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Etsy 101: How to create a shop and sell your handmade items

A few years ago, I started making herbal remedies for my family. Soon after, I began sharing them with friends. I nodded when people said I should sell them, but didn’t do much about it. And then people kept saying I should open an Etsy shop.

So I did.

I opened my shop, (which I’ve since moved to my own website) where I offer herbal remedies to help you nurture your family. Before I opened it, though, I had a lot of questions.

Naturally, I went a-Googling and found most of what I needed to know. Thankfully, I also got some helpful advice from a friend with an Etsy shop. Today, I’m passing on the tips that helped me the most.

Etsy 101: How to Create a Shop and Sell Your Handmade Items


First, you need a product to sell. Of course, right? But for some of us, figuring out which product (or products) to sell is a bit of a challenge because our interests are so varied. So, will your shop feature all of your hand-knit goodies or upcycled fashion items?

Choose a focus and make products that fit in with it. If you really want to sell your other stuff, you can open another shop.

Once you have that product line figured out, you’ll need to get some other stuff together:

Packaging: How do you want the finished product to look? If you’re unsure, look at similar Etsy shops and stores for ideas. Then take into consideration the cost and time it will take to make it look that way. I’m a huge fan of simple and inexpensive.

Labeling: Some products will require more in-depth labeling to let people know ingredients and what-not. I just searched for “herbal product labeling requirements” and found everything I needed.

Prices: A very important part of the process, no doubt. First, you’ll need to account for the cost of putting your product together. Supplies, packaging, labeling, shipping, etc. Add it all up and divide it by the number of products you get so you know the cost for making each one.

Next, look at Etsy and see what similar items go for. It’s tempting to under-price at first, but don’t. Etsy shops have a reputation for creating quality goods, which people are willing to pay more for. If your pricing is way over, is your product way better and deserving of that price? Do you need to find cheaper supplies?

Descriptions: Create fun descriptions for your items. Let people know what it does, why it’s special and why it’s a good fit for them. Also include pertinent details like size, volume, etc.

Photos: Great photos are a must on Etsy! Take them yourself in natural light against a solid backdrop (search a few Etsy shops to see what you like best). Then edit them in Pic Monkey or Canva (my favorite) so they’re ready to go. If you can, I strongly suggest getting a pro to take them for you. Maybe you could barter?

Shipping supplies: Don’t forget shipping supplies. Choose something lightweight that will protect your product. You could wrap it in tissue paper or bubble wrap to keep it safe during shipment.

Also, think of how it’s going to look when the package gets opened. Treat it like a gift that you’re giving to a loved one. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but are there any finishing touches you can put on to make them say, “Wow!”?

Etsy Account

Opening an Etsy account is super easy and you can do it in just a few minutes. Once you do that, though, it’s time to get your shop in order:

Name: What’s your shop’s name? It took me a while to figure mine out, but I knew I wanted it to have to do with dragonflies. Take some time on this – it’s important. Then Google it and search Etsy to see if the name is being used by someone else.

Header: Every shop has the option to add a header. Make one easily with pic monkey. Upload a photo of your stuff and put some text over it. Etsy gives you the proper dimensions to use.

Policies: Take some time and fill out all of these boxes. Let people know what they can expect from your shop. It makes you appear more professional. If you need help, take a look at my policy page. Also take the time to fill out the welcome note and announcement boxes, too.

About page: I don’t know about you, but I’m more inclined to buy from someone that I’m familiar with, even if it’s just through a picture and a bio. This is a great place to let people know what makes your shop so special.

Payment method: Etsy has a great Direct Checkout option that allows people to pay with credit/debit cards or paypal. It’s easy to sign up for. You just need a checking account and debit card.

Separate bank account: Consider setting up a separate bank account that’s soley for your Etsy shop. This will help you with tax and accounting stuff in the future.


Customer Service

After so many customer service jobs, I am adamant about delivering excellent customer service. It’s not very hard to do.

Discounts: Offer discounts to loyal customers. Right now, my customers receive a personalized thank you note and a discount code for their next purchase. You can make it for a dollar amount, a certain percentage off or free shipping.

Communication: It’s so important to communicate with your customers! Let them know when an item ships. Ask them to contact you with questions. Respond to inquiries quickly. Send a follow-up note after a few weeks and ask for feedback. Be memorable.

Bonus items/samples: Consider adding in bonus items or samples of other products when you ship to customers. One shop I ordered from added a small sliver of one of their other soaps. I loved it and bought a bar. Could you do something similar?

Deliver on your promises (and then some): Tell people that you’ll notify them when an item ships. Then do it and include a short thank you note. Then throw another thank you note in your package. Make yourself memorable (in a good way).

Spread the Word

The crucial question is, how do you get people to actually go to your shop? Here are a few tips that will help:

Own your domain: If you can buy the domain for your shop, do it. Then forward it to your Etsy shop or create a simple wordpress blog that links to your Etsy shop (if this makes no sense to you, Google can help). It’s much easier for me to say, “head to dragonflyremedies dot com” than “go to etsy dot com, slash shop, slash dragonflyremedies.” It looks better on labels, too.

Facebook page: This is fast and easy. Create a page for your shop and let people know about it. Use it to share helpful information related to your product, product highlights and offer facebook-only discount codes. It’s a great community-builder.

Blog: Creating a blog for your site is a great way to get more people to your shop. Share tips relevant to what you make. Tell people how you would use what you make. Teach them how to make something. And don’t forget to add an email optin box for people who are interested in hearing more about your shop.

Tell your friends: Let everyone you know in on the fact that you’ve opened an Etsy shop. But do it in a non-spammy kind of way. Send a short e-mail (and a facebook message) with details and a link to the store. You could even add a discount code.

Ask your friends to tell their friends: End the message by asking them to share it with their friends. Doing so greatly increases your reach. It’s amazing how quickly something can grow just by asking your friends to mention something to their friends.

Consider giveaways on popular blogs: Do you have a favorite blog? More than one? Would the readers of that blog benefit from what you make? If so, consider approaching the owner of the blog about doing a giveaway of your item. If the blog has a lot of readers, it’s a great way to get more traffic to your shop. Make sure to tell all of your friends about the giveaway, too.

Whoo! That’s a lot to think about, but putting in the thought and effort at the beginning will help ensure the success of your shop.


Do you have an Etsy shop? What tips helped you the most?