7 Things Newbie Etsy Sellers Should Know In 2024

With everything that is happening in the world around us, many people are looking at alternative ways to make money online that are quick to get started and are easy passive money makers.

I’m not going to say that it isn’t possible to make passive income or a full-time income on Etsy or other e-commerce platforms because I do it myself everyday, but here are some things to keep in mind if you are looking to get started selling on Etsy in 2024 that all new Etsy sellers need to know.

This blog post may contain affiliate links.  That means if you make a purchase through one of those links, at no additional cost to you, I may make a commission from your purchase, which helps me provide this content to you!

7 things new etsy sellers must know

It can be tough to make money quickly when you’re just getting started on Etsy.

Now, I don’t mean that there’s a huge barrier to entry here or that it’s super techy and difficult to understand or set up, but getting found on Etsy can be a real bear sometimes without the knowledge and know-how of how to get your products found in Etsy search and ranking at the top of search with buyers loading up their carts with your products.

Etsy’s algorithm is getting smarter, as all AI seems to be doing these days. This can make it more difficult for some Etsy shop owners to gain traction in search rankings when first getting started.

Etsy’s search algorithm job is to try to figure out what the buyer is looking for and give its potential customers the best matched products available, ones it knows buyers will be more likely to purchase.

Etsy search is now a “personalized” search engine, meaning that Etsy uses data like your past search history, purchase history, likes, favorites, etc. to determine which products someone is most likely going to purchase.

Your search results will look totally different than my search results even if we search with the exact same keywords.

You can see that here.

personalized etsy search results for sterling starfish necklace

I did a search for sterling starfish necklace.  One is from one of my own Etsy shop accounts and one was a search done through an incognito browser window.

As you can see from the images, Etsy surfaced different listing for each search.  Etsy did show some of the same items, mostly those in the Etsy Ads placements, but the other listings were about half different products.

incognito browser etsy search results for sterling starfish necklace

When you are a new shop or just listing a new item for the very first time, it will take Etsy’s algorithm some time to decide where this item should be placed in search results. Being a new product, Etsy has no data for that item so it will place it in a rank location (some say somewhere between page 15 and page 25 and up to 30 to 60 days to decide ranking placement) to start with.  

From there, Etsy will give you a bit of a boost to see how shoppers interact with your products.  If it sees people click on, favorite or purchase the product, it will start showing you higher up in search for those keywords.

This can be a tough and slow road to travel, and it can feel like it is literally taking months to get any real traction. Compounding that with a super saturated niche, and you may be on the struggle bus for a while trying to get your products viewed by potential buyers.

So, if you think that you’re going to just throw say 20 listings on Etsy and magic will happen, boom-shack-a-lack-a, and you’ll have $1000s in the bank tomorrow, you may want to think again.

sewing leather wallet

There are many strategies that newbie Etsy sellers can use to give their shops a jumpstart and move more quickly up the search rankings, but none of them will produce huge overnight results by just listing them alone.

Here are a few ways to give your products their best shot at getting your shop rolling quicker on Etsy.  There may be some of these you haven’t thought about yet so read through this entire article and make sure you’ve got your bases covered.

If you are wanting to jumpstart your traffic funnel to your Etsy shop in ways that are OFF Etsy, check out this article that has different ways to drive traffic to your Etsy products from social media.

Listen to your buyers

Your buyers on Etsy are your best friend, and you should be paying attention to what they have to say.


Pay particular attention to things that they mention in their reviews.  Once you have a few reviews under your belt, you can begin to see what things they are pleased with about your shop and products and what things they wish were more up to their standards.

From shipping times to the product itself, buyers will give you a piece of their minds in reviews, be them good or bad.  Let’s hope their review is a good one. But in the event that it isn’t a great review, take that information they provided and make your products even better.

woman painting

This will help you create better products that are specifically designed for your target buyer and their expectations.

You should also be watching your Etsy Messages inbox.  

There are going to be some goldmines in there Etsy Messages.  Potential buyers have the ability to message sellers to ask questions so be ready for them.  Many times they will ask things like, “Can you do this instead?”, or “Does this come in this size or color?”, and “Can I get this by _____ date?”.

You need to take what they are asking for and decide if these requests should be part of your shop and product or product features.  We have gleaned loads of information and product ideas from our buyers asking for small changes to products to make them fit what the buyer needs.

Not all changes will or should be implemented, but some of our VERY BEST SELLERS came from custom requests that we turned into product lines in our shop. 

woman making beaded jewelry

We had a request just this week from two different buyers asking for the exact same phrase on a product that we hadn’t added to our store.  Two buyers in two days to be exact.  This is a product we decided we had to add to our shop!

You can read more about how to use customer reviews to increase your search ranking on Etsy here.

You may need to invest more time or money into your products.

We all want a best seller right out of the gate, but most of the time, that’s not going to happen without a bit more effort on our part.

I recommend new sellers invest either more time or more money into getting their shops up and running right from the start.  If I could start over, I would do just that to get traction faster.

No lollygagging around.  Get on it.  List and market.

Whether you are spending more time editing photos you’ve taken to get just the right look and feel to your photos, lightening and brightening, using software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, investing in a lightbox, and photo lights, etc., or maybe you should consider investing in some amazing mockups from other sellers on Etsy or a service like PlaceIt, it will be worth it to get your products in front of buyers who will be purchasing.

wire-wrapped beaded wedding bracelet

Great photos is one of the top places to invest in to see higher click-through and conversion rates.

Things like dark photography, poor image quality, etc. can be a major deal breaker for buyers. They’ll simply pass your products by and not even click on them.  If you’re photography’s not up to snuff from the get go, it will be a harder and longer road getting your shop making the kind of money you would like very quickly.

It doesn’t always have to cost you money either.  I have an iPhone 13 Max Pro.  It takes some amazing photos and my iPhone has a bunch of built in photo editing features.

Two items we purchased and use daily. 

We invested in photo lights years ago and have used them in multiple business adventures, YouTube video production, etc.  Here’s a photography lighting kit similar to the one we ordered on Amazon. They are worth it.  You can also substitute them out for ring lights these days.  Ring lights can also have different light settings to provide warmer or cooler color tones and hues with just the click of a button. Super cool and useful for different purposes and situations.

We also changed out all of our lighting in our workspace and office to daylight bulbs so we get lighter and brighter photos with better white balance saving us tons of time on editing photos later. 

You need to have a tough skin

Running an online business isn’t easy.  I swear people online are getting meaner and crankier by the day and Etsy buyers are no exception.

woman writing

You need to be prepared to face situations that arise that are a tough pill to swallow. Be it a pissed off buyer whose package was lost or broken in the mail, scammers that buy an item then try to blackmail you to get a refund or else they will leave you a bad review (This one happens more than you would think.) or a buyer just leaving a bad review with no explanation or contact from them whatsoever about an issue.

Sometimes as online sellers we have to make tough decisions about what is best for the business as a whole, what is best for the customer that we can provide a solution to without going broke and what is best for ourselves personally. Your mental health is important too.

And the occasional nasty post on social media!  Yes, it does happen, and it can really crush your soul when it does.

But, there are tons of Etsy seller groups on social media and forums that are there to help when you’re in similar situations so don’t feel like you’re all alone.  It can definitely feel that way though when you work at home alone all day long.  

Etsy Sell Success Facebook Group by Melissa Talbott

Don’t forget to join my FREE Etsy Seller Success Facebook Group!

You can come hang out with me and my Etsy Seller Success group on Facebook here and get help when needed.

But, don’t be afraid to reach out to like-minded shop owners and get their opinions on sticky situations and share your experiences.

Oh, and don’t waste your time hanging out in social media groups that are a buzzkill.  The ones that sellers just sit around complaining about everything under the sun. Not cool or helpful. Don’t get sucked into their drama.

I also don’t recommend groups with buyers hanging out in them.  Avoid Buyer/Seller groups.  You need a seller support group, not a group with looky loos and pot stirrers.  That will take you down a bad road fast. Ditch that and find a better fit.  One that is helpful, not one that’s demeaning, degrading and not helpful.

You need to do your research.

I suspect that if you are reading this article that you are on your way to a better performing Etsy shop, or at the very least are interested in making money online selling products with your talents and want to know how to start out on a good foot.  

paint and paint brush on palette

Those Etsy sellers that put time and energy into their products, through research and doing the hard work, will see the most success.

You will need to research in your niche.  

Here’s some things you will need to research that are helpful for getting started with your Etsy shop.

  • Products
  • Suppliers
    • Look for companies that offer supplies that are competitive, if not wholesale pricing.
  • Market analysis
    • What are other products selling in this niche and where is there a gap you can fill?
  • Seasonality
    • What are the peak selling times of year or will there be slow periods with little sales?
  • Competition
    • What other shops and companies are selling similar items and what is their pricing strategy and pricing structure? Can you produce products that are comparatively priced? What is your value proposition?
  • Keywords and SEO
    • Look into what keywords, keyword phrases, longtail keywords, etc. are your target customers using to search for this item. There are lots of different softwares to help with keyword research.
      • eRank
      • Marmalead
      • Everbee
      • Alura
  • Marketing
  • Regulations and laws
    • Check with your local chamber of commerce and Collector of Revenue to see what licenses you may need such as a merchant license for your city, county, etc.
    • Check with your Secretary of State’s office for business registrations like fictitious names and LLCs.
    • Apply for an EIN number.
    • Register for a sales tax license and how to file your sales tax return, collect and remit sales tax.

COMING SOON! If you are looking for a serious guide to the realities of running your online store, check out my latest Ebook, The No-Fluff, Honest Guide To Selling On Etsy – What Successful Etsy Sellers Won’t Tell You.  Because I’m gonna tell you!  And, I’m not gonna hold anything back!!

You also don’t want to invest a bunch of time and money into a niche that you’re not interested in (That’s sure to fail. Been there; done that.) or one that you don’t have a good handle on or skills for.

drawing on notebook

Or even one where you don’t find the best possible suppliers for the best materials prices and can’t price your products competitively and are priced out of the market before you even get started.

A little sleuthing can go a long way to a successful Etsy shop.

You need to be constantly learning and upping your game.

The world of ecommerce is ever-changing.  From platform algorithm changes to how ecommerce works, where you can sell products, new marketing platforms and so much more.  It really is never-ending.  

You could work on new skills like online marketing, photography, better product SEO, and research and product development.

I have spent the last decade of my life running my Etsy stores and Shopify stores figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

The hardest part is finding and implementing strategies that work for your business because what works for one seller won’t work for another. 

I can tell you that I have multiple Etsy shops and probably will for the foreseeable future and NONE of them are run in the exact same way.  Social media works best in one, Etsy ads work best in another.  Digital vs physical products, etc.  They simply aren’t the same and can’t be treated the same way.

paint brushes

I’ve spent years on each of my shops to unlock my shops’ magically code (it’s really not magic, but my blood sweat, tears and lost sleep) of what does and doesn’t actually work. It’s simply not a one size fits all puzzle. It takes testing, perseverance and determination to get it right.

Remember too that buyer’s preferences change as well. They might be loving a product one minute and kicking it to the curb the next. Buyers are fickle creatures.

If you are constantly chasing trends, be prepared to spend lots of time doing research and keeping up with shifting fads. It’s a lot of work. (Trendy products aren’t my favorite if you can’t tell.)

Maybe you want invest your time into learning more about product photography to take your listing photos to the next level. Maybe get those cool photo backgrounds you can swap out for different styles, upgrade your lighting with light boxes and photo lamps, etc. Or easily DIY your own custom backdrops that represent your brand. Just make sure it fits in your budget.

I try to have a newer iPhone to take 99% of my photos on. I shoot product photos, product videos, YouTube video, etc. with just my phone and some good lighting. Easily editable on my phone too.

If you’re a bit more old school and love the feel of a more traditional film camera, try a DSLR camera like a Nikon D3500 or Canon Rebel SL3.

woman taking picture

It takes time and effort to figure out what really works in your Etsy shop to drive the most sales, but don’t give up.  And it is perfectly normal to try something, experiment and then try again.

Be ready to invest in yourself and your business, learning more to create a more successful business. It will probably mean you will have to step out of your comfort zone a bit to learn new skills, but if it gets you the results you want, isn’t it worth it?

But be cautious of the advice out there online. As online education has exploded in recent years, not everyone giving advice has the experience to back it up.

I will always recommend listening to or reading the perspective of different veteran Etsy sellers because we’ve been around the block a time or two usually, with multiple stores in multiple niches, weathered the good and the bad and came out the other side stronger for it. Stay clear of those who’ve just made a quick buck and are suddenly now selling their secrets.

Please don’t listen to “Etsy Gurus” or “Etsy Experts” that aren’t active on the platform anymore and definitely not those who only made bank during the last 2-3 years, had a one hit wonder for 6 months then the trend died and so did their entire income or those who’ve only made money online during a global crisis.

Guess what – their so called success probably recommends strategies that don’t work for them anymore and they’ve now moved on to selling their B.S. that isn’t actually making them money to you. Would you buy a VHS player when we have on-demand streaming now???

weaving looms and yarn

Veteran online sellers have had successes, and we’ve had failures.  We are in the trenches right along with you everyday with our own businesses. Those of us that keep going take the knowledge from every failed step and fix it the next time we create a product or an entire shop. We genuinely want to help other people find their own success, not pull a fast one on you and run like hell with the cash.

Many times, those offering courses today don’t even run their own Etsy shops anymore. How can they advise you on what’s working now, if they don’t have any skin in the game?

So, watch who you follow or buy from online if you are looking for advice on running an Etsy shop. There are some kooks out there. Only listen to those who are experienced, continue to work in e-commerce with their own businesses and who, frankly, couldn’t give two flips whether we make a dime from sharing our experiences with you. We just want you to succeed.

Sharing our trials and tribulations with our own Etsy shops on e-commerce sites is about giving you a leg up, saving you form repeating our mistakes and get you to your end goal faster than we ever did.

I just love a good challenge so let’s do this.

If you’d like to see some of my free trainings, yep, FREE, you can check them out on my YouTube channel. I cover topics about online business, selling on Etsy and Shopify, digital design, marketing and loads more.

Melissa Talbott YouTube channel banner

If you find a course you’d like to take, please, please make sure it is a right fit for you before investing. I’ve seen so many people spend hundreds of dollars on courses that they still came back to me and asked for my advice and opinion.

And if you don’t have the money for courses, don’t buy them. Feed your family first. Courses later. Check out free trainings and resources before breaking the bank.

There are loads of free resources out there. Like this blog. There’s also YouTube videos galore and Facebook groups loaded with helpful people. You just need to find the right ones that work for you.

Leveling up in business can come in many forms, but the more you sow, the more you’ll repeat if you put in the effort.

Passive income isn’t passive.

I know you’ve heard all the rage on YouTube, “Sell online with passive income products and make MILLIONS!”  

Can it be done? Definitely. Is it going to happen by just throwing something that you made in 7 seconds online and watch the dollars roll in? NO.

The only way for most businesses to be truly passive is if you’re solely an owner, not a maker or designer. And designing and making products takes some time, even for digital products. I don’t know of any Etsy shop that is completely passive.

drawing on ipad and using laptop

Many sellers get into the “passive” income realm with digital products or print on demand (POD) products, and while it can be somewhat passive, there is still a bunch of upfront work that has to be done.  

You still would need to make the designs, create mockups, list the items, answer customer emails, etc. Or write lots of checks to others to keep the wheels spinning for you.  True, there is less (I’ll use that term loosely.) work that has to be done after the initial investment in time and money, but there is always still work to be done.

And make sure you are following all the terms and conditions of both Etsy and/or anywhere that you might be getting designs from.  

An example would be if you are getting designs from somewhere like DesignBundles, you can’t just slap that PNG design on a POD product, list it on Etsy, and call it a day. 

That would violate Etsy’s terms of use for handmade products (as you wouldn’t be the designer or the maker) and probably also violates the terms of service at the website where you bought the graphics (many times they requiring you to alter or modify the design in order to use on POD). 

paint tubes and paint brushes, painting of flower on notebook paper

But… some of those design licenses don’t allow you to change the designs of the original artist. Hmmm?!? 

So, you need to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into so you don’t end up getting your shop shut down or a copyright lawsuit on your hands. Making sure you are following copyright laws and license agreements takes time too.

This is also an example of doing your research. 

Passive income can be a great revenue stream, but it will require you to do at least the work needed on the front end to get you going.

With POD, you will be making, most likely, smaller margins from each sale too so it’s not a get rich overnight possibility like many YouTubers would like you to believe. Although POD and digital products like printables, can be a great source of semi-passive income, when done right, it’s not going to happen straight away.

We all want to skip corners and make money in the easiest and, frankly, laziest way possible.  I get it.  I have a life and am busy too. And, it’s okay to admit that.  But with running a business, there aren’t many shortcuts that aren’t going to cost you for those shortcuts.

Are you thinking about starting your own Etsy shop??  Use this link to get 40 FREE listing credits!!

start an Etsy shop with 40 Free listings

If you are looking to get started with print on demand, check out Printful. It’s super easy to use and my favorite POD. I have connected it to both my Etsy shop and Shopify store. Printify is also another popular POD of Etsy sellers.

Be creative and get started on your own entrepreneurial journey.  When I first opened up my first Etsy shop, people didn’t even know what Etsy was, yet, here I am today, over a decade later.

It’s okay to forge your own way. Make it work for you.  But, be ready to put in the work.


Hi. I'm Melissa Talbott. Long-time seller on Etsy since 2013 with multiple shops on Etsy and several other E-commerce websites. I enjoy helping makers and small business owners create profitable businesses they love that also provide an income that supports their families on their terms.

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