Etsy, Uncategorized

All Things Etsy Pt. 2 (listing your first item)

If you’ve already chosen your shop name, you’re probably ready to list your first item. I’ll give you some SEO tips as well as some advice for taking photos. You don’t have to have 50 items ready to list right away. It costs $.20 for each listing, so it may be better for you to slowly build your inventory and add a few items at a time, rather than attempting to bulk list everything at once.

I will also include a video at the end of this blog posts that walks you through creating a listing on Etsy.

Step 1: Photography

Take good product photos. You do not need fancy photography equipment like light boxes, a DSLR camera, etc. You can use a point and shoot camera or even your cellphone camera, if it’s a newer smartphone.

You will need some type of editing software, like Photoshop. A couple of good editing apps for the iPhone are VSCO, Aviary, Snapseed, and Facetune. Just be careful not to go overboard on the editing, because you want your photos to appear as true to life as possible. You don’t want your customers to receive a product that looks nothing like the photos in your listing.

Natural light

Take photos inside near a natural light source. You want the light to come in from the side of the product, not hitting it directly. Here is an example of a listing photo for my custom journals.

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Photos taken with light source to the side

One thing to remember, if you’re selling physical items, is that Etsy requires that your first listing photos is of the item you are selling, not a mockup. So for t-shirt designs, you are allowed to take a photo of a blank t-shirt that you sell and superimpose your design onto that image, but you technically aren’t allowed to use stock photos of random t-shirts online. A lot of shops do it and get away with it, but it is technically against the rules.

Digital Files

Etsy allows the first listing photo of digital files to be mockups, as long as the item in the photo is the final product that the customer will be receiving. If you sell digital wall art prints, you can use a frame mockup and insert your product into the frame using Photoshop. I highly recommend WhiteHartDesignCo for clean, minimal mockups.

you are my sunshine mockup watermarked.jpg
Printable wall art using a frame mockup


Some sellers swear by watermarking their photos. Etsy themselves recommend against using watermarks on photos because it makes those listing ineligible for use in Etsy finds emails and google shopping results. Instead, they recommend including a logo somewhere within the photo, like a sticker or included in the packaging somewhere. Just don’t overlay your logo over the image.

A way to avoid others stealing your images and claiming them as their own is to make sure your listing photos are no larger than 1000px across. This resolution allows the photos to display cleanly in a browser, but is too small to be reposted elsewhere. This is what I do for all of my listing photos.

Step 2: Item Titles/Tags

If you’re anything like me, this is probably where you will struggle the most. I have revised my listing titles and tags more times than I can count. I think most Etsy sellers go through this revision process many times.

  • A good rule of thumb is to use up as much available space in your listing title and to use up all of the tags available.
  • As of right now, multi word tags get you found in search more reliably than single word tags.
  • Item titles should appear like this: “hand lettered print, hand-lettered wall art, calligraphy print,” etc. You can use commas or dashes, whichever you prefer. Using commas allows you to copy/paste the title into the tags area to create individual tags. I prefer the look of dashes.
  • Use the same tags as the title keywords.
  • Think of how customers might find your items in search. Will they look specifically for the type of item you sell, or are they more likely to find you while looking for something else? My zodiac prints are easy to find in search because people will typically look specifically for zodiac prints. I also try to make them easily found when searching for foiled prints.

Step 3: Item descriptions

Here is where you really get to sell your product. You can also utilize your item description to help boost your results in search. Sprinkle keywords in throughout your description (do NOT group them all together, as some search engines will consider this spam).

Make sure your description is broken up into nice sections of text. Don’t create a “wall of text” that is hard to read or takes forever to get through.

Have someone proofread your descriptions if you aren’t sure about grammar and spelling mistakes. It’s important for buyers to trust that you’re a professional business owner who takes their time marketing their products.

Tone is also something to consider when creating your item descriptions. Some shop owners write their descriptions like they’re texting a friend. Others choose to use a more professional, formal tone when creating their descriptions. It’s all up to you. Just remember that someone’s grandmother might be reading your description, so don’t use obscene or offensive language in your shop.

I like to break up the text of my descriptions by creating little subsections like “how to order”, “about this listing”, etc. Also make sure to include links to other listings within your shop, or other shop sections. This will keep customers looking through your listings, instead of them clicking out and going to a different shop.

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Listing description example

Step 4: Pricing

How you price your items is going to depend on what you sell and how you create it. There are some really great calculators online that can help you figure out what to charge based on labor hours, markup percentage, and supplies used. They also take out the Etsy fee so that you can figure out exactly how much profit you’re making.

Remember, there is a $.20 listing fee for each item/renewal (items renew every 4 months), but that’s not the only fee they charge. Etsy also charges a 3.5% sales fee for every sale you make. There’s also a 3% fee PLUS $.25 fee for each transaction made using direct checkout. There’s no way around these fees, but keep in mind that they are low compared to other selling platforms.


If you buy your shipping labels through Etsy, you will receive a small discount vs. going into the post office and having them print your labels.

Another thing to consider is a handling fee. I charge an extra handling fee on top of the shipping cost in order to cover my packaging costs. I like for my customers to feel like they are purchasing a well thought out, unique product that has somewhat of a luxury feel. This means I don’t just stick my prints in a cellophane sleeve and ship it a rigid mailer as-is. I want my customer to be excited about opening my product and for it to feel like it was made just for them.

Etsy allows you to make custom shipping profiles that you can apply to certain items in your shop. Make sure to accurately weigh and measure each item so that you don’t lose money through underpriced shipping. Also be sure to include a longer turnaround time than you think you will need. I stick to 1-2 weeks for prints and longer for custom canvas items. My prints usually ship within 2 days of purchase, but I feel that allowing yourself a longer time is a good idea. You never know when you’ll be swamped with orders.

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