Work Smarter, Not Harder: How to Sell on Etsy the RIGHT WAY

In my first two months, I made over $120 by learning how to sell on Etsy the right way. I don’t spend hours managing my shop, and you don’t need to either. By working smarter, not harder you can easily set up a successful Etsy store. I now have a steadily growing stream of side money while still being able to manage my full-time job!

Related: How I Earned My First$120 Online with Passive Income

It only took about 2 months for me to earn that $120+, and I am still surprised that I was able to be this successful given the amount of time I had actually committed. I imagined that running an Etsy shop would be a lot more time consuming, but by doing my research (such as reading blog posts like this one!) I was able to work smarter, and not harder.


How To Sell On Etsy

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After reviewing my shop, it’s analytics, its customers, and items sold, here is what I believe to have had the greatest impact on my sales:


Keywords, SEO, Analytics, they are all a critical part of any online business! Luckily, Etsy has a fantastic stats feature. Very few websites provide as much detail as Etsy does. I was seriously blown away as I went through all of the incredible information I could see. One of my personal favorites is the ability to view which search terms were used by my customers to find my shop!

You can find this in your Shop Manager by choosing the “Stats” section, and scrolling down on the “Traffic” tab:

Sell on Etsy

As you can see, “crop top” and “semicolon shirt” are the top keywords used to find the items I sell on Etsy.

This makes sense because my most popular shop listings have these tags! By having this insight, I know which products I should focus on creating next AND which tags are SEO friendly for my store. I will also be able to think of new keywords related to these tags to put in my posts while experimenting to see which keywords work best.

Tip: Use your keywords in your listing title. Write the keywords from most popular to least popular to gain as much SEO points as possible! You have 140 characters – use them all!

Other places to use your keywords:

  • Product description
  • Tags
  • Categories (for your main keywords, i.e. crop tops)


Along with searching for keywords in the Etsy search bar, you can also search in outside tools such as:

  • Keywords Everywhere (Google Chrome Plugin – Highly recommended!)
  • Pinterest
  • Google Keyword Planner


As long as your keywords are related to your product, they will be another opportunity for customers to find you. You can always change your keywords as you find better ranking options.

One of my most popular items is this black vegan crop top. In fact, when I search “Vegan crop top” my shirt is one of the first to appear! This is because I have a great keyword. To successfully sell on Etsy you will want to be sure to choose keywords that are popular enough that they are searched on Etsy, but not so popular that you are drowned out by the competition.

Sell on Etsy Vegan Crop Top

Knowing Your Customer

While keywords are imperative for a successful shop, you first need to know which keywords to use by examining who your customer is.

Who are you targeting? Who is your ideal buyer? You should have this idea in mind when selling on Etsy.

Don’t worry though. If you aren’t sure of who you are serving (yet), Etsy has some more stats to show you!

Again, in your Shop Manager, under the “Stats” section, there is a “Customers” tab.

Sell on Etsy SEO

Now, this is a really nice feature because this will tell you other keywords your viewers are searching!


This opens a whole new door to more product ideas, new keywords to include, and a more customized profile.

Sell on Etsy

Following Your Own Path

While Etsy is a great website, it can be a bit…. oversaturated. It is especially difficult for the broader niches such as jewelry, photography, and yes even t-shirts.

Sell on Etsy

Going in with no idea what I was doing was very helpful for me though because I wasn’t trying to focus on what I thought the most amount of people “wanted”.

In fact, I questioned if anybody would buy my items at all because they were based around some controversial issues. But, I stuck to my gut and I focused on my mission.

Sell on Etsy

I know, I know. I just told you that the first steps you need to take to sell on Etsy are to figure out who your audience is and find out what they are looking for, but sometimes a new idea IS what they are looking for.

Reviewing their likes, interests and shopping activity (yes Etsy will allow you to see other items someone has liked), can help you to brainstorm what they may want.

For my shop, I have shirts, mugs, and bags which are all inspired by real-world issues. I have committed to donating 10% of profits to a variety of nonprofit organizations. I can’t tell (right now) if this has made an impact on my sales, but I do know that it helps me to stand out.

Think about what is unique about your store. Creativity is your secret weapon for how to sell on Etsy. Are all of your products for a very specific group of people?

If you can’t think of how your items are already unique, think about how they can be.

Maybe you can incorporate adjustable hand holes for your embroidered dog leashes, or maybe you can create intricate designs within the wax of your candles, or your children’s books are pressed with braille so children who are blind can read too (that would be totally awesome, please someone make this!). Etsy is made for creatives, so be creative!


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Sell on Etsy


Similar to keywords, I noticed I had created items that were “trending”. As I said before, my shop’s items were inspired by real-world issues, many of which are controversial. While I don’t consider suicide a “trend” by any means, it was a topic that was more visible in media at the time my Etsy shop had first opened. This was because it was right around the same week Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain had committed suicide.

I was very upset by this news and the reactions I was reading on social media, but coped with this in the best way I knew I could. I made more designs for suicide prevention and added them to my shop.

Within the next month, I had more orders for my mental health awareness shirts, and also for my vegan/vegetarian inspired creations.

My advice? Do your research and know your audience. What is up and coming in your area of craft? What are your competitors doing? Search for items similar to what you want to create. Are they eerily comparable to what is already out there? How can you make yours different?

Tip: Compare prices with other shops to be more competitive. As you grow your sales you can increase your prices because you will have the social proof from reviews and sales numbers of good-quality products.

Sell on Etsy

Just Doing It

If I had not started my shop in the first place, I would still be twiddling my thumbs wondering when I would have the perfect strategy for how to sell on Etsy and start making money on the side.

Through the process, I have accumulated more data to analyze my shop including who is viewing it, what customers are buying, etc. I have been able to learn how to continue this growth.



At first, I had a mediocre Etsy banner, no reviews, no sales, and no idea how to really sell on Etsy. I only promoted my shop to my friends twice, and have yet to bring it to other platforms aside from Instagram and Facebook.

I can see that the majority of my views are coming from direct links and Etsy itself. Moving forward I plan on using more strategies to grab my ideal customer’s attention and market my shop all over.

Sell on Etsy Traffic

If you have an idea, it’s time to share with us! Someone out there is looking for it and will buy from your shop. Your job is to make sure they find it!

What’s your Etsy store name?

Leave a comment below!

Comments 2

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