How to get started on Etsy as a UK Seller

This is my Beginners/What I learnt from painful experience Guide to getting started on Etsy as a UK Seller. There is a lot I think you need to be mindful of when selling on Etsy that I had no clue about and had to find out for myself.

Hopefully this guide will help you get started more efficiently on Etsy and avoid a few expensive mistakes.

Get your 40 Free Listings

If someone else refers you to Etsy, they and you will get 40 free listings. If you don’t do this every listing you create will cost you about 16p. So this is a great way of listing products without having to pay and you can usually easily find a link from people but here’s mine if you need it:

Be mindful of Etsy Fees

You need to make sure you allow for Etsy fees in the costs of both your shipping and your products. Etsy fees are numerous and vague and will vary depending on your price point so do your research. You will be charged a transaction fee, a listing fee and a payment processing fee among others. You can use this etsy fee calculator to help you and get an idea.

Etsy set up help. Etsy Guide for Beginners. Etsy UK Sellers. How to Guide for Etsy.

Use keywords in the title of your products. I didn’t do this until TWO YEARS into my shop and boy I wish I had bothered ALOT earlier. These keywords will make your products look long and messy but they will also make your products show up for multiple searches. I saw a huge increase in orders after I did this for each of my designs. So now I put the title of the product followed by keywords associated with that fandom or design.

If it’s not handmade don’t say it is

Back when I first opened my Etsy everything I did was handmade, I printed the bookmarks and cut them myself so it was fine. But when I moved to getting my bookmarks from a supplier, I should have added a production partner but I didn’t (at first). You can keep your production partner private but make sure it’s on the listing so Etsy knows.

Delivery Profiles

If you are planning on selling on Etsy you need to work out your postage and create delivery profiles. These delivery profiles can be assigned to each listing and can show different shipping costs depending on the location of the buyer. Now I say they will show you different costs but that depends entirely on how much you charge for shipping.

My shipping is cheaper in the UK and more expensive for EU and International Orders. Some people offer free delivery and add the cost of shipping into the cost of the item. It’s up to you. Don’t stress if you don’t know how much to charge because I am just about to get to that.

Delivery profiles can be found by going to Shop Manager – Settings – Delivery Settings – Delivery Profiles.

Working out Shipping Costs

If you have a standard parcel size and a maximum weight working out delivery profiles is made a lot easier. The hard part is this – figuring out what your average weight and size of your orders would be and making sure to charge enough to cover materials as well as the postage.

For me I worked it out like this.

All my bookmarks and metalmarks are the same size just vary slightly in depth. All my products can fit into a C5 envelope or jiffy bag depending on quantity. I weighed my metalmarks as my paper bookmarks weigh next to nothing and I know they weigh about 15 grams each. My shipping costs allow for about 5-6 metalmarks in one order. If and when I add more stock I will have to adjust the pricing to cover the weight.

NOTE: Make sure to weigh the envelope/box/bubble mailer you are using as it all counts.

Shipping Labels and Presets

Once you know roughly how much each parcel you are sending can weigh (maximum) and the size of the parcels, you can then workout shipping costs and set up shipping label presets on Etsy as well as create those Delivery Profiles we discussed earlier.

You can set up default shipping presets (mine are for UK, EU and International orders) when you get postage labels for your orders. Etsy will also work out the cost when you input the weight and size of your parcel which is how you can start figuring out what to charge for shipping.

Alternatively check the Royal Mail website and they will show prices depending on size and weights – I think Etsy is cheaper in some cases though!

Shipping label presets can be found by going to Shop Manager – Orders and Delivery – tick any order – get postage labels. Note: You don’t need to purchase the label when you are making your label presets you can just exit the window and they will stay and no label will be purchased.

Customs Forms

So first off if you didn’t know any parcel you are sending outside the UK and not in the EU (this will change because of Brexit no doubt) will need a customs form filling out and attached to the parcel.

I buy all my shipping labels through Royal Mail via Etsy now but I spent a good year buying all my postage labels separate through Royal Mail Click and Drop and filling out customs forms MANUALLY before I figured out how to use it.

If you buy a label through Etsy you can get the customs form partially filled out (you just need to add the weight of each item) and it will print signed and dated which is huge time saver in the long run.

Invest in a label printer

Okay so this is a £200 investment so only do it if you have the quantity of orders to need it BUT it’s so much easier than cutting out and cello-taping labels. I bought a Dymo 4XL which is compatible with Etsy and prints 4 x 6 inch labels (black and white only as it’s a direct thermal printer). I buy compatible labels in bulk from Amazon. A label printer changed my life and has turned a 3 hour chore into a half an hour job.

Get proof of postage

Speak to your post office because if you find your shipping in bulk it can be harder to stand there with 30+ orders and get a receipt for each. There are options for you depending on how many orders you are sending and frequency. At the moment I fill out a Bulk certificate of posting and get it stamped at the post office. This just helps to cover your back in case an order goes missing and someone claims you never sent it. It also means you can claim compensation back from the Royal Mail on any orders that never arrive (in theory as I’ve never had to do this yet).

Privacy Policy

This is important for UK sellers because of GDPR but your shop MUST have a privacy policy. Etsy have one you can basically copy and duplicate into your own shop, you just need to edit it so it fits what you are doing. This is important because you are handling over people’s data and you need to make it clear how you protect that data and how you are using it.

Shop Policies

Make sure to update these immediately because if someone wants to cancel an order or return something and you don’t have them in place then Etsy will side with the buyer. My shop policies are pretty basic, you can only cancel an order before it’s shipped etc. Again Etsy will help you out with this you just need to put the data in that works for your business operations but for myself I kept most of the things that Etsy suggested.

Separate your personal and business accounts now

In the UK you are allowed to make a certain amount of money (not profit) on Etsy before you need to let the tax man know about it. A key mistake I made was not keeping my personal and business payments separate. Create a business paypal and use a different bank account, in the long run it is a lot easier when submitting your tax return. Speaking off..

Keep it legitimate and register as Self-Employed

Once I earnt passed the tax free threshold that is allowed I had to register as Self-Employed. I registered as a Sole Trader. This basically means I need to submit a tax return each January and I will taxed on any profit I made. Which also brings me too..

Keep your financial records straight

To submit a tax return you need to know how much profit you made. Which means you need to know how much money you made minus the cost of goods, etsy fees, shipping, supplies etc. You can create a pretty basic cost/profit/loss spreadsheet yourself in excel which I did for a year before switching to a bookkeeping software.

Please do your research but Etsy makes finding out how much money you actually made very difficult. Don’t go by the finances page as it actually isn’t accurate. You want to be looking at the CSV statement you can download at the beginning of each month.

I don’t want to scare or confuse you but be aware!

My bookkeeping software imports all of the Etsy records for me. You also need to keep receipts – digital or printed. Please do not procrastinate on this like I did it’s just not worth it. I also download Paypal and bank statements as proof (hence the separate accounts come in handy here).

Please leave any questions you have down below!