I was recently asked to show some friends how to open a shop on Etsy. As well as doing a show and tell, I decided to write a few short notes for them and (as usual) ended up with an essay. So I thought I would share it here too and hope you find it useful.
Opening a shop on the Etsy site is very easy and the fees are good value for sellers with the features the site offers. It is straightforward to register your personal details and to list items but you will need to do some work beforehand. So here goes!
• Choose a name for your shop, it could be a name that tells people what you sell or one that is personal to you, or something abstract. This will be your brand on Etsy so give it some careful thought. At some point, you will probably want to promote your shop on social media, so check if your name is available to use on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc. Google the name to make sure it isn’t too similar to an existing business who may object
• Understand the law covering online selling from the UK – I have included a link at the end for a useful and readable guide, but you need to be aware of three things in particular as they are often overlooked by Etsy sellers o 1) You must display your business contact details i.e. full trading name and address in your shop (it goes in the seller information section). o 2) Customers have a 14 day cooling off period and can claim a refund without giving a reason during this time (there are some exceptions). o 3) You are responsible for replacing goods that are lost/damaged in transit. Try to think of these rules as working to your advantage. Buyers can purchase from you knowing they will not lose anything if it turns out to not be quite what they wanted.
• Decide what you are going to sell and make some stock– ok, I know it sounds obvious but you often see shops on Etsy with only one or two items listed or sometimes completely empty. This doesn’t inspire confidence in buyers, so try and start with at least 10 items and plan ahead to keep it stocked up.
• Sort out some insurance – this isn’t a legal obligation but is strongly advised. You need to think about cover for products liability (if your product causes injury or damage in some way) and public liability (if your action or negligence causes injury or damage). Tell your insurer if you are selling to overseas customers especially to the USA. Don’t rely on your domestic insurance for cover as they do not usually include cover for business.
• Think about how you will describe your items. Come up with a few keywords e.g. silver, necklace. You need a title which gives a short, precise description and a few paragraphs giving more detail. Use this space to tell your buyers everything they need to know such as size, materials etc plus what makes you item special, for example how it is made. Imagine you are having a conversation in person, what would you say to a potential buyer? If you saw this item online, what would you want to know about it? Use your keywords in your title and description. When you list your items, you can also add up to 13 tags to help buyers find them. Put yourself in the shoes of a buyer and use words and phrases that they might type into a search box.
• Set your prices. Now is the time to be realistic as you need to work out what it cost you to make the item. List all the materials and include a fair hourly rate for your time (remember you are trying to make a profit). Now add in the fees Etsy will charge and the fee for processing a payment, which can be direct checkout through Etsy or into your PayPal account - see Fees for Selling on Etsy for current details.
• Take some photos! You can have 5 per item which gives you a chance to show off its features. Take some close-ups of details, try props to indicate scale. This is a huge topic and there are lots of helpful articles on the Etsy site giving photography advice. Browse through shops selling similar items to yours – which photographs appeal to you and why? Remember, the picture is the first thing your buyers will see and the main way they will judge your goods. It also adds to the branding of your shop.
• Plan how you will send your items – think about packaging and the cost of postage. Check your goods can be sent by Royal Mail - some items are restricted or prohibited even within the UK (see link). Decide if you will sell to international customers. You will need to specify the delivery cost for each item when you list it. Etsy makes this easier by allowing you to set up delivery profiles that you can apply to many items. For example, in my shop Jane at Number 13, I have one delivery profile for iron-on patches (very light), one for headbands (a bit larger and heavier) and so on.
• Write some blurb for your profile page and choose a profile picture. This all helps to build connections with buyers and give your shop personality.
Finally, If you haven’t already done so, contact HMRC – you will need to declare any income from Etsy sales. Their website has lots of useful information on record-keeping and tax forms, and they run regular webinars for small businesses which gives you a chance to ask questions. It is also worth signing up for their newsletters.