How to Make a Full-Time Income on Etsy: Step-by-Step Guide

Etsy logo

Etsy boasts more than four million active sellers, 90 million active buyers, and it turned over $10 billion in gross merchandise sales in 2020,[1] helping individuals sell creative goods and buy unique items as part of a global community of like-minded doers.

Around 70% of U.S. Etsy sellers consider their shop to be a business and about one-third of sellers consider it their sole occupation.[2]

Below, we explain how a career selling on Etsy is possible, including step-by-step information about how you can do this.

What to Sell

Etsy has numerous categories filled with vintage, handmade, and craft items from across the globe. You can choose to sell something that fits well within one of these categories or sell something completely novel.

Some of the most popular shop categories — with variations and niche sub-categories within each — include:[3]

Clothing & Shoes

  • Women’s
  • Men’s
  • Kids/Baby

Jewelry & Accessories

  • Bags/purses
  • Belts
  • Body jewelry
  • Bracelets
  • Earrings
  • Eyewear/sunglasses
  • Gloves/mittens
  • Hats/fascinators
  • Headbands
  • Keychains
  • Necklaces
  • Rings
  • Scarves
  • Tiaras

Home & Living

  • Bath/beauty
  • Bedding
  • Furniture
  • Home decor
  • Kitchenware
  • Lighting
  • Office supplies
  • Outdoor/gardening supplies
  • Pet supplies
  • Rugs
  • Storage/organization

Wedding & Party

  • Clothing
  • Decorations
  • Gifts/keepsakes
  • Invitations
  • Jewelry

Toys & Entertainment

  • Action figures
  • Books
  • Cameras
  • Computers/computer accessories
  • Dolls
  • Educational toys
  • Electronics
  • Games
  • Kids’ crafts
  • Mobile phone accessories
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Puzzles
  • Slime
  • Video games

Art & Collectibles

  • Art prints
  • Collectible coins
  • Fiber arts
  • Figurines
  • Glass art
  • Memorabilia
  • Miniatures
  • Mixed media/collage
  • Paintings
  • Photographs
  • Sculptures

Craft Supplies & Tools

  • Candle making
  • Electronics/circuitry
  • Crochet
  • Cross stitch
  • Embroidery
  • Knitting
  • Jewelry making
  • Papercraft
  • Quilting
  • Sewing
  • Woodworking

Creating Your Etsy Shop

If you have a hobby or skill, selling on Etsy is often just about monetizing what you already do. If your hobby or craft isn’t listed above, you can even create a shop to sell something new and unique.

There’s nothing to stop you from becoming a top seller in your category by offering your product in a way that no one else can! Below, we detail the steps required to start and manage your own Etsy shop so you can start selling.

Decide What to Sell

The first and most important step in the Etsy selling process is developing the right product to sell.

You can search Etsy and filter by popular items to see what’s in demand. Perhaps you can make something similar, but better. Perhaps you can personalize it, create a new theme, or commit to using only local materials.

Look for gaps in the market — products do well when they solve a problem, even if it’s a problem your potential customers don’t yet realize they’re having.

Once you have your idea and your product, all you need to do is set up your shop!

Register and Choose a Name

You’ll need to provide some contact details to sign up for Etsy, and you then get to choose your shop’s name. The site provides a naming tool that you can use to check availability.

Etsy also offers a helpful guide for naming your shop, written by a real seller in the Etsy Seller Handbook. Keep the following tips in mind:[4]

  • Use a descriptive name that allows shoppers to quickly understand your vibe and what you sell (for example, Urban Cheesecraft or Delirium Decor).
  • Choose something you’d be comfortable printing on a business card.
  • Search for the names you like on Google before deciding to see if any non-Etsy businesses or websites use them. You might also want to check its availability on social media (Instagram, Twitter, etc.).
  • Choose something easy to pronounce and spell.
  • Keep in mind that Etsy’s character limit for shop names is 20 characters and can’t include spaces or punctuation.

Setting Up Payment and Billing Methods

By default, sellers who live in eligible countries (including the U.S.) will use Etsy Payments to accept payments. This allows buyers to use any payment method they choose (such as PayPal or a credit card) and adds all of those payments into one Etsy Payment account for the seller.[5]

You’ll also need to set up your own billing information with a credit or debit card. This allows Etsy to verify your identity and collect things like selling fees. You can use American Express, Discover, Mastercard, or Visa.[5]

Stock Your Shop

Once you’ve chosen a great name and set up your Etsy profile, it’s time to create your first listings and stock your shop! Keep the tips below in mind as you get ready to start selling.

Adding Pictures

Take photos from several angles to accurately represent size, shape, color, and what the product actually is.

A phone camera can work just fine if you don’t have a digital camera. Try to use natural light so the images will be clear and bright.

You can reorder the images you upload and adjust the thumbnail if it’s not quite right. Photos are usually the first thing potential buyers notice, so they’re vital for driving sales.

Creating Listing Details

Create a title and fill out the required information for your listing. A series of drop-down lists will help you choose details like categories.[6]

You’ll also need to set a price. If you’re unsure where to start, look at other shops that sell similar items and compare their material quality, artistry, and size to your own. If you choose to offer free shipping, Etsy provides a smart pricing tool so you can adjust the prices and recover shipping costs.[7]

Writing Product Descriptions

Your product description(s) should be informative and thorough. Explain what the product is, what it does, who it’s intended for, and any other useful information.

Your description will help shoppers find your item when searching as well as helping them understand exactly what they can expect to receive.[6]

Be honest and helpful. You should write clearly in a way you would expect to read if you were buying the item — visualize yourself as the buyer to get in the right mindset.

Setting Up Shipping Information

Etsy gives sellers some freedom in choosing which courier(s) to use. You can ship the orders yourself or use a third-party fulfillment service.[8]

Be sure to do your research. Check the rates for couriers like USPS and FedEx to make sure you don’t undercharge or overcharge customers. High shipping costs and slow shipping times can deter buyers, so you may need to do some work to find the right balance.

Marketing Your Listing

Etsy Ads allows you to set a daily budget and place ads on search, category, and market paces across Etsy’s website and app. The minimum daily budget is $1.[9]

Etsy will give you the option to exclude or exclude your listing from your Etsy Ads campaign before you publish it.[6]

Finalizing Your Listing

With your photos added, descriptions written, and details selected, you’re ready to publish or save your listing.

Etsy allows you to preview your listing to see exactly how it will look to shoppers. Be sure to check the preview and make any necessary changes.[6]

Then, you can either save your listing as a draft to publish later or select “Publish” to complete the listing. Etsy will add the listing fee to your Payment account once you publish the listing.[6]

Manage Your Account

Your shop is now set up and open for business! You can view your account stats in the account dashboard — see what’s selling well, what’s underperforming, and get feedback about your products.

Etsy also lets you monitor things like traffic sources, top keywords, and hourly activity. There’s even a traffic map showing which countries people are browsing from — this is all free as standard with an Etsy shop.

It can be very useful to help you tweak your listings and maximize your selling potential. For extra support and encouragement, Etsy has plenty of helpful articles and tips covering topics from photography to legal requirements.

Promote Your Shop

While it is possible to be successful selling on Etsy without branching out to market on other platforms, a good way to spread the word about the shop and your products is to take advantage of various social media platforms.

It’s best to create an account specifically for your shop rather than using your personal account (though you can also market your goods to friends and family). Use platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Share the pictures you’ve taken of your products to catch the eyes of potential buyers as they scroll. You can include links directly to your Etsy shop to make it easy for buyers to shop with you.

Be Persistent and Consistent

While anyone can create an Etsy shop and start selling, there are a few factors that differentiate between those who use Etsy as a way to monetize their hobby and those who earn a full-time income selling on the site.

As mentioned above, one major factor is having the right product to sell. However, even with a great product, being successful on Etsy will require persistence (especially in the beginning) and consistency.

Unless your brand already exists and you’re simply switching your selling platform to Etsy, you’ll likely be starting from scratch in terms of your customer base.

A mistake many sellers make is giving up in the early days of their shop when they don’t see significant growth. However, if you have a great product that fills a need, you use sound business practices, and you provide good customer service, it may take some time, but there’s no reason why your shop shouldn’t see growth.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to keep a steady inventory and ship orders on time as your shop grows. At some point, you may need to expand and bring on additional help to meet customers’ demands.

It is essential to maintain the quality and consistency of your products even if you’re producing them in larger quantities — it’s a great way to build customer loyalty and gather positive reviews for your shop.

Fees and Taxes

Creating a shop on Etsy is free; there are no membership fees or other fees just to open a shop. However, you will incur the following costs as you operate your shop:

  • Listing fee: $0.20 per listing (whether or not the item sells) or per item for multi-quantity listings[10]
  • Automatic listing renewal fee (optional): $0.20 per listing[10]
  • Selling fee: 5% of the overall selling price (including shipping and gift wrap)[10]
  • Payment processing fee: 3% of the selling price plus an additional $0.25 per item sold[11]

Optional extras, which incur varying fees, include promoted listings, shipping labels, and a deposit currency conversion if you list items in a different currency than that of your main bank account.

Income from Etsy is taxable; Etsy will report your income to the IRS using Form 1099-K. If you earn more than $400 on Etsy in the year, you’ll also need to pay self-employment tax.[12]

Many people prefer to run their online shops as sole proprietorships. This isn’t a legal entity but simply a person who owns the business and is personally responsible for its legal costs (and entitled to the profits). It takes no legal action to form a sole proprietorship, and you can hire employees and contractors.[13]

Top Etsy Sellers For Inspiration

Some things that can be helpful to consider when you’re working to create your own Etsy shop are the stories of other successful sellers and shops.

We have information about some of these sellers, including details about their products and earnings below.

Berkley Illustration

Berkley Illustration opened in November 2007. It specializes in hand-drawn animal portraits and has amassed more than 68,000 sales. The average print costs about $18.

The following for this shop has taken off so much that the sellers published a book! The company’s lifetime revenue is over $1 million.

GLDN by Layered + Long

GLDN by Layered + Long specializes in gold bar necklaces and personalized jewelry. Active since January 2012, it has had over 500,000 sales, with prices typically around $30.

The owner describes her decision to sell on Etsy as “one of the best decisions [she’s] ever made” and has even turned it into a family operation.

Many of the pieces sold are personalized, making them completely unique and exclusive. The company’s lifetime revenue is over $4 million.

Powder Blue Bijoux

Powder Blue Bijoux sells bridal accessories, including headbands, tiaras, fascinators, veils, handbags, and more. Since 2009, it has collected more than 22,000 sales.

With each item being painstakingly made from the finest materials and retailing at around $60, the owner’s revenue ranks highly. The shop’s lifetime revenue is over $700,000.

Rocky Top Soap Shop

Rocky Top Soap Shop, founded in 2010, now has over 36,000 sales of its all-natural soaps, lip balms, and oils.

The creator says his influence comes from gardeners and herbalists, and he thinks of life as a creative collaboration with nature.

His rustic $7 soaps are handmade in Maine — part of a team effort with his partner. The shop’s lifetime revenue is over $150,000.


Frostbeard has been creating uniquely crafted soy candles from its base in Minneapolis since 2008. Sales have topped 140,000, following the success of the original “Oxford Library” scented candle.

Made for book lovers, Frostbeard’s $18 candles are inspired by stories and their characters. The shop’s lifetime revenue is well over $1 million.


If you think there’s a better market for your products outside of Etsy, there are several similar websites that might better fit your needs. A few of these alternatives include:

  • Big Cartel: You can get five listings free; paid plans range from about $10 per month for 50 listings to $20 per month for 500 listings.[14]
  • ArtFire: ArtFire charges monthly shop fees of $10 to $50 and sales service fees of around 13% to 15%. However, monthly plans come with additional features like enhanced exposure and waived listing fees.[15]
  • Storenvy: You can list up to 1,000 products on a Storenvy shop for free. Features like social media blasts and custom domain names come at a fee of about $15 to $30 per month.[16] The site promotes products purchased and recommended by its users — this makes it a “social shopping” platform.
  • Zibbet: Zibbet is designed for artists and makers. You can list and sell for a flat fee of $5 per sales channel per month, and you can integrate shops from other platforms like Etsy for maximum exposure.[17]
  • Your own website: You can set up your own website and sell directly from there, cutting out the middleman. Be sure to keep in mind the costs and maintenance that come with running a website.

If selling products online isn’t for you, you may want to check out our article with the list of other jobs you can work from home.



11 comments - Comments are closed.

  • Jennifer

    I’m in the planning stages to start an Etsy shop. I have a few products in mind that I’ed rather not mention but I am finding them a challenge to list because of their unique nature.
    Is there a way for me to see how much traffic key word search get so I know which words are best to use. Better yet, does Etsy offer live counseling to startups? I could really use some help to get off to a fast start. I am hoping to make this my sole source of income.
    Thanks so much. Jennifer

  • Misty

    I was reading the selling contract and the way I was reading it, if you don’t hand make every single piece that make a piece of jewelry, it’s not considered homemade. Please tell me I’m misunderstanding this.

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Hillary M. Miller

      Hi Misty,

      According to Etsy’s House Rules, “All handmade items are made or designed by you. … In short, you may not resell items that you were not involved in designing or making.” I would take the “or designed” part of the statement to mean that you may purchase the individual elements for making jewelry (beads, settings, clasps, etc.) as long as you yourself are putting these elements together in an original design and using your own photographs to depict them. The handmade jewelry listings on Etsy show a variety of handmade and store-bought elements combined into an original design. I hope this helps clarify Etsy’s rules on the matter!

      • Misty

        That’s what I was thinking. It was just how they worded it made me question it. Thank you.

  • Justin veach

    This is my dream the things that i build are my passion my hobbie is my love. Please walk me thru the creating my own shop part ty

  • May

    I started a Etsy shop about two months ago. I’ve not seen on “view” of my shop. I’m not sure what I may have missed or maybe my tags aren’t sufficient? Can someone please check out my shop Essie Mae’s Essentials and help me understand what I need to do to drive traffic to my shop?

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Hillary M. Miller

      Hi May,

      It’s hard to say exactly what the problem is without digging into some analytics — but this is a very, very common problem for new Etsy stores. One thing I noticed was that you only have one listing, with different options for size and scents within that listing. You might consider creating different listings for each scent, because a bigger inventory will help boost your rankings in the search results. I hope this helps, and best of luck with your store!

  • divya lakshmi

    Hi i started my etsy shop one month ago,ppl are admiring my stuff but not buying.I don’t know the reason.Can you guys just take a look at my shop and help me to figure out what exactly wrong.Please reply.My shop name is Hastha Katha. we do handmade clothing for women inspired by Indian folk art.

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | William Lipovsky

      Hi Divya,

      What is your conversion rate? That’s the number reveals everything. Conversion rates shock most people at first. 3% sounds horrible but it’s actually good. It depends on your exact definition of a conversion rate but typically that means 100 people view a product and 3 people buy. So maybe you’re not doing as poor as you think you are – you just need to boost traffic.

      Something I noticed though was that there are many grammatical errors throughout. Consider having a native-English speaking proofreader tidy up the text. This will make customers feel more confident they will receive quality customer service after they buy. Communication with buyers – especially on Etsy – is essential. They need to trust they will not only receive a good product – but good service as well.

      Note to other readers: Other comments by Etsy conversion rate experts are welcome.

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