10 Tips for Selling on Etsy: Avoid Common Seller Mistakes

Updated on February 14, 2017
Ira Mency profile image

I'm a writer and vintage junkie originally from Baltimore. My passion is crafting, collecting, and researching vintage melmac dinnerware.

Selling on Etsy: Avoid Common Mistakes

I spend a lot of time educating Etsy shop sellers what to do and how to start successful shops on Etsy. Here I will list the top ten seller mistakes I've seen. I hope that it will give others some helpful pointers on what to do to increase sales and commerce to their Etsy shop!

Selling on Etsy: Let me Give You A Hand

Let me give you a hand selling on Etsy.  Glove Mold: RetroChalet Bracelet: TreasureTrunk Designs.
Let me give you a hand selling on Etsy. Glove Mold: RetroChalet Bracelet: TreasureTrunk Designs. | Source

1. Jumping In Without Research

Many people open up a shop on Etsy and and wonder why their items aren't selling. It's almost certain that they haven't properly educated themselves.

Get one step ahead of the game and make it a point to spend a day learning the ins and outs of this ever-growing community. Do your homework and read up on the Etsy policies, the how-to's, and helpful strategic advice from other sellers if you so wish to be successful.

Below, you'll find a great list of links to help you!

Selling on Etsy: Handmade Marketplace

Selling Handmade on Etsy can be a fun past time or a rewarding career. It is what you make it.  Parisian Blocks by RetroChalet
Selling Handmade on Etsy can be a fun past time or a rewarding career. It is what you make it. Parisian Blocks by RetroChalet | Source

What Can You Sell on Etsy?

You can sell vintage (items over 20 years old) , Craft Supplies, or Handmade items on Etsy. Even some commercially manufactured items can be sold if you apply for a Manufacturing Approval. Many designers have to have help from Manufacturers to make their dreams come true!

Example of Handmade Item

Anyone can try their hand at art. Mannequin Head by Ira Mency.
Anyone can try their hand at art. Mannequin Head by Ira Mency. | Source

Examples of Vintage Items

Little frozen Charlotte Dolls at RetroChalet on Etsy.
Little frozen Charlotte Dolls at RetroChalet on Etsy. | Source

Examples of Craft Supplies : Clean Our Your Studio!

Selling Supplies on Etsy, or EtsyStudio is a huge market for crafters.  Pic: IraMency
Selling Supplies on Etsy, or EtsyStudio is a huge market for crafters. Pic: IraMency | Source

Examples of What You Can Sell on Etsy

Craft Supplies
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
This is just a small selection.

2. Posting Grainy or Fuzzy Photos Is a Huge No-No

This is a huge problem. Maybe you are in a hurry, or don't have enough time. The light may not be on your side today 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: Do not post ugly photos, or no one will want to buy what you're selling.

Etsy allows you to have five photos per item, 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!

Don't post a photo just to post it.  Make every photo count!
Don't post a photo just to post it. Make every photo count! | Source

3. Titles, Titles, Titles!

The first five words of the Etsy title of your item are very important, as chances are these are the first five words that will show up in a search or in the HTML address of the item.

For instance, let's say you have a vintage porcelain glove mold you are trying to sell. It would be ridiculous to call it "Great Shabby Antique Vintage White Porcelain Glove Mold" as the keywords would not make it in the HTML address. Put the most precise and descriptive words first.

Think of your titles very carefully.

4. Descriptions: Use Them

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 description should be as descriptive as possible. Think of how you would want to learn about something. If it's a necklace, what stone is it and how long is it? What kind of clasp does it have? If it's a blanket, what are the dimensions and materials and colors? If it's vintage, what condition is it in and what kinds of defects may it have? Always be descriptive yet concise. A story is nice, but not a ten page essay.

Some people tend to link their shop's other sections in the bottom of each description, which is helpful to get people to check out other items in your shop. Tip: Do not link to a specific item, only a shop section. Why? Items will expire and links will go "dead."

5. Keywords (Tags)

Keywords on Etsy are very important and will help get your item found. Many people don't take full advantage of them and this is a major mistake. Use them all.

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 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, orcelluloid?
  • Is from the mid century modern period or art deco?
  • Is it an electronicitem?
  • Could it be searched by the words AM, FM, or shortwave?
  • Is it table-top or transistor?
  • Perhaps you should be describing the color of the item even more than generic hue of blue. Is it more of a turquoise blue or navy blue? Also you may wish to throw in the word music,because that's what it plays.

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

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. 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!

Free Shop Banners

Everyone needs a little help. This site offers free Etsy shop banners!
Everyone needs a little help. This site offers free Etsy shop banners! | Source

7. About: Use It or Lose It

The "About" section is really your public profile and should tell a story. This is where people love to read and see what makes you tick. This little part of your shop may be where shoppers go to get a sense of who you are, what your style is, and if they should buy from you. The artist's persona is part of their brand, so tell a great story.

8. Social Media

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

This is the most important thing I have learned about Etsy. Case in point, with million of items on the site and thousands of storefronts, Etsy has become the most popular place to sell for the home business. The site allows the mom and pops to make a living selling handmade, vintage, or art supplies affordably, with a list fee of only twenty cents.

So the only major barrier left between you and sales is visibility and getting people to focus on your items among all the other items for sale. Etsy gives you the storefront, but you must do your own marketing, and social media is the way to do this.

This includes:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Blogging

You want to get your items out into cyberspace, get people to notice your shop and treat it like a real business. 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 figure this out in a variety of ways:

  • Etsy's blog has tons of great tips, hints, and information you'll need to guide you.
  • Search the web for as many tips, articles, and insider information you can find.
  • Join an Etsy team for free and network with others.
  • Ebooks: buy an ebook from an Etsy seller who knows and learn how to do this yourself.
  • Paper books: there are tons of books, online and at the library, to help you.

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

Ebooks and Online Information Will Help

Online ebooks like this one, or even just reading free information on the web, can help you learn more about how to improve your Etsy shop.
Online ebooks like this one, or even just reading free information on the web, can help you learn more about how to improve your Etsy shop. | Source

10. Exposure Outlets

Exposure goes hand-in-hand with social media. This means having your item or shop featured and mentioned on sites or platforms other than your own, via various channels such as blogs or websites.

  • Etsy offers something called promoted listings, where your item is featured on top of a keyword search.
  • Etsy offers Google Shopping integration for a small fee. I have had good success with my items showing in Google Shopping and since Google is a "mega giant" this would behoove you to consider!
  • Find a blog you love that features items like the ones you sell, and ask them to mention your Etsy shop.
  • Consider finding blogs that allow free submissions.
  • Trade Blog Posts! Many blogs trade! They are out there, just google blogs and Etsy and sooner or later you'll find something.
  • Need some blogs that feature Etsy? Some of these may accept trades, free submissions or paid submissions.
  1. Etsyland - A Tumblr Blog featuring Etsy sellers (All Items Handmade, Supplies, Vintage)
  2. Etsy Rainbows - Etsy by Color (All Items)
  3. Everything Etsy (Pretty Self Explanatory)
  4. EtsyArtisans - Etsy Handmade Features
  5. Handmadeology - Handmade Blog for Crafting Business and Selling Advice
  6. Vintage Chalet - Blog Pulls Vintage From Etsy
  7. Design-Swag - Many Items Featured from Etsy
  8. Melmac Central - Features Vintage Plastics , Many from Etsy.
  • You can find blog exchanges and people accepting submission in Etsy teams such as Etsy's Success Team.
  • Etsy's forums always offer threads on "promotion" and "Promoting Listings" where you can advertise your items. Many Etsy sellers are also buyers!

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

Etsy's Advice for Opening a Shop on Etsy

© 2013 Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer

Comments, Leave me One with Your Etsy Shop!

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    • profile image


      2 weeks ago

      While informative, this needs some serious updating.

    • profile image

      NN Inspirational Gifts 

      4 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Donna Papazian 

      9 months ago

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

    • profile image


      10 months ago

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

    • Ira Mency profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer 

      11 months ago from Hedgesville, WV

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

    • profile image

      kristen barry 

      12 months ago

      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!

    • profile image


      12 months ago

      Great advice!

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

    • profile image

      Robin Laurain, LPN 

      12 months ago

      Thanks for the info.

    • JonTavernCreative profile image


      12 months ago

      Great tips, thanks :)

    • profile image


      15 months ago

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

    • profile image


      15 months ago

      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.

    • iamradiantrose profile image


      21 months ago

      Wow! Great hub with lots of info. I really appreciate this as I am just re-opening a couple of my shops after a hiatus. I will be using lots of your tips...thank you!

    • Tristan Zeal profile image

      Tristan Zeal 

      23 months ago

      If you are looking for traffic to your e-commerce site, you should look no further than etsy. The reason for this is etsy is an online site that has a huge following and millions of hits on a daily basis. Because of this, if you have your products and services being sold off on etsy, your storefront can be linked to etsy which increases your site's visibility.

      My site: http://mitemill.com/product-category/antique/?v=75...

    • profile image


      23 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      mindful memo 

      23 months ago

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

    • profile image


      24 months ago

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

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      great article for an etsy member!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

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

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      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.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      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

    • profile image


      2 years ago

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





    • profile image


      2 years ago


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

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      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!


    • profile image


      2 years ago

      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.


    • profile image

      Ashley Kaye 

      2 years ago

      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! paintingsandknitting.etsy.com

    • profile image

      Nishi Park 

      2 years ago

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


    • profile image


      2 years ago

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

      AJ Canvas Prints

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Good points.. hope you share more tips soon for all of us..! Please check us out :) https://goo.gl/xXOsCs

    • profile image


      2 years ago

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

    • SM OBrien profile image

      Sharon OBrien 

      3 years ago

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

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      great article

    • Sara Jane Brown profile image

      Sara Brown 

      3 years ago from Independence, Missouri

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

    • profile image

      lyn Averous 

      4 years ago

      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.



    • profile image


      4 years ago

      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!!


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