The Fundamentals of Etsy is an online social market focusing on handmade and vintage items. It is a convenient and inexpensive way to sell some of your work online. The KCAI Case Study researched alumni who are using Etsy and included some fundamental info about the site.

New contributor Sara Cramer (INDA ’10) shares her experience using Etsy. You can learn more about Sara by visiting her website Sara’s crossroads loft is transformed into a retail boutique on most First Fridays, be sure to stop by.

Everyone says the first year out of KCAI is an uncomfortable and uneasy time. For me personally, I found the second year after graduating to be more difficult. The first year I stood back in awe at how much I grew as an artist, the amount of knowledge I gained, and cherished the relationships I developed with mentors, teachers and peers. In order to keep the momentum I gained in school, I never let my hands or my mind go idle. One day out of the blue I created a project for myself to simply, make a thing a day. There were no restrictions other than I had to make something everyday. So, I dug through an extensive art supply collection left over from school and found a material to start working with.

Nine months later I still find myself working with this same material, tiny square glass beads. Which surprises me because I’m obsessed with learning new materials & processes. After a few weeks, I decided I needed opinions from others on what I was making. Since I was no longer immersed in a community of like-minded individuals, I figured Etsy would be the perfect place to share my work.

Etsy is an established community of makers, which has its pros & cons. First and foremost, there is a LOT of stuff on Etsy. This makes pushing traffic directly from Etsy to your shop a hard task.  Although Etsy has its drawbacks, there are many great things about it. It’s a place bloggers frequent to find new, fresh and innovative work. It also provides a uniform format to display your items. As a designer, I contemplated making my own website to host the jewelry I was producing. For those who are not tech savvy, Etsy makes it really easy to post items. One of the reasons I decided to start with Etsy because its only $.20 to list an item versus a monthly rate for web hosting and a custom domain name. I wasn’t sure how many things I would actually like and share of what I was creating. I chose Etsy so that I would only be paying per item.

For my creative business, Etsy has been a really great portfolio. When people are interested in my jewelry collection, I always send them to my Etsy shop. Despite my attempts at creatively advertising, as well as being featured on several fashion and lifestyle blogs, I’ve only sold a few items in this format. There are a lot of factors in deciding why exactly your shop is successful, or not. For me personally, I think the glossy screen acts as a barrier to the extremely tactile pieces of jewelry I create. When people see, touch and try on this material in person, they fall in love with it. I am still working on capturing this intimate experience in a photograph. The proper photography of your items is tremendously essential to your success on Etsy. Everyday I am working harder on photography and item descriptions. Another INDA peer of mine, Aly Parrott is doing really well on Etsy with Montessori teaching accessories.
In addition to these essentials, you must really love and believe in what you’re creating. -Sara Cramer

Etsy Fundamentals

Posts and renewals– Every time you post or renew an item it costs .20. The items will remain in your shop for 5 months until the item is either sold or renewed. When items come up in a search on Etsy, it is the most recent item posted from the entire network of artists for that search term. If you have many items to post, we suggest that you post them over a period of time, that way you are featured on several pages in a search. You can also bring older items in your shop back up to the top of a search by renewing it before it expires. Renewals on non expired items are also helpful if you don’t have any new merchandise to sell for a while.

Tags- Tags are descriptive search terms about your item that help bring your item up in a search. Add as many as you can come up with when entering info on an item.

Favorites-Etsy has several functions similar to other social media sites. ‘Favorites’ act exactly as ‘Likes’ do on Facebook, and just like Facebook a Favorite will gain more views of your item in the Etsy community (other shops and shoppers) You can also link your Etsy to your Facebook and Twitter account.

Featured items-For an additional fee, Etsy will promote your item by listing it at the top of a search or on their home page for a period of time.

Feedback– For every sold item a customer is encouraged by Etsy to leave Feedback about the item they purchased from your store. To stay in good standing be sure the represent the item properly and quick shipping always gets a positive review.

Other tips- When you are opening an Etsy shop you are opening a business. If you are not familiar with the issues of shipping, returns, and related customer issues we suggest you look at what other Etsy shops post on their policy page. This extra research will help you bettering your customer relations and expectations. Most success stories are from those who devote fulltime to their account.

Let us know if this helps you. We also want to hear about your experience with Etsy!

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4 thoughts on “The Fundamentals of Etsy

  1. Aly Parrott says:

    Reblogged this on The Handmade Classroom and commented:
    A great post on the Kansas City Art Institute case study blog from my friend and former studio mate Sara Cramer. You should also check out her Etsy shop…you won’t be disappointed by her beautiful craftsmanship, stunning product and packaging design, and wonderful person!

    • calderkamin says:

      Thanks for sharing Aly.
      Do you have any additional tips we missed? Congratulations with your success on Etsy! We are always looking for alumni contributors to share advice with students about starting out. Contact me at
      – Calder

  2. Aly Parrott says:

    Oh, and this is a really concise, well written summary of how to make Etsy work for you…well done!

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