How To Run A Sale On Etsy (Even BOGOs)

There are a few different ways to do sales on Etsy, and knowing how to set up a sale the right way is important if you want to run promotions. Etsy gives us a couple of ways to do sales, and there are more that you can offer if you know how to use the listing features, even a “buy one get one” sale, (BOGO).

To run a sale on Etsy from the shop dashboard:

  1. Navigate to the marketing tab.
  2. Select sales and discounts.
  3. Click on “Run a Sale.”
  4. From the dropdown, select the type of sale (percentage off or free shipping.)
  5. Select the countries where the sale will run.
  6. Select any limits for the order minimum.
  7. Set the duration of the sale.
  8. Add any terms and conditions.
  9. Name your sale so that you can keep track of it.

The other options on the Sales and Promotions page are coupons that you can send out to your own customers, or that Etsy can send out for you.

The Etsy Sales and Discounts page.
The Etsy Sales and Discounts page.

For this article, I’m going to stick to the sales options, but I did write an article about the Abandoned Cart and Returning Shopper coupons, which you can read by clicking the link. There’s also an article about setting up promo codes here: How To Set Up A Coupon Code On Etsy (And Promote It.)

There are a lot of limitations to the Etsy sale system, but there are also things that you can do to run sales that are a little more creative than the options the Sales and Discounts section gives you.

Let’s go over the limitations of what the system lets you do, then I’ll tell you about some ways to get creative with sales.


What are the limits of the Etsy sale system?

The Etsy sale system isn’t super flexible as far as being able to set up sales that aren’t percentage off discounts. You’ll have the option to offer free shipping or a percentage off, but there’s no way to offer a Buy One Get One Free or a Buy Two Get One Free sale directly from the sale manager. (There are ways to set those up in the listings themselves, though.)

Etsy sale only good site-wide notification.
Etsy sale only good site-wide notification.

There are also limits as far as being able to assign items to your sale. If you want to put a select group of items on sale instead of your whole shop, you won’t be able to set an order minimum, since using that will make the sale shop-wide.

You also can’t run a sale for more than 30 days at a time, which is probably because of legal requirements for offering items at full price.


Image saying how to run a sale on etsy, even bogos

Is it legal to run a sale that never ends?

In most places it’s illegal to run a sale that never ends, because that means that the item is never really offered at “regular” price. Perpetual sales are generally considered to be a form of deceptive advertising, and fall under consumer protection laws.

It’s important to check to see what the regulations around sales are where you live, because some countries have very specific laws about how long you have to offer a product at the regular price before you can put it on sale.

federal trade commission buidling in Washington DC
FTC building in Washington DC

Each state in the US has its own laws about this, and then there are Federal Trade Commission laws that we have to follow, too.

Your best bet is to have things at the regular price for more time than you have them on sale, and to never leave a sale up that never ends. But make sure to verify the specifics of what you need to do to be compliant.

A lot of Etsy sellers try to run sales that never end since they think that having the sale nudge in their shops will give them an advantage, but it’s probably illegal, so you’d better check!


Click to see the video.

How to do a Buy One Get One sale on Etsy.

Etsy BOGO method 1.

To do a BOGO sale on Etsy, you’ll need to be a little creative. Since the Sales and Discounts page doesn’t let us set that kind of thing up there, you’ll have to go through the listings themselves to add variations, which can be time-consuming. However, it can be done if you’re willing to take the time to do it.

One caveat…This will work if you have listings that have another variation like a color or a size, but for things that don’t have multiple options it can look odd.

To set up a Buy One Get One sale on Etsy using the listing variations:

  1. Go to the listing and add a new variation.
  2. Choose “price varies” for each variation.
  3. Add one option for “one item” and another option for “two items.”
  4. Set the same price for both variations.
  5. Add a personalization box that requires the customer to say what color choice or size difference they want for each item, or for the second item if you have a variation available for the first one.
Create a new variation and name it "BOGO"
Create a new variation and name it “BOGO”
Image of the New variations. box
New variations.
Add the same pricing to each variation.
Add the same pricing to each variation.

Now yes, this will technically work, but remember that people will see that they can get two of the item for the same price as one of them, and they might get a little weirded out by that.

Doing this on a listing that doesn’t have variations is going to be a little odd unless it’s only for a short time, and it’s something that people buy in multiples anyway.

The downside of doing a BOGO this way is that you have to promote the sale. This won’t register on Etsy as a sale because it’s not set up through their sale page.

Another downside is that the sale is only on one item, so you can’t offer a BOGO with different items.

For those reasons, this is the kind of thing that you could do occasionally and only on specific things, then promote the sale on your social media or to your email list.

This would work well for things like craft kits or supplies, or for sets of things like matching holiday pajamas or family shirts. But again, you’d have to promote this yourself, and it will look weird if you leave it like this all the time, so make this a flash sale event.

Etsy BOGO method 2.

The other way to do a BOGO sale (or a variation of one) on Etsy is to do a percentage off sale in your shop using a 50% off discount and a minimum order of 2. This will even out to a full-price purchase on two things if they’re the same price, which is essentially a buy one get one.

This only works if everything in your shop is the same price, though, so it’s highly limited that way.

Because adding the minimum will include your whole shop in the sale, and once the customer reaches the 2-item threshold, everything will be 50% off even if the customer doesn’t buy two more things.

So basically, this discount will give people 50% off of everything after they buy 2 things, and it won’t require them to buy thing in pairs after that.

This is kind of how a BOGO works, though, depending on the store. Sometimes retailers will say that you have to buy two items to get the sale, but a lot of the time an individual item is really 50% off even if you just buy one.

You can also use coupons to do something similar. To read about that, click here: How To Set Up A Coupon Code On Etsy (And Promote It.)


Image of an Etsy listing on sale.
Etsy listing on sale.

How to set up other Etsy sales on multiple items using variations.

To set up a sale that has a volume discount applied that gets larger as people buy more items, you can use the variations in the same way as I described above to create lower prices per item as multiples are purchased.

For example, you could set up a variation of 1 item, 2 items, 3 items, etc. and price each one a little lower. If one is $10, two could be $18, three could be $21 and so on.

This would only apply to the single item, though, unless you wanted to set up the personalization box to take details for the other items. (See the BOGO directions above.)

That would be a lot more effort, though, and it’s going to take more attention on your part.

You can also do a volume discount by providing coupons for discounts on multiple items. To read about that, click here: How To Set Up A Coupon Code On Etsy (And Promote It.)

The drawback to this is, of course, that you’ll need to promote it more than you would if you have a sale running, because Etsy doesn’t put a sale badge on listings just because there’s a coupon available.

And you can always send out an email to your mailing list, or announce the coupon codes on your shop banner so that people can use them to buy multiples.



Sales are a good way to make some additional income and get more traffic, but you need to be careful and use them judiciously! For an article about when it’s a good time to run a sale on Etsy, click here:

Kara

Kara Buntin has run a home-based business since 1999, and has a background in art, theater design, and cake decorating. She's a top Etsy seller with over 46,000 sales on Etsy and her own website, and helps other home-based business owners with their business goals and SEO.

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