How to Sell and Ship on Etsy
Have you always dreamed of running your own business? Do you keep thinking about what it’s like to have an online store? Do friends and family constantly tell you to sell your products to the public? Do you just want a little extra money in your bank account? It just might be time to open an Etsy shop.
There are plenty of ways to sell products online—building your own website or using e-commerce platforms like Shopify—but Etsy is the most recognizable online marketplace for creative small business owners who want to sell handmade items. It’s free to get started, it’s convenient, and there are built-in users already on the site.
Becoming a success on Etsy takes hard work and some know-how; running an online store can easily become a full-time job if you want it to. While some specifics will vary based on what type of product you’re selling, the basics of setting up shop and becoming an Etsy seller are all the same.
In this beginner’s guide, you’ll learn:
- How to sell on Etsy
- How to open a shop
- How to ship your own product to customers
- Shipping supplies you’ll need to get your products out into the world
Let’s start selling!
What to Sell on Etsy
The first step to selling on Etsy is deciding what it is you’re going to sell. If you already create handmade goods as a hobby, great! On the other hand, if you’re trying to come up with a side hustle to make money, think about your skills and interests and how potential customers might be able to benefit from them. Here are a few ideas:
- Create custom photo albums with at-home binding systems, supplies, and covers.
- Design holiday cards and event invitations. (Use white Touché report covers to create embossed or foil-stamped wedding invitations!)
- Design and sell custom t-shirts for all occasions.
- Re-sell vintage items that you find.
- Create DIY craft kits! Use transparency film to create stencils for embroidery, quilting, needlepoint, or painting.
- If you’re a DIYer, create…anything! Party supplies, cutting boards, jewelry, and home decor are all very popular on Etsy.
How to Sell on Etsy
While anyone can create an Etsy account for free, you need to have at least one product and a shop name to set up an Etsy store. It makes sense to think about exactly what products you’ll be selling and what you’re going to call yourself so you can get the ball rolling as you’re signing up.
Once you have a unique name that accurately describes your shop, it’s time to do the following:
- Create a logo. If you aren’t design-minded, you can hire a designer or create something simple in an online tool like Canva or PicMonkey.
- Write a shop description. This will go on your shop homepage to let potential customers know what’s for sale in your Etsy shop. Be sure to think of what potential buyers will be searching for when looking for a product like yours; utilizing those keywords is an easy form of search engine optimization (SEO) that may help your shop show up in Google and Etsy search results.
- Create your shop policies. While this may not be the most exciting part of owning an Etsy store, these policies will protect you as the shop owner in the case of customer dissatisfaction. Think about if you want to offer exchanges or refunds and state that explicitly in your policies.
List your items.
One of the very first things you’ll do after entering the above information is create product listings! This is where you’ll likely spend the bulk of your time in your Etsy shop as you create new product listings, write product descriptions, and add to your online business.
When you are listing your products, make sure that you are writing descriptive titles and long product descriptions and adding several clear, well-lit product photos.
Remember to keep search engine optimization in mind, as these product descriptions may help you land higher in Etsy listings.
Price your items.
One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make when starting out is undercharging for their services or products. Don’t shortchange yourself by selling your products at cost.
You need to take into account how much supplies were, how long it took you to make it, and what a similar item sells for in other stores. Additionally, you need to factor in Etsy fees and other costs:
- Listing fees. Etsy charges $0.20 to post a product listing in your shop. Your listing will be live for four months, at which point you’ll be given an opportunity to renew the listing for another four months.
- Transaction fees. Etsy has to get their money too! To keep the platform at a low cost for the many Etsy business owners, they charge 5% of the product’s price and shipping.
- Payment processing fees. If a customer uses their credit card to pay, you’ll be charged an additional fee of 3% of the item’s total price plus another $0.25 on top of that. If a customer uses PayPal, you must pay 2.9% of the transaction price and $0.30 on top.
- Shipping fees. Depending on the size of your items, shipping fees can either be relatively stable or can vary wildly. See our list of necessary shipping supplies below to see what you’ll need. Etsy does charge a shipping label fee.
- Advertising fees. If you don’t engage in at least some marketing, nobody will ever find your products! In addition to SEO, utilize your social media networks to get the word out. If you want more active buyers on Etsy to see your items, you can pay to be featured as a promoted listing in the Etsy listings results.
Ship your items.
Hopefully you’ve decided on shipping process and policies by now. Do you want to ship internationally? Do you want to work on weekends or on a business-day only basis? Will you offer rush shipping for an extra fee?
You want to make sure your shipping and handling is as fast as possible, but it’s also important to make sure it’s correct. Along the way, tell the customer how much time it will take to pack and ship their order and to keep them informed when it’s on the way.
Here’s how to ship your own products pain-free.
- Calculate your costs. You need to weigh and measure your product first because UPS and FedEx charge by weight and dimension. Once you have the product’s weight, put it into the shipping estimate calculators on the Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx websites to see where you’ll get the best deal. Pro Tip: You can set up pre-calculated shipping in your Etsy shop that will calculate shipping costs for you based on location and product information.
- Pack your product. Making sure your product arrives in great condition should be your number 1 priority! Use the supplies below to create a well-packed box or mailer that every customer will be happy to get.
- Add a packing slip. Whether you want to print out a customer copy of the receipt or you’d like to include a handwritten note to your customer, throw in a little something for the customer just so they remember your shop name again! Put the web address of your Etsy shop and your social media handles on the paper as well.
- Label and send it off. Even after a package is out of your hands, it’s still up to you to keep your customer informed about its progress. Send them a shipping notification and a tracking number so they’ll know when to expect their package.
Keep reading for our must-have shipping supplies list!
Shipping Supplies List for Selling on Etsy
You may not need all of these supplies at first (or ever, depending on what you’re selling), but it’s important to have at least some basics on hand so you can ship your products ASAP!
- Boxes and Mailers.Obviously, you’ll need something to put your items in! You can get boxes from the USPS (if you are shipping Priority Mail) or you can find them in bulk online. You should probably stay away from repurposing boxes around your home unless they’re in excellent condition.
If you don’t need the protection a box will give you, use a mailer instead. They’re more lightweight than a box but still provide some support for items. You can buy poly mailers for soft items (like clothes, fabric, or blankets) or padded mailers (for things that need a little protection).
- Shrink Wrap Machine.A shrink wrap machine is every Etsy shop owner’s best friend. A shrink wrap machine allows you to bundle together several products and protect individual items in heat-shrink packaging, with the added benefit of looking extremely professional to the customer. You can shrink wrap things that will go inside a box or mailer, but you can also use shrink wrapping as packaging itself. The Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx all accept shrink-wrapped packages!
There are several different shrink-wrapping machines available, including I-bar and L-bar sealer systems.
We recommend the SuperShrink 18″ I-Bar Shrink Wrap System for a cost-effective and efficient shrink wrap machine you can use at home.
This shrink wrapper includes everything you need: an 18″ bar sealer, timer, heat gun (with two speeds), film rack, and shrink film. It requires just three simple steps to secure your products.
- Tape. Of course, you’ll need tape to bring everything together. It’s pretty cheap so use a lot of it!
- Labels. Create custom, branded shipping labelsfor the outside of your box. The 4”x2” labels (10 to a sheet) are perfect for shipping labels and return address labels. You can use a full-sheet label (either full-size or cut in half) for fragile warning labels. Our custom adhesive labels are just one more way to show off your brand’s personality.
Selling on Etsy can be an exciting venture for many new business owners. To make sure your products arrive looking their best, work with the packaging experts at Filmsource. Get in touch today to make sure you have all the supplies you need!