Opening an Etsy Shop: Top Ten Things You Should Do to Get Started

Bravo!You've decided to take the leap of faith & open up your own Etsy shop. But before you list that first item here's a round-up of the 10 most important things I believe you can do in order to prepare yourself for a successful on-line experience:

Read, Read, Read
Knowledge is power. There is no such thing as too much reading when it comes to running your own shop. There is a wealth of information available to you on the internet. Use it! Prior to opening Delightfully Noted I spent three months reading anything & everything related to Etsy & the handmade world. You'll be amazed at the knowledge you will gain from sites such as the Etsy blog & forums, Handmadeolgy, Handmade Success, & Oh My! Handmade just name a few.
{Creativity Print from Life's A Journal}
Create A Name For Yourself
Choosing a shop name is fun but it's also probally one of the most important things you'll do for your business. You want something that reflects your shop's style, is memorable, easy to pronounce, & most importantly can be picked up by the search engines. However, before you settle on a monikor make sure to check for any legalities such as trademarked words or stores with similar shop names. You can research trademarked words & phrases by visiting the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website.

Check'em Out
Whether you plan on selling handmade cards, jewelry, or vintage purses I recommend perusing the shops of other sellers in the same category. Find out what's hot? What is & isn't selling?Are your item's prices going to be competitive? This exercise isn't for you to copy other sellers because let's face it as Ingrid Bergman once said "Be yourself. The world worships the original". You may find after browsing other similiar shops that there's a niche that isn't being filled. Maybe you sell soap. There are a TON of soap sellers in the world but maybe you notice no one is marketing to the individuals with sensitive skin. There you go, now your inspired!

Make it Legit
Don't let the legal issues behind selling online intimidate you! In most cases the paperwork required to obtain a business license & sales tax ID is really quite simple to fill out. The laws & sales taxes vary from state to state so I encourage you to contact your state & local officials to find out what is required of you. This site, Go to Great Panes, has some very helpful basic info regarding registering your business & there is also this wonderfully informative article from the Etsy blog regarding sales taxes. Before you even think about listing your first item make sure your shop is legit!

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
One of the most determing factors of how well you'll do on Etsy will be based on the quality of your product's photos. The truth is good pictures lead to sales. Good news! You don't need to have a fancy schmancy camera to take great, professional looking pictures. Dig out your camera's manual & read it {gasp!}. Learn how to use your macro setting, practice styling your photos, take pictures from different angles, & experiment with light. The best photos are taken during the day {crying out loud turn off your flash!} in a place where there is a lot of natural light. Lastly, learn how to edit your photos. Most cameras come with basic photo editing software or you can always find free services on-line. Cropping, brightness, & contrast are about the only three words that exist in my photo editing vocabulary.

Bookkeep Like Your Life Depends on It
I get it. Bookkeeping is boring but you will thank yourself later {especially when it comes to tax time!} if you start off financially organized. Plus, how else will you know if you're turning a profit if you aren't keeping accurate records on your biz?  Designate a folder or envelope for all of your paper receipts. I also find that it is efficiant to create a "folder" in your business email account to store all of your on-line invoices from places like Etsy & Paypal. Lastly, you'll want to select a bookkeeping software program {unless you're old school & choose to use a paper ledger} for tracking income & expenses. Programs such as Outright, Microsoft Excel, & Quickbooks are favorites among Etisians.

Got to Keep it Seperated
I highly recommend having a seperate bank account for your business money.  Mixing biz & personal finances in one account can become hairy & disorganized. Personally, I've been very satisfied with my ING Orange account.  There are no fees or minimums required in order to open an account with them. Even better, I can connect it to my store's Paypal account & easily transfer money between the two.

Ship Shape Shipping
Figuring out shipping for my shop was probably one of the most overwhelming parts of getting started.  Ugh, & international shipping! I practically peed my pants everytime I thought about it. I finally saw the light when I came across this article full of basic shipping tips over on Go to Great Panes. I have to also note that purchasing my own postal scale was seriously the best $30 I have invested into my business.

Show Me the Money
After registering & upgrading your Etsy account to "seller status"you are going to have set up your payment methods. There are four options in which a customer can pay you; Paypal, check, money order or "other" {typically used for gift certificate purposes}.The step-by-step guide on how to set up your payment methods can be found here in the Etsy Seller Handbook.

Stellar Store Front
So you've read until your blue in the face, you've picked a store name you love, your business is registered with the state & now you're ready to let the world see what you have to offer! It's time to set up shop & list your goodies! Make sure to create a store front that is warm,  inviting, & informative. You can accomplish this by designing an avatar & banner relective of your shop's style, filling out all of your shop's sections, writing clear & concise item descriptions, & appropriately tagging all your products. Most importantly prepare to provide your customer's with a great on-line shopping experience!

There you have it the top 10 things you should know to prepare yourself before opening your own Etsy biz! Is this all you need to know to run a successful shop? Heck no! But I believe once you have a good basic foundation other factors such as promoting, improving your tags, & search optimization are things you can learn along the way.

Are you a fellow Etisian? Anything you'd like to add? Was there anything you felt was important to know before setting up shop that I may have missed {I'm writing this while a neurotic dog has been whining at my feet for the past hour so pardon me if my brain isn't functioning at its normal level of intelligence {which is like genius level by the way}  And now she's trying to smoosh herself between an armoire & the wall. Any body want her? Annnybody? Bueller? Bueller?}?

Daydreaming about selling things on Etsy? Questions?
 Feel free to comment below or email me if you'd like!


Tonii said...

wow jennifer, these are some really great tips! I have no doubt if I had seen these BEFORE I opened my shop...I may have lasted a bit longer. And you are so right on the shipping!! Gave me major anxiety! Having an Estsy shop is hard work, I applaud you for being so successful at it and sharing these tips for others!!

Lindsay @ Delighted Momma said...

This is all GREAT advice! Also helpful for someone wanting to turn blog into business. Pinned that quote. So TRUE!!

The Cottage Market {Andrea} ♥ said...

excellent tips and this comes from someone that has been doing it a long time! : ) i am approaching 10,000 sales in my one popalicioustoo shop and the one thing i would add is to list regularly...update your products and always have movement in the shop -- you have covered just about everything...keep things fresh! great job -- one more thing is to give a very concise and ACCURATE description and a little thank you card signed by you with maybe a little gift is always a sweet touch!

thanks for sharing all of this fabulous knowledge with everyone -- so very kind and generous!!! thanks for dropping by and visiting me also -- now i am your newest follower! (hugs)

Unknown said...

Wow! Those are all great tips! I really need to get working on it but my blog takes so much time!

henning love said...

thanks for the tips jennifer. i have been dreaming of opening up my own shop and figuring all that stuff out makes me not want to open it up

Regina of Live Delightfully said...

FANTASTIC!!! I love it! I will probably be revisiting/quoting/or directing people back to this. So good!

Nathalie said...

Thanks Jennifer!
Selling my creations on Etsy is not in my plans simply because, whatever I create, it's not (and never will be) store bought perfect. Sigh...

I know, I have issues :)

Nonetheless, I really enjoy reading your tips and advices whatever the subject because you know how to make it fun and interesting!
Please, give us more!

Anonymous said...

Ok, seriously? Such amazing advice! I will definitely be checking out those links for doing research. Sounds like I definitely need to do a bit more reading before just jumping in. Hopefully I can get started on all that research while I'm busy knitting and crocheting some pieces for my shop!

sherri lynn said...

These are such great tips! I'm not creative enough to ever have my own etsy shop, but I think a lot of this principles are good for any business from home!

Elle Sees said...

wonderful tips and i admire everyone who starts an etsy shop!!

Stacey said...

Hi Jennifer!
Great tips - I need to store those for later! Thanks for linking up to our party! Hopefully you'll come along and follow me - I am beginning my first blog party this weekend and I would love for you to come by!
Stacey of Embracing Change

Megan said...

Thank you so much for this post Jennifer!! I've been thinking for a while now of starting my own shop on Etsy to sell bookmarks... I'm still a little unsure though and your tips here have really helped me. I'm going to keep this post for reference :)

Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

Sew Passionate said...

Thanks for the tips and info. I've been thinking about opening an Etsy shop. i pinned it so I can go back and read it again.
Thanks again, Jules

Unknown said...

Thank you! That is super helpful. I'm just getting mine up and running and will reference your post many items I'm sure in the process.

Unknown said...

I was actually just thinking I needed a post just like this. Opening a shop has been buzzing around in my head for a while now. I just didn't know where to start. This is so informative. I am pinning this. I would also love it if you would be willing to share at our party going on now-Monday. Thanks

KateM said...

These are all such great tips! I especially loved your photography tips because I think that that's truly one of the most important aspect for any Etsy seller.

Thanks also for the link to! I've heard so many great things about it and think I'll finally check it out for myself.

Unknown said...

For the people wanting to start an etsy shop, I'm sure that you've helped them a lot. Many have been thinking of putting one up but didn't know what to do or how to start. If they read your post, surely, they will be overloaded with information! I will bookmark this post for my future reference!

-Jamie Viggiano-

Clint Shaff said...

Noted Jennifer! Can I just say that you have to be unique to the services you’re offering since you’re gonna have countless of competitors online. I don't think you have to have gimmicks to stand out, just let your business stay the way it should be and give your customers the satisfaction that they’re looking for.

Clint Shaff

Unknown said...

So glad I found this post! I've been thinking about an Etsy store for only a short time, and I have a lot more research to do. You've definitely started me out on the right path. Thanks!

I'd love to hear from you!