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Why Most People Fail on Etsy

Updated on March 20th, 2023
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The practical guide to the many reasons that most people fail on Etsy and how you can overcome these obstacles.

They Don’t Know What They’re Up Against

Although Etsy is viewed as an easy, straightforward place to start your business online, it does have some complexities that many new sellers never grasp. It is extremely important that new sellers to the platform have a realistic mindset and are first aware of the different ways that others have failed to push past those obstacles and find their own personal success.

They Don’t Learn SEO

SEO is a huge subject that many new business owners overlook when working on their Etsy shop. Many sellers may just be itching to dive into Etsy, so they completely ignore this crucial concept.

Or, many new sellers believe that they do not need to do as much marketing work as a traditional business owner because of the way that Etsy’s platform has built-in traffic. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

In order to maximize Etsy’s search algorithm and get the most out of the platform, you need to use SEO.

SEO is an abbreviation for search engine optimization. Essentially, this is the process of making sure that you’re using the correct keywords in your product description and title in order for the search engine to pick up your listing.

If you do not use the correct wording in your listing, your product or business may not show up for customers searching for it.

Something is Wrong with Their Listing

There are many different aspects that go into creating a great listing on Etsy. Making sure that each of these aspects are in check can make a substantial difference in your long-term success. Most of the time, Etsy businesses fail because a combination of these important details are missing.

1. Attractive Photos

Oftentimes, the first thing that attracts a new customer to a business is the visuals. That is why it is very important to make sure that your photos for your listing and your brand, in general, are clear, have great lighting, and are eye-catching.

See this photo, for example. It’s clear, high-quality, well-lit, and displays the item on a background that enhances the necklace’s colors.

handmade necklace

Investing in a decent camera early on could result in faster growth and bountiful sales in the long run. Even if you would like to do everything from your phone, a phone’s camera can be maximized with some simple photography skills and editing software. You won’t regret spending just a few hours learning about these topics. Great visuals are a necessity for a successful business.

2. Complete Item Descriptions

Since you are selling completely online, customers cannot examine your product in person. This is where accurate, detailed product descriptions make a huge difference.

Whether your customers glance or fully read your description, it could be the make-it-or-break-it point for a potential sale. Too short or too long descriptions can scare a potential customer away. However, it is always better to err on the side of a longer description. The more pertinent information and SEO-packed it is, the better.

Since Etsy is focused on being a marketplace for unique items, an easy-to-read product description can help potential customers to understand your product. This is also an opportunity for you to describe what makes your product different from the competition. Ensure that you are optimizing your Etsy product description for SEO.

3. Choose the Right Product

Picking the right product or products for your business can be tough, especially when you are dedicated to one product that has been struggling for a while.

If your product is not doing well, do research and figure out why. Then, you can either change your existing product or create a new one.

Although many say that jewelry is already a saturated market and you shouldn’t sell jewelry, it still has crazy demand. You just need to figure out how your product can stand out from others and be unique.

Stay on top of trends through weekly research and implement these into your business to see a sales boost.

4. Choose the Right Category or Niche

This goes along with making sure that you pick the right product. This is a balancing act. You want to make sure that your niche is not too specific, but it also cannot be too broad. Your category needs to be popular. Many others may suggest that Esty sellers do not choose a saturated category, however, saturated categories can be beneficial. If a category is saturated, that means that there is a lot of demand, and demand is good.  Make sure that you do research and look at existing sellers in your niche or category.

You can learn more about various product niches on Etsy to see what others are doing that you may not have considered yet.

5. Provide Wonderful Customer Service

When owning an online business or a business in general, there is lots of room for human error.

So, when a human error does occur and a customer reaches out to you about an issue with their order, don’t panic.  This can be a great opportunity to secure a customer for a long time if you react appropriately and go above and beyond.

customer service benefits animation

Apart from resolving issues, great customer service could result in more sales.  If a customer has a question or concern about your product and you answer quickly, provide concise information, and do so in a pleasant message, that customer is much more likely to purchase from you.

They View it as a Get Rich Quick Scenario

You may see other Etsy owners on TikTok or Instagram thanking the universe for making their Etsy shop blow up overnight after just a week of listing items on the platform. Others may urge you to just get started as it is a quick and easy way to make money. This is not a realistic view to have when dedicating your time to the platform.

1. You need to learn, learn, learn!

Nobody was ever successful at something they didn’t spend at least a bit of time learning about.

With Etsy, you should invest as much time as possible into knowing the platform inside and out before committing to starting your shop. You should learn about basic business principles such as finance, marketing, customer service, and sales.

Now more than ever there are so many different ways to learn information online. You should take advantage of the many great YouTube videos available, online courses, and social media posts explaining different aspects of running an online business. All the information is available to you, you just have to dedicate time to finding it.

Companies always have a research and development department. You should have your own as well. Your research and development department could simply be you, allotting time each week to read about news, trends, and demand.

2. Invest

Many shy away from spending any money on a business before they make any. However, investing in yourself, your business and your knowledge can be a jumpstart. There are many courses available for purchase that contain a wealth of knowledge.

Investing in a mentor can keep you accountable.  There are also options to pay for feedback about your business which could help you identify something that you had missed.

3. Create a Plan

This goes along with the previously listed principle, treating Etsy like a business. All successful businesses have a business plan. Before setting up your shop or in the very early days of selling, creating a clear and concise business plan can set you far apart from your competitors.

4. Have Patience

Sometimes, the only thing that causes new Etsy sellers to fail is giving up too fast. If they would have waited a month or two longer, they could have seen much more growth in their business.

Don’t fall into this trap.

Although it can be tough waiting it out, as long as you’ve implemented the aspects listed above, most of the time it is simply a waiting game for your store to gain traction.  For many, it takes months to get that first sale.

Keep a realistic mindset and don’t expect too much, too fast. Even if your shop grows extremely quickly, a slow growth mindset can keep your head level and help you to continue the growth without making an error.


Having a successful Etsy shop can be quite like taking care of a child. You need to take care of it daily, learn about it, and give it the things it needs to grow, survive, and thrive. Taking care of a child should be taken seriously, just like your Etsy shop.

If you want Etsy to be your full-time income, treat it like a business, not a hobby. Make sure that you get comfortable with learning and adapting. Take accountability for your actions, learn, and correct. Paying attention to all the concepts mentioned and continually improving will result in a rewarding Etsy business.

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