One question I hear a lot is “What can you sell on Etsy?” Etsy is a wee bit of a different sales platform, somewhere between the free-for-all that is Ebay and the more restrictive Amazon. Here are the four categories of things you can sell on Etsy.
What Can You Sell On Etsy
- Handmade Items
- Vintage Items
- Digital Products
- Craft Supplies
You can sell any of these types of items “legally” on Etsy without having to worry that your item will get taken down or your store shut down.
The rest of this is post is a breakdown of specific information about each of these categories.
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A Wee Bit Of History
When Etsy started in 2005 it was strictly a place for handmade sellers. Over the years they have added other categories of items like vintage, digital downloads and supplies.
With some of these changes have come some drawbacks by sincere Etsy sellers. Frequently overseas companies will take pictures from Etsy sellers, knock off their designs and sell fake handmade versions of them online or even right on Etsy.
Another change that has angered old school Etsy sellers is that you can now use “manufacturing partners” who produce what the maker designs. While this can be annoying for handmade sellers, it also allows them to increase the production of their items beyond what they could do trading time for money. This challenged the bedrock foundation of Etsy. Makers creating products for sale, with their own hands in their homes with no help what-so-ever.
I will not be taking on the merits of any kind of selling in this post, rather laying out the benefits and pitfalls of these kinds of products.
Selling Handmade On Etsy
There are many things you can sell handmade on Etsy, in fact the list practically limitless. From sewing to jewelry, paintings to multi media, there is nothing that is off limits (other than these banned items which are pretty practical… alcohol, human remains, hate items, pornography or products promoting violence).
The way I see many people start selling on Etsy is that they make something cool and their friends start by loving it eventually the maker's need to create overcomes the capacity friends and family have for wanting them!
Pricing Your Handmade Items
This category has the most pitfalls for makers and the biggest trouble I see is that handmade sellers struggle with selling their products for a high enough price to warrant their time.
Some things you can do to fix this
- Make quality high priced items
- Sell exclusive, one of a kind products
- Batch parts of the process to reduce time
- Source in larger quantities to reduce costs of goods
Please make sure you do take into consideration the cost of goods AND the cost for your time when pricing your Etsy products.
Missing The Custom Trap
Making custom items seems like it would the way to set yourself apart from your competition. That said, by the time you talk to a potential buyer, negotiate the item to be made, create the item and then hope they like the outcome, your time has blow up exponentially.
I hear talk from a lot of the gals in the groups that their delivery times for custom products are super long (2-3 months) and they worry that they will lose sales because of it. Think about this, what if they didn't do customs, instead putting their time into making ready to sell items. Could they make more in the long run? Something to think about!
When you are getting started, please don't do custom work!
Now don't get me wrong, personalizing is different from customizing. Say you sell stacking rings with words tapped into them. That is personalizing a standard item and is much less fraught with trouble.
Functionally you are selling a specific product that you are good at making and then adding touches that make it a bit more special (and which you can charge more for!)
Can You Have Help?
One of the changes that I do think has helped Etsy is now you can have help with your store (before you were excluded if you even had someone help box up your products for shipping). This means that you can sell your own handmade designs on printed materials like cups, tshirts and other items without having to screenprint and deliver them yourself.
5 Hacks For Selling Tshirts On Etsy Using Printify – https://marketingartfully.com/2017/11/08/5-hacks-for-selling-tshirts-on-etsy-using-printify/
Can You Use Disney, TV Shows, Super Heros, etc.?
One last thing that I see trip up new sellers all the time is when they make products that capitalize on the popularity of something else. For example, you cannot make Game of Throne pillows or Harry Potter wands. Making Frozen costumes will get you in trouble as will using the term “onesie” in your cute little baby outfit.
As you are writing out your business plan, please plan on using your own designs and ideas rather than trying to capitalize on other's success.
Related post: How To Avoid Problems With Disney For Etsy Sellers
Selling Digital Products On Etsy
Selling digital products on Etsy is super easy. You make a listing, select digital delivery instead of a physical product and then load up to 5 items that Etsy will send out with the fulfillment email.
If you are brand new to selling digital products, Etsy is a great place to get started. They handle all the logging in, delivery and also have buyers ready to get your products. Additionally, Etsy tends to rank highly in Google so it is a great way to get additional exposure for your products.
What Digital Products Can You Sell On Etsy
There are many digital products that sell well on Etsy, here are a few to get your wheels turning!
Great Photos / Graphics
Sometimes when you are selling digital products it can be easy to forget that you have to great pictures or representations of what they will get when they buy your product. Make sure to spend a wee bit of time and make sure you pictures are looking awesome. Show your products printed out or in a mockup photo.
Related post: How To Create A Best Selling Digital Download On Etsy
Selling Vintage On Etsy
I LOVE selling vintage on Etsy! I have my own shop and chat it up with a bunch of ladies who have shops too!
What Does Etsy Consider Vintage
Vintage to Etsy means that the item is more than 20 years old. This leaves a pretty big swath of items that you can source and list.
Who Buys Vintage Items
People often ask, “who is going to buy all this old junk?” I have all kinds of buyers, but here are a few that come to mind…
- Sentimental people (a gal who got a candy dish because it was exactly like the one her grammy had when she was young)
- Photography and prop houses
- Bloggers who need props for their pictures (I have shipped props around the world)
- Museums (the Met bought one of my items… squee!)
- Interior decorators
- People with old souls like me
Etsy Versus Ebay
Selling vintage on Etsy is different than selling vintage on Ebay in a few different ways:
The margins are better… I have found that the cost to sell on Ebay is pretty steep. Each listing costs $.20 for 4 months on Etsy so getting started is super cheap.
It is more like owning a store! Ebay is super impersonal, but Etsy is like having customer in real life. They ask questions and say thank you and are generally great human beings.
Selling Craft Supplies On Etsy
Selling craft supplies is the only time you sell mass produced, new items on Etsy. It feels like this site was a much higher priority before Etsy changed out their CEO a while ago, but selling supplies is still a “thing”.
What Kinds Of Craft Supplies Can You Sell?
Here is a list of all the different kinds of Craft Supplies & Tools on Etsy.
I am not all that familiar with selling craft supplies although some of my products get put into that section when I choose my categories for your products.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR ETSY SELLERS
Free Etsy SEO Course on Skillshare – http://marketingartfully.com/etsyseossfree
Free Etsy Shipping Course On Skillshare – http://marketingartfully.com/etsyshippingssfree
Selling Vintage On Etsy Ebook – http://marketingartfully.com/vintagesellerebook
Check out all my Etsy articles! – https://marketingartfully.com/category/etsy-marketing/
All the cool worksheets and planners for Etsy Sellers – https://marketingartfully.myshopify.com/collections/etsy-ecommerce