How to sell on Etsy: Creating a successful online marketplace

TransferWise content team
11.04.19
6 minute read

Etsy is a fantastic marketplace to sell handmade or custom items, vintage goods, and craft supplies.¹ If you’re selling a unique product, you need a great way to connect to your customers, no matter where they are. This is where online platforms like Etsy can make all the difference, connecting craftspeople with their customers all over the globe.

If you’re thinking of launching an ecommerce business with Etsy, you’ll need to know a bit about the sort of products to sell, the best way to find potential customers, and of course the transaction fees you’ll need to consider. This guide has it all covered.

We’ll also look briefly at how TransferWise for business can help you get paid - especially if you’re dealing with customers based abroad.

How to sell on Etsy: Step by Step to start your online marketplace?

To open your Etsy shop, you’ll need to visit the Etsy website using a desktop web browser. Once you’re up and running you can download the Etsy app and manage your online business using your phone or other device, even when you’re on the go.

Here are the simple steps to get your Etsy ecommerce business set up:

  • Using a desktop browser, go to the Etsy website
  • Click ‘Sell on Etsy’, which is in the top right of the home screen
  • Choose open your Etsy shop and complete the information requested. You’ll need to input the country you’re based in, and the language and currency you want to use for your online store
  • Input and confirm your store name, and save - your Etsy store name must be original and 4-20 characters long
  • You’ll now need to add listings for the items you want to sell
  • Confirm how you want to be paid, from choices including Etsy Payments, or cheques - more on how best to get paid through Etsy, a little later
  • You may have to link a credit or debit card for verification purposes, and then you can click to open your shop.

You’re all done - and ready to start selling!

Once you have opened your Etsy shop you can continue to add extra information like a personal biography, photo or shop policies. You’ll also be able to use the Etsy social media tools to celebrate your successes and connect with your customers.²

Finding your niche: What to sell online?

Etsy is a marketplace for handmade goods, vintage items and craft supplies. These categories are then broken up further, covering:

  • Jewellery and accessories
  • Clothing and shoes
  • Home and living
  • Wedding and party
  • Toys and entertainment
  • Art and collectibles
  • Craft supplies and tools
  • Vintage goods³

The philosophy behind Etsy is about connecting craftspeople with their customers, and helping people find unusual and one off pieces, whether that’s art, clothing, or all the decor you need for a fabulous gathering.

Many of the products available are hand made, or have a personal touch, so it’s the perfect place for your ecommerce business if you’re creative. You might use Etsy if you’re an artist and want to sell paintings online, or if you love to sew unique creations, and would like to sell clothing online, for example.

You can also sell digital products through Etsy. Think innovative and original templates for wedding invitations, or for customers to create their own professional looking custom made CV or website at home.⁴

Vintage products - items over 25 years old - can also be sold on Etsy. So if you have an eye for a beautiful piece of vintage jewellery, or have a passion for the traditional toys and games from your childhood, you might be able to make a living if you choose to sell vintage items online.

Still looking for inspiration? You can find a great range of product ideas which fit into the Etsy categories, simply by browsing their website.

Managing your inventory and shipping

Once you start to make sales you’ll need to make sure you can ship items to your customers efficiently, and replenish your inventory.

Etsy has a great shipping notifications tool which you can use to talk to your customers, and to confirm when they’ll receive their purchases. Because Etsy is proud to work with craftspeople, and customers love a personal touch, you could also consider the following ideas:

  • Add an individual note to your customer, thanking them for using your store and asking for feedback on the product and service
  • Use vouchers or discount codes to encourage repeat business
  • Try to find unique or creative packaging - you might choose recycled or environmentally friendly options to show your green credentials, too
  • Give your customer that little bit extra - adding in a small gift or a seasonal extra, like some gingerbread at Christmas or chocolate at Easter, is a great way to make sure you’re remembered⁵

Before you choose to sell online with Etsy you’ll want to know about the transaction fees involved. All costs are billed in US dollars, and the price will then be converted to British pounds when a payment is made to you.

The main fees are detailed here - and there’s more on how to get paid for your Etsy sales, below.³

Service Etsy fee
Listing fee £0.15 (Listing fees are billed for $0.20 - amount charged in your currency may change with exchange rate)
Commission, paid when a sale is confirmed 5% of transaction value
Payment processing fee 4% + £0.20 processing fee (varies by country)⁶
PayPal costs When using through Etsy payments - there is no additional fee⁷
Monthly service packages Standard package - no additional fee Plus package - £7.60/month(pricing is based in USD, so the amount charged may vary with the exchange rate) Premium package - launching in 2019, costs not available yet

For a more detailed breakdown of the fees you should expect, always check directly with Etsy.

How do you get paid?

When you’re setting up your Etsy shop, it’s worth considering how best to arrange to receive payments. The usual way to get paid for your Etsy sales is via Etsy Payments. This is recommended for sellers based in the UK, although there are some countries where this service isn’t available.⁸ If you’re based in a country where Etsy payments isn’t available yet, you can have buyers pay you directly through PayPal.⁹

Etsy Payments lets you link a bank account and have Etsy automatically deposit your sales income, subject to hitting a minimum daily amount. You can choose to add a bank account to take online payments by bank transfer, and give the details in your listings and your shop policies. If you’re considering selling to customers based overseas, a smart option could be to choose to get paid into a multi-currency account for business from TransferWise.

When you link your bank account through Etsy payments, your bank account will set the currency that you will receive payments in. So, if your bank account is in the UK, then you will receive payments in Britsh Pound (GBP).¹⁰ It’s good to know that in future, you can change the bank account linked to your Etsy account for Etsy Payments, but you will only be able to switch to another account held in the same currency and country as your original selection.¹¹

If you choose not to use Etsy Payments, you can get paid by cheque or money order, or by adding a different payment method to your shop.¹² You might choose to ask customers to pay via bank transfer via iDEAL or Sofort, for example - but this is only available if you are selling to customers in the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany.¹³

Thinking of selling online with Etsy? TransferWise could help you to receive your payments locally.

International payments and converting between currencies can be expensive, and if you want to make your online marketplace profitable - it may be beneficial to consider services such as TransferWise.

TransferWise is different. Its smart new technology skips hefty international transfer fees by connecting local bank accounts all around the world.

TransferWise’s free borderless multi-currency account for business allows you receive and send dozens of currencies all from the same account. Providing you with local bank account details to which you can receive payments directly without the need for international transfer fees.

All currency conversion is done using the mid-market rate - the one you’ll find on Google - with no hidden costs to worry about.

Setting up an ecommerce business is exciting, and there’s a world of opportunities available through Etsy, if you’re into crafts, art, photography or have an eye for vintage finds. Use this handy guide to get you started and you could be selling online in no time.

Sources used:

1.https://www.etsy.com/
2.https://help.etsy.com/hc/en-us/articles/115015672808?segment=selling
3.https://www.etsy.com/sell?ref=hp
4.https://www.etsy.com/uk/legal/sellers/#allowed
5.https://www.etsy.com/seller-handbook/article/5-things-to-know-about-your-first-sale/22796041444
6.https://help.etsy.com/hc/en-us/articles/115015628847?segment=selling
7. https://help.etsy.com/hc/en-us/articles/115013145627?segment=selling
8.https://help.etsy.com/hc/en-us/articles/115015710408?segment=selling
9.https://help.etsy.com/hc/en-gb/articles/115015438907-How-to-Set-Up-PayPal-for-Your-Etsy-Shop?segment=selling
10.https://help.etsy.com/hc/en-gb/articles/360002120927?segment=selling
11.https://help.etsy.com/hc/en-us/articles/115015775908-Change-Bank-Account-for-Receiving-Etsy-Payments-Deposits?segment=selling
12.https://help.etsy.com/hc/en-us/articles/115014503608-How-to-Get-Paid-on-Etsy?segment=selling
13. https://help.etsy.com/hc/en-us/articles/115013196707?segment=shopping

Sources check on 11-April-2019.


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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