How To Make Money On Etsy, If You Need A Work-From-Home Side Hustle

by Syeda Khaula Saad
Bloomberg/Bloomberg/Getty Images

If you're one of the 37 million Americans whose jobs (and therefore, paychecks) are vulnerable because of the coronavirus pandemic, you might've already started considering ways to make up for potential losses. And while this situation may not be the best for getting a new job, sites like Etsy let you make some extra money right from home. According to one Etsy shop owner, now's the perfect time to start learning.

On March 19, the USA Department of Labor released a report indicating that 281,000 people in the country filed for unemployment benefits the previous week — 70,000 more than the week before that. The news release stated that the rise in claims was "clearly attributable to impacts from the COVID-19 virus." If you've ever been interested in running your own online business, this is where Etsy can come in. According to Statista, more than 2.5 million sellers sold goods through the site as of 2019.

For anyone who is out there that has wanted to open their own online shop, now is the time to do it.

Kate Shewaga, the owner of Bolt and Rally, an Etsy plant shop, was temporarily laid off from her six-year job as a flight attendant because of the coronavirus pandemic. She tells Bustle that having the Etsy shop has helped alleviate a lot of the stress her layoff has caused. "When you work for another company, your fate isn't always in your hands. Because I have my Etsy shop, my stress is insanely lower and my focus to grow my business is even stronger," she says. "For anyone who is out there that has wanted to open their own online shop, now is the time to do it. You're home, you have the time, and hopefully now you have the inspiration."

How Much Work Does It Take To Run An Etsy Shop?

Unlike some other online e-commerce sites, you can't just post an item on Etsy and forget about it. An Etsy shop requires attention, and you should probably treat it like a side business, because your sales are usually dependent on how many people find your items. According to Etsy, search engine optimization is key. Think about it this way: if you're selling beaded bracelets, you want your shop's product to pop up at the top of the list when someone searches "beaded bracelets." This involves using keywords (like "beaded bracelets") in your titles and keywords. You can learn more about how to make seo work for you in Etsy's help center.

In addition, FabuStuff, an Etsy shop based in Miami since 2011, published an article on Etsy's community page titled "10 Ways To Increase Your Etsy Sales." In it, the Etsy member suggests putting items on sale often, experimenting with the theme of your shop from time to time, and using popular keywords when tagging your items. And don't forget to be active in the Etsy community. "'Like' or 'favorite' other people’s items, like their shops, follow them, read their blogs, comment, be part of the whole experience, the more you give, the more you get," FabuStuff writes on the community page. "Don’t just be stagnant. Be friendly and engaging."

Shewaga adds that a majority of a seller's effort goes into upkeep and managing a shop once it's up. "I go into each and every one of my listings once a month and tweak the tags and titles if that listing isn't bringing in much traffic," she says. "It does help to know the trends people are shopping for (i.e. people shop for Mother's Day gifts in April, Christmas gifts in November, etc.), and know what tags and titles do well on the site. If this is new to someone, that could take some effort to get used to."

What Can You Sell On Etsy?

You can't just get up and sell anything you want on the site. Etsy is a site mainly for crafts, handmade goods, and vintage items like customized dishes, quote posters, or plants. People also sell a variety of handmade jewelry, natural beauty products, holiday-themed decorations, and much more.

"Research what other Etsy shops are doing, but remember to get inspired by them and not duplicate them," Shewaga suggests. "There is room for everyone: it's ok if there's already 100 macrame stores, candle businesses, etc. Find a way to make your shop unique and true to who you are. You want customers who love your style."

Just keep in mind that the site prohibits you from selling alcohol, tobacco, or drugs, certain animal products or human remains, hate items, illegal items, violent items, or pornography.

Etsy Fees

There are a handful of different legal fees that go into setting up an Etsy shop, but the main ones include a Listing Fee, Transaction Fee, and Subscription Fee.

For every object you want to post on Etsy, you must pay a 20 cent Listing Fee. This also means that if you have multiple of the same item, you have to pay 20 cents per each sale you make. The Transaction Fee is a 5% charge on the listing price that you pay per sale, and you have to pay for any additional shipping or wrapping fees as well. Lastly, the Subscription Fee is a monthly payment of $10 for those who want to upgrade to Etsy Plus. While anyone can have a regular Etsy member account for free, the Etsy Plus account provides users with additional features like advanced shop customization and access to discounts and perks.

How To Open Up Your Etsy Shop

Opening up your Etsy Shop and customizing your page is super simple. Here is where you'll create a company name and logo for yourself. According to The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website, it's important to pay attention to the product descriptions you provide for your Etsy items. The more specific you are with your details, the more likely it is for someone to find your items.

Once you set up your shop and get photos of your items up, the best way to get the word out is through social media. Shewaga says that she and her friend were recently speaking about how they couldn't stop themselves from online shopping. "We were joking about how being home has led to much more time online, scrolling and shopping than we normally would be doing," she says. "I think this pandemic has people shopping online more, and they are gravitating towards shopping at the small businesses." If you can make your shop stand out, maybe they'll support your small business, too. To start out, try posting about your products on platforms like:

"I wish I had a formula that helps you open an Etsy shop and bring in thousands of dollars in sales right away — but I don't," Shewaga says. "It's important to remember that with any entrepreneurial adventure, patience is key. It's also important to just be yourself. I think beyond making money, opening an Etsy shop will really surprise you."

Sources interviewed:

Kate Shewaga, owner of Etsy plant shop Bolt and Rally