Being an artist is often associated with being broke, as seen from the trope “Starving Artist.” While this stereotype is an unfair assessment about artists in general, it only means that they are focused on the final product.
The quality of their creation is of highest priority.
Anything else, including monetary value placed on it, are secondary.
At the same time, our reality requires us to be practical and find a way to make a living. The fact remains that they need to survive and pay the bills if they want to make more art.
Balancing money and art has always been a tenuous exercise at best when it comes to artists.
However, with a platform like Etsy, artists and others can now make a living out of their artistic expression.
Etsy is an online marketplace where artists in different media can sell their work locally and globally. The platform empowers artists and creators to continue doing what they love and make money.
All without compromising their value and make a good fortune.
How To Make Money On Etsy
So to help you get out of the starving artist stereotype, let’s talk about how you can make money on Etsy.
Etsy has been a favorite of artists, sewers, crafters, and other creative sole proprietor types who specialize in handmade goods and products.
There’s plenty of potential for an Etsy shop owner to make extra cash. Or in some cases even a full-time income.
But it does take a lot of work and smart planning to pull off.
Want A Short Cut?
This post will give you all that you need to succeed on Etsy. But there’s nothing wrong with wanting a more step-by-step guide.
If you want video training from a super Etsy success, we recommend Sergey Kasimov’s Etsy Masterclass.
Sergey serves as your mentor to show you how to set up your store, how to maximize your online presence, and how to guarantee success.
Having a mentor also has the added benefit that you can skip all of the rookie mistakes your competitors will be making.
What to Sell on Etsy
Whether you are creating jewelry, painting, and other handcrafted products and services, you have a place to sell on Etsy. In fact, we have an entire article dedicated to the best things to sell on Etsy.
Ideally to thrive as an Etsy seller, you should sell arts and crafts you are passionate in creating. Make sure that they are set to high standards and are unique enough to make buyers notice them.
If you specialize in services like carpentry and pottery services, your concern is your inability to create products off your skills.
Fortunately, Etsy allows you to sell patterns and tutorials that will help aspiring artists to improve their craft.
In other words, the Etsy platform gives you plenty of options to use your creativity to help others and make a profit off your artistic skills.
If you’re still unsure what product to sell, you need to consider these factors:
- Lightweight – Lighter products cost less to store and ship to the buyer, which means more profit for you.
- “Niche” product – Have a specific product to sell in mind. If you want to sell jewelry, think of a particular type like rings, brooches, or anklets. Once you have decided on a type, you can narrow it down to an even much more specific design. For rings, you can choose from silver thumb rings or custom name rings, to name a few.
- Competitive pricing – Do a quick search on Etsy and look for products similar to what plan on selling. Check the prices of each and see if you can come up with a similarly priced product with a high-profit margin.
- Evergreen – Avoid selling seasonal products like Halloween costumes and Christmas decors. To maximize your earnings, you need to sell a product that people will buy regardless of the month and year.
LeiLei Secor changed her Etsy product from macramé bracelets to wire-wrap jewelry because the former didn’t sell. By taking the time to see what sold on Etsy and what didn’t, she was able to determine a better strategy for her Etsy store.
The results? She was able to make $100,000 on Etsy, which she used to pay for her college tuition.
What Do You Already Craft & Sell?
The first step in building a successful Etsy shop is making sure you’re creating something with demand. Are your friends hitting you up on Facebook because the quilts you make are amazing?
Do you create wicker baskets, bead jewelry, or any other hand crafted product that people who know you are always asking for? Or already paying you for?
That’s a good sign that you’re creating handmade items that are going to be profitable on Etsy.
If they’re in demand in real life, chances are that you already have something that will do very well on Etsy, as well.
This can be a great starting point for your Etsy store. But it’s also just that: a start. Use this to help test the waters and then make sure you do your research, optimize your listings, and promote your store.
I've been selling products on Amazon since 2014.
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How About Selling Private Label Products on Etsy?
Etsy prides itself in providing artists a platform to showcase their handmade arts and craft for sale. However, the idea of selling premade products and branding them your own is a much profitable venture.
Instead of meticulously crafting the items with love, you can buy wholesale items from a cheaper manufacturer and mark up the prices.
This process is standard on Amazon through Fulfillment by Amazon. I have discussed this topic in depth in an article I wrote that you could read by clicking here.
However, private label selling is a major red flag on Etsy.
Three Bird Nest did exactly this to reach the million dollar mark a year on the platform. Stay at home mom and Three Bird Nest owner Alicia Shaffer purchased wholesale products from Alibaba.com and resold them on Etsy at a higher price.
While her tactic was pure savvy marketing, she drew the ire of Etsy sellers who think that her practice violated Etsy’s philosophy, which is about selling handcrafted boutique.
Third Bird Nest left Etsy in 2015 because Alicia claims that the platform is no longer supportive of their cause. Ultimately, Etsy sided with artists and hobbyists who focused on turning their efforts into profit.
This is both a story of the potential of the Etsy marketplace, but also the dangers of operating in a gray area of the rules on the site.
For those thinking of selling wholesale products from Alibaba.com and passing them off as “handmade,” think again.
Etsy states that this practice is a clear violation of their policy and they will suspend your account if they find out about you.
The focus on handmade products is taken very seriously by Etsy.
How to Sell on Etsy
You must create an account to set up your online shop at Etsy. You will need to fill out your store information with images and description to provide users details about what you are selling.
Unfortunately, it comes at a cost – $0.20 listing fee to be exact. You also need to part with 3.5% of every sale you make on the platform.
In addition to that, you need to shoulder the expenses if you accept credit card payments, as well as PayPal and conversion fees.
Those expenses can add up quickly. That’s even before figuring out when things like sales tax or your own self employment tax come into play. Given the cost you will incur in registering and making a sale on the site, it can seem like building your site is much more feasible from a financial perspective.
Sometimes that might end up being the case. But many times that’s actually not true when you look at the big picture.
After all, you are not directly paying to set up a shop on Etsy. You are paying for the thousands of proven buyers who have shopped multiple times on the platform.
Getting your products listed down on Etsy will help make your products more visible to your target audience.
Anyone who has started a business website for themselves knows how hard it can be to get your website in front of the eyes of a potential buyer. Etsy does the heavy lifting for you on finding your
Also, customers tend to buy from platforms that they can trust. If you plan on building a site from scratch, then you have zero leverage in your market.
To develop a relationship with your audience, you need to market and promote your site like mad to gain the recognition you deserve. This process may take months, or longer, to accomplish.
With Etsy, the hard work is already done for you. Etsy is a proven brand that drives lots of traffic (it currently ranks at 188 on Alexa Global). People who want to buy handcrafted arts and craft head on to Etsy.
Using these facts to your advantage, you can potentially make a killing selling your products on the platform!
Having Two Separate Shops
Nonetheless, it is possible for you to run an Etsy shop and have a website like Urban Wood Goods does. Owner Erin True started her Etsy shop in 2014 that she used as a springboard to launch her furniture company that is independent of the platform.
Her sales exceeded $1 million in the same year, a quarter of which came from her Etsy shop.
An argument can be made that having a site separate from Etsy is potentially more profitable. However, setting up an Etsy shop was important for her as she used the platform as leverage to promote her company.
Without Etsy, who knows if her company would have existed by now?
Therefore, it is highly advised that you still sign up for an Etsy shop to get hold of your captive market before transitioning to building a brand outside Etsy.
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One option is to build your own store with Shopify… Learn more in this post on Shopify vs Etsy.
How to Create a Good Listing on Etsy
Just like how businesses constantly work their way up on Google Search, you must find a way to appear on top of Etsy search results. Appearing near the top, if not at the top, should yield your shop more clicks and visitors, which could give way to more buyers.
The process of getting listed on Etsy follows the same basic formula as with most search-driven platform.
Below are some of the practices you need to consider using to boost your Etsy list ranking and get in the good graces of the Etsy algorithm gods.
The keyword you plan on optimizing for your Etsy list will make or break your earnings potential on the site.
Like Google and Amazon in which you have multiple tools for keyword and competitive research to choose from, so does Etsy.
You can read our full article on the best etsy tag generators, which also includes a list of keyword research tools for etsy.
However, we will just mention 2 research tools that you can use for Etsy.
First up is Sale Samurai.
Sale Samurai allows you to do in-depth keyword research, generate tags, and a whole lot more. The best part is that its founded by very experienced sellers that have a history of creating top notch software products.Try Out Sale Samurai for Free Here
Another option is Marmaleade
The tool makes research easier for you. Upon entering a keyword, you will see the engagement, competition, and category page levels to help you decide if you need to optimize the keyword on your listing.
You can also see keyword suggestions, trending tags, and word cloud to help you come up with keyword ideas.
For a better explanation on how this tool works, read this article by Tara L. Jacobson about increasing her Etsy shop ranking from #376 to #39 within 24 hours.
Once you have chosen your keyword, you can use it to show your competitors ranking high for it. Marmalead will show you the shop grades and details on how to increase the score for each shop.
As a shop owner yourself, you need to take the common denominators for all shops.
For additional help with competitor research, use the Listing in Search feature on Etsy Gadgets.
Find at least three shops on Etsy that you feel are direct competitors for your keyword. Get their store names and enter them one by one on Listing in Search with your keyword.
The tool will show all the tags that the shop uses and the items that appear on top of search results for the keyword.
Use the information to populate your shop with the ones competitors are using so you can take a piece of their traffic.
While it’s great to have potential buyers click on your shop high on the search result, you need to close the deal with them by making your listing look attractive to them.
Etsy provides a basic overview on how to optimize your shops for search, but below are additional advice that you need to consider:
- Do not obsess on image optimization – Just make sure that the images are hi-res and do not exceed 100kb before uploading them. You do not have to name them using your target keyword. Etsy will change the filename using their naming convention which is in numbers.
- Keep listing fresh – Keep shuffling your listing by promoting your most popular products consistently. Etsy prioritizes shops that are updated on a regular basis, so you need to take advantage of that.
- Keep up with the updates – Just like Google, Etsy improves its algorithm over time. What was once working on its search feature may no longer work in the future. Therefore, you need to be on your toes when it comes to observing the best Etsy SEO practices.
Optimize on Google
Etsy shops also appear in Google search results, so you get the extra traffic from the world’s biggest search engine.
When optimizing your Etsy shop on Google, you need to worry about your shop’s meta tags, in particular, your title and description.
Both will appear in search results as your rich snippets. Therefore, aside from mentioning your keywords, you need to make them as descriptive as possible to make people click on them.
Limit your product page title to 55 characters and your description to 120 characters. For your description, provide a detailed explanation of the product.
To increase your ranking on search results, you may need to do some link building.
Etsy even mentions it as one of SEO’s most important practices you need to do for your shop. However, building links is a time-consuming takes time.
Unless you have a stable relationship with website owners, it would be difficult to get a link from their sites. You may need to get creative.
Therefore, it’s important to network with site owners, especially influencers, and build organic relationships with them. This Quicksprout post should give you a better understanding of how getting to know influencers on a personal level correlates with building links to your Etsy shop.
It is important to note that the purpose of building relationships is not just purely for link building.
In fact, getting a backlink from them should only be a byproduct of your efforts in developing a symbiotic partnership.
They can easily tell if you are only after getting backlinks to their site.
How to Make Money on Etsy: Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions we’ve gotten in the past in regards to becoming a successful Etsy entrepreneur.
How Much Do Etsy Sellers Make?
About 50% of people make less than minimum wage on an hourly basis on Etsy.
But about 10% make over $100 per hour.
So the question shouldn’t be to ask yourself what others are making. It should be to ask yourself if you can be better than 90% of people at what you do.
And I think you can. If so, you could be making well over $100 per hour on Etsy.
But you need to learn the ins and outs of how to make money on Etsy
What Is The Average Etsy Income?
There are many successful sellers on Etsy sell between $500 and $1000 worth of items on Etsy per month.
However, this isn’t necessarily the norm. According to this post on the Skillcrush blog up to 65% of Etsy stores result in less than $100 a month in profit.
This would also suggest that 35% of stores make more than $100 a month in profit.
Whether that’s good or terrible depends on how much time you put in, what your income goals are, and how much effort you put in towards building the best Etsy store possible.
It is fair to say the stories of $50,000/year plus income are quite a bite above average.
The last published median number was $291 a month of sales per Etsy shop.
Obviously much higher performing shops bring that number up, but there are many that are able to make a hundred or a couple hundred dollars of extra cash a month.
How Much Work Is Required For Etsy?
A lot depends on what you want out of the Etsy platform. If you are looking at creating a side income, or a full time income, it will take a lot of time, work, and dedication.
I recommend starting Etsy as a side job. Spend a few hours making some stuff, take nice pictures, and see how it sells.
It could be a fun little side gig or it could turn into a full time job.
Some very successful Etsy sellers end up hiring others to work on their craft with them.
I’d recommending starting as a side gig and then going from there.
How to Make Money on Etsy: Wrapping It Up
Etsy is a good starting place to sell your handiwork. It focuses on supporting craftspeople and hobbyists by giving them a platform to showcase their work and make a living. However, the competition is fierce.
It will be difficult to make money on Etsy if you are not aware of the best practices on how to get your shop found by your target market.
With the tips and advice mentioned above on how to make money on Etsy, you should come prepared once you decide on selling your products on the sites. It’s high time that you monetize your passion so you can earn money from the blood, sweat, and tears poured from creating your masterpiece.
Thanks for reading this article! If you have questions or comments about the post, please feel free to leave a note below!
If you want a more step-by-step guide to selling on Etsy, I recommend Sergey Kasimov’s Etsy Masterclass. Sergey serves as your mentor to show you how to set up your store, how to maximize your online presence, and how to guarantee success.
Having a mentor also has the added benefit that you can skip all of the rookie mistakes your competitors will be making.