5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Opening an Etsy Shop

I opened my very first Etsy shop in late 2020, when the world was settling down after a year of... well, not being able to leave their homes. With Christmas within a few weeks, I felt opening a shop was a choice of make or break. It was not an income I expected to come in - but it would have been nice if it did turn into a full-time income. Here I go through the 5 things that I wish I had known before opening my Etsy shop!

1. Patience

William Langland is said to of written the phrase "patience is a fair virtue" and guys, he was not lying. It's so easy to get caught up in the bubble of YouTube videos and blogs that tell you how you can make £1000s in days when first opening your shop, but it's really not worth taking seriously. Could it happen? Sure. Is it likely? No. So, don't let yourself get disappointed! Sure, sales are amazing - seriously, they are great. BUT when opening your shop give yourself, your shop and your products some time. It's unlikely that you're going to sell out of your items after 3 quick days, especially if you're brand new and not sure about correctly adding things onto your Etsy. It takes time, just like it would do if you were to open up a physical shop, in the middle of nowhere, with no advertising beforehand!

a woman, wearing an ivory jumper, glasses and headphones, is sat on her bed with legs outstretched and typing on a laptop that is lay upon her legs.

2. Quality over Quantity

When you first open your Etsy shop it's instinctive to want to upload all of the products you have available - because you want to have as much content within your shop as possible and it means it'll all sell, right? Wrong! Having lots of content is, of course, a great thing. But having too much of a bad thing can only lead to more bad things. Start small.

Be sure to only upload items you've created that are of the highest quality. Don't be afraid to admit to yourself when you don't like how something has ended up. The majority of shop owners, like myself, will agree in unison when I say that we all have made things in the past that have never seen the light of day - because after we completed it, it just didn't feel like the product we wanted to share. So, whether we trashed it completely or remade it, we chose to see the quality of an item over the number of items we have.

3. Work Out Your Fees

Working out your Etsy fees should be one of the first things you do as an Etsy seller. It's simple to look at how much others are getting for certain products and automatically assume that they are taking the full amount as profit. This is rarely the case. There are amazing websites like CraftBase that offer a free Etsy Fee Calculator and CraftKit that offer a similar application and although I do use the calculator often, it is worth noting that it doesn't include the likes of VAT. Joyous VAT has now come into play when using Etsy, as both a seller and buyer, within the UK. (Thanks to Brexit! -.- ) So when you use this calculator, make sure to add on extra just in case you end up at a loss.

a close up of a woman's hands as she types into a calculator.
Calculating your Etsy fees can save you a lot of grief later.

4. Seeing Myself as a Buyer

When first selling I would create designs that I loved making. Whether it was quotes that were well-known or funny words I had enjoyed using over the years, it was about what I enjoyed creating and not what everyone else would enjoy. Yes, it is important that you love what you create, but there needs to be a market for it to work. For example, making 50 neon pink candles with the word 'Hello' on them may be something you enjoy and benefit from, but are they going to sell like hotcakes when someone is looking for something unique to gift? Probably not. So, for this reason, you want to do some research on products that are selling and why. There may be items, quotes, objects etc that don't quite fit your mood or life, but why miss out on the opportunity to make a really good product?

5. Not All Customers Are...Ideal.

Yes, you read that right. As the saying goes 'the customer is always right' but it doesn't always mean that they're nice about it. Sadly, being a small business owner, any nastiness tends to come directly and not through a long chain (as it would in a big corporation).

When I first started my shop I was happy with the messages and comments left, however, inevitably the more lovely customers you attract - the more likely you are to be greeted by some not so nice. If you're not a member of Facebook groups for Etsy Sellers then I cannot recommend enough that you get searching. To know I was not alone in experiencing rude customers was a huge leap that took me from self-doubt to just shaking it off. Not everyone is going to love your products, like your prices or support small - but that's not your problem. As long as you're kind and polite to those who do, that's all that truly counts.

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