Selling embroidered items on Etsy

By on October 31st, 2021
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Looking for more customers for your embroidery business? Well, maybe it’s time to consider selling embroidered items on Etsy.

Never heard of it? Etsy is an enormous global marketplace where people can buy and sell handmade goods. Etsy has over 1 million active sellers, and the site continues to grow in popularity. Etsy is well-known for its community of creative entrepreneurs who offer unique products. This article will provide advice on how to successfully sell your embroidered items on Etsy.

What is Etsy?

Etsy was founded in 2005, and at the time of this writing, has over 40 million members. And, it continues to grow by the day. Etsy allows you to sell your handmade goods online via a website or mobile application.

Etsy is a global marketplace that allows you to sell your embroidered items
Etsy is a global marketplace that allows you to sell your embroidered items.

Why sell embroidered items Etsy?

Etsy offers benefits to both buyers and sellers. For buyers, Etsy offers a wide selection of unique, handmade items. Etsy’s search filter system makes it easy for buyers to find the kinds of products they are looking for.

For sellers, Etsy is an excellent platform that gives you exposure and traffic from all over the world. This means more sales opportunities! Etsy has also been around long enough that it benefits from a strong reputation online. Etsy is well-known for having strict policies regarding selling items that are handmade or vintage, and this makes it an excellent platform to sell your embroidered goods on Etsy.

If your business offers embroidery services to primarily local customers, Etsy may be the perfect platform to increase and diversify your revenue. Customers come to Etsy looking to shop. So you are more likely to make a sale on Etsy than if you started selling products on your own independent website.

Etsy also advertises for you. So, although Etsy takes a small percentage of your sales, you still get a lot of exposure when Etsy promotes and advertises the items that you sell on Etsy. In addition, it’s much quicker and easier to start listing products on Etsy than putting together your own website and driving traffic to it.

Etsy advertising on Google
You can see an ad that Etsy has placed to promote a seller’s product.

Eventually, if you decide to launch your own website, Etsy can be a great tool to promote your own brand. Once a customer becomes aware of your brand, they may just head over to your site and start shopping and join your email list. Think of Etsy as like a gateway drug.

What does it cost to sell on Etsy?

Etsy charges 20 cents for each item sold on its site, along with a transaction fee of three percent when an item sells. If your listing is active for 3 months and does not generate a sale, the listing will expire and you are out 20 cents. However, you can easily re-list the item for another three months.

What kind of embroidered items could you sell on Etsy?

If you spend any time on the site, you will quickly see tons of different embroidered items for sale that you can easily make with your embroidery machine. When you are thinking about your product line, consider items that won’t cost you much to produce but will make a good profit.

Start by looking for clothing, home good and accessory blanks you can reliably and cheaply. Then, scour all the websites offering designs and find some appealing parings. There is no reason why you should list products that are not worth your while to make. So list your products with pricing in mind.

Here are some ideas of inexpensive embroidered items you could sell on Etsy when you are getting started.

Patches

I currently sell digital embroidery designs on Etsy, but I can’t tell you how often people have purchased my designs thinking that I was going to send them a patch. Clearly, people like patches. And patches are cheap and easy to make. All you need is the design, the ability to convert the design to a patch file, water soluble stabilizer, HeatnBond Lite and some stiff fabric – like duck cloth. Patches that can be customized are even more appealing to customers.

final digitized patch in sewart and sewwhatpro

Towels

Kitchen towels and even “fancy” linen hand towels are cheap and easy to embroider. You can stitch out funny or vintage-inspired designs onto kitchen towels for people who want to add a little humor or class to their kitchen. Linen hand towels with an elegant single initial monogram can class up a bathroom.

Aprons with funny sayings

I no longer sell physical products through Etsy. (This blog keeps me busy enough). But when I did, I sold A LOT of aprons with the design “I love pig butts and I cannot lie.” stitched out on the front. The aprons are cheap to purchase and people are willing to pay 4X the purchase price with that silly design stitched on it. Feel free to steal my idea or find other funny designs to stitch out on aprons.

Beanies

Knit beanies are cheap and they are pretty easy to embroider with your embroidery machine. You can add names, monograms or (my personal favorite) nautical initials or you can offer designs and sayings with a broader appeal on beanies.

nautical flag hat

Baseball caps

Another cheap item to embroider are baseball caps. You can find blank hats at wholesale blanks suppliers for less than $5 each. They aren’t the easiest item to embroider if you don’t have a “hat embroidery machine,” so maybe not the best embroidered item to offer if you only have a home embroidery machine. But it is actually possible to embroider a baseball cap on a home machine and there are tons of clever designs and words to stitch on them.

applique on baseball cap

Monogrammed pillow cases

I discovered embroidered pillow cases at a cute little antique store years ago which prompted me to try embroidering them myself. I loved the elaborate “Mr” and “Mrs” designs stitched on each one and thought they would be a great gift for newlyweds. You can buy inexpensive white, cotton pillowcases for less than $5 each. With an attractive embroidery design, these could be a huge hit. Furthermore, it’s not too hard to embroider on a pillow case.

Mr and Mrs embroidered pillowcases

Creating a successful Etsy shop

Since Etsy has been around quite a while, there are tons of embroidered items available for sale. But, this does not mean that you should shy away from the platform and think you can not be successful selling embroidered items on Etsy. You just need to give customers a reason to buy from YOU. So, how do you do that?

Offer the best price (not the best strategy)

Do not underprice items because Etsy will also penalize you if they find your prices too low compared to similar items on Etsy. Also, keep in mind that Etsy will take a commission, so you are not quite earning your listing amount.

Super cheap pricing is not going to do you any favors. People assume that the quality of your goods is subpar if your pricing is too low.

Offer a unique product

Etsy will also penalize you if they find their items too unique compared to similar items on Etsy. So, get creative and come up with something unique.

It may help to narrow down your focus. What if you branded yourself as the embroidered beach gear shop and everything you offered related to spending tie at the beach. Shoppers would begin to see you as a go to source for embroidered beach gear and be more likely to buy from you that just happens to have a few embroidered “beach” items in their Etsy shop.

Get good reviews

Ok, this is easier said than done. But, if you deliver good quality products within the shipping time frame you specified, this should happen quite naturally. You want the buyer to feel good about their purchase. Consider wrapping the items in pretty paper, including a handwritten thank you note. Go above and beyond the buyer’s expectations and you will get good reviews.

Have attractive product pictures

Shoppers are not going to buy from you if your product pictures are janky. Can you take high quality, attractive product photos with your iPhone? Absolutely. Google how to do it. There is a lot of courses and other info out there on how to take good quality product photos.

There are a few different schools of thought when it comes to taking product pictures. You can either stage your photos in attractive surroundings or photograph the product against a white background. I personally use a photo tent to photograph my stitched out embroidery designs to avoid getting shadows on my products and to create a nice, clean white background.

Of course I do a bit of editing as well using Photoshop, but Photopea.com is an amazing free alternative.

Use tags and descriptions wisely

Do you know how people find your products on Etsy? It’s based on the way you describe it! So give your titles and tags some thought when making your listing.

One good tip I learned is to add your shop name as one of your product tags. This way if someone is looking for your Etsy shop, they can find other products you have available.

Some people get really into split testing their product titles. Etsy does not officially support or encourage split testing so do it at your own risk. To do this, you would create two different listings of the same product, then check your analytics to see what titles and keywords people search when they find your items on Etsy. After running these two listings for a period of time, you can see which one performs better. So, you kill the poorer performer and create a new one to “compete” against the winner.

Market your products with Pinterest and Instagram

Sometimes shoppers don’t have the language to search for your items. Pinterest and Instagram are VISUAL social media platforms. Shoppers may come across a picture on these platforms. But the beautiful thing is that the picture will be linked back to Etsy so they can find your products and buy them.

How do you set up an Etsy shop to start selling embroidered items?

You will need an Etsy seller account and set up a storefront before you can start selling your embroidered products. When you go through the account setup, you will need to provide the following items.

  • Basic contact information
  • Tax info
  • Bank information
  • A credit card (in case your charges exceed your income)
  • A profile image
  • A storefront banner
  • Categories for your products

Once you have your shop established you can add products. I would suggest adding at least 10 products before making your shop live. For each product, you will need to provide the following information.

  • Name
  • Description
  • Price
  • Shipping cost / profile
  • Tags
  • Images
  • Variations – (e.g. does the product come in different colors / styles?)

Preparing to launch an Etsy shop

Before you launch your Etsy shop, you should make some strategic decisions/ moves.

Shipping times

Etsy asks you to set a shipping time for your Etsy shop. I would suggest setting the longest possible shipping times allowed, as this will keep you from getting negative reviews right off the bat. My philosophy is under promise and over deliver.

Shipping rates

How much will you charge for shipping? You can set up different “shipping profiles” that you can assign to different products. For example, if you have a few products that are the same weight and get shipped out in the same type of packaging these items can have the same shipping profile.

Etsy encourages you to offer free shipping, but you have to make sure that this will be affordable. If you have very lightweight items, it will obviously be more doable. You can also set a minimum purchase amount for customers to receive free shipping.

Shipping woes

Sometimes (especially USPS) does not ship as quickly as you would like. This was especially true during the pandemic. For example, I mailed packages within the U.S. in late November last year that arrived around Christmas. Unfortunately, i just dropped the packages in random mailboxes, so I had no proof that I actually shipped them.

Since then, I’ve taken all my packages to the post office and gotten an acceptance scan. That way I can prove I actually shipped the package. Some post offices have kiosks that will allow you to scan your packages but it’s not as official as a regular acceptance scan.

Slow delivery times can be a bit a huge buzz kill, because customers will sometimes leave negative reviews for items that show up later than they expected. One tip I’ve learned is that sometimes signing up for USPS alerts will get the package moving.

Getting your first good reviews

Strangers don’t tend to want to make a purchase from a seller without any reviews. But how do you get reviews if no one wants to buy from you? Ask your family and friends to make purchase through your Etsy store. They already know, like and trust you, so they will likely give you a good review.

I, personally, did not have to resort to this tactic. With all my Etsy stores, I just organically got my first order and review. But, it could be helpful in getting the ball rolling.

What to avoid when selling embroidered items on Etsy

Setting up an Etsy shop is the first step to selling embroidered items on Etsy successfully! But, of course, there are a few pitfalls to avoid.

Don’t piss customers off.

I get it. Customers can be really annoying. But, at least when you are getting started, to do whatever you can to avoid negative reviews. Offer refunds and exchanges. Ship items on time. Just be easy to work with. If you get too many negative reviews, not only will you lose sales, Etsy can also suspend your account.

Stealing other peoples work.

This seems like common sense, but there are Etsy sellers getting suspended for stealing their competitors work. Plus, that’s just lame. Be original.

Violating copyright law.

This is Etsy’s number one reason for suspending accounts. Etsy has really cracked down in the past year about copyright law violations. Don’t try and sell other people’s copyrighted material! Etsy has algorithms that will detect copyright infringement so take my advice.

Ready to start selling your embroidered items on Etsy?

Setting up an Etsy shop may seem a bit daunting.  But it’s important to keep in mind that Etsy wants you to succeed. Etsy’s goal is to have Etsy sellers be happy, so they are really invested in making Etsy a great place for businesses. If you want to expand your embroidery business, it’s a great solution.

Good luck!

XO

Julie

Etsy Books

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