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How to sell on Etsy UK & is it worth it?

Sofia Gomez
Sofia Gomez
Sep 2, 2022
etsy marketplace for online selling

If you’re an artist, you sell vintage items or you commercialise raw materials or tools for the creation of products, you'll be interested in learning how to sell on Etsy, what to sell and how much it all costs. But first...

How does Etsy work?

Etsy is a marketplace with a very niche audience since it’s only permitted to sell vintage items and collectables as well as handcrafted products, materials, and tools for DIY projects.

Etsy works internationally through its website and mobile app. Knowing how Etsy works in the UK and the type of products that sell the best on Etsy is very important. After all, you don’t want your store to be shut down because you broke the Etsy rules.

When you become an Etsy seller, you’re in charge of listing the items in the marketplace, answering any questions your potential buyers may have, shipping the products and handling returns, if you have this option available.

Etsy, meanwhile, takes care of certain aspects of your online retail business such as the hosting, domain, payment processor, and so on.

What to sell on Etsy

The most successful products on Etsy are hand-made products, materials and tools for the creation of new products and collectable and vintage items. These are some of the top selling items on Etsy (and they also have the largest profit margins):

  • Vintage clothes & accessories (dresses, jackets and one-size-fits-all types of items are easier to sell) 
  • Vintage decoration and furniture (maps, pictures, drawings, lamps, rugs — anything that can be shipped!)
  • Jewellery (necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings made of various materials — new or vintage — are some of the best sellers on Etsy)
  • Wedding items can be especially profitable in the weeks and months prior to wedding season
  • Anything that can be personalised, customised or is hand-made (a pendant for dog collars, best-dad-in-the-world mugs, stickers, posters, name necklaces, invitations, planners and notebooks, among other things!)
  • Anything you are good at making or collecting

As we explained before, there are clear rules about what can and can’t be sold on Etsy. If you’re thinking about selling products that don’t comply with the rules, we strongly advise you don’t. When users see your products, they can report your shop and Etsy will close it. If your products don’t fit into Etsy’s mould, it’s better to choose another marketplace to sell your products.

Etsy selling fees: How much does it cost to sell on Etsy UK?

Selling on Etsy isn’t free. The cost of selling on Etsy UK will depend on the price of your items, whether you choose to promote your items and if you’re a seller using the Etsy Standard plan or the Etsy Plus plan.

etsy selling fees vary depending on volume of sales and price of products

Let’s cover the different costs you may face:

Listing fees

Uploading a product to Etsy has a cost of approximately £0.17. This fee is paid monthly until the item is sold or four months pass by.

Selling fees 

Once you sell an item, you’ll pay 6.5% of the total cost of the product (shipping, product’s price, and packaging).

Payment processing fee 

This fee can be calculated by taking 4% of the final selling price and adding £0.20 (flat fee per order). 

Advertising fees

These ads can be off-site ads (fee varies from 12-15%) or Etsy Ads (they have a minimum cost of 1 USD/day).

Etsy also offers a subscription plan, Etsy Plus.

Etsy Plus price

Etsy Plus has a monthly cost of $10. Etsy Plus stores have access to 15 listing credits per month — enough for about 95% of Etsy sellers — and a credit of $5 USD for Etsy Ads, which is the promotion of ads within the Etsy domain.

Etsy Plus provides some other benefits including more customisation options (such as a wider selection of banners), another layout option for featuring listings and the possibility to feature a specific listings or shop section.

How to generate sales on Etsy

1. Sales

One of the best ways of promoting your storefront and products is by doing a sale on Etsy. This can be done by setting up a percentage-off discount or sending a coupon when you see that the customer is leaving the checkout page or has reacted to a social media post. Sending a coupon is part of the cart abandonment recovery strategy that Etsy provides to Etsy Plus sellers.

2. Build a presence on social media

Following the last idea, you can use social media platforms to attract visitors to your selling space. In order to do this, you can use platforms that are visually oriented like Pinterest, Instagram and TikTok. All these channels give you the possibility to include a link to your domain on Etsy or to specific products in order to boost sales while you generate a sense of community among your followers.

3. Keep SEO in mind

Whenever you list an item and you need to include text and hashtags about a product, it’s vital that you pick the best words to describe the product — these will be the keywords for that product. Do keyword research to find synonyms and other ways to refer to your item and include them in your title, description and wherever possible.

Make sure that if your product is related to pets, for example, you include words associated with them — like cat, dog, pet, animal, etc. If your items are seasonal, include the keywords the user will use when doing a search on Google, such as ‘wedding invitations’, ‘Valentine’s gift ideas’ and so on.

4. Free shipping

Another way to motivate customers to buy the product they were looking for is by offering free shipping. In this way, calculating the total cost of the product is easier and faster and seems more attractive to the buyer.

There are several ways you can offer free shipping without losing money; here are some ideas to offer free shipping.

5. Use Etsy Ads and Offsite Ads

These powerful tools give your products visibility when a potential customer makes a search with the intention of purchasing a product or simply when they’re browsing the web. 

There are two ways of advertising your Etsy products: Etsy Ads and Offsite Ads. The first option works through apay-per-click model, while Offsite Ads charge sellers with a fee once an order is received from one of the offsite ads. You can either advertise your products with both systems or try each to see which strategy works better for your business.

6. Ask for reviews

One of the best ways to prove that you’ve got legitimate products and accurate descriptions is to share the opinions of past customers. This is why reviews are fundamental to any business, whether they operate only online, offline or on both channels.

However, getting customers to leave you a review isn’t always easy. Luckily, we have some ideas of clever ways to ask for reviews that guarantee a higher review rate when compared to older strategies for obtaining reviews.

7. Work on your product descriptions

Product pages are as important as the aspects we previously discussed. Product listings need to include all the necessary information that any buyer would need to find to incentivize sales and prevent and solve friction in the purchasing process.

Perfecting your titles, descriptions, keyword use, the quality of your pictures and how you generally present and sell the items is essential to generate more sales on Etsy.

8. Find gaps in the market

Because selling products in a marketplace means lots of competition, finding gaps in the market is a smart strategy if you want your items to stand out and generate sales on Etsy.

To do so, you’ll need to research which products have an audience but are either not offered on the marketplace, have low competition or whose sellers are easy to beat, because of the price point or a flaw in the design or production process.

etsy product example

Once you’ve found those products, you’ll need to analyse why they’re not being sold as much as they could be and then improve them. Bad pictures, overly general product descriptions, missing details or the wrong price are the most common reasons why products don’t get sold.

How to add a discount on Etsy

To set up a special offer or discount on Etsy, go to “Shop manager” and click on “Marketing”. Search the “Sales and coupons” section and select “New special offer”. 

Determine the type of discount that you want to offer:

  • Offer free shipping or a discount (either fixed or based on a percentage)
  • Send special offers to buyers who added items to their cart but didn’t end up purchasing, or to those that added items to their list of favourites
  • Create a coupon for specific buyers or social media channels

If you want to create an offer, follow the instructions and click on “Set up offer”. You can then choose between a percentage off and free shipping:

Set up free shipping

With this offer, your customer won’t pay the shipping costs. Here are the settings you’ll need to adjust to create a free shipping offer for national shipments:

  • Location: national
  • Minimum quantity (amount — in the currency of your store — in their cart)
  • Length: Establish the beginning and end days of the offer
  • Conditions (optional)
  • Create a name for the offer

Set up sales with a percentage off

  • Choose from a discount between 10% and 70% off the price of the items
  • Location of the offer: available worldwide or in a particular country
  • Minimum quantity (minimum amount of items or order value)
  • Length of the offer (max. 30 days)
  • Conditions (optional): restrictions, limitations, and other terms applicable to the offer
  • Create a name for the offer (useful to keep track of the performance of the offer)

How does free shipping work with other discounts?

If you set up more than one type of offer, buyers can take advantage of all of them, as long as their order meets all the criteria. This means that your buyers can benefit from free shipping and further discounts on the same order.

To see other types of discounts and promotional offers available on Etsy, check out how you can set up sales and coupons for your shop.

You can keep track of the performance of your campaigns in “Sales and coupons”. In this section, you can see information on the orders, sold items, the average value of the order and the revenue.

Etsy taxes UK

Once you exceed the amount of £1,000 in sales on Etsy in the UK (before paying Etsy fees), you’ll need to pay taxes.

You can either register a company or pay your taxes after registering as self-employed with HMRC.

Depending on how much profit you make, you’ll need to pay income tax (20% of all earnings),  class 2 National Insurance  (£3.05 per week if your income surpasses £6,515 in a year) and class 4 National Insurance (9% of your profits if they are between £9,658 and £50,270).

Pros and cons of selling on Etsy

There are many advantages of using Etsy to sell your products. Here are some of them:

  • Large and segmented market with over 40 million active buyers. Etsy is designed for a specific type of product.
  • Traffic. As opposed to building an independent online shop, having a presence on a large marketplace means more traffic. 
  • Internationalisation opportunities. Etsy is widely used worldwide, especially in English-speaking countries. Naturally, if you’re an Etsy seller in the UK, you’ll probably need to ship to other countries as well.
  • Inexpensive platform. To sell on Etsy, you need to pay a small fee when you upload an item, and a commission fee once an item is sold. You don’t need a subscription plan, but if you want more features you can use Etsy Plus for $10 a month.
  • Easy-to-use app. Etsy is a simple marketplace that makes the selling process easier to handle when compared to using other marketplaces or having your own online shop.

However, Etsy has some disadvantages too:

  • The categories of products allowed are limited. Obviously, this isn’t a disadvantage if the fundamentals of your business are aligned with Etsy’s rules, but there are more flexible marketplaces out there, like Amazon or eBay.
  • There are fees associated with selling on Etsy. You’ll need to pay fees associated with listing items, selling items, processing payments and accessing special features or promotions.
  • Competition. A disadvantage common to all marketplaces is the fact that your products will appear right next to your competitors’. However, thanks to the unique nature of most Etsy items, this problem is not as relevant as it is for other platforms.

Is it worth selling on Etsy UK? Our thoughts

Overall, selling on Etsy UK is a smart choice if your business idea revolves around the production of handmade products or the commercialisation of vintage items — or if you plan to sell materials for the creation of new products.

There are some disadvantages to Etsy, but in general it’s a great marketplace to sell in the UK, US, Canada and Australia, among other places.

The website and app are simple to use and provide some important customisation possibilities that other platforms don’t offer. Once your items are ready to be sold, opening an Etsy account and starting the selling process shouldn’t take longer than a few hours.

Once your Etsy business takes off, connect your account to Outvio to streamline all your post-checkout operations and gain control over the shipping, tracking and return process while you offer the best shopping experience to your customers.

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