Last November, my sister and I participated in our first craft fair. I have always loved crafting and DIY projects and it seemed like it would be a lot of fun to do together. Plus, I have now been blogging about crafting/DIY (and travel, shopping, and décor) for almost three years and it seemed like a craft fair was the logical progression of this. We had fun at the craft fair, but I had a lot of inventory left over. So I decided to start an Etsy shop to see if I could sell some of my items online. I have learned a lot since I started my shop in January and wanted to share some of what I’ve learned with you including my actual sales numbers and profits. Keep reading to see how I’ve done in my first five months on Etsy and how much I’ve made.
If you are a regular visitor to the blog, then you know that I made upcycled hand painted vases/ceramics and candles in upcycled (often vintage) containers for the craft fair. Both of these projects I initially made for my own home as I have been inspired as of late to focus on sustainability and reducing waste. So naturally, these were the first items around which I shaped my Etsy shop. While shopping at thrift stores and estate sales for vases/ceramics to paint or containers to use for candles, I often find other vintage treasures. So I decided to expand my shop offerings to include both handmade upcycled items and vintage items. (Any excuse to go thrift or estate sale shopping basically.)
Setting up shop
Setting up an Etsy shop is fairly easy and straightforward. You just need a shop name and an email address. It does take some time to fill out all of the required fields and information so I spend a few days on this. It took some time to make my shop banner, write my ‘about’ section, and determine my store policies. I looked to other shops that I admire for inspiration and guidance on how these items should look. Once I had all of the essentials in place, I started working on getting my items listed.
I listed the very first item in my Etsy shop on January 27, 2022. Over the first few days I primarily listed my upcycled ceramics because they were stored together and I pulled out that box of inventory to photograph first. I had purchased a small photo backdrop set from Michael’s a few months before. It was a Black Friday deal that I was really excited about. However, as I began to photograph my vases, it became very clear that the photo backdrop I had purchased was far too small for most of my products. So I returned it and looked around for other options.
After doing some research, I found some really nice backdrop boards online, but they were $77.00 each. I found a similar option on Amazon that was much more affordable and offered the patterns that I was interested in (two boards for $45). I ended up purchasing two sets of the BEIYANG backdrop boards from Amazon. Each set includes two 24” x 24” boards; one marble board and one concrete board. I found that attaching two of the marble boards to form a corner gave me a lot more room to photograph some of my larger and wider pieces. I use one of the concrete boards as my base.
Because I live in a 100-year old home, sometimes the lighting isn’t great. This is especially true in the basement craft room where I decided to do my photography. So I decided that in addition to my backdrop boards, I also needed to purchase some additional photography lighting. Amazon has several affordable soft box lighting kits available. I chose the one that seemed to have the best combination of reviews, size, and price. This kit works really well but they will topple over easily and it arrived smelling strongly of mildew. I almost returned them, but I was really excited to get my Etsy shop up and running so I sprayed them with a bit of Febreze and got to work.
I use my smartphone for all of my photos. Because all of my photos are automatically backed up to my Google photos, I can easily access them on my computer. I have a Samsung Galaxy 21 Ultra, but most modern smartphones take adequate photos. I try to take ten good photos (I like the consistency of having all horizontal photos) and instantly delete any that I don’t like or need. Etsy only allows ten photos per item and it is strongly recommended to post all ten photos. Because I already have good lighting, I do not spend any time editing my photos. This is a significant time saver. When you have one-of-a-kind items like I do, it is important to make posting items as efficient as possible because it takes a lot of time and effort.
I have found that “batching” my listings helps me to be more productive. So I will take photos of 10-20 items at a time and then work on posting the listings in a batch. Once I have a good batch of photos, I typically copy an existing listing (which already has my shop policies and general information) and edit it for the new item. I add the photos of the new item with the best photo first. I try to add as much description as possible in my listing and include information about size, shape, pattern, texture, color, possible use, etc. For any vintage items or candle containers, I have to spend a bit of time researching the history of the item and to get an idea of an appropriate price. I created shop sections to reflect my inventory and that was it. I had an Etsy shop.
It took quite a bit of time for me to build up my inventory. I initially listed my candles and vases, but had to acquire vintage inventory over time. I listed my first seven items on January 27th. In February, I listed an additional 31 items including more vases, candles, and my first vintage items. In the following months, I posted:
- 40 new listings in March
- 36 new listings in April
- 31 new listings in May
- 62 new listings in June (several of these were actually renewed items that had expired)
I made my first sale on February 28th at almost exactly the one month mark from when I posted my first items. It was a set of crystal glasses. I was super excited. My profit after fees and shipping was $43.54 (this does not, however, include the cost of the item). I made my second sale on March 2nd and my third sale on March 3rd. Both of these were also vintage items. In total, I made four sales in March. My profit after fees and shipping (but not including item cost) was $159.56. In the following months, I made:
- six sales in April for a profit of $189.15
- six sales in May for a profit of $130.43
- 12 sales in June for a profit of $235.16
So, I have had a total of 29 orders to date. Etsy lists my overall net profit so far as $755.84. But this is only a fraction of the total revenue I brought to Etsy. In my five months on Etsy, I have a total revenue of $1,256.37. So where did the remaining $498.53 go? Most of it went to shipping. I spent $302.85 on shipping so far this year. I hate offering free shipping. It significantly impacts my earnings. But Etsy supposedly gives you a boost in the search results if you offer free shipping on any purchase over $35 and as a new shop, I need as much help being seen in the search results as I can possibly get.
And the rest of the $498.53 went to Etsy. Etsy took $165.49 of the revenue my shop brought in. Etsy takes 6.5% of your item total and of your shipping total. They also charge a three percent processing fee plus 25 cents on every item. And finally, they charge a 20 cent listing fee for each item. I also spent $39.24 on Etsy ads. I haven’t used them for very long so I don’t have a lot to say on this, but I’ll reflect on it in a future post.
My current net profit of $757.84, however, does not include the money I spent purchasing these items. I also have to pay tax on this as income, so my actual profit is much less. Despite this, I am pretty happy with how my shop is doing so far. The number of visits each month is rising steadily and my sales are also continuing to increase.
One important statistic to consider when evaluating the success of your shop is your conversion rate. I can’t seem to figure out how to look at this information on a month-to-month basis, so I’ll just share my overall stats for these first five months.
So far this year 3,134 people have visited my Etsy shop. With a total of 29 sales, my current conversion rate is 0.9%. The Etsy handbook says that a good conversion rate is between 1-5%, so mine is a bit low. I know that having items at higher price points can lead to a lower conversion rate, but I feel that I have a pretty broad range of price points in my shop. I will have to spend some time researching this issue in the future.
There are a few things that I wish I had known as a new Etsy shop owner. First, shipping is so much more expensive than I expected. Once my shop is more established, I plan to remove free shipping. It is really hard for me to estimate shipping costs because every item I ship is a different shape and weight. I also used recycled boxes so it is hard to predict what shipping will actually cost once I package up my items using the materials I have on hand.
Secondly, being a vintage/one-off seller is a lot more work than for a seller who exclusively sells many variations of the same item. Many of my items are fragile (e.g. vintage glass or my hand-painted ceramics) and somewhat large (compared to, for instance, someone who ships jewelry, cards, or custom t-shirts). Plus, every single item I list requires me to take new photographs and research/write a new description.
For now, I’m enjoying having my Etsy shop. I hope to increase my traffic and sales over time. I would love to get to the point where I was making enough money that I could reduce the time I commit to my full-time job. I’m not sure if that will ever actually happen, but I will keep working at it and see where it goes.
If you want to visit my Etsy shop directly, you can click the ‘shop’ link in the menu at the top of the page or go directly to: etsy.com/shop/jackandbaxcollection
Have you ever thought about selling on Etsy or do you have an Etsy shop? How do your sales the first few months compare? What suggestions do you have to increase sales on Etsy? Please share your ideas in the comments!
I am so glad you visited us at Jack and Bax. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter (sign up available either on the right sidebar or at the bottom of the page). And please follow me on Instagram and Facebook so that you don’t miss any of my upcoming projects!