etsy business
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This was my second attempt to start an online business. I started with a shopify store once I figured I wanted to have an online based business. 

I didn’t know a single thing back then. I just knew I needed to make money to somehow have the funds to start building and creating my life. Needless to say, the shopify store was an absolute flop, and I started desperately looking for answers on how to start selling my product.

Six months after I started my shopify store, I opened an Etsy business and began learning the tricks to using only organic search traffic from Etsy to make my sales. I ranked on the first page for more than 20 popular keywords in my niche and was listed in the top 2 rows for these keywords for more than 10 of them. The more I figured out the search engine, the more sales I was getting.

Etsy business
When you do things right, you only need one source of traffic.

After a lot of trial and error I figure the secrets to product photos that sell as well, and my sales kept increasing. I started paying more attention to my packaging and branding and my store soon became a leading store within the niche. At the peak of it (2016) I was getting 10+ sales a day consistently. (which isn’t bad at all as the niche is really small on Etsy)

By the 3rd quarter of 2016 I decided to step back on the store and see what happens. I was curious to know how sustainable it was, and I was happily surprised. I completely backed down on the business and only checked on it once a week for an hour, but sales kept coming in! 

Ok, so sales did drop to about 5 a day instead of 10, but I was absolutely over the moon. I had myself a little cash cow that consistently gave me money month after month because I solely relied on organic traffic Etsy was giving my Etsy business. I had already put in the work with the SEO work.

This was my first taste of passive income, before I even knew what passive income was, and I LOVED IT!

Etsy business
Over half of this amount was completely passive income

So here is how I made my first cash cow with Etsy


Make sure there’s a market for your product

It’s surprising how often this mistake is made by people, but I made this mistake myself when I first started my Etsy business. Make sure there’s people who actually want to buy your product, and your target market congregate or at least pass by in virtual terms where you’re selling. In this case, Etsy.

Do this by using the search bar in Etsy to find similar products you want to sell. Pay attention to the number of search results. Do this for several variations of keywords for your product and see if you notice stores or items that keep reappearing.

Etsy business
“cat lover gift” …keywords aren’t always intuitive

If you do, then it’s time to click onto these items and stores for further research. Ask yourself:

How many sales does this store have?

How long has this store been open for?

How many reviews has this store got?

How many items does this store have?

You should be able to get a good idea on whether your product has a market on Etsy after this simple exercise.


Make a good first impression!

Don’t judge a book by its cover; doesn’t apply when people shop online. Put your time into your product photos. Really pay attention how existing best sellers on Etsy look like. Try to emulate it. This is going to take some trial and error as it’ll need to be consistent with your brand personality as well as your niche’s product photo trends. Expect to go back and redo your product photos a few times before you find the right style that fits and sells!

Etsy business
Before you ask, cutting boards wasn’t the niche I was in.

Take FULL advantage of everything in a listing

When I was operating my Etsy business still, Etsy allowed each listing to have 5 images. Since then they’ve increased it to 10 photos! Take advantage of this. Don’t be lazy and get 10 amazing photos for each item listing. Show the item in different light, and angles.


Master Etsy SEO

This is the most important reason why I had my success on Etsy. I spent so much time reading and experimenting on the SEO and it paid off. Sales came effortlessly and consistently. Don’t be lazy, put in the work now and you’ll see the gains soon after. Here are my tricks to SEO success:

Keywork stuff the title

Find all the keywords that are both relevant and low in competition and add it to your listing title. You find keywords by brainstorming and then searching them on Etsy one by one. Mark down the number of search results, and take note of how many items on the first page have the exact search term as the first keyword in the title.

Etsy lets you have up to 140 characters in a title. Use all of them. You are doing yourself an injustice if you don’t make the effort in using all the available characters.

Etsy business
No selling Etsy product has a readable title…

Use longtail keywords

Longtail keywords are keywords with more than 1 word in them. The most common longtail keywords that get good results tend to be 3 words long. Don’t ask me why as I don’t know, but from experience I noticed the number 3 tends to hit the sweet spot for many things in life.

For example: green dog leashes, crispy chocolate cookies, organic cotton tees etc.  

Repeat in your tags

Etsy gives every listing 13 tags. These tags should be the same at the keywords used in your title. The repeat of keywords in both your title and tags let’s you rank faster for those terms. This is going to be another art form you’ll have to experiment with, because each tag is only allowed 20 characters. 20 isn’t much for longtail keywords that can easily go over. You’ll also find that your title is not going to have 13 keywords, and if you do then you need to take a look at your keywords again!

So what do you do? You need to skillfully find the best combination of keywords and tags by having little variations in your tags. Here’s an example:

Etsy business
look at the title on top and see how many tags you can match together

Order your keywords by the order you want to rank them for.

It’s a simple trick that not many take advantage on Etsy, but by placing the keywords in your title by the order of your desire to rank for those keywords; you get faster results when you’re first starting out.

Here’s an example rundown on how I would go about looking for keywords for a wedding invite card on Etsy.

  1. I brainstorm for every and any term I can think of. Then I write them all down on a spreadsheet.
  2. I painstakingly search each term and make note of the number of search results on the spreadsheet.
  3. As I search each term, Etsy will also automatically pop other search terms that are commonly searched for. I add these to my spreadsheet and repeat step 2 for these as well.
  4. At this point you should have a spreadsheet full of keywords and search results numbers. You should be able to decide what the normal average is for your niche. Remove all the keywords that have a comparatively high number of search results. This means you don’t have highly competitive keywords that are too hard to rank for.
  5. Remove all the keywords that seem to result in irrelevant items popping up. These keywords won’t get the right traffic. Even though you may be able to rank easily for them, you wont get any sales as a result of it.
  6. Decide on which keywords will be your primary keywords. Primary keywords being the first term in your listing title. You want to make educational guesses on the most popular keywords that are very competitor.

The above where the steps I took for the first year of being on Etsy, and this systematic approach does work. It worked really well after I got the hang of it, but marmalead began gaining popularity and I tried it out. It saved me so much time and so much guess work.

The web-based software lets you key in keywords you want more information on and it’ll rank the keyword for engagement, competition and category page so you don’t need to do anything.

There’s a lot of other features in the tool, like linking your shop and having your listings graded for SEO quality, which is a big help in ranking fast. It also pulls up the first 50 results that appear for individual search terms so you get a clearer analysis of the competition in your niche. It’s a great tool that I used until Etsy closed me down overnight.

I saved a ton of time and I got better results because I wasn’t guessing the level of engagement on keywords anymore. I had an accurate and transparent way to figure out which keywords were the most popular and least competitive. But that’s not to say you can’t do this manually, because I started doing it manually myself and had good success from it.

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, please take a moment to use the social media buttons at the bottom to share this with friends, family, colleagues, anyone with access to the internet… Thanks!

Other resources you should check out:

Marmalead for all your Etsy SEO needs

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