What is Etsy, and Why Should I Sell (and Buy) There?

Why and How You Should Consider Etsy for Selling (or Buying) Your Homemade Goods

Craft Business Idea
Sell your home made crafts. Credit: Masko | Getty Images

What is Etsy?

Etsy is an online buyer and seller community similar to eBay, except it focuses on hand-crafted or vintage goods. Most products sold fall into the category of arts, crafts, jewelry, paper-goods, housewares, and artisan candies or baked goods. Vintage items must be at least 20-years old to qualify and can range from costumes, clothing, jewelry, photos and housewares. 

What Does Etsy Have For Your Home Business?

While selling on Etsy is another avenue for selling your homemade goods, there are many items on Etsy that can help you in your home business.

Do you use Filofax, Erin Condren, or The Happy Planner to schedule your days and organize your business/life? You can buy downloadable inserts and stickers to use in your planner. Do you need promotional items with your logo? Many Esty sellers can produce custom swag. Not just pens or coffee cups, but also jewelry, bookmarks, cosmetics and more with your name and logo on them.

Why Sell On Etsy?

In the past, most crafters and artisans sold their goods at fairs, open markets, and on consignment. While the Internet opened doors to reaching consumers beyond their local area, many craftsman didn't want the hassle of setting up their own websitecredit card processor or ecommerce platform in order to sell their goods online.  While eBay and other ecommerce DIY sites helped, Etsy provided a marketplace specifically for crafters.

Etsy allows each seller to set-up a customized online "shop" with full ecommerce capabilities by using it's simple set-up wizard.

It's easy, fast, affordable, and an effective way to reach consumers.

How Much Does It Cost?:

Etsy offers a comprehensive ecommerce platform and payment system on which individuals can sell product. To create an Etsy store front, it costs $0.20 per item listed. For example, if you sell hand-made necklaces and list four of the same kind, the fee will be $0.80 (4 X $0.20).

On top of this fee, there is a 3.5% transaction fee, and if sellers elect to use Etsy's "Direct Checkout" feature, a 3% fee is charged on each transaction.

Compared to the expenses of setting up a website with a shopping cart, and getting a merchant account (which also charges processing fees), Etsy is an affordable alternative. Further, because Etsy is a known marketplace for handcrafted goods, it has a ready-made market.

How to Start an Etsy Home Business

1. Determine what you're going to sell. If you're crafty and considering Etsy, you probably already have items you want to sell in mind. But Etsy allows for many different types of products. People sell marketing swag, jam, jewelry, and more. Some people sell crafting supplies, instead of finished goods. It's probably best to start with a single type of item, than a hodge podge of them, just for easier marketing and organization. As your Etsy business grows, so too can your offerings.

2. Set up your Etsy account. Creating an Etsy account starts with selecting a user name. Consider using a name that represents what you want to sell, while also keeping it open enough to expand your product line in the future. Next, fill in the account set-up fields that Etsy asks for.

Don't forget to read all the terms of service and policies.

3. Set up and stock your Etsy shop. Esty offers many features for your online store. Once your store is set up, you'll need to add your products. Make sure you take high quality photos and provide enticing descriptions. Price your items in such a way that you've covered the cost of your supplies, as well as the time it took for you to create them. 

4. When an item sells, pack it up and send it quickly. Like eBay, buyers can leave reviews about you as a seller and the quality of the product. If you're selling downloadable items (i.e. printables), Etsy allows you to store the file with it, do buyers can download it from within their Etsy account after the sale. For best ratings, provide professional customer service.

Having a successful Etsy business is about balancing the time it takes to create your goods and selling them.

If you can have a steady supply of in-demand products to keep your Etsy store stocked, you can build a successful home-crafting business. 

Updated September 2016 Leslie Truex