Etsy is NOT EASY. Selling digital products is HARD. It’s still rewarding and it’s nice and completely worth it. But I feel like it’s time to be real.

NOT everyone is making crazy $$$ from digital products. And most of us when we do start, it does feel like climbing an uphill mountain. Especially because you see so many people on Youtube saying that they made a substantial amount and it was easy.

How do you feel? I feel like real stories help me stay motivated. Because if I compare myself to a 100k-dollar shop, I just want to put my head in the sand.

P.S. I’m not saying anyone is lying. I’m just saying that people often compare physical product sales with digital product sales (which are harder to do & the competition is fierce). Also, it takes time. And effort. And work.

“I made 100,000 sales today”

A woman posted this on Reddit:

“I started my shop selling my art as digital downloads five years ago after I had lost my third game studio job in two years. My husband fully supported me while I created art a few hours a day to fill my shop, alternating between bouts of alcoholism and stress related health problems.

For about a year I made almost no money, then the numbers started increasing, then all the sudden I was able to start paying bills and taking care of groceries without needing his help financially. It is a full time job for me now and it has been a whirlwind.

It’s a lot of work, but it has been more rewarding than any other job I’ve had. Feeling pretty good right now. Haven’t shared this with anyone since most people don’t take me seriously when I say I’m a business owner and I sell on Etsy, bleh. I make more than my husband now, and he is extremely proud. Not sure what I should do to give him a thanks for being the one who helped me get started.”

I’ve wanted to share this because people DO make money on Etsy. I have friends that are making a full time income from Etsy. It is possible.

You CAN Make Money on Etsy

And I personally know that it is possible because even though it’s nowhere close to 100 000 sales, I still made some nice passive income on Etsy personally.

The main reason why I don’t like to watch overly hyped Youtube videos is that they make it seem as if it’s easy to make millions on Etsy. And it’s not. It’s not even easy to make a full-time income out of it.

And I am saying this not because I want to complain or want you to not even start. It’s quite the opposite. The reason I am sharing this with you is that once you realize that it’s not going to be easy but it’s going to be possible, you will be more motivated to continue.

Etsy Revenue & Fees Overview:

I like to know what my revenue looks like compared to Etsy marketing fees. Also, I prefer to follow my daily sales trends and if I see that some days are more profitable, I can look into them more closely. E.g. did I post on Reddit that day or ran a sale?

If you would like to see your Etsy analytics this way as well, you can generate them automatically with my Etsy Business Planner.

What Does a Successful Etsy Shop Look Like for You?

I got a comment on Youtube recently that said:

I think we need to see some numbers, what’s success for you may not be success for others, maybe 200 dollars a month is success for someone? When you mention your success what numbers are you talking about for yourself? – JayJay

I 100% agree with you. The thing is that most of these videos usually claim 10k profit/month from digital products. Or 100k a year. And I am sure it is possible but it’s tough and if you are making 200usd / month you may feel like a failure when you look at others making 100k.

And I think it is incredibly helpful to have that personal success in mind. For me, when I started, success was getting at least one sale.

Basically, I just wanted to see if this is possible. At the moment, success would be to pay my rent. Which is 500eur / month (this should be after taxes so more like 700eur / month) and I did reach that one month but then I lost my bestseller product and have to start over again.

Ideally, I’d like to make enough money so that it could be my full-time job. What about you? What would success look like for you?

How to Stay Motivated with Your Etsy Shop

When you read about goal setting, you’re going to find two main and very conflicting ideas: reach for the sky vs. set realistic goals. Now this is something extremely personal and I’d definitely test both theories to find which one actually works for you.

I’ll share what worked for me because I’ve definitely started and quit many times before.

When I first opened my Etsy store I had a very simple goal. I didn’t focus on the numbers, I didn’t try to do everything at once (e.g. start the store, start an Instagram account, blog, make videos, etc.). I had one goal: make 30 listings.

With that goal in mind, I told myself that I will only quit if I make 30 listings and get 0 sales.

I personally think that 30 listings is a high enough number of products to get at least one sale for most Etsy stores. I’d also like to tell you that I did post my Etsy shop in Facebook groups. That’s how I got my very first sales.

I am sure that even if you don’t, you could still get a couple of sales just from Etsy’s search engine. However, if there is something easy that I can do, why not help my store?

With Etsy, consistency is key. My shop started declining once I stopped posting new listings every day.

Do I Need 100 Etsy Listings to Be Successful?

The short answer is no. I’ve had my first sales with 10 listings on my Etsy shop.

However, I have noticed that each time I renewed some listings (now I do this instead of Etsy ads), I got more traffic to my Etsy shop.

That being said, 100 listings is a good goal. But it’s not a good first goal.

Let me explain.

If your first milestone is 100 listings, it’s going to be difficult to stay motivated. For most people (me included) that’s simply too big of a goal. I am not going to feel motivated to do so much work without any return.

That’s why it’s better to set a smaller goal first e.g. 10 – 30 listings and once you reach your first sales then set another goal for 60 listings.

The reason why having a number of listings IS a good goal is that you have complete control of what you need to do. If you focused on sales or revenue numbers, there is not much you can do. These numbers are good but they don’t completely depend on you.

It could be that there are more competitors now in your niche. Maybe it’s summer time and people sit less on their phones and spend more time outside. Maybe it’s the holiday season and everyone is buying.

But you can definitely control how many listings you create.

How Much Money Did I Make on Etsy?

In this video, I’ll share how much money I made on Etsy the first couple of months I opened my Etsy store. You’ll also learn how to get your first 100 sales on Etsy without social media:

How Much Does it Cost to Sell on Etsy?

On one of the best months of my Etsy shop, I made 756.16€. This is my net profit which means that this is the exact amount that’s going to reach my bank account.

I made 1501.95€ in sales. Now you would think that I will pay taxes on 756.16€ but at least in my country that’s not how it works. And if you are in Europe, that’s most probably going to be the same for you.

Basically, for me, there are two ways I can pay taxes.

Keep in mind, that this ONLY an estimate because the taxes will depend on the overall yearly income. And, of course, the country you are registered in.

  1. I can say that my expenses were 30%. In that case, I’d have to pay an average of 262.63€ in taxes. I’d make 756.16€ – 262.63€ = 493.53€
  2. I can also choose to deduct my Etsy expenses which were pretty high. In that case that month I’d have to pay 184.61€ in taxes. So if I chose this, I’d make: 756.16€ -184.61€ = 571.55€

And that would be 78.02€ more. In case you are selling not digital but physical products (including print on demand), you definitely want to choose the second method so that you can deduct your expenses.

That’s the main reason why I choose not to sell physical products because I also work as a freelance marketing specialist and there are no expenses I could deduct.

Now, of course, take these numbers with a grain of salt because they are only approximate. But I felt like it’s nice to see the actual numbers instead of just bragging about making 1500€ which I will never receive in my bank account anyways.

Could I Have Made More Money without Etsy ads?

The short answer is probably.

Instead of guessing, I’ve decided to look at the actual numbers. Basically, that month I made only

434.50 – 426.67 = 7.83 USD from the ads

If I had a lower budget and wasn’t as aggressive with the ad spent, my overall revenue would have been higher. This is true with any advertising, the higher the budget, the harder it becomes to scale.

So if I didn’t run the ads at all that month this is what I would have gotten to my bank account:

1501.95€ – 378.09€ – 434.50USD (393.54€) = 730.32

756.16€ (with Etsy ads) vs. 730.32€ (without Etsy ads)

The difference isn’t crazy and it really depends on how you want to pay your taxes. For example, for me, the 30% deduction usually makes more sense because I also work as a freelancer and I can’t deduct anything from my work with clients. So in that case running Etsy ads can actually put me in the red. That’s why I have to be careful with it and if it’s not making a substantial amount, I don’t run them at all.

I’d also like to point out that it is possible that because I ran ads, people bought more because they saw the listing organically and as an ad. Meaning, that they simply saw the listing more times.

So, even if people didn’t buy the product the first time they saw it, they bought it later because they already had their eyes on that product.

That being said, Etsy itself says that they count the order from an ad if someone buys it within 30 days.

“When a shopper places an order as a result of interacting with one of your ads on Etsy, it counts as an order from an ad. Orders are attributed to ads when someone interacts with an ad and then buys any item in your shop within 30 days.”Etsy

Why Did I Run Etsy Ads?

Personally, this was my first experience with Etsy ads. I’ve been running Facebook and Google ads for the last 7 years. And usually with Facebook and Google it takes time to figure out and test which ads are working. The performance of the ads increases over time once the engine learns what works.

However, with Etsy ads, there’s really little I can personally do to increase their performance. I can’t choose the keywords that Etsy will run for my listing. I can only remove the ones that aren’t working after they ran them. I also can’t test different listing photos besides just creating different listings. I can’t choose how much of the budget goes to which listing.

I still wanted to run ads because I knew that I don’t want to go the social media route. Social media is a crazy time suck and if I wanted to make this as passive as possible, I had to go with paid ads.

I was pretty aggressive with Etsy ad spent because I thought that it will help me in the long run. For example, if you run ads on Google, their performance increases over time because Google engine learns which keywords convert better.

What Would I Do Differently If I Started an Etsy Shop Today?

I am actually starting a new Etsy shop today. This time I will keep the Etsy shop name a secret. That’s because there are a lot of copycats on Etsy. And by revealing my best-selling products, I did create more competition for myself.

I Will Not Run Etsy ads

I want to test out how much money I can make without running ads. Is just doing the SEO right enough? I’ll definitely share my findings with you as well.

And, hey, Etsy, if you’re listening, maybe make some incentives for people to actually want to use Etsy ads. E.g. give us additional traffic because we’re running them. Because honestly, it’s not worth it at the moment. And being able to control the ads more would be nice also.

I Will Upload A LOT of New Listings

Each new listing upload boosts your traffic. But most of all, new Etsy shops get a little bit of a boost of views in the beginning. So that is your time to shine. It’s a lot more difficult to make your shop work if you weren’t really active for a couple of years.

I am going to have the same goal of 30 listings but this time I also have a 60-day deadline.

I Will Have a Plan

Before I even open the Etsy shop, I will have 5 listings ready so that I can immediately upload them. I will also have 30 listings decided that I am going to upload. I’ll have my listings names and tags ready.

I feel like this will help me stay motivated and not get sidetracked. Because it’s so easy to find a new shiny object and then go try to create 10 different products at once. What’s the result of that? You just get burned out and don’t create anything.

I Will Decide on the Branding

I am not saying that I am going to go crazy and get a designer to develop my branding. But I will know my main colors and fonts and stick to them. Not only does inconsistent branding make your store look less professional but it also gives you another distraction.

Choosing the fonts each time you create new listings wastes your time. And the key to success here especially to someone like me that has ADHD, is to remove as many distractions out of the way as possible.

I Will NOT Watch Youtube Videos

I will not watch youtube videos on how to optimize my store unless they make me feel empowered and motivated. I do have some youtube channels that I personally watch that make me want to work even harder.

So, I am not going to say that all the gurus are bad. I think many of them actually have great marketing advice. But the most important part is to notice yourself and to see how they make you feel. Do you feel more encouraged? Do you want to move mountains after watching those videos OR do you feel depleted?

I Will Create a Separate Youtube Channel

Pinterest, Reddit, Facebook groups, Youtube and newsletters have been the most successful ways for me personally to get new sales.

I will be pretty lazy on Pinterest, Reddit and Facebook groups. I will post there once in a blue moon. However, I will make sure that each product will have a Youtube video.

This youtube channel will not be about making money from ad sense. It’s going to be a place for people to see the actual products. And also, I like to make a video tutorial for customers because then they have a much better customer experience.

I Will Put My Customers First

I used to not respond to Etsy messages during the weekends. And I will never repeat that mistake again. I’ll most definitely respond to all of their questions and I will have notifications on my phone so that I can do it quickly.

I hope that you found this article useful, if you want to learn about my journey along the way, feel free to subscribe to the newsletter.


About Vaida

Hi, I'm Vaida, I'm a marketing specialist who focuses on conversions and not just likes and followers. Engagement is great. Followers are great. Hey, even likes are great. But what do all of these metrics mean at the end of the day if you don't get any new sales? I'm always looking for new ways on how to reach your customers and get the best possible ROI. And no, I don't just "boost" a post. When I set up my Facebook campaigns, the visual, copy, and audience goes through extensive testing. My areas of focus: - Digital marketing strategy, - PPC (Google Ads, Facebook & Instagram Ads), - Copywriting, - Lead magnets, - Newsletter campaigns. I don't say I can't, just I'll learn 👏

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