How to start an Etsy shop for almost no money

Last month I wrote a post about How to strive for financial freedom in your 20’s and talked about needing a side hustle. As I’m still a struggling intern with barely any money to spare I set up my little shop on a shoestring with minimal effort and I wanted to share the process with you.

Recently I’ve been selling my old stuff on eBay and I’ve made around £150 in a month (not too shabby). Unfortunately, the demand for eBay just isn’t what it used to be so I decided to set up my own Etsy shop to make some extra, passive income.

1.First things first, find your craft talent.

Etsy is for handmade goods, therefore you are going to be the one making things. You may have fantastic ideas but if your products don’t look so great or take you absolutely ages to make, it just isn’t going to be worth your time. Find something that won’t take you too long to make and that someone might actually want to buy!

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2. Next, find your passion.

Great you’ve decided that you love to sew and that you’re good at it but what do you actually want to make? I would advise that you consider your own shopping experiences, is there something you like to do but you have trouble finding goods that reflect that? Sounds a little strange but I’ll put it in simple terms. I love to scuba dive and I love sharks, rays and sea life in general but when I wanted to buy some pretty jewellery I couldn’t really find anything that I liked. Everything was either too ‘hardcore surfer dude shark attack’ themed or ‘I’m a pretty mermaid princess’. Because of this, I realised I could make my own and sell to people just like me. As well as helping you to gain inspiration if you make something that you would buy yourself you will actually enjoy making it!

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3. Make it beautiful.

All shops are about attracting people, of course, they are! Obviously, take nice stock photos but it’s much more than that, you need to make your whole shop pretty and thematic. You’ll need an Etsy banner and a logo so think hard about what text font you’re using, images and theme etc the easiest way is to make them on Canva. It’s free to use (I’m not making any money promoting it, it’s genuinely what I used), if you look under the Social Media & Email Headers I made mine from the Etsy Shop Icon and Tumblr Banner choices. It’s good practice to try to fill out all the ‘about’ sections and staff member sections as well, just be open and honest and it will help customers understand what your shop is for and why you’re passionate about your products. The most important thing you have to consider is your theme. I make ocean theme jewellery, therefore, my shop name is Love Mako (referring to the Mako shark), my banner is a picture of the sea, my shop icon is some geometrically patterned seahorses, my shop title is “//Everything Ocean//”, I try to keep all the primary images of my products shades of blue (even though they come in multiple different colours) and finally I donate 10% of very sale to The Shark Trust charity to protect sharks. It may seem a little OTT but I want to drive the message home- if you want to buy marine life and ocean theme jewellery you are in the right place. Think about how you will do this long and hard, it’s much more difficult than you would think.

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4. Shop Finances.

There is no point having a shop if you don’t make a profit. You need to work out how much your products will cost you to make and stagger prices accordingly, you also need to figure out deals, shipping policies etc. If you can buy raw materials from a wholesaler

There is no point having a shop if you don’t make a profit. You need to work out how much your products will cost you to make and stagger prices accordingly, you also need to figure out deals, shipping policies etc. If you can buy raw materials from a wholesaler that’s great, but what can also be useful is if you strike up a relationship with a shop (online or local). By this I mean explain to them what you do and that you’ll be doing business with them in the future and try to see what you can get, for example, if you buy a lot of items from one Ebay shop at the same time, you can ask for less shipping fees. The shop benefits from your continued business and you save a little money.

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5. Etsy Admin. 

This is the least fun part but may be the most important. You don’t want to keep spending hours on Etsy answering questions or updating bits and bobs on your listings that you forgot to do first time round, so you need to be precise and give as much accurate information on each product as possible. This means listing materials, sizes, colours etc. on all listings, sometimes in multiple places. This may be a pain in the mean time but will pay off later on. It can also be difficult to think of stuff to write in the description section and it can vary hugely from shop to shop but this is how I set mine out-

  1. Repeat of Item name
  2. Description of item and ideas of who would like it/ what occasion
  3. Description of marine animal included in jewellery, their behaviour etc
  4. Brief description of materials used and necklace chain length

The easiest way to make sure you do this is by writing it all out for each product while you are waiting for your raw materials to arrive in the post!

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Hopefully, my little pointers will help you out with your Etsy side hustles, whatever you decide to do with them! If you have any questions I’d be happy to help, my shop is Love Mako just in case you wanna buy something pretty but if you are just looking for a little inspiration you are welcome to take a peak as well!

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