Is it possible to earn a living on Etsy?

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As an artist and creative business coach who has worked with hundreds of Etsy sellers, I get this question all the time:

“Is it possible to earn a living on Etsy?”

The short answer is: Yes!

The longer answer is: Yes… but not for everyone.

On the upside: Etsy makes it easy for you to sell your art or creative products. Anyone with even a little bit of tech savvy and several hours can get their shop up and running.

The thing is: that’s also kind of a downside!

It’s so easy to start a shop that Etsy has become a highly competitive marketplace with over 1.8 Million active sellers. You need to do a lot (and do it well!) in order to stand out from the crowd and make a living from your income there.

But… It also depends on what you consider “a living”. For many of us, that could mean a full-time income of $30,000+ per year. But for some of us, an extra $1000 a month would be amazing!

 

Think it seems impossible right now? Here are a few examples (links will open in a new tab so you don’t have to worry about losing your place):

It might be hard to imagine making $10k in sales in one month if you’re still trying to make $100 in sales a day! But here are some of the most important aspects of selling more of what you make, and finally answering YES to the question, “Is it possible to earn a living on Etsy?”!

 

SEO

Perfecting your Etsy SEO could be not just a blog post, but an entire course in itself! So I’m just going to cover the very basics here, but just know that you’ll need to figure this part out, and perfect it in your own shop.

There are three main places in your Etsy listings that SEO is important: your product title, your product description, and your tags. You’ll want to use relevant keywords in all three places.

There are different opinions about your subject line: some say it should read like a sentence including your relevant keywords. Others say it should be more like a list of relevant keywords, the most important being at the beginning. Either way, you’ll also want to use matching keywords in your tags. Here are two examples of what I mean:

Title example 1: “Modern art painting, “Deep Blue Seas” by Jules Tillman. Large, abstract, blue original oil painting”

Title example 2: “modern art. painting. large painting. blue art. oil painting. abstract art. wall art. large art. contemporary art.”

I’m actually in the process of testing both types of titles (and will report back here when I’m done), but I suggest you do, too.

But in your description, you’ll also want to use these same keywords but in a more conversational, descriptive way. And, as I mentioned before, you’ll also want to use them in your keyword tags.

 

Product Photography

Product photography is of utmost importance, because keywords may be how people find you, but your photography is going to help them buy from you. The thing is, you don’t even need fancy equipment (take a look at this class, DIY Studio Photography Lightbox + Demo to see what I mean!) I know one Etsy seller who only uses his iPhone to take his product photos, and they’re gorgeous (you can take a look here.)

But there are a few things to keep in mind when taking photos of your products. Obviously, you’ll want clean, focused product photos. But also try to photograph your products from different angles, on different backgrounds, and how they will be used by the person who buys them. I find that so many (way too many, if you ask me!) Etsy buyers hardly bother to read descriptions (you can tell by the questions they ask via convos!) So your photography will have to do a lot of the “talking” for you. Oh! And

Oh! And definitely make sure you use all 5 photo slots. The more visual information you can provide to potential customers, the better. I like to use tall, narrow images for my first product photo, because when someone pins that product on Pinterest, the image will have more real estate in the Pinterest feed. Plus, you can adjust that first photo to be sure you’re including the best part(s) of your products.

 

Make Great Stuff

I mean, duh. But I have to add it, because, unfortunately, there is a lot of (I hate to say it!) ugly stuff for sale on Etsy. So if you’re worried that your products might fit into that category, it’s time to get some honest feedback, and probably not from your mom – not that I don’t love you, moms! But in this case, you need to get feedback from a neutral third party. You could ask for feedback in Facebook groups, the Etsy forums, from an Etsy consultant or creative business coach, or best of all, try asking someone who is your target customer.

For instance, if you make baby clothes, try asking new moms. If you make bridal invitations, ask a newly engaged couple. If you sell boho jewelry, make sure you ask someone with a boho style. For example, I love modern, minimal jewelry, so I would not be your ideal customer. You get the idea!

 

Price Right

Pricing is a difficult issue for many Etsy sellers. You have to make a profit in order for it to be worth it. Some popular Etsy sellers advise that if you’re just starting out, you may want to start on the lower end of prices and slowly raise them as you gain more sales. But I’m not so sure I agree with that. If you’re confident in what you make, I think pricing on the higher end offers more potential for long-term success. I like to consider what I would sell my products for at retail, then figure out if I sold it to wholesalers for 50% of that price, would I still make a decent amount? If not, I raise my prices.

 

So while many people think it’s easy to start an Etsy shop (and it is!) they might not realize how complex it is to actually succeed there! You not only have to make great products that people want to buy, but you also have to learn a lot about being in business online. So, is it possible to earn a living on Etsy? Of course! But it will probably take some time and learning along the way.

 

 

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