I started my Christmas shopping this week and I must admit I’ve actually managed to get myself organized a little earlier than usual this year (translation: usually the day before Christmas Eve!).

I’ve even managed to ask friends and relatives for hints of what they might like as gifts!

Yes, I know it takes away the element of surprise… But I would rather give a ‘wished for’ gift than something that will be relegated to the back of the cupboard (or shows up for sale on eBay) before Boxing Day is over.

So, having asked my sister for some ideas, she very kindly came up with a rather long list to which I could refer to.

Now, my sister is very creative – she loves making things by hand and creates some amazing items from really interesting and unusual things like bits of driftwood found on the beach, scraps of fabric and felt, buttons, pebbles, badges, shells – even old newspapers and hessian sacks!

So I discovered that most of her ‘wished for’ list consisted of items to help her create things – craft scissors, modeling clay, lace and bits of fabric and ‘marabou feathers’… goodness knows what she plans to do with those!

Anyway, this got me thinking, particularly at this time of year when handmade goods are often purchased as gifts, about the website known as Etsy. It is the site for all things crafty!

If you’ve ever tried to sell handmade items on eBay or Amazon you’ll know it is very easy for them to get lost amid the massive amount of listings for manufactured items.

That’s not to say eBay isn’t a suitable place for selling your creative products. But if you’re serious about creating items yourself and selling them online then you should definitely consider Etsy as well.

The reason I say ‘if you’re serious’ is because Etsy specialises in the sale of handcrafted goods, craft-related bits and pieces and vintage items.

Now, because these are the only goods you can find for sale here, you know potential buyers viewing your products are specifically interested in the types of items you have for sale. This means there is potential for greater profit as prospective buyers will be willing to pay for a good, well-made, unique product. And that makes it a great site for this particular niche market.

The best way to get to know Etsy.com is to explore the site for yourself. But if you are creative and fancy making and selling things (or if you just want to have a look to get some ideas for last minute gifts) here’s a very brief overview of how to get started and how the site works.

You’ll sell at set prices

Unlike eBay where people will bid for an item, Etsy only has fixed prices.

If you are going to sell on Etsy, this is advantageous as you’ll be able to set your price and know exactly how much profit you’ll make on each item you sell, much like eBay’s ‘Buy It Now’ listings.

As a seller, you’ll pay a small listing fee initially and that allows your item to appear in your store on the website for four months, or until the item has sold.

Once you make a sale the commission Etsy takes is set at 3.5%, which is very reasonable. The fees will be added to your account as soon as you make a sale and, like eBay, you will be invoiced on a monthly basis for the accumulated amount. So you’ll need to make sure you put enough money aside from your sales to pay the bill.

All you need to get started on Etsy is a quick run through the sign up process on the website at www.etsy.com, with credit card details ready for when you start listing.

The ‘Register’ button can be found at the top of each page unless you’re already signed in, so simply follow the onscreen instructions to get started.

You’ll get a ‘Shop Front’

When first registering at Etsy you’ll be asked to enter a username for your account. You’ll also have the option to create a shop name for your storefront.

This is your opportunity to enter a name that’s memorable and relates to your handcrafted items so your buyers can easily find you again to make a repeat purchase.

Setting up your shop name can be done as you go through the process of putting together your own shop front. Just click on the ‘Sell’ link at the top of the page and then select the option to open your shop.

If you’re serious about selling on Etsy then it’s definitely worth investing some time into your storefront.

A professional shop name, an attractive banner, a profile picture and fully completed information will do wonders to reassure a prospective buyer you’re offering legitimate and high quality products.

You can, of course, start selling without adding all of the information to your Etsy shop – but I do recommend you put in some effort here and get it all set up correctly from the start.

As soon as you have more than one product to sell people are likely to return to your shop to see what else you have to offer, so a professional look and feel will help you maximise your selling potential.

Creating a listing is simple

Once you have set up your shop on Etsy you can start listing items through it immediately. Just click on the ‘List your first item’ link to get started.

Like other online marketplaces, you’ll now have the ability to select from different options to give potential buyers details about your items.

From an appropriate category to photographs to a description to style and so on… you should include as much accurate and info as possible within your listing.

If you’ve already done some selling on eBay you’ll understand the importance of great keywords, high quality photos and a compelling description. So spend some time making sure you’ve included everything that’s needed.


There’s a great community spirit

Finally, there’s quite a close-knit community over at Etsy.

Community is a really important facet of how the site is shaped, and with co-operative teams, online and in-person workshops and events and more, there’s loads that you can get involved in.

Forums like this can also incredibly useful, as there are a multitude of business owners operating through Etsy who are happy to share their knowledge should you have any questions on how best to work your own sales strategy.

So, there’s something for you to think about. Perhaps you already handcraft items but have never thought of selling them before? Etsy can provide the perfect opportunity for you!

Now I’m off to purchase some more marabou feathers!