Choosing what to sell on Etsy can be a challenge.
Whether you’re just starting your handmade business or you’re simply adding new products to your existing Etsy store, it’s wise to think critically about the products you are considering selling.
So, with your product idea in mind, consider the following questions before deciding what to sell on Etsy:
Can you make it?
This seems like an obvious question, but I’m always surprised by people in Facebook groups who have started a handmade business with a product they haven’t even made yet. If you haven’t even opened your Cricut, you’re probably not ready to start a vinyl decal business.
I’d suggest making your item many times before deciding it’s what you will sell on Etsy. This will allow you to master and streamline your process and produce consistently-high quality items. You don’t want to be working out the kinks when you are getting an order ready to ship!
Do you enjoy making it?
This is another seemingly obvious question. You wouldn’t be thinking of building a handmade business around a product if you don’t enjoy making it, right? Again though, some people want to sell an item because it looks easy to make or because it is in high-demand. Maybe a large profit margin is enticing you.
This is no way to build a handmade business. When those orders start rolling in, you’re going to have to make them, and if you hate what you make, you’re not going to want to continue with your business.
Can you find a sustainable and affordable supplier for your materials?
Sourcing materials is an important part of running a handmade business. You’re going to want to see if you can get consistently low prices for your materials from a reliable supplier. It’s one thing to use a 40% off coupon at JoAnn’s if you’re making one or two knitted scarves. It’s completely different if you’re going to make hundreds of them.
Research the wholesale and/or bulk possibilities for the materials you will need to make your product.
Can you expand?
Running a handmade business isn’t always exciting, but there are ways to keep your products fresh and interesting. Does your product allow for different designs or variations? Think about the colors, sizes, shapes, uses, and designs that can be applied to your product.
While you probably don’t want to use all of them at this very moment, chances are, you’ll want to liven it up a little bit later. When that happens, it’s good to know that you’ll be able to do so.
Does it serve a purpose or fulfill a need?
Think about why people will purchase your item. Does it serve some kind of purpose? The more specific the purpose, the more likely it is that people are going to purchase it. Don’t get me wrong- maybe your product brings beauty into the world, and that’s it purpose. That’s valid. But when you’re starting out, you want to be clear- which people will find it beautiful?
In fact, if you’re struggling to determine what purpose or need your product fulfills, think of your ideal customer. Who exactly will purchase this, and why?
Are the market conditions favorable?
Do some market research before you decide to build a business around a particular product. Are people searching for or purchasing this item? Use EtsyRank, the Etsy search bar, Google Keyword Planner, or the Keywords Everywhere Chrome extension to get a gauge of how many people are searching for your item and what that competition looks like.
You’re looking for something that is in demand but that not too many people are already selling. If you find that you’re making something in a saturated market, think seriously about how you can differentiate yourself. How can you make something that is just a little bit different?
Can you legally sell it?
If your product uses licensed characters, sports teams, brands, etc., you cannot sell it. Even vaguely associated products are off-limits.
Also don’t copy other people! It’s just not creative.
It’s equally important to consider the law for the specific thing you make. Are there any special rules for products in your category? Children’s items, bath and body products, and food are some categories that may require additional labeling or special considerations.
How will you ship it? (Or haul it to a craft show)
How much does your item weigh? Go ahead and use a postal scale to weigh it right now.
Now, what is you plan for packing it up and shipping it across the country? What boxes and packing supplies will you use? What shipping service? How much will this all cost? Will your customers be willing to pay that cost?
If you make large, heavy, or oddly-shaped items, it’s not impossible. You’ll just have to get creative.
If you’re considering selling this product at craft shows, you should also think about how you’ll get it there. Do your items fit neatly in totes that you can lift yourself and fit into your Honda Civic, or will you have to rent a U-Haul?
What is your price point?
To determine your price point, first do some calculations. Exactly how much does it cost to make this item? And how much time will it take for you to make one of these items? Once you have these numbers, you can determine your retail price. There are so many formulas for pricing out there. Try out a few, and see what you come up with.
Now do some market research. What are people already paying for this type of item? The goal is not to undercut other Etsy sellers. This doesn’t help anyone, and you won’t be able to continue in this way for long. Do, however, see if your price fits within a range of prices that customers seem willing to pay.
If your item costs $40 to make, but everyone else seems to be able to sell it for $15, you’re going to have to somehow justify your costs to potential buyers or take a hard look at the price of your supplies.
How will you market it?
What is your specific plan for selling this item? Will you use an email list? (Excellent.) Or are you going to try to rely on social media? (The conversion rates for social media are actually pretty low.)
Additionally, put some thought into how you will design your listing. Who will you target in your listing description? And how will you photograph your item?
Deciding what to sell on Etsy can be a challenge, but putting some thought into it will ensure that you have started your business in a way that is sustainable, profitable, and enjoyable for you!
For more assistance deciding what to sell on Etsy, check out Finding Your Niche on Etsy.