How To Sell On Etsy Successfully (It’s Not What You Expect)

To sell on Etsy successfully, you need to have good photos, good SEO, good products and good customer service. But the most important part of it is something that not a lot of people address, and that’s your expectations.

If you want to have a successful Etsy business, you need to have full faith and confidence that your business is going to succeed. Without that, it won’t.

Being successful on Etsy often comes down to having a mindset that allows you to be successful. If you have mental limitations that prevent you from reaching or exceeding your goals, you generally won’t succeed. This goes deeper than a simple “attitude adjustment,” it’s generally something that takes some investigation to understand where the self-imposed limits are coming from.

This is what my Turtle Wins The Race course Opens in a new tab.goes over, and it’s what I think is the cause of most people quitting or never hitting their goals.

Managing your expectations and knowing what it takes to actually run a home-based Etsy business (or any home-based business) is what’s going to make or break you being successful.

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Some of the links in this article are affiliate links that will pay me a small commission if they’re used to purchase something. To see the entire affiliate policy click here.

What do you need to sell on Etsy?

Etsy has some basic requirements to set up a shop, including an email address, an active bank account, and the identification that’s required by your country’s government for reporting taxes. Beyond that, you may need to register your business with your local government’s business office, and you may or may not need a business license depending on your local laws.

This article goes over what to do before opening an online shop, but since laws vary from country to country and by locality, you’ll need to do your own investigating into what’s legally required, too.

More important than the law, though, is whether you have a realistic view of what goes into running a home-based business as far as your own time and effort. You can fill out all the forms perfectly, but if you don’t have a realistic attitude about what’s going to be required from you, it’s not going to work.

Understanding how much time you have to spend on a business beyond all of the other things you need to do is part of the reality of having your own business. Being able to budget your time efficiently is really important.

People who have an unrealistic idea about how much time a business will take, or who think they can get a full-time income out without putting the effort in, are going to be pretty disappointed.

Setting your goals realistically based on the time that you have is the best way to go if you don’t want to burn out from exhaustion and quit.

Successful Etsy sellers are able to realistically define their goals and they’re more proactive than reactive.

screenshot of Etsy stats

How to understand your limitations.

When you start a home-based business one of the most important things to do is to have a realistic idea of your own strengths and weaknesses. Understanding yourself and what you like doing and dislike doing is critical to developing a realistic workflow. Having a good workflow that you can complete consistently is important because without that, you won’t be able to maintain momentum.

In my Turtle course I go over a bunch of factors that hold people back, including things that other people tell them and things that they tell themselves.

Everyone has things that we tell ourselves that are complete garbage, but we believe them anyway. If you don’t get a handle on those things it could prevent you from getting to your goals because you’ll sabotage yourself.

I know that this sounds really out there and very self-helpy, but it’s true. There are so many messages that we get about ourselves and our abilities every day that hold us back, and we need to be able to tune a lot of it out or it will derail us.

Successful Etsy sellers understand the things that they don’t like to do, or that they don’t do well, and they figure out ways to manage those things so that they don’t take up too much of their time.

This can include hiring someone else to do them, or using software to do them. It will save you aggravation in the long run if you’re not afraid to admit what you don’t like to or want to do.

Another thing to understand is what your strengths are, and to nurture those.

How to use your strengths.

Knowing what your strengths are can help you funnel them into helping you achieve your goals with less effort. If you play to your strengths it can make your work process faster and easier, which makes it less likely that you’ll give up.

I read a book that talked about this called Work Energy,Opens in a new tab. and it goes over how you should try to tap into your natural daily rhythms that keep you interested in tasks so that you can do them repeatedly on a daily basis.

This just makes sense, since running an Etsy business or any other home-based business is a lot of repetitive tasks, and it’s not always fun. If you have a good understanding of your strengths you’ll be able to use those to your advantage.

Successful Etsy sellers understand the things that they do well, and they do those things until they get traction in the Etsy system

Understanding what you do well and what you don’t do well is really important, but it’s also important to understand WHY you don’t do certain things well.

How to turn your weaknesses around.

When you can identify and “diagnose” your weaknesses, it’s often easier to improve those things, or at least to figure out things that you can hire someone else to do! We all have things that we don’t do well, or that we just don’t want to do so we never get them done. If you can pinpoint what those things are, what’s causing the difficulty, and whether you can get beyond the causes of them, you can decide what to do about them.

Sometimes our weaknesses come from ourselves and the things that we believe about ourselves for whatever reason.

If you tell yourself that you’re really bad at something, you might not even want to try doing it. But why do you think you’re bad at it to begin with?

A lot of people think they’re bad at something because that’s what they were told by someone else, and they just believe it.

Maybe your brother was “the smart one” and you were “the creative one” so you think you can’t do bookkeeping or figure out SEO. Chances are that’s something you’re putting on yourself, so if you can figure out the source of that mental limit you’re setting for yourself, you’ll be able to figure things out just fine.

On the other hand, there might be things that you’re perfectly fine at, but you just don’t like doing. That’s a different kind of thing, and it could also be a reason why you’re not successful at selling on Etsy.

Turtle wins the race logo

The truth about running a successful home-based business.

To run a home-based business successfully, you need to understand your strengths, weaknesses, and the reality of how much work it’s going to take. The reality of the workload is what people often underestimate, and that can also be something that trips people up.

I once had a conversation with a former wedding cake client who had enjoyed planning her wedding so much, she had decided that she was going to be a wedding coordinator.

When I pointed out that she would have to work every weekend, she was surprised, thought about it for a few seconds, then got over the idea of being a wedding coordinator.

The reality of running a successful home-based business is that you’re going to have to work a lot harder than you would if you worked for someone else.

Since you’re responsible for the success or failure of your business, you’ll also feel a lot more pressure than you will if you work for someone else. And you can’t help bringing your work home if you work at home!

People talk about work-life balance, but that can be really, really hard to do if you work from home.

Work-Life Balance with a home-based business.

The way to achieve a work-life balance that works for you is to decide what that is FOR YOU. Different people will have different expectations of what works for them. It’s important to tailor your goals to what you can accomplish with the time that you have so that you’ll be able to achieve some success.

Different people will have different goals based on their life circumstances. You don’t have to have the same goals as other people, your goals should fit your life, not theirs.

I mentioned my Turtle class a couple of times, but that’s one of the basic pillars of that course. You need to figure out what you want for your work-life balance, then structure your business around that.

Don’t feel like your business should be structured or look like anyone else’s regardless of what people say. There’s a lot of advice about what a “real” business is, but most of that advice is based on the traditionally-structured idea of a physical business with employees, not a home-based business run by one person.

You might never want to have employees (I don’t.) You might not want to grow your business so that you can sell it (I don’t.) You might not want to ever have to worry about being able to franchise your business down the road (I don’t.)

That doesn’t mean that your business isn’t a “real” business. Your business doesn’t have to fit a typical mold as long as it fits your life.

You don’t even have to have a full-time income if that’s not what you want. However you want to structure your business is fine, and you can also choose to scale it up or ramp it down as time progresses.

Having a successful home-based business involves consistent work, but defining what success is will vary for everyone.

Defining what you think success is will be the first step, then being realistic about what it will take to get there should follow. Success is both physical and mental, and those two aspects need to work together if you want to achieve your goals.

For a free workshop that will introduce you to the Turtle program and help you to clarify some things about running an Etsy business, click here: Turtle Starter Challenge.Opens in a new tab.

Kara Buntin

Kara Buntin has run a profitable home-based business since 1999, and has a background in art, theater design, and cake decorating. She's a top Etsy seller with over 51,000 sales on Etsy and her own website, and helps other home-based business owners with their business goals and SEO. She founded the Artisan Shopping Directory website to promote the artisans who are members of her EShop Success marketing program.

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