[smallbizbabecommunity] Why my first Etsy shop failed

Instagram’s @smallbizbabecommunity profile* posted Why my first Etsy shop failed and listed the 6 reasons below.

@Handmade , small batch manufacturers, one-person shows, and Etsy sellers, what are your thoughts?

  1. I was trying to be like others instead of focusing on standing out
  2. I wasn’t charging enough for my products to build a profitable business
  3. I didn’t do competition research to define my unique selling proposition
  4. I spent way to much time on product creation instead of learning how to get sales
  5. I didn’t take time to understand the platform and learn how to keyword optimize my shop
  6. I was selling on overcompetitive market without defining my microniche and ideal customer

*Not a member of SellersAskSellers. No affiliation or affiliate link. Posted for informational purposes only. Linking does not equal, imply, or represent endorsement.

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  1. I was trying to be like others instead of focusing on standing out
    Can be helpful but not as important as some other things IMHO.

  2. I wasn’t charging enough for my products to build a profitable business
    BIG issue on Etsy and eBay. People are actually LOSING money selling things so cheap.

  3. I didn’t do competition research to define my unique selling proposition
    Useful but not in my top 5 list.

  4. I spent way to much time on product creation instead of learning how to get sales
    Another BIG one. We find that creating tons of products isn’t productive and we focus on our core products that sell through well. More listings that don’t sell isn’t using your time wisely.

  5. I didn’t take time to understand the platform and learn how to keyword optimize my shop
    Another one that doesn’t make the top 5 for us. Keywords can help a bit, but relying on Etsy’s search is worthless. Let me explain. The internet is like a desert. If you open a gas station in the middle of the desert, and no one knows it exists, you’ll never see any customers. Driving traffic to your store needs to be done off site. An old market saying that still applies: “Always advertise all ways”. Bonus is a lot of traffic can be driven to your store using free posts on social media or cheaper advertising out side of Etsy, and it’s more effective too.

  6. I was selling on over-competitive market without defining my micro niche and ideal customer
    Example - jewelry, phone cases, etc. I don’t intend to trash my comrades here on SAS, but jewelry iso soooooo saturated. We tried it in the beginning when we were quite naive and it didn’t go well. A niche anywhere is better than being too general, but a niche in a not-so-saturated category may work extremely well.

Just my two cents.



My honest opinion is these are “advice” tidbits I see over and over again posted by people trying to sell their services.

I agree with Ana’s responses. Except I’m now in an over-saturated market and trying to diversify my offerings.


This is HUGE, and not just on Etsy, but like you said, eBay and Amazon and in-person, for handmade, small batch, and one-of-a-kind items.

I personally get very frustrated with under-pricing (outside of a VIP-only sale or one-time coupon or well-marked promotion) because it trains consumers to under-value the work and the craft.

I mean, I get that you’re a hobbyist just looking to recoup some costs to feed your habit, I really really do…but don’t spread that misinformation to the general public. Keep it to friends and family, and EDUCATE them on the actual costs (a minimum of hourly rate x all actual hours, plus materials + skill level + all other costs) versus what you are deciding to accept.

This is a common rookie mistake and great advice @Best_Handmade_Soaps !

Yeah…numbers 2 and 4 ring loudly true for me, 1 is important for educating consumers about quality differences, but 3, 5, and 6 all sound like

:laughing::stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: a little too “buzzy” for me

This is an important caveat to Ana’s advice above, that you focus on the items with the best sell-through but also offer enough variety to Buyers choose your shop over others.

It’s a tricky balance.
“Subtle science and exact art” (Snape)


My issue is my products with the best sell-through are copied endlessly. There are Etsy shops that look exactly like mine - subjects, wording, editing style. Why? Because all of these “advice” gurus base their businesses on telling people to find what’s popular and copy it. (ergh).

For me, the key is to diversify and stay ahead of them.


I need a :clap::clap::clap: reaction


Too many times have I encountered people who think if they sold something online for $15 and paid $5 they made $10 without knowing any of the details. Also the flip side with people who are happy to make pennies on the dollar only to be mad when returns destroy their cash flow.

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Etsy is so diverse and so many different variables exist in why some shops fail and others succeed that there really is no “one size fits all” advice.

I’ve seen poorly run shops thrive because it’s just a hobby backed by a spouses income.

I’ve seen excellent shops fail, because it’s ran by someone who just doesn’t have the support network that running a small business takes.

When I started my shop in 2008 selling my light switch covers, I didn’t have a camera. I used a scanner and photoshop….and I sold my products with poor photography because I had a product people wanted and I fulfilled a demand. I have actually had two other Etsy businesses that I shut down (one sewing, the other book binding journals) both made money, both were successful, but comparing time invested vs reward the light switch covers were a clear winner.

What it really comes down to in selling any product is showing that your product fulfills a need or a want. Too many people fulfilling needs/wants lowers demand.

There is a lot that goes into running a business and I’m always skeptical of people selling advice. If your advice worked, wouldn’t you be so busy running your business you don’t have time to coach people?

You see it with mlm stuff as well. For every successful mlm/Etsy seller there is 1,000 unsuccessful people who tried but for whatever reason just didn’t make it work.

I have enough skills from doing this for so many years now that if I took time and really picked through a persons brain about why their shop is not successful I could easily figure out why and give tips and advice. That’s custom tailored one on one support and I just don’t have the time because I run my own business and have 5 kids lol. I get asked all the time advice on starting an Etsy shop because so many people really think all you have to do just just make something and you wake up rich. It’s not like that at all :joy:


I stopped dealing with trite truisms in my twenties and gave up using them as explanatory tools in my 30’s because they tend to mislead. They are empty. But yes to all of those while fully knowing that each point can be dismantled very easily without context.

There is almost never a right or wrong - that framework doesn’t work in the real world even though that is how we’re raised.

You are the light switch #goals!

I’m only raising 3 kids right here and it’s a Whole Thing.
I wanted SIX. :dizzy_face:
I can’t imagine 5 and living in this parenting era*.

*:roll_eyes: Yes yes, all of my grandparents had 4+ siblings, up to 11…but all of my grandparents also only had 2 kids themselves sooo :eyes: and none of 'em coulda managed today, as they themselves have said.


On that list #5 is the biggest problem with Etsy.

The search is pathetic and all of the idiots who spend half their lives keyword optimizing contribute to the uselessness of the search.

When there are too many low quality, easy entry businesses in any location, it is impossible to predict why any succeed. Every person who can string a bead has opened a shop on Etsy (or so it seems). Short of selling to your family and social media friends it is impossible to make any money.

Etsy has had teams who bought from each other and created the illusion of sales,

There might be some real pros on the site, but many who actually are making money with their crafts are using Etsy as a web presence to support their sales which are in person. (A good idea since if your innovative designs are on Etsy, and can be replicated, they will be replicated).

My daughter, who is new to selling her fabric collages, is on the show circuit, has a large number of works displayed on Instagram and has a token Etsy presence. Sales so far have been repeat customers who bought from her at shows.

In the vintage section, the only reason they have sellers is their fees are so much lower than Ebay, and therefore they appeal to people with no real business strategy.

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