Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting an Etsy Shop

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Disclaimer: all opinions are my own.

You landed here because you’re a good entrepreneur doing some research before starting an Etsy shop so you can make extra money at home and get your business off the ground.

Etsy was my gateway platform into the e-commerce world, but there are some things I wish I knew before selling on Etsy, and I wanted to share those things with you today.

Etsy is a great platform to start on, but I don’t recommend Etsy being your only e-commerce platform and I’m going to give you the nitty-gritty details of why (and how I almost had to go to court over my Etsy shop…).

I’m also going to give you other places to sell your products so you can maximize your potential profits!

First, let’s talk about some of the pros of starting an Etsy shop.

Pros of Starting an Etsy Shop

While there are reasons you don’t want to rely on Etsy 100%, I do think it’s a great place for newcomers who don’t have a large audience of their own to market to.

Here are some reasons why I think starting an Etsy shop is a great idea.

1. Starting an Etsy Shop is Quick and Easy

When you start an Etsy shop, you don’t need to worry about domains, hosting or hiring a web designer. Everything is already done for you.

Screenshot of Etsy shop

This is a screenshot of my Etsy shop, and as you can see, the only items you might need to have custom-designed would be a header image and a logo. You could easily design a header image yourself on Canva, making your Etsy shop free to set up!

I also like the design of Etsy shops. I think they are user-friendly and clean. Etsy has obviously done their research into making sure the layout of their shops is as high-converting as possible.

You can also upgrade your Etsy account to have more features, such as a scrollable banner at the top of your page to showcase different promotions just as EasyPrintablesShop has.

Etsy shop screenshot

While there are options to customize, it’s nothing like the customization you get by starting your own shop on your own website, but having a shop ready to go in as little as an hour is very appealing, regardless of the customization limitations.

2. You Have Access to a Large Audience

Etsy is a search engine and the people who go to Etsy are looking to buy.

If you are just starting up and don’t have your own audience yet, starting an Etsy shop is a great way to get your products in front of a larger audience to increase your chances of making sales.

When I first started my Etsy shop, I hadn’t built up a large audience on my own, so being able to leverage the shoppers on Etsy helped me make a few sales.

3. You Can Integrate Print on Demand + Dropshipping

Etsy integrates with many dropshipping platforms so you can sell print-on-demand items with your unique designs (think t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.) without needing to carry stock of the items you wish to sell.

Dropshipping is a great method to build a profitable business with no inventory, and Etsy makes it very easy to integrate. Before you choose a dropshipping platform, make sure they are compatible with Etsy.

Here’s a list of dropshipping companies to help you get started (if that’s the route you’d like to go)!

4. Etsy is Established

Etsy is established and is known for being a marketplace full of unique items. Your future potential customers are likely on Etsy looking for the items you sell right now.

That doesn’t mean you won’t need to learn how to market your goods, however. Just like any other online business, starting an Etsy shop will still require you to learn about online marketing.

5. People Trust Etsy

Trust is a major factor in the buying process. If your customers don’t trust your shop, they may not feel comfortable buying from you and handing over their credit card and personal information.

Brand new online shops can often face this drawback as they lack reviews, social proof and authority.

This isn’t much of a problem on Etsy.

On Etsy, buyers can purchase products confidently knowing their personal information will be stored properly. They can also feel comfortable knowing that if the item doesn’t arrive, they’ll be able to contact Etsy and get a refund.

Drawbacks of Starting an Etsy Shop

While the pros I just listed with starting an Etsy shop might make Etsy seem like a dream for beginners, you should also be aware of some of the cons. I wish I knew about these prior to opening up my Etsy shop (it would have saved me a ton of stress).

There are a few reasons why I eventually moved my shop off Etsy and onto my own domain.

1. Your Products Are Shown Beside Your Competition

If a customer walked into your store and picked up a beautiful necklace you spent weeks creating, would you run over to them and say, “if you think that’s nice, you might also like this necklace that you can get from my competition just down the road!” as you show them a photo of your competitor’s products?


But that’s what Etsy does, and that’s what will essentially happen to you if you start an Esty shop.

At the bottom of your Etsy shop, Etsy shows products they think the user will also like.

Screenshot of Etsy shop

This means that your competitors may (and likely will) be shown to your potential customers on your own shop page.

Etsy makes money when an item sells, so they want to make sure that when a potential customer is browsing, they have lots of choices to increase the likelihood they will buy.

Etsy doesn’t care what store sells what items, they just want to make sure something sells.

And that means promoting your competitor’s products on your own shop’s page.

2. You Have Less Control

I almost had to go to court over my Lightroom presets. (You’ll want to read this section entirely.)

When I started an Etsy shop, the last thing on my mind was going to court to fight over some silly little Lightroom mobile presets I was selling…but that’s almost what happened. And I wish I knew how prevalent this was on e-commerce marketplaces like Etsy, because after speaking with other Etsy shop owners, I learned my case wasn’t unique.

At any point in time, Etsy can shut down your shop and you might not have any control over it.

Here’s what happened: Etsy disabled my listings because a jealous competitor accused me of frivolous copyright (I didn’t copy anything), however, by law, when you are accused of copyright infringement, Etsy (or whichever e-commerce marketplace you’re selling on) has to take down every single listing in order to avoid getting sued themselves.

Here’s the quick and dirty version of what happens when you get accused of copyright infringement:

  1. Someone reports your account to Etsy and issues a DMCA takedown notice
  2. Etsy immediately removes the item(s) in question from your shop and notifies you with two options: 1. either admit you’re in the wrong and delete the items from your shop OR 2. counter the DMCA claim. Countering the claim legally opens you up to going to court. Countering is essentially saying, “I’m not backing down because I’m not in the wrong, and if you want to take me to court over it, bring it on.”
  3. If you go with option 1 and admit you’re infringing on someone’s copyright, you can’t sell those items again. If you go with option 2, Etsy will notify the person that you are countering their claim, and they will have 14 days to take you to court. If they don’t take you to court in 14 days, then everything is over, and your items can be listed for sale again.

I went with option #2 because I wasn’t infringing on anyone’s copyright, however, I then had to still wait 14 days to see if the other party wanted to then go to court. Let me tell you—those two weeks were very stressful! Even though I knew I wasn’t in the wrong, the thought of opening myself up to legal proceedings was not fun.

The situation wasn’t fun. To be fair to Etsy, this isn’t their fault. It’s how the law works, and Etsy was simply following the DMCA process.

Nonetheless, my listings were taken down for two weeks, and my Etsy SEO was severely impacted. (And of course, the other party never came back to proceed with a court order as they were obviously just trying to scare me and hope that I would take down my listings.)

What’s frustrating is how I lost money over this, even though I wasn’t in the wrong.

When my shop finally got approved to sell again, my sales were down. I contacted Etsy support and asked why traffic to my shop had gone down so much. They told me that due to their algorithm, it could take some time for my items to find their place in the search results again. Again, this is out of Etsy’s control, but it was really unfortunate how everything panned out…all because of a jealous competitor.

I also couldn’t help but how often this would happen. I certainly didn’t want to deal with this frequently.

I also wasn’t the only shop owner this happened to. I reached out to many of my other competitors when I noticed their listings seemed gone, and they confirmed they were all hit with the same frivolous copyright infringement from the same sour competitor. And if you search for “fraudulent DMCA notice etsy” you’ll find stories of other people who have gone through the same thing.

Now the big question: Could this have happened on my own website? Absolutely.

DMCA notices happen anywhere, but it’s less likely to happen on your own site. Why? Because it’s easier to fire off a bunch of DMCA notices on e-commerce marketplaces like Etsy. It’s more time-consuming to do that for individual websites.

While it was a bad situation, it was the kick in the pants I needed to move my products over to my own website and stop relying on Etsy and other third-party platforms.

3. Etsy Has High Fees

I sell my products at a lower price point, so Etsy’s fees really hurt my bottom line. When I totaled up my fees, 15% of my revenue went towards paying Etsy’s fees.

Depending on the price point of your products and what you are selling, your fees may vary. Here is a breakdown of Etsy’s fees so you can have an idea of what yours will be.

As my items are priced low, the fees I have to pay account for more, so let’s say you have higher-priced items and you are paying Etsy only 5%. If you sell $1,000 per month on Etsy, you will be paying (at minimum) $600 in Etsy fees annually.

Here’s the thing: You could put that $600 towards building your own e-commerce website. E-commerce website builders like Squarespace and Shopify make it simple to get your own site up and running, without having to hire a designer.

5. You Are Limited to Etsy’s Audience

In the pros, I mentioned that you have access to a large audience, but I didn’t say that their audience is also your audience.

Is your target audience even hanging out on Etsy?

Before you spend time starting an Etsy store, you should do some research to see if your audience even uses Etsy to shop.

6. You Cannot Grow an Email List (Sort of)

Let me preface this section by saying that some email marketing platforms will connect to Etsy so you can collect the emails of your customers (IF they choose to opt-in). But let me explain why that’s not ideal…

If you are just starting out in e-commerce, the last thing you are thinking about is probably growing an email list. But it should be the first thing you think about.

Email marketing is a highly effective and targeted way to promote your products to your audience. In fact, email marketing has a 66% (on average) conversion rate when it comes to making a purchase as a result of seeing a marketing message.

So, what is your email list? Your email list is essentially a group of people who you have direct access to, who are also fans of your brand and your products.

These are people who are either past customers or potential current customers but one thing is for sure: they are people who have the potential to one day make a purchase from you.

Like I mentioned, with Etsy, some email marketing platforms connect with Etsy where you can collect emails (but only from people who purchase from you, and only if they choose to subscribe).

However, there is no streamlined way to collect emails from those who haven’t purchased from you. By streamlined, I mean you can’t add opt-in forms directly to your listings.

Here’s an example of an opt-in form on one of my blogs:

An example of an email sign up form
An email marketing opt-in form

Since you can’t add these to your Etsy listings, you aren’t able to collect opt-ins in an easy manner. Yes, you can hyperlink to an opt-in form, but generally speaking, the conversion rate will decrease since most people aren’t going to click off of Etsy to access your opt-in form. Users like the path to least resistance, which is why linking to an external sign-up page isn’t the best option.

For me personally, once I moved my shop from Etsy over to my own website, my income grew by 2,000% because I was able to do better-targeted ads, use my email list, my products were no longer shown alongside my competition and my website traffic was converting to sales.

Is Etsy Worth It?

Here’s my honest opinion: starting an Etsy shop is great for those who are looking to dip their toes into e-commerce. Had I not started my own Etsy shop, I wouldn’t be where I am today with my products!

Etsy is also a great way to diversify your streams of revenue. There’s nothing wrong with starting with an Etsy shop, seeing how things go, and building out your own e-commerce site in the future. You can even have BOTH Etsy and your own e-commerce site run simulteansouly.

Aside from starting an Etsy shop, I would also look into putting your products on different platforms such as:

But I absolutely recommend thinking of setting up your own e-commerce website where you have full control as well.

If you want to start your own online shop, check out my list of over 65 different digital products to start selling today!

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33 thoughts on “Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting an Etsy Shop”

  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences and this valuable information! I am just starting out with the e-commerce world and I am so appreciative of this post.

    • Absolutely! I’m glad you found it helpful 🙂

      • Piggy backing to say thank you, as well!

  2. Awesome article thank you

  3. Thank you for this article. Very informative. I just started a shop (wish I had seen this first). I’ll give it a try but I will also check out Amazon and the others you mentioned. 🙂

    • Etsy is still a great platform! But I definitely recommend not placing all of your eggs in one basket as anything can happen 🙂 Best of luck with your new business!!

  4. Thank you so much for this very informative and helpful articlel. I just started my Etsy shop and would really want to learn more about better marketing and building my personal website.

    • You’re welcome! Let me know if you have any further questions or need guidance on what your next steps should be. I can try to point you in the right direction 🙂

  5. Thank you so much for this article, this is one of the post helpful article I’ve read so far and it has helped me making my mind on whether I should open my own website to sell my products!

  6. Thank you very productive article ! We are new to this online business ! We just started our online store and it is very hard to draw people in !

  7. Hi Dana
    Thank you for taking time to write this article! Ive decided that I want to start a side hustle making satin scrunchies with a twist and doing lots of research!!! This article was very helpful. Thank you!

  8. Great article Dana, thanks very much for sharing.

  9. Thank you for the advice. Has anyone come across Etsy shutting them down because they had too many orders placed? This has happened to my daughter. She had placed a video on a social media’s sight of her making her product and she was hit with a lot of sales. Etsy shut down her site until she full filled the orders! I guess they didn’t want to look bad if she couldn’t complete them in a timely manner??? My daughter has been hard at work to get the orders out so that Etsy will open up her shop again.

    • That’s horrible…Etsy shouldn’t have the authority to shut down someone’s shop for a reason like that – I’m sorry that happened to your daughter!

  10. thank you so much for the article. i was gonna start selling stuff on etsy but had my doubts because of my location as well as how expensive it can be to use it. didn’t know things like this could happen, i’m sorry that it did to you and to other people but that just shows there are better ways many creators can use instead of etsy. hope your business is still going well!! <3

  11. Thank you for posting this article, Dana, I’m sure it’ll be really useful for people.
    I’ve had an Etsy shop for the last ten years, and it’s changed beyond all recognition, as Etsy is now basically owned by their shareholders. This has seen their fees sky-rocket,(I am CONSTANTLY charged varying percentages, which make little sense, but they’re far higher than they state) and the way they treat their sellers (who are the ones who make them all their money!!) is abysmal.
    I still have my shop on there, but now I keep my main inventory in my Shopify site, and use Etsy for advertising that mainly. Etsy was a wonderful place in the beginning, but now it feels like the antithesis to everything it was set up to be, which is a crying shame.
    That said, it was incredibly useful for me in terms of building an audience and reputation, and still has it’s uses. But, selling on Shopify has been a much, much nicer place to have my main business. I use Fb, Insta and Twitter to advertise too, and I think I get better responses from those avenues, than I did from Etsy, and when people come to my shop, it’s purely to buy from me. As you said, having other people’s products advertised within your own Etsy shop, is far from helpful to anyone – other than Etsy.

  12. Thank you for writing this article. As many have stated, it is very helpful. I wan on the fence between Etsy and Shopify. I didn’t realize Amazon had a handmade section so I will have a look at that before I make my final decision. You gave lots of great information in an easy to understand form.

    • You’re welcome, Stacia! You can always sign up for multiple platforms as well to see which ones work best for you 🙂

  13. My girlfriend just sent this too me as Etsy just permanently suspended my 2 shops and I am devastated ..on infringement of sesame street even though I changed the name.. example Elmo hooded towel now became red silly monster hooded towel.. I have made numerous attempts to contact them.. but no response.. and yes all the other shops are selling the same item as mine using the trademark name.. I’m discouraged but this was very helpful.. thank you.. Diane

  14. Thanks for sharing!! Indeed helpful. I came across and read all your content about etsy.

  15. Thank you, very informative article.

  16. So grateful you’ve shared this information. I currently have an Etsy store but I have very little on it.trying to sell soap seems impossible with the 3 million others doing the same! Another thing that I didn’t like about it is it’s very hard to change your shop name . I so much appreciate you sharing your experience

    • I’m glad you found it useful, Carol! That’s interesting about the shop name – I had never tried to change my shop name before so I didn’t know it was a complicated process. Thank you for letting me know!

  17. Thank you for sharing your experiences and tips, not many out there who share this kind of real stuff. I am trying to get my inventory ready to open my etsy shop. I really would like to go through shopify but i am one that is barely touching the ground in this e commerce world. It is super complicated and scary… I was wondering on shopify , do they collect the taxes for you like etsy or do you have to do that on your own?

    • Hi Courtney – happy to help! Etsy will be a great place for you to start out while you work to figure out how to manage an ecomm store on your own (it’s a lot at first, but you’ll get there). Are you referring to the extra tax that states and provinces pay (i.e., we pay GST in Canada, and you can configure the GST in your Shopify store to collect it automatically from paying customers). If you Google “how to configure tax in shopify” a guide pops up with a complete walk through. Hope this helps!

  18. I feel enlightened after reading this and am more confident about my upcoming venture. Thank you so so much.

  19. Thank you the information was very helpful.

  20. Sorry you had to go through the copywriter mess. Since it was the same competitor that was abusing the law, you and the others could have taken them to court over loss of wages and damages (being excluded from the algorithm). Not only would you all have gotten your income back, that competitor wouldn’t continue to target people like that again.

  21. Thank you VERY much for this helpful information. I am currently readying myself for launch into e-commerce.

  22. Just to say, great article which gives a great overview of selling on Etsy!
    However – you should not be using Etsy for drop shipping, unless it’s craft supplies. The only things supposed to be sold on Etsy are handmade items (that you have made yourself, or that you have designed and had made for you) Vintage, and supplies. New clothes, as you suggested in part 3, are not “Etsy legal”.
    Yes, there are people doing it, but Etsy does catch up with them and will close their shop. They will also find that many genuine sellers do not welcome them to the platform, and will not give them help in the Forums as it is rightly felt that they are helping to turn Etsy into another AliExpress, rather than somewhere for genuine crafters 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment, Rebecca! I’ll add a note to clarify that by drop shipping, I meant Print On Demand (where the seller is selling unique items that they designed, like custom T-shirts) rather than re-selling stuff from places like AliExpress. From my research and understanding, Print On Demand with unique designs is 100% fine on Etsy! I’ll make the adjustments so others don’t get confused 🙂 Thanks!

  23. I was almost to start on Etsy as lots of people suggested me to start on it . Somehow I noticed your article on this . Highly informative as you know what are pros and cons of this site and you are mentally prepared for any shock . Mine is a very small leather business and I am unable to spend so much on my own Website so I was looking for the options . Thank you so much for such great information.

    • I’m glad you found it useful, Jitendra. Nothing wrong with starting small and making enough to build your own website 🙂 Best of luck with your business!

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