Talking about mistakes Etsy sellers make is a very much hot topic these days, especially with the growing number of Etsy sellers year on year (about 7.4 million active Etsy sellers at the end of Q1 2023, according to an Etsy report on their website Etsy Investor Relations).
Opening a new shop on Etsy is exciting! It’s a new journey that can bring you much joy, a sense of fulfilment and, of course, the financial independence that you want!
Along with the excitement, you might also feel a bit of fear of the unknown, and that makes sense! However, the internet is full of guides about mistakes Etsy sellers make, so you can absorb everything you need to know and start the right way:)
A good thing to keep in mind is that there is a huge advantage to Etsy over other successful e-commerce platforms like Amazon, for example, and that is that selling on Etsy contains a very small financial risk.
If you open a print-on-demand (POD) shop and list your items on Etsy – you only pay your POD provider once you get an order (which means that you already got paid). If you sell digital products – the only ‘cost’ here is your time creating these products, that means that if these products don’t sell, you only wasted your time creating them (as the listing fee of 20 cents is extremely minor).
And finally, even if you intend to sell physical handmade products, there is no need for you to create products upfront and store them, you can wait until you get a sale and only then manufacture the product.
So, now that we’ve got out of our way the real financial ‘risk’ for new Etsy sellers, let’s jump into the top mistakes Etsy sellers make when building their shop for the first time.
One of the worst mistakes Etsy sellers make – Waiting to have 10-20 products ready to publish their shop
I am a perfectionist. That means that every time I start something new, I feel the urge to learn everything I can before taking the first step. If I sum up all my experience building side hustles throughout my life or even starting new projects in my business, I can 100% say that this strategy of being a perfectionist has never served me well!:)
As part of my journey to learn everything I can, before taking the leap and starting my Etsy journey, I have watched all the YouTube videos I could find on mistakes Etsy sellers make and tried my best to follow these tips.
Throughout the years, I became aware of why I am such a perfectionist. This is not just about making things the right way and avoiding financial loss, this is so much more to do with fear. The fear of failure. The more perfectionist you are, the more you plan ahead every step of the way. If you think that the more you learn everything up front- you can minimise the odds of making a mistake- I get you. This is how I used to think (and still struggling with this today).
This introduction leads me to the first mistake – which is the worst of them all, after being an Etsy seller for the past 3 months now. Not start until you have everything perfectly lined up in a row – this is the biggest mistake ever.
I started my Etsy journey in 2022 when I decided to sell digital downloads on Etsy. That decision didn’t, of course, lead me to start creating a few digital downloads on Canva and list them on Etsy. Being a perfectionist – this decision led me to the decision of buying a course. This is absolutely a good decision to start with, but I think the second step of opening a shop on Etsy was absolutely delayed too long! I ended up opening my shop almost 9 months after starting my first course!
You don’t need to have so many products ready before you open your shop. This is one of the mistakes Etsy sellers make that can cost a lot of time and money! And why is that? That’s because you haven’t tested the market yet. You don’t know if customers will like it or not or if your products will even sell. You think you do. You get so excited in the process of designing that you fall in love with your product and convince yourself that everyone will like it as much as you do and that it will be a best-seller right off the bat.
However, in reality, it can take months to produce all these types of products, especially if you haven’t done it before. And after all this time and money that you put into it, you might realise that no one buys it, that the design is not quite right or any other reason.
This is why the best thing to do is list your products as soon as they are ready – to test the market and see if anyone buys them.
Customer feedback is the best thing to make progress fast. If you only get to that stage of customer feedback 6 months or even a year after you started your journey, investing all your time in making 20 perfect products – you might get frustrated once you publish your shop. I would say that this is the most common of all mistakes Etsy sellers make.
Not checking the Etsy listing’s specs before creating your product’s images
The plan with my shop was to create all products, create all the listing images and videos and only then publish the shop. And what happened? Only when I started uploading my first product’s listing images I found out that there is a mega bite limit for each image and that all my images can’t be uploaded to Etsy (this is another one of the mistakes Etsy sellers make – not checking all the specs before creating a listing!), just think how much time I wasted recreating about 50-60 images… (check the post – ‘How to Sell Digital Downloads on Etsy‘)
What Etsy listing requirements should you check?
- Etsy listing photo size dimensions
- Etsy listing file size limit
- Is your Etsy listing photo blurry? Before you create and upload all 10 listing images at once – try to create one Etsy listing image, upload it to Etsy, hit publish and check if it is blurry. If it is, work on it and make the necessary changes until it is crisp. Only then, follow the same thing for your other listing images.
- Check the Etsy listing video requirements – including maximum size, file types and video duration. Once you have figured out all of these Etsy listing requirements and you have 1 complete listing that looks great, you can implement what you have learned for the second and third products. The most important thing is not to prepare everything upfront (for all listings) and only then realize that you made a mistake so you don’t waste time recreating everything again from scratch.
Spending Money on Etsy Ads
Another very common mistake when it comes to mistakes Etsy sellers make relates to bringing traffic to their shop.
Are Etsy ads worth it?
The first and most obvious disadvantage of spending money on Etsy ads is that at the beginning of your Etsy journey, you don’t have much to spend or any money to spend at all, and on top of it, you have no ROI (return on investment) data to rely on. You have no idea how much sales will come out of the money you invested in ads.
The second problem is that you are a new shop with new products, and again, your products have not been tested yet. If customers are not buying your products – you could be wasting hundreds of dollars very fast on clicks just to find out that people are not interested in this product.
Moreover, because you are a new shop and don’t have a sales record or reviews – people will prefer buying from other shops that already have tons of sales and reviews. That means that people can click on your ads to look at the products but without any social proof (no reviews), they would prefer to buy from another shop.
With Etsy ads, these could be the greatest mistakes Etsy sellers make because Etsy encourages them to invest more and more money to bring traffic to their product when at the end of it, they have lost hundreds or even thousands of dollars on clicks that generated very few sales or not at all.
When you have a new product listing – the best thing to do, especially in the beginning, is to drive traffic from your social media channels. It can take hours of work every day to start seeing results, but it is absolutely worth it.
Being Product-focused instead of customer-focused
Everyone is talking about finding your niche however, when they say niche, most of the time, they rerefer to a type of product. And focusing on a product’s niche is a mistake.
Let’s say that you are selling customized water bottles on Etsy. There are different types of customers who would buy these water bottles – that could be water bottles for kids, teenagers, women, men and more. Here are the problems with focusing on a product type instead of a specific customer type –
- If a teenager is buying a water bottle as a gift for her friend, what else can she buy at your shop? Nothing. This is a one-time transaction (of course, it is possible that she will revisit your shop in the future and buy another gift for another friend, although the odds are slim and even if she does – it doesn’t add a lot in terms of sales value.
The initial cost of acquiring a new customer is the most significant one. Putting all this effort and money just for one transaction is a waste and doesn’t let you scale your business.
- You don’t know who your customer is – because you have a variety of the same product type in your shop, and you are trying to ‘talk’ to different types of customers – you are unable to communicate a specific message. Every customer type has different needs.
To build a brand, you need to have one type of customer in mind, and you are constantly trying to solve their problems. A lot of mistakes Etsy sellers make are based on their thinking that they can solve all customers’ problems and therefore sell all types of products under the same brand.
Customers will most likely buy from brands that ‘talk’ about their specific problems all the time instead of businesses that talk about everyone’s problems. If you want to be seen as an expert in your industry – specialising in one specific type of customer is the way to go.
Spending too much time crafting the perfect Etsy listing
Yes, perfectionism once again. Crafting the perfect product listing is very much time-consuming – especially if this is your first time doing it. For every listing, you can upload 10 product images and a video. The recommendation is, of course, to upload all images and a video for Every listing so your customers can get as much information about your product as possible.
One of the most common mistakes Etsy sellers make is to wait until they have the perfect product images from the best angle, professionally taken, or even wait until they create a video just to hit publish.
This is why I absolutely recommend starting small. List your first product once it is ready, have 2-3 listing images and continue to create more products one by one. You can always go back and upgrade your product listing images. However, it is better to polish your listing once you know that people are actually buying the product and are interested in it.
You don’t need all the 10 product listing images ready to go just to be able to publish your product. On the same note, you don’t need a video of your product to be able to publish your product. There are plenty of best-seller products that sell for hundreds and thousands of dollars a month without having a video on their listing.
The most important thing when you have a new product to list on Etsy is getting it on Etsy as fast as you can so you can get customer feedback. If customers are not buying and not favouriting your item – it makes no sense to put so much effort – time, and money into improving something that doesn’t need to be sold at all. If you start to see sales on this listing or even favourites – only then is it good to start tweaking your listing and see if this impacts your sales.
As to a video on your listing, of course, this is nice to have, and people like to see videos of products, but as a beginner, if you haven’t done videos before, it would probably take you hours to produce a high-quality video and again, at this stage, this is a waste of your time.
Relying on Etsy to bring traffic to your products
When you build your shop for the first time, putting so much effort into your product, you have this fantasy in your head that once you publish your shop, Etsy will show your products everywhere, and people will start buying automatically.
Many mistakes Etsy sellers make are based on the assumption that if they complete their SEO perfectly for all their listings – they will be shown on the first page of Etsy search results fast. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
This is how the Etsy algorithm works – when you first publish your shop, Etsy will rank your products high in search results (of course, if you have done your keyword research and included all the right keywords in your listings).
This is a testing time. Etsy wants to see if your listings attract customers if customers are clicking on your listings, favouriting your shop, buying and leaving good reviews.
If all of these things happen for a certain product – Etsy will keep showing this specific listing high in the search results. However, if no one is buying or your products get little to no engagement, then your listing will be pushed down in search results, where no one can see it.
The problem is, even if your first product is great – people have a hard time buying from new shops with no reviews or sales. So yes, this is kind of like the chicken and egg situation. If you don’t have sales and reviews – then people won’t buy. If people are not buying, then Etsy won’t rank you high in search results – if you have no visibility in search, then people wouldn’t buy. Do you see how it works?
This is why relying on Etsy to bring traffic to your shop consistently is not a good idea. The best thing to do would be to work on bringing your own traffic to Etsy, using your social media profiles, especially in the beginning and until you get the ball rolling and you start bringing consistent sales.
Following trends instead of focusing on your customer
When we say trends, this could be either one of two things – the first one is trendy products. A new type of product that we see a rising demand for (for example, when the pandemic started, we saw a rising demand for facemasks, and therefore, many sellers started selling masks).
The second meaning of trends is a trend in design, like the 80s, boho, abstract shapes and more.
When there is a trend on the rise, you can see a growing demand for these types of products, and it can feel like everyone is selling that, and everyone is making a lot of profit out of selling these products.
Some of the most viral videos on YouTube are videos about Etsy trends. If you are an Etsy seller or about to become an Etsy seller soon, you might have watched them as well. The most common mistakes Etsy sellers make when they watch these videos is to stop everything they are doing and ‘jump on’ a new trend, hoping it will generate thousands of dollars instantly.
The question is, if your business is all about party supply, does it really make sense to manufacture and start selling masks? Or does it make sense to design a 3-year-old birthday party invitation with abstract shapes? Of course not. It confuses your customers, and even if you succeed in selling a few masks, it will not last for the long run.
Not validating their product ideas with an Etsy SEO Tool
When you have an idea for a new product in your mind, it’s exciting. Sometimes you get so excited that you think you don’t need to validate it and that it will probably sell.
If you start typing a keyword on Etsy and you see all these suggestions in the drop-down, it still doesn’t mean that there is enough demand for this product. Yes, it is a good indication that people are searching for it, but is it 500 people a month or 10 people a month, you can’t really tell.
On top of it, there are products selling on Etsy that have a very low CTR, which means that people can click on your listing, but very few of them actually buy – this is also something you can’t tell from searching a keyword on Etsy search.
This is why the best recommendation would be to use an Etsy SEO tool to check how many people are searching for this product, check how much competition there is and if it is not too saturated (you don’t want to waste so much time creating products that will never get to the first page of Etsy).
The last thing, and most important to check, is how much the top sellers actually make with this product to see if it is worth your time.
When I first opened my Etsy shop, I spent months creating a specific product in different variations because it looked like many people were searching for it on Etsy. Only after I hit publish on my shop and started to use the Everbee Chrome extension, I realised that this product is too saturated and, on top of it, that the top sellers are only making a few hundred dollars a month. (I am now using Everbee to check any product idea that comes to mind!)
Your Etsy shop banner doesn’t reflect what your shop is about
New Etsy sellers especially should try to prepare themselves for these pitfalls and avoid them. This is because they are most vulnerable financially, and every mistake can cost them a lot, including the cost of their time.
It’s better for new Etsy sellers to spend every hour of their time on things that will generate the most ROI instead of trying to follow trends, for example.
The best strategy for a profitable and sustainable business is always focusing on your customer and your customer’s needs.
Of course, if you see a rise in a trend that is relevant to what you offer and your customer will benefit from you offering that kind of product in your shop, then of course, this is a great thing to do. However, if not – this is a waste of time and money and, most of all, will damage your brand.
Now that we have covered the most crucial mistakes Etsy sellers make with a new Etsy shop, it is time to remind yourself of one important thing. ‘Failing’ or, better said, making mistakes is part of the game, and it is a crucial part of growing your business.
Learning from other Etsy sellers’ mistakes is great and absolutely valuable and can save you lots of money and wasted time, but there are some Etsy sellers’ mistakes that you wouldn’t be able to avoid, and that’s ok!
As long as you remember that this is part of the journey, and if you stick to it and move on, you will see success with your Etsy shop, that’s for sure.
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