Things I Wish to Know Before Selling on Etsy: Advice from a Newbie

In this blog post, I share the mistakes I discovered after 5 months working as a part-time Etsy Seller (now I'm a full-time solopreneur) so you could stay away from it if you haven't started your Etsy business or you have just started your online shop. 

It’s never too late to realise the mistakes and fix them. 

My Etsy Journey

On the 20th June 2021, I started selling digital templates on Etsy while working as a data analyst during day time. With no experience opening an online shop, I am truly fortunate that it takes just 60 days to hit my first sale on 20th August. But things still move slowly after making the first deal.

I have followed a few Etsy Gurus on Youtube and have done my research on the internet. But, it is still insufficient. 

Throughout my journey, as a data analyst, I approach things from an analytical mindset. I would experiment using my shop listings and find ways to improve my offerings. That’s where I learn my mistakes.

My Top Mistakes

Here are the top mistakes I would warn you to stay away from. They are not the end-of-the-world kind of mistakes, but knowing these earlier would save you tons of time and (maybe) some money. 

Warning: All content written here are based on my personal experience. It is solely for knowledge sharing purposes. I believe that there are other factors influencing the sales and traffic, such as price point, listing photos, brand proposition, keyword and tags, so do take that into considerations.

Overkill Offerings

As a beginner in the e-commerce world, I have this mindset that I must provide a lot of additional values (premium) to win my customers over from other established sellers. 

So what happened is I created a series of tutorial videos for all of my Google Sheets templates, and I charged around $25 each. My customers would get to view all the videos right after they purchase my products. The process of creating these “extra” values took me around 1 month and I had to stop my usual youtube tutorials schedule while I’m working on it.

Unfortunately, I make zero sales in 5 months duration for those listings that I made video for. The efforts to produce all the videos go wasted because no one bought from me. Simply to say, I invested too much time developing 1 product.

We always thought we need to provide the best products or/and services to impress our customers, but the truth is we need to make sure what we offer is needed by them. 

Realising this is a light bulb moment for me as I no longer take a few months to produce a few templates, I can develop faster and hence increasing my chance of getting seen in the market.

Use Keyword Research Tool Wrongly

When I research for keywords, I tend to rely on free keyword research tools like Erank. Don’t get me wrong, Erank is a very good tool and they are very generous to make it free for everyone to use with some limitations. 

So what I did wrong is to go to Keyword Tool in Erank and just grab any keywords I see there and stuff it in the listing title and tags. As a result, when I try to optimise my listing SEO, I found that for all the search terms I’m targetting, I’m almost 99% on the last page of the search results (A bit exaggerated here, haha!). Not even a surprise anymore that my listings are not in the search results for those important keywords.

Just to give you an example, I am selling a Spreadsheets Payout Tool that helps employers calculate their employees' salaries. For keywords like “Employee Time Sheet”, “Work Hours Tracker”, “Editable Timesheet” - my listing is not returned in the search results. I am so shocked when I discovered that.

Based on my experience, my advice for you is to always come out with a list of keywords you wish to rank for. Of course, check the competitiveness of the keywords using SEO tools. After you publish the listings, remember to double-check if your SEO is being set up correctly. Open an Incognito browser; In the Etsy search bar, type in the keyword you wish to rank for and check the position of your listing. 

Don’t worry if it’s on the last page of the search result. From my experience, it’ll rank higher over time if it managed to gain traffic or interactions (i.e. favourites, purchase). Come back after 1~2 weeks to see how your listing perform.

Not Getting Free 40 Listings 

Do you know that you’ll get 40 listings for FREE from Etsy if you sign up using this link?

If you are new to Etsy, Etsy charges USD $0.20 for listing an item, which is a small fee anyway. 40 * $0.20 = $8 dollar.

Basically, when you open an Etsy shop with this link, you’ll get your 40 listings for free. Some may argue that 8 dollar is not a huge cost, but I think it’s still a great incentive for someone who just wants to test the water and to validate their genius ideas. It makes the barrier to entering the online marketplace super low.

PS: I missed my chance for getting the freebies as I was rushing to register an account back then.

“Stand Out” Too Much

There’s a high chance that you’re not the first one to offer the same product in Etsy marketplace. How do we stand out from the crowd?

Catching Eyeballs! - Exactly what I was thinking back then.

So how I choose to “stand out” is to offers a bunch of tutorial videos along with the purchase, which makes me exhausted and earn me nothing.  Second, I designed all the listings with “sharp” and bright colours and the layout is very different from what other competitors would do.

PS: Photo attached for your reference, haha!

The listing photos I once proud of.
The listing photos I once proud of.

When I do A/B testing, I found that this strategy of “standing out” is completely OFF. The results show that the same listing title and description but with a more common colour and design in the listing photos gets 3x more views!

My Takeaway

Everything is difficult before it becomes easy. My journey in starting an Etsy business is definitely not an easy one, especially when I need to juggle between my day job, learning how the e-commerce industry works, and my Y as outube channel. 


Just a reminder to everyone reading this:

Don’t feel discouraged if you did all the “stupid” mistakes like me. We all learn in our own way. If failing is the way to learn, then let it be. Accept the failure and stand up stronger. Wish you good luck in your journey. 

If you haven’t start selling online but looking to join the community: Here is 40 free listings to get you started!
Back to blog