How to Set Your Etsy Shop Up for Success (+ Free Etsy Quick Start Guide!)

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I’m going to let you in on a little secret - right now, the end of summer, is the BEST time to start that Etsy shop you’ve been thinking about forever.

As distant as it may seem to the general consumer, the holiday season is right around the corner, and shop owners are getting busy creating holiday products and prepping for the rush. Last year I made HALF of my yearly revenue in the final quarter alone, and that’s not uncommon!

I started my Etsy shop (Brave Girl Club) last year at exactly this time. By the week before Christmas, I had made over $12,000 in extra, nearly passive income - income, by the way, which helped me quit my soul-sucking day job and gave me the foundation to start working for myself full time. (Wanna read more about it? I spilled allllll my secrets in this big o'l’ post).

But, it’s not enough to just start an Etsy shop and hope for the best. Like anything worth doing, it takes some strategy, finesse and know-how to do it well and set yourself up for success. Luckily for you, I’m here to share exactly how you can get your shop up and running and on the fast track to holiday sales success! Plus, if you sign up at the bottom, you can download a super handy quick start guide and checklist that will help you through the process of figuring out what to sell, how to price it, and how to set up your shop and listings to get noticed, fast.

Have a solid offer.

Like, to be perfectly blunt, you have to have a good product that is price fairly. I think we all remember the horrors of that early 2000s blog Regretsy (just me? it was wild, trust me). Do some research, see if there’s a need or desire for what you want to sell, and then price it similarly to other relevant listings. And here’s a mini trend report from me to you: anything macrame, wicker, mid-century modern, 70s inspired, 90s inspired, or anything you could find at an Urban Outfitters store or Joanna Gaines’ house will inevitably sell like hot cakes.

Know your target market.

It’s not enough to have a cool product or two. It’s imperative to know who you’re trying to market these products to. And if your answer is “anyone and everyone” that’s not going to cut it. In this massively oversaturated online world, you have to be able to speak to a certain group of people well enough to get their attention. So take some time, get crystal clear on who your target market is (I have a freebie that can help) and then think about how you can make it as easy as possible for them to find your products on Etsy. That means figuring out what kinds of keywords and search terms they might use in order to find your products, as well as what products they’d be interested in, and how else they can interact with you online.

Find what sets you apart.

This kind of goes along with my first bullet point, but you will have an easier time carving out a niche and dominating it if you can find some sort of gap in the market. Basically, find something only you can offer. Even if you’re selling something that isn’t all that unique, you can still find a way to make it all your own. The odds were stacked against me from the beginning - do you have any idea how many novelty tee shirt shops there are on Etsy? The answer is A LOT. But I still managed to find my own unique style and brand positioning to get myself noticed in a crowded market. Whether there are 10 or 10,000 products similar to yours, no one can make it exactly like you can. Sounds cheesy, but it’s totally true. Figure out how you will set yourself apart and you’re already halfway there.

Invest in quality visuals.

The online shopping experience is all about visuals. You can’t touch or handle the product like you could in a store, so it’s important to make sure your listing has tons of high quality, visually pleasing images for potential customers to get a good idea of what your product is like. As I mentioned before, you don’t necessarily have to invest in professional photography right away (though if things start taking off, it’s not a bad idea).

Taking photos of your products with your iPhone is totally acceptable, as phone cameras are so advanced nowadays. Just make sure you take them in natural light, on simple backgrounds, and in a variety of angles and applications. I always make a Pinterest board of inspiration before I do a product photo shoot so I can make sure I (or my photographer) knows the vibe and general look I’m going for, as well as some kind of idea of the various shots.

Build a brand outside of Etsy.

This may seem counterintuitive for a post about Etsy shops, but what I mean is - Etsy is great and it can send you a lot of internal traffic if you find the right combination of keywords and product niches, but if you really want to maximize on your shop, you need to start a social media presence. Instagram and Pinterest will be your best friends. I’d suggest starting a second Instagram account just for your shop, start sharing product photos, behind the scenes shots, fun quotes, whatever fits your brand and ideal audience, and work on creating a whole brand identity and community around your products. Also be sure to pin your products onto Pinterest and use lots of relevant keywords. So many people search for things on Pinterest when shopping or looking for gift ideas, so you can’t afford to not share your pieces there.

Have a plan of attack for busy times.

If you’re reading this around the time I’m posting it and taking my holiday advice to heart, then with any luck you will quickly become very busy. For me last year, the action peaked in November and early December, during Black Friday and in the weeks before Christmas when everyone was scrambling to get their gifts ordered. Luckily for me, the way I run my shop is mostly automated and the print on demand model means I’m not packaging things in my living room and spending time shuttling back and forth to the post office.

However, if you are going a different route with your shop, you will need to have a solid game plan for when things get super busy. I’d suggest, if at all possible, to create as many products and build up your inventory as much as possible before the main holiday rush really kicks in. Make sure you order enough packaging supplies and tape. You want to come at it from the position of assuming your product will take off. The last thing you want to be doing is scrambling to catch up after your product gets featured on some Buzzfeed holiday shopping guide!

Phew! That’s a lot of info, but hopefully it will help you out. If you’re ready to take the plunge and get started with your Etsy shop, sign up below to get the FREE Etsy Quick Start Guide, which will help you figure out what to sell, how to price it, how to set up your shop, and how to get your listings found.

EtsyLizzie Benson