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You have been selling your handmade items to friends and family. Maybe you’ve even done a craft fair or two. You feel good about your product, and people seem to really like what you have to offer. Is it time to take the next step? Might selling on Etsy be right for you?
Today we are going to look at some of the challenges of selling your products on Etsy.
As with any business endeavor, there is often a lot more that goes into being successful than it seems on the surface. Bookkeeping, taxes, inventory, customer service: the list goes on. Selling on Etsy doesn’t forgo any of this.
Busy times and slow times
Planning is an important part of any business, whether it’s a side hustle or your full-time gig. This is especially important in retail and e-commerce businesses that sell items frequently bought as gifts.
These sellers see seasonal and holiday-related changes in both traffic and sales volume. And then there are the trends that can change like the wind. One month you have product you can’t keep in stock. Then the next month you hear crickets.
This is why planning is so important. You can’t always predict when trends will change. So you need to stay on top of current trends. And keep a weather eye on your cash flow to ensure you’ve got money for bills and supplies. Because there will be slow times. That’s retail.
Keeping Uncle Sam happy
While every competent adult should be keeping track of their financials and paying taxes, selling on Etsy makes that mandatory. Fire up QuickBooks or your favorite spreadsheet software because it’s about to get real.
While some love the number crunching and bookkeeping part of running a business, it’s not for everyone. If the idea of figuring out taxes is daunting, that’s okay! Just enlist the help of an accountant for your Etsy endeavor.
On the other hand, if you want to dive headfirst into some of the nuts and bolts of bookkeeping, check out our post on some home-office deductions you may be able to take advantage of as an Etsy business owner.
Standing out from the crowd
Head over to Etsy and search for anything, literally anything, and you will be overwhelmed with thousands of items contesting for your attention. Competition on Etsy is fierce, yes. But there are still plenty of ways you can get in on the action.
Offering quality, well-made products is one. Can you bring a unique spin to the niche you’re in? Doing so will also go a long way toward building a successful shop on Etsy. Commit to dedicating time to research products in your niche. Learning from your competition is another effective strategy.
Familiarize yourself with all the tools eRank provides. You’ll gain invaluable insights into how to stay on the leading edge of trends. And there’s a whole suite of tools to help you take on your competition.
(Tip: want help figuring out which eRank tools to use for what and how? No problem: if you’re on Facebook, eRank hosts a private Facebook community with well over 20,000 members: someone is always around to help! Join us!)
Make no mistake: standing out on Etsy is tough! But if you enjoy a challenge, have unique products, and are willing to put in the time, you can win.
Are you social? More specifically, are you using social media? We’ve all seen platforms like TikTok and Instagram become increasingly entwined with everyday life. Since its inception, eRank data has shown that being active on social media helps generate traffic for your shop.
Yes, you can do without it. But you’d be missing opportunities to grow your sales if you don’t take advantage of social media. And (apart from the cost of the time you invest) it’s free!
How’s your Customer Service game?
Depending on your personality (and your ability to not let difficult people get inside your head), customer service can be one of the most trying aspects of retail. In the Age of Amazon, shoppers expect next-day delivery and prepaid 30-day returns. While Etsy sellers can hope that due to the nature of our curated and handmade wares our customers might be more reasonable, in exchange we can offer them a hands-on level of service.
Aim to be fair yet firm in applying your shop policies. If you hand out refunds and returns like candy, people may take advantage of you. This will eat into your profit, and your morale.
On the other hand, where possible avoid taking too inflexible a stance. Whenever you have the choice, choose to take the high road. It tends to lead away from a stream of unhappy customers and negative reviews. And those hurt your shop’s quality score, which in turn impacts your visibility in Etsy search.
Playing by the rules
Another benefit (and challenge) of being on an established marketplace like Etsy is that all users must agree to comply with its policies and guidelines. Many of these rules exist to keep the marketplace welcoming and safe for everyone. However, there are always a few bad actors who will try to game the system. For instance, there are sellers who falsely report their competition for some sort of malfeasance. And so many other shenanigans.
With that in mind, be sure that what you are selling complies with Etsy’s guidelines. Don’t put yourself at risk! Aim to be courteous and kind to everyone with whom you interact on the platform, whether they be customers, sellers, or Etsy admin. One of our contributors wrote a recent post about ways to stay in Etsy’s good graces: How to Avoid Getting Your Etsy Shop Shut Down
Is Etsy the right move for you?
Selling on Etsy can be a fulfilling and rewarding journey. However, like all journeys, there will be obstacles along the way. If you are willing to learn new things, have patience, and are not afraid of failing occasionally, then you may have the right stuff to sell on Etsy.
From what we’ve seen, there is no single personality type that is best equipped for success. Everyone has something to bring to the table. You just need to lean into your strengths, and be willing to ask for help.