How to Make Your Etsy Business Pay Off

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Running your own business is never easy, and a shop on Etsy -- an online marketplace where people sell unique handmade and vintage goods -- is no exception. Thankfully, setting up an Etsy shop is simple; more than 1 million are active on the site. Also, the fees for listing and selling are relatively low -- it's 20 cents to list an item, and Etsy keeps 3.5% of each sale. Whether you plan to sell your products full time or part time, with the right tools you can turn a profit in no time. We checked in with experts to find five ways to start off on the right foot.

1. Take it seriously -- Make a business plan.

Even if you're planning to sell part time, it's important to craft a business plan detailing how much time you can afford to spend on your shop and how much you want to make, says Sarah Morgan, owner and designer of XOSarah.com and an Etsy seller.

"If someone wants to turn their Etsy shop into a legitimate business, they need to take it seriously from the beginning. A lot of times people put something up without any real intention just to see if it will sell, but you're going to have much better results if you go into it as a true business venture," she says.

If you plan to maintain your shop part-time, Morgan recommends setting quarterly goals for production and profit.

"Even if you just want to sell five items a month, figure out what your costs will be financially to make and sell them, and what you expect to earn."

2. Budget your time wisely.

"I'm all about the side hustle. Not everyone can jump ship from their full-time job and go right into having a giant Etsy shop," Morgan says.

If you're still working full-time as you get your shop off the ground, get ready for late nights and early mornings, warns Adrienne Hubbard, jewelry designer at Crafty Little Gnome and an Etsy seller.

"I was waking up early and working before work, and then coming home and working after work and on weekends," Hubbard says. "When you're doing that, something's got to give, and for me it was my social life."

It's all about scheduling and prioritizing -- if you feel you don't have as much time to work on your shop as you'd hoped, think about where you want to see yourself in six months to a year, Morgan advises. Also, don't be afraid to take some time off every now and then.

"Take a vacation. You can't work all day and then focus on your Etsy shop all night for very long without burning out," she says. "Give yourself a little break every now and then."

3. Don't be afraid to take your shop into the real world.

Craft shows, trade shows and other in-person events are great opportunities to get your name out there, Morgan says. It's a good way to get your products in small local boutiques, too.

With that said, you don't have to participate in these types of events to ensure your business is successful, says Andreea Ayers, founder of LaunchGrowJoy.com, a consultancy for small-business owners.

"These events can help, but they aren't required. If you're still working full-time or if you have young children at home, it's not always easy to spend the day at one of these shows, or travel for a show," Ayers says. "But some people love meeting clients face to face, and for them, it's worth it."

Some Etsy sellers feel there's nothing better than direct feedback on their products, and some shows -- especially those around the holidays -- allow people to make great money, she says.

"Any involvement in your community helps get your brand out there," Hubbard says. "But keep in mind that it takes a lot of time to set up a booth, lug your products around and pack everything up at the end of the day. It's worth it for the bigger festivals, but not always the smaller ones."

4. Launch your shop with a lot of items and a lot of photos.

When you launch your shop, make sure you're showcasing enough items to make it appealing to customers, Ayers says.

"If you have just four or five things for sale, that's not going to get you very far. People like choice, and when they come to a shop with a wide variety of things, they are more likely going to want to check everything out, and the more time they spend in your shop, the more they start to connect with the brand and the products," Ayers says.

In shops that just have two or three things for sale, Ayers says the average customer will spend less than a minute browsing. Even if you're eager to get your shop up and running after you've made one or two items, be patient and launch your shop with at least 10 things.

Also, don't forget that your items need good photos from lots of different angles, Morgan says.

"Set up a display and take all your photos with the same professional camera, the same lighting and the same background," she says. "This is not the time for messy iPhone photos."

5. Know that what you put in is what you get out.

People often want to know how much they're going to make when they start selling on Etsy, but that's impossible to say. Even though only 18% of Etsy sellers sell full time, it is possible to make your Etsy shop your full-time job if you put in the effort.

"If you want to make a million dollars, then draw up a business plan to make a million dollars. But if it's just a side hustle, then set a goal to make $200 a month and you'll have a little cash for going out our buying new shoes," Morgan says.

Even though running an Etsy shop on the side can get tricky with time management, remember that when you're working for yourself, you can think outside the box with your schedule, Hubbard says.

"Work while your child naps if you need to," she says. "Have friends help you update your Facebook page. Get creative, and you'll reap the benefits."

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