Time is right for creative people to open Etsy shops

Are you looking to expand your creative hobby or business? When showing off your products, have you ever had a friend or family member say, “You should totally sell that on Etsy!”

Make 2021 the year you take that next step by opening your Etsy shop.

An Etsy shop can be a great outlet for creative people who want to sell things they love to make. Your store can allow you to supplement your income, work from home, turn a hobby into a full-time job, and venture into a low-risk entrepreneurial opportunity. And it is easier than you think.

Etsy is an online marketplace that connects sellers with buyers. It is primarily used for selling vintage items, handmade goods, art, crafts, and creative supplies. Etsy allows craftspeople, artists, makers of all kinds, and vintage and craft supply vendors to sell their goods without needing a brick-and-mortar store or their own e-commerce store.

Is now a good time to get on Etsy?

In a word, yes. In early 2020, Etsy became a destination for face masks, which brought new buyers to the platform. Etsy has continued that sales momentum by focusing on more personalized crafts that appeal to do-it-yourselfers in quarantine and looking for projects they can do at home. 
Tate Shumaker has an Etsy side hustle making habitats for pets. Their store, Tatescosycreatures, features adorable hideaways shaped like fruits and vegetables for pet hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats.
For the three months ended Sept. 30, 2020, Etsy sales saw a 128% increase over the year-earlier period. Etsy also reported a 42% increase in active sellers and a 55% increase in active buyers during the same quarter. Etsy has 300 million site visits every month. It’s a great way to immediately increase visibility for your business and your creative projects.

Can I sell my products on Etsy?

You can sell three main types of products on Etsy: handmade goods, vintage items and craft supplies. What really sets Etsy apart is the handmade and vintage market. You are not going to be picking up things at Goodwill or on Alibaba and reselling them. You can do this on Ebay or Amazon, but not Etsy.

Customers have an expectation of quality on Etsy. They are looking for unique and handmade products.

Handmade category

The handmade category is what Etsy is known for. One-of-a-kind items that are handmade by artisans all over the world that you cannot find anywhere else. Think custom-designed jewelry, leather journals, a wedding cake topper with the names of the bride and groom. To sell in the category, you must either be the maker or designer of the product you are selling.

A maker is a seller who is physically making the items listed for sale in their Etsy shop. A maker might also be the designer, or they might follow a pattern or template they did not design. Regardless, makers must be creating their items with their own hands (or tools).

A designer is a seller who has come up with an original design, pattern, sketch, template, prototype, or plan to be produced by in-house shop members or a production partner. Keep in mind that people come to Etsy to discover items that they might not find anywhere else. Your design and production process should lead to the creation of a unique item that would not exist without you, the designer.

Reselling is not allowed in the handmade category on Etsy. Reselling on Etsy means listing an item as handmade when you, the seller, were not involved in designing or making that item. 

Vintage category

Etsy allows you to sell manufactured or ready-to-use items, but only if those items are vintage. Vintage items must be at least 20 years old. Newer, vintage-style, or collectible items are not allowed in this category.
Tate Shumaker has an Etsy side hustle making habitats for pets. Their store, Tatescosycreatures, features adorable hideaways shaped like fruits and vegetables for pet hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats.
Vintage items can include almost anything, such as clothing, office supply products, and computer games. You can even sell Beanie Babies in the vintage category. Vintage items do not have to be handmade, nor do they have to be functional, but they must fit the Etsy definition of vintage at the time the seller lists them.

Craft supplies

Craft supplies are tools, ingredients, or materials whose primary purpose is for the creation of an item or special occasion.

Craft supplies may be handmade or vintage in nature, or they can be commercial (meaning they are not handmade or vintage). Party supplies may also be sold as craft supplies.

Examples of craft supplies include:
  • Beads.
  • Paints.
  • Fabric yardage.
  • Patterns.
  • DIY kits.
  • “Blanks,” whose primary purpose is for crafting.

How do I create a shop?

It is easy to set up a shop on Etsy. Create an Etsy account, if you don’t already have one, set your shop location and currency, choose a shop name, create a listing, set a payment method (how you want to be paid), and finally set a billing method (how you want to pay your Etsy fees). You can literally be up and running and ready to sell in an hour.

Right now is probably the best time to start selling on Etsy. People are still staying at home, and they are definitely shopping online. Online selling is here to stay, and in the coming year there will be even more people than ever before searching for unique items on Etsy.  

Local Holland/Zeeland sellers have more than 15,000 products for sale on Etsy. Why don’t you join them in 2021? As always, the team at the Small Business Development Center is here to help you set up your Etsy store, and make it amazing.

Liz Hoffswell is a business consultant with the Small Business Development Center in West Michigan and has been an Etsy seller for a little over a year. She has worked with many clients to help them build and grow their creative business on the online marketplace.
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