Unless you’re a crafter or vintage item dealer, you’ve probably never considered selling on Etsy.
Traditionally, items sold on Etsy have to be either handmade or vintage. But if you sell tools or supplies to make things, neither of those requirements apply.
I made an extra $200 last month selling needlecraft patterns, kits and supplies on Etsy -- and my numbers are growing every month.
Here’s what I’ve learned, so you can do the same.
Cross-stitch is a hobby of mine, but selling completed cross-stitch projects isn’t a moneymaker.
When you consider how long it takes to finish one piece, you’ll never be able to earn a decent hourly rate.
However, because I love to cross-stitch and am active in needlecrafting social media communities, I know the types of kits and patterns needlecrafters want.
I regularly shop at local thrift stores, purchasing kits and patterns for a few bucks each.
Then I mark them up anywhere from 400% to 1,200% and sell them in my Etsy shop. I opened my shop in August and had earned more than $600 by the end of December.
Needlecraft kits and patterns are rarely expensive at thrift shops. In fact, I seem to have little (if any) competition for them. Most of the kits I find are from the 1970s or 80s and still sealed in the original packaging.
Needlecraft is enjoying a renaissance right now.
When an older person passes away, family members see a stash of old needlecraft supplies, assume it’s junk and toss it in a donation box.
Some of it is junk, but some are vintage or out-of-print patterns and can be sold for anywhere from $20 to $100. Not a bad markup for something I typically buy for less than a dollar!
Needlecraft patterns and kits already are inexpensive at thrift stores.
But to make the biggest profit, I’m a bargain shopper -- even when I’m thrifting.
I know which stores near me have half-off days. I also sign up for their email lists or follow them on Facebook to regularly receive 20% coupons.
Get to know your local stores so you’ll know how to get the best deal.
Etsy charges 20 cents to list an item for four months. Plus, it gets 3.5% of the selling price, which is pretty competitive compared to Amazon and eBay seller fees.
Etsy is a big marketplace, so if you want buyers to find your items, there are a few things you’ll need to do.
When people shop online, they can’t pick up the item to feel its materials and textures.
Etsy listings allow you to add up to five photos per listing. Use them all -- and take the best, well-lit photos you can.
Etsy has several articles about taking killer photos in its seller handbook.
Before you take the photo, spend a few minutes cleaning up the item. Remove sticker residue and any dust.
Use Photoshop to brighten the photos a bit. Be honest about the condition of the item, but present it in the best light possible.
Again, your customers can’t inspect products in person, so your description should tell a story, as well as provide useful information.
Buyers want to know the stitch count, size of the finished project and the materials required. If there’s an interesting story behind the design, share that, too!
Etsy gives you space for thirteen keywords.
Use them all.
Don’t just use generic keywords like “cross-stitch” or “needlecraft.” An Etsy search for the term “cross-stitch” reveals nearly 160,000 products.
Think of a term someone would use to find your specific product.
If you’re selling a vintage car needlework kit, use “vintage car cross-stitch.” A search for that term leads to fewer than 100 products for the buyer to explore. That’s much more manageable.
Unless you’re a cross-stitch lover, you’d never know about the huge cross-stitch community on Instagram. I set up an account specific to my Etsy shop and regularly share projects I’m working on, as well as interesting pieces I’ve listed for sale.
I definitely see a spike in Etsy shop views when I post photos of the kits I’m listing. I also pin new listings to Pinterest and share them on Twitter.
I’ve even had people send me private messages, letting me know what kinds of kits they’re looking for so I can keep an eye out while I’m thrifting.
The average needlecraft kit may sell for between $8 and $15, but I often come across rare, vintage kits and patterns that sell for $25 or more.
My shop’s sales started out pretty modest, but as I’ve added items to my shop and gained social media followers, my sales have grown steadily each month.
I’m not going to be able to quit my day job any time soon, but I‘ve been able to make a profit from something I love doing, and it doesn’t get better than that.
Your Turn: Will you start an Etsy shop for your craft hobby?
Janet Berry-Johnson is a Certified Public Accountant and a freelance writer. Her work has appeared on Scottsdale Moms Blog, Forbes and BonBon Break.