Top Five Tips for setting up an Etsy shop

I’ve had loads of questions recently about tips on setting up your own Etsy shop. I thought because of this I’d make a little resource with some of my advice. I want to make them super simple because I think it’s really easy to get bogged down and overloaded with information when you are just setting up a shop. Here are my five top tips for setting up and Etsy shop!

1. Plan for coherency

This is something I did not do when starting out, and I wish I had done. I think this is worth doing before you do anything else as it will prevent you getting in a huge muddle. I am still trying to get to grips with coherency now, as I have so many listings in my shop it is hard to manage. Get coherency before you get huge numbers of listings.

This means think about what kind of products your shop is going to stock and things like what your shop sections are going to be called. Have a coherent brand thought out, even if only very simply. You will need to have a banner and a profile image, so if you’ve had a little think about what your products, shop and brand are going to be about, this will help you get a look for these and for the photos you take for your shop.

Have a look at some successful shops selling similar products to you. What draws you to their shop?

Plan some simple lines, so that if people like one of your designs they know they will be able to get that design in e.g. a print, a t shirt, a card and a coffee mug.

Plan to launch your shop with (e.g) around 12 items in and then launch everything else line by line. You can do this using the new Etsy Listings manager which now allows you to save drafts of listings rather than upload as you go. This means that when people first find your shop there is already some choice available (which makes people more likely to make a purchase)

2. Take AMAZING photos!

This seems obvious but I see a lot of dingy, blurry, busy photos out there on new shops.

Find a plain, preferably white back ground to photograph on. Hey, just paint up a bit of board if you can’t find some space – the advantage of this is it’s portable and you can move it to places of good lighting.

Shoot your photos in good lighting – Use a room with lots of windows, or shoot outside if you don’t have a well lit indoor space. I like to take my product photos on a bright but clouded over day. It means everything is evenly lit and there are no strong shadows.

Use a decent camera. This might just be your phone, if you have a good one (I don’t). My preference is for a digital SLR, but I happened to have one when I was setting up. I think it is worth borrowing one if you don’t have a decent point and shoot digital or camera phone.

Your photos should be bright, in focus, well framed and show the product from a couple of different angles and close up.

If you want to get advanced, you could style your photos with objects that tell a customer what your brand is about.

Here are a couple of photos. One is what to do and one is what NOT to do, can you guess which is which?

3. Learn about the importance of tags, titles and descriptions in getting found

Tags, titles and descriptions are the way that people using searches find your shop. Think about the words or phrases that people might actually use when looking for the kinds of things that you sell.

Use single words as well as phrases, but make sure they are really relevant to your item. ‘necklace’, ‘flower necklace’ and ‘pink necklace’ are all relevant terms for this item but although ‘cotton necklace’ describes it but is probably not something anyone is searching for.

Try to think of relevant tags for your product that link to styles or trends.

Repeat your tag phrases in the title and description for your product.

Imagine that nobody can see the photos of your product when you write the descriptions – this will help you include all the useful info that your customers will need, like measurements etc.

If you are good at this writing lark, try and think of fun ways to write your descriptions to keep them interesting and readable.

Also, fill in your shop policies – it is boring but you need to use these to establish trust with your customers. If I’m buying from an un-established shop with no feedback yet, I want to have some reassurance that I will be dealt with politely and offered a refund if the product is faulty.

4. Get connected

Do you already use any social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram etc? Can you put these to work in ways that showcase your products, connect you with other makers AND people who love what you make? Do you write a blog? Would you like to?

I don’t think that you have to be on every single social media platform (though I am an addict and sign up to everything), especially when you start out. It is possible to spread yourself too thinly, so only use platforms that you enjoy using and feel comfortable with. Use them to connect with people and have fun, rather than hard selling or constantly posting hundreds of links to your products. I think it is fine to link to your products, but when I go to a Twitter feed that is purely made up of automated tweets of product links, I don’t follow because I’d just be subscribing to an advertising stream.

Connect with people you are interested in and use those connections as a spark for creativity rather than as a way to push products.

Connect with people you are interested

5. Just DO it!

I know my first tip was to plan, but I think there is also a lot to be said for just jumping right in there and learning as you go. If you think you are getting held up on the planning, or perhaps you’re using planning as a procrastination tactic because you are scared about launching your shop – STOP! Just go for it! Launch with less stuff in than you planned, get feedback on your semi-ok banner once it’s up using the Etsy Forums.

A really great place to get help advice and feedback is your local Etsy Team – mine is the awesome Brighton Etsy Team. If you are thinking of setting up an Etsy shop, or have just set up a shop then pop along to a meeting, it’s a really good place to connect with other Etsy sellers and get some first hand advice about what works. There are usually fun exercises or discussions going on at the meet ups that will help you plan (or jump in with!) your new venture.

I really hope these were useful tips for you! Have you recently opened an Etsy shop? What have you struggled to get to grips with?

I’m thinking about adding some instant download Etsy tutorials to my own Etsy shop, expanding on some of the stuff I’ve talked about here. I also want to add some listings offering SEO help where I tackle a certain number of listing for people and offer suggested tags, titles and descriptions for their products. Do you think this is a useful service and would you use it?


9 thoughts on “Top Five Tips for setting up an Etsy shop

  1. I definitely agree with all of the above! I struggled a lot with finding a good logo and font and actually only recently, after 2 years i was finally able to come up with the final design that i am perfectly happy with for my packaging shop. Luckily i managed to get it right for the letterpress shop from the get go. 🙂

    Photography is definitely my weak point, but i do my best. Actually i take between 50 – 100 photos for a single item only to choose the 5 i’m going to have on etsy. :))) It might sound exaggerated, but it’s so true!

    1. I am the same – I am only now reworking my logo, to represent me! Photography is something I really see people struggle with – it can be hard to achieve good effects with a simple set up at home, but it is possible!

    1. Ooh, yes tricky one. I don’t know how it works in the USA but here in the UK you can weigh your packages and look up the prices online. If you can’t do that where you are you could look at some sellers with similar products to you and see what they charge to get a ballpark figure, then adjust your figures once you’ve had a sale and posted something for real.

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