10 Etsy Mistakes to Avoid

Having an Etsy shop can be an exciting and rewarding experience.  But, can also be a lot of work to get those views and especially sales.  Now, nobody is perfect and there are always things you can do to make your shop perform better.  I’ve put together a list of 10 Etsy mistakes to avoid and it’s a great starting point.

10 Etsy Mistakes to avoid by www.carmenwhitehead.com


 1. An Ugly Banner – The banner is your one chance to show your own brand and make your shop memorable.  Unfortunately, many sellers don’t upload a banner or load photos of their kids.  Don’t make that mistake.  It’s easy to use an online photo editor like PicMonkey or Canva to design a banner that is 760px by 100px that is cohesive with your Facebook page, blog or other social media sites.  Etsy has not updated their header options and you can now have a much bigger header.  Some sellers don’t like this because it takes up too much room, but I love it.  Maybe it’s the artist in me, but this really gives you a chance to customize your shop.  I have a snippet of one of my pieces with my shop name, but I’ve seen many shops do seasonal or sale announcements.

Design, edit and store projects with PicMonkey

2.   Shop Announcement that is too long – Just below your banner is your second chance to impress buyers.  This is a space for you to let buyers know what you create and sell.  Make it just a few sentences long to give your customers an enticing sense of what they can find in your shop.  This is not the place to put your policies or shipping information, there’s a section for those.

3.  Incomplete About Page – The about page is the perfect spot to really tell your story of how and why you create your beautiful items.  Add at least 5 pictures or even a video showing your creative space or you in the process or working.  At the bottom of the page is an area for you to add links for your social media sites and blog if you have one.  Something I recently added to my about page are copies of 2-3 great reviews I’ve received from customers.  I don’t use their names for privacy, but I do use their review in quotations.  This is a great way to show why you have an all 5 star rating, after all that’s all of our goal.  Etsy does not allow you to automatically add your customers names to your newsletter subscription, but having a link within your about page to sign up is a great idea.

4.  Confusing Policies –  You want your customers to make informed purchases so you’re not dealing with returns or disappointment.  Be as informative as you can about production times, shipping times, shipping options, return policy, and payment options.  Be simple and positive, remember policies are there to protect you and the customer.  Leave your customers with a sense of assurance and confidence in you as a retail shop.  Take a look at my policies for some ideas and I encourage you to visit other shops too.

5.  Not Shipping International – When you start off many shops will only ship within their own country to keep costs down and also not having to deal with the uncertainty that can come with international shipping.  But, once you’re feeling braver, select 2-3 countries that you would like to start offering shipping to.  If you’re afraid of not getting the shipping rate correct, weigh your items and use the shipping weight and size section when listing the item to calculate a more accurate rate.  Unfortunately, it can take some trial and error to get it just right, but offering international shipping can really open you up to many more potential customers.shipping

6.  Bad Quality Photos –  Images are your most powerful tool as a seller. Luckily, Etsy offers sellers many opportunities to display multiple images of your product in your shop. Take your “good” photos a step further, and ask yourself if they are living up to their potential as important marketing tools for your shop.  This is a part of my shop that I’m continuously working on and trying to do better. 

Ask yourself these questions:

    • Are your photos consistent throughout your Etsy shop?


    • Do they lend a cohesive look to your brand and convey a strong sense of quality?


  • Pay attention to the various backgrounds or props you are using in your photos. Are they in line with your shop style and the story you are telling through your work?

*Update: I recently shared a post on how I improved my photos, 5 Photography Tips for Etsy 

7.  Long Item Descriptions – Short paragraphs and bullet points are your friends when it comes to descriptions.  Visitors to your shop might be looking for a specific size or material, so make it easy for them to get that info from your descriptions by cutting out unnecessary words and making good use of bullet points. Think about your descriptions as a way to answer many of your buyer’s questions.  Speaking in the first person will also help you connect with your visitor on a personal level — and isn’t that what they are looking for when they come to shop on Etsy? Show a bit of your personality! Think of your item descriptions as you would when meeting a new friend: you want to be polite, but you also want to be your natural self.

8.  Not Using all your Tags –  This is one that I struggle with sometimes too.  13 tags can be a lot to come up with, but do your very best to use each one of them!  Using descriptive tags helps shoppers find your item on Etsy. Look at the keywords you used in your title and repeat them in your tags to strengthen the power of that search term. Think about all the ways a shopper might search for your item.  Phrases are better than single terms. For instance, use “slim leather wallet” instead of “slim,” “leather” and “wallet.” Get creative about how your item could be used. Try occasion- or recipient-based tags such as “co-worker gift” or “wedding jewelry.”

9.  Not Taking Custom Orders –  If your handmade item is one that you can create a custom order for a customer, by all means offer it!  Make sure you check the box on each listing that indicates you accept custom orders.  Recently, I created a custom canvas based on a print I offered.  The customer loved the theme and message, but wanted to make it personal for the little girl.  So, the conversation started and in the end I received a message from the customer letting me know how much the little girl loved her canvas.  Not that’s very rewarding!

Here is the section on the listing…


Here is how it looks to the customer…

custom 2

10.  Ignoring Shop Updates Option – Shop Updates is a new tool in the Sell on Etsy app that makes it easy for you to market your shop on both social media and Etsy. With Shop Updates, you can upload a photo, tag it with a listing from your shop, then share it across all of your social media sites without leaving the Sell on Etsy app.  Visitors that have favorited your shop or purchased from you will see these updates on their home page and it’s a great way for them to keep up with you.  Cool right?!

shop update


So, did you find any mistakes you’re making?  Or perhaps I missed one?  Share it with us if you changed something in your shop that helped your traffic.

Take one change on at a time and your shop will be looking fabulous in no time.

If you’re about to open your Etsy shop, here are 40 free listings to get you started.  If you use them, I get 40 free listings also, so it’s a win-win for both of us.

Are you making these 10 Etsy mistakes? Here is how to avoid them! #etsyshop #handmade Click To Tweet



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18 thoughts on “10 Etsy Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Catherine says:

    Thank you, Carmen. I’ll be using my customer reviews now in my about page. I’ll put them in quotes as you suggest. Also, I’ll use the Etsy Update feature. thank you again! Catherine

  2. Debi says:

    This is clear and helpful information. I too am teetering back forth.
    Maybe you would contact me privately and I would buy some of your time for feedback.
    Meanwhile, thanks for sharing these tips.

  3. Abby says:

    Can you answer a question about Etsy? Once an item is listed, are you able to edit the listing (adding or changing pictures) without paying to re-list it? And thank you for these helpful reminders!

    • Carmen Whitehead says:

      Hi Abby,

      Yes, you can do whatever you like with the listing. The listing fee last for 4 months, and during that time you can change it, pause it, whatever. You can even renew it before the expiration date. Hope this answers your question.

  4. Manuela says:

    Hi Carmen,
    I am working on opening my Etsy shop and your information is very helpfull in this overwhelming startup. Thanks for taking the time to put this information out there to help people like me ❤️

  5. Robin says:

    Hi Carmen,
    I came across this very informative post on Pinterest while researching the ins and outs of opening an Etsy store. It’s a very overwhelming process that could keep a lot people from opening a shop,but your tips are very helpful. Thanks for sharing this information.

  6. Ashley says:

    Although I may be incorrect I don’t believe there is a customization option if you are offering a digital download product such as a coloring page. I could not find it when I was setting up several listings in my shop for digital items.

    • Carmen Whitehead says:

      This feature can be accessed on your phone with the sell on Etsy App. If you don’t have it already, download it and connect your shop. This will allow you to keep track of all your listings via your phone. The update section can be accessed on the social media tab when you open the app. Scroll down once you get in that tab and at the bottom you will see “updates”. You can upload a photo of your studio, work in progress, etc. and then connect it to a listing in your shop. These updates are seen by all who have favorited your shop. Hope this helps!

  7. Kim says:

    Good Morning Carmen… question..when you do Calculated Shipping and put in Item weight… does that mean packed and ready to ship or the item by itself?

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