If you’re keen to sell vintage items, handmade products and crafts, you’d be hard-pushed to find a better marketplace to do so than Etsy. But we know that starting an Etsy store can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time or you’re not experienced in e-commerce. So to help get you started, here’s our advice for how to avoid making common Etsy mistakes and instead, watch your Etsy shop sell more.
Choosing the 'wrong' shop name
You know what you want to sell, but you’re stuck on a shop name. So you just pick anything, sometimes completely at random. Our advice? Try not to do this! We know that for most small businesses and online stores, Etsy shops need to be developed before you find the right ‘brand. But if you opt for a name at random, and quickly realise you’ve made a mistake, any work you’ve done to build up your business could be for nothing. So take some time to do research into what shop names are available before jumping in headfirst.
If you do need to change your Etsy shop name, and your store isn’t open yet, you can change the name as often as you like before you open your shop. However, once your shop is open, you can only change your shop name in Info & Appearance up to five times. If you need to change it again, use the same form to submit a name change request to Etsy Support. Etsy Support will then review the request.
Ignoring Etsy policies
Believe us when we say, if you don’t follow Etsy’s ‘house rules’, you are likely to end up with a huge headache further down the line. When you’re just starting to put your Etsy shop together, it’s so tempting to throw your listings up without doing your research. BUT STOP! Take some time to read Etsy’s policies and check out some Etsy resources that are specifically designed to help you.
The more you learn about Etsy, the greater your chances are of building your business and enjoying the success it can bring.
Posting blurry or low-quality images on listings
All your Etsy shop images should be high quality, clear and relevant to your products and brand. If you don’t have access to a good quality camera, borrow one – it isn’t worth thinking ‘oh, this dark, blurry photo will do for now’. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes: if they see low-quality photos, they are more likely to think your products will be of low quality too.
Etsy allows you up to 10 photos per item and gives you some useful tips for how to present your products in the photos, so use that to your advantage. In our experience, we recommend:
- Avoid using black and white photos – customers want to see the exact colour of the item they will receive
- Do not include anything in the photo that the customer will not receive in their order
- Use a mix of photos with a white background and lifestyle photos to showcase your products
- Taking all the photos before uploading listings – this will save you a lot of time
Simply upload as many images as you can for each item and be sure they are clear and detailed.
Writing poor listing titles and descriptions
It is no exaggeration to say that your Etsy titles and descriptions will help you to increase sales. If you have recently opened a new Etsy store, please spend some time on making your copy the best it can be.
Best practices for Etsy titles
The first five words in each listing title are key, as those are the ones most likely to show up in a search or in the HTML address of the item.
For example, if you’re selling a Valentine’s Day card, you shouldn’t title it ‘Nice High-Quality A6 Size Valentine’s Boyfriend Card’ because the keywords ‘Valentine’s boyfriend card’ are the sixth, seventh and eighth words. These words wouldn’t make it into the HTML address, therefore won’t help with your organic ranking. Put the most important words first to ensure the search engines know how to identify your product pages.
Avoid short and vague titles, such as ‘pretty necklace’ – the term ‘pretty’ doesn’t have any place in a title, as customers are very unlikely to search for that word. Instead, opt for ‘vintage gold necklace with crystals’ – each of these words could be a search term that visitors will use, so you have a much greater chance of your product appearing in their search results.
Etsy titles at a glance:
- Put some thought into your Etsy titles
- Put the most descriptive words first
- Do your research to find the most precise keywords
Product descriptions on Etsy are just as important as titles. Each of your descriptions needs to clearly state specifically what the item is, but without waffling. Be concise, but leave the customer in no doubt about what you are actually selling.
Some top tips for Etsy descriptions:
- Describe the key product features and list relevant information clearly, such as size, style, age (if vintage), materials
- Keep your descriptions short but make sure to include all important information – if you don’t, you are more likely to receive complaints from customers once they receive something they weren’t expecting
- Tell a short story of your product, but don’t write an essay (customers won’t read it!)
- If you sell similar products in your shop, try to mix up the words you use to describe them – being too repetitive will not help with your search ranking
- Use correct grammar and complete sentences – if words aren’t your speciality, take on a freelance product description writer to help you make the listings appeal to your customers
Keywords on Etsy are very important and by including them, you will help potential customers to find your products. Many new Etsy sellers neglect keywords – this is a mistake, but one that can be easily fixed.
As well as using your keywords in both your titles and descriptions, Etsy gives you the chance to add up to 13 ‘tags’ for every new listing page.
Try to use all 13 and if you’re stuck for what to use as your keywords, Etsy has prompts to help under ‘get ideas for tag’, as follows:
If you’re still stuck for ideas, consult Etsy’s seller handbook, which uses proven techniques that can help to increase traffic to your shop and boost sales.
Not having enough product listings live
If you are new to Etsy or selling online, it is completely normal to perhaps only have a handful of items to sell. But say you have just one or two items to sell – if this is the extent of your shop, what will potential customers think? Probably that you’re not an established seller and therefore, something is more likely to ‘go wrong’ with an order. While this might not be true, chances are customers will gravitate towards a similar shop on Etsy that has more listings live and can prove through reviews that they are more established. .
Our advice? List every item that you have, when you have it.
If you are in your really early days, it’s worth making sure you have at least 5-10 listings before you put your shop live. A lack of credibility is one of the hardest parts of getting started as an Etsy seller. To have a better chance of bringing customers in, and keeping them, you should focus on increasing the number of items you have available to sell.
Not making use of your shop announcement
The Etsy shop announcement is your opportunity to tell your buyers what you can offer them and why your shop is so great. Use this announcement wisely – keep it fresh, up-to-date and highlight the big thing(s) happening in your store on any particular occasion.
Your Etsy shop announcement is at the top of your shop under the main header. It actually forms part of your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) on Etsy, meaning that the first few lines show in Google and so you should pick relevant keywords related to your shop.
Ways to use your Etsy shop announcement
- To highlight a new product
- To promote a voucher code for a seasonal event (Valentine’s, Christmas etc.)
- To state if you are on holiday and when you’ll be back
Focusing on new products, ignoring the bestsellers
If you’re a creative Etsy seller, you’re quite likely to want to try and please everybody. Soon enough, you are making custom products that take you hours of labour, only to find that your latest product isn’t appealing to a wider audience.
If you have a listing that repeatedly sells well, congratulations, make more! This is especially vital if you’re new to Etsy, as you will start to see visitor numbers increase as positive reviews begin to come in. Try to not go off on a tangent because you think someone might buy this new product idea you’ve come up with. Instead, make sure your bestsellers are being promoted well and if you are considering investing time in a new product, make sure to do your research first.
Ignoring a negative review
Small businesses will always get their share of negative reviews and when they come in, it can be a body blow for shop owners. However, it is never the right decision to ignore them.
You should always reach out to the customer, as negative reviews can seriously impact your Etsy business. Negative reviews can damage the perception of your business, destroy your brand equity and could even affect the price of your products.
What to do when you get a negative Etsy review
Read the review, find the corresponding order and look to see whether anything went wrong from your side. If you can’t see any problems, reach out to the customer via Etsy messages and ask about the issue. Ask them how you can make it right, whether that’s via a replacement or a refund, and ensure them that you pride yourself on providing high-quality customer service, so you are happy to help as much as possible to fix the problem. We find saying sorry early on can really help the conversation end more positively too.
Etsy looks closely at negative reviews and punishes sellers who they believe aren’t providing a good service to customers. In our experience, it’s worth doing whatever you can to turn around a negative review – no bad review is worth arguing or disagreeing with the customer (even if you’re in the right!), especially if you’re just starting out on Etsy.
If you do fix the problem, it’s always worth reaching out to the customer who left a negative review and politely asking them if they’d be willing to change their review to something more positive. Nine times out of ten, they probably will.
As a new Etsy seller, you are more likely to make some mistakes. The key is to not panic! Now that you know all about the common mistakes new sellers tend to make on Etsy, we hope you'll be able to avoid as many of them as possible as you build your online business.
If you're looking to take your shop to the next level, check out our guide – Etsy vs. Shopify: Which is better?