What ETSY Gurus Don’t Tell You (BIG MISTAKE and RISKS)

By Scott Voelker •  Updated: 06/20/23 •  10 min read

So you set up your Etsy shop and for a while now you've been making more money from your side hustle store than your full-time job.

At this point, many “Etsy Gurus” Will tell you to go all in, quit your full-time job, and put all your eggs into the Etsy basket.

This is all fine and dandy until one morning you wake up and realize that Etsy has suspended your shop through no fault of your own.

After a few minutes of mild panic, you realize, you can simply send an email to Etsy and ask them why your store has been suspended.

After waiting about a day for a response, you hear nothing back and chalk it up to their support team being busy.

As the second, then the third, and then the fourth-day tick by, you slowly start to realize that Etsy is never going to tell you why your shop has been shut down or give you the chance to point out the error they made in the decision. Decision.

Unfortunately, I've seen this (or a similar story) happen to far too many sellers who are overly reliant on the etsy platform.

Fortunately, this mistake is easy to avoid, with a little bit of planning, a moderate amount of hard work, and a dedicated focus on building a real business.

What Most People Tell You About Etsy?

Now before I dive into the roadmap that I would use to create a real business around an Etsy shop, I wanted to quickly cover the mistakes. I see most Etsy gurus and regular Etsy Sellers making.

The typical way that people tell you to start Etsy as a side hustle goes a little bit like this.

The very first thing you need to do is find a product type that is trending.

For example, most people will tell you to start your side hustle by selling something like t-shirts, mugs, or tumblers.

Once you've picked your popular product type, your goal is then to launch as many variations of this product as possible.

I'm talking about creating a design for everything that you can imagine from fishing to cat fancy and veganism to the carnivore diet.

To do this, you are either going to rely on your basic design skills or use more advanced tools like Mid-journey to pump out as many variations and different designs for that one product as you possibly can.

After all, if we launch a product for every single person on the planet, someone will eventually have to buy from us…..right?

Not so much.

The Problem With This Model

Although this strategy can work to bring in a few sales in the short term, it's destined for long-term failure.

Not only will you always lose the launching as many products as possible, battle to someone who can launch more products faster than you can, but it's virtually impossible to sell more than one thing in your store to, the same customer.

This means, that not only are you competing with every other person using this strategy, but you are constantly looking for the next person that is going to be interested in buying your product… which is a marketing nightmare.

Additionally, this model doesn't account for the seemingly arbitrary whims of tech giants like Amazon and Etsy and their ability to shut down your store (and cut off your income) for essentially no reason at all.

Lastly, even if your store is making money within the Etsy platform, you can't turn this into a long-term asset.

At least currently, you cannot sell an Etsy store, which means your income is forever tied directly to the hamster wheel of launching more products to make more sales.

What To Do Instead:

So that begs the question, what do we do instead of following this outdated And quite frankly dangerous advice?

Choose a Niche

The first step to avoiding the dark side of Etsy is to disregard the advice to follow the trends and focus instead on creating a niche-focused store.

At its most basic, a niche is a way that people define themselves or something someone might say they would love.

For example, someone may refer to themself as a coffee snob or say I love coffee.

Both of these statements would be a great way of figuring out that they are interested in the coffee niche.

What makes going the niche-based route more powerful than the product-focused angle that most gurus advocate for is fairly simple.

First, it gets you off of the hamster wheel of always trying to launch more products than your competition.

Second, it allows you to not have to constantly be looking for new customers and gives you the ability to sell multiple different products and product types to the same potential customer.

This means, we have substantially less worried about competition and we need to spend less on acquiring new customers and can focus on creating the best products for anybody interested in our niche.

One of the best ways to find a niche for your store is by using the touch list method.

If you haven't heard the concept before, for the next two to three days, you're going to write down everything you come in contact with.

Jot down everything from your morning cup of Joe to the sheets you use to tuck yourself in at night. 

After 2 to 3 days, you should have a substantial list of the things that you use daily and can use that to figure out which ones you are most interested in.

Once you have a few ideas I'm going to choose that you may be interested in, you'll want to head on over to Etsy to validate that the existing sales on Etsy would support your income-earning goals.

Additionally, you may want to check out this video below to get a better understanding of how exactly to find and validate a niche that would work well inside of the Etsy ecosystem.

Find In-Demand Products

Once you have your niche selected, it's time to move on to finding in-demand products.

Now, what we are talking about here is not finding a single product type, such as a mug or tumbler.

Since we are going with a niche-based approach, our focus at the beginning should be more on themes or designs that are selling well to people who would be interested in the niche we are trying to serve.

Once we have a few of these designs under our belt, we can apply them to a wide variety of different product types (Yes, even some mugs and tumblers) to help ensure that no matter what product type someone in our niche is looking for, that they can find it in our store.

This strategy has a nice side benefit of helping the time you invest in your designs to be better spent.

The best way we found to do this is by using a sales estimation tool like EverBee to get an understanding of exactly how many units of the different products you are considering are selling on a daily and monthly basis.

Create OTHER Products For Your Customers

As mentioned in the first section, one of the biggest benefits of using the niche-based approach when you're just getting started inside of the ecosystem is that you can sound multiple product types to the same customer.

Once you've launched your initial view products, spend the time to create additional product types and apply your winning designs to a wider variety of products.

It not only helps you maximize the return on investment you are getting from the time you spend designing, but it also gives you the potential of selling two, three, or more products to the same customer.

Start Building Your Email List

Once you have a solid sales foundation on Etsy, it's time to start thinking about shoring up your business.

If Eddie ever decides to shut down your shop, you'll need a way to contact your customers and let them know how and where they can find you. 

The easiest way to do this, if you're just getting started, is by starting to build your email list.

To start, my suggestion would be to use the built-in integration between aWeber and Etsy.

This free integration allows you to create an email list of your existing Etsy customers and the simple integration will give you the ability to communicate with your customers whenever you need or want to.

Once you have the foundation of your list built and integrated with Etsy, you may want to look at other methods of growing your list, such as the giveaway method.

This will allow you to have one solid marketing channel outside of the etsy ecosystem is a great way to start shoring up your business in case something funny ever happens.

Build an External Traffic Channel

Once you have your email list in place, it's time to start thinking about building an external traffic channel.

Here, I would suggest one of two options. 

You can either start a website or a YouTube channel at this point.

The reason for this is we want the ability to create external traffic that we own.

Not only does this give us a home base to start working from, but it's an excellent way to start driving additional sales inside of the Etsy ecosystem.

If you want an excellent example of someone who is using this strategy to drive an amazing number of sales on Etsy, you may want to check out this video.

Build another Revenue Source

Once you have either your website or YouTube channel built, it's time to start looking for another revenue source.

If the traffic channel you chose in the previous step was a YouTube channel, one of the best ways to start to diversify your revenue is by turning on YouTube ads and starting to gain revenue anytime someone watches one of your videos.

This seems strategy would apply to turning ads on on your website if that is the traffic channel that you chose.

Additionally, you may want to also look at adding in affiliate marketing.

Even if you're not familiar with the concept, chances are that you've seen and clicked on an affiliate link at some point in the past.

The way that affiliate marketing works is you place a link to a product or service that you like and enjoy either in the description of your YouTube video or on your website and if someone clicks on it and makes a purchase, you are given a commission at no cost to the buyer.

Adding one or both of these monetization strategies to your external traffic channel is an excellent way to make sure that even if Etsy does something silly, you'll never be left completely in the dark.

A Quick Recap

Although most Ety gurus try to paint a picture of Etsy as a marketplace full of dreams, flowers, and rainbows, the truth is there's a dark side to it as well.

If you're just in this to make a quick buck, you can ignore this article completely.

However, if you're serious about creating an income from your side hustle that can replace your 9 to 5 job, you need to take the simple steps outlined above to make sure you are not only protected but can grow and sell your business on your terms.

Scott Voelker

Over the years I’ve helped thousands of people TAKE ACTION to UNLOCK their true potential on building their ultimate freedom business, by developing the skills to make them resilient, confident and FUTURE PROOF. I’ve clocked my 10,000 hours over the years working in the trenches myself and helping others build and grow their brands. I know the power in TAKING ACTION better than anyone and I’ve seen people lives changed as a result of it...including my OWN!