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How to Make Money on Etsy: Follow These 5 Successful Tips

If you want to make money on Etsy, the easiest way to do it is to sell your crafts, supplies, or services for custom orders.

Etsy is the go-to marketplace for arts, crafts and everything in between, so it’s not surprising that many artists, crafters and other creative people prefer this community over other ecommerce platforms.

Contrary to the most common misconception about Etsy sellers, you don’t have to be artsy to make money on Etsy. For one, the company welcomes affiliate marketers (who promote other people’s items in exchange for a percentage of the sale).

If affiliate marketing isn’t the route you’d like to take, or you don’t consider yourself crafty enough to offer something made by hand, you can still find success at Etsy like many Etsy craft supply stores have done.

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How to Sell on Etsy with Enough Profit Margin

Like any ecommerce business, the key to success is to sell items on Etsy with enough profit margin (or the difference between the item cost and its selling price).

If you’re planning on opening up a craft store, the cost could mean the wholesale price you got from the factory or any direct supplier. If you’re creating your items for sale by hand, then cost means the amount you used in manufacturing the item.

To calculate profit margin, you’d have to subtract cost from the sale price. For example, you made a mermaid tail blanket with materials costing $50. You then decide to sell it for $95. The profit margin is $45.

Your goal as a seller is to increase profit margins high enough that your Etsy business can be sustained. Here are some tried-and-tested tips to do this:

  • Always know your gross profit margin. (FYI, gross profit margin is total sales minus cost of items sold). No matter how big or small your business is, identifying this number helps you assess your company’s financial health and adjust accordingly if needed.
  • Be on top of your items’ prices. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already decided on pricing for all your items. Sometimes, you have to make the tough call of upping the price for reasons beyond your control, such as increase in materials, change of supplier, and so on.
  • Bulk vs. retail pricing is OK. Don’t be guilty if you’re charging your customers different prices. Enterprises, government agencies, or large companies may be less price-sensitive than individuals who buy retail.
  • Avoid discounts. Sale and discounted prices are okay occasionally, but if you keep on discounting your items on Etsy, it could quickly damage your profit margins. If you really want to get ahead over your competition, find another non-financial way (such as improving customer service, adding valuable information with each purchase, and so on).
  • Master an inventory system. You can opt for manual paper-and-pen, app-based or PC programs, but as long as you’re on top of your inventory, invoices, and everything related to your company’s accounting, your chosen inventory system will work to your advantage.

How to Make Money on Etsy: Sell These Products

I’ve listed the highest-selling items on Etsy and in-demand Etsy categories in 2018. This guide will definitely give you an idea on what products to sell or not.

Of course, you shouldn’t just copy a successful Etsy store’s theme and be done with it. If you’re just starting your own Etsy store, make sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Is Your Idea Profitable? – Anyone can think of an amazing product idea, but ensuring its profitability is another story. One way to find out your idea’s profitability is through market research. Simply go to and use the search function to see if someone already thought of your product and if the seller is successfully selling the item.

Quick tip: when you go to an Etsy seller’s profile, you can see the number of sales they made since launching their store. This is a good indicator of how well the store is doing.

  • Research your potential competition. Check similar items on Etsy and weigh the pros and cons of competing against those sellers. Will you be able to offer something a bit more unique that others aren’t offering? It’s a good idea to scope prices of other sellers while doing this step.
  • Make Your Etsy Store Your Passion Project – Your product idea should be profitable, yes, but it should also be something you’re passionate about. Many of the craft supply stores on Etsy are owned by crafters who wanted to have supplies at cheaper prices and decided to order bulk from the manufacturer directly.
  • Calculate operation costs – If you’re planning to sell custom-made products, this is the time to research suppliers, prices of materials, and labor costs (if necessary). However, if your goal is to become a supplier, dig deep for manufacturers’ contact info and negotiate pricing of products.

Pro tip: When calculating costs, add Etsy charges to your list (Etsy has a $0.20 listing fee and 3.5% transaction fee with every item you sell). After these two fees, everything you earn from that sale is yours.

Make sure you are ready to get your head in the game. Even if setting up an Etsy store is completely online, you’ll be sacrificing a lot of effort and time at the start, but if you do the next steps right, your investment will be all worth it.

Successful Etsy Seller Secrets

In the past week, I’ve read numerous success stories of Etsy sellers and you’d be surprised by the simplicity of advice these sellers give out to Etsy-selling beginners.

If you’re serious about starting a business and want to learn how to make money on Etsy, take these tips to heart:

1. Non-DIY-ers are welcome too.

Even if you don’t knit scarves, sew superhero capes, weave baskets, do pottery, or create other awesome handmade items, there’s a place for you at Etsy. Don’t be put off by the impressive amount of talent at the marketplace. You can still make money on Etsy without making handmade products. Some ideas include:

  • Flip items. Buy from wholesalers, thrift stores, factories, and so on, then flip the items for a higher price.
  • Digital products are quick-sellers. If you have graphic design skills, use them to your advantage and create calendars, journal printables, stickers, greeting cards, tags and so on.

2. Creativity outshines the rest.

If you browse around Etsy, you’ll discover pretty quickly that many categories there are oversaturated. The key to beat this is to offer something no one else is offering. For example, while people can’t get enough of anything unicorn, find an item that hasn’t been dashed with pinks, purples, and glitters yet. It can be something unexpected, such as a unicorn-shaped door stopper or unicorn-themed tool kit.

Professional-looking photographs are also common to top Etsy sellers. They take the extra effort to make images look snappy, lively and eye-catchy. The difference of good photos vs. bad photos on Etsy products directly affects their sales numbers.

3. Take some time to earn SEO.

You don’t have to be a SEO master who magically ranks his/her Etsy store to the top of Google search results.

But you should take some time learning how to use keywords. In this age of hashtags, keywords are easier to understand and implement. Etsy allows its sellers to use 13 tags – use them and use them well.

Place yourself into your customers’ shoes and think about words or phrases they’d use in searching for your products. These words and phrases are now the tags you must use when setting up a listing.

Placing your item in the right category is also an important SEO trick. It’s so simple, yet many miss the chance of categorizing their items properly on Etsy.

Become a master of social media marketing.

Etsy has an advanced search engine within the marketplace and its own lively community.

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But this shouldn’t stop you from marketing your products everywhere you can. Fortunately, social media has made marketing an inexpensive and easy thing to do.

Anyone can create a Facebook page or accounts on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and so on.

To market the products you sell on Etsy, you’d have to be super creative in publishing posts.

People’s attention these days are harder to catch, so think outside of the box when sharing your Etsy listings across your social media platforms.

Take advantage of social media functions such as polls and raffles not only to increase your customer base, but also to create noise about your products.

As you market your products and interact with your customers directly on social media, you’re also providing excellent customer service in the process.

5. Go beyond Etsy.

Etsy is a great marketplace and you can sell from this platform for as long as you like, but all Etsy sellers know that you shouldn’t be relying on Etsy alone.

You should go beyond Etsy at some point because:

  • Your own website continues to be the best selling platform. There are several advantages to choosing Etsy as your main platform for selling, but it is still important to have a website. This way, you can accommodate other customers not on Etsy and you are 100% in control of your marketing, product placement, SEO, and so on.
  • The 3.5% transaction fee for every sale you make (on top of the listing fee) can add up quite dramatically if you’re selling in the hundreds or thousands of items.
  • Your marketing efforts mostly benefits Etsy. If your products become viral and press comes your way, imagine how much attention Etsy will have (since you have to direct people to your products) instead of referring them to your own website.
  • There’s no way to build a list. Etsy doesn’t give sellers a way to communicate to its buyers after a sale, so it’s hard to up-sell or build a lasting relationship with your customers. Having your own website, on the other hand, gives you endless marketing possibilities and earning potential.

To Etsy or Not to Etsy

If you’re thinking about building an Etsy store in 2018, it’s never too late to start your own business and make money on Etsy with virtually no capital.

Your potential customers are already there. The store is easy to set-up, manage and operate. But as you just learned, Etsy stores do have its downsides too!

I recommend you start selling at the established platform first and once you make money on Etsy, slowly create your website and list your products there too.

There’s golden advice with any kind of investment: never put all your eggs in one basket to prevent losing everything at one fell swoop.

8 thoughts on “How to Make Money on Etsy: Follow These 5 Successful Tips”

  1. Hey Steve, I’ve been marketing off and on for about 10 years now and I still can’t seem to find results. Everybody wants to tell you where to go spend money for the courses but the courses are more complicated than necessary to get results. I’ve been hit many times over the years with this scam and that scam so, my question is, how can you be sure you are not being suckered into another internet marketing disaster? Is there a way to safeguard against such things?

  2. I read a library book about making money on Etsy recently. They recommended to factor in the cost of growing your business, about 5%, into the sale price of each item. There’s also a 3.5% Paypal fee to be aware of as well as the Etsy 3.5% transaction fee.

    I agree with avoiding discounts. I don’t think of Etsy as a cheap, Walmart-type of online shop.

    I am a hardcore Etsy shopper. There are about 4 businesses I regularly buy from, and the average amount I spend is $100-200 per transaction. I pay full retail and I’m okay with that.

    Other sites like Ebay and Amazon are the places for people to go discount-crazy.

  3. Hello there.

    Stumbled upon your post – and i was really surprised.

    I did not know that there were something like Etsy. Reminds me of Fiverr , but for craftsmen and craftswomen.

    I liked the part about investment cost and profit margin. As with any business if competition is too high or you can not really sell what you need – the best is to try something else.

    However, if someone wants to succeed with Etsy it will definitely take time and patience.


  4. I wish I’d read this when I started my first store. I didn’t take the time to calculate the operating costs and I ended up closing up shop in less than two months.

    But I did learn that social media marketing is an incredibly useful tool for Etsy store owners. Word of mouth works great too. I live in Orlando so I’m always at Disney; you wouldn’t believe how many Mickey Ears and Disney accessories I’ve seen at the parks that are from Etsy stores!

    Like you mentioned, having an Etsy store does have its downside and not many people are very crafty.

    For those that are, remember to take your Etsy store seriously… yes it started as a hobby, but it has the potential for more.

    Thanks for sharing Steve,

    • Thanks Diana! There are a lot of things that are easy to overlook when setting up your Etsy store. Even if it’s just a hobby, it should still be run like a business. If you don’t take the time to learn the ins and outs, your store will just end up costing you more money than you can make.

  5. Hey Steve,

    Thanks for yet another informative post! I’ve always thought Etsy was only for those that had their own creative products to offer online. I never thought of being able to use this to market another form of service or product. Thanks for giving me a few new ideas. I look forward to reading your future posts!


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