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10 Tips for Selling on Etsy: Avoid Common Seller Mistakes

I am the editor of Melmac Central, sell retro on Etsy, and host three podcasts. Life is wonderful.

How to sell successfully on Etsy.

How to sell successfully on Etsy.

Selling on Etsy: Avoid These Common Mistakes

I spend a lot of time educating people on how to start successful shops on Etsy. All of my advice is based on my own experience as a seller. Many people think that all you need to do is open a shop and your items will fly off the shelves without any effort, which is not the case. I learned the hard way when I opened up a shop on Etsy early on. To be honest, it requires hard work and dedication.

Etsy gives you the platform to turn your handmade items or dream of being your own boss a reality. However, running the business is up to you.

How to Sell Successfully on Etsy

I have outlined 10 key mistakes people overlook or make when selling on Etsy. Fixing these mistakes will really help you sell. Here, I will give you some crucial pointers on what to do to increase sales and traffic to your Etsy shop!

My Video: How to Increase Traffic on Etsy

1. Don't Jump In Without Doing Your Research

Many people who open shops on Etsy wonder why their items aren't selling. It's almost certain that they haven't properly educated themselves. Spend at least a day learning the ins and outs of this ever-growing community.

Do your homework and read up on all the Etsy policies, the how-tos, community forums, the seller handbook, sellers' stories, and read all the helpful, strategic advice from the platform and from other sellers if you wish to be successful.

At the end of this article, you'll find a great list of additional links to help you, suggestions on how to research selling on Etsy, and tips for selling your niche product.

2. Don't Post Grainy, Burry, or Fuzzy Photos

This is a huge problem. Maybe you are in a hurry or don't have enough time. The light may not be great or your cell battery won't allow you to take pictures with a flash. Perhaps your camera is giving you grief—a viable excuse. But whatever the problem, please know that a picture really is worth a thousand words.

It's simple: If you post ugly photos, no one will want to buy what you're selling.

Consider Etsy as the Martha Stewart of selling online. Does that make sense? You have to have pretty, cute, sensationally adorable photos. This isn't a garage sale but a boutique!

Take a bit more time to take your photographs. Etsy allows you to have ten images, which really lets you show every angle of your item. Upload as many great photos as you can. These photos should be clear, creative, and close-up! Make sure to show any flaws or damage, and include a ruler or some other familiar item to show the scale and size of the piece. Do your best to capture the item's true color.

For more tips, read my list of 10 Photography Tips for Successful Selling on Etsy.

Let me give you a hand selling on Etsy. On RetroChalet, vintage glove molds range about $36-$45.

Let me give you a hand selling on Etsy. On RetroChalet, vintage glove molds range about $36-$45.

3. Think Like a Buyer When You're Listing Your Item

The first five words of the Etsy title of your item are very important. These are the words that will show up in a search or in the HTML address of the item. This means that if you want the right buyers to find you, you will want to choose the most relevant, accurate, and descriptive terms possible.

Granted, you can use way more than just five or six words in your Etsy title, but as a rule, try to focus on the most important words at the start of your listing.


Let's say you have a vintage porcelain glove mold you are trying to sell. If I was looking for a glove mold, how would I search?

Bad Etsy Title: Very Pretty and Very Old Porcelain Hand Can Be Used for an Art Object or Home Decoration

Why is this a bad title? Because the words "very pretty and very old" are not useful, and the key term "glove mold" is left out completely.

Good Etsy Title: Vintage Porcelain Glove Mold Hand Art Object, Statue, Home Decoration, Antique, Porcelain

Why is this better? Because it gets right to the point: the first five words are vintage, porcelain, glove, mold, and hand: these are the words your buyer will be searching for. If you're not sure which words your buyer will be searching for, then spend some time searching several words (vintage, glove mold, or porcelain glove, or vintage hand, etc.) to see what comes up.

The terms that are most relevant are those that return more items like the one you're selling.


Let's say you have a handmade garnet wire-wrapped ring made of sterling silver you are trying to sell.

Bad Etsy Title: Pretty, Bright Handmade Garnet Ring Made of Silver Wire

Why is this title bad? Because it's not particularly helpful or accurate.

Good Etsy Title: Sterling Silver Garnet Ring Celtic Wire Wrapped, Handmade, Fine Silver

Why? Because if I was looking for this specific type of ring, I might search for "Celtic Ring Silver Garnet" or "Sterling Silver Celtic Ring" or "Garnet Wire Wrapped Sterling Ring" of which all three of my searches would pull up the keywords of the title.

Rule of Thumb: Think of your titles very carefully. Put the most precise and descriptive words first. Do your research to find the most precise keywords.

With authentic vintage or antique items, it's important to be fully transparent about the age, condition, and damage of the item. Parisian Blocks by RetroChalet

With authentic vintage or antique items, it's important to be fully transparent about the age, condition, and damage of the item. Parisian Blocks by RetroChalet

4. Be as Descriptive as Possible

Some sellers write a one-line description and leave out the good stuff. The trick is figuring out what needs to be said about the item and saying it shortly and sweetly. In other words, don't digress and don't write a book! Your words should be as descriptive as possible. Think of how you would want to learn about something.

  • If it's a necklace, what materials is it made of? How long is it? What kind of clasp does it have?
  • If it's a blanket, what are the dimensions, materials, and colors? How heavy is it and how does it feel?
  • If it's vintage, how old is it, what condition is it in, and what defects does it have?

Rule of Thumb: Always be descriptive yet concise. A story is nice, but not a 10-page essay.

Some people link their shop's other sections at the bottom of each description, which is helpful to get people to check out other items in your shop. But here's a pro tip: Do not link to a specific item, only a shop section. Why? Because those items will eventually expire and links will go "dead."

5. Use Keywords (Tags)

Keywords on Etsy are very important and will help get your item found (and sold). Many sellers don't take full advantage of their keywords, and this is a major mistake. Use them all.

How do I find and use all the appropriate tags and keywords?

If you can't think of descriptive words for your item, do a think-outside-the-box exercise. Let's say you have a blue vintage-style radio and it's made by Crosley. You have used the tags: radio, blue, crosley, vintage, but now what?

  • Is it plastic, melamine, melmac, bakelite, or celluloid?
  • Is it mid-century modern, art deco, or faux-vintage?
  • Is it an electronic item or is it battery-operated?
  • Could it be searched by the words AM, FM, or shortwave?
  • Is it table-top or transistor?
  • Perhaps you can get more descriptive than using the generic word "blue." Is it more of a turquoise blue or navy blue?
  • Holiday tags are a big trend. Is it a "man cave decor," "man gift," a "Valentine's" or "Christmas Gift," or what?

It takes a bit of getting used to, but sooner or later you will be thinking outside the box.

Mannequin Head by Ira Mency.  A foam mannequin has been decoupaged and now serves as an art sculpture, or a display for crafters wishing to display their handmade hats or caps. Notice how the background adds interest to the photo.

Mannequin Head by Ira Mency. A foam mannequin has been decoupaged and now serves as an art sculpture, or a display for crafters wishing to display their handmade hats or caps. Notice how the background adds interest to the photo.

6. Shop Announcement Hello: Use It

The reason you have this feature is to make announcements, so use it wisely. Keep it fresh and update it often.

  • If you have just added new earrings, say so!
  • If you have a coupon code for the upcoming holiday, post it there.
  • If you'll be away on vacation, let buyers know when you'll be back.

Believe it or not, the first few lines show in Google and so you should think of good words in the first sentence or so. SEO is always vital!

7. About Section: Tell a Good Story

The "About" section is really your public profile, and here's where you should tell a story. People will look here to see what makes you tick. This little part of your shop is where shoppers go to get a sense of who you are, what your style is, and if they want to support what you do. The artist's persona is part of their brand, so tell a great story!

8. Use Social Media Strategically

Social media is essential when you have an Etsy shop. In fact, Etsy now gives you easy ways to connect your Facebook and Twitter to your shop so you can keep your fans in the loop! There are also share tools like pin-it buttons for Pinterest users to quickly pin your items to their pinboards.

A bit of sharing helps you in more ways than one. Now that Facebook and Instagram are connected, you can create a business suite portal and do more marketing in less time.

If you are not tech-savvy, ask a family member to help you.

Getting your items out there and noticed is the most important thing I have learned to do on Etsy. With millions of items on the site and thousands of storefronts, Etsy has become one of the most popular places to sell. The site allows the mom-and-pops to make a living selling handmade or vintage items or supplies affordably, with a listing fee of only 20 cents.

Think of it this way: the only major barrier between you and sales is visibility! It may appear daunting getting people to focus on your items among all the other items for sale, but a little social networking may help you. Etsy gives you the storefront, but you must do your own marketing, and social media is the way to do this.

This includes using any and all of the following social media outlets:

  • Pinterest
  • TikTok
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • YouTube
  • Snapchat
  • Sharing Items to Shopping Sites Like We Heart It, etc.
  • Blogging Platforms

Keep in mind social media is ever changing. Although I use many of the above social media entities, each shop's success story is different. I will say since Instagram was bought by Facebook (aka "Meta"), this has made it even easier to cross-post.

I have taught classes on using Instagram and how to sell an eBook in my Etsy shop. It's a necessary evil to think like a business and use social media these days.

If you want to get your items out into cyberspace and get people to notice your shop, then you'll have to treat it like a real business, and real businesses promote themselves. So you really need to figure out how to go all-out and connect with people and promote your wares. You can learn how in a variety of ways:

  • Etsy's blog has tons of great tips, hints, and information you'll need.
  • Search the web for as many tips, articles, and insider information you can find.
  • Join an Etsy team for free and network with others.
  • There are tons of books, online and at the library, to help you.
  • Listen to Podcasts about Etsy while driving home from work, or jogging.

The bottom line: Etsy gives you the platform to showcase your wares. It is up to you to do the marketing!

9. Choose a Shop Banner Wisely

Etsy offers two choices of banner size and the option not to have one. The old classic was 760x100. A small banner will showcase your wares but also be cute.

Some shops choose to NOT display a banner, which allows them to show more items.

In my case, I have chosen a large banner because it's pretty and I think shows a bit of what my shop is about. However, it also takes up more space and that is real estate space where I could be selling items.

You may wish to make your own banner with the help of online editors like Canva or PicMonkey. Banners can be text banners, or photographs you took with the logo on top.

Examples of Banners That Work

What does your shop banner say about your shop? For this banner, I took a photo of my art, and added text from an online editor. It is representative of the objects found in the shop.

What does your shop banner say about your shop? For this banner, I took a photo of my art, and added text from an online editor. It is representative of the objects found in the shop.

Remember, a unique or unusual photo you took can also serve as a shop banner as well, if you use Canva or PicMonkey to help you design!  This was for my additional shop.

Remember, a unique or unusual photo you took can also serve as a shop banner as well, if you use Canva or PicMonkey to help you design! This was for my additional shop.

10. No Time for Social Media? Hire Others to Do the Social Work For You!

Exposure goes hand-in-hand with social media. The top Etsy shops have much "credibility" coming back to them, meaning lots of links back to their shop. Normally this is a pyramid effect from their customer base.

If their customer bought something, they may have shared to Pinterest, or tweeted it, or shared to Facebook, so on and so forth. It's very good to have your item or shop featured and mentioned on other sites or platforms, other than your own, via various channels such as blogs or websites.

But the shops who end up on top are there partially due to others sharing their links and talking about their items. In other words, they have many good backlinks pointing to their shop, so they come up higher in Etsy search results than a shop that has none.

Blogs and websites show stagnant growth, while TikTok and Instagram are taking over the world! If you want to do a little social media, sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the best places to start.

How to Promote Your Etsy Listings Online

  • Social media sharing is easier than ever on Etsy. Next to your items, you will see sharing links to help you promote your own listings. Make sure to do this every time you list an item!
  • Etsy offers something called "promoted listings" where you pay to get your item featured on top of a keyword search. For some, this might be a smart investment.
  • Etsy offers Google Shopping integration for a small fee. This means your items might show up on the shopping bar of a regular Google search for that item. I have had good success with my items showing in Google Shopping. Since Google is a "mega-giant," it might be worth considering!
  • Find a blog you love that features items like the ones you sell and ask them to mention your Etsy shop. Many people argue that blogs are dead, but I disagree. Having good links pointing to your shop can only help. Consider finding blogs that allow free submissions or trades (see a partial list below).
  • You can use paid advertising or paid sharing with social media. I have mixed feelings on this. Sometimes it is easier to have a tech-wiz friend or family member help promote your shop, as most sharing can be done on a cell phone these days. Paying someone to do it may save you time for running your business. On the flip side, no one knows your items and business better than you, so I suggest doing it yourself, then involving others if you must.

Possible Marriage Candidates:

  1. Join Etsy's Success Team, to network with other shops who also want to be successful.
  2. Everything Etsy (Pretty Self Explanatory), This has a lot of DIY and section on Etsy hacks. Crafters will find a great article on how to make bath bombs (you can potentially make and sell things that you have learn how to on this website.) At one time, there was paid promotion, I am unsure if they do it now.
  3. Vintage Chalet - History and Collecting of All Things Vintage - Pulls from Etsy Accepts Sharing Trades or Paid Trades Mainly in the Vintage Category. Shares Posts to Twitter, Facebook and Social Media to promote the blog. Has not been updated in awhile, but a feature sharing to social media may not hurt.
  4. Melmac Central : Blog featuring plastics, melamine dinnerware and Etsy shops who sell these items. There are almost a million visitors, however, you would have to have something plastics related to be featured.

Tip: Teams are a great way to network with other like minded Etsians to help you!

Etsy's Advice for Opening a Shop

Can You List Mass-Produced Items on Etsy?

You will not find the "anything goes" rule on Etsy since they do not allow mass-produced items unless they are craft supplies or items that have Etsy's approval. This means you must follow the channels and submit applications with your manufacturer's information if, as a crafter or artist, you get to the point where you need outside help with manufacturing your items to sell.

What if I design the items, but don't manufacture them?

For instance, my husband and I own a trademark (got beef?®) on apparel. I design my own t-shirts, colors, logos, etc. However, I am not a screenprinter and I cannot sew, so a manufacturer makes the shirts for me and applies my design exactly the way I want. I had to submit a plan to Etsy and submit all sorts of proof to get approved to sell. Etsy is very good at keeping the riff-raff off of the site.

Another example would be a painter who wants to design a pillow. Maybe that painter can't sew but wants to put their paintings on pillows to expand their product line. For that, they would have to apply to Etsy for manufacturing approval.

You may want to read this article about Three Birds Nest, a seller on Etsy who achieved wide success and national publicity some years ago. Her little handmade boutique grew fast until a barrage of Etsians accused her of not making but merely embellishing mass-produced items and imports from other countries. Her Etsy store vanished.

At the time of the Three Bird Nest saga, the Etsy manufacturing approval process was not as streamlined as it is today, so this situation helped set a clearer standard on Etsy and helped to protect small crafters. As for the Three Bird's Nest owner, she thrived from all the good (and the bad) publicity and still has an online store online.

Is it handmade or mass-produced?

If you order items from China and simply add a button, bow, or pin, the resulting item is not considered "handmade." In fact, it's simply altered. That design is not yours, it was made and designed by someone else. Handmade means you made it with your own hands, which may be daunting task if your shop goes viral.

What You Can Sell on Etsy

This is just a small selection. When thinking of craft supplies, people buy everything from old paper, books, ribbons, and industrial parts that they can make things out of!

VintageCraft SuppliesHandmade

Clothes over 20 years old

Jewelry charms

Collage art

Toys over 20 years old


Paintings or prints

Glassware over 20 years old

Sewing notions

mixed media art

How to Research Your Niche Product to Get Comparisons

Etsy is full of buyers and sellers. Perhaps the best way to become successful on Etsy is to know your competition! You can look up top shops to see tips of the trade. Look for items that are similar to the niche you may be jumping into.

I am not suggesting you copy their style, because if you do, chances are you will fail. You must come up with your own style, but learn from the best. The top Etsy sellers are the ones who have worked hard to build up a good repeat customer base. Check them out to find out how they do this. Ask yourself. . .

  • Are their items desirable?
  • What is the price range?
  • Are they offering free shipping and a higher price, or a lower price and higher shipping?
  • Do they accept returns?
  • Look at their tags, titles, and keywords.
  • What kind of pictures are they taking? Will yours be as crisp and clear?
  • Does the shop do social networking? How is that social networking helping them?
  • How are their customer service reviews?
  • Do they ever offer sales or discounts?

I am suggesting you learn from good examples. It's also important to realize that some of these shops have gone viral thanks to Etsy's publicity, but others were found and promoted by an outside article or source. Dot your I's and cross your T's, that is what you need to do.

Find Out How top Etsy Sellers Did It, in Their Own Words

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: I'm getting some Etsy traffic, but no sales. Most traffic is international i don't offer international shipping cost is to high my earrings, per day are $11.00 if they shop outside it's $16.00 will they pay that?. Would I offer it and say just try i got sure can not offer free shipping.

Answer: You may have to reinvent a new product or new item to come up with, and target US customers if shipping is a problem.

© 2013 Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer

Comments, Leave me One with Your Etsy Shop! If you liked my article, be sure to share it!

Lynsey Hart from Lanarkshire on May 31, 2020:

Thank you for such an insightful hub on how to sell on etsy. I am looking at this as a possible platform for my own crafting business. You have definitely given some great hints and tips that I wouldn't have considered before

Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer (author) from Hedgesville, WV on April 09, 2019:

Hi Angie, I feel your pain. Shipping plays a major factor on the Etsy shop but make sure you have first went into your shipping options and checked off the commercial base rate discounts that Etsy will give you. If not you will be set to retail pricing. I sell heavy items and unfortunately had to stop most international shipping due to high rates or breakage. I am unsure if you can do first class international small package rate but the issue is a lot of times that does not have tracking anymore. I upped my pricing and lowered my shipping to make the item the same overall profit, and this worked a little. Good luck and thanks for stopping by you may also see some tips here although the article is vintage it may help.

NN Inspirational Gifts on August 10, 2018:

Thank you, this was very helpful.I read your blog and i really loved you blog,

Donna Papazian on March 14, 2018:

Thank you, this was very helpful. I need to educate myself more.

Gwen on February 12, 2018:

Thanks for these tips! Planning to start a shop selling vintage soon, On Cricket Ave and this will help a lot!

Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer (author) from Hedgesville, WV on December 21, 2017:

Hi, Did you get it straight? I had to move to Etsy's direct checkout.....................

kristen barry on December 14, 2017:

Finding it almost impossible to set up a link on my seller page to my paypal account. It keeps asking me for my bank account information... What am I missing? Thank you for any direction you can provide!

Natome on November 30, 2017:

Great advice!

If your looking for unique hand-made and ecco-friendly cards checkout NatomeArtistry on Etsy

Robin Laurain, LPN on November 28, 2017:

Thanks for the info.

JonTavernCreative on November 21, 2017:

Great tips, thanks :)

BellaDressVintage on August 22, 2017:

For Step 3 ~ Could you provide a better example of which word to use for your example? Thanks!

LynetteWhite on August 22, 2017:

Thanks so much for this guide. It is super helpful and I shall be using all of it to help my shop. My etsy shop is SoellaBoutique and I sell handmade wire wrapped crystal and beaded jewellery which is completely unique. I have had some interest but have still not made any sales so am spending today looking for tips and advice to implement.

Sherri on January 08, 2017:

Great information! Thanks, Etsy is definitely a learning experience that can be made much easier by reading great posts like this!

You can find me on Etsy under shop name, Margabeada Girl.

mindful memo on December 27, 2016:

Great article with very sound, practical tips and advice. Very helpful! Thank you!

molly on December 22, 2016:

Thanks for the information. I have yet to sell anything on etsy, it seems impossible.

tati on November 04, 2016:

great article for an etsy member! on August 14, 2016:

Thanks so much....THIS, I will re-read many times!

Lynette on July 18, 2016:

Thank you for this information, I've had a Vintage/Antique Jewellery Shop on ETSY for 3 years now ( AntiqueDecoRingsShop) and find that there's always something new to learn and help me be more successful.

I really love to help my customers find the perfect Engagement Ring at the right price it's satisfying.

I have a great time adding more and more Beautiful and Unique Jewellery and actually see my shop as an Artistic and Beautiful Passtime.

cherteee on July 17, 2016:

I am gaining so much helpful and in-depth advice from reading thoroughly through all the etsy advisers tips , i just opened my shop about a month ago and still have my learners L plates on. Now i feel like i have the right tools at my disposal to refine and polish my shop and start turning it into thesuccesful shop of my handmade soft furnishings ive always wanted . So here goes time to get savvy and busy with my marketing and creating, thank you for your help, and dont forget to visit my new shop at cherteee on etsy

Johnette on July 16, 2016:

Hi, Here are my 2 shops! Are these suggestions still relevant with all the changes made to Etsy? Thanks for the links!


Bekah on July 10, 2016:

I loved this article! Thanks for the advice! I hope Y'all check out my Etsy shop!

mercedes on July 06, 2016:

check it out and tell me what you think!! I need serious help!!

Sabine on June 15, 2016:

Thank you for the article. I just started my shop today and i'm eagerly trying to make the most of it. Any feedback on my shop is welcome.

Emit on June 13, 2016:

These tips are great. I have been on etsy for about 3 years and I had so few sales. I will definetely try some of the advice you gave. Thank you!

Tracy on June 12, 2016:

Thanks for the tips. Just started on etsy.


Laurie on June 05, 2016:

Thanks for the article! I just opened my store today and this was helpful. I am selling my own original oil paintings, which is a tough sell these days.

Marcia on June 01, 2016:

Great article !

my shop is SuburbanVintage

chipp on May 21, 2016:

your article is so informative for person like me who just open new store on etsy, now all i have to do is to apply your tips and hope got more traffic.

Ashley Kaye on May 16, 2016:

Thank you so much for the tips! I've been trying very hard to get my page up to par, it's been difficult.

Here it is!

Nishi Park on May 12, 2016:

Wow thank you for all the informative information! Will definitely apply some of these tips!

Cindy on May 12, 2016:

So glad I came across your advice article. Been reading, taking classes online, trying to make it work anyway I can. Thank you for sharing your knowledge to the rest of the "world".

Rebecca on May 01, 2016:

Thanks for the advice - I have done all of these things so far. Just waiting for the first sale!

Alyssa on April 18, 2016:

Thanks for such a good article... I know what I have to do, but a reminder is nice...

AJ Canvas Prints

Alexzandra on April 07, 2016:

Good points.. hope you share more tips soon for all of us..! Please check us out :)

Ayeesha Geros on February 13, 2016:

Thanks for this great article.. Just opened my etsy shop!

Moonlitfoxcreations on January 01, 2016:

Thanks for your tips. I've been struggling for years to figure out how to sell my stuff on etsy. I've got a bunch of favorites and views but only 2 sales ever. If you could take a look or provide feedback I'd greatly appreciate it!



thereadysetcraft on December 28, 2015:

Thanks for the advice! I just reopened my shop (The Ready Set Craft) and needed some tips on how to actually make it successful :)

Sharon OBrien on December 06, 2015:

Thank you! Real world advice. I am researching information now and found your article to be very helpful!

mustLOLO on November 16, 2015:

Cindy I agree: look before you leap. Always do your homework and see what others are doing.

The title is very important for your SEO. In the product description you must ask yourself why they must have your product. Like the tip keywords (tags) to think outside the box. And the most important exposure, exposure, exposure.

Do you have an etsy shop?

Mekeshia on October 19, 2015:

great article

Sara Brown from Independence, Missouri on June 25, 2015:

I just started selling on Etsy three days ago and so far have had views but no sales. This article is very helpful!

Valeria on March 10, 2015:

Thank you for helping! I realize I have a big job to do yet...

lyn Averous on November 12, 2014:

Thasnks for the great advise.

I want to change the name of my shop now that im selling more and more fine and vintage jewellry.

But im worried that my customers wont find me under a different name.

Is there a way around this problem.



Brianna Wills from USA on September 04, 2014:

Hi Ira Mency,

Thank you for the tips, Selling on Etsy is not an easy job.. I have learn many things about selling from this hubpage such as Social Media promotion, Keywords, Title, Photos, etc...

Best Regards :)

Lauren on September 01, 2014:

Hi! Thank you so much for all the tips! I just opened my etsy shop (TheGeorgiaPear) and am looking for all the advice I can get my hands on. Thanks!!