Following up from my video, ‘How to Start an Etsy Store & Make Your First Sale‘, I’m answering all your questions about how to sell on Etsy as a new store owner. I’ve been selling on Etsy since 2017 and as I said in this video, this video is intended as advice from my experience and is in no way legal advice (I’m here to help, but I’m not a lawyer… yet).
Do you need a business license to sell on Etsy?
As an incoming law student, I was hesitant to include this question. As I said in the video, do your research before opening your shop (or beginning any type of business) and check the laws in your country and state.
To my understanding, Etsy was created as a platform for creatives, DIY-ers, and crafters to have an online market to sell their handmade goods. My guess would be that the majority of people selling on Etsy are not doing it full-time. I’d say most people are selling as a ‘hobby’ and their Etsy income reflects that.
Etsy may not require you to have a business license to open up shop, but your local laws may vary.
Anything relating to licensing and taxes gets real tricky, real fast. Be sure to do you research and check out Etsy’s knowledge base to get the right answers to your specific questions and situation.
How do you print shipping labels for new orders?
New orders appear in your Etsy Shop Manager under ‘Orders & Shipping’. From this page, you can buy & print shipping labels (and packing slips, etc.). You can also view canceled and refunded orders.
Etsy creates the labels for you, but as the shop owner, you’re responsible for charging the right amount for shipping based on the item’s weight, size, and mail carrier. (I talk more about this in this video and explain how incorrect shipping was my first mistake as a new store).
How do you calculate shipping for orders with multiple items?
I believe this is a more recent feature Etsy has updated, but I checked it out when I listed all the new items on Lemon + Lily. I’m not sure if this option appears for every shipping class, but there is an option to add a separate shipping cost for each additional item, on top of the shipping price for the first item.
If you can send multiple items inside one envelope or box (ex. 2 shirts fit in one of my bubble mailers. So, the total shipping cost only increases by the cost of the added weight of the second shirt.), then your shipping cost won’t be double the cost of one item. With this additional cost, keep in mind the cost of any additional packaging included with the second/additional item(s).
There are so many different laws and situations based on your store and location. My best advice is to check Etsy support and forums. At least in the US (which is the only tax system I can speak to), taxes vary based on income level. Even if your store starts at ‘hobby’ level, be aware of how taxes may change as your business grows!
What is SEO?
SEO = Search Engine Optimization. SEO is a buzzword for almost any online platform these days. Search engines (like Google, and Etsy) scour and categorize websites for search terms and phrases. To optimize your site for search engines, include relevant keywords and long-tail keywords (keywords that are multiple words) according to things people are actually typing into search bars.
BONUS TIP: I use the free version of Keywords Everywhere to get insights about what keywords are being searching (and by how many people) across Google, Etsy, and YouTube.
Like Google, Etsy functions as a search engine. A huge benefit of selling on Etsy versus independently is having your products available to the millions of people searching Etsy every day. If you’re selling a pink koala kid’s shirt, for example, you want to optimize your Etsy listing to include phrases like ‘koala shirt’, ‘pink koala shirt’, ‘kid’s animal shirt’, etc., with relevant phrases real people are searching.
There is a delicate but vital balance between overly specific (too narrow = too few people searching) and overly generic (too broad = too many products for yours to be found) keywords to best match your product to the right customers. There’s loads of info and help available online in terms of SEO, which is how I learned everything I know!
Through Etsy listings, you can add your target keywords to your product’s title, description, and tags. This improves your SEO!
SEO takes time! Search engines need time to process your new info and listings (especially if you’re a new store). On Pinterest, I’ve noticed some of my blog posts will get almost no clicks or views shortly after I post them. But over time, they gain traction and continue to drive traffic to my site, even months later!
How do you come up with product ideas to start a store?
I received this question in a comment from someone who’d watched my Etsy video and similar ones but didn’t hear anyone address how to actually come up with product ideas to create a store. This aspect of starting an Etsy store didn’t occur to me, because the products I was making inspired me to start a store.
I love the ambition of wanting to start an Etsy store. If you want to start a store but don’t know what to make or sell yet, spend time looking at Etsy stores that inspire you. Which elements catch your eye? What do you like about how descriptive or detailed the product info is? How could you improve?
Combine what inspires you with what skills you have or what you’re good at. I’ve switched to graphic design to create my products, compared to previously painting everything by hand. The beautiful thing about Etsy is that your store can grow, improve, and change as you do.
I stick to what I said (here) months ago. If you want to start a store, just do it! Things will only get better with time. All it takes is one product or one idea to start something incredible.
Thanks for reading! I hope this was helpful and answered some of your questions about how to sell on Etsy.
If you have any other questions, feel free to leave them in a comment below. I’m so passionate about helping other creatives chase their dreams and I’d love to help you however I can. Blessings always!