How To Sell On Etsy: 8 Steps To Open Your Etsy Shop in 2021

Chances are, if you’ve bought a handmade item online before, it was from an Etsy shop. You see the products everywhere now, even on TikTok where some Etsy sellers’ products go viral.

Selling physical and digital products on Etsy can be a lucrative side hustle that you can easily do from home.

If you’re creative and want a space to sell your products, learn how to sell on Etsy and start making money today.

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What Is Etsy?

Etsy is a marketplace or platform for sellers of handmade items and antiques to sell to buyers.

Founded in 2005, Etsy has over 45 million buyers, and they continue to grow. If you sell handmade or unique items and don’t want to spend too much time marketing and finding places to sell your items, Etsy may offer what you need.

How to Sell On Etsy (8 Easy Steps) 

It’s easy to sell on Etsy. You don’t need specific qualifying factors or to sell a specific amount. As long as you sell handmade goods, vintage goods, or digital products, you can create an active or passive income selling on Etsy.

Buyers purchase directly from you on the Etsy platform. You ship the products (or send them digitally) and receive payment. In exchange for the platform, you pay Etsy a percentage of your transaction.

That’s exactly what my friend Jamel did. She started selling her handmade illustrations on Etsy as a side hustle in 2014. Fast forward to today, her Etsy store earns $700,000+ a year!

Etsy store Melsy's Illustrations - The Boutique
(Screenshot from Etsy – Melsy’s Illustrations)

If you’re an individual seller looking to sell your goods to customers worldwide, here’s how to sell on Etsy.

1. Create an Account

Go to and click ‘Register.’ You’ll provide your name, email address, and create a password.

Etsy will then provide the terms and conditions of opening an Etsy account. I recommend reading them to ensure it’s a good fit for your objectives.

2. Create Your Etsy Shop

Next, you’ll create your Etsy shop. Click on ‘Open your Etsy Shop‘ and follow the prompts. You’ll answer questions pertaining to the primary language and currency you want for your shop, as well as the reason you’re opening the shop (you do this full-time, part-time, or other). 

Don’t worry, there aren’t any right or wrong answers.

3. Customize Your Shop

Next, you’ll customize your shop to make it your own. This includes:

  • Pick a shop name – It must be less than 20 characters long, but make sure it gives viewers an idea of what you sell. If you’re concerned about traffic and getting good SEO results, look for keywords that pertain to what you sell so you get the right target audience.
  • Create your shop bio – This is a chance to let viewers know what you sell and anything else you want them to know about your business. Keywords are important here, too, so do your research and know which target words your audience looks for.
  • Leave a shop announcement – If there’s something, in particular, you want your viewers to know, write it in the announcement section. This can be great for new releases, special sales, vacation days, or any other big news you want to share.
  • Write a message to buyers – Each time your buyers check out, they’ll receive your message. Write something short but encouraging to get them to come back and revisit you.

4. Write Your Shop Policies 

Just like you’d have policies if you had a brick-and-mortar store, the same is true of your Etsy store. You are the shop owner and can set the guidelines, including:

  • Shipping policy – Give buyers as many details about shipping as you can, including where you do/don’t ship to, the shipping costs, if you refund shipping costs, and which carriers you use to ship orders.
  • Return policy – Explain what you will and will not give refunds for. You are the shop owner, so you decide if you’ll accept refunds and under what circumstances. Be explicit in your description to limit any confusion or pushback.

5. List Your Products

Once you set up your Etsy shop and provide your buyers with as much information as possible about it, you can list your products with the following information.


Let buyers know what the product is, using keywords they might use to find you. Describe the item as if you were the buyer. What would you search for? Use those words in your title.


Etsy has categories and subcategories to help you get the right audience. Find the category that meets your product the most. 

Listing your product in just any category won’t bring you more sales—it may even decrease the sales you get because you won’t reach the right audience.


State if the product is a physical product (a product you’ll ship) or a digital product (a product the buyer will download).


Let buyers know how many items you have available. Since the items are often handmade, you may have a limited amount. Let your buyers know that and it may create some urgency.


Choose the price for your items and include any variance if you offer different sizes or colors at different prices.

Shipping Fees

Include the shipping fees per item and if you offer any discounts for multiple orders. If you offer free shipping or other promotions, include this information here too.


This is your time to shine. Write about your product and what you love about it. Let buyers get to know your product as intimately as you do just using your words. 

This is another area where keywords are essential. Use words you know buyers would type when searching for products like yours, so your shop ends up in their search.


A picture is worth 1,000 words, so don’t skimp on your photographs. Take photos in good lighting and with a quality camera so buyers can truly appreciate what you sell. If possible, use a white background when taking pictures and keep anything but the product out of it.

6. Choose Your Payment Method

You can accept payments however you want, but the most convenient is Etsy payments. You can receive payments via credit or debit card, bank accounts, and store credit if you sign up for it. Etsy also offers the option to accept PayPal, ApplePay, and GooglePay.

7. Provide Your Credit Card

Even though you’re selling on Etsy, you will be responsible for the Etsy fees. You must link a credit card to your account and add your billing address so Etsy can charge your fees automatically.

8. Sell Your Products

Once you set up your Etsy store, you are part of an online marketplace that will help you sell your items. While Etsy has an audience of millions, you still must market yourself. 

Etsy does some of the work for you by providing the shop and the audience, but don’t give up promoting your items yourself using social media and even word-of-mouth.

How Much Does It Cost to Sell On Etsy?

The good news is it doesn’t cost anything to open an Etsy store. It’s completely free to set up your store and even list your products. But, once you sell products, you’ll incur costs.

Here’s what you might pay.

Listing Fee

Each listing you make costs $0.20 and lasts for four months or until you sell the items. A listing isn’t one item, though. It can be multiples of the same thing, all under one fee. For example, if you sell hats all of the same style but different colors, you’d pay $0.20 to list them all if you put them in one listing.

If the four months ends and you still have inventory, you’ll pay the $0.20 listing fee again. If you sell all your products and don’t renew the listing, you pay nothing more.

Transaction Fee

You’ll pay a transaction fee if you sell a product, just like you would on eBay. Every time you sell an item, Etsy takes 5% of the sales price in exchange for the use of the platform.

If you want to boost sales and/or advertise your products, you can pay for promoted listings, much like you can on Facebook and other platforms. The cost starts at $1 per day and goes up depending on how specific you want to get with your target marketing.

Payment Processing Fees

No matter which payment processor you use, there will be fees. Etsy Payments charges a processing fee of 3% + $0.25 per transaction. Other payment providers have different processing fees. 

Compare your options to see which leaves you with the highest profits.

Tips to Maximize Your Etsy Store

Etsy is a big platform with a lot of Etsy sellers. It’s essential to find a way to maximize your sales. Here are a few quick tips to get you started.

Make Your Shop Name Your Brand

Branding is important even in an Etsy store. Once you choose a logo and colors for your store, stick with it. When you’re cohesive with your branding everywhere on and off Etsy, you’ll get more recognition and make more sales.

Run Contests for Etsy Promos on Social Media

Get your social media followers a reason to share your Etsy store. Run contents or promos to get your followers to share your links. 

Give a small promo code or gift for the followers who share the most. This will encourage interaction on your posts and create more engagement.

Consider Free Shipping

There’s something about free shipping that gets people excited. If you can work the shipping costs into the price you charge, you can offer free shipping even though you wrapped the costs into what you’re making. Customers will be more likely to buy from you if they know they’ll save on shipping.

Offer Clear Shipping and Return Policies

Don’t be wishy-washy in your descriptions. Buyers want to know exactly what they’ll get and how you’ll handle situations if they’re unhappy or there’s a shipping issue. 

Disclose all of your policies and procedures so customers are fully aware of what to expect and won’t have any unpleasant surprises.

Ask Customers for Reviews

Reviews sell all by themselves. Think about when you shop on Amazon. Before you buy, do you read the reviews? You probably feel better when you see a product with many reviews versus none. 

Buyers on Etsy feel the same way—they want reviews.

Ask your buyers for honest reviews after they receive your product. Having reviews from ‘real people’ will help increase confidence in your products.

Get Creative in Your Listings 

Don’t copy what everyone else does, even if they sell the same product. Let buyers know why you are different and why they should consider your product over others. 

Find a way to stand out or a way to solve a buyer’s pain points. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but you also don’t want to blend into the background.

Use a Professional Photographer

Using a professional photographer may cost you a bit of money, but it may also increase your sales dramatically.

Pictures sell the product themselves, especially when you’re selling handmade goods. Etsy sales rely on great pictures and if you can’t take them, consider hiring someone who can.

Utilize Etsy’s Marketing Tools

Etsy offers sellers the ability to use their marketing tools so that they can reach a broader customer base. The tool makes it easy to share your listings on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Social media is a great way to create brand awareness and connect with your brand’s ideal audience.

Learn Etsy SEO and Competitor Analysis

If you want to increase your shop’s visibility, you’ll need to learn Etsy SEO. Just like how websites need SEO to rank in Google, Etsy sellers need SEO to rank on their platform. 

The most basic aspects of SEO involve understanding user intent and keywords. Without keyword stuffing, ensure that your listing descriptions have unique keywords that align with the product category. There are tools like eRank that can help you discover and optimize Etsy keywords.

It’s also important to make sure you are doing competitor analysis on a regular basis. How are top competitors pricing similar items? If your price is much higher than theirs, they’ll most likely get the sale. This is especially the case if they have great pictures, listing titles, and descriptions.

Maintain Accurate Bookkeeping

Just like any other business, you’ll need to keep track of your income and expenses when selling physical and digital products on Etsy. It will need to be reported when you file taxes for the year, so the more organized you are, the better.

Whether through a spreadsheet or a more formal system like QuickBooks, I recommend you track everything from the start of your Etsy shop.

Keeping your books up to date can also help you set and track goals, know which products are doing well or need optimizing, and see your profit or loss.

The Bottom Line

Will you make millions the first year you open an Etsy store? Sorry to break it to you, but it’s not likely. However, it can still be worth it to sell your items in an Etsy shop.

Selling on Etsy is like making money for your hobbies. If you love what you make, why not make money doing it? 

It doesn’t cost much upfront until you sell items. Even then, it’s only 5%, which is minimal.

If you’re creative but don’t want to spend time making your own website and managing it, Etsy can be the perfect side hustle idea to help you put extra money in your pocket.

About John Pham

John Pham is a personal finance expert, serial entrepreneur, and founder of The Money Ninja. He has also been fortunate enough to have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, and U.S. News & World Report. John has a B.S. in Entrepreneurship and a Masters in Business Administration, both from the University of New Hampshire.

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