Learning how to sell on Etsy is an exciting and profitable opportunity for countless artists and craftspeople around the world.
We have to step back and think for a moment what a wonderful time we live in, where we can effortlessly communicate and transact with so many people.
In this article, I will be discussing the details of selling wooden bowls on Etsy. Why? Because this site is all about making wood bowls. However, the same practices I’m sharing apply to nearly any other handmade item you may be interested in selling on Etsy.
So let’s dive in.
Selling on Etsy Table of Contents
- What Is Etsy?
- Why Sell On Etsy
- The Etsy Advantages
- License and Permits
- Setting Up An Etsy Account
- Branding Your Etsy Shop
- Make a Logo
- Watermark Etsy Images
- Post Listings To Etsy
¬Posting Product Images
¬Product Listing Title
¬Etsy Product Tags
¬Pricing Your Product
¬Product Shipping Settings
¬Adding In Shipping Cost
- The Psychology of Selling On Etsy
- Details, Details, Details
- Making Sales
- Shipping Your Item
- How Do Finances Work On Etsy?
¬Managing Income and Fees
¬Sales and Income Tax
¬Linking Your Bank Account
¬Credit Card Info
- The Follow Up
- Customer Feedback
- Selling On Etsy Conclusion
What Is Etsy?
Etsy is an online selling platform created by three enterprising creators, over a decade ago who realized a need to help craftspeople sell their wears better online.
The primary purpose of Etsy is to provide an online “shop” experience for handmade (and vintage) goods. Etsy is essentially a perpetual, never-ending craft show.
Etsy began in Brooklyn in 2005. After only a couple of years, in 2007, Etsy had over 400,000 users, and sales were taking off.
Today, Etsy boasts tens of millions of members and helps generate billions of dollars of revenue for those creators each year.
Why Sell On Etsy
Etsy offers the opportunity for you to be a part of the global marketplace, all while not even leaving your house.
The process of selling on Etsy, compared to other options like craft shows, different online setups, etc. is straightforward. It offers a relatively low amount of time and resources to enter.
With a little setup and effort, detailed in this article, you can have an online shop started in a single day without needing to rent a space, buy display equipment, own a domain name, establish web hosting, or learn how to build a website.
The Etsy Advantages
Of course, there are many places to selling your wood bowls or other handmade items, but none offer so much for so little input as selling on Etsy.
• A massive advantage of Etsy is that you don’t have to set up your own website from scratch and learn all the different skills needed to operate and maintain a website.
• Etsy understands precisely what we are doing – selling handmade items, and their entire site is built around this model.
• Because Etsy helps people sell handmade items, millions of people come to Etsy to look for handmade items to purchase.
• Your Etsy shop and products will be part of the searchable results when these millions of people are looking for items like yours.
• If you run your own website to sell items, you have to also guide potential customers to that site, which isn’t always an easy task.
• By the way, if you do have a website and sell your work there too, that’s perfectly fine. You don’t have to be exclusive to Etsy when it comes to selling your work.
• Etsy processes and manages all the money and credit card transactions for you. If you’ve ever had to hassle with a merchant account, you know how nice it is having this service included.
• Another significant advantage is Etsy offers negotiates discounted shipping fees. When you ship through Etsy, which we will cover later, you pay less than shipping directly yourself.
• An added advantage of Etsy when it comes to shipping is tracking. All shipments and their progress are tracked in your Etsy Shop Manager section and shared with your customer automatically.
• Also, Etsy has built-in customer communication and feedback system that allows quick messaging and excellent communication with your customers.
• When a customer has a great experience with you, they can brag about you in the form of feedback, which helps influence other customers to buy from you.
• Everything you need to sale, communicate, ship, and transact a sale of your handmade item is all located in one convenient place in your Shop Manager panel within Etsy.
License and Permits
In most cases, you do not need to have a special business license or permit to operate an Etsy shop. However, if you are unsure, it is best to consult a professional to review your particular circumstances.
Here is a link for more information covering state-by-state license and permit requirements.
Setting Up An Etsy Account
Setting up an Etsy account is super simple. Just like so many other sites, just register using your email address or Facebook or Google account info.
I recommend using an email address that you know you want always to be associated with your shop. Personally, I don’t like setting up accounts with my Facebook or Google profiles, but that’s just me, I’m sure those processes will work just fine.
Continue through the setup procedure and establish a shop name. You can change your shop name later if you’d like, but be careful because this might confuse potential customers. Find a name that works for you and stick with it.
Etsy now offers different levels or “subscriptions.” I use the “Etsy Standard,” but there are other options which include having your own web address linked to your Etsy shop. Again, I don’t use these, but this might appeal to you.
Branding Your Etsy Shop
As I mentioned in the previous section, you’ll need to establish your shop name. Think of something memorable and straightforward to use as your Etsy shop.
Your brand at Etsy is going to be most important for returning customers. At that point, your brand will help returning customers confirm they are looking at Your listings and not some other shop.
When it comes to initial impressions, your Etsy branding won’t be as important as your title, description, and tags. People search for what they want to buy, and the search terms are the priority at that point.
Make a Logo
You don’t need to be a graphic designer to create a simple logo. Get creative with fonts and type sizes or scan your signature.
Making a logo is not about perfection; it is about making a repeatable image that stands out as memorable to the viewer.
There are many graphic software packages available such as Photoshop, that work well for creating a logo. Or you can use an online service like canva.com to create your logo.
Once your logo is complete, save your logo in a .JPG or .PNG file format.
Goto your Etsy shop profile set up, navigate to Shop Manager > Settings > Info and Appearance and place your logo as the “shop icon.”
Watermark Etsy Images
After you take the time to make good photographs of your wood bowls, use your logo as a watermark in the corner of each image.
Watermarking your images is essential for branding, and also to discourage people from stealing your pictures and using them for other purposes. Trust me, this happens more than you might think.
I use Adobe Lightroom to add my logo watermark to my images, which is found in the export options. Other software programs can be used to create similar results.
Post Listings To Etsy
So you’re ready. You’ve set up your Etsy account, and you’ve created a shop profile.
Well, it’s time to fill your shop “shelves” with your merchandise.
Navigate to your “Shop Manager” and click “Listings.” Here, you will see any existing listing and be able to make changes, and you can add new listings.
In the top right corner, click “Add A Listing” to post a new item in your shop.
Posting Product Images
Good images are vital to helping customers see what they are buying. Clean, simple, well-lit photos are crucial to making a sale on Etsy.
Take your time and make high-quality images of your items. Here is a detailed article all about how to affordably make great photos of your products.
Etsy offers the opportunity to post ten images of each item for sale. I recommend using as many, or all of these ten image slots for each item. The more someone sees of your product, the easier it is for them to decide to buy.
The first image in the grid of images will become the thumbnail image that appears on your shop page. Click, hold, and drag the photos to rearrange their order.
Product Listing Title
The title of your item for sale on Etsy is super important because it contains searchable content.
When you title your piece, you need to think like the person who will be searching for that specific bowl.
If you title your item “wood bowl,” you are limiting the possibilities of someone finding your bowl.
Instead of using a short, simple title, think of specific keywords that distinguish your bowl and include them in the title. A better title might be “large black cherry salad serving wood bowl with wide rim food-safe finish.”
Now, if someone searches “large wood bowl” or “cherry bowl” or large serving bowl,” your item will be included in those results.
The more information in your product titles, the better. I even include the wood bowl serial number in the title, which helps me to differentiate one bowl from another easily.
For more information about signing and marking your bowls, be sure to read this article.
Etsy provides many item listing sections that need to be filled out. Most of these sections are self-explanatory and have easy pull-down options or checkboxes to select.
Move from top to bottom and fill out the entire page of details for each listing.
The product description block is another critical area to take your time and do well for two reasons.
The information in the description box is searchable and will drive traffic to your listing. But, more importantly, the customer will read this area when they are serious about buying your item.
The time you take to fill out the description area can easily be the “make it or break it” point of a sale on Etsy.
Again, think like the customer and ask yourself, “what do I want to know about this bowl before I buy it?”
When you thoroughly answer all possible questions, you will have the description section complete.
Etsy Product Tags
Etsy has an area to add your product “tags.” Tags are the keywords or phrases that someone might use to search your item.
For instance, “wood bowl” or “salad bowl” would be good tags if you’re selling a wood salad bowl.
Look around Etsy and do searches for items like you’re selling and see what keywords create the most results.
Be sure to max out all available tags in the Tags section.
Pricing Your Product
Oh boy, it’s time to put a price on your one-of-a-kind beautiful wooden bowl. I know how agonizing the pricing process can be.
How much should I sell my wood bowl for on Etsy?
Great question. But the answer is so loaded, I have an entire article devoted just to the topic of pricing your wood bowls to sell. Please take a moment and read that article.
Here’s the bottom line, Etsy is a free-market exchange that is controlled by supply and demand.
When you search for other items like yours on Etsy, in this case, wooden bowls, you will see many other people doing the same. This doesn’t mean you can’t sell your bowls here too. It just means you need to play within the supply and demand parameters at hand.
If you’ve made a bowl that you absolutely love, but for some reason you’d like to sell, and you decide you can’t take less than $5,000 for it, Etsy probably isn’t the place to sell that piece.
At the other extreme of the spectrum, if you’ve made a few bowls but you’re not too confident yet with your final pieces and decide to post a bowl for $5, the market place is going to question the price and probably not purchase.
If you’re at a total loss for a proper price for your wood bowls, even after reading my wood bowl pricing article, ask others.
Find several different people who will be honest with you and ask them what they think the price of your pieces should be.
You may be pleasantly surprised or stunningly shocked, depending on what preconceived notions you may have been holding. Ha! 😉
You can always come back and change the price of an item in the “Listings” section of your “Shop Manager” if needed.
Product Shipping Settings
It’s a good idea to box each bowl or at least know which sized box a bowl will fit in and have a close idea of the weight of the completed box.
In the “shipping” section, you will want to fill out the weight and box size as this sets in motion the pricing for shipping.
You might be thinking, “oh, I’ll take care of shipping myself.”
I strongly suggest purchasing your shipping through Etsy for two reasons. You won’t be able to beat the shipping prices Etsy is offering because they have negotiated discounts with USPS and FedEx.
And, if you ship your item outside of Etsy, no tracking and updates will be posted. Etsy sends progress updates to your customer automatically, so you don’t have to.
Trust me, it’s an excellent service at discounted pricing, and you don’t need to deal with random “where’s my product?” emails from customers.
Shipping products that are sold online has changed in the last few years because of one reason – Amazon.
Consumers, including us, are very fickle, and we like being spoiled. When we start getting many things shipped to us from Amazon for “free,” we want EVERYTHING shipped free.
Well, this “free shipping” thinking has poured over to Etsy as well.
Here’s the rub however, the United States Postal Services, UPS, and FedEx still like to be paid for the services they provide. Go figure! LOL
Etsy strongly encourages creators to sell their items with “free shipping.” And they even promote shops that ship for free.
So how do you ship for “free?”
Adding In Shipping
Hopefully, the previous section about pricing wasn’t too difficult for you, because if you’re going to ship for “free,” your prices will need to change.
Here’s how I do it.
I fill out the entire shipping section with the item weight and box size. At that point, Etsy will let you see an estimated shipping price for various US cities.
Take the city that is farthest from you and note that shipping price. Add that shipping price to your total item price. So if a bowl was $70 and the shipping is $15, the new price of the bowl is $85.
If someone orders from you that lives closer, the shipping may be a bit less, and you make a little more from the sale because you are selling at a fixed price with “free shipping” included.
By the way, if you think that is odd or unfair, it is precisely what Amazon does with most of its products.
After you’ve had several sales, you will get a better idea of your average shipping costs and be able to fine-tune the added in price better.
This whole shipping thing can be an added motivation for turning thinner wood bowls that only weigh a few ounces and cost much less to ship across the country.
Double Bonus, improved turning skills equals cheaper shipping. Ha! It’s funny and very accurate!
The Psychology of Selling On Etsy
The process of listing a product on Etsy might seem a bit mechanical. Keep one thing in mind at all times – be the customer. Think of everything you’re doing through the customer’s point of view.
Always be asking yourself questions. Am I showing enough images of the item for sale? Does the description clearly explain the item? Will someone be able to find my product when they search appropriate keywords?
You and your product will be in a sea of other similar products, and that’s good because people go to where they can find what they want.
Figure out what makes your product different, better, unique, and capitalize on those aspects.
Be willing to experiment and make adjustments until you get the sales you would like.
Details, Details, Details
For every listing, the details can not be underestimated.
From the title to the images to the product description, you need to share as many product details as possible.
For instance, I love turning wood that has wormholes. The holes add interesting character and beauty, in my opinion.
However, if I only posted a single image of that bowl from far away, the wormholes might not be visible.
Someone expecting a functional salad bowl instead of a beautiful centerpiece will probably want to return the bowl if I don’t share enough details.
So I feature all the details in each of my listings. If a bowl has wormholes, I add that to the title, and I include close-up images that show light coming through the side of the bowl.
Again, the details are super important and can’t be overlooked.
Initially, the first sales on Etsy may take a little time. After all, you’re new, and your site won’t be able to boast a sales history and customer feedback at first.
Be patient and build up your listings and continuously improve your Etsy shop. Refine your message, your brand, and don’t give up.
It’s going to happen. Eventually, you’ll get a little notification ding on your computer or phone indicating that an item has been “ORDERED!”
Oh, now what do you need to do? First, confirm that Etsy has received payment for the bowl or item purchased and begin the shipping process.
Immediately after receiving your order confirmation, send a message to the buyer. Again, “be the customer” and think about what you’d like to see if you were on the purchasing end.
Send a nice “thank you” message through the communication center in your Etsy “Shop Manager” section and let your customers know what to expect.
Treat your customers as you’d like to be treated.
Shipping Your Item
Go to the “Shop Manager” section and click on “Orders.” Here you will see your new order.
In the “Order” section, you will be able to view the item ordered, customer name, shipping address, and much more. This is where you will take care of shipping your sale as well.
It’s best to have packaging materials, such as boxes, tape, and stuffing material already on hand before an item is ordered. This way, you’re ready to ship your product without delay.
Take some time and group the wooden bowls you are selling into size groups. Soon you will realize most of your bowls will fit into one or two different sized boxes.
I order new cardboard boxes from Uline.com. They sell bulk packaging supplies and other materials. Most of my bowls will fit inside a 10” x 10”, 12” x 12”, or 14” x 14” box.
In addition to boxes, I use kraft paper to create long crunched up paper “snakes” to nest the bowls in the box. The kraft paper is cheap, recycled, recyclable, and lightweight.
In the top right corner of your order details, there is a little truck icon. This icon is the link for online shipping.
When you click the little truck, you’re taken to the shipping page for that item.
Almost hidden at the top of the screen is the option for USPS or FedEx. Completely package the bowl(s) first, because you will need the exact weight and box size to proceed.
Enter the details and check the price for USPS and then click on the FedEx link and see what they might charge. Sometimes one will beat the other by a wide margin.
You will need to take the box to the post office or a FedEx drop off location. Depending on how far away the shipping drop off location is for you is another determining factor.
Once you decide which shipping option to use, click the “purchase shipping” option, and print out the address label.
The customer’s information is automatically added to the label and ready to go.
NOTE: Sometimes, a customer will want the item shipped to a different address, perhaps as a gift for someone. Carefully look through the order and any messages from the customer to see if they have asked for different shipping directions. If they do, click the “edit address” link next to the shipping address and add the new address.
Trim the printed label out with a little room to spare in the margin around the label box.
Tape the outer edges of the label to the shipping box and across the center of the label, but leave the QR and barcode areas not taped.
Avoiding covering the barcodes is the process the post office requests because occasionally their scanners will miss a barcode covered with shiny tape.
Not taping over the barcodes is a way to help prevent any unnecessary delivery slowdowns.
How Do Finances Work On Etsy?
That moment of a final sale when someone decides to make a purchase, and you need to total up the price and ask for cash or a credit card, the entire process is managed by Etsy.
You don’t have to deal with any of the money transactions at the customer level. You get paid the price you asked, and it’s that simple.
Etsy is providing a service, and of course, they charge for that service.
Each listing you post to Etsy costs .20 cents for four months. You can choose to have the listings automatically relisted if they haven’t sold at the end of the four months.
When an item sells on Etsy, they collect a fee of around 3.5% of the total item cost. This fee varies by country and transaction type. Here’s a link to the detailed Etsy Fee schedule.
Some people think that these fees are too much and make selling online not worth it for them. I believe this fee is more than fair, especially for the services Etsy offers.
From the comfort of your home, you can essentially run a “storefront” and benefit from the visibility of millions of potential customers, sell your products around the clock to anyone in the world, and have 90% of the transaction and communication process managed for you.
It’s a great deal.
Managing Income and Fees
Unlike many other selling websites, Etsy takes a more formal accounting approach to managing transactions. Fee payments changed recently on Etsy, and I think the change is good.
Before, and similar to other selling sites, Etsy would charge your credit card for the Etsy transaction fee and the shipping fee, if you ordered shipping through Etsy (which I recommend, see above).
So if you sold a bunch of items, you’d see all these individual charges dinged to your credit card, and psychologically it felt somewhat defeating.
Now, Etsy uses time periods (which you can adjust in the Finance > Payment Settings > Deposit Schedule section) to balance all the transactions and deposit the difference.
In the Finance section, you can see a running tab of all the transactions (order received, Etsy fees, and shipping expenses) and your current outstanding balance.
At the end of your defined payment period (mine is set for once a month), Etsy will send your money and reset your account for the next month.
It’s that simple. No more long lists of Etsy charges on your credit card.
Sales and Income Tax
If sales taxes need to be collected from your purchaser, Etsy handles all that.
The only other tax, as an American citizen, you need to deal with is income tax.
Etsy treats you, the shop owner, as an independent contractor, vendor, or freelancer. As a shop owner, you are not employed by Etsy. Etsy does not without income taxes from your fees. Taxes are your responsibility.
At the end of the year, your annual Etsy finance information and 1099 form will be ready for download. Your Etsy profits need to be added to your tax forms and reported as regular income.
I am not a tax advisor, and tax laws vary, so consult with a tax expert if needed.
Linking Your Bank Account
I can already hear what you might be thinking? I know because I thought this once too.
“I don’t want this linked to my bank account.” Well, I’m here to tell you, it’s not that big of a deal.
I’ve seen the future, and the automobile is going to replace the horse-drawn carriage and “no” our internal organs are not going to be scrambled if we travel faster than 40 miles per hour.
Ha. Kidding aside, the amount of information (including your bank account) that is on many computer systems right now would probably make you and me faint. We just need to accept that.
Link your bank account, where you’d like your Etsy payments to be received in the Finance section. You can also choose to receive a check but there are additional fees and delays involved with receiving checks.
On Etsy.com or the Sell on Etsy app, click the Your Account icon, then click Shop Manager > Click Finances > Click Payment settings > Click Update next to Bank details. Here you can add or update your bank info and click Save when you’re done.
Credit Card Info
You probably think if my bank account is already linked, why do they need my credit card.
Etsy will not take money from your bank account, they will only deposit money to that account.
When you first start your Etsy shop, sales may take some time, and you will need to pay your .20 cents (per four-month) listing fees at that time.
Whenever your Etsy account balance is below zero, which will occur if there are monthly fees and no orders yet, Etsy needs to charge your credit card.
The Follow Up And Comments
I’ve mentioned this several times already, but it’s worth saying again, think about the customer at all times. Perhaps think about some bad customer service experiences you’ve had in the past and try to avoid that with your customers.
More customer communication is much better than little or no interaction. Etsy has built a whole messaging center within each order just for this purpose.
Click the little envelope icon and send a “Thank you” right off the bat and let them know when you will be shipping and what they can expect. Your customers WILL appreciate these gestures.
While you can’t force someone to send you feedback, you can hint or simply ask them to post a feedback.
Why would you want to ask for feedback?
Feedbacks build credibility, and new customers trust shops that have many positive feedbacks.
Take your time and don’t force feedbacks. However, do the right stuff by treating the customer like a king or queen, and the feedbacks will come naturally.
How To Sell On Etsy Conclusion
They are many moving parts to the Etsy selling experience. But when you boil each one step, the whole process is very achievable and rewarding.
Set a realistic expectation, set up your site, and methodically list your creations, all while keeping the end purchasing customer in mind, and you will have success selling on Etsy.
Take a look at my Etsy shop “Relived Wood” and other Etsy shops for ideas and inspiration. Be original, and figure out what works best for you.
Are you selling now on Etsy, or are you considering? Leave a comment below.
You’re gonna want to read these articles too:
• 9 MISTAKES SIGNING WOOD BOWLS
• PRICING WOOD BOWLS FOR PROFIT – THREE APPROACHES
• PRO PHOTO SETUP CHEAP – SHOOT WOOD BOWLS
• PRODUCT PHOTO SHOOT MADE EASY – WOOD BOWLS
• 11 ETSY SELLING HACKS, TRICKS, AND TIPS
Happy Turning (and Selling),
Kent, I love all your videos and informative articles. I too am retired from graphic arts and photography. I just got into bowl turning after walking by my lathe for quite a few years. The bowls are starting to stack up and I’ll give Etsy a try with your guidance. A friend cut a number of Maple, Ash, and black walnut trees so I have a lifetime of turning ahead of me (I’m 81, or almost 82 as I like to say). A couple of tips I’ve stumbled onto. Don’t spit while wearing a face shield and be careful with black walnut. My little dog sniffed the shavings and was paralyzed for a day. Google told me that it is very lethal for dogs and horses but not harmful to cats. In humans it is a pretty potent laxative, not to the point of diarrhea, but use a mask or breath it sparingly, as needed. Thanks for your service to the turning community!
Thank you for writing and sharing! So glad you aren’t walking by your lathe anymore!!!
Wow, I had no idea about walnut shavings and dogs. That’s scary. Yes, respirator all the time when wood is being cut (in any form).
Keep up the good work!
All the best to you and Happy Turning!
I’ve been spindle turning for many years but have just found an item that is fun and quick to make. My daughter suggested I make more of them and sell them on Esty. I wasn’t even aware there was such a thing so I went to their site and didn’t find any items like mine. I am subscribed to your site and enjoy your work but I was really pleased when I found this article on Esty. I’ve got some more ground work to do but you have taken the mystery out of the process. Thanks, and don’t worry, I’m not in competition with your bowls lol.
John, Thank you for writing and sharing! I’m glad you found this article and have benefited. Not to worry competition is always good. All the best to you and Happy Turning!
I’ve been looking for a way to market my canes and walking sticks but I’m not great with computers. The way you explained this how to, gives me confidence that I can do this and the way have set it all up so I don’t have to worry about details like shipping or finances really take a load off my mind. I’m going to setup an account right now and I’ll let you know how it goes thanks!
Excellent! Thank you for writing and sharing! All the best to you and I hope you sell a ton!
It was only about a week ago that you asked your community as to whether they would like guidance on selling their work on Etsy. This final product is amazing in the depth of its analysis and the guidance it provides to those of us with no prior knowledge of how Etsy works.
Thank you so very much for this guidance.
Thanks for writing and I appreciate your kind words.
The response was overwhelming and the ideas and thoughts I felt needed sharing just starting flowing. I hope you can benefit from all this information.
Let me know if you have further questions.
I’ve been a bit delinquent in viewing your information, however, once again, you have earned a 5 star rating from me.
As a person that has spent the better part of my life promoting my company before my retirement, I can testify to the ease of following your explicit instructions, and your presentation of same. A rare experience…indeed!
Thank you again for your kind words!
My goal is to share valuable information in an easy to digest format.
It is very rewarding to hear your words!
Wow, what a great article – comprehensive, practical and inspirational! I knew next to nothing about Esty and now I will give it serious consideration if I decide to sell my bowls on-line. Thank you very much.
Thank you so much for all your kind words!Best of luck.
Sounds easy will after a hour can’t even get on the right page to set up store !!!!!!!!
Take your time and read all the Etsy sections as you go.
I have not detailed all the steps of setting up an account, etc. because unfortunately, these procedures change periodically.
However, each application process is much like any other online service as far as setting up an account and adjusting your settings.
Great information, however, I am a canadian living in Florida for 6 month per year. It does not work for me.
Thanks for writing.
Etsy might not be a fit for everyone, but the concepts and processes of selling bowls shared here can be used in other venues as well.
Thanks again and Happy Turning,