Etsy can be an incredible online income source for creative entrepreneurs! In this series of interview posts, we will be talking about different ways to make money online. Today, the inspiring Dana Johnson from The ESL Boutique shares her best tips for how to make money selling on Etsy!
I met Dana on Instagram in the early days of starting my own Etsy Shop. She has a successful Etsy business and I looked to her for inspiration when I was still learning the ropes. Eventually, I got up the courage to send her a message (I mean, she’s basically an Etsy celebrity!!) and we became fast friends!
Dana’s shop, The ESL Boutique, sells tee shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, decorations, and more for ESL teachers. Dana also provides resources and courses about starting an Etsy shop business, so if selling on Etsy sounds like a good fit for you, she can help you get started the right way!
Tell me about yourself! Where are you from and what do you do?
I was born and raised in sunny and humid Florida! My whole life, I never wanted to do just one thing in my career. I’ve been a hairdresser with my own hair salon, a veterinary technician, an animal curator, a scientist, and a teacher.
I learn as I go and I am always subconsciously working towards being my own boss again. One of my biggest passions is teaching people. The subject can vary, as I really just enjoy helping others succeed!
What exactly does an Etsy shop owner do?
Etsy shop owners wear many hats! Essentially, Etsy shop owners run their own storefronts on the Etsy platform. When you open an Etsy shop, you’ll be responsible for creating products to sell (digital or physical) and listing them for sale.
Shop owners are always doing research on what’s working and what’s not working. That can mean re-adjusting SEO and verbiage in your listings as necessary.
It’s important to continue coming up with problem-solving products that your audience is interested in.
You’ll also do a lot of marketing for your shop through social media and handle customer service tasks.
What made you decide to become an Etsy shop owner?
I’ve always been a very artistic person. Running a booth of my own at an art festival has always been on my bucket list!
However, since I work a full-time job, I knew that it would take me months to create all the products I’d need to fill a booth.
Etsy gave me a way to own a “virtual booth” at a year-round art festival! It allowed me to explore my creativity without being limited to one specific location or one type of product.
Years ago, I owned an Etsy shop with only one listing. I sold my product to mostly friends and family and had no clue what I was doing.
I also shop on Etsy constantly and think it’s a great place for creators to discover new products. Whenever I am in need of something personal and artsy, I head straight to Etsy and have never been disappointed!
When I decided to launch The ESL Boutique and take Etsy more seriously, this worked to my advantage because I already knew the platform pretty well.
What kinds of qualifications did you need to become an Etsy seller?
You don’t need any qualifications to start your own Etsy shop. It is free to open an Etsy Shop and it costs $0.20 USD to list one product, so the upfront investment is small.
As long as you have a product you’re able to sell, you can open an Etsy shop. Some people sell physical products that they make and some people sell digital resources. People have been successful on Etsy selling things like printables, furniture, instagram templates, stickers, clothing, tee shirts, wedding dresses, jewelry, stock photos, and more.
That being said, I do feel that in order to be successful on Etsy, you need to learn an effective strategy.
How long did it take to get your shop up and running?
When I started the ESL Boutique, it took about 1 ½ months to get the traction I needed and keep with the momentum. I didn’t do everything right at first but you learn so much by taking that first step and getting started.
Now, I promote my shop on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. These platforms are all visual so they are great for driving traffic back to my Etsy shop.
One of my biggest tips for beginners is to create separate social media accounts for your Etsy shop so that it doesn’t get intertwined with your personal accounts. Consider hiring influencers in your niche or doing collaborations to showcasing the products you’re designing or creating.
Keeping customers engaged consistently is great for getting repeat buyers and building your shop into a recognized brand.
How many hours do Etsy shop owners usually work?
The amount you work depends on the size of the Etsy shop.
Now that my shop is well established, I work about 3 hours a week on my shop. When I was building it, I worked about 5-10 hours per week. I didn’t know what I was doing, so I definitely wasn’t as efficient as I am now!
Your workload also depends on the type of product you’re selling. If you sell digital products or designs that only have to be created once, you’ll work much less than someone who is making every item by hand.
I spend most of my time creating new designs, promoting my shop on social media, responding to customer messages, and managing the behind the scenes aspects my business.
How much can an Etsy shop owner earn?
There a lot of Etsy shop owners that earn a full time 6 figure income! The amount you make depends on how much work and time you put into your shop and what kinds of products you sell.
There are many Etsy shop owners that just want their shop to be a source of side income. People with a smaller, more part-time shop might earn a couple of hundred dollars a month. But again, it really comes down to the type of product you’re selling.
What are your favorite/least favorite parts of this job?
I love designing and creating new products. It’s fun to get my creative juices flowing and actually earn income as a result!
I don’t love the customer service portion as I’m a recovering people-pleaser and I get really stressed over small problems. As a shop owner, you’ll be responsible for handling any issues with customers and answering customer questions.
If you were to help someone else follow in your footsteps, what would you recommend they do?
Using my experience on Etsy, I’ve developed my very own Etsy success formula called the ACE Method. I teach this method more in depth in my Etsy course, but the basic framework is:
- Action: Take action to find a product and niche down.
- Create: Create products to solve problems in your targeted audience (and do it legally to avoid issues down the road)
- Entrepreneurship: Learn the basic skills of being an entrepreneur. Many people have excellent creativity skills but don’t know much about running their own business. Creativity alone isn’t enough to make a living on Etsy – you also need some business-savvy.
For any readers who might be looking to start their own Etsy Shop, what resources do you recommend?
Helping others succeed on Etsy is a huge passion of mine. That’s why I packaged up all the do’s and don’ts of starting an Etsy Shop in a self-paced and affordable course! Using the ACE Method, I’ll walk you through exactly how to launch an Etsy shop the right way and I’ll hold your hand through the whole process.
And if you love the idea of selling on Etsy but don’t know what to make, this course will help you narrow down the right niche and products for you with a workbook included.
We dive into the legalities of designing and you’ll also get a step-by-step tutorial on my favorite, user-friendly, design program!
You’ll learn about Etsy search engine optimization and how to write an effective description for your listings. You’ll also get access to the personal Facebook group to have direct contact with me and other creators such as yourself to share ideas, and just be in good company with like-minded people!
Etsy Seller Job Summary
- Requirements: Must have a physical or digital product that you can legally sell (aka doesn’t violate someone else’s copyright)
- How To Find Customers: Etsy search, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Collaborations, Advertising
- Pay: Can vary from a few hundred dollars to thousands depending on the products sold and effort put into marketing.
- Hours: Varies depending on the products you create, for digital products 5-10 hours per week when starting out, 3 hours per week once established