Selling on Etsy: How to Set Yourself Apart

March 29, 2013
I've got even more tips for making your Etsy shop stand out and you can also check out other Selling on Etsy posts.

In my last Selling on Etsy post, I shared my pros and cons of running an Etsy shop. It's quickly become one of my most popular posts so I guess there are a lot of people out there who are interested in selling on Etsy or in how to make their existing shops better! I know I am constantly trying to figure the beast out and it is a constant learning process!

Today, I want to talk about ways to set yourself apart from other Etsy sellers in your industry . As I mentioned in the pros and cons post, it can be hard to establish relationships with Etsy buyers. This is because they will lump shops into one category. When asked where they got a particular item, instead of sharing the shop or artist's information, they simply say the item was purchased from Etsy. This was quite frustrating to me, because one of the joys of owning your own retail business is being able to connect and relate to your customers. I knew I needed to make more of an effort to let my brand shine through the Etsy platform and these are just a few ways I've done so.

Create Your Brand. Whether you sell on Etsy or not, if you run a business this is very important. I'm not going to go into everything a brand is today, but I will say that it is so much more than just your logo. Make sure to infuse your brand throughout your Etsy shop and your customer's experience. Create a style guide for your business and look to it when creating any graphics for your shop - shop banner, reserved listings, available color choices, etc. Another way to let your brand shine is to author a blog. Obviously my main objective in business is to get visitors to shop, but I also want to connect with my customers and readers. I use my blog as a starting point and here they can learn about me and my business as well as see new projects I'm working on. My blog is where I can create trust with potential customers. I let them know I'm a real person who likes the same things they do. Sharing your story is a great way to connect with your audience, so be yourself. Another way I make sure to represent my brand through Etsy is to send a handwritten note with every order. I like to personally let each customer know how thankful I am for their business and it's a small way to establish a relationship with them. If you read my blog or follow me on any social media platform, you know that I am giddy over handwritten notes. Nothing makes me feel more special than someone taking the time to send me a little something in the mail so I like to do the same for my customers.

Product Photography. This is something that I believe can make or break the success an Etsy shop has and is also something I still struggle with. I go back and forth on how I am going to display my products all the time. For instance, I know that when I'm shopping online, I prefer to see photos of the actual product instead of a digital graphic. I am not great at taking product photos so for my Southern Charm wall prints, I hired Jenni from J. Noel Photography. The photos show off my prints so much better than just a digital graphic would. In contrast, my return address stamps sell much better when the thumbnail photo is a digital rendering on an envelope as opposed to a styled photograph. While I do try to have real photos of my stamps, I use the digital version as the thumbnail so the design of the stamp is most visible. Keep in mind the types of products you are listing and how you can best showcase them. Do an Etsy search for whatever the product is and see how others are listing their items. You'll probably notice that a lot of the listings are very similar. Come up with a way to not only stand out and catch the eye of a potential buyer but also to best showcase your product. If you are going to take photos yourself, be sure to have ample natural light, a decent camera, appropriate backdrop and some sort of photo editing software.

Communication. Making purchases online can be kind of scary. You're trusting that the company is who they say they are and that their products are as great as the photos look. One way to instill trust is to be available to your customer. This does not mean 24/7 - set office hours and stick to them. Let your customers know when you will be working and if they contact you with questions or concerns, respond within a reasonable time period. If a customer emails me at 8 o'clock at night, I try and respond first thing in the morning. Another way to establish the relationship is to personalize the "message to buyers" that Etsy will include with the receipt. It's a small way to make sure your brand is visible through the Etsy platform.

Packaging. This is one of my favorite parts and a big reason why I think my customers keep coming back. When I order something online, I know how special and excited I feel when the company goes that extra step to create beautiful packaging. I also know how disappointed I am when it just comes in the USPS Priority mailers. Bor-ing. That kind of packing is fine, but be sure to consider your brand and what you are selling. The products in my shop are all special little extras - they aren't necessities - so I know when someone makes a purchase from me, they are buying a special gift either for themselves or for a loved one. I want to make sure that the package it comes in is just a fabulous as what's inside. "Surprise and delight" all the way! Thank you, Amber for that little line that speaks volumes. 

Constantly Evolve. I look at and edit my shop listings daily. I make little tweaks here and there to constantly improve the quality of my shop and my customer's experience. Pay attention to your stats and how people are stumbling upon your shop. For instance, I have a lot of brides that purchase my return address stamps for their wedding paper goods, so the keyword "wedding" has come in handy. Know what is working for you - what is selling, what is not, and what doesn't speak to your brand? Get rid of products that aren't your best and sell items that you, yourself truly love. Don't be afraid to abort a project or product that isn't doing as well as you had hoped. Flexibility is key. This is going to be a learning process, but pay attention to your customers. They will be your best teachers.

Pay attention to those 5 areas and I promise you, you will see improvement right away. My sales started doubling each month and have continued to grow. Running an Etsy shop is a full-time job and you really will get out of it what you put in!



  1. Thank You! I am starting out my Stationary Company through Etsy and I needed this article!

    1. I'm glad you found this helpful, Kaya! I'm working on a follow up post because SO much has changed with Etsy even in the last year! Stay tuned! ;)

  2. I have a 1.5 year old Etsy shop and everything you said is so right-on! Thanks for the additional insight.

  3. I am just starting my shop and this article was very helpful. Looking forward to any new Etsy articles (or ones about social media.

    1. That's awesome, Darlene! Yes, I'm working on some updated Etsy posts and a few social media! Thanks! ;)

  4. Thank you for this post! I just ordered cute little "extras" to add to my packaging, I think it really gives it something more. Everyone likes a surprise! :)