Want to know how to start making sales on Etsy when you’re starting from zero?
If you haven’t quite been able to start selling art on Etsy, or have only made one or two sales, I know how frustrating that can feel. You’ve worked hard to get your shop set up, and spent time carefully creating your art.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to get the ball rolling and start making sales on Etsy.
Here are my top 10 tips to get past the initial sales hump and start selling your art!
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Firstly, congrats on your Etsy shop!
I must say that opening my Etsy shop has been one of the best decisions, aside from starting this blog, that I’ve made to become a creative entrepreneur. Etsy is such an amazing, affordable platform for artists and creatives to sell on. I’m glad it exists and that we don’t have to rely on craft fairs and art galleries alone like we did way back in the day.
Let’s jump into my best tips about selling art on Etsy so you can start making sales!
10 Tips to start selling art on Etsy
1. Quality art
Clearly, you want to offer the highest quality art and best designs possible. This will be somewhat dependant on budget to invest in supplies as well as your skill level, quality of production partners you chose, and other factors. Just do the best you can to make the best quality product with integrity and beauty.
2. Quality photos
You’ll want the best, highest-quality photos of your art possible. You have a fraction of a second to capture a buyer’s attention as they scroll through Etsy- you’ve got to ensure your art photos look professional for selling art on Etsy.
I’m not the best photographer myself, so I’m a big fan of using art mockups to showcase my art prints.
Art mockups are images taken by professional photographers of rooms with frames or just frames themselves. Art mock-ups help show your art as it would look in your customers’ homes.
You can easily take a mock-up image and, using free graphic design software such as Canva, insert your artwork into the mock-up frame or wall area to show a customer what your art would look like in a home setting.
You can find wonderful mockups for a low cost on Etsy itself, or on Creative Market. Or find some that are available for free for commercial use on Canva, Pixabay, and other sites. (Though those usually don’t look as good.)
It’s important to choose a collection of mockups to showcase your work that fits with your brand image or art aesthetic.
Another mistake I made when I first started Dream Dash Designs was buying a bundle of mockups on Creative Market because they were a low price and I thought they were sufficient. But they were too Scandinavian minimalist in style for my work and were not a good match. I had to re-think the image I was trying to create for my shop and purchase better ones.
3. Lots of listings + variety
Depending on what kind of art you make, you may or may not be able to grow a huge inventory of listings. But the more listings you have, the better.
In super-competitive niches like digital download art prints, you need many listings to make decent sales. I don’t have an exact number to give you. So far I have around 280+ art prints in my shop. I’m making consistent sales each month, and for that, I’m very happy. Still, I have a lot of room to grow. I plan on hunkering down hard until I have 400+, then easing off, but still listing 1-2 art prints a week into infinity.
The Etsy algorithm favors large inventory shops. If you have a small handful of available products, your products are less likely to be shown on the first page or so of the search results, which is where most buyers stop scrolling.
If you can make your art available in digital form, then you definitely should. For example, if you sell watercolor paintings, you can scan them or photograph them and then sell both the original work and the DIY printable version.
You could also offer canvas prints, or have your watercolor paintings on tote bags or other products. This gives more variety and choice to your customers.
4. To start making sales on Etsy have at least one sale to show for
This may be controversial to say, but I see nothing wrong with getting the ball rolling by having a family member or friend purchase your first artwork from you so that you can at least have one sale to show for. I mean, no one wants to look at a big fat 0 sales.
From a manifesting/ law of attraction standpoint, seeing this sale can help you mentally feel like you’ve started selling, even if you haven’t, and could help your motivation.
Also, I feel like zero sales can scare away potential customers. Just so long as you let the rest of your sales come naturally, and you feel confident in the quality of your work, your service, and your shipping, I see no harm in making your first sale happen this way. This is what I did, and I don’t mind admitting it.
5. Keyword Research
To start making sales on Etsy, you need to do some keyword research first. You can use the site Erank to find good keywords for your products, and can likely get away with the free version.
To be honest, I don’t use that site as much as maybe I should. It takes too much time for me to research every single art print I make. (I make a large variety of art prints.) But I have used it to gather info about some broader keywords that work for my niche, and it has helped my understanding of which keywords are good ones to use for my art prints. I would definitely suggest you check it out.
What I mostly use is the Etsy search bar. This will show what Etsy auto-suggests for you, as shown in the example below.
In the above example, I was curious about what people looking for art for their living room might type. (And there’s a hot tip- people often search by what room they are decorating.)
As you can see, people look for living room wall decor, living room decor, living room wall art, and living room art.
If I’m listing an art print I think would be great for a living room wall, I’d choose the keywords living room wall decor, living room wall art, living room art, and so on. I would not necessarily choose living room decor because that is quite broad. Someone who searches living room decor is not necessarily looking for wall art.
6. Great product descriptions
You’ll want to make sure you give thorough, accurate descriptions to start making sales on Etsy.
For example, if your art is a digital download, make it very clear to your potential buyer that you are selling a digital product, not a physical one.
Make your description easy/skim to read with lots of white space between paragraphs.
Your descriptions needn’t be overly wordy, but rather should be detailed, enticing, and informative.
Need help writing your description? Easy.
You can copy and paste one of my descriptions if you find one that’s relevant ***then edit my words, putting them into your own words so you are not plagiarizing.*** I don’t mind one bit so long as you re-arrange those words to make them unique for you. 🙂 Then going forward, simply copy, paste, and edit that same description for each listing.
7. Pricing and shipping
As you may know, Etsy prioritizes featuring listings and shops with free shipping. So make sure you factor shipping into your price.
For mailing your art, ensure it is safely and securely packed so it doesn’t get damaged. Make your packaging as attractive as possible. You might design special business cards or tags using Canva to include in the package. Print them on quality card stock paper.
You may want to upcycle packing materials such as bubble wrap or boxes you already have from your own online purchases or purchase your own pretty packing supplies that are eco-friendly.
8. Responsive and positive customer service
Make sure you always respond promptly and kindly to customer inquiries. This sounds obvious but it’s so important to give great customer service to start making sales on Etsy regularly.
One thing you do not want is bad reviews. Plus, if people like your shop and they like you for being kind and polite, they are much more likely to buy. They may turn into repeat customers and tell their friends. They may also favorite your shop which helps your standing with Etsy’s algorithm, and helps you make more sales selling art on Etsy.
9. Promote on social media & Pinterest
Of course, you’ll want to promote on social media such as Instagram and Facebook.
You’ll also want to promote on Pinterest, which is not social media, but a search engine, or as one blogger called it (I’m sorry I can’t recall who!) “a discovery engine.” You know people love to get decorating inspiration from Pinterest, and that includes art!
If you don’t already have a Pinterest account, get one STAT and create some relevant boards you can pin your artwork to. I suggest creating multiple boards, all with different titles.
Depending on your artwork, you might call your boards “watercolor art” “art prints” and “amazing art prints from Etsy.”
So long as your boards have titles that directly relate to your artwork. Not “My art.” Make sure to fill out the descriptions of your Pinterest boards, too. Use relevant keywords for your art there, too.
You can also look for group boards to pin your artwork to. The more relevant boards you have to pin your art to, the better.
I say relevant boards meaning boards with the right keywords because it does not help to pin your art to a board about cooking/recipes.
Why? Pinterest works off of keywords, and you want to only pin your artwork to boards with relevant keywords in the title and description.
When you do this, you are informing Pinterest what your pin is about- ie it’s a watercolor art print from (your shop’s name) found on Etsy. Additionally, people won’t be as likely to find your art if it’s on a board called something vague like “My art.”
And one more thing- the very first board you pin your artwork on matters. It shows Pinterest what you think your pin is about. So make sure the first board you pin to has those specific keywords that relate to your artwork.
Once you have relevant boards and you’re on some group boards, you can schedule your pins to pin at set times throughout the day using the software Tailwind.
Tailwind is awesome when you want to start selling art on Etsy, and can help you increase your sales. Tailwind helps with pinning consistently, which can help to grow your Pinterest following and drive traffic to your Etsy shop. (Because we all get too busy to pin consistently to Pinterest, and like any algorithm, Pinterest likes consistency.)
Check out Tailwind here for yourself to see if it’s something that might be helpful for you. Either way, pinning your art consistently will help get it out there and can help drive traffic to your Etsy shop.
10. Continuing shop improvement
The Etsy algorithm likes to see that your shop is actively being attended to. This could mean updating descriptions, offering sales, new photos, or other improvements. Keep doing things to improve your shop each week, and keep adding listings as frequently as possible.
It’s best to work on your shop consistently, rather than to add 5 listings one day, then do nothing for the rest of the month. Space out your shop improvement activity.
An Etsy mistake to avoid
I wanted to share a quick tip about what not to do when opening an Etsy shop.
I opened Dream Dash Designs in June of 2019. In my shop, I sell art prints (digital downloads.)
Prior to DDD, I had a different Etsy shop with original acrylic paintings that I opened way back in 2015. I never did anything to market or grow my shop back then. I didn’t have a blog yet, had no idea about keywords, marketing, nothing. My Etsy store just sat there collecting dust until I eventually stopped painting and started writing instead. I never made one single sale.
When I opened Dream Dash Designs, I erased all my old listings from my old acrylic paintings shop and changed my shop name from Kristen Last Name Art to Dream Dash Designs.
I should have just opened a new shop because on Etsy it shows that I’ve had my shop since 2015, and I don’t have tons and tons of sales as I would if I’d actually been running my shop as it is now since 2015. I feel like this may look confusing to customers, like why doesn’t she have a bunch of sales since she’s been on Etsy since 2015?
If you have an old dead shop and you want to open a completely new shop, don’t make the mistake that I did. Close up your old shop if you know you’ll never grow it/ are losing interest, and open a brand new one.
Concluding thoughts on selling art on Etsy:
Building an Etsy shop is a lot of work, but so worth it. Not only is selling art on Etsy exciting, but you’re also creating a stream of income, learning, and using your creative gifts. So go you!!
Even if it’s slow-growing at first, creating and building your Etsy shop is an investment in your future. The time and energy you put into your shop will pay off in the long run if you keep taking action.
I’ve said it many times in various blog posts, but having a positive growth mindset is crucial to your success, be it selling art, making art, writing, blogging, or anything in life.
This just means that you know that you have the power to improve with dedicated efforts. Any skill you have is not set in stone. You can very likely get to where you want to be, and well beyond if you keep at it. And you can always adjust your path along the way if need be.
Keep working hard, and most importantly, keep having fun being the creative person you love to be! Let me know what you think in the comments!
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