted Listings to push that listing higher in a search result.
The trick is to promote items which you know are already popular a sell regularly. If you promote items which have never sold before, then you will likely just end up wasting money promoted your item.
The other trick is to make sure you do not over-spend on Promoted Listings. This way, you're not losing money. Instead, you are only spending as much as you can afford.
When doing Promoted Listings on Etsy in 2019, here are the things you should think about:
Focus on niche keywords for your listings, instead of broad keywords
Only promote popular items which already sell 3 or more times per month
Keep your Cost Per Click on Etsy Ads low (start at around $0.10 per click) so that you are not overspending on ads. Typically, anything over $0.50 per click is expensive and will lose you money.