How to sell on Etsy: An easy beginners guide

TransferWise
06.22.20
12 minute read

Etsy is a great platform for makers, designers and creatives to promote and sell their products - whether that’s art, custom clothing, wedding decor or vintage homewares.

This guide walks through all you need to know about how to sell on Etsy successfully, including what to sell, how to get started, and the fees you need to know about.


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What is Etsy, exactly?

Etsy is the leading global platform for connecting creatives and small businesses selling one of a kind products, to their customers. ¹ ²

Unlike marketplace platforms like eBay or Amazon, you won’t find any mass produced items on Etsy. Instead, you can think of Etsy like a giant craft fair, where makers and creatives can meet their fans and sell their home made, customized, vintage and unique products directly.

Etsy sellers - who may be hobbyists or full time artists - get their own store front, where they can list their products for a low fee. In 2019, over 45 million people purchased through Etsy - giving sellers the perfect opportunity to get their goods in front of an active and enthusiastic audience from all over the world.³

One of the unique features of Etsy is the range of products on offer. You’ll find hand made, one off and customized items including jewelry, clothes and accessories, homewares and toys. There are also vintage items, decor for weddings and parties, art and craft products. You can also buy digital items, such as templates for a smart looking resume, an invitation for your next party or event, or downloadable art, cards and more.

If you’re lucky enough to live in New York, you can even go along to the Etsy Labs events in Brooklyn, where the company offices are located. You can take part in free, structured craft nights once a month.⁴ A great way to have fun and learn new skills - and maybe even inspire some ideas for your Etsy store.

Selling on Etsy: what can you sell?

Before we get onto how to sell stuff on Etsy, let’s start with exactly what you can sell. Etsy customers can search the site for items they’re interested in, or use the browse function to look through the following categories.

Etsy selling categories
Jewelry and accessories Covering everything from body jewelry to beanie hats, fascinators for a summer wedding, umbrellas, sunglasses, scarves and even wedding and engagement rings
Clothing and shoes for men, women and children, including custom made items, leather, party and prom dresses, cosplay and festival wear
Home and living which includes decor, kitchenware, bedding, spiritual and religious items. You’ll find everything from prayer beads and charms, to table linens and wall hangings here
Toys and entertainment Books and toys for all ages, games and puzzles, planners, cameras and electronic items
Art and collectibles Covering digital and physical prints, memorabilia, paintings, drawings, sculpture and photography
Craft supplies and tools Including everything a hobbyist might need, whether you’re into sewing, papercraft, woodwork, home brewing, candle making or more
Vintage Items which are at least 20 years old

How to sell on Etsy: Easy step by step guide

Setting up your Etsy store is fairly straightforward. Getting started is just a matter of following a few key steps - and there are plenty of resources available directly from Etsy to support new sellers. Let’s take a look at how to sell on Etsy successfully.⁵ ⁶

1: Set up your shop

Head over to Etsy.com, and click on Sell on Etsy, then Open your Etsy shop. You’ll be able to follow the on screen prompts to complete the rest of the initial opening information. First you’ll need to choose your store’s language, country and currency.

It’s worth knowing that you can’t change the language chosen - this will be the default for your listings. However, you can add in additional languages later if you want. It’s also a good time to think about the currency you want to bill in - you may pay Etsy currency conversion charges later if you receive payments in a currency that’s different to the currency of your bank account. More on that - and ways to lower the costs of selling internationally - later.

2: Choose your shop name

Next, you’ll need to select an acceptable shop name. Etsy rules state the name must be 4-20 characters long, not including any spaces or special characters. Your store name can’t include any profanity, or already be in use. If the name you initially want is not available, Etsy will automatically generate other names which may work for you.

Don’t forget, you want your store name to be memorable and say a little about your character, too - give it a good dose of personality!

3: Add product listings to your shop

Go to Shop Manager and find the button marked Your shop - here you can find the option to Add a listing. To start listing products you’ll need to add photos and choose the thumbnail image which will be visible to customers. You’ll then need to enter a description, inventory and pricing, as well as shipping information.

When you’re first starting out, you’ll probably need a bit of time to work out how to sell stuff on Etsy in the right way for your brand. There’s a lot of information available in Etsy’s handy sellers guides about the type and size of photos needed, guidelines about making descriptions searchable, and other important details to make sure customers spot your goods easily.⁷

4: Add payment methods

Now you need to add information about how to get paid. In the US, you can get paid using Etsy Payments, and may need to also link a credit card as a form of ID verification.

Don’t forget, you’ll also need to check out all the billing and fee details involved with selling on Etsy. We have an overview of this topic coming right up - but you’ll also want to read the Etsy terms and conditions yourself to make sure you know exactly what you’ll pay in fees when selling on Etsy.

5: Open your shop, to start selling on Etsy

Once you have followed all the onscreen steps, you’ll be able to click Open your shop, to make your store visible to the buying public.

How much does it cost to sell on Etsy?

Next, we’ll look at another key question: how much is it to sell on Etsy?

Setting up a shop in itself is free. However, you’ll pay a listing fee once you start to add products, and then there are further fees to pay once you start to sell. You may also pay charges for currency conversion, to upgrade to Etsy’s premium ‘Plus’ service, or to use Etsy’s advertising tools, for example.

Listing fees

The headline listing fee is $0.20. For this price, you can list your product until it sells, or for a maximum of up to 4 months. If you want, you can set your account to automatically relist your items once they sell - this will incur another $0.20 fee when the listing posts again.⁸

One key point is that this listing fee also applies if you list multiple items. Let’s look at an example. If you’re selling a one of a kind vintage leather jacket, you’ll be charged the flat $0.20 when you list it, as well as any other relevant charges once it sells. Assuming you decide not to renew the listing, this item will then be removed, with no further charge to you.

However, the items you sell may not be quite this unique. For example, you could be selling earrings, and have 5 pairs to sell in different colors.

In this case, although you may add the items under a single listing with color variants, you’ll pay the $0.20 listing fee every time you sell a pair. So, when you post the item, you’ll pay the $0.20 charge. If you then sell one of your 5 pairs, the item is relisted, with an inventory of 4, and another $0.20 charge. This will continue until a 4 month period elapses with no sales, or all of the pairs are sold. If someone loves the earrings enough to buy all 5 pairs at once, you’ll pay the listing fee x5.⁹

Transaction fee

When you sell an item through Etsy, you’ll pay a transaction fee which is 5% of the total amount, including both the item sold and any shipping fee added. You’ll be charged in the currency you list items in, and then this will be converted before being paid, if you use a different currency for your payment account.⁸

Payment processing fees

When you receive payments through Etsy Payments, you’ll also pay a processing fee. The charge varies according to the country your bank account is held in. If you’re using a US based account, the processing fee is an additional 3% of the total sale amount including shipping and sales tax, + $0.25 per transaction. ¹⁰

PayPal fees

From some countries, Etsy sellers can add their own PayPal directly to their Etsy shop to accept payments. However, in the US this is not possible. You’ll still be able to offer customers the opportunity to pay using PayPal, but the money will then be processed via Etsy Payments instead of landing directly in your PayPal account.

If you’re not starting your store from the US, and want to link PayPal directly to your Etsy shop, make sure you check out all the fees and costs associated with selling online using PayPal.¹¹ ¹²

Advertising fees

Etsy is a great platform to use if you’re planning on selling and promoting your items using social media. You can also choose to use Etsy’s own ads service to highlight your products. Here’s how to sell on Etsy successfully, using paid ads.¹³

Etsy charges for advertising using a pay per click approach.That means that you set a daily budget you’re willing to spend on advertising. Etsy will then place ads on your behalf, and record the number of times customers click on them. The total cost will be calculated on a daily basis, and you’ll be charged accordingly.

As a default, Etsy will promote all your listings, but you might rather choose to target certain products more specifically. You can amend your settings on Etsy to do this easily by going into Etsy Ads and selecting Manage advertise listings.

Using ads to increase the flow of customers to your shop can be very effective. However, don’t forget to add the cost of advertising to your selling prices to make sure you don’t damage your overall profit margin.

Shipping costs

How you arrange your pricing, and your shipping costs, is your own choice. However, you’ll want to think carefully about the best way to set up shipping for your business and product type.

Etsy encourages sellers to offer customers free shipping. In effect this means that product prices are listed in a way that includes the shipping cost in the product fee. ¹⁴

Free shipping can encourage a customer to purchase. However, it’s important to note that free shipping is not really free. You still have to pay the price of mailing your products. That means it’s important to calculate the shipping cost accurately. If you add $5 to your product price to cover shipping, but discover later that mailing your product actually costs $10, you’re eating into your profits.Etsy offers a smart pricing tool to help adjust your product prices to reflect shipping costs.¹⁵

The alternative is to add the shipping cost to the price the customer pays for their order. Etsy suggests using calculated shipping¹⁶ if you’re sending from the US. This will look at the size and weight of the package being sent, as well as the location of the sender and buyer, to work out the price you’ll need to charge for shipping.

Etsy selling costs summary

As a final reminder, let’s look at an overview of the costs of selling on Etsy.

The costs of selling are important to know when you calculate the price of your goods, so you can make sure you’re protecting your profits. Fees and charges can vary over time, so do check the fees on Etsy’s sellers website, too.

Etsy fee Charge
Monthly fee Standard accounts do not pay a monthly feePlus accounts - $10/month for access to specialist seller tools
Listing fee $0.20 - listings remain open for 4 months or until the item sells, whichever is soonest
Transaction fee 5% of the total sale amount + shipping
Payment processing fee 3% + $0.25 for shops set up in the US
Advertising fee You can set a daily budget - the default being $1 a day
Currency conversion 2.5% fee to convert currency, if the currencies of your listings and payment account differ

To make sure you can sell on Etsy successfully, you’ll want to make sure your selling price is enough to cover the cost of goods, as well as all of the fees - while still retaining a profit margin for yourself. Get some help with calculating your return on investment using this ROI calculator and formula page.

You may also be able to protect your profits if your listing and normal payment currencies are different by getting a TransferWise for business account. This multi-currency account lets you accept fee free payments in US, Australian and New Zealand dollars, British pounds, euros and Polish zloty.

Let’s say your normal bank account is held in US dollars, but you want to sell to a European market. You may be able use the euro bank details which come with your free TransferWise account to get payments in euros, and then convert the money back to dollars using the mid-market rate within your TransferWise account. From there you can spend your money, hold it as a balance, or withdraw back to your normal US dollar account. You’ll only pay a low, transparent fee, and could avoid the 2.5% currency conversion charge levied by Etsy.


FAQ:

How old do you have to be to sell on Etsy?

To sell on Etsy you must be 18 years old.¹⁷

What counts as handmade on Etsy?

Etsy requires transparency about who made the items sold. If you’re a maker - meaning you designed and made the items you sell yourself, you can state this. However, if you’re a designer - so you created the pattern or plan for an item, but then handed production over to a partner, you should state this clearly.¹⁸

What counts as vintage on etsy?

Items listed as vintage must be at least 20 years old.

Is there anything that I can’t sell on Etsy?

Etsy is all about unique, handmade and crafted items. While this covers a broad spectrum of things you can sell, there are some prohibited items. You can’t sell anything which is dangerous, illegal or which promotes hate, for example. Alcohol, tobacco and drugs, as well as mature content are all banned too. Get the full listings of prohibited items, online.¹⁹


Selling on Etsy is a great way to pursue your passions while making a few extra dollars. In fact, for many people, Etsy provides a platform to develop a brand, connect with fans, and draw a full time income.

Getting started with Etsy is fairly easy - but you’ll want to spend some time thinking about how you design your store, promote your products and manage pricing and shipping, to protect your profits and grow your business. Invest in planning early, and you’ll be able to enjoy watching your business flourish.


Sources:
  1. Etsy - Shop for handmade, vintage, custom, and unique gifts for everyone
  2. About Etsy
  3. Etsy: number of active buyers 2019
  4. Etsy Labs in Brooklyn, NY - Welcome to
  5. Learn How to Sell on Etsy
  6. How to Open an Etsy Shop – Etsy Help
  7. How to List an Item in Your Etsy Shop
  8. What are the Fees and Taxes for Selling on Etsy?
  9. Fees and Listing Multiple Quantities
  10. What are Payment Processing Fees for Etsy Payments?
  11. Seller Fees
  12. Opening a PayPal Account
  13. How to Set Up and Manage an Etsy Ads Campaign
  14. Determining and Adding Shipping Rates
  15. How to Use the Smart Pricing Tool: US Sellers
  16. How to Set Up Calculated Shipping – Etsy Help
  17. Minors Policy - Our House Rules
  18. Handmade Policy
  19. Prohibited Items Policy - Our House Rules

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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