The Etsy Guide: Listing Items

Welcome to the Etsy Guide, your collection of tutorials for all things Etsy. Today’s discussion centers around the very important topic of listing items. Since Etsy’s most recent 2017 site update, there have been a variety of tools added. In the long-term, these tools are meant to add ease and flexibility. For now, they make the selling experience more complex. As a seller, you always have to stay on top of site updates and your own stats, to make sure your listings are as high quality and searchable as they can be.

Also a disclaimer, these tips are coming from the perspective of a seller who sells products for the sake of making them, as opposed to making products for the sake of selling them. My main source of income is not through Etsy. If you are planning to sell on Etsy as a main source for paying your bills, additional steps should be considered to really make your shop successful (but hey, people do -do it! So go find them and see what they do.).

So without further adieu, let’s get started.


How to start a listing

With the current 2017 program, you can access your shop’s listings and make new ones by visiting your shop manager. Login to Etsy as normal, then click the Shop Manager icon on the top right. Once in your shop manager, click on Listings (left sidebar) and Create New Listing at the top. Each listing is 20 cents, which as added to your bill after the listing is completely published. The listing stays up for 4 months before it needs to be renewed again, however you can set up automatic renewals if you wish. Once published, you can still make edits, even change the title, picture, price etc.  for an entirely new product (listing fees, of course, are non-refundable).


Once you have started a new listing, the first task will be to add photos. You can choose up to five, with one being the main thumbnail. Since the main thumbnail is what customers see first on Etsy, it is important to have it cropped appropriately, showing as much of the product as possible.

It is crucial to have high quality photos, as this is  a big part of what gets customers to click your listing (and eventually purchase it). For the best photos, here are a few tips to start:

  • Lighting- Make sure the lighting in your photo portrays your product accurately, and looks pleasant. One of the best things to use, especially on a budget, is natural lighting and a white background.
  • Photo Angle- Be sure to take photos of the product at a variety of angles, such as directly above, in front of, behind, and to the side. An unusual angle can add interest.
  • Use scale- For smaller objects especially, it is important to have something to use for scale, such as common currency (a penny) or an actual ruler.


Additional Resources:

Listing Details

The next step is working out listing details. The first matter is your title, which is the first step that can improve your search status. For more information about how search status is determined, you can click here or here. These articles go into this topic further, but basically some aspects of your listing are weighed more heavily than others. The product description is not relevant when it comes to search results, but keywords and title are. And if a customer searches for a phrase that is in both your keywords and title…bonus points. So if you see those super wordy titles in other shops, that’s why. Now you obviously don’t need to add every possible key word into your title. Start with the basic title of what your object is, for example, 7 Pastel Goth Charms. Then think about which words, related to your product, are most likely to be searched. You might add to the title Set of 7 Pastel Goth Kawaii Spooky Kei Charms from Polymer Clay. And remember, we will come back at a later time to check our stats, so we can change the title later if we need to.

Next you will need to select details from a few drop down menus, to determine when your product was made, who made it, what is it, etc. Pretty self-explanatory.

After that, you will be choosing a few additional attributes, such as related holiday and color. These are technically optional, but you should choose something for each category regardless. Why? When a holiday or occasion is coming up, Etsy will often have promotions, where products relevant to the holiday have their own section on the site. For example, if Father’s Day is coming up, Etsy may have a special section for Father’s Day. So if someone is looking for a Father’s Day Gift, it is more likely they will find your product. As a default, you can use Birthday for occasion and Christmas for holiday, but if a different occasion/holiday is relevant to your product you can use that. It’s good to have different attributes associated with different products, to help with search results. But of course, keep it relevant to what you’re selling. And as you might guess, choosing what colors your product is will help if someone is searching a product in a specific color.

Next thing you need to know about is the description. Again, this will not be relevant for attracting customers, but it can certainly convince customers to buy your product (or not), so it is definitely worth putting thought into. Remember that you are selling a product, so you should be excited about it! If you don’t care enough to write about your product, why should the customer care? Here are some ideas for your product description:

  • Ingredients/ materials used
  • How the product is made
  • Story behind the specific product
  • Ordering instructions
  • Disclaimers
  • Restating store policies
  • Sales/promotions
  • What the product does/ how to use it

You can also look at similar shops, to get ideas on what to write. If you’ve made it this far, the hardest steps are pretty much behind you. After the description, you can choose whether shoppers can request a custom job, and also choose what section of the shop your listing appears in. Sections are a great way to organize your shop by size, theme, product type, etc.

And at last, the tags. This is part 2 to making your listing as search-friendly as possible. You have up to 13 tags to describe your product. Again, you can and will go back at a later time to change the tags, if you think your listing is not getting as much traffic as it could. You can also look at similar shops. Click on their products and see what phrases/terms are recommended at the bottom of their listing. You also have a separate area to list materials/ingredients. Use your tags to describe what the product is (use multiple names/spellings, if applicable), what style it is, etc. What would someone, looking for a product like yours, be searching? And remember, use all the tags!

Here are some more resources, to get your shop discovered by customers:

Inventory and Pricing

Time to price your item. If you are ready to list, you likely have a price in mind. But if you don’t, here are some considerations to make:

  • How much do items like yours typically go for on Etsy?
  • How much does it cost for the materials used in your product?
  • How much time did it take to make your product, and how much money is your time worth?
  • How much skill was needed to make the product, or learn to make it?
  • Don’t forget the listing fee!
  • Stumped? Check out this video for a sample break-down. Or click here for more info.

You will also notice in this section there are tools for creating an SKU (or product ID, optional), adding variations of the product, and adjusting the quantity available. There is no additional charge to have a quantity of more than one or different variations, but of course the listing is still only shown one time in search results. I personally don’t find much use in SKU with the number of products I have and the nature of my shop, but it is there to help you organize.


You’re at the end! Last, you need to work out the shipping details. If you have a lot of similar products, you can create a shipping profile, which you can use for other listings to cut down on time spent on this section. You will need to decide how quickly the item will be shipped. Quicker is better if you can manage it; my time for most products is 3-5 days to be on the safe side. These products are also pre-made, so if your products are made-to-order you need to realistically consider production time. You also decide here where your product ships from, if there are handling fees, if you do free shipping, etc. After those details are set, you will enter what your product weighs and dimensions. This applies to the option of having Etsy decide shipping costs for you. You can set them manually, but that can be flawed and time-consuming. Also note, the weight and dimensions should be when the product is ready to ship, so the shipping container is included in these measurements.

You may also be wondering as I did…can you combine shipping costs if a customer purchases more than one item from your shop? By default, the answer is surprisingly no. There are a couple of ways to get around this however, with the first option being to set shipping costs manually. I decided to go with option b personally, which is to have customers contact you if they want to combine shipping. This way, you can alter one of the listings they’re interested in to also include the other products they want, and combine shipping fees, and viola! Not a perfect solution, but until there is an option to combine shipping automatically, it does the job.

What Now?

Congratulations! You have created a listing! If you are starting out, try to have as many listings as possible. As time goes on, you will be able to return to the Shop Manager and see how many views your products are getting. If traffic is not where you would like, you may consider adjusting the photos, key words, and title. There’s also a lot that can be added or changed on your shop  to make it the best it can be. Let us know down below what questions you have, or topics you would like to see covered next. Got any tips for new shop owners? Let’s talk in the comments below.

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