Start an Etsy Business

etsy store owner

Etsy has become the premier online stop for people looking for unique, handmade products and vintage items they won’t find anywhere else. In the last eight years, their active customer base has grown nearly fivefold, from just under 10 million customers in 2012 to over 45 million in 2019 – and the momentum doesn’t seem to be slowing!

If you’re a talented creator of unique products or collection of vintage items and want to broaden your customer base, starting an Etsy shop might be precisely what you’re looking for. Let’s take a look at what’s involved in this ever-growing platform:

What makes Etsy so great?

Piggyback on what Etsy has built
Starting an online business is beneficial for many reasons, but getting a website set up can sometimes be quite costly. The great thing about Etsy is that the technical stuff is already set up, and all you need to do is plug in your products and make your shop look just right for your brand. You even have the ability to accept payments by credit card or PayPal directly through Etsy. This makes it easy and incredibly cost-effective to get up and running quickly, so you can start selling!

Etsy charges small transaction fees for each product you’re listing, but in return, you’ll have access to Etsy’s digital platform, the popularity they’ve built up and their growing number of online shoppers.

Plenty of opportunity
When people are looking for gifts, vintage items or other things that you won’t find anywhere else, their first stop is more often becoming Etsy. Artists and creators turn to Etsy because of the broad reach of customers, providing plenty of opportunities to start and grow your business.

Etsy even provides the ultimate guide to grow your business, in the form of their seller handbook. It’s filled with tips for selling online, including product photography, how to’s, SEO information to help you reach the top results in search engines and productivity tips for business owners.

You’re always open
Like any other online shop, Etsy is open 24/7, 365 days a year. But, the great thing about Etsy is that it’s so well known around the world that you have global access to customers without having to advertise your business anywhere else. So, while you’re sleeping on this side of the world, your customers across the globe can be browsing.

How to get started

Decide on your products
You can always expand your product selection at any time, but it’s good to start off with a few of your most popular products. Etsy listings are known for featuring unique, niche items. Find your niche, and look for opportunities to tap a market where few are active, but there is a demand for those unique items that will make people ask your customers, “Where did you find that?”

Price your products
Figuring out what to charge for your products can sometimes be challenging, as it can be difficult to put a price on work you’re doing yourself. A craft cost calculator can come in handy, letting you input the cost of your materials, time spent and your hourly charge for that time. Remember to factor in the transaction fees, Etsy charges, as well as your own time and skill into the cost – you’re working for yourself, but not for free, and it’s important to know your own value. You can find craft cost calculators on Google Play and in the Apple Store, so you can download right to your phone. Keep in mind the listing fee, shipping costs, and all other associated costs, no matter how small – as you build your successful business, the larger you get and the more products you sell, the more these small costs will add up.

You can also take a look at your competitors to see how they are priced. Pricing yourself far below others may seem like a good idea, but it may give your products a low-quality appearance.

Register your business
Before your Etsy shop goes live, you’ll want to be sure to register the business name. Even though you’re operating online and potentially selling to customers around the world, you will want to register the business in the jurisdiction where you have a location, whether you’re operating from home or have an outside location for your business.

You can choose to either register as a small business or incorporate. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of registration, and you’ll want to review which registration most suits your needs before proceeding.

You can also do a business name search before registering, just to see if there are any other businesses in Canada that are already using your name. It’s a good idea to make sure your domain name is also available if you want to set up a website for sales outside of Etsy or to post content for your customers to help redirect them to your Etsy shop.

Get your business or corporation registered as quickly as today, with the help of Ontario Business Central. We can help you get registered or incorporated in any of these jurisdictions:














Open a business bank account
Once your business is registered or incorporated, you can take your documents to the bank to open a separate bank account in your business’ name. You’ll want to stay organized and keep any earnings or expenses for the business separate from your personal finances. This will be especially important when it comes time to file your taxes.

Opening a business bank account also makes it easier to accept any payments using the business name, and issue cheques under the business name.

Start drafting your shop
On the Etsy platform, you can set your shop preferences and get your entire store set up in draft format before anything goes live. You can add products, change the look, and preview it to make sure everything is perfect before opening your doors.

Because your customers can’t actually see your products in person, it’s essential to give them the best idea of what they’re getting. Great product photos can make or break a product. If you aren’t able to do these yourself, enlist a friend with photography skills or hire someone for an hour or two to get these done. Show your products from different angles, closeups of any details, and try to stage them near common objects, like a coffee mug, to demonstrate their size.

Great product listing descriptions can also have a huge impact on how a product performs. You’ll want to tell a story behind your product and make it come alive. The specifics of your products are great to include in the listing descriptions, but you want to include more than just the basics – help your customers connect with the product on a higher level, so they feel that they must have it. A good product description can breathe life into a product, so if you need some help creating vibrant and engaging descriptions, you may want to outsource the writing to a freelancer.

Set up socials
It’s so easy to spread the word about your Etsy shop through different social media platforms. Get all of your socials set up, using the same look as your Etsy shop to help reinforce your brand image. And have them all linked either to the main page of your shop or directly to a product that you’re posting about. You can also link your socials to your website content, including blogs, videos and other information.

Most social media platforms are either free to use or relatively inexpensive, so they can make for a budget-friendly, but highly effective, marketing tool. Keep things updated, and post new content regularly – if you need help staying on top of this, you can always use a social media manager like Hootsuite.

See what your competition is doing
Getting some insight into your competitors can go a long way towards helping you figure out what works and what doesn’t. Take a look at those who are doing things right and make some notes about how you can emulate their success.

Check out their Etsy shop, reviews, social media pages and any other online presence they have established. For those shops doing exceedingly well, note how long they’ve been open and how many items they have sold. Craft Count lets you look into specifics of your most popular Etsy competitors.

Brand your Etsy store
Your shop should have a look that easily identifies your brand and reflects your image. That branding should be carried through your products or content anywhere – from blog posts and social media, down to the tags or packaging, you’re labelling your products with.

Pinterest can be a great resource for branding ideas for your Etsy shop – and, it can even be a great way to showcase your products and increase the traffic to your shop.

Must do’s for your successful Etsy shop

You might have an undeniably great product, but there are a few key things that you’ll have to ensure in order to build a successful Etsy shop.

Timely responses
Many people shopping online get discouraged and start looking elsewhere when they are kept waiting for a reply to their questions or concerns. It’s essential to not keep them waiting – if you say you’ll reply within 24 hours, make sure you do it! Facebook also keeps track of how quickly you reply to messages, and customers are able to see your response time.

This applies not only to social media messages but emails and reviews – both good and bad. If there are concerns or negative comments expressed in a review or elsewhere, it’s important to address these comments and try to remedy the concern.

Send things out on time
Most Etsy shoppers understand that they are buying a handmade, unique product and shouldn’t expect their items to be shipped the next day as if they were shopping on Amazon. Because of this, they are generally willing to be patient and wait a little longer for that truly unique item. But, they’ll expect a reasonable turnaround time, especially if you’re shipping to customers within Canada.

If possible, provide tracking information to show customers that their item is on the way and when they can expect to receive it. Etsy even provides shipping labels that you can print as products are ordered.

If you’re selling digital products, such as artwork or other images, be sure to make it clear that your customers will be receiving an email with their digital products, rather than a physical product. Not outlining this clearly can cause confusion and create upset customers.

Set realistic product limits
Your time is a limited commodity. Although you may want to sell 150 crochet hats in a weekend, fulfilling those orders might be next to impossible. If you don’t have those products ready to ship, or you can’t get them completed in reasonable turnaround time, don’t make them available. It’ll only lead to disappointed customers when they place their order only to find out they won’t be getting it.

Setting realistic limits on the products you have can help avoid this disappointment, prevent you from burning yourself out, and can also show your products as more exclusive and unique.

Starting an online business has a number of benefits, and the trends continue to move towards digital as the number of online shoppers continues to increase. Etsy makes it easy for business owners to set up and grow a successful business online, giving you the tools and platform to start selling right away.

At Ontario Business Central, our commitment is to assisting entrepreneurs, as they embark on their undertaking to build and grow a thriving business. If you have any questions about getting started, please reach out to our helpful and knowledgeable staff.
Toll-Free: 1-800-280-1913
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Fax: 1-866-294-4363
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Monday – Friday E.S.T.

Ontario Business Central Inc. is not a law firm and cannot provide a legal opinion or advice. This information is to assist you in understanding the requirements of registration within the chosen jurisdiction. It is always recommended, when you have legal or accounting questions that you speak to a qualified professional.