How to Open an Etsy Shop

How to Open an Etsy Shop

Once a year I have the privilege of hosting Etsy Made in Canada here in Ottawa.

I have been the Etsy Team Captain for our region since 2013.

What that means is I'm an ambassador for the Etsy Canada brand. I do my best to share new knowledge and encourage makers, craft suppliers and vintage sellers to use the platform... and make a living (or part of a living anyway) doing what they love to do.

You don't have to have an existing Etsy shop to participate in ALL Cheerfully Made Markets, only the Etsy Made in Canada one.

It's an awesome show and each year I get piles of questions from people curious about joining Etsy.

How do you do it? Is it complicated? Is it expensive? What do I even do once I sell something?

You've got questions and I've got answers.


First of all, why Etsy?

I hear from a lot of makers that they already have a website or a social media channel they sell items from, so why do they need Etsy too?

Indeed it's a great idea to have your own professional site to sell from, but it's my (strong) opinion that if you are a handmaker, then Etsy is a necessary platform. When buyers are looking for handmade products, they often aren't going to Google.

They're going to Etsy.

Think of Google as the entire universe.

Unless you have an unlimited Google Ads budget or are just the SEO whiz of all SEO whizzes, it's very unlikely that you're going to be found.

You're a little knitting needle in a haystack.

But when a shopper starts their product quest on Etsy, they can filter their search using keywords and locations that better help them find you.

Yes, you pay fees, but you pay fees on your own site as well. The benefits of having a shop on Etsy are endless!

But before you get started, it's important to know what you can and cannot sell on Etsy.

Etsy is a marketplace for handmade, vintage, and craft supply goods. When opening your shop, review their Seller Policy to make sure your items meet these requirements.

All good? Let's do this.


Get OPEN in 8 Simple Steps


1. Create an Account

To get started, simply create an account with Etsy by going to www.etsy.com and clicking on the Sell on Etsy‚ link and follow the prompts.

2. Set Your Preferences

Next, you'll set your default language (aka the language in which you'll describe your items).

After you've opened your shop, you'll have an opportunity to choose to translate your page into other languages. Then, set your home country and the currency in which you'd like to list your items.

3. Give Your Shop a NAME!

The name you choose here will be what appears as your URL. Don't stress too much if your name isn't available. Etsy will offer suggestions if that's the case, and you can always add a word like Canada‚ or Boutique‚ or simply CA. Ideally, you'll choose a shop name that's easy for customers to remember, and reflective of your products. As long as it falls within Etsy's guidelines:

  • Between 4-20 characters in length,
  • No spaces or special characters,
  • No profanity, and,
  • Not already in use by an existing Etsy member.

Need some inspiration? Check out Etsy's tips for choosing your shop name.

4. Add Items

Listing physical and digital items (like graphic downloads, patterns, stickers, editable files etc) involve separate processes. For the purpose of this freebie, we're just going to cover the basics on how to list a physical item; you can consult Etsy's guide if you're listing a digital item.

  • Add photos: Etsy recommends using at least five photos (ideally 10!) per item so customers can see your product from various angles. The size of your images should be at least 2000 pixels for the shortest side. Include a picture of your product on a white background, some detail shots, a few lifestyle images, etc.
  • Adjust your thumbnail: Your thumbnail is the first image of your product your customers see in your shop, via search (even on Google), and elsewhere on Etsy. It's essentially your product's headshot so make sure it's a good one.
  • Write your product title: Give your item a title that describes the product in as much detail as possible, considering your 140-character limit. Remember, the first three words carry the most weight in terms of SEO (and are the only words your mobile-shoppers can see on your shop page!)
  • Add a description: You also need to add an in-depth description, a bulleted overview of the product, and additional details like the product's category and type. Imagine your customer finding your item in a brick and mortar shop. How big is the item? What does the back look like? Show alllllll of the details (even the ugly ones).
  • Use all of your tags: Take advantage of all 13 tags available per item. Shoppers find your products by searching for keywords in the search bar, so work backward and think about what a customer might type into the search to discover your item. Those keywords are what your tags should be. Keep in mind, they can also be phrases (ie. bridesmaids gifts).
  • Complete your inventory and pricing: Enter your product's price, sales tax (if applicable), quantity (if you have more than one in stock), and variations (if you offer more than one version of the same product, like sizes, materials, or colours). Etsy suggests offering a minimum of 10 quantity per item, but no worries if your products are one-of-a-kind.
  • Set your shipping price: Here, you'll include all the necessary details about your shipping processes, like your shipping costs, country of origin, processing time, and item weight and size. Deciding on a shipping cost can be a challenge. Especially if you have a variety of different items of all shapes, sizes and weights. I recommend doing some in person research and testing at your local post office or using an online calculator through Canada Post or another shipping service. Bonus points if you can incorporate the cost of shipping into your product's price, and offer FREE shipping.
  • Publish your listing: You can preview your listing to see how it'll look to customers before setting it live.

5. Choose Your Payment Preferences

Decide how you'd like to accept payments. Options include PayPal, check or money order‚ or Etsy Payments, which is the main way sellers get paid. I recommend Etsy Payments as the easiest option. With Etsy Payments you can accept credit cards, debit cards, Etsy gift cards and store credit, and more.

6. Set up Billing

Depending on your country, Etsy might require that you provide a credit card for identity authorization purposes. You'll also need a card on file so Etsy can charge you for selling fees.

7. Open Your Shop

BOOM! Your shop is open!

Before you start celebrating, we still have some important work to do.

The eighth step is kinda the hardest.

8. Customize your Shop

So you have an Etsy shop. Now what? Just like your favourite brick-and-mortar stores, your digital shop needs to be easy to find, beautifully curated, intuitively organized, and fresh. Here are a few more things you can do to ensure your shop is as successful as possible.

  • Add a Bio and Photo: Handmade shoppers want to know about the people behind the products they're purchasing. Use your bio as an opportunity to let them know more about what makes you (and your stuff!) special. Talk about how you came to be a maker, your skills and qualifications, the story behind your products and why you make them.
  • Set Your Policies: Try to anticipate any questions potential buyers might have and answer them here. Outline your manufacturing, processing, shipping, and payment processes and include an estimated processing and shipping time so your buyers have a clear idea of how long it'll take for their items to arrive. Detail your return and exchange policy, and the payment methods you accept. By answering questions upfront you greatly increase the chance of customers making a confident purchase.
  • Add Sections: If it's appropriate, group your items into categories so buyers can more easily search through your products. Like a navigation bar, sections will appear on the left side of your homepage and include the number of products within each category.
  • Rearrange Your Items: Move your items around the page in a way that is both intuitive and pleasing to the eye. As you become a more seasoned seller, you may want to place best selling or seasonal items front and center as a way to boost sales.
  • Add an About Me Section: Have fun with this. Tell your origin story in a way that reflects Etsy's values and promotes transparency. Keep it light and genuine. This is also a good opportunity to list anyone who helps assist in your production or business behind the scenes. Incorporate photos and video of your studio space or creative process, and add links to your store's social media profiles.
  • Use the Etsy App: Promoting your Etsy shop on social media is essential for growing your new business. Fortunately, Etsy has an app for that! The Sell on Etsy app allows you to quickly update all your social channels with store announcements, new listings, store milestones, great reviews, or specific items you'd like to promote via your phone or computer.

            And there you have it!

            You're officially an Etsy seller ready to make your first sale and maaaaaybe even apply to Etsy Made in Canada!


            xo Em