8 Things I Learned After a Year on Etsy

It’s been a little over a year since I opened Yellow Raspberry Jewelry, and I’ve learned a few things. You’ve probably heard some of these before, but they’re important enough to repeat. I hope you can use these tips to analyze your shop and improve it, or to avoid common mistakes before you set up shop. Most if not all of these are things that I need to work on. If you look up any successful Etsy shop, you’ll find they’re already doing a lot of these things well and that can’t be simple coincidence.


  1. Content is king.
    Make sure that what you sell is what people want to buy. You’ll have to do some market research for this, but doing your homework will pay off. And you’ll want to keep up with trends, because what’s in style today probably won’t be in a few months. Basically, you don’t want to spend your time and money making things that won’t sell. And don’t waste your time copying other designs. Buyers will pick up on it. Instead, develop your own style and set yourself apart from your competition by offering unique items.
  2. Photography is queen.
    I know you’ve heard this before, but seriously, if your photography is poor, your sales will be too. Get a good camera. It doesn’t have to be a DSLR, but do some homework on what you need. And please edit your photos to make your items look even better. There are many free online photo editing websites and apps, like PicMonkey. I use Photoshop which costs $10/month, but I think it’s worth it. Also, watermarks are annoying and distract from your item, so please don’t use them. Search for anything on Etsy and count the number of items with professional-quality photos on the first page; you’ll find that good photos are rare. So if your photos are good, this means you will automatically stand out from your competition.

    For jewelry, it’s recommended that you use a plain white background for your photos. I spent a lot of time getting this photo to have a nice white background, and it’s now my top-viewed item. 
  3. Extended vacations tend to halt your momentum.
    As you begin on Etsy, it may seem slow at first, but once you’ve built up some momentum, you’ll tend to start having more frequent sales. This is why it’s so important not to put your shop on vacation for long periods of time. If you’re going away for the weekend, there should be no need to put your shop on vacation. Simply extend the processing times for your items temporarily. I put YRJ on vacation for about two months and after I came back, despite it being the holiday shopping season, all my sales came to a halt. Similarly, try to spend time on your business every day, whether that’s improving your current listings, creating new things, taking photos, editing photos, etc. I noticed that when I consistently spent time on my business, I had more consistent sales.
  4. Social media is basically free advertising.
    Of course, your time spent marketing on social media is a cost, but places like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest are all free to use. This also helps you to build your brand and improve your SEO (search engine optimization). Experiment with as many social media platforms as you desire, and see which ones work best for you. Another thing you want to be aware of is where your target market is. By doing a little research, you can find out where the majority of your target market spends their time on social media.

  5. Know your target market.
    You need to know who your buyers are most likely going to be. Knowing your market will help you generate keywords for tags and titles, as well as help you figure out where they spend their time online so you can market to them better. Additionally, when you stock your shop with items for your market, someone will come along and quickly know if your store is right for them. It’s like when you walk into a store at the mall and you get that feeling “this store is for me” — you want that same feeling for your customers.
  6. If it’s not selling, fix it.
    Your four months are up, your listing is about to expire, but it still hasn’t sold. Even worse, it’s had very few views. What do you do? Etsy recommends that you analyze your tags, titles, photos, descriptions, pricing, etc., and fix anything that’s not working. These things are important, but what happens when you’ve done all that, and it’s still not selling? Unfortunately, this means it just may not be something people are interested in buying. You could try putting it on clearance, but in my experience that rarely works. Instead, see if you can make something new from it.


  7. Don’t wait around for the “right buyer.”
    I’ve seen comments in the Etsy forums of sellers continuing to renew items that don’t sell because they believe eventually the right buyer will come around. Sure, it’s possible. It’s probably also possible for pigs to fly, but it’d take tens of thousands of years of evolution. Renewing items on Etsy costs money and if you’re relisting things that aren’t making you money back, then it’s probably best to stop wasting your money.
  8. It’s not Etsy. It’s you.
    Sellers blaming Etsy for poor views and sales is a common topic in the Etsy forums. Even I’ve blamed Etsy at times. But something I’ve come to realize is that it’s not Etsy, it’s me. In fact, a lot of the tips in this post come from things I’ve realized I need to work on. After all, it’s not Etsy’s fault if you didn’t research your target market, or learn how to take good pictures. Your success will be determined by you, not Etsy.

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