Why Etsy? Opening an Etsy Shop Etsy Guide: Opening

Etsy Guide:
Opening A Shop
Why Etsy?
There are many e-commerce solutions available, each with their own long list of pros and cons.
The simple reason why I choose Etsy is that it is a complete selling package for a relatively
low price with a large built in customer base. It has all the tools I need to run my business
from payment processing to shipping label creation. There are features that would improve my
experience as a seller, but in general I don’t feel as though I am missing any key features vital
to running my store. I also find Etsy to be very user friendly with large text, a clean layout, and a
decent help database with well moderated forums available for further assistance.
Built in traffic is what I feel really sets Etsy above the competitors. The following screenshot
includes my traffic statistics over the entire course of my shop’s life (3+ years). As you can see,
traffic from Etsy itself dominates my traffic sources. Even more so when you add in traffic from
the Etsy App, which hasn’t been tracked separately until relatively recently. I feel this built in traffic
was essential for the early days of my business when I only had a few followers.
Opening an Etsy Shop
Opening an Etsy shop is generally a painless process. There are a couple things you will need
to get started. You need an Etsy account, a shop name, an item for sale, and a bank account.
Afterwards, you will also want to set up policies, add an avatar and banner, create an about page,
and set up social media sites. However, those aren’t necessary to start.
Signing up for Etsy is the same as any other site. You enter a name, username, password, email,
and you confirm your email once it is set up. Ideally, you may want your username to be your
shop name. However, it is not necessary.
Etsy has an article on how to open a shop here: http://www.etsy.com/help/article/246
Choosing a Shop Name
This is a deceptively difficult task. Many people are tempted to use their favorite username. While
a name like m00nwolfchik333 works great for your art website, trying to tell someone, “Go to my
Etsy store! It’s moon, spelled with zeros instead of O’s, then the words wolf chick, only with no c in
chick, and 3 number 3’s on the end. All one word,” is going to cause a lot of confusion. Your name
should be easy to type, easy to remember, and easy to tell others when speaking aloud.
Generally, a good name will also set the “vibe” for the store and let customers know what to
expect. For example, with a shop name like Skullery (http://www.etsy.com/shop/skullery), you can
reasonably expect they will sell skulls or skull related products of some sort. Or you can choose
to take a less literal route like the store Raining Sugar (http://www.etsy.com/shop/RainingSugar)
whose name implies that they are selling something sweet. In this case, it is super sweet stuffed
You will also want a name that is somewhat professional. A general rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t
want to put your shop name on your resume, you shouldn’t use it.
Do a google search for the name you have in mind. Check to make sure there isn’t a store with
the same name out there on other selling sites. You may also want to check gmail and check to
see if the domain name is available. Just because the name isn’t taken on Etsy doesn’t mean it
isn’t taken elsewhere and you don’t want to be competing for usernames on social media and
other websites as well as traffic from search engines.
Search the copyright and trademark databases. Make sure the name isn’t protected, including
individual words in it. Did you know that the word onsie is trademarked? How about shabby chic?
These are both phrases that a seller might be tempted to use, but they can get your shop closed
You can change your shop name later if you end up not liking what you chose. Don’t rely on this,
however. It will be a lot of work to change it later if you have a large following. Spend the time to
find a name you will really love before you get too invested into your store.
Another quick thing to keep in mind. Etsy does not allow spaces in store names. However, it does
allow capitalization. This wont effect your URL or when people search for your store, but it does
effect how your name looks when displayed. You should plan on capitalizing individual words
within your name to make it easier to read. (i.e. BeeZeeArt instead of beezeeart).
Email Address
The email address you chose is not that important. I recommend, though, using one specifically
for your business. You can open a simple gmail account with your shop name and use it just for
business purposes. Not only will this look more professional when emailing customers, it will also
help keep your personal email address private. In addition, you can use it to sign up for business
services and social media websites which can sometimes be a bit spammy. It will keep that extra
mail out of your personal inbox.
Try to make a habit to check your Etsy email at least once a day. This is where you will receive
notices of conversations and sales. You may even receive emails from customers. Generally, you
should strive to respond to emails within 24 hours unless it is a weekend or holiday.
If you are like me and can’t remember to check that often, you can also set google to forward to
your personal email account. Google has a guide on how to do so here: http://support.google.
Your First Item For Sale
You need to have an item to sell. That’s why you are creating an Etsy store after all.
However, I don’t recommend actually listing a real item until you feel comfortable with your
store (policies, payment methods, etc) and the item itself (photos, description, and shipping
I recommend creating a placeholder item with generic photos and gibberish descriptions. Once
your shop is active, you can immediately deactivate the listing and come back to it later.
The Etsy listing page has descriptions to the right of what each section is for, should you prefer to
upload an actual item for sale instead of a placeholder.
I will go over how to take good photos, write a description, use SEO, set up shipping, and all that
other goodness that goes into listing an item, in a later guide.
Entering Banking Info
This may very depending on your country. For US sellers, you will need to enter a bank account
number (either checking or savings) and a routing number. The routing number is unique to your
bank’s branch and you can find it on your checks. If you don’t have a check available, you can call
your bank and ask.
That’s it
Well, that’s rather deceptive. There’s a lot more to creating a successful Etsy store, but that’s the
bare minimum you actually need to do to open a store. I will now go into how to make your store
look “alive” and less like a shell account.
If you created a placeholder item instead of a real item for sale, deactivate it now.
To deactivate a listing, click Your Shop > Quick Links > Listings Manager and select Active Items.
Find the item you’re looking for, select the checkbox, and click the Deactivate button at the top of
the page. You can also deactivate individual listings by clicking the gear and selecting Deactivate.
Once you click Deactivate, the listing will not appear in your public shop.
To reactivate a listing, select the item’s checkbox and click the Activate button at the top of the
Creating a banner and icon
Your banner is what displays
at the top of your shop and
your avatar is what displays
in the sidebar. It will also
appear as your avatar for the
Here’s some specs you’ll
need to know:
Your banner will need to be
exactly 760 pixels by 100
pixels in size.
Avatars should be 75 pixels
by 75 pixels, but as long as it
is square, it will be accepted.
It must be either .jpg, .png, or .gif format.
If you aren’t good with graphic design, don’t try to mash up something off the top of your head.
Instead, keep it simple. A simple banner will look infinitely better than a complex, but poorly
designed banner. Create a logo with a decorative font (you can browse a free font site like dafont.
com) before trying to make your own logo from an icon or image.
I personally use my logo (which I bribed a design student and friend to create in exchange for a
stuffed animal) and purple dots. It fits my brand without looking unprofessional Others will also
include a brief catch phrase (Mine is “Cute and cuddly plushies, lovingly handmade.”)
You can also get creative with page placement. Some sellers include an arrow that points to
the sections on the left and write, “Check out what we offer”. Another option is to draw an arrow
pointing to the “like” or “follow” buttons and asking people to like or follow your shop.
If you are willing to spend money, there are some shops which sell banners and avatar sets with
pre-made designs. One of these stores that I like is SimplyCreativeShop (http://www.etsy.com/
shop/simplycreativeshop). The downside to this is that you may have the same banner and avatar
as another seller and the branding isn’t unique to you.
Another option that costs even more money is to have someone create a custom branding set for
you including logo, banner, business cards, etc. However, I advise against it for a new store as it
is expensive and not 100% necessary to start selling.
For an avatar, most sellers agree that you should either choose a photo of your product, your logo
(or similar branding element), or a professional looking headshot.
Etsy stores are sorely lacking in individual branding for stores. Every shop looks identical to every
other shop, aside from the banner and avatar. While photos of your pet or generic stock images
may look nice, they don’t lend anything extra to your store. Keep that in mind when choosing
Here is Etsy’s instructions on uploading a banner:
1) To upload your banner, go to Your Shop > Shop Settings > Info & Appearance
2) Click Browse to find the file on your computer
3) Be sure to click Save at the bottom of the page
And here on instructions on uploading an avatar:
1) Navigate to https://www.etsy.com/your/profile
2) Click Browse to find the file on your computer
3) Be sure to click Save at the bottom of the page
Keep in mind, you can always re-brand later. It can be time consuming, but even big businesses
like Facebook or Pepsi regularly re-brand themselves. So don’t feel locked into the images you’ve
Making Policies
Policies are a huge part of owning a shop. It’s important to have them in place to protect yourself
and inform your buyers. Poorly written or missing policies can scare away buyers.
I will go further in detail about policies in a future guide. Consider this a basic overview.
You can edit your policies at Your Shop > Info and Appearance > Policies
Welcome Message
For this section, include a simple and sweet message to buyers. I personally also use this as a
place to direct buyers to my social media accounts and to display important announcements.
Payment Policy
Include a list of payment methods you accept. Commonly included here is also a notice that
orders will not ship until payment has cleared.
Shipping Policy
What shipping methods do you use? Do you ship internationally? Do you refund shipping
overages? What days do you ship on? Do you include insurance and tracking? How are your
products packaged? Who pays customs duties and taxes? Anything about shipping goes here.
Refund Policy
Do you accept returns? What about exchanges? Who covers return shipping? Do you refund
shipping costs for returns or exchanges? Will you honor cancellation requests? Anything about
returns or refunds goes here.
Additional Information
Anything else you wish to include goes here. I personally include care instructions for my plushies.
Seller Information
Private receipt info
These two sections you may not need to fill out, depending on your country. See http://www.etsy.
com/help/article/171 for more information.
When crafting your policies, the biggest issues I see are when sellers policies violate Etsy
and Paypal’s rules. Keep in mind that as a seller you are responsible for delivering a whole,
undamaged product to the buyer, regardless of your own personal policies. That means that you
are responsible for lost or damaged packages. You MUST replace them at your own expense.
You are also responsible for proving that a package was delivered. That’s why sellers purchase
insurance and tracking.
Avoid policies that say, “Not responsible for lost or stolen packages,” “Packages are not tracking,
purchase at your own risk,” or, “Once an item is shipped, it is out of my control, please purchase
insurance if you are worried.” These are against the rules you agreed to when you signed up and
Etsy/Paypal both will force you to refund or replace should the buyer report an item was damaged
or undelivered.
Creating your About Page
A relatively new feature to Etsy is the “About” page. This page allows you to tell the story behind
your shop, share photos of your workspace, and add shop members. It is a unique place to
market yourself as a handmade seller and really connect with buyers on a personal level. It is a
personal touch that is lacking in so many major companies.
Here are Etsy’s instructions on creating your about page:
Go to Your Shop > Shop Settings > About Your Shop.
You can also edit your About page from your public shop page:
1) View your public shop.
2) Sign in and go to Your Shop > View Shop.
You’ll notice a Shop Tools bar at the top of the page. These links are only visible to you as the
shop owner.
3) Click Edit about page.
4) When you’re ready to publish your edits, click Save & Preview.
You’ll see a preview of your changes. If you’re happy with how everything looks, click Publish. If
you’d like to make further changes, click Continue Editing.
Whenever I have gotten an anonymous review done of my store from Peek (http://peek.
usertesting.com/), the user has always navigated to my about page to read about my store.
The about page s commonly overlooked, but it can play an integral role in convincing a buyer to
purchase from you and not one of your competitors.
The first section allows you to upload members of your store. Generally, this will just be you, but if
you have other helpers, you should include them here.
Include a photo of yourself
and write a short description
introducing yourself and
letting people know what you
I take this chance to re-iterate
the fact that I am a one
person team. I design and create all my own products, which sets me apart from others who may
not create their own patterns or who may outsource their plush manufacturing.
I also include my birds since they live in my craft room, they are a huge part of my work day.
However, I advise you include pets, plants, and children at your own risk. Some people like the
personal touch. Others find it unprofessional.
The next section allows you to write a brief bit of copy about your store. Include a brief headline to
draw in buyers and entice them to read.
I don’t think there is any “right”
or “wrong” thing to write here.
Most people (myself included)
choose to write a bit of history
about themselves and their
store or products. I’ve seen a
lot of different things written
here, however.
Just make sure that whatever
you write it looks professional
(Grammatically correct
sentences, correct spelling,
punctuations, etc), is true
to your brand (don’t say
you hate to recycle if you
are marketing yourself as
an eco-friendly store), and it is something buyers can connect with. This is not a good place to
shove advertisements down a buyers throat (OMG EVERYTHING IS ON SALE, MY SHOP IS SO
CHEAP!!!!!!!!) or include religious, political, or other “controversial” elements that may alienate
buyers. (Unless you have a religious, political, or controversial themed store, of course.)
The next step is the first thing that will be displayed on your about page, shop photos. This is a
“first impression” area so appearances matter a great deal.
Photos will be cropped and displayed
at 760px by 428px. Supported formats
are .jpg, .gif or .png. The cropping is
especially important to note. Etsy will
allow you to upload your photo even if
it isn’t the correct size, but it will crop it.
You will have no control over how it is
cropped. So keep this in mind.
Most sellers agree that ideally you
should include professional looking
photos of your work space, you at work,
a piece in progress, or product photos.
I personally use product photos. I’d
prefer quality photos of my craft room or
creative process. However, I have none
that are as appealing as my product photos.
Since this is such a huge area for first impressions, don’t sacrifice appearances to meet ideal
standards. Many photos of your work space or you at work will not look good unless taken with
proper lighting and photography techniques. If you feel even your product photos are not up to par,
try using a larger version or your banner, your shop’s logo, or not image at all.
It’s better to have no photos than photos of you in your paint stained pajamas with your feet on your
desk sewing a stuffed animal that is covered in fuzz. That may be the reality of how you work, but it
wont necessarily come across as appealing for potential buyers.
Opening Social Media Accounts
This is a relatively easy process now that everything else is complete.
Don’t spread yourself too thin. Choose to create accounts on social media sites that are relatively
popular and include your target audience.
Considering your audience is especially important. If you are selling to middle class moms with
young children, creating an account on furaffinity might not be your best bet. If you are selling
risqué artwork, I don’t think linkedin is the place for you.
Facebook and Tumblr have both worked very well to me. Facebook has a slightly older audience
who engage with my posts less frequently. Facebook has the option to pay to boost my posts to a
greater audience and it offers statistics on my page to help me get an idea of how things are going.
Both of which I find somewhat valuable.
Tumblr has a younger audience that engages more with my posts. It is a more personal site for
me with people feeling more free to ask questions and share. However, it lacks a lot of tools for
businesses and the weak messaging system makes it near impossible to conduct business via
messages. I have to direct customers to email or other sites for long or complicated messages.
You may wish to create accounts on as many social media sites as you can, though not maintain
them or even bother to enter more information than is necessary for account creation. This way,
your business name will be reserved for you should you ever choose to use it.
How to properly manage social media is a huge topic that I plan to cover more in depth later.
However, whatever you chose try to create a schedule for posting and stick with it. Remember,
engaging customers is the name of the game with social media. You want them to interact with you,
look at your photos, visit your site, and share share share your work.
Payment Methods
https://www.etsy.com/help/article/189 is Ety’s article on how to set Payment Methods. I always find
that their default is to get you to sign up for Direct Checkout and ignore other payment methods,
so you may want to navigate back to this and make sure it is set up the way you want and all
information is correct.
You can find the area to edit this under Your Shop > Finances > Accepted Payments
I recommend always accepting Paypal and Direct Checkout. Each accounts for about 50% of my
sales. While I think many buyers would still pay if I only offered one, more options is always better.
You’ll always come across a buyer who wont sign up for Paypal or doesn’t trust Etsy with their
credit card info.
I don’t recommend taking either check or money order. Both take a long time to arrive and
accepting these may leave you vulnerable to several scams.
Select “Other” only if you genuinely accept another checkout method (such as Google Wallet
or Apple Pay). You may wish to leave this option unchecked and only turn it on for buyers who
specifically request another payment method. Otherwise you may have buyers who mistakenly
select this, which creates an unnecessary hassle.
Now you’re done
At least, for now. That’s still pretty deceptive. There is a lot more that can be done with an Etsy
For now, you have an Etsy site up and running. You have basic policies in place to protect yourself,
you have double checked your payment methods, and you have branding in place in your avatar,
banner, and about page to help entice buyers.
In future guides I plan to cover:
- Advanced information on how to list a product including taking quality photos, writing descriptions,
and implementing SEO effectively.
- How to get your first sale and other social media, marketing, and advertising tips.
- How to use Etsy’s shipping labels, set up shipping profiles, and actually ship products. Including
tips and tricks the postal service doesn’t always tell you.
- Advanced information on how to write effective policies.
- How to handle disputes, bad reviews, and other bad publicity.
If there is anything else you’d like to hear about, be sure to let me know either via email ([email protected]
beezeeart.com) or via tumblr message (http://beezeeart.tumblr.com/ask). If it is quick and easy to
answer, I may do so on the spot, or I will include it in a future guide.
You may also wish to ask questions on the Etsy forums. Ety’s forums are very helpful and I
personally browse them and answer questions often, as well as read others’ advice. You can find a
link to them in the footer of Etsy’s pages or directly at http://www.etsy.com/forums/
If you found this guide was helpful and want to say thank you, consider making a small donation of
a few dollars to [email protected] via Paypal. A few dollars will buy me an iced chai (which is
basically my crack) and my sincere gratitude.