If you love to craft or create handmade products I’m sure someone has suggested that you should start an Etsy shop. I thought about opening one for years before I finally decided to go for it. Less than 8 months after I started I was able to leave my corporate career behind and run my Etsy shop full time. It’s one of the best decisions ever made so I want to share the top 5 reasons that I think you should open an Etsy shop today.
#1: When starting an Etsy shop you really have nothing to lose
To start an Etsy shop all you need are a few handmade products (or vintage), a camera to take photos (many sellers use the camera on their phone), and a little bit of time to learn the ins and outs of Etsy. If you use the link at the bottom of this post to sign up you’ll get $8 worth of free listing credits so you’ll be able to list 40 products for free.
#2: Etsy allows you to sell your products worldwide
I’ve done the craft show circuit before with some success but my target market was harder to find in my local community. Because of Etsy, I’m able to sell my products to customers around the world. This allows me to create products for a specific target market without having to worry about whether my target market aligns with my local community.
#3: Etsy allows you to create your own schedule
One of the biggest benefits to running my Etsy shop full time is that I’m 100% in charge of my schedule. I set up my shop so that orders go out within 7 days of the order date. This gives me a ton of flexibility.
Some shops even set up a 2-3 week processing time with great success. This means that if an emergency comes up or you just don’t feel like working you have the freedom to take time off. This also lets me work during my toddler’s nap time or at night after the kids have gone to bed.
#4: Etsy is very user-friendly
If you’ve ever tried to create your own website you know how challenging it can be. There are so many parts and pieces that you have to put together and it can often be really expensive especially if you encounter tech issues.
Etsy does all the heavy listing for you. They’ll walk you through setting up your shop step by step and have a lot of resources available if you have trouble along the way. Etsy also has an app for sellers that allows you to monitor your shop from your phone or tablet.
#5: Etsy makes it easy to earn extra income
Whether your goal is to cover the electric bill, have some extra spending money or replace your current income it’s all possible through Etsy. You can choose your income goal and how much time you want to put into your shop. Start out with a few listings and work to perfect those and grow your Etsy shop over time.
Product photography goes hand in hand with a good SEO strategy. SEO is how you get found in the search results and good photos are what determine if a buyer will click on your listing. It doesn’t matter if you show up on page one of the search results unless you have good photos that entice Etsy shoppers to click.
Here are some basic tips that I’ve learned from my experience to help create product photos for Etsy that will make buyers want to take a closer look.
#1: Use a simple background to let your product shine
The first photo you add to your product listing is crucial to getting views and sales. You want to make sure that your product is the star of the show. The easiest way to do this is to choose a simple background that doesn’t compete with your product. A lot of Etsy sellers choose white or wood backgrounds which are great options.
They work for a lot of products but don’t feel like you have to go that route. You can think outside the box with your product photography by trying out scrapbook papers, fabrics, placemats, distressed wood, metal, wallpaper, etc.
I recommend experimenting with different backgrounds until you find one that lets your product shine and is a good fit for your brand. Some sellers add decorative items into their main photo as well to help draw attention and emphasize what the product is. You can do this but make sure they don’t overshadow the product.
Adding additional items to the first photo is a more advanced technique because it can easily make a photo look cluttered when viewed in the search results. To start, I recommend keeping just your product and a background in your first photo.
One thing I never recommend is placing your products on the floor for your photos. Even if you have gorgeous hardwood floors, buyers are going to wonder why you’re selling them something you’ve had on the floor.
#2: Create a cohesive look for your shop
I recommend using a similar first photo for each product within your shop to create a cohesive look for your shop. This helps define your style and your brand. Think of how Target does this by using a red and white color scheme through the whole store.
No matter where you are in Target you can see their branding on display. Your Etsy shop should feel the same way. Whether you use the same background for each photo or you create a theme for your photos, make sure that each first photo has a similar look and feel that represents your brand.
#3: Use natural light
Great lighting is the key to amazing product photos. To help achieve natural-looking photos that are clear and bright, I always recommend using natural light and avoiding harsh flashes or artificial light. My favorite places to take photos are beside a window or door or outside under a covering such as a porch or in the shade of a building.
When using natural light make sure to avoid direct sunlight which can be too harsh. You can use a sheer curtain to help diffuse light if your photography spot only has direct sunlight.
Another tip is to use a homemade reflector such as a piece of white foam board to bounce light on the side of the product that isn’t receiving as much natural light. Too much shadow can be as bad as too much light.
I like this blog post from White on Rice Couple that shows a creative background choice and it shows how to use a piece of white foam core to help bounce light onto the side that is opposite from the natural light source.
#4: Take shots that show scale, detail & function
You can upload 10 photos per product. Take advantage of those spots to show buyers that your product is perfect for them with these suggestions:
A photo that shows scale can be achieved by placing your product beside a common object or use a model for apparel and accessories. This helps buyers feel confident that your product is the size they are looking for.
Take a close up photo that shows the detail, texture, and quality of your work. Some cameras have a macro setting that is perfect for close up photos. Show a different angle or detail than you used in your other photos if possible.
Stage a photo of your product in use to show it’s function. Help your customers imagine your product in their lives. If you sell cutting boards, put a knife and block of cheese in the photos. For jewelry such as rings or bracelets, recruit a friend to be a hand model. Home decor can be staged in your own home.
One thing I do want to mention though is just because you have 10 spots for photos on Etsy doesn’t’ mean you need to use them all. Quality is better than quantity. Each photo you add should show a new perspective of your product. If you upload several photos that are really similar it’s just a waste of your customer’s time to look through them all.
#5: Make a few simple edits
Editing photos can be tricky for Etsy sellers. It’s hard to know where to start and it’s really easy to over-edit a photo. I recommend keeping it simple by editing the exposure (how much light the photo has) and by sharpening the photo. Doing these two things helps create a bright and in focus photo that will have a classic look.
For editing photos on your phone or tablet, I recommend using a free app called Snapseed available for Android or iOS. Or the Lightroom app is another good option. If you are on your computer I recommend using Photoshop for the best results. All of these programs allow you to adjust the exposure (brightness, highlights, shadows, contrast) and sharpen the image. Edit slowly to make sure you’re not overdoing it. Less is often better when it comes to editing.
Takeaways for Great Product Photography
Use a simple & neutral background for your first photo to let your product take the spotlight
Show off your style and brand by choosing a similar look or theme for each product’s first photo
Natural light is the key to achieving bright and clear product photos
Include photos that show detail, scale, and function to help your buyers imagine your product in their life
Fine-tune your photos by making a few simple edits in an image editing program
When working with new Etsy sellers, I’ve noticed that there are a few key areas that Etsy shop owners are missing that are must-haves for a professional looking shop. This missing information is like a missing store name on the front of brick and mortar stores or a missing sales associate behind the counter. Check out the must-haves that you should add to your shop today!
#1: The Etsy Shop Owner Photo
The shop owner photo is your chance to put a face behind your shop name. Etsy buyers are looking for the human experience that they can’t get from a corporate website. They want to know you and be a part of your story. Have someone take your photo with a non-distracting background and make sure you’re smiling.
The best part is, all that needs to appear in this picture is your head and shoulders. No need to change out of your yoga pants! Make sure the photo is bright and welcoming because this photo represents you and is your opportunity to greet customers that enter your shop. Click here for photo tips that will also help with your shop owner photo.
#2: The Etsy Shop Title
The Etsy shop title is the line of text that appears underneath your shop name. The shop title where you will tell your customers what you are selling and what it can do for them. I often refer to this as the tagline because a lot of shops use their tagline as their shop title. You have up to 55 characters to use here so make sure to take advantage of the space.
Another vital reason to fill this info in is that Google uses this as your shop title in their search results. This means that you want to use keywords that a buyer might use to find your products when searching Google. The shop title is an excellent opportunity to use as many descriptive words as you can to help market your products to shoppers searching on Google and other search engines. Try to use long-tail keywords to really get specific.
If you don’t know what to write here, you can combine what you sell and what your products can do for your customer. Here are a few examples:
Natural Bath Products to Make You Feel Radiant
Personalized Christmas Ornaments to Beautify Your Tree
Printable Planner Stickers to Decorate Your Schedule
#3: The Etsy Shop Icon
The Etsy shop icon is the square photo you will see at the top of Etsy shops which appears to the left of the shop name. If you don’t have one, a blank square will appear which makes it look like something is missing from your shop. To create a shop icon I recommend using Canva which is a free online design program. They have templates for Etsy shop icons and make creating a shop icon that aligns with your branding super easy.
The shop icon is fairly small, so I recommend that you include your business name or logo only. I wouldn’t recommend using a photo of yourself or a photo of your products as a shop icon. Trying to add too much will make it appear busy and hard to read.
Takeaways for Etsy Shop Must-Haves:
Make sure you have a bright and smiling photo of yourself uploaded in the shop owner section
Fill in your Etsy shop title with info about what you sell and how it benefits your customers
Add a shop icon that aligns with your branding and includes your shop name or logo
A long tail keyword is a keyword phrase that contains three or more words (although some consider 2 or more words to be long tail). This type of keyword is usually very specific and therefore often less competitive. Here are a few examples of long tail keywords: blue starfish necklace, pink striped hair bow, embroidered bear shirt
#2: Should I be using long tail keywords within my Etsy shop?
Long tail keywords are amazing for standing out amongst your competition, especially if you are just getting established. You will have a better chance at ranking (go here to learn about SEO and ranking) for a long tail keyword because they often are specific enough that you will have less competition in the search results. This is really important to ensure that your product is found and not lost in a search that is too competitive.
As your shop grows you can work toward ranking for shorter and more competitive keywords. I’ve been able to rank on the first page for really competitive keywords like housewarming gift and Christmas gift but only after my products received a lot of favorites and sales. You’ll want to stick with long tail keywords when you are starting out.
#3: How do I incorporate long tail keywords into my tags and title?
You can add your long tail keywords to your titles using the tips found in my Top 6 Tips for Constructing the Perfect Etsy Title post. Make sure that you are using keyword phrases that are appropriate for your product and make sure your title looks as professional as possible.
Long tail keywords can be a bit tricky to add to tags because they can often be longer than 20 characters which is the limit for tags. To get around this, split your keyword phrases up if needed. An example of this is ‘green striped hair bow’ which is 22 characters. You could split this into two tags, ‘green striped hair’ and ‘striped hair bow’. This helps cover the phrase even though it is too long to fit into one tag.
#4: How do I know which long tail keywords to use?
Knowing which keyword phrases to use is the trickiest part of SEO. I like to sit down with my product in front of me and write out all the words I would use to describe the product. Think of color, texture, materials used, size, shape, and so on. Then go back and add a star beside the ones that you think describe your product best. You can then combine those words into long tail keywords.
I also like to get the opinions of others to help create my long tail keyword phrases. Show people your product either online or in person and ask them which terms they would use to describe the product or find it if they were looking for it on google. Look for any trends to help you identify which keyword phrases would be best to use.
An advanced method for finding the best long tail keywords is to use an online tool such as EtsyRank or Marmalead. They are Etsy SEO tools that helps you discover which keywords are working for similar products.
Takeaways for Long Tail Keywords:
Long tail keywords are important to ensuring your products appear in the search results
Do your research to determine which long tail keywords you should use
Incorporate your long tail keywords into your titles and your tags
Ready to take your SEO to the next level?
Disclaimer: The above info is what has worked really well for me in my experience of running a successful Etsy shop. While it has worked for me, you may experience a different result. Make changes slowly and be sure to save any previous information you are replacing in case you find that your previous choices worked better for you.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Search engines, such as the product search within Etsy return results based on the keyword phrases users enter into the search bar. Etsy SEO refers to any of the work that you do to help improve where your products appear in the Etsy search results. Where your products appear in the search is often called search ranking.
How does SEO work within Etsy?
Your title and tags within each Etsy product listing are the main two pieces of info that Etsy uses to determine which search results your listings will appear in and where they will appear. When your product appears in the search results for a particular keyword phrase that is referred to as ranking for that keyword phrase. To optimize your Etsy SEO, you will want to look at each product listing and determine which keywords your buyers are most likely to use when searching. These are the words that you will use in your title and your tags.
Setting up your Etsy Title
Each product title can have up to 140 characters within it which includes spaces. The length of the title won’t impact where you appear in the search results but Etsy has said that shorter titles convert better. The reason they say this is because shorter titles are typically easier for the buyer to read. To help make the title readable you can also separate your keyword phrases with commas or dashes.
Another important point is to make sure you use keywords that describe your product. Showing up for the wrong search terms won’t generate sales, and you’ll be wasting valuable keyword space.
You want to put the keyword phrase that best describes your product at the front of the title. Buyers need to understand at a quick glance what it is they’re looking at so focus on the most basic description of what your item is for the front of your title.
Here is an example of a title that I would use for a wood sign that says But First, Coffee.
But First Coffee Wood Sign – Rustic Wood Kitchen Decor – Housewarming Gift for Her
You also want to focus on finding good quality long tail keywords. Click here to read a post all about what they are and how to select them.
Setting up your Etsy Tags
Tags are what Etsy calls the keywords for each listing. You can have up to 13 tags for each of your products. Each tag can have up to 20 characters including spaces. Create your tags using a mix of the keyword phrases that you added in your title as well as other phrases that help describe the item (colors, sizes, shapes, who it would make a good gift for, where the item can be used, how the item is used, occasions the item would be used for, etc). Also, if your keyword phrase is too long to fit in one tag break it up into two tags.
Here is an example of tags I would use for a wood sign that says But First, Coffee.
but first coffee, Coffee sign, coffee bar, coffee kitchen sign, housewarming gift, coffee gift, coffee, kitchen decor, birthday gift, gift for her, just because gift, christmas gift, gift for mom
I wanted to create a tag with the words “But First, Coffee Sign” but it wouldn’t fit so I split it into two (“But First, Coffee” and “Coffee Sign”).
Are there other things that impact SEO?
Yes. Etsy has a complicated algorithm that they use to determine the order that product listings appear in the search results. Some of these are last renewed date, the number of favorites and sales, reviews, your profile and whether you have any open cases against your shop. All of this can be overwhelming. When starting out, focus on making sure that you’ve accurately described your product using a variety of keyword phrases in your title and tags.
Etsy SEO is the key to making sure your listings appear when buyers search within Etsy
Use keyword phrases in your title that accurately describe your product
Use all 13 tags for each listing
Use a variety of keywords so you can appear in as many search results as possible
Ready to take your Etsy SEO to the next level?
Disclaimer: The above info is what has worked well for me in my experience of running a successful Etsy shop. While it has worked for me, you may experience a different result. Make changes slowly and be sure to save any previous information you are replacing in case you find that your previous choices worked better for you.