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What to sell on Etsy: Popular items & best practices to make money

Alexis Damen
Alexis DamenMay 16, 2024
What to sell on Etsy: Popular items & best practices to make money

Navigating the world of e-commerce can be a bit overwhelming, especially when it comes to finding the right platform and knowing what products are likely to sell. That’s why I did the heavy lifting for you. With this comprehensive guide about what to sell on Etsy, you’ll have a leg up on the competition so you can turn your passion or side hustle into a successful online business.

What you’ll learn: 

Introduction to selling on Etsy

Launched in 2005, Etsy is a global marketplace that brings together creators and consumers who like to support small, independent businesses. 

Whether you're a seasoned artisan, a vintage collector, or a craft enthusiast, Etsy offers a platform to turn your passion into a profitable business. Etsy’s emphasis on human connection and individual creativity makes it more than just a marketplace—it's a community where sellers share stories through their crafts and buyers find items that speak to their hearts.

According to Marketplace Pulse, as of Q1 this year, there are 91.60 million active Etsy buyers, up by 2% year-over-year from 89.90 million.

So if you’re just starting, opting for an online shop like Etsy that has a built-in audience means you’ll have immediate access to your potential customer base that’s engaged and ready to explore new and exciting items. 

What to sell on Etsy: 6 tips to help you decide 

Determining what items could be hot and profitable can feel overwhelming. But don't fret! Here's a step-by-step guide to help you identify potentially successful products. 

1. Search the best-selling products on Etsy's site

An investigation is your first step toward success in determining what could be a marketable product. You can use Etsy itself as a research tool to see what other people are selling on the platform. Keep in mind that Etsy used to show how many listings there were for each search, but currently, it only states 1,000+, irrespective of the actual count. 

Etsy has a best-selling page, but it’s hard to understand if sellers can pay to be featured on this page, so I sorted it by “Top Customer Reviews” as a better indicator of Etsy sellers that are doing well.   

Spend some time perusing Etsy to uncover popular categories, trending keywords, items with a lot of reviews, or the Star Seller badge. 

2. Tap into your talent and passion

In addition to statistical analysis, consider leveraging your talents and passions as they could serve perfectly as a foundation for your online boutique. It will be easier to put the time and effort into growing your Etsy business if you’re doing something you love. 

3. Analyze Google Trends

You can use Google Trends to assess people's interest in certain topics over time. You can see whether the public interest in a potential product category is rising, declining, or consistent. Always keeping yourself updated with current trends can assist you in staying competitive, innovative, and relevant.

4. Search Social Media networks 

While predicting future product demand never guarantees your business idea will be a success, social media platforms are a great way to gather insights into up-and-coming trends and customer preferences. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest highlight popular and trending content that could inform what you decide to sell on Etsy. 

5. Look at trends and demand for other marketplaces

Other online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, or Alibaba could provide valuable hints regarding what's hot right now. Keep an eye on their bestselling lists for a view of broader consumer behavior beyond Etsy.

6. Do competitive research

Simply spotting a potential Etsy best-seller isn't enough—you should also figure out whether there's room for your products within the existing marketplace scene. Doing thorough competitor research can help you assess whether your potential product category is saturated and the opportunities for differentiation, something that’s helpful when you’re up against potentially 10,000+ listings in your category.

For instance, if one niche like “flower prints”, has more than 900,000 listings, chances are high that breaking through the competition would be very challenging. Looking for underrepresented categories could create more profit possibilities. 

What are the most popular things that sell on Etsy?

According to this survey that Growing Your Craft conducted using the Etsy research tool, Alura, here are the top-selling product categories on Etsy.

1. Craft Supplies & Tools

At number one, with over nine million craft supply listings ranging from glittery embroidery threads to exclusive origami paper sets—Etsy is a paradise for DIY lovers. If you sell craft supplies, you’re up against a lot of competitors, but the silver lining is that there’s likely also a lot of demand. 

2. Jewelry

In second place, with over six million items listed, there are many beautiful jewelry brands listed on Etsy—from minimalistic rings to artisan-crafted necklaces made from organic materials to everything in between, this category is saturated. 

3. Paper & Party Supplies 

Etsy is a perfect place to find paper and party solutions. This category includes bespoke stationery items, digital downloads for website themes, resumes, or planners, and quirky party favors adding an exclusive appeal. 

3. Home & Living 

At number four, home decor items have made their mark as being one of the most popular items to sell on Etsy. Anything that can add personality to a quiet corner of your home finds its niche here—ranging from handmade candles to rustic wall art pieces.

4. Weddings 

From customizable wedding invitations to handcrafted bridal accessories, Etsy's wedding range attracts couples globally who seek tangible reminders of their big day.

5. Clothing 

Etsy showcases loads of unique clothing finds including used and vintage clothing, personalized graphic tees, and handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces. 

📚 Further reading: Mastering the art of ghost mannequin photography: a comprehensive guide

6. Accessories

From jewelry boxes to guitar pick cases to passport holders, you can find every accessory imaginable on Etsy. If your goal is to sell accessories, make sure to identify a unique angle or niche. 

7. Bath & Beauty 

If you navigate through Etsy's bath and beauty section, you’ll find organic lip balms, handmade soaps, or earthy essential oil blends. 

8. Art & Collectibles 

If you search “Art” on Etsy, you’ll find everything from vintage prints to illustrations and oil paintings. If you’re an artist or maker, Etsy is a great place to dip your toes into online selling. 

9. Toys & Games 

Whether you sell new or vintage toys and games for kids or adults, Etsy could be a good place to test the waters, especially because this is one of the less saturated categories. But it still has more than 1 million listings. 

10. Pet Supplies

From dog beds to collars to cat swings, and more the pet section of Etsy features unique and personalized products for pet lovers. 

Etsy operations: things to know before you start

Before embarking on the journey of selling products on Etsy, it’s important to understand the costs associated with selling, taxes, and additional fees. 

Costs to list products on Etsy

Listing your products to sell on Etsy does incur certain charges. The primary cost implication involved is the listing fee of $0.20 per item that lasts for four months or until the product gets sold. While this might seem small, individual costs add up over time, and managing them effectively can make a significant impact on your profit margins.

💡 PRO TIP: Consider factoring these expenses into your pricing to make sure your business is financially sustainable. 

Paying business taxes

Just like any other business, operating an online store like Etsy also requires adherence to tax laws based on your geographical location. It means reporting the income you earn through sales transactions when filing taxes each year.

This is crucial not just because it’s what law-abiding citizens do, but failing to pay adequate taxes could lead to penalties and harm your reputation. So while figuring out product ideas to sell on Etsy, don’t forget to look into tax obligations too. 

Fees

Apart from listing fees, there are additional costs associated with selling on Etsy that you should be ready for: 

  • Transaction fees. When an item sells, you get charged a transaction fee which is 5% of the price displayed for each listing.

  • Shipping transaction fees. For each sale where shipping is required, there is a separate shipping transaction fee that matches 5% of whatever you charge customers for shipping services.

  • Setup fee. You might be required to pay one-time fee of $15 to set up your Etsy shop. 

While understanding the overall costs of selling on Etsy may feel overwhelming at first glance, this knowledge will help you set competitive prices that generate profits. Encourage repeat customers by offering high-quality products and building strong customer relationships—it will make it all worth it! 

Friendly reminder: a successful Etsy shop isn't built overnight; persistence, patience—and carefully considering these crucial operational aspects—are key to steady business growth.

Etsy shop best practices

Focus on customer service

Etsy is a community-based marketplace that thrives on personal connections and high-quality customer service. It's not just about selling the best items; it’s also about providing the best buying experience. Always respond quickly and professionally to customer queries, resolve issues amicably, and make sure shipments go out on time. This responsiveness builds trust and generates repeat business.

Optimize your product listings

Proper optimization extends beyond finding out what items sell best on Etsy. Keywords significantly influence how your products appear in search results. Incorporate relevant keywords in titles, tags, descriptions, and attribute fields of your product listings for higher visibility.

Make sure your product listings are informative yet engaging, answering any possible questions a potential buyer might have while sparking their curiosity to learn more—or better yet—make a purchase!

Use high-quality product photography 

According to an Etsy survey, 90% of shoppers said the quality of the photos was “extremely important” or “very important” to a purchase decision. Even more important than the retail price, shipping costs, and reviews.

Attractive images greatly increase the chances of attracting a profitable click. Customers usually gravitate towards visually appealing results when searching for products to purchase on Etsy.

But investing time and money in photography courses and equipment isn’t always possible due to time and budget constraints. Fortunately, there are photo editing apps like Photoroom that you can use to enhance your Etsy product photography in a matter of seconds. Watch this video to see how Brooke Pickel, founder of Blonde Bandit vintage store, is using Photoroom and our AI tools to generate clean and professional photos for her business. 

📚 Further reading: 14 Product photography ideas to boost online sales

Set competitive pricing (but keep profits in mind) 

To determine a pricing strategy that strikes a balance between profitability and competitiveness, research prices within the same category as your merchandise to get an idea of market expectations.

💡 PRO TIP: Profitability doesn't necessarily mean you have to set higher retail prices. Affordable items with high turnover rates can generate substantial profits too. So always keep the health of your wallet and business in check while devising pricing strategies.

“I always like to say, a fast penny is better than a slow dime,” says Humberto Leal Treviño, founder and CEO of Vintage Packs. “Volume is always going to beat us, so we try to price everything to move. We offer three t-shirts for 45 to 50 bucks, while everyone else sells one shirt for 50 bucks.”  

Grow your email list 

Building an email list is one of the most effective Etsy shop best practices. By capturing contact information from visitors and buyers, you're creating a gateway to promote new offerings, share discounts, or simply engage with your customers on a more personal level (and more frequently).

Promote your Etsy products via social media 

Social media is one of the easiest tools to start promoting your products. Leverage platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to reach out to potential customers. Sharing images and related content about your products can cultivate interest and drive traffic towards your Etsy store.

📌 Get started: Create stunning product photos in seconds with Photoroom’s AI-powered photo editing tools. Use the Web and mobile app (Google, or Apple) today. 

Host in-person pop-up events 

According to these pop-up retail statistics from Capital One, 80% of retailers that have opened a pop-up shop considered it a success; 58% plan to open another pop-up. And 32% of pop-ups are from e-commerce businesses.

While you may have never considered physical sales for your online Etsy business, don't underestimate the power of connection created through in-person interactions. Hosting pop-up events can give your brand visibility and help create lasting relationships with local customers.

In fact, according to Statista, over half of survey respondents in the United States shopped at pop-up shops to find unique products and enjoy unique experiences. Many consumers also went pop-ups because they were curious and wanted to support local and independent businesses.

Encourage customer reviews

Positive reviews top the chart when it comes to building trust among new customers. It's proof that others have tested your products and found them fulfilling. Etsy shoppers have 100 days to leave a review. If you’re building an email list, you can segment subscribers based on buying behavior and encourage past customers to leave a review for their purchases on your Etsy shop.  

Source

💡 PRO TIP: Weave these customer testimonials into future marketing materials as well (social posts or email campaigns)—shoppers love seeing real-world applications and satisfaction from actual customers.

Create a clear shipping and returns policy 

A transparent shipping and returns policy eliminates the guesswork for customers and provides clear guidelines on how transactions will occur post-purchase. This creates a sense of safety around purchases from your store, leading not only to conversions but also long-term customer loyalty. 

Pros and cons of selling on Etsy 

Like every sales channel, Etsy has its advantages and disadvantages. So before you jump in, examine the benefits and drawbacks associated with selling on this platform.

The advantages

  1. Reach. Etsy gives you access to a global audience of buyers who are specifically seeking unique, craft supplies, handmade jewelry, home decor, and more. If you’re selling these types of items, Etsy could be your marketplace.

  2. Simplicity. Setting up an Etsy shop is relatively straightforward compared to creating an e-commerce website from scratch—which can involve complex steps such as domain acquiring and SSL certificate arrangements among others. Etsy’s range of seller tools makes it easier to manage your shop, including marketing, analytics, and educational resources to grow your business.

  3. Trustworthiness. As a well-established platform, Etsy has built a trusted reputation for both buyers and sellers over the years.

  4. Community support. You’ll have access to community forums where sellers exchange ideas, advice, share experiences, something that’s not always available for standalone online stores.

Possible drawbacks

  1. Fee structure. The most profitable items on Etsy require paying listing fees (0.20 USD per item), transaction fees (5% per sale), and added fees for options such as promoted listings. This could whittle down profit margins, especially for products with higher manufacturing costs or low retail prices.

  2. Competition. Since it’s easy to set up shop, you’re up against a lot of entrepreneurs and makers—you may find yourself in a pool of competitors selling similar stuff—an enormous challenge if you don't have a niche product.

  3. Less control. Compared to owning an independent website—you sacrifice control over certain aspects like customer data or customizability of your store design in exchange for visibility and simplicity.

  4. Dependence. If something happens to Etsy, say sudden changes in policy or a shutdown, it may affect your business. Not having sole control of your income stream can be risky.

It’s not only about what you sell: building your brand beyond Etsy 

Navigating the world of online selling can sometimes seem like an uphill struggle, but it also paves the path for new opportunities. While considering what to sell on Etsy to make money, don't overlook the importance of brand-building in every step you take.

  • Look beyond just what can you sell on Etsy to make money. Create an unforgettable buyer experience that turns customers into dedicated fans, leading to repeated business. Personalized packaging or thoughtful thank-you notes are simple yet powerful ways to enhance the shopping journey. 

  • Build active channels outside Etsy like social media, email marketing, or blogging. These platforms let you interact more freely with your audience, growing alongside your clientele while making yourself accessible and relatable.

  • Be authentic. Never underestimate the value of authenticity when thinking about what to sell on Etsy. Customers appreciate interactions as much as high-quality products. Whether it’s product descriptions, customer emails, or product images, create each piece of content with your customers in mind. That human connection helps strengthen brand loyalty among shoppers.

  • Be consistent. Whether it's designing your store or communicating with customers, maintain consistent aesthetics and tone. Remember, consistency breaks through confusion and helps shoppers remember and distinguish your brand.

Consistent, high-quality visuals are crucial to attracting customers in crowded marketplaces and social media networks flooded with similar content. Photoroom is here to help. Enhance your product images with easy-to-use AI photo editing tools (on the Web or your smartphone — Google, or Apple), to transform your Etsy product listings from good to extraordinary! 

Alexis Damen
Alexis DamenI’m an amateur photographer curious about generative AI tools that boost productivity and creativity. Here at Photoroom, I write about visual GenAI and how it relates to growing your business.