What can you sell on Etsy?

Etsy is a unique online marketplace which specialises in craft supplies, and both handmade and vintage items. Etsy has a strict policy of what can, and cannot, be sold on its website, and it's important to be aware of banned items to ensure you're not violating any of Etsy's rules

When it comes to what can be sold on Etsy, the following applies:

  • Handmade items:

To be classified as a handmade item, the item in question must either be designed and/or made by you. If you're selling handmade items, you must also make sure everyone involved in the creation process is mentioned in your 'About' section of the shop, and you must use your own photographs in every listing.

  • Craft supplies:

Etsy defines craft supplies as 'tools, ingredients, or materials whose primary purpose is for use in the creation of an item of special occasion'. Examples of craft supplies (that many Etsy sellers may buy themselves to create their handmade items), include beads, patterns, fabric and paints.

You can also sell party supplies on Etsy, such as balloons, confetti and cake toppers.

  • Vintage goods:

When it comes to vintage, Etsy requires the item to be at least 20 years old. Vintage items can be pretty much anything, from clothing to computer games, and they don't have to be fully functional - you just need to be extremely clear about its condition when you create a listing.

Resales, however, are strictly prohibited on Etsy. Even if the item you are selling has - at one point - been classed as handmade, it must be made by you (the seller) to be accepted by Etsy. Modifications are also banned. You cannot restore or repair existing items, alter or tailor items like jewellery and clothing or provide digital services like retouching and photo editing, on Etsy.

Services, such as offering financial advice or labour-related work, are also not allowed to be listed on Etsy. The one 'service' as such that is accepted by Etsy is custom writing or design - this is because the item you are selling must be made, from scratch, by you.

Alongside this, Etsy also have a detailed list of prohibited items. An in-depth policy around Etsy's prohibited items can be found on its website, however a summary can be found below:

  • Alcohol, tobacco, drugs and drug paraphernalia
  • Medical drugs
  • Dangerous items (e.g. weapons and hazardous materials)
  • Hate-related items
  • Illegal items
  • Pornography and adult-related items
  • Violent items (classified by Etsy as items that promote, support or glorify violence)

How much does it cost to sell on Etsy?

It's free to sign up to Etsy, but you will be required to pay a listing fee, transaction fee and a small payment processing fee when you use their service.

Etsy charges $0.20 for each listing a seller puts live, which roughly works out at 16p depending on the current exchange rate. Listings are live until the item sells, or for a total or four months - whatever is longer.

When an item does sell, you'll be required to pay a 5% transaction fee, and then a 4% + 20p payment processing fee. This payment processing fee ensures both the buyer and seller are protected, and it means Etsy can continue to process payments on an SSL-encrypted platform, run fraud detection systems and hire a team of security specialists in case anything goes wrong.

How can I promote my Etsy store?

Starting out on Etsy, and getting your store noticed, can feel difficult at first - but there are a number of things you can do to attract customers. Getting the basics right is an essential, while the likes of social media and paid advertising can give your sales a real boost.

Take great photos and create helpful descriptions

Informative descriptions and detailed, well-lit photos can completely transform the success rate of your Etsy store. Ensuring your photographs are clear, showcase the product from multiple angles and include close-up shots will reassure buyers about the quality of your items. Great photographs will make sure you're doing yourself justice as a creator too, and not hindering the beauty of your work with blurry, low quality pictures.

Styling each shot can really boost click-through rates too. When an Etsy user is searching for a generic term - e.g. 'cat keyrings' - a well-styled photograph can really help your items standout amongst similar products on Etsy.

Nailing a listing's description, and adding enough information to your shopfront, can make all the difference too. For example, when creating a new listing don't forget to use all 13 tags available, use multi-word phrases (which can be 20 characters or fewer) and think about everything a potential buyer would want to know - include details on materials use, customisations available and any personal story behind the creation of the product. Don't forget to review your shop stats regularly too, and amend the description of poorly performing items to improve results.

Make the most of social media

Creating a series of social media accounts - from Instagram and Facebook to Twitter and Pinterest - can help you to grow your Etsy store substantially. Having a presence online outside of Etsy can really make a difference to overall sales - you can reach an even bigger audience, and you can start to develop your Etsy hobby into an established brand.

Building a social media presence will take time, and there are loads of tips and tricks out there make sure you really get the most out of each platform. It'll take a while to read all about this, but it's certainly worth doing. Not only will social media give you access to an endless number of potential buyers (and give them an easy way to contact you), it'll also provide you with a place to share even more about your business. On Etsy, you can't reshare photos from your customers loving their products, post snippets of you working on your creations or tease any upcoming items. On social media, however, you can - just don't forget to link out to your Etsy store from each account.

Set up and Etsy Ads Campaign

If you're interested in spending a little bit of money to promote your Etsy store, try setting up an Etsy Ads campaign. Essentially Etsy's own advertising service, an Etsy Ads Campaign will let you target people who are more likely to be interested in your store, and Etsy will boost your listings to make sure the right users see your products.

When you get started with Etsy Ads, you'll be able to set your own daily limit. Etsy will never charge you more than the limit you set, so you'll never be caught out and end up out of pocket. During the campaign, Etsy will continually assess the activity of their users in order to optimise how your campaign's budget with the aim of improving results and exposure.

To get the most out of an Etsy Ads Campaign, Etsy recommend running each campaign for a minimum of 30 days. This will ensure a thorough assessment of your audience's activity can take place.

Etsy also have an entire guide on how to get noticed by the media too, which can be extremely helpful if your aim is to achieve press coverage. In fact, the Etsy Seller's Handbook is a must-read for any new Etsy store owner - it'll tell you everything you need to know about promoting your products, growing your business and much more.