how to start an etsy shop with no money

How To Start An Etsy Shop With No Money At All! [2023 Update]

Looking to sell your products on Etsy,  here is all you need to know on how to start an Etsy shop with no money. 

If you are new to this whole business thing, it is not uncommon to want to keep your costs and risks low. You may not be sure of how much to invest in selling platforms or may want to test out the market before spending on one. 

These are valid concerns that should be considered, which is why I recommend using Etsy for new business owners. 

Etsy is especially great for those of you that are starting out as it requires zero cost to set up a shop, and get this, no recurring monthly fees! Let’s dive into the specifics in this write-up. 

How To Start An Etsy Shop With No Money

1. Use Freebies

2. Make Products With Materials You Already Have

3. Use Free Photo Editing Software

4. Use A Free Keyword Research Tool

5. Upcycle Shipping Packages and Handwritten Thank You Notes

Next Steps

1. Get Your Product Ready 

2. Create Your Etsy Account

3. Choose Your Shop Preferences

4. Name Your Shop

5. Create Your Listings 

6. Enter Your Credit Card Details 

7. Open Your Shop

How to start an etsy shop with no money

Affiliate Link Disclosure

Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you click on them, at no additional cost to you. Hope you find the information here useful! Thanks.

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If you are super busy and you want to start making money selling on Etsy fast, you can check out this and this Etsy course. It will help to step up your Etsy game and start earning within 3 months!

Alternatively, you can also check out this free Etsy Ebook that will share a list of best-selling products by month and teach you how to capitalize on seasonal trends to make sales.

How To Start An Etsy Shop With No Money

As I’ve mentioned before, Etsy is a great marketplace for creatives who haven’t had the opportunity to start a business. 

Etsy shop is easy to set up and can be started with just $0.20. That is the price for a product listing on Etsy, there are no other charges for starting a shop. 

 This would be the minimum amount you need if you are selling just one product.

You won’t need to pay Etsy anymore money until you actually make your first sale and then you can just keep it going!

In this section, we will run through a thorough starting an Etsy shop checklist. 

1. Take Advantage Of Any Freebies You Can Find Online

To get started on an Etsy shop with no money, you will need to learn how exactly to navigate the Etsy sales platform. 

There are TONS of free items (if it’s free, it’s for me!) online that you can kickstart your Etsy shop with:

  • The Seasonal Products Secret by Gold City Ventures teaches you all about how you can sell printables on Etsy without spending any money at all! It will also teach you how to make the most of seasonal trends to maximize your sales, especially when it’s time for people to buy gifts!
  • Canva is going to be your free best friend! With no money, the best thing to start your Etsy shop with is a digital download. And Canva is the best free tool that is available to get you started on creating and designing things like planners, journals, social media content, and so much more!

You can also use Canva to create your own logos, Etsy shop banners, and any item requiring your brand. 

  • If you are interested in selling digital art, you can check out Inkscape

This is a drawing software that is absolutely free, and you can use it to create art prints, graphics for events, and invitations. It also comes with free tutorials and training guides, so even if you’re starting from scratch, you can learn for free. 

2. Use Materials You Already Have At Home

If you are a creative person and are good with your hands, then you probably already have art and craft supplies with you at home. 

Even if you have leftover yarn from one of your hobby projects, you can crochet a baby blanket or a little figurine to get you started on Etsy. 

Once you make a sale from this product, you can use the money from the sale to add to your listings, and boom – your Etsy business is born!

3. Use Free Photo Editing Software

Let’s face it – people shop with their eyes. It is extremely important for your product pictures (even if it is just one product) to look good on Etsy. That doesn’t mean you have to spend money to get them edited. 

You also don’t need fancy editing software. I would highly recommend Lightroom to edit your pictures at no cost. It is easy to use, and it has plenty of features to make a simple picture look absolutely attractive. 

4. Use A Free Keyword Research Tool

Now, you know how I feel about SEO, right? It helps you figure out precisely what people online are looking for, and Etsy SEO is no different. If you know me well enough, you will know that SEO is absolutely life-changing. 

You’re probably thinking that SEO tools are incredibly expensive, so what am I doing bringing it up here! I’ve got you!

Sale Samurai (I talk more about this below) gives you a 3-day free trial to get all your Etsy keyword research in so you can pinpoint exactly what people are looking to buy on Etsy and plan your Etsy business strategy from there!

5. Handwrite Thank You Notes and Shipping Labels

Don’t feel like you have to live up to the pressure of providing fancy boxes or thank-you notes. Not yet, anyway. 

When you are starting an Etsy shop with no money, keep things simple. Use paper that you have at home to write thank you notes to your customers.

Use boxes or packing materials that you already have from your own orders to package and ship your items. Of course, let your customers know that you will be doing this so that you manage their expectations as well. 

This way, you will not need any money to package your products if you sell physical items. 

Next Steps To Start Your Etsy Shop With No Money

1. Get Your Product Ready 

If you’re wondering how many product types you need to start on Etsy, well all you need to start selling is one product listing. It is however preferable to have at least 10 product listings. This is because the more listings you have, the better your shop’s reach. 

A common question that arises is ‘how much inventory to start Etsy?’ For starters, it is a good idea to list 10 to 20 items, and have 2 to 3 ready-to-deliver items. However, you can also make to order and have a high stock listing if you have a quick turnaround time. 

Make-to-order and custom-made products will keep investments low. For a budget-friendly product type, you can sell digital products like printables & planners that require little start-up cost. 

P.S. If you are interested in selling digital products on Etsy, check out this Etsy course to start making money! 

Once you’ve set up your shop, you can play around with the stock count.  

You can make amendments to your listings as often as required, so think of the first few months as a testing phase. 

Take the time to decide whether having a small inventory of pre-made products or making products to order is a better option for you. 

2. Create Your Etsy Account

To set up an Etsy shop you need to first create an account. You may sign in via your email address, Google, Facebook, or Apple. Once you’ve signed in, click on ‘Your Account’ which is on the right side of the page, and click on ‘Sell On Etsy’. 

Once you’re on the ‘Sell On Etsy’ page, click on the ‘Get Started’ button OR alternatively you can scroll through all the information on shop setup and click on “Open Your Etsy Shop”. 

3. Choose Your Shop Preferences

You’ll be led to an onboarding page, click on the “Let’s do this” button, which will lead you to a series of questions. 

Question 1: What brings you to Etsy? 

  • I’m just starting to sell for the first time ever
  • I have a business and want to sell online for the first time
  • I want to expand my online business by selling on Etsy, too
  • I’m mainly here to explore

Question 2: Is there anything you need help with? 

Choose as many topics as you want. We’ll share resources to help you grow.

  • Deciding what to sell 
  • Shop naming & branding
  • Selling online
  • Taking photos of items
  • Getting discovered in search
  • Packing & shipping
  • Pricing items
  • Understanding finances & fees
  • Moving existing listings to Etsy
  • Marketing to new audiences
  • Selling internationally

Once you’ve answered these questions, it will lead you to a page with a “Start Your Shop” button, which will take you to the “Shop Preferences” page. This page asks you to fill out your shop language, shop country, and shop currency. 

This page is auto-filled with default answers, you can change the answers in the drop-down menu. Once you’re happy with the answers, click “Save and Continue”. 

Note: If your bank currency is not the same as your shop currency, you’ll be charged currency conversion fees of 2.5% when customers make a purchase. 

4. Name Your Shop

Here you’ll name your new Etsy shop, the name should be: 

  • Between 4-20 characters
  • No special characters, spaces, or accented letters
  • A new name that has not been taken by another seller
  • No obscenity
  • No trademark infringements

Once you’ve chosen and typed out the name, the site will verify if it is available. If it is unavailable, “Looks like the name is already taken” will pop up and similar names will be auto-generated for you to choose from. 

If it’s available, you’ll be able to click on “save and continue”. 

Here are a few “naming your shop on Etsy” tips for you. 

  • Keep your shop’s name short, simple, and memorable. It’ll make it easier for customers to recall your brand. 
  • Don’t spend too much time coming up with a name, but make sure that it is relevant to and reflective of your business. An Etsy shop name with a strong business focus will also help with SEO. 
  • Although the name is available on Etsy, you want to check if it is available as a domain name, on social media platforms, and as a licensed business name.  

Click “Save and continue” to proceed to the next page, where you will create listings.

5. Create Your Listings 

The next step to figuring out how to start an Etsy shop with no money is to start listing! Here is where you proceed to create your product listings. This page has several sections to it. 

1. Photos: 

You can add up to 10 photos on the site, and you should use all 10. You should showcase your product from various angles, with natural lighting, against a simple background. Refer to the seller’s advice that’s right above the “add photos” section. 

The first visual of your product that customers see on your Etsy shop is your thumbnail, so make certain that it’s impressive. 

Make sure to include photos of product variations, if an item comes in different sizes or colors for example. 

2. Videos: 

Etsy highly recommends creating a short product video, buyers are more likely to purchase products if the listing includes a video.  The criteria are that 

  • The video lasts between 5 to 15 seconds 
  • The video has a max file size of 100 MB
  • The video has a resolution of 1080 pixels or more 
  • The video is cropped on Etsy for the appropriate dimensions 

You do not need to hire a videographer or use a camera to take the video, you can use your smartphone, just follow these guidelines

3. Listing Details:

Here is what you should put up on your listing details: 

1. Title: Factoring in the 140-character limit, the product title should be as descriptive and detailed as possible. 

2. About The Listing: This part consists of 3 drop-down questions. 

3. Category: Here you can narrow down your product category. Based on the category you have chosen, you’ll have to fill out other attributes like size, color, material, and more. Fill these out as it’ll improve search results. 

4. Renewal Options: The renewal period is 4 months or until the listing is sold out. Take note that during each renewal cycle, $0.20 fees will be charged. You can opt for it to be automatically or manually renewed. 

5. Type: Here you choose if your product is physical or digital. 

6. Description: Type out your product’s best qualities and keep it brief.  You’re encouraged to also share the story or inspiration behind the product & the process of creating the product with customers. There is an 1100-character limit for this section. 

7. Production Partners: In this segment, add anyone else who is included in the process of creating your product but is not a part of the shop. 

8. Sections: Section the product into a category of its own, for example, handbags. 

9. Tags: There are 13 tags available for each product, think carefully about the keywords customers would use to search for your product. Those are the keywords you want as your tags. 

9. Materials: Add the raw materials used to create your product here

4. Inventory and Pricing:

Here you insert the product’s price, the number of products on sale, and the SKU (stock-keeping unit) number if applicable.

When deciding on a products price take these factors into consideration: 

  • Etsy’s $0.20 listing fee
  • Etsy’s transaction fees of 5% of the product plus shipping price
  • Etsy’s processing fee of $0.25 in the US (this varies by country) and 3%
  • Etsy’s offsite advertising fee of 12% to 15% 
  • Cost of your time 
  • Cost of raw materials 
  • Cost of shipping labels 
  • Cost of free shipping
  • Other Etsy shop expenses

5. Variations: 

Variations are for one product that sells in various colors, sizes, and material types. Choose which variations your product has from the drop-down menu. 

Take note that each variation is considered another listing, and so the $0.20 listing fee will be charged when you sell the variation. 

6. Personalisations:

If you want to offer personalization, you will have to enable it on the right side of the page. 

You will then be able to provide buyers with the option to personalize their products (tick the box under the instructions, if it is optional and not compulsory) and instructions to customize their products. 

7. Shipping:  

Etsy is big on providing free shipping for buyers. It is probably best to offer free shipping for local customers and include the shipping cost in the price of the product. 

As shipping cost fluctuates across the world, I would advise charging international customers shipping charges. 

If you’re unsure of how to include the shipping cost in the price of the product you can refer to this write-up on shipping from their Help Center. 

Please make it a point to establish a very detailed and clear return policy as well. 

Before you publish your very first listing you can preview it and check for any errors. After you’ve established that the listings are all good to go, you may finally publish your listing! 

6. Choose Your Payment Preferences 

Now that you have your product listings, it is time to configure your payment preferences. Your options will include PayPal, check or money order, and Etsy Payments

Etsy Payments is the primary method to get paid, it also simplifies the payment process for both buyers and sellers. With Etsy Payments, you can take credit cards, debit cards, Etsy gift cards, store credit, and more! 

7. Enter Your Credit Card Details 

Etsy requires that sellers provide their credit card details for authorization reasons (in some countries) and to charge sellers certain fees. 

8. Open Your Shop

Once you’ve completed the ‘set up billing’ section, you can finally click on the Open Your Shop button! Congratulations, you’re now the proud owner of your very own Etsy shop. 

These are all steps needed to start an Etsy shop with no money!

How to start an etsy shop with no money

Why Etsy When You Have No Money?

An Etsy Shop is basically an ‘online shop’ set up on Etsy an online marketplace. 

Etsy is home to over 7.5 million sellers. These sellers are independent small businesses such as artists, collectors, and crafters that sell handmade, custom-designed, and vintage items. 

Etsy’s buyers are intentional shoppers that are at-home crafters, unique gifters, and supporters of small businesses that have a sense of community. Etsy is also a great platform for businesses that provide seasonal offerings. 

Etsy has over 96 million active buyers on its platform and because of its community spirit, it places a lot of emphasis on helping people to build their own business from scratch, even if they don’t have any money. 

Now, let’s take a look at what to sell on Etsy to make money.

What Can You Sell On Etsy?

One of the key things to know before selling on Etsy is what sells best on the platform. 

Etsy has more than 60 million products from hundreds of subcategories listed for sale. 

It is a highly competitive marketplace, so how can you keep updated with what sells best on Etsy? 

For a start, you can check out Etsy’s Best Sellers, Popular Right Now, and Editor’s Pick sections. 

But if you want to take things up a notch, sign up with Sale Samurai, an Etsy tool that is great for various reasons and can help you with research on profitable products to sell. 

There is a 3-day free plan available which is great to start an Etsy shop with no money. 

If you find it beneficial, you can subscribe for a monthly ($9.99) or yearly plan ($99.99) when you feel ready to invest in your Etsy business.

To find out more about the best things to sell on Etsy, read this post.

How To Customize Your Etsy Shop? 

You have started an Etsy shop, it doesn’t end there. Now the challenging part begins, getting sales. 

Your shop need’s to be prepared for customers, it must be effortless to find, thoughtfully designed, organized for easy reference, and updated to reflect stock. You can personalize your shop further by: 

  • Updating The Shop’s Bio 

One of the most important Etsy shop must-haves is a bio. Write a brief bio about yourself and your business. People want to know the person behind the brand and the brand’s story. 

Share your background, your qualifications, your interests, why you were inspired to start your Etsy shop, or how you came up with your products. 

It would be ideal to include a photo of yourself as well! 

  • Updating The Shop’s About Section 

Here you have an opportunity to share your business’s origin story. There is a 5000-character limit here, which leaves you plenty to share. 

Here you can include the creative process, the people behind the product, and the store links to featured articles, or your social media accounts. 

Etsy’s community values honesty, authenticity, and uniqueness, so don’t shy away from being yourself here. 

  • Setting Up Shop Policies

One of the most important Etsy tips for beginners is to always set up clear shop policies. 

This section is where you must prepare answers to any foreseeable questions your potential customers may have. 

And in the event of any disagreements between you and a customer, a policy section will be very useful. 

Your shop policies should include: 

  • Shipping policies 
  • Estimated processing and shipping time 
  • Payment options available
  • Returns & exchanges policy 

How Much Does It Cost To Sell On Etsy? 

So how much does it cost to start an Etsy shop and sell on it? 

Signing up with Etsy and starting your Etsy shop is completely free, however, you will have to pay certain fees when your products start selling on the platform. 

These costs are known as Etsy’s seller fees. Etsy sellers incur three main fees that are listed below. 

  • Etsy Listing Fee

Etsy’s listing fees are the cost of listing products. The platform charges $0.20 for each product listing (and each variation). 

Each listing will have to be renewed at $0.20 every 4 months or when the listing sells out. 

  • Etsy Transaction Fee

Each time a product is sold, Etsy charges a transaction fee of 5% of the total product price (inclusive of shipping and gift wrapping). 

Take note that if your payment currency is different to your listing currency, Etsy will charge an additional conversion fee of 2.5%. 

  • Etsy Payment Processing Fee

When you use Etsy Payments, Etsy charges a payment processing fee for each transaction. This fee differs based on your location, in the US Etsy charges $0.25 plus 3% per transaction. 

These are the main costs that you’ll incur as an Etsy seller. Other Etsy costs you may incur include the purchasing and associated fees of shipping labels, and the cost of add-on services such as advertising. 

How to start an etsy shop with no money

How To Market Your Etsy Shop? 

Once you have established your Etsy shop, it’s time to think about how to sell on Etsy. Here are a few things you can start with to drive traffic to your store especially when you start an Etsy shop with no money.

1. Learn About Etsy SEO 

Knowing how to use Etsy SEO will be advantageous as it helps you increase your shop and product visibility on the platform and on other search engines like Google. 

Etsy’s search function is designed to connect buyers with their desired products. Sellers are responsible for how they rank on search placements. They can optimize their SEO by reviewing the following: 

  • Categories For Listings 

Be sure to niche down the category you choose for each of your listings. The more precise and relevant the category you choose, the easier it is for your clientele to locate you. 

  • Title and Tags

You may be compelled to give your shop a unique name that people have never heard of. Yeah, you’ll stand out, but you may also miss out on customers. 

Your shop title should reflect what you sell as your customers will search for what they want to buy. 

For product titles, be as descriptive as possible and make sure the ‘title’ truly captures the product you’re selling. 

A tag is a keyword that best describes your product, Tags can be short phrases that are descriptive of the item such as the type of product, and the materials used to make it, such as, “copper bracelets”. 

Etsy tags are matched with buyers’ searches to find them what they want. To make sure that you appear on searches include all 13 tags for each product listing. 

You can also use the help of an SEO Tool, I like to use Keysearch as it helps me identify keywords that work best for my categories, titles, and tags. 

Another great way to boost visibility is to update and add listings frequently. Ensure that you include competitive and varying keywords for each listing as well. 

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2. Promote Your Etsy Shop On Social Media

Social media is a great marketing tool for many reasons, it is also a budget-friendly way to build a customer base. You have to link your Etsy shop to your social platforms if you haven’t already done so. 

It is a great way to sell your products, connect with others in your industry, learn from other business owners and research and understand your target market. 

You can directly engage with your target market to find out what they like about your brand, how you can improve your products and so much more! 

You can also collaborate with social media influencers and form partnerships with businesses that resonate with you. 

3. Create A Mailing List 

This method should be high on your list as it is a great way to keep in touch with your customers. 

You will be marketing to existing customers, who are more likely to buy your products compared to the masses on social media. Email marketing is an amazing strategy to create customer loyalty and get referrals from friends and family. 

Start a mailing list that you can use to inform your subscribers about upcoming product releases, events, promotions, and discounts. You can give these special groups of shoppers a bonus incentive once in a way to keep them coming back for more. 

Make sure to share the subscription link on your Etsy shop, website, and social media platforms. 

How to start an etsy shop with no money

How To Set Your Etsy Shop Up For Success? 

Now that we have covered how to start an Etsy shop with no money and how you can market it, let’s run through how we can make your shop a success. 

1. Build A Consistent Brand 

Etsy is a huge marketplace and you have to be different to get noticed. 

Shoppers will be drawn to shops that are well organized, aesthetic, and have a consistent brand presence. People want to invest not just in a product, but a brand, your brand is what makes you unique.  

Branding refers to how your customers perceive you. Branding is a vast subject but a great place to start is by asking yourself a few key questions: 

1. To whom are you selling your products? 

2. What makes your products and your store unique? 

3. How would you like your store to be described? 

Now that you know the perception that you want customers to have, you can start building your brand. 

Your brand should include your business’s story, the purpose, who it is for, a unique communication and design style, and distinct colors and fonts. 

2. Master SEO On Etsy 

SEO plays a huge role in making your Etsy shop a success. As mentioned earlier in the article, SEO directly increases your shop’s visibility and your product’s rank on search results. 

Etsy’s SEO is not entirely the same as what you would use for your blog or site, it has its own set of SEO guidelines

To start enhancing your store’s SEO performance, find the most appropriate words to describe your store and its products. Put yourself into the shoes of your shopper for a moment and think about the words a shopper would use to search for your product or store. 

Etsy is generous with its resources, refer to the Seller’s Handbook for more information on how to improve your Etsy SEO. 

If you do not have time to browse through their resources, invest in a monthly plan with Keysearch, an SEO tool that’ll help you identify the right keywords for your store and products. 

3. Use Clear And Illustrative Product Photos

As customers do not have the luxury of seeing and feeling your products in person, give them a great visual experience. Ensure that your photos and videos are taken in good lighting and in several angles. 

Make sure that the photos are also not heavily edited and that it portrays your product well. You do not need it to be professionally shot, your smartphone should be able to get the job done. 

To take great pictures from home, take pictures when it is sunny and you have access to natural light to avoid shadows. Take the picture of your product on a simple, plain-colored background, like the wall or the table. 

Etsy’s seller handbook has some great tips that you could follow to take great product pictures. 

4. Prioritise Customer Relationship Management 

As a business, you now have the responsibility of providing excellent customer service to your customers. Building strong relationships with your customers directly impacts the success of your business. 

There is a lot you can do to provide memorable customer experiences. You must first ensure that your product photos, descriptions, and specifications are clear and precise. Also, ensure that your shop policies are detailed. 

You have to also set aside time to interact with customers. Respond in a timely manner, furnish them with relevant information and answer any queries they may have respectfully. 

And lastly, always set attainable timelines for product making and shipping so that you never risk having a disappointed customer. 

Do all of the above, and I am sure it will lead to positive reviews, repurchases, and referrals in the long run. 

FAQs On How To Start An Etsy Shop With No Money At All

Can You Make An Etsy Shop For Free?

Yes, you can make an Etsy shop for free! However, When you publish a listing to the platform, it will cost $0.20. There are three key selling fees to take note of; a listing fee, a transaction fee and a payment processing fee. There is an advertising fee as well for sales derived from Offside Advertisements. 

How Do Beginners Sell On Etsy?

Wondering how do beginners sell on Etsy? For beginners to start selling on Etsy, first create an Etsy account. Then set your shop location, and currency, name your shop, create listings, set your preferred payment method, and lastly choose how you want to be billed. 

How Expensive Is It To Start On Etsy?

How expensive is it to start on Etsy? It cost nothing to start on Etsy, starting an Etsy shop and joining Etsy is free. There are three main selling fees on the platform, a listing fee, a transaction fee, and lastly, a payment processing fee. To publish a listing it costs $0.20. If you use Offsite Ads, there is an advertising fee as well. 

How to start an etsy shop with no money

So that’s everything you need to know about how to start an Etsy shop with no money. 

It’s not only completely possible but pretty easy to start an Etsy shop on a tight budget. However, the actual work starts once you’re open for business. But like with everything good, it’ll take time, effort, and consistency to be successful on Etsy. 

Starting a business from scratch is no easy feat, kudos to you for having the courage to do it! I hope these tips on how to start an Etsy shop with no money are helpful and have given you the nudge you needed to get started. 

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