Welcome back for Part 2 of my Earning on Etsy series. Now that you know the basics of Etsy and have thought about what you want to sell, it’s time to do a little market research. You can find out a lot about what sells (and what doesn’t) and for how much by doing a little detective work on Etsy.
Just for the record, I don’t have any sort of degree in Etsy-market-research-ology. I will show you what has worked well for me. Feel free to share your own advice and experience in the comments! I’m going to try to explain things thoroughly so even those of you who are completely new to the Etsy scene can get up to speed. If something doesn’t make sense, just ask and I’ll try to clarify.
Now on to market research!
As you think about what you will sell in your Etsy shop, and how you’ll sell it, take some time to look at what’s already out there on Etsy. You’ll want to do some background detective work on:
What similar items are out there?
Unless you have an amazing novel idea, chances are good that there are people already selling what you plan to sell. Of course it won’t be exactly the same. There will be differences in color, style, materials, and more.
Don’t get discouraged by the sheer amount of friendly competition. There is always room for anyone selling a well-crafted wonderful product.
What is actually selling?
Just because you find an item on Etsy doesn’t necessarily mean it sells. Finding out if items similar to yours are selling, gives you a clue about how popular your items may be. Of course this is just one piece of the picture.
What is the range of prices?
You’ll be interested in prices both for the product and for shipping. Take a deeper look at items priced on either end of the price spectrum. This will give you some background for setting your own prices.
What presentation works well (and what doesn’t)?
While you are scoping out the competition, take a few additional notes. What are some creative ways to photograph your items? What kind of pictures grab your attention? You certainly don’t want to copy anyone’s ideas exactly, but you can give yourself some good “dos” and “don’ts” just by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and browsing around. See what catches your eye.
The answers to these questions will help you shape your own Etsy shop. Here are some tips I have found helpful that should help you jump start your way to Etsy success.
1. Find Similar Items
First, start thinking like your ideal customer. If you were a buyer going online to search for the item you are selling, what would your search words be? Brainstorm for a minute. This won’t necessarily be the listing title, just words that a potential buyer might use to describe what they are looking for. Write down the words you come up with. You’ll use them later when you create your own listings.
Right now, you just want a search that will yield results similar to what you’re selling. Don’t be overly specific (“3T pink rose full apron with eyelet lace”), but don’t be too general either (“apron”). Something in the middle ( “girl’s full apron”) should do for now.
2. Take a Closer Look
How do the search results look? Were most of the results legitimately what a buyer of your products would be interested in? If it helps, you can filter the search to show only handmade items, supplies, or vintage items. Click through several of pages of results to get an overall feel for the competition.
When you find listings that catch your attention, go deeper. Among your search results, listings that should spark your curiosity from a seller standpoint are:
- Items very similar to what you plan to sell
While you might see very similar items as direct competition, we are going to look at them as prime candidates for analysis! You can benefit from that seller’s experience to help inform your decisions.
- Items similar to yours with a high price
You’ll want to find out if the items actually selling at this price? If so, what is different about them that makes them worth the higher price tag?
- Items similar to yours with a low price
If someone is selling at what seems to be a ridiculously low price, don’t let this deter you. First, is the item really similar? Is it a ready-made item or just a pattern?
How long has the seller been selling? Sometimes new sellers set prices too low and after a few months realize they are essentially donating their crafts to the world. We will address the concern of low price when we talk about pricing.
3. List vs. Gallery View
The default view for Etsy shops is the gallery view. The large horizontal photos of gallery view easily display eye candy to potential customers. However, for market research detectives, the list view is better.
From the list view, we can see a small thumbnail followed by the full title, price, and number of views. By glancing through the list of similar items, we can see the range of prices easily. We can also see which items have lots of views.
Unfortunately, about a month ago, Etsy discontinued list view for searches, leaving only gallery view available. Once you find a specific Etsy shop with items you want to research, you can still use list view, and I often do.
4. Valuable Research Information
When you click on an item of interest from your search, you will go to the item’s listing page. Let’s see what we can learn from an item’s listing page.
In addition to typical listing info that a buyer would be interested in, you can click on the tabs to see reviews of the seller’s work and find out about shipping costs.
Some of the best information for market research is at the bottom of the listing page. We can see when the item was listed, how many views an item has, how many people have saved it as a favorite, and how many treasuries (themed lists curated by Etsy members) it is featured in.
- Listing date
The listing date shows when the listing was created. If an item is re-listed, the listing date is updated to the most recent re-listing date. Because a listing expires after four months, this date will never be more than four months ago.
The number of views can be deceiving. When an item is re-listed, the views do not reset. An item that has sold many times and been re-listed each time it sells may show years of views. An item may also have a lot of views because it is unusual or has a shocking price.
If an item doesn’t have many views, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the item won’t sell. A recent listing may have fewer views, as could a listing from a seller who is new and just starting to get exposure. (You can see how long a shop has been open on the left side of the shop, under the shop name.) A listing may also have few views because the search tags are inadequate. We’ll address tags at length in an upcoming post in this series.
- Favorites and Treasury lists
It’s a great sign when people add your item to their favorites or include it in a treasury list. In your market research, items with lots of favorites let you know what your potential customers are most interested in. As with views, the number of favorites does not reset when an item is re-listed. Shoppers can favorite an item without clicking through to the listing, which sometimes results in the unusual situation of an item having more favorites than views. If an item hasn’t had much exposure, it will likely have few or no favorites. Once again, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a no-go; it could mean that this particular listing hasn’t had enough exposure to build up useful historical data.
Next, I go to see the sold items page. Just like the shop, the sold items page can be displayed in gallery or list view. List view is great because it will give us the date that the item sold. We want to go through several pages of sold items to see if the items we are interested in have sold and how often. This will give us an indication of how likely our own items are to sell.
Etsy market research isn’t an exact science, but by trying out some searches on items you might like to sell, reviewing current shops and items that appear in those searches, and diving deeper into price, presentation, and sales history for items of interest, you can improve your own Etsy business before you even list your first item.
More in the Earning on Etsy Series
- Part 1: Etsy Basics
- Part 3: Setting up your Shop
- Part 4: Pricing
- Part 5: Marketing
- Bonus: Don’t Forget the Taxes!: Tax Notes for Etsy Shop or Small Business
Be the first to know!
Want to hear what successful Etsy sellers did and are doing to grow their shops? Learn their tips and tricks in my upcoming ebook. Sign up here to be the first to know when it's released (and get a discount)!