Overcoming the Roadblocks to Opening an Etsy Shop




I recently opened my Etsy shop BackyardSpruce selling needle felted creations and laser cut shadow boxes. Currently I have 14 items up which cost me a grand total of $2.80 USD (at $0.20/listing). It took me roughly three months from conception to opening to get everything just (mostly) right.

What’s my biggest recommendation? Be a copy cat!

Recently I embraced being a copy cat as an unabashed way to learn, get inspired, and create. Today I’ll talk how being a copy cat helped me overcome my three biggest and most time consuming road blocks to opening my Etsy shop.

My shop has now been open for about six weeks, and I've completed four sales which is pretty exciting for a first time shop owner! If you have any questions, please post them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.

All the best!

Andrea at Backyard Spruce

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Step 1: Overcoming the Photography Road Block

I spent hours looking at others’ photos on Etsy. How did they style their scenes, angles, and aperture? What did I like and what did I find appalling? I was able to get a rough idea of how I wanted my pictures to look, and through quite a lot of trial and error I found the settings that I felt best represented my creations.

There are lots of helpful hints available on Etsy as well, though I found it more helpful to see what various shops were doing with products similar to mine.

I was using a Nikon D3000 for my pictures and proved that even with a nice camera that you can take terrible pictures! I found it best to shoot outdoors or in areas with lots of natural light. Play around, have fun!

Here was my process:

Etsy photography take #1. It’s blurry, has terrible colouring, and is a poor representation of this cute little critter.

Etsy photography take #2. I’m experimenting with the background now, but the photo is still not professional and I don’t like the composition.

Etsy photography take #3. Third time’s a charm! I’m pleased with the composition, quality, and true-to-life colour.

Step 2: Overcoming the Policies & Shipping Road Block

For policies I looked at numerous other Etsy shops for how much information was given, how they stated it, and which policies they put in place. I then created my own based on what I believed would be helpful from the initial opening of my shop. I’ve never shipped an item to a customer so it was great to think about what I will do in case of damage or the customer being unsatisfied with the product. I also joined a Whitehorse, Yukon Etsy team to see what was being done locally.

Figuring out the price of shipping was an interesting challenge and I will simply have to learn by doing. Right now I have approximate fees that I found through Canada Post’s website for my packaging sizes, and I’d recommend anyone opening a shop do the same. There are still a lot of unknowns for me, including the cost to ship to what Etsy calls “everywhere” and grouped items, but I’ll cross those bridges when I get there!

Don’t let shipping scare you away from opening an Etsy shop! There may be a few dollars lost when a product costs more to ship than expected, but I’m going to consider this the cost of learning.

Step 3: Overcoming the Pricing Road Block

Pricing was perhaps the most nerve wracking part. How much is my time worth? What price points are simply too high? Will anything actually sell?! Again, I searched through Etsy to get an idea of how similar products were being priced and found a way to justify my costs.

So, here’s how I did my pricing. Let’s take my needle felted ermine for example.

Materials = $5.80

Roving $3.00
Glass eyes $2.50
Pipe cleaner $0.20
Felting needles $0.10 / project

Labour = $150
$10/hr for 15+ hours

Expenses = $5.66
$0.20 Etsy listing
3.5% commission from Etsy (based on $156)

Total = $160

Consider your labour costs carefully. For me, this is a side project I enjoy with low material costs, but I would still rather keep my ermine than sell my time for less than $10/hr. Keeping in mind, too, this cost does not factor in the time it took for me to set up my Etsy shop (which in itself took 15 – 20 hours), or the time it will take to package and ship this little fellow. I have chosen to absorb these costs but you may decide to include them in your product pricing.

I hope this is helpful to your Etsy shop endeavors. It was a lot of fun to create Backyard Spruce and I will continue to learn and grow with it, and hopefully make some sales along the way!

Andrea at YuKonstruct

Backyard Spruce



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    9 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Maybe you can add a part about tags and such that part i was a little lost on and if you dont have tags your stuff wont be found.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    The tags are what will help your items be found if someone is searching on Etsy. So, I added as many words that I could think of (try some free-association, it helps!). Take the ermine for example, for that creature I used the tags, "ferret, weasel, stout" as these are similar animals or a different way to name an ermine. Now, if someone looks up, "weasel", it will pop up in their search whereas if I did not have the tag it would not have come up.

    I'd recommend using every single tag you can, even if the word seems loosely associated with your product. It will definitely help your item come up in the search!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    This is very interesting information. Thank you for sharing! I too am a big fan of the copycat method of learning. Find someone you think is doing things well and then try to imitate them.

    1 reply

    4 years ago

    Wait did you sell your ermine for 150 $ or did I not understand correctly?

    1 reply

    4 years ago

    Did you sell any of these needle felting items on etsy?

    1 reply
    Bill Rose

    4 years ago on Introduction

    I too have recently opened an etsy shop and have favorited-ed this article so I can re-read it. Your right about several things and I will try and improve my etsy shop. Thanks.