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230. How to Be Successful on Etsy & Create Passive Income with Monica Little

230. How to Be Successful on Etsy & Create Passive Income with Monica Little

Should you sell your products on Etsy?

Most product-based business owners have a love/hate relationship with Etsy, for A LOT of reasons. But in many cases, those who don't take advantage of the platform are missing out on a great opportunity to get in front of new customers and make sales.

Today's guest, Monica Little is here to tell us why we should be selling on Etsy, how to shift our mindset around the things we hate about it, and her 3-step system to actually find success on the platform.


Why Should We Be Selling on Etsy?

Not only is Etsy a marketplace with access to tons of customers, but they spend A LOT of money on marketing to consistently grow their audience. In fact, during the first 3 months of 2022 alone they spent around $154 million to market the platform.

Here are a few other stats to illustrate the potential volume of the platform.

As of May 2022

  • Etsy has 89 million shoppers on its platform
  • 7 million of those were acquired in Q1 of 2022

Reported in March 2022

  • In 2021, about 35% of new shoppers identified as men
  • Etsy is also seeing a big uptick in relevance for shopping occasions across several product categories.
  • 15 of their product categories saw over 1 million unique shoppers each in 2021
  • The following categories had more than 15 million unique buyers:
    • Home and living
    • Craft supplies and tools
    • Jewelry
    • Clothing
    • Paper and Party Supplies
    • Art & Collectibles
    • Accessories

What are Some of the Most Common Misconceptions About selling on Etsy?

There are a lot of reasons why product-based businesses aren't taking advantage of the Etsy platform. Often they have preconceived notions about who Etsy is for, who shops there, or they get hung up on the fees that Etsy charges. Most of the time these concerns are misplaced and ultimately hold them back from creating another revenue channel in their business. Here are some of the most common hangups and how you can get past them.

Etsy is Only for New Businesses

While Etsy is certainly a place you can get started with your business because of its built-in customers, established businesses usually find success a lot faster. When you have a really strong brand voice, great product photos and descriptions, customer service, etc. it's a lot easier to stand out on the platform.

Etsy is Only for Cheap Products

This is a common misconception about Etsy, but jewelers are selling gemstone beaded necklaces for $350-$400. Consumers are on Etsy looking for premium products. But you have to present yourself in a premium way. You just throw up skincare products with DIY labels or poor DIY product photos and try and sell premium products. It still has to be a premium presentation.

Your premium prices may also be what differentiates you. High prices are typically perceived as high quality. Even if someone else is selling a similar product at a lower price it doesn't automatically mean the customer will choose the lower priced item.

Etsy is Too Saturated

Yes, Etsy is saturated. But Instagram is also saturated. Selling at markets is pretty saturated. Selling wholesale, stores are pretty saturated with their own offerings. So in general, the small business world, the product-based business world is saturated across all avenues.

But that shouldn't be why you do or do not pursue something, because if something is saturated, that just means you have to be more sophisticated. You have to find your differentiator, and why you stand out. It's actually a fun challenge to say, cool, yes, this is saturated, but my skincare, my candles, my X, Y, Z are different and are going to stand out because of this reason.

As long as you know that differentiator. As long as you are more sophisticated than the other people on Etsy with professional photos, with being that established business, that established branding, the established messaging on how you talk about your products, that actually makes you stand out against everyone else too.

At the end of the day, saturation just means there is a market for your product.

Etsy Will Take Away From My Website Sales

While it may seem like customers will choose to purchase your items from Etsy vs. your own store, that's not necessarily true. In most cases, you're going to have two completely different audiences shopping on each site.

Being on Etsy puts you in front of the customers that are already there. Then you can use your other marketing efforts such as social media, SEO, and paid ads to drive traffic to your website.

Etsy is Too Expensive

While Etsy does take a cut of your sales, it generally works out to about 10-12% of your revenue. While this seems like a lot at first, this is typically what you would have to spend to drive traffic to your own website anyway.

It's no different than paying rent for a brick-and-mortar store. When I had my boutique, I was in a shopping center with a few chain stores and shared a wall with Starbucks. 12+ years ago my rent for that space was $10k per month. I was paying for the foot traffic that came to the shopping center every day.

The fees you pay to Etsy are essentially your rent to get in front of their customers. Just like you would pay for a booth at an in-person market or you would pay to an affiliate who referred sales your way. It's just the cost of doing business.

I Tried Etsy Already & it Didn't Work

Unless you sell a product that people aren't searching for on Etsy any past failures may have more to do with how it was executed vs. the platform.

Very often we dabble in things without putting in much effort and then we wonder why it didn't work. Nothing works unless you do and each platform has its own nuances that you have to adapt to.

If you want to give Etsy another chance, start with a handful of your best-selling products and go ALL IN for at least 6 months before you determine that Etsy isn't going to work for you.

I Can't Grow an Email List of Etsy Customers

This was true for a long time, but Etsy now has an approved integration with Aweber that will email your customers after they place an order with you and ask them if they'd like to be on your list.

How Can Brands Be Successful On Etsy?

While there is a ton of opportunity to make money on Etsy, it does still take work to be successful. The good news is, once you put the work in and start to catch momentum, it can become a bit more passive over time. Monica has a 3-step system called ACT that will help you find success on Etsy.

  • A: Appear & Attract
  • C: Confirm the Customers' Expectations
  • T: Build Trust

How to Appear in Etsy Search Results

The best way to get seen on Etsy is to show up on the first page of search results. Customers are less likely to find you if you show up on page 5. The best way to rank your products on page 1 is to focus on the specificity of your titles and tags. This is essentially your Etsy SEO.

The biggest mistake people make is being too general so you can capture more attention. But being too general will actually have the opposite effect and will prevent you from showing at the top of the search results. If you sell a candle, you can't just use the word candle. You have to be more specific about the wax, the wick, and anything else that is specific to that candle.

Attract the Customer's Attention with Etsy's Marketing Levers

Even if you get to the first page of search results on Etsy, you're still listed next to 59 or so other products. At this stage, you have to stand out amongst the other listings and get eyeballs directly on you.

Etsy has 8 different marketing levers you can use such as sales, free shipping, star seller, etc. These all allow you to draw people's attention to your listing.

Etsy and all marketing and sales platforms put a lot of time, energy, and effort into developing tools to help you succeed. They want you to succeed because that's how they succeed. Use the tools these platforms give you because they were created to get you better results.

Confirm the Customers' Expectations on Your Product Listing

Your product listing page on Etsy is VERY important because it's all the customer has to make a buying decision.

If someone was to visit your website they're probably going to navigate around to learn more about you and maybe follow you on Instagram. By the time they purchase from you they likely already have a connection to you.

But on Etsy, if you're showing up on the first page based on what somebody searched they have nothing to go on other than what you have on your product page. Essentially, you need to have every single potential detail your customer may have in 3 places.

  • Your product description
  • Educate through your photos
  • Reviews that confirm things shipped quickly, were as described, etc.

You want to make sure no questions are left unanswered and that you're reaching people however they shop. Whether they only look at photos, read every word of the description, or head straight to the reviews to see if other people liked it… they'll find the information they're looking for.

Build Trust With Your Customers

Great product reviews are one way to build trust, but presenting yourself professionally also goes a long way to building trust with your customers, too.

Professional branding, labels, and photos are all key elements to creating a stand-out brand on Etsy. Let people see that you are actually a legit business that is going to fulfill its promises.

When someone is discovering you for the first time you're up against every poor experience they've had with other product-based businesses. Unfortunately, there are a few bad apples out there that treat their customers poorly or rip people off and consumers are a little weary about shopping with unknown brands.

Reach Out and Ask For Reviews

Reviews on Etsy are super important not only for customers who land on your product page but also for the Etsy algorithm. When it sees that people are happy with the product it'll be more likely to push you up in the rankings and show it to more people.

How Long Does it Take to See Success on Etsy?

Results vary widely based on lots of different variables, but in general, it does take 2-3 months before you start to catch traction.

Just like search engine optimization on your own website can take 3-6 months before you start to see results, it does compound over time. Etsy is the long game and you have to be patient. Put the time in upfront and build it up so that it can start to work a bit more on autopilot later on.

Final Thoughts

Use the different platforms available to you to grow your business. There are a lot of people who will try to grow their business from their own grit, their own hustle, and their own white-knuckling, and sure you can make progress that way. But if you use platforms like Faire, like Etsy, like Pinterest, like optimizing seo, Instagram, your website… all of those in conjunction is what's going to grow your business, because running a product business is solely a game of numbers.

The more people you get in front of, the more people that have the potential to buy from you. So don't limit yourself by focusing only on maybe one or two, but cast a wide net, and optimize all of these platforms. Learn how to master each one of those, and then you're gonna start to see all these seeds that you planted and how they turn into trees.

And before you know it, it's like, oh, okay. Passive income here, income here, sales here, sales here, and that's truly how you really build and scale a product-based business.

Meet Monica

Monica Little left her corporate job to pursue her own dreams and built a multiple 6-figure organic skincare small business. She’s the host of The Product Biz Podcast where she shares stories of growing her own business to help others let go of perfection and overcome the fear of failure that is holding them back. Monica’s passion is to create a community of small business owners that are ready to put in the work and to help them realize their dreams truly are possible.

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Episodes & Links Mentioned

93. How to Calculate Your Traffic Needs

Etsy Stats

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Free Training: How to Get Your Products Seen on Etsy*

Monica's Website

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I support scrappy female entrepreneurs with actionable steps & strategies to grow and scale the traffic, sales & profit in their eCommerce businesses. 

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