EDIT: Updated 2/19/2022: More info about fees & shipping below :3
So you're ready set up a shop for your art. Hooray! But where do you even start? Even more important, how do you get sales?
I'll use my growing knowledge and research on the best practices to setting up an Etsy shop, as well as how to generate sales and grow beautifully. I'm still a newbie, so we will learn together!
Come up with a brand
First off, you have to come up with a name for your shop. You only have a limited number of times you can change your shop name on Etsy, so pick out a good name and stick with it! Along with that, you have the ability to add a logo, banner, and other branded materials to your storefront. If you know how to create logos and graphic design, this may be something you can make yourself, but if you need a little help, might I recommend Canva?
Canva.com is a website where you can make a variety of materials like logos, banners, even posts for social media too! It has an easy to use design/edit page, and you can easily download the files you create to use however you need. This isn't sponsored or anything, I just really like this website! Try it out if you need to make some assets for your storefront.
Keep your logo/banner simple. Look up some other Etsy shops for inspiration, and google some logos and color palates that inspire you. Get creative too! A good brand is pleasing for your shoppers, and makes it easy to navigate your various social media platforms.
Listing your Products - Etsy Fees, Ads, and Resources
.20 for creating/renewing listings
5% fee for every sale.
Shipping fees vary.
Take these fees into consideration when deciding what to price your products. It may help to take your expenses (art supplies, shipping materials, time to make the product) and decide from there how to price.
When it comes to listing products, you have the option to set the listing to either automatically renew, or expire which means if the product doesn't sell in the three month timeline, it will be unpublished automatically. Etsy will still keep the listing in a separate folder for you just in case you want to renew at a later date. I do this for my seasonal listings.
Etsy gives you the option to opt into their marketing program with what they call "Etsy Ads". I recommend if you're starting off to never do this, especially if you're on a budget. You will be able to set a daily dollar amount that Etsy will charge you for advertising your listing so that it gets more eyes on it. I don't use Etsy Ads at all; I would rather market my products through my social media platforms instead of adding more fees on top of that. Through my research I found that these ads are better to opt into if you are a well established shop, and not one that's just starting up. I opt out of these and my stats are just fine; I focus on promoting my shop and any new products manually through my social media platforms.
Etsy gives shops that offer "free shipping" more priority, and that you should be pricing your products to make up for that shipping cost. If you're selling small things like stickers, prints, keychains across the US, or your country, I recommend raising the prices by a little more that you would normally just to make up for that extra cost to you. If you sell one sticker for $3, Etsy takes .20 for the listing fee, and another 5% on top of that, PLUS shipping costs. At the end of it all you might not even profit from that sticker sale. So if you're making stickers, I suggest pricing a little higher as well as offering sticker bundles, or multiple sticker sheets.
I don't have experience shipping internationally, but check Etsy's options for shipping outside your country.
With larger items like paintings, or items that need more processing time, I suggest adding a handling fee to your listing.
If you're not really feeling Etsy, but you do want to sell your art online, there are other shops out there that let you do just that. Here's a list of the popular ones:
You can also sell directly from you site if you have something like Wix, Squarespace, or Wordpress. Although I highly recommend becoming established before selling independently. That's my next step ;)
Shipping Supplies Galore!
It's hard to sell things if you don't have any shipping supplies. This is another area where you can get creative with your packaging. I've seen artists design patterns for their tissue paper, return address labels, and more. Again, google some packaging ideas to get some inspiration.
But to get you started, here are some basic shipping supplies to add to your list:
plastic wrap - to protect your prints/stickers
shipping labels and return address labels - Etsy can generate shipping labels for orders that you can purchase, but it's not necessary if you don't need them. I typically handwrite my address on the package and use a stamp since my prints and stickers are small. I also handwrite on my return address label, but feel free to make a cute design to add to those labels!
stamps - obviously! This is for small packages, like stated above
mailers - you will need different sizes depending on the size of the art. I have 4x6, 5x7 and 9x12 mailers that are hard cardboard so the piece inside will be protected.
bubble wrap - for wrapping more fragile items like jewelry or mugs.
boxes - I don't use boxes, but needed if you're selling bigger items.
Later down the line I'd like to add things like apparel, keychains, and plushies to my shop, so I'll have to add some more supplies to my workspace. Shipping supplies will definitely add up in your budget, so plan accordingly. Every item I listed I purchased through Amazon.
Digital Downloads: Make Money with Little to No Upfront Cost!
Looking to start with low upfront costs? Digital listings is a good avenue to explore! Through Etsy I listed digital downloads like iPhone wallpapers and desktop backgrounds. Along with this, there are tons of different downloads you can create. If you're handy with templates like Word templates, resume/cover letter templates, or even want to make printable stationary or digital coloring pages, consider selling them as digital downloads. Etsy makes it very easy, and you can provide multiple files per listing. One of my favorite creators who practices doll customizing created doll clothing patterns for sale on her Etsy, so the possibilities are endless!
I plan on adding some more digital downloads to my shop; I want to make some more iPhone wallpapers, desktop wallpapers, recipe card templates, journaling templates, and more.
Make your products look good
This is where you can use your photography skills to the test. Etsy loves it when you post many photos and videos with your listings. Make sure the piece is well lit, has an interesting or blank background that makes it easy to see, and shows off the details. You don't need to have a fancy camera to do this either; I use my smartphone for all my listings!
Etsy has great resources for taking photos of your products, so I suggest reading up on that if you're stumped. Etsy is also pushing having videos of your products as well. What I like to do is whenever I have a new product to show, I take a video for my Instagram story, and I'll use that video for Etsy too. I believe Etsy boosts listings that have videos.
Keep Track of Your Inventory
Etsy makes it easy to keep track of the listings in your shop, whether something is set to expire, renew, or something that's sold out. But make sure you inventory is organized too! If you're just starting out, I don't recommend printing 100 art prints to sell unless you're very confident that all 100 will sell. Keep your inventory light, or even ready to order, meaning you prepare the order once it's placed.
I tend to keep only 3-5 copies of my prints on hand, same with my stickers. I keep everything in an accordion folder with labels to keep track of them. This is the best way for me to organize my prints for conventions, and it's easy to pull them out when someone wanted to buy.
I have all my stickers in a big red binder and used trading card sleeves to put them in.
I recommend either googling some organizational tips, or asking other artists how they keep track of everything if you're really stumped. When you first start out, you have a good opportunity to start off on the right foot and get organized first.
Keep a spreadsheet of your inventory. I use Google Sheets to organize my products by type, how many I have, how many have sold, price, and if I will be renewing the item. This is an extra step to really get a handle on your product.
Start Getting Sales!
Now that you've made your account and have a couple listings up, now is when you should start seeing sales pop up. Don't be discouraged if you don't see any traffic right away! Just make sure you let people know that you're shop is up and ready to go. People love supporting small businesses nowadays, so be sure to market yourself as such. This isn't a post about social media marketing, but if you want to know my thoughts and tips on that topic, let me know! But there are thousands of resources for marketing and promotion out there.
My shop is still small and growing. I'll go weeks without a sale. I spent quarantine reviving my shop, and I'm hoping that it'll slowly grow enough to be able to support myself on it. Just keep making your art and showing it off, and soon enough, people will come.
There's Inspiration Everywhere!
If you're really struggling with how to make your shop appealing, or what products to sell, see what everyone else is doing! What products are people selling? Are people selling art of fan characters, original art, or a mixture of both? Look at their branding, their about page, their best sellers. What is it about their products makes it so profitable? I do this often and a get really inspired seeing other artist's work. It can help you realize what it is you want to offer in your shop that no one else has.
Fan characters and trends are fun to get behind because people are looking for things like that. However I recommend treading with caution with fan art. I have a lot of listings that include fan art in my shop, mostly Sailor Moon paintings and stickers, but selling fan art is risky. There is a chance that if you sell a keychain with Mario's likeness, or a T-shirt with Hello Kitty on it, you could get it taken down. Some companies are more strict than others (see Disney), but sometimes you can sell just fine. There are tons of fan-artists selling like crazy and making lots of money, so just use your best judgement. There are some companies that love seeing fan art of their work, so it's all up in the air.
I plan on adding some more original pieces into the mix of listings I have, but also I really want to make Animal Crossing-themed art too. So, just have fun with your shop!
That's it for today! I hope you found this all super helpful, and I would love to check out new Etsy shops too!
See you in the next post!