How to sell on Etsy without making it a full time job

Here is a check-list for those looking to sell on Etsy:

Selecting what to sell on Etsy

Item selection is very important but not for the reasons that you might think. For an Etsy seller, size and weight matters almost more than any other attribute. Of course the items must be of high quality but if you can not ship it cost effectively you might just be wasting your time listing them. Choose items that are easy to ship and do not weigh too much. Unusually large items will not sell unless they are extremely interesting or rare.

Does the Item Photograph well

Larger items are difficult to take a meaningful photograph of. Smaller items can be much easier to take a good photo of and will sell on Etsy. Do not use distracting background and try to place something in the picture that will show scale. Use pleasant but neutral colors in your background. Use natural light when possible. Make sure to put any defects, scratches or patina in a photo for full disclosure. Use all 10 Etsy photograph slots if you can. If the item is simple (like a bowl) use as many as you can to show the item and use the rest to place the item into a good contextual use case – like put fruit in the bowl.

Items are art

We sell antiques and vintage items. One of our goals to sell on etsy is to try to pick out items that are made with interesting materials. Those made using a process that is extinct are the best for us. Our favorites are items items that are essentially impossible to duplicate because the process is too complex or the maker used materials that are not abundant any longer. These items sell the fastest for us. Luxury items that are gently used are also very popular. We specialize in Chanel stock items from the 1990s along with an eclectic mix of unusually well made items. Take a look at our shop here Middle Cove Antiques

Item Title

The Item Title is important for the (internal) Etsy Search Algorithm. We will talk more about internal search later in this piece. More importantly, the item title that you provide is submitted to Google and other search engines by Etsy as a snippet. Most interesting is that Etsy uses only the first 66 characters of the item title to submit to search engines. See the attached image where the preview uses the first 66 characters and the word by and your shop name to construct the first part of the preview.

This makes it extremely important to use your best efforts to describe the item as you would imagine a buyer searching for it. The second part of the submitted preview is the first 160 characters of your item description.

Item Descriptions and Stories

If you want to get found inside of Etsy and more importantly in search engines you will need to focus on your item description in two parts. First you must concentrate on the first 160 characters and then the balance of the description quite differently.
To be effective you really need to try to concentrate on how you would search for what you are selling as you construct first 160 characters of item description. Use the balance of the item description to talk about size, condition and other important attributes you wish to convey to a potential buyer.

In Middle Cove Antiques we try to spice up an otherwise boring description with a little bit of a story. That said, don’t write a novel about your item. Tell your prospective buyer what the item is, what the condition of the item is, the size and weight of the item, the color and materials that the item is made of.

It is also very helpful if you know what the item actually is. While this sounds strange, some items are so out of place in modern times you need to be able to tell your customers what the item is and what it was used for. They will like you to be truthful so don’t make stuff up. If you have some amusing tidbits about the item, how you came across it or how you think it might be used in modern times add it to the bottom of your description.

Tags – use them all

Etsy describes tags as tools to help get your item found. Etsy tags are limited to up to 20 characters. We try to use the first 5 tags to add great search triggers. We try to use the remaining 8 tags to place context around the use of the item. For example if you are listing a bowl, use the first 5 tags to clearly lockdown descriptive search keywords: soup bowl, glazed ceramic, etc. Try to use the other 8 to capture different related keywords that are highlight the practical use of the item. We get creative with tags but we try not to get crazy with them.

Clearly Etsy messes with the search results constantly so I suggest that you read the article at Etsy SEO

What I have written here appears to work well for us to sell on Etsy, your results may be different. At the end of the day Etsy has their own rules for placing your listing into its search results. Once the snippets go to Google or Bing only they know what actually makes them important or highly ranking in search.

Materials Tags

Materials which are optional appear to show up in the product overview under “materials”. Looking at what Etsy has to say about materials does not really shed much light on their actual purpose. I suspect that they may be part of some filters that Etsy uses somewhere in internal search algorityms but I am not clear on their impact on the ability to get your item found in outside search engines.

Etsy Search – Tag and Title Relevancy

Here are some notes from Etsy on internal search relevancy: “Items in Etsy’s search results must match the buyer’s search word or phrase. Items that do not match a buyer’s search won’t be included in results”. (This was taken from Etsy’s “Factors in Etsy’s search placement” article).

Exact phrase matches are stronger than matches on individual words. For example, a search for “banana backpack” would return all items with the words “banana” and “backpack” in the tags or title, but items with “banana backpack” in the title would be considered a closer match.

If a word or phrase in a buyer’s search appears in both the title and tags of a listing, the search algorithm considers that listing more relevant than a listing with that word or phrase in the tags or title alone.
According to Etsy the words at the beginning of titles are considered more important than words at the end of the title.

All I can conclude from this is that while a customer is in Etsy, using Etsy search you better use your tags and your titles in a manner that is consistent with Etsy’s search algorithms. Once you are outside of Etsy, search engine placement is a whole different ball game. We will talk more about this in another article/post. In the meantime let us know how you sell on Etsy.

Author: uasole

Old and wired but not retired.

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