The Basics of Setting Up an Etsy Shop

Etsy.com is a retail website set up for artisans to showcase and sell their handmade crafts and art. The site handles all of the ordering, notifications, and payment processing, making it easy for crafty entrepreneurs to focus on production.

The process of setting up an Etsy shop is fairly straightforward, but you’ll need to make some choices in the planning stages. To get you started, here’s an overview of various steps involved.

1. Choose your product(s). Many crafters make myriad items on a regular basis. You can sell almost anything in your Etsy shop, but it’s best to focus on a few complementary products at most, so that customers will understand what your shop is all about. For example, if you’re a soap maker, you may offer a dozen soaps, bath fizzes, and lotions. But you should avoid confusing people by trying to sell your crocheted blankets and handmade jewelry, too.

2. Decide on pricing. Pricing your products correctly takes some time and analysis. There are two ways to go about it: You can set prices based on your time and material costs (internal pricing) or based on how much the competition sells similar products for and follow suit (external pricing). A combination of the two tends to generate the most profit. For example, if your cost a total of $1.87 to make a bar of soap, you might choose to price at three times cost, for a sales price of $5.61. However, if all of your competition prices soaps at $4 or less, you may want to stick with a 100 percent markup. Take some time to peruse other Etsy shops that carry products like yours to ensure you’re competitive.

3. Build your inventory. Before opening your Etsy shop, make sure you have enough product to sell. You don’t want to run out after your first few sales and then have to scramble to produce more; you also don’t want to overstock any one item. Start with about 10 of each product you aim to sell. Once you have a track record of sales, you will be able to see which items move quickly and which do not — and plan accordingly.

4. Take pictures of your inventory. The key to solid Etsy sales is taking good pictures. This isn’t a job for your cell phone. Use a quality camera and take the pictures with ample lighting. Many free online tutorials show you how to photograph items for sale online. Take multiple pictures of each item to ensure that you capture the best shots. You are allowed to post five pictures with each product; be sure to show different angles. If it’s a wearable item, show someone wearing it in at least one of the photos.

5. Set up your Etsy account. Go to Etsy.com and register your account. The site will guide you through the registration process. Etsy starts everyone out as a buyer, so you will need to click on the Sell tab at the top of the screen to switch to a seller account. Under the Your Etsy tab, go to the Add New Item link, where the system will walk you through preparing a description for each item and uploading photos. (Yes, you can make changes later.)

You also must choose the type(s) of payments you will accept. PayPal is the most widely accepted form of payment, and it allows you to receive funds instantly. Don’t have a PayPal account? It is free to register for one at PayPal.com.

6. Set up your shipping process. Learning to package your wares securely and ship them quickly helps to build up your reputation on Etsy. Buy proper shipping supplies, and use bubble wrap for delicate items. Determine your average USPS shipping cost based on a ZIP code half the country away from you; the buyer pays you this standard shipping charge. Sometimes the actual shipping cost will be more or less, but you’ll break even over time if you use a good average.

Congratulations! Now you’re ready to sell.

About Angie Mohr

Angie Mohr is a Chartered Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and financial consultant. She has worked with thousands of clients over the years from mom and pop startups to rock bands and celebrity chefs. She is the author of the best-selling Numbers 101 for Small Business series of books and writes for Forbes, MSNBC, the Globe & Mail, Yahoo! Finance, Investopedia, and Motley Fool, among other financial publications. Her new book, Piggy Banks to Paychecks, helps parents teach their children how to be money smart. She splits her time between Canada and the United States and currently lives by the ocean with her husband and two children, who have finally learned that money doesn’t grow on trees. For more, go to www.piggybanks2paychecks.com.
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