How to get started selling on Etsy {Sewing to Sell}


Etsy is an e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items and supplies. Makers and artists create their own shops within the Etsy platform, they add a banner and create an online storefront, and list their unique items. Etsy has great advantages for makers, the initial cost of opening a shop is very low compared with other solutions (it’s actually free to open a shop and you pay a $0.2 fee for each of the items you add to your shop for sale (“list” in Etsy language) and a second fee of 3.5% of your list price, when you sell an item).

Etsy is great because you can potentially reach a large amount of niche buyers who value handmade or uniquely made items. You can learn what sells best and how to build a better Etsy shop as you go. Selling what you sew is a great idea to start your own business or fund a special project and I don’t know if you know this already, but all my sewing patterns give you a licence to sell what you sew, provided you don’t resell the pattern itself.

As an Etsy seller myself I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way and give you some tips about opening and managing an Etsy store. We’re going to have a series of practical posts this month about selling what you sew, but today we’re going to go over the 5 steps you need to take to open your own Etsy shop. And you know what? It’s super easy!

1. Start by deciding what you’re going to sell

On Etsy you can sell handmade items, craft supplies and vintage items. So you could sew the bags you made, but you could also sell supplies that aren’t easy to find in your area. On Etsy, like any other market, sometimes customer demand might surprise you so feel free to start by selling lots of different items. You’ll then be able to specialise and invest your sewing time in making those items that sell most. If you want to get inspired by hundreds of stories about makers who built their handmade businesses step by step, I recommend the Etsy Blog.

2. Price your items 

Pricing is difficult for most makers and artists. Something that’s easy to make for you could be very valuable for someone else. You might (and you should) window-shop around Etsy and see how items similar to yours are prices. Some will seem impossibly cheap and others too expensive, but you have to find the price that works for you. One easy strategy is to calculate the cost of your supply and decide how much you’re going to pay yourself for the time spent making. If you have a specific goal in mind, like going to an exotic holiday or making a special gift to someone you love, try to figure out how many items you’d have to sell to reach your goal and adjust your price accordingly.

Deby from So Sew Easy also has a great post about pricing your handmade items.

3 Take well-lit photos 

Now that you know what you’re going to sell and how you’re going to price this, and you’ve sewn at least a basic inventory, start taking photos. Good photos are crucial on Etsy, so try to use natural light as much as possible, stay away from the flash and try to put your items in context, to tell a story. If you or someone in your family can model your items, that’s really great as well! When taking photos, try to cover all the main angles and also show any details your customers might skip at first sight.

4. Write detailed descriptions 

Describing something you made can someone be difficult, so if you’re feeling too subjective, ask a friend to write a detailed description of your items and work with that. Try to think what kind of words would your customers type in a search engine and whether they would find those words in your descriptions. This is very basic SEO, but it’s good to start thinking about how your customers search for items similar to yours. Make sure you describe the materials and process you used and who this product is for. If you think it’s relevant, tell your customers where you source your supplies, how you work, about your studio etc.

5. List your items and start telling everyone about your shop

Taking photos, writing descriptions and generally getting everything ready can sometimes last weeks and months. Don’t get trapped in the idea that everything has to be perfect when you hit the “publish button”. It will be perfect in time, what you need to do is get the best version of your product at the moment and put it in front of your customers. As a new seller, it will take some time before both people and search engines find your new content so why wait? Start small, with 5 to 10 items and get the best photos you can at this moment, the best descriptions and launch your shop. You’ll have time to take better photos and add more things.

 Oh, and if you’ve launched a new shop, start telling everyone about it! If you have an Etsy shop or if you’re already selling items made with my patterns, leave a link below, I’d love to get to know more about your business!

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  1. Love this post !!! Thank you for sharing !!!!!!!

  2. These tips are most welcome, Samantha. Thanks for the heads-up! Etsy is really a major online market now, having recently gone public in the stock market, so it is important to maximize it as best as we can. But you are right in saying that we should not be intimidated at the very least. Take things at the right pace, but don't take too much time. What matters is that we put our stuff out there, and really showcase our wares. It's all about having a great product in the end. Cheers!

    Travis White @ Marketing Digest

  3. That's the most important edge of Etsy: it’s very easy to set up shop, and you don’t need a physical address to do so. It's just a matter of knowing what to do with their stores and market one’s products, for which you've given some useful basic pointers. Thanks for sharing!

    Lowell Garner @ Attract More Clients


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