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Business Expertise and Advice for Makers - How to sell on Etsy

Today we’d like to introduce our new series of blog posts, BEAM - Business Expertise and Advice for Makers, which we’ve developed to help you, as a lampshade maker, grow your business and take your next commercial steps.

Over the coming months, we’ll be creating and sharing 'how to' business guides, talking to industry experts, sharing marketing tricks and tips and providing guidance on international trading and lampshade making safety standard.

Our first stop is selling online with Etsy, so if you’re branching out from making lampshades for your friends and family, this may be your way to access a wider audience.

Etsy need to knows

Esty, now 14 years old, had 4.1 million sellers in 2020, with 13% of these based in the UK and they have 81 million users. A large proportion of sellers identify as female – over 80%.

What percentage of Etsy products are handmade?

Etsy showcases handmade items, crafts and vintage items. They actually prohibit commercial items that are simply repackaged or haven’t been designed or made for yourself. For lampshade makers, this is a huge plus, as this guarantees that your competitors are also making handmade shades too.

What are the selling fees?

Listing Fees - $0.20 listing fee for each individual item you put up to sell on the platform. Even if your products are identical, as long as you are selling them individually, you will pay the $0.20 listing fee per product. Each product is listed for 4 months. If the listing expires, i.e. the product has not sold, you must pay the listing fee again.

Transaction Fees – 5% of the total sale, including the cost of any customisation and any extras such as gift wrapping. This fee is to cover Etsy’s overheads of running the platform

Shipping Transaction Fees - Etsy also collects a shipping transaction fee which is 5% of the total cost of your shipping to the customer.

Payment Processing Fees - Etsy Payments is Etsy’s own online payment process and allows you to accept a wider range of payment methods and must be used of you are UK based (this also applies to 36 worldwide countries).

Payment type accepted are:

· Credit card/debit card

· Etsy Gift Card

· Etsy Credit,

· PayPal

· Apple Pay

· Google Pay

In comparison, one of the most popular online payment methods in the UK is Paypal which charges 2.9% of the sale price + £0.30.

You will also need to check whether or not you need to pay VAT on your products and check your tax situation with the HMRC.

How easy is Etsy to set up?

Very simple! It helps if you have the following ready to go and you’ve done some research beforehand:

  • Pick your shop name and then check that this isn’t already taken on Etsy. If there is a name that’s very similar, then think about the impact this will have on your business.

  • If you’re not using the same name that you currently use for your business on social media platforms, check your chosen name is free across these too, to allow you use the platforms to promote your Etsy site.

  • Have a product ready to go – create a description in a word document in advance and think about keywords relating to you product. Check out other sellers for examples.

  • Take clear photos of your product – you need at least one image to list your product, but take as many images showing, size (use a recognisable everyday item next to your product to show scale), colour and detail.

  • Create a logo, banner and seller headshot – Canva LINK is a great free tool for creating logos.

Lauren Thrumond’s 'How to open your first Etsy shop' You Tube video is an easy to follow video that walks you through each stage of setting up your shop.

What are the benefits of selling on Etsy?

  • Pricing – for lampshade makers, whose pricing structure will usually range for £15 upwards, Etsy is a viable platform, but for sellers offering cheaper items under £5, the fees may remove most profit margins.

  • Digitally savvy – Etsy sellers have access to an app that helps you manage your sales and also access to a built-in analytics platform.

  • Reputation – known worldwide it’s a platform that many buyers turn to for quality, handmade goods and trusted in terms of payments and customer service delivery.

  • Website replacement – if you don't want to set up your own website, Etsy is a great way to get the same benefits, but much less time consuming to set up

What are the cons of selling on Etsy?

  • Recently introduced on 25th March 2021, Etsy upgraded its advertising program to Off Side Advertising, which for some successful Esty sellers will become mandatory, taking 15% of the sale price for a sale from an ad. For smaller sellers, this is optional and should be considered carefully.

  • For lampshade makers, whose pricing structure will usually range from £15 upwards, Etsy is a viable platform, but for sellers offering cheaper items under £5, the fee’s may remove most profit margins.

Other information:

Etsy Plus is a monthly subscription account, which comes with some added extras, including listing and advertising credits, amongst others. At $10 USD or around £7.30 a month Etsy Plus will get you the following:

  • Credits – 15 listing credits and USD$5 Etsy Ads credit

  • Access to Custom Web Address Discounts through Hover

  • Restock requests - Shoppers can view your sold out listings to sign up to receive alerts when your items are back in stock

  • Advanced shop customization - Sellers subscribed to Etsy Plus have access to advanced shop customization, which includes multiple banner options, a new layout option for featuring listings, and the ability to feature specific listings or shop sections.

  • 30% discount for printables from Moo

Etsy UK also has regional groups that arrange craft fairs - both physical (when they are allowed) and digital, which are a fantastic way to get to know other sellers and be part of a makers community. These can be found on Facebook, for example, Etsy Makers Cornwall, or some have their own websites - Etsy Manchester.

Useful resources

We liked M3lart's 'Do this before starting an Etsy business in 2021' YouTube video – which comes with free printable worksheets, that you can complete throughout the video and looks at all aspects of setting up an Etsy shop.

Many of our customers already use Etsy as their preferred selling platform, so we asked two lampshade makers, Alison Bick and Poppet Retro, whose different styles and aesthetics set them apart, why the platform works for them.

Alison Bick - Alison Bick Designs

How do you find Etsy as a selling platform for your lampshades? I find Etsy a great platform for reaching out to an audience who may not necessarily already follow me on social media and making sure that I’ve got my SEO correct that my lampshades will be found on the searches. There is a lot of information in the Etsy Sellers Handbook on Etsy on all sorts of aspects of running a business online, from taking good product photography, writing product descriptions, branding, etc.

What are the benefits to you as a seller? The benefits as a seller are that if you don’t already have a website then it is a great place to start selling online.

What made you choose Etsy over other platforms? Before I had my own website I chose Etsy to open up an online shop - I had used Etsy for shopping myself and liked how easy it was to use and to set up and start selling.

I also liked the community aspect of being an Etsy seller - I co-organized Etsy Made Local events in Cornwall for four years before Covid, and then moved the events online last year. Being part of an Etsy team meant that I was part of not just a network of Cornish sellers, but also as the Etsy Makers Cornwall team captain I was invited by Etsy to their Team Captain Summits in London and Bologna which meant that I had the opportunity to connect with other Etsy sellers in the UK and Europe.

Any tips for selling on Etsy that could help other lampshade makers?

  • Product photography is key to make your lampshades stand out from other sellers. You have the chance to add up to 10 product photos, so show off all the aspects of your shades, close-up detail, lifestyle, etc. If I have a particularly nice review, I’ll overlay the text from the review onto the photo of my lampshade and upload that as a photo.

  • Do your keyword research.

  • Study the Etsy Sellers handbook!

  • Make sure you make your account secure with the Two Factor authentication to avoid your shop being hacked (it happens!)

  • Curate your shop so that it looks on brand, and people can easily see what it is that you are selling. If you are not a graphic designer, use Canva to create graphics for free.

  • Link up your Etsy shop to Facebook Shopping (for linking products on Facebook and Instagram). You can do this on the Shop Admin panel.

  • Get your pricing right! Make sure that you make a profit, a good way is to use a fee calculator tool like

Poppet Retro

How do you find Etsy as a selling platform for your lampshades?

I think it’s really good. The website is very easy to use and not as complicated as ebay which is another platform I sell on. The ‘Sell on Etsy’ app is very good. What are the benefits to you as a seller?

I think unlike sites such as eBay and Amazon, Etsy tends to attract the sort of people who don’t mind paying a bit more for something unique and well made. Also, I find that customers are more friendly and communicative and if a problem has occurred they are more understanding. Although the fees have been creeping up in recent years, they are still lower than eBay. Certainly, in the last year, more people have been going to the Etsy website so you get good exposure. I think that during the pandemic people have been really thinking about their spending choices and a lot of people want to shop small and independent. One of my favorite things about Etsy is how customers can upload a photograph when they leave a review. Seeing a photo of your product in its new home is so lovely! Etsy will advertise on your behalf and if you are a smaller shop you can opt-out of this (which you might want to because they take a hefty cut if it ends up in a sale) but I think it generally benefits the sellers. I have a lot of people getting in touch who want bespoke lampshades and therefore I make a lot of custom orders. Etsy makes it very easy to do this. In the messages, you can make a private custom order listing in no time.

What made you choose Etsy over other platforms?

Initially, it was because I liked the concept of the site. Although they do sell craft supplies as well, they have always advertised as selling exclusively handmade goods vintage items – perfect for my shop since I sell handmade items from vintage fabric! I think Etsy put a lot of effort into making the site look fresh and attractive and like I said previously it’s easy to use.

Any tips for selling on Etsy that could help other lampshade makers?

  • Try your best to take good photos. I know it’s hard if you haven’t got great lighting or enough space but it’s worth waiting for a sunny day. And when I first started I painted a piece of hardboard with white emulsion for a backdrop!

  • Etsy will regularly change its search algorithm and a quick Google search will tell you what they are looking for at any time. It’s worth doing this occasionally. One of the things I found to be most beneficial when I first started was getting good reviews. When you make a sale pop a little note in with your item, asking them if they would mind doing an Etsy review. This will boost your standing with Etsy and hopefully lead to more sales.

  • It’s tempting to spend a lot of time looking at similar seller’s shops. I find it depresses me so I don’t do it anymore! Everybody else’s items are nicer than mine, better value etc. Also, if I spend too long looking at what other people are doing I find it harder to be creative and come up with my own ideas. Of course, you might want to check how much other shops are selling similar items for but try to work out your prices based on what you used, how long it took and how much you’d like to make. Don’t sell yourself short!


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