Screen shot 2014-01-20 at 11.52.18 PMIf you are interested in selling handmade goods or vintage things online setting up an Etsy shop is a great way to get started. Its easy-to-use and connects you to an invaluable marketplace of buyers and sellers. They take a small cut of your profit ($0.20 to list plus 3.5% of the item price if the item sells) but it can be well worth it especially for those just getting started. For those of you as bad at doing math in your head as me here is what that looks like:

  • for a $5 item, you will see after Etsy’s cut $4.62
  • for a $30 item, you will see after Etsy’s cut $28.75
  • for a $75 item, you will see after Etsy’s cut $72.18

See Etsy’s full fee policy here.

If you are thinking about starting a shop the best thing is just to dive in, Etsy does a great job of guiding you through the process as you go. If you like a little preview of what you are getting into here’s run through of the info you will need to get together to launch your very own shop.

Register Account:

First you’ll need to register and account. If  you already have an account as a buyer you can use this account. This could be especially useful if you’ve already made treasuries and have followers associated with your account.

To register an account you will need:

  • An Email Address
  • A Username (This will be the name you log in using; it could be the same as your shop name or could be your name.)

You will have to confirm your account by clicking a link sent to you in the email adress you register so use a real address to which you have access.

Once you’ve registered and confirmed you email you set up a shop by clicking “Sell” in the upper left hand corner.

In order to limit the marketplace to relevant buyers and sellers, you can’t sell just anything on Etsy, it must fall into one of these 3 categories:

  1. Handmade
  2. Vintage
  3. Craft Supplies

The first thing you’ll do to set up your shop as a registered user is to choose your marketplace  (this is the country/currency  you do business in and is defaulted to $USD/ United States although you can open a shop in many countries)

Naming Your Shop

Now you’ll need a name for your shop (you can change this once after you set up so if it’s the only thing holding you back go ahead and go with the best you have right now and if nothing comes to you in a dream between now and then revisit after 30 days) While you’re brainstorming its a good idea to double check the availability by searching to see if the name you’re thinking of is already registered. But NOTE: Etsy reserves all names that have ever been used even if they are no longer active and you can’t know this until you are attempting to register that name so don’t get too attached until you can confirm the availability at this stage.

Next you’ll want a Shop Title. This is different from your shop name and generally describes what your shop sells. This will come up in Google Searches before the name of your shop so be clear and descriptive.

Now you’ll need a banner in the form of a .jpg, .gif or .png that is 760px by 100px and no larger than 2MB. If you have a photo you can add text to the design using online photo editing sites like Picnik for a quick and easy banner to get you started.

Youll then be given the opportunity to include:

  • Your first shop announcement  (note the first few lines of this will show up in your google results)
  • Message to Buyers (that is sent as soon as an item is bought)
  • Message to Buyers for Digital Items (that is sent as soon as a digital item is bought)

You can always edit these later but its a good idea to fill out drafts now to help you figure out your ‘voice’ as a shop owner as well as thinking through what things you’d like to say to a buyer. (Thank you, a little about the timeline / process and how to reach you if needed)

Next you’ll want to list your first items. Etsy recommends listing at least 8 separate items as soon as you open your shop. For each item you will need all of this information:

About this Item (Who made it? What is it? When did you make it?)

Category (What is it? What type?)

 Title of Item (The words you use are also keywords for Etsy Search results)

Variations (If you have similar items in different color, size etc options; You can create your own categories here)

Shop Section (Here you can create a number of sections for your shop to keep your inventory separated and browse-able by category. Think about these as aisles in a brick and mortar shop and the Section Labels as the Signs that Hang above each aisle)

5 Photos (Use all 5 slots)

Description (include measurements!)

13 tags



Quantity (If you have more than one list as many as you have, each time one is sold Etsy will auto renew your listing -charging $0.20 for that new listing- each time until your total quantity is sold out. You can edit this quantity- and all of the listing specifics at anytime)

Processing Time (This is generally the time it will take you to prepare for shipping. Once you get into the swing of thing you may notice it is easier to build up a few orders and do them in a batch. I generally do orders twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays so I list processing time as 3-5 days because I will definitely process the order in 3-5 days no matter when it is ordered.  Be reasonable it is better to overestimate the time it will take you than to be late with orders. Etsy generates stats on your shop according to how on time you are with your orders and how quickly you reply to conversations. If your item is made-to-order include the time it will take you to make plus the time it will take you to prepare for shipping)

Shipping Rates (Pack an average item, weight it and check the shipping costs with USPS or whichever carrier you prefer. Consider flat rate options through USPS if the weight of your products varies. Once you get started you can create Shipping Profiles for different types of items I have a different one for Clothes, Small Wares and Bulky/Oversized Wares. Consider working out international shipping rates for your products. I do about 30% of my business internationally. It costs a bit more but you can charge separately for international rates and are able to fill out all the customs info online-up to a certain cost/weight-)

In the left hand column you will be able to fill out your shops policies. This includes:

A welcome message (which will appear later on your about page which you can develop with a story about  how you got started and up to 5 photos showing your processes, stock or making of photos)

Payment Policy (Think about what kind of payments you will accept -eg direct checkout through Etsy, PayPal, mailed personal checks etc)

Shipping Policy (Your standards and any upgrades you are willing to do)

Refund Policy (Have one clearly listed in advance. Because I deal in vintage and am careful to disclose all info and clearly photograph, I have listed that I only refund if there was damage during shipping however I generally refund anytime someone is dissatisfied, its just not worth it for the bad reviews. This will be up to you and different advice is given for different types of products. For items that people may not like like soaps or candy its good to offer a money back guarantee to encourage buyers but require that they ship items back to you for returns to deter people from asking for a refund under false pretenses. Whatever you do meet your policy or more and keep your show reviews high!)

Additional Information (Here you can indicate openness to wholesale, retail arrangements or list FAQs once you have them)

There is a place in the right column for entering your profile which includes: image, name, location and a short text box for ‘about you’.

The final section before your shop is ready to launch is your billing and payment info.

You will need a bank account in the country in which you are registered. Checking or Savings will do. You will also need to re enter your full name address and the last 4 digits of your social security number.

If you’ve found this article useful check out my free tools page for a 1 page Etsy Launch Box PDF worksheet which consolidates the info from this post and gives you a space to collect all the highlights on one single sheet.


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