Table of Contents » Chapter 9 : Exhibitions & Selling » Chapter 9 : Notes For Selling On-line

Chapter 9 : Notes For Selling On-line

Many artist sell their work directly through their own website or through Etsy.

Popular alternatives to Etsy

Building off Etsy success, many online selling structures have developed – see the article titled “10 Etsy Alternatives for Crafty Entrepreneurs” from Buisness News Daily.

Ebook & Online References

“Revamping your Etsy Shop” by Meagan Visser
“Abundant Artist” by Cory Huff
Shopify, How to Sell Art Online 

“Some thoughts about selling on Etsy”

by Kristen Kieffer.
Kristen Keiffer is a studio potter, workshop leader and ceramic instructor working from her home studio in north central Massachuttes. Her ceramics are “ornately elegant pottery for everyday”.

“I could teach a whole weekend workshop about Etsy, and still only cover the basics. It’s taken me a long time to learn what I know, mostly through hanging out in the Etsy forums in the beginning, then trial and error, plus there are periodical overhauls to the site, so things are constantly changing, requiring an ongoing upkeep of info. More...

At this point, I think having an Etsy shop is almost as popular or given as having a website, but just because the work is available for sale, doesn’t mean anyone knows, cares, or buys. It still takes effort to promote. I’d say the majority of full-time studio potters I know now have an Etsy shop. How well anyone sells on Etsy (as with any venue) depends on the work, price point, quality, publicity, communication, and customer service.

It’s a marketplace, so some customers will stumble across a given shop, but with thousands of shops, there’s lots of competition, so directing customers via social media is a must. Good photo abilities, writing skills, and packing and shipping knowledge, are just some of the basics that are a necessity before selling online.

There is a staggering range (media and quality) of handmade items on Etsy, but it’s an accessible and affordable venue for all where retail galleries are not, so it’s a level field, but good work can stand out, but it requires effort”

Selling on Etsy

by Terry Parker

Terry Parker is a full time potter living in and inspired by the landscape in Tucson, Arizona. She is one of the leaders of the Etsy Mud Team. The Mud Team’s mission is to provide a center of community, learning and promotion of the ceramic artist on Etsy.More...

Selling on Etsy

It is relatively easy to open a shop on Etsy. It takes more than a little effort to successfully sell on Etsy. In the four years I have been selling on Etsy, I have found that there is a direct correlation between the number of sales and the time I spend paying attention to my Etsy shop.

So how do you go about selling on Etsy? It goes without saying that you need to have items to sell. Successful sales – ones that result in positive feedback and satisfied customers depend on your having quality work to sell. I strive to only list my best work on Etsy as I do not want to deal with returned items or disappointed customers.

Setting up your shop

You can get an idea of what it takes to set up and run an Etsy shop, from reading the topics covered by The Etsy Seller Handbook. It is useful to read the “New Sellers” section even before registering for an Etsy account. Pay particular attention to the section on choosing your shop name. You can also view the step by step process of setting up shop and related topics in Etsy Help .

The first step is to register for an account. Initially the account is a buyer’s account until you follow the step by step process of opening a shop. Before opening a shop, it is a good idea to have available

  • photos and descriptions for at least 10 items
  • I crop my photos to 8” x 10” (best match for Etsy gallery view)
  • I size them to 1000 pixels x 800 pixels and save them at 72 dpi
  • Include measurements of the item in the description (US and metric)
  • Create templates for item descriptions to save time in writing descriptions for similar items
  • bio for profile
  • shop title
  • a short description of your shop or the kinds of items you offer
  • shop announcement
  • text that appears at the top of your shop, below your banner. Often used to welcome buyers or promote sales.
  • avatar image
  • shop banner image

The second step is to open a shop and respond to the step by step prompts. After opening your shop, familiarize yourself with all the settings in “Your account” and “Your shop”. Some of the options got set in the step by step process of opening the shop, but others need to be set once the shop has been opened.

Some things to consider:

  • Shipping profiles –I create profiles by weight. When I first started out, I had profiles for weight and shipper.
  • Packages weighing less than 4 lbs using USPS Priority mail.
  • Packages weighing over 4 lbs ship Fed Ex Ground/Home.
  • Note: I double box and from experience have determined 4 box sizes to stock to ship the work I make.
  • Policies – you don’t need to write these from scratch. You can review policies of several other shops selling work similar to your own (functional, sculpture, large scale, miniature) and use them to formulate your own.


It is not enough to just open a shop and add listings to our shop. You must actively work to get the items in your shop noticed. I don’t always do everything on this list, but these are the things I strive to do.

  • Renew listings or add new listings daily–there are apps and tools to help you do this. I use ones that were created by one of the Etsy Mud Team members. Both can be found in the Apps listed in the Resources section of “Your Shop”.
  • Simple List for Smartphone, tablets.
  • Uncle Gravy for desktop or laptop.
  • Create a Facebook business page and link your Etsy shop to it. Linking your shop makes it easy to promote your new listings on your business page. There are also several apps to add a box which will display items from you shop that link back to Etsy.
  • Link your shop to Twitter if you have a Twitter account.
  • Titles, tags, descriptions – research how to write titles, tags and the first lines of your descriptions to optimize your items for Etsy search and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). There are several Etsy blog articles on the subject as well as several teams that publish advice on how to do this.
  • Join one or more teams– Like opening a shop on Etsy being on a team only gets for you what you put into it. To get the most out of being on a team, you need to participate. Pick a team that matches your style and personality. I am on a number of teams but the one I am most active in is the Etsy Mud Team.
  • Create your “About” page.
  • The purpose of the “About” page is to give you a place to tell customers more about your business and your process as opposed to the bio which is about you.
  • More on About pages can be found in an Etsy blog article – “Tips on Writing Your About Page”

Other things you can do to increase your on-line visibility:

  • Create collections in the Treasury – The Treasury is an ever-changing, member-curated shopping gallery comprised of lists of items. These lists contain 16 items.
  • You can create a themed collection of 16 items that you curate from the shops of others. Etsy promotes the Treasury to buyers as a way to browse items. Treasury collections that you create are not for promoting your own work. However, if you create an eye-catching collection and have great photos of your own work in your shop, others will reciprocate. Other ways to get into Treasury collection.
  • Participate on a team. Team members are likely to include the work of other team members in their collections.
  • There are teams dedicated to promoting their members in the Treasury.
  • Even just having beautiful work and terrific photos will get your items included in Treasury collections if you are renewing and/or adding listings regularly.
  • Post Treasury collections you are in to your Facebook business page. To make the post shorter and easier to read, remove the link after Facebook embeds the link in your post and you select your item as the picture to display.
  • Pin items to Pinterest – Open a Pinterest account and use the “pin it” on item listings to periodically pin the works of others as well as your own items to your Pinterest boards. If you are on a team, members of the team whose items you pin are likely to reciprocate.
  • Use Circles and Favorites – Adding others to your circle as well as adding shops and items to your favorites enlarge your Etsy footprint. As with treasuries, others will reciprocate by adding you to their circle and/or adding your shop and items as favorites. Favorite items and shops of those in your circle will appear in your activity feed and vice versa.
  • I typically only add other shop owners to my circle. I will add a customer if the customer adds me to their circle first. I add shops I encounter whose work I like and all shops on some of my teams – primarily the Etsy Mud team and my local teams – to my shop favorites.
  • In addition to activity from members of your circle, the activity feed also shows things you do (adding items / shops to your favorites, creating treasuries) and activity of your shop (sales, being added as a favorite item or shop, items included in a treasury).
  • Add an Etsy Mini to your website and/or blog.
  • An Etsy mini is a widget for your personal website that will show off and link to items from your shop.
  • You can create an Etsy Mini from “Your Shop”.
  • Select picture format, number of rows, number of columns
  • Copy the generated code to your blog or website.

Shop maintenance

Almost everything that gets done when you open a shop needs to be added to, reviewed and/or updated periodically. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Add new listings regularly.
  • There appears to be a magic number of items that is needed to have regular sales. My magic number appears to be at least 50. I have never had more than 50 items.
  • Some say the magic number is 100.
  • Some shops have more than 100 items. I believe that it is possible to have too many items.
  • Use the “Copy listing” feature to save time when adding new items similar to items already listed or sold. Remember to carefully review and make changes to prices, colors, sizes and tags that may differ between the new item listing and the copied listing.
  • Monitor traffic to your shop
  • Etsy’s Shop Stats show you both the volume of the traffic in your shop as well as the traffic sources. Available in “Your Shop”
  • Google Analytics
  • Set up Web Analytics, one of the Options for Shop Settings in “Your Shop”
  • Setting up Web Analytics provides you with Google Analytics statistics on your shop.
  • Change featured items regularly.
  • The featured items are four items that you can select to appear at the top of your shop listings. It is a good idea to identify more than four items so that when a featured item sells, there is another one to take its place.
  • Even if the featured items don’t sell, changing them keeps your shop looking fresh.
  • Update items (tags, titles, descriptions) to reflect changes made by Etsy.
  • Etsy periodically makes changes in how it presents items to buyers.
  • Sometimes these changes require your making changes to the way your titles and descriptions are written and/or the tags that you select.
  • Review policies periodically to ensure you are following your own policies and for any changes that occur from changes you make to how you are doing business.
  • Review and update shipping profiles for rate changes.

Customer Service

Good customer service includes responding promptly to both those that make purchases from you as well as prospective buyers who contact you with questions. Good customer service includes:

  • Acknowledgement of a sale.
  • Etsy sends a transaction email to you whenever there is a sale associated with your account.
  • The customer also gets an automated acknowledgement from Etsy, but most appreciate getting a personal message from you as well.
  • I let them know that I will be carefully packing their purchase and shipping it to them promptly.
  • If they have included a note to the seller, I also acknowledge that I have read it and will follow any special instructions such as including a gift message.
  • Pack carefully and ship promptly.
  • Etsy now lets you include a range for the number days to ship and a shipping time in each listing which results in the customer seeing both a will ship by date and an expected delivery date. I pick a range so that I can usually ship prior to the date that they are given.
  • Include a business card, a hand written note and a small extra like a ceramic magnet or a discount code for their next purchase in the package.
  • Send the Etsy shipping acknowledgement email with tracking information.
  • Track the shipment and acknowledge delivery.
  • Leave feedback when the package is delivered
  • Acknowledge that the package has been delivered.
  • I usually state that I hope the item has arrived in perfect condition. This sometimes results in my getting a return message telling me how much they love it! Although these are not comments in formal feedback, they can be quoted anonymously on your Facebook business page or your website / blog.
  • Before sending this acknowledgement, I check my feedback. If they have left me feedback, I thank them for doing so. If they have not, I let them know that I have left them a thank you in their feedback. This sometimes serves as a reminder to them to leave me feedback.
  • This is the last message I send to them, unless they respond in which case, I acknowledge their response.
  • Respond to any customer concerns promptly.
  • Both your email address and a buyer’s email address are hidden until there is a purchase transaction. Most communication with prospective customers as well as customers take place using Etsy’s onsite messaging system – Conversations, sometime shortened to Convo and used as a verb.
  • I have my email options set so that I get an email whenever I receive an Etsy conversation.

In Conclusion

There are numerous resources for advice about selling on Etsy. Some are free whereas some require a purchase. And all require time to either read or view and to determine which of their suggestions apply to you and your shop.

The Etsy website is an obvious source of information.

  • Etsy Help
  • Etsy On-line labs
  • Etsy Discussion Teams – these are teams that are formed sole for the purpose of discussion such as the Etsy Success team. There are no requirements for joining these teams. Their discussions are public and are available to read without joining the team. To participate in the discussion, you need to join the team.
  • Etsy Success Newsletter – sign up to get these bi-weekly tips in Settings in “Your Account”.

Other resources that I am aware of but have not used extensively include:

* Handmadeology website
* Etsyprenueurship – paperback or Kindle – available for purchase on Amazon
* The Complete Etsy Kit – Available on for purchase Etsy