What does success look like when you’re starting out on Etsy? I’ll share my own experiences and the timeframes that helped me get there.
We all have different definitions of success. For some, it’s just making a sale. For others, it might be being able to quit their day job and focus on the Etsy shop full-time. How long does it take to achieve your definition of success?
The answer is different for everyone because we’re all at different points in our lives and careers, but let’s talk about what you can do now to help speed up the process!
You should expect to work on your store for around a year start to see consistent sales. By the 1st year point, you should be making a healthy side income from your Etsy store, which is a good target to aim for.
Is it hard to be successful on Etsy?
Yes, it can be difficult to become successful on Etsy. It requires at least a year of consistent effort to become successful, however, it is still very achievable for most sellers.
What does “success” mean to you on Etsy?
Defining what you want to achieve is important when setting your goals on Etsy. Success can mean different things to different people, so this is important to define it from the beginning.
It’s also worth noting that financial success (i.e profit) and artistic success are two very separate things, especially with a handmade business
Goal setting is important as it allows you to judge whether or not your goal is realistic, and can help set process-driven targets – not just sales targets which are often just wishful thinking and not based on reality
Once you have defined your goals and have gone through the “how to be successful on Etsy” guide you will have a good idea of what you need to do to be successful
Setting goals for your Etsy store
To help me grow at the start of an Etsy store I like to set process-driven goals and not sale targets – those will come in time.
For example, I might have a goal of making at least 50 listings in the month of July. This is process-driven as it doesn’t matter how large or small my shop is – if I reach the target then that’s great! If not, well then I will have to work harder next month!
“process-driven: goals for how you would like things done, not when they need to happen.”
The reality of running an Etsy business is that it takes time to grow into a success. It can be very tempting to want everything now and with zero effort – but this isn’t realistic.
For example, if my financial goal is to make $1000 a month, I would need to break this down:
- How much profit can I make on one sale?
- Using that, how many sales do I need in a month to hit my financial target?
- Using search analysis can work out what a realistic “sales per month/per listing” is?
- Once I know roughly how often a style of listing would sell I can work out how many listings I need to create
- Finally, I work out how long it would take me to create those listings
These final numbers are my “process goals”, and is how long I can expect to work for in order to see the “success” of $1000 a month.
TARGET: $1000 profit per-month
- How much profit can I make on one sale? => $10
- How many sales do I need in a month? => $1000 (income goal) / $10 (profit per sale) = 100 sales per month
- How often (on average) a style of listing would sell in a month => Let’s assume I find 3 stores selling similar items. On average each of their listings sells 5 sales a month
- How many listings I need to create => 100 (average number of sales a month) / 5 (average sales per listing) = 20 listings
- How long it would take me to create those listings => 1 listing takes 2 hours. I have 10 hours a week available = 5 listings a week = 1 month of just creating listings
The final “process-driven” goal = 20 listings created in one month
This isn’t “1 month to $1000”, but the goal represents one step on the journey to the target. These types of targets keep you focused on what you need to do next, instead of feeling frustrated when you don’t meet your end goal in a month.
What next? I need to create those 20 listings next month, so I better get started now!
Learning about e-commerce
Growing businesses, and becoming an entrepreneur is a journey. Most (i.e. ALL) successful solo entrepreneurs fail in their first attempts. Sometimes a successful goal is to “try”, and to make learnings as you go for your next attempt.
Etsy businesses shouldn’t have many start-up costs, so learning on the job can be very cheap.
Every failure is a step towards success.
Increase your knowledge by reading articles, books, and joining in on the seller forums. Take what you learn from others to figure out if it fits in with your business model.
Learn how other Etsy sellers solve problems similar to yours, perhaps even directly copying a sales technique they use for their own store.
Selling for the enjoyment
Some sell on Etsy simply to spread a little joy through their craft – the money comes secondary. Granted this isn’t me (nor is it likely you!) but these people do exist!
This is a great reason to sell on Etsy – so you can create something that brings a smile to your face!
Is it worth selling on Etsy?
Yes, absolutely. Etsy markets are competitive, even if you’re after a full-time income (as opposed to solely creating for enjoyment) then there is plenty of room.
If you’re selling a unique product or something that is functional and long-lasting – then making money with it on Etsy will be much easier.
How much time do I need to commit to become successful?
I would recommend at least a couple of hours a week. This will cover the basics. Ideally, 10-15 hours will be required to get it going, but 1-3 hours a week for upkeep, including responding to customers, posting and creating new listings would be fine.
To be successful on Etsy, you will need to have time and energy. Many people start selling after they’ve finished their day job, or on the weekend.
If that’s not possible for you, it would take longer to get your shop off the ground.
What is the timeline for success?
Whilst there is no “one size fits all”, here is my timeline for success:
- Find a niche that meets your success criteria. This takes around a month.
- Choose your product line, taking into account whether you’re creating handmade products or sourcing them from elsewhere (e.g. print on demand). This will take up to 3 months. If you can’t create the items yourself, this extra time is necessary for your store to be successful
- Opening your store. This can be done in a day. Come up with a few SEO keywords, as well as your shop name.
- Creating your first batch of testing listings. This will be based on the research you did in step 1. This is to test the market for your items. This can take anywhere from 1 day to a week, depending on whether you have a product that is already popular among other sellers or you need to build a demand for it yourself.
- Review and repeat test listings. Etsy is all about repeating the success of your good listings and testing new ideas. This is ongoing and never stops. This is where you build towards your success.
How many stores succeed?
Very few stores succeed on Etsy, but they mainly fail for avoidable reasons. Many do market research wrong and don’t create listings to fulfil a need, and therefore don’t sell.
Many don’t have the time to dedicate to their business or think it will happen overnight. It doesn’t.
How to improve your chances of success
“Research early. Test often.” is my advice for all new sellers. If you already have a business from which you can dedicate time to your Etsy store, then great! Work out how much time each week you’ll spend on marketing and selling.
In order to be successful on Etsy, you need a lot of patience. It takes time and effort to get your shop up and running, but the best part about it is that there are no set hours or deadlines for when you have to work.
When you’re starting out, it’s important not to give up too easily if sales aren’t coming in immediately because they will eventually come with persistence!