E-commerce is a trillion-dollar industry. Wouldn’t you like a piece of that big, beautiful pie?
To sink your teeth in, we need to find the right place to start making sales.
They might be the biggest brands out there, but that doesn't mean they are always the best platform for you to start carving out a living online.
Etsy is an e-commerce powerhouse that you ought to know about. Unlike the massive warehouse that is Amazon, it’s a niche marketplace.
Etsy is a unique kind of e-commerce site – a refreshing and riveting take on selling online. If you love handcrafted and vintage stuff, Etsy is definitely the place for you. If you have some fashionable items you’d like to sell, you’re welcome, too. Etsy caters to creative entrepreneurs. It’s a platform with fourteen years of dedicated experience understanding creative types and connecting them for commercial transactions.
I first learned of Etsy when my crafty older sister began selling handmade towels and tablecloths on the site. She was able to generate some supplemental income while her art career was growing. It allowed her to work from home while her children were young and it's still one of the best places for the crafty and the artistic to find customers.
It’s Easy on Etsy
Like all successful digital marketplaces, there are tons of products on offer at Etsy, but in this article, I’ll focus on Etsy sticker planners, coloring books, calendars, and printables.
There are Etsy sticker planners for virtually everything. They’re not only cute: you can use planner stickers to organize your days and have more fun in the process. You can create stickers for planners, calendars and journals. Once you have something that's working for you, expansion is only limited by your imagination. You can create scheduling stickers for dentists, lawyers, soccer moms, divorced dads, military families and every other segment of society that you can think of.
While stickers are amazing, coloring books are enjoying a true renaissance right now. They are no longer just for kids. Adults can benefit immensely from them, too. They can help foster your creativity, reduce stress, and depression, as I cover in great detail in my book Color Away Depression.
Creating and designing coloring books isn't nearly as hard as you think. Most of them you can create by hiring and artist, such as your children, or taking the time to master the last art of tracing. Nearly all of the artwork on my website and in my craft stores is created by the amazing team at Design Pickle and you can read my review of their work here.
If you already have artistic talent and a flair for design, you can start generating amazing products in an afternoon.
If you’re into arts and crafts, it’s easy on Etsy. To access Etsy’s 33 million buyers, all you need to do is set up a shop and start selling. Create an Etsy account and choose a name for your store. Set the location and currency you’d like to be paid in, enter the billing method (to pay Etsy’s fees) and then set up a listing.
The standard package has no monthly charge, while the “plus” option is $10 per month. The plus package helps you hit the ground running and promote your brand. For example, part of what it offers is the ability to customize your store, inform your audience when you’ve got items that were sold out back in stock, your dedicated web address, and more.
In this article, I’ll cover the four easiest products to design and sell on Etsy:
- Coloring books
1. Selling Stickers on Etsy
There are loads of ways to sell stickers on Etsy and before you lock into one ideas, it is important to do a little research. Once you start searching for stickers, you'll discover stickers for pregnancy, weddings, laptops, birthday parties and the bumper of your car. There are even stickers on Etsy to stick on the wall as a form of art.
Designing stickers is fun and creative. You don’t need to be a professional designer. There are affordable courses you can take on Udemy. If you’re not ready for Photoshop, you can use Microsoft Word or Pages for your designs and upgrade your skills as you go. Personally, I do all of my artwork with Affinity Photo – I learned everything I know from YouTube tutorials.
There are some really good options for printing out your stickers to send to clients. The easiest way is to start with stickers that just “happen” to be the exact same dimensions as label packages. While this limits you to regular shapes, such as stickers, squares, and rectangles, it eliminated the need to cut out your stickers.
To launch a successful sticker business on Etsy, you're going to need a few pieces of equipment:
When your first starting out and only selling a few stickers a week, cutting them out by hand is possible. As you grow, however, cutting out sticker after sticker manually is going to cause your hands to cramp and it's not the best use of your time.
Jumping from an old pair of scissors to a Cricut machine is going to be a gamechanger for you. This little beauty is basically a printer with a knife inside. It's touch is precise enough to cut an outline around each of your stickers without cutting through the backing paper.
Not only will your stickers come in sheets now, but you can also design stickers in any shape you want. You are no longer shackled by the shapes that come on pre-cut label printer paper.
Mastering the Cricut machine might take you an entire Saturday, but by the time the sun sets you'll have mastered using this gamechanging machine to help grow your budding Etsy enterprise. There are loads of amazing tutorials on YouTube to get you started, so you don't even have to waste time reading a boring manual 😉
Choosing the right sticker paper can be daunting at first. The casual consumer has no idea what “weight” paper they want or whether it should be matte or glossy. You can go down a deep rabbit hole looking for the perfect printer paper.
When looking for the right sticker paper, I start with labels by Avery. They are the most common shapes and the quality has been consistent since I first bought one of their products way back in the dark ages of the 1990s when I was in high school.
Once you move beyond pre-shaped stickers, it's time to get serious about your business. Your sticker material will be controlled by where the sticker will be applied, whether it needs to survive outdoors and size. Some stickers need to be printed on vinyl and that's a more advanced process.
For the batch stickers that I sell, I look for sheets that are sturdy, can handle traveling from me to my customers, have a good backing sheet, and are competitive on price. The more I pay for my paper, the more I have to charge for my stickers, so I usually buy my sheets in batches of 100. This gets me a good price and I have enough sheets to work with.
Even if you're starting out, this is a wise investment. Once I have a good batch, I can save the depth settings on my Cricut machine and know that each sheet will be cut to the proper depth.
Printers change so fast that if I recommend a model today, it will be replaced by something new tomorrow. We are trying to make real money with our stickers, so we need to be cost-conscious with the next printer you buy.
Your current printer is probably fine to get started, just make sure you know whether it is an inkjet or laser printer, as you need to buy paper that is compatible with your printer.
For a new printer, we need to use a business-minded decision-making calculus. This is a very complicated way of saying, “how much will I pay to print each batch of stickers?”
The cost-per-sheet can be affected by:
- How much electricity the printer uses to print a single page
- How much ink is used for each set of stickers
- The price of replacement ink
- How fast the printer can finish a batch of stickers
While I love talking about stickers, my first true creative passion has always been selling coloring books online. You can see my most popular coloring books for sale here.
2. Coloring books
Coloring books are cool again, but they’ve been around for over 200 years. Originally, they were meant for children. However, over time, many adults have discovered their value. They can be used for personal reasons – for fun, as a creative outlet, or even for meditation. Some are also used for promotional reasons. Some coloring books even integrate stickers into their pages. (you know I'm always thinking about selling multiple products to the same customer!)
So how can you create coloring books?
There are two ways to create coloring books fast. The first is to hire someone to create the book for you and you'll pay around $5-15 per page. While this might not seem like much, a coloring book needs forty images to get off the ground, so your cost per book will range from $200-600. That can be a pretty big investment for an idea that you're not sure is going to work.
That's why I like to start with my favorite artistic hobby – tracing. With a digital tablet and any photo editing app that allows layers, this is easy as pie. Open a picture that you want to turn into a coloring book page with your editing app. Add a clear layer and start tracing the shapes you want onto your new layer. With each new shape or outline, I use a new layer so that my work is never destructive.
To take my outlines to the next level, I fill them in and drag a mandala into the shape. This simple step is the secret to turning a children's coloring book into one for adults.
Once I have forty images that I like, I'll color in the best image and use that for the cover of my book.
I'm getting really passionate about calendars. They are a great market, as every year your customers come back again.
The only downside is that the main calendar season peaks from October through December. While you might get a few sales tricking in during January, most people don't wait that long to take action.
There is no limit to the creativity you can unleash into the world of calendars from wall calendars to daily calendars, magnetic calendars, and even tiny calendar stickers.
I like to start with a wall calendar. These are even easier to put together than coloring books, as you only need twelve images to launch. It's only 30% of the work.
There are loads of custom calendar printers out there and my favorite changes all the time. I tend to stick with print on demand providers like lulu, so that I can minimize my risk. I don't feel like printing a dozen copies of a calendar, only to find out that nobody wants it.
I'm really looking for ways to sell the same content across multiple products, it's why I love to make coloring book calendars. I'm also looking for ways to maximize the size of each customer's cart and stickers go together with calendars nicely.
Printables are pictures, cards, graphics, drawings, and artwork that you can download and print.
At my core, I'm a digital or information marketer. That means I sell non-physical items the most. My books and training courses are just information, no matter how they are packaged. No matter what format you choose to consume my book, it started out as just words for me. I didn't print and bind the book myself.
Printables take that concept into the world of arts and crafts. Instead of selling someone a finished calendar, coloring book or set of stickers, I can sell them the digital files first.
Printables are the best way to test and accelerate your crafty Etsy endeavors. Because delivery is instant, you can find out of there is a typo on the page before you spend money printing out your newest calendar.
You can sell the exact same calendar in both physical and digital formats – to different customers. Why leave money on the table? Don't forget that the true value is instant delivery, so there is no need to slash your prices to the bone for printables. They are just as valuable as your printed products.
Are People Making Money on Etsy?
You’ve read about those who make a ton off of Amazon and eBay, and you might be wondering if it’s possible to earn something substantial on Etsy. The answer is yes. Some people make over 100k in a year on Etsy selling all sorts of products.
But there’s no magic bullet. Like most things in life, you just have to spend some time trying to understand the platform and studying the top players. Take the time to research what people want and buy. If you sell hot products and know-how to promote them well, you can make a lot of money.
Hop on Etsy and Start Making Money
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this post. We looked at what makes Etsy unique, how you can sell Etsy wall stickers, Etsy monogram stickers or any other hot stickers, coloring books, calendars, and printables. I also showed you how you can create them.
It’s obvious that there’s money to be made from your arts and crafts on Etsy. In addition to selling, you can also connect with kindred spirits who love handmade crafts.
Are you already selling on Etsy or are you planning to sell? Have you encountered any challenges with using the platform? Share in the comments below!