So You Want to Sell on Etsy? – Tutorial Part 2 – Inventory & Photos

Welcome to Part 2 of,
So You Want to Sell on Etsy

In Part 1, I covered the starting point
of selecting a name for your shop
and creating your visual image
for your banner and profile image.

Today I’ll cover:

1)  Selecting Your Inventory
2)  Pricing Your Goods
3)  Getting Photos that Grab Attention

Before we start this tutorial,
just a few reminders!!!

1)  My Year-End 20% off SALE
ends tomorrow!!!
Use code GOODBYE2011
I have over 200 vintage goods!!!

2)  Jan. 2nd is the last day
to enter the
Cutting Edge Stencil GIVEAWAY
A winner will be announced
on Jan. 3rd.
Enter HERE

Okay – now on to becoming
successful on Etsy!

Selecting Your Inventory
When I first started selling on Etsy,
I simply sold things I already had,
but no longer needed.
I didn’t have a budget to buy inventory,
and didn’t even foresee it becoming
a full-time business.

Fifteen months later,
I have over 200 items in my shop,
and have a large room in an outbuilding
as my “warehouse”.

Here’s some tips for
deciding what to sell in your shop.

***You can’t sell everything on Etsy
You can only sell:
HANDMADE (which includes upcycled items)
VINTAGE (20+ years or more)
SUPPLIES (things used to create something else)

1)  Sell things you love.
Chances are good, if you love it,
someone else will too.

2) Research what sells.
I spent a great deal of time,
researching what sells well on Etsy,
so I’d know what to look for to stock in my shop.
Search other Etsy shops that carry
goods you think you might like to sell.
View both their current listings,
as well as their sold listings to see what
has sold well for them.

There are some things that
always seem to sell well for me –
I couldn’t tell you how many
candle holders and photo frames
I’ve sold – they always sell well for me.
Sometimes I paint them, sometimes I don’t.

For other people, they might
sell costume jewelry, linens
or handmade items like crazy.

3)  Do Some More Research!
Look at blogs, magazines and catalogs
to see what items are popular right now.
Learn what colors, textures, and
styles are wildly popular.

Do Your Homework!

Pricing Your Goods
1)  Once you bring home items
for your shop, spend some time
researching prices.
Visit other Etsy shops and
take note of their selling prices.
Also check catalogs to see what they
charge for similar items.

2)  When I first began selling,
I priced my items below what other
Etsy shops were charging,
because I needed to go
from a unknown seller,
to one with a reliable track record.

You need to make a profit,
but you also need to establish yourself
as a “known” business on Etsy.

Once you have some good feedback
for your shop and you’ve started
building a customer base,
you can gradually increase your sales price
to a higher profit margin.

When deciding on a price, it’s
important to take into account
what you paid for your item,
and the costs involved in listing and selling it.

Etsy charges a 20 cent listing fee,
and charges a percentage of the sale price
and Paypal collects a fee based on the
total they collect from you (including shipping fees).
Take those expenses into account.

Generally speaking, I have a
baseline percentage that I mark up my items.
I use that percentage as my “ballpark” price,
but I often sell higher or lower than that baseline
markup, depending on how much I paid for it,
and the demand I feel there may be for it.

Allow for Losses

Bear in mind when pricing items,
you should allow an extra margin to
cover losses you will experience – and you will have losses.
The reality is, not everything sells.

Sometimes I will keep unsold items for myself,
but usually I take them to consignment stores,
so I’ll at least be able to recoup my expenses.

Photographing Your Goods

For me, the most enjoyable aspect of
selling on Etsy (aside from making sales!),
is taking the photographs for the listings.

I love creating displays & using other props
that help demonstrate how I visualize an
item could look in someone’s home.

Aside from creating a great name for
your shop, I believe your photographs
are the 2nd most important aspect
that will help you make sales.

I think it’s incredibly important to take
photos that look as professional as possible,
if you want your shop to be viewed as a business,
and not as a hobby.

Things to consider when taking photos:
1)  Background – create a pleasing background
and make it easily accessible.
If you have to use your kitchen table and
a nearby wall – it gets mighty inconvenient
and you’ll never get to eat at your table.

Try to set up a “photo booth”
where you can take most of your photos –
one that you can leave in place,
and use on a daily basis.

Here are some examples of backgrounds I typically use:

Chippy White Door
I use this door background for about
90% of my listing photos and many of my blog posts.

This blackboard makes some things
just “pop” when photographed against it.

 White, Metal, “Brick”

This is actually the outside back wall
on my office & workshop building.
I use it when I need to photograph
items that are larger than the door,
but I want a white background.
I also like this area, because
I can get natural light and it’s sheltered.

Great Outdoors
You can’t beat the great outdoors for photographs –
all the space you need and natural lighting.
It does depend on the weather
and you’ll need to haul things
in and out of your house,
but if you have pretty surroundings,
it’s an instant photo display, without
any effort on your part.

Old Wood
I have some large pieces of old wood
that make nice backgrounds.
One was our old cellar door –
one side is painted; the other side
 is natural, aged wood, so I get double-duty out of it.

Don’t spend a lot of money
creating a backdrop!
I already had the items I use for my
backdrops, but even if you don’t
have an old door, or a great outdoor spot,
you can still create inexpensive,
portable backdrops that look great.

Black posterboard can look like
a blackboard and you can adhere
cool wrapping paper to a postboard
for any style you’d like!

2)  Props – I love to use additional props in my
photos, because I feel it helps show how
an item could be displayed in a home –
much like a Pottery Barn or other catalog would show.

I almost always include one of my clocks
in my photos – those are a staple prop for me.
I also often use tattered book stacks &
antique photos as well.

I have a cabinet in front of my chippy white door,
It serves as the counter that I set goods on
to photograph them and I store all my props in
the drawers, so they are readily available.

In addition to clocks, books and old photos,
I also have pine cones, old linens, faux pearls,
letter cards, antique eye glasses & skeleton keys, etc.

Occasionally I’ll use other items
like flowers or flags – it just depends
on the item I’m listing.

You don’t have to use props in your photos,
but if you do, select ones that fit the
character of the items you carry &
the name of your shop, so they
all complement your “brand”.

3)  Taking the photo – learn to use your camera!
When I first began selling on Etsy,
I used only the automatic setting on my camera,
then I did my homework and learned what makes
a great photo and how to achieve that with
my camera – even though it’s just a
point and shoot camera.

Most Etsy photos are close-up photos,
which I’ve discovered look best when
shot without a flash, using a manual mode.

When shooting photos outdoors,
it’s best not to shoot in full sun,
or you’ll end up with photos that are
too bright, which washes the color out.

For example, this photo was
taken when the sun was too bright.

I shot the same candle holders indoors
with good lighting and they actually look like this.

It’s often hard to get good lighting indoors,
so I’ve added lots of lighting around
my photo area.  Not only are my
items well lit, but shadows are reduced
by having light surrounding the item.

Here’s what my chippy, white door really looks like.
Don’t worry – this is NOT inside my house;
it’s in my office in an outbuilding.
I have a light mounted above it and on both sides.

 I also have a hand-held light that came
with one of my auctions wins and I discovered
how handy it is for adding light to the front
of what I’m photographing.
{I didn’t turn on the lights, since I would have blinded
myself taking this photo}

You can also do minor photo editing
to improve your photos.
I can brighten a photo that is a little
too dim or use more contrast
to make the details in an item look
less photo-like and more lifelike.
For instance, here is the same
photo – with the brightness and contrast edited.
It can make a HUGE difference
in your photos and your sales.

I use Microsoft Photo Gallery to edit my photos,
but there are many other programs available.

Okay – I think that’s enough for today!
Don’t think you have to do everything
I’ve suggested – it’s just what has worked for me.

These are just some tips to get you started.
Experiment and find what works for you.

Next week, I’ll finish
this series with:
1)  Packing and Shipping
2)  Promoting your shop to
improve your sales
3) Customer Relations


I can frequently be found visiting these parties.

Monday Making The World Cuter Monday– More The Merrier Monday


Thursday Under $100 Link Party Transformation Thursday Share Awesomeness Thursday Thrifty Thursday – Pearls and Lace Thursday – Thingamajig Thursday



Sunday – Restyled Sundays – Sunday’s Best @ My 1929 Charmer

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  1. Thank you for Part 2- So You Want to Sell. Looking forward to the next posts on this topic as well. Happy New Year.

  2. Thank you for part 1 and 2, I’m looking forward to part 3, can you direct us where to locate it please?

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