How to Sell on Etsy

Buying the kind of unique merchandise that you find on Etsy is fun and all, but what if you want to join the selling side of things?  What if you like to paint, knit, or do other arts and crafts in your spare time, and think to yourself, "I could probably sell this stuff for some good money"?  Or what if you have an attic full of treasures from a time gone by, and think that a collector or two might pay you a handsome price for them?  This article will give you some instructions and tips on how to get your very own store up and running on Etsy.

Things to sell on Etsy

As you can probably tell from being a buyer on Etsy, there are lots of different things that you can sell on Etsy.  These include clothing, accessories, toys, jewellery, art, home decor, and more!  However, all items that you sell on Etsy have to fall into one of two classes, and each class has its own criteria.


"Handmade"-class items are unique items that are designed and created by you and/or your business.  This means that you cannot buy or otherwise receive a "handmade"-class item from someone else and then re-sell it as a "handmade"-class item on Etsy.  

In the interest of letting Etsy and your customers know that your stuff actually belongs in the "handmade" class, it's a good idea to provide information for each of your items regarding who was involved in the design and creation process.  This could be you, another member of your business, or an outside party that was contracted by you/your business.

For more guidelines on what constitutes a "handmade"-class item (and how to verify this for your items), see this help article on Etsy.

Craft Supplies

This is a sub-class of "handmade"-class items, and it includes tools and raw materials intended to help people create their own handmade items.  This can include things like pliers, do-it-yourself kits, beeswax, fabric, or pattern stencils.  It can also include design and pattern graphics that you create on the computer, or tutorials on how to create certain handmade items.  See this article on Etsy craft supplies and this article on Etsy services for more information on what you can or cannot sell as "craft supplies" on Etsy.


All "vintage"-class items sold on Etsy have to be at least 20 years old (though they don't have to be handmade).  You must be able to provide evidence that your items meet this criterion, including brand or designer labels, item closures/zippers, care tags, or other information from the original seller or supplier.  In fact, you might want to provide information like this up front in the item descriptions, so that Etsy and your customers won't have reason to doubt you in the first place.  See this article on Etsy vintage items for further guidelines on what constitutes a "vintage"-class item on Etsy, and how to verify this for your items.

How to set up a store on Etsy

  1. Go to in your web browser and log in.

  2. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click Open a Shop.

  3. Click Open an Etsy Shop at the top of the page.

  4. Click the drop-down menus in the window that appears to select the primary language and currency that your shop listings display in, as well as where your shop is geographically located.  Then click Yes.

  5. You will next be asked what you hope to accomplish with your Etsy shop.  Click the answer that best describes what you want to do.

  6. After the window closes, your first step is to name your shop.  Click in the box labelled "Set Shop Name" and type in a name for your shop.  Then click Save.  (Note: if your shop name is already taken, Etsy will inform you and ask you to choose another one.)

  7. After this, you'll have to add listings for items to your shop, choose the methods of payments from customers that you will accept (e.g. credit card, cheque or money order, online transaction service such as PayPal, and so on), and enter your billing information.  (We'll have tutorials on how to do stuff like this coming soon.)

    When you're all done, click Open Your Shop.  Congratulations!  You are officially in business on Etsy!

How to be successful on Etsy

Be honest and open with Etsy and your customers.

  • Be sure to include descriptions on your shop page about who you are and what you're selling in your shop. 

  • Spell out your selling policies in as much detail as you can, and make sure to also provide some contact information in case a customer has questions or needs to return an item. 

  • Provide as much relevant and accurate information as you can about each of the items that you sell (including photographs of the actual item). 

  • Remember, the more you lay out in the open about you and your operation for Etsy and its users to see, the easier time they'll have buying your merchandise and trusting that it's genuine.

Don't cheat Etsy, or otherwise break their rules.

The following is a partial list of things that you probably shouldn't do on Etsy:

  • Don't run more than one shop selling the same items.  This can confuse customers as to the availability of your items, and gives you an unfair advantage in terms of how many people notice your shop.  You can, however, have more than one shop as long as you sell different kinds of items in each; for example, having one store for women's clothing, and another for children's clothing.

  • Don't steal someone else's item or idea and sell it as your own.  (Also, report anyone whom you catch doing this to Etsy.)

  • Don't cheat Etsy out of their fees by using your shop to direct people to buy items from another online store that you control (especially if those items are already listed on Etsy).  Also, don't contact a customer and ask them to complete the payment for an item that they want to buy from you outside of Etsy.

  • Don't sell "handmade"-class items not made by you or your (partner) business (e.g. bought from someone else on Etsy, bought on another website, or given to you as a gift) in the "Handmade" section of Etsy.

  • Don't sell items that aren't allowed on Etsy, including stolen or counterfeit items, items that use materials from endangered or protected animals, weapons or other overly-hazardous products, or items that are explicitly sexual/hateful/violent in nature.  See this Etsy prohibited items article for a list of the types of items that Etsy won't let you sell, as well as some exceptions to these rules.

Treat your customers right.

  • Lay out your store's policies in such a way that they balance having as much detail as possible with being easy to read and understand by any potential buyers. 

  • Be sure to respond to any questions that a customer has about your store or items as accurately and promptly as possible.  Also, it's a good idea to publicly respond to negative reviews when you get them, in order to let the buyer (and other potential customers) know what you'll do to make things right the next time.

  • If you specify processing and shipping times in your policies or item descriptions, stick to them; customers hate it when their merchandise arrives late. 

  • If a customer has a problem with an item that they bought from you, try to work it out over Etsy first.  If you can't come to a solution that you both can agree upon, contact Etsy's Trust and Safety Team.

  • If you can't fulfil an order for some reason, cancel it and let the customer know, and tell them how you're going to make the situation right.

Participate in the Etsy community.

Get involved!  Read and contribute (to) discussions on the Etsy Forums, or see if there's an Etsy Event being held near you.  You may also want to join an Etsy Team, which is basically a group of buyers or sellers who like or sell (respectively) similar items.  Read the Etsy Blog, or sign up for the "Etsy Success" and "Seller Seminars" newsletters.  Whether you're totally new to the handmade business scene or your shop is just in a bit of a slump, these are all great ways to connect with people who can give you advice on how to run your particular kind of shop.  You may also be able to meet new customers, and spread the word about your own little handmade or vintage enterprise!


We're going to have more tutorials in the future devoted to the finer points of running a shop on Etsy, but for now, this is a bit of information about how you can become a seller on Etsy!


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