Selling on Etsy: Part 1

If you’re the kind of person who likes to hand make gifts for friends, or is always being told that you take the best pictures, maybe there’s a business to be pursued there.

You might want to take your handcrafted items to fairs or flea markets, or find a way to present them for sale to your friends. But an even better idea would to be sell them over the Internet.

However, designing your own website from scratch is both difficult and costly. Fortunately there’s a low-cost way to bring your products to the public: Etsy.

Think of Etsy as the eBay of handmade and vintage items. The last figures I saw, and they’re almost a year old, said that 800,000 vendors are selling on Etsy. The message here is that competition can make it tough to catch the attention and interest of shoppers.

Etsy seller fees

Before we go any further and give you selling on Etsy tips, let’s talk cost. How much does it cost to sell on Etsy?

Every item you list on Etsy is charged an upfront fee of $0.20. And that’s not every type of item, it’s every item in your inventory that you’re putting up for sale.

If you sold a hand painted necktie and had five you wanted to sell, the listing fee would be $1. This keeps your items on Etsy for four months. After that, you need to re-list and pay the fees again.

Next, when you make a sale, Etsy charges a 3.5 percent fee on the sales price. Shipping is not included in this fee. And, if you use Etsy’s “direct checkout,” an additional 3 percent + $0.25 is tacked on.

It may seem like those costs are high, but compared to designing your own website, they’re dirt cheap. If your business takes off, you can go that route later, when you can afford it.

Etsy ideas

Are you wondering what things to sell on Etsy? Etsy has two major categories: handmade and vintage. Spend a good amount of time exploring Etsy to get a feel, and inspiration, for what sells. However, the minds at Etsy recommend that you sell something that you’re really into, that you’re good at and that you love. In other words, don’t just try to jump on a bandwagon that you think will lead to big sales.

With nearly one million sellers, it’s going to be difficult to come up with a totally new idea—although people do it all the time. If someone is selling something similar to what you envision, be creative and try to put your own twist on it.

Further reading

Etsy has volumes of information on how to best use the site. Check out the Etsy Seller’s Handbook. And, to get a great “behind-the-scenes” look at one Etsy seller—with a lot of excellent tips included—read this article about a woman who sells custom children’s embroidery.

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