6 things to have ready before you open shop on Etsy
Thinking of opening an Etsy shop? Congratulations! It’s an exciting and rewarding adventure.
When I started my Etsy shop there were a few aspects of the process that could have been a bit smoother. I tried to research and prepare what I thought was needed, but like any new venture into the unknown, you don’t know what you don’t know until you get there and find out!
So I’ve put together a few tips to help give a bit of an idea of what you can expect and things you can get organized and have ready to go before you open shop on Etsy.
Here are 6 things to have ready before opening an Etsy shop:
1. Your shop name
Obviously before you open shop you need a name, but choosing a name for your business can be a bit tricky and time consuming. Even after a whole lot of brainstorming and research to find words and phrases that communicated the type of look and feel I wanted for my small business, it seemed like every name I thought of was already taken.
How to choose the right name for your product and your brand is a whole other discussion in itself, but the Etsy-specific tip regarding your shop name that might be handy to know is that Etsy only allows one-word names.
Not a big deal but worth keeping in mind in case your multi-word name merged together doesn’t read very well or even creates an undesirable or unintended phrase when spaces between words are eliminated.
Also, depending on the type of name you’re after, it’s worth keeping this in mind if you’re considering registering your business name with ASIC (in Australia, or the equivalent authority in your country), and/or using the same name for a website address and social media handles. You’ll want a name that’s not already taken on any of those channels, not just Etsy.
2. Prepared text ready to copy & paste
I had my product descriptions and a bit about my shop typed up and ready to go, but there was some information I didn’t know I would need prepared.
The process Etsy takes you through step by step to open your shop forces you to create product listings before allowing you to fill in other parts of your shop like the ‘about’ section, shipping options etc.
This means that you start paying Etsy fees before you even open your shop, as the listing fees are charged as soon as they are published.
You probably don’t want to be paying to have your items listed while no-one can even see them, so my advice is to make sure you have all your other information typed up and ready to copy and paste straight into Etsy before you start.
Some details you’ll want to prepare include:
*About your shop – A bit about you and your products. Tell your maker ‘story’ to help potential customers get to know you a bit, learn about your process and build trust in you and your products.
*Shipping prices and options – Where will you be prepared to ship to and how much will you charge? Will you offer shipping upgrades like express post? If so, at what cost? How much extra will you need to charge per item if someone makes an order for multiple items? How long will it take for the orders to arrive?
I’ve found working out my shipping charges tricky and have adjusted them a couple of times. Potential buyers are easily put off by high shipping rates (I don’t like paying much for postage either!) and Etsy encourages you to keep them low, but sending parcels via Australia Post (or any courier here) ain’t cheap! You’ll need to weigh up how much customers will be willing to pay with how much it will actually cost you to send your products and whether you want to work that into your item price or absorb some of the cost. Again, that’s a whole other blog post which I may do in future, but for now my tip is to talk to your local post office staff to find out the best method for sending your items and how much it will cost you to package and post them.
*Listing details – the information for each item you want to sell on Etsy. You’ll need a title, description and price as a minimum, but it’s handy to have more details ready as well.
The description can outline what the item is and how it’s used, what it’s made from, what it looks like, its dimensions, colour etc. You want to give potential buyers as much detail as possible to help them see exactly what your product is and why they might want to buy it.
In addition to the regular description there are also places to include specific details like the item’s main and secondary colours, and the occasion it might be bought for (eg. baby gift, fathers day, etc).
Other details for each listing include keywords/ tags, which are vital for marketing your products and helping buyers find them. There are blogs dedicated to this and other Etsy SEO, but to start with, think about what buyers looking for items like your product might search for and use those terms here (eg. crochet doll, vegan leather shoes, etc).
I’m going to write another post shortly with more details on each section of your listing so stay tuned for that and I’ll try to remember to link to it here once it’s published.
3. Quality photos in the correct dimensions
High quality images are really important for selling on Etsy. Make sure you have good photos ready to upload, showing the best features and details of your products, and how they are used. You can use 10 photos per listing.
As well as photos of your items to sell, you’ll also want images for your shop banner, profile pic, and ‘About’ section, all of which are different sizes.
Etsy lists the sizes for the different images needed here.
You can use a photo editing program like GIMP to resize your images to the dimensions needed for each purpose.
Have a look at some photography blogs to get some tips on how to take great shots. My advice is to use natural daylight (good lighting is essential), plain backgrounds and keep it simple. Experiment with flatlays and props but only if they enhance the story of your item, not detract from it.
You want your images resized and ready not just so your shop looks good when you launch it, but because you can’t save draft listings without a picture. I thought I might be able to enter all my listing info over a few sessions, adding photos later before publishing, but you have to upload at least one photo of your item before you can save the rest of the details you’ve entered.
4. Digital copies of your ID & bank documents
Obviously when you set up an Etsy shop you’ll need to provide the details of the bank account for your sales amounts to be deposited into.
You will also need scanned copies of your ID and any other documents needed to verify that you are authorized to use that account. This is especially important if your bank account has a name different than your business name or your own name.
Also be aware that Etsy won’t necessarily notify you straight away if they require any further documents, but might wait until the first use of that account – ie. your first sale, and you don’t want that causing any problems with your customers! It’s also important to note that Etsy has a strict time frame for you to respond to any such requests and don’t take global time differences into account, which may leave you with very little time to arrange extra paperwork if needed.
So have all those documents scanned and ready to upload.
5. An understanding of the fees
Selling on Etsy is not free. Etsy is a business and makes a small amount on every listing and sale made through their platform. Etsy provides the marketplace and infrastructure that enables you to sell your goods and in exchange you pay them a small commission through various fees.
These fees have recently changed so it’s good to make sure you are up to date with the current arrangements and know exactly how much you will be paying, when you pay, and how.
There are two main fees Etsy charges:
Firstly there’s the listing fee for each item listing you publish (currently 20c in AUD). That fee covers the listing to stay visible in your shop for 4 months. If it doesn’t sell in that time you can relist it and pay the fee again. You can choose whether to relist your items manually or if you want it to be renewed automatically. These fees will appear on your Etsy bill for you to pay each month.
Then there’s the 5% transaction fee on each sale and shipping transaction now too. So every time someone buys something from your shop, Etsy takes 5% of the total amount including the shipping charge. (Eg. If you sell a $30 item with $9.50 shipping, Etsy takes $1.97 of the total amount of $39.50). This amount is deducted automatically before they transfer the remaining amount to your bank account.
The transaction fee is converted to US dollars at the time of purchase so the exchange rate at that time will determine the exact amount Etsy receives from your sales, and the remaining amount you receive.
It’s also helpful to know that there is always a time delay in funds being transferred – you can choose how often you receive the funds from your sales but even the quickest transfer option will take several days, sometimes up to a week before the funds arrive in your account.
6. A completed test sale
OK, so you can’t perform a test sale until after you’ve opened your shop, but it’s a good idea to have it on your checklist of things to do before you tell the world that your shop is now open and ready for business (yay!).
Etsy does not allow you to buy from your own shop, but you could ask a friend or family member to order something (which you could reimburse them for) while you sit with them to observe the process and see if it all goes smoothly. Or you could set up a second account I guess and use that to do a test purchase before any real customers visit your shop.
This will allow you to identify and fix any issues before they become public and cause any customer relations nightmares.
And that’s it! You are now ready to open your shop and start building your own e-commerce empire! Yay!
I hope these tips are useful in helping you get ready to open your Etsy shop. All the best with it! I’m keen to hear how you go – leave a comment and let me know. I’d also love to hear from fellow sellers already on Etsy – is there anything you would add to this list? What do you wish you’d known before opening your shop? Share your advice with Etsy newcomers by commenting below. Thanks!