Here’s a common email I get: “Dear Kelsey, I want to start an Etsy shop but I’m afraid of XYZ,” or “I don’t have XYZ in place first,” or “I’ll never stand out in such a saturated market.” These are roadblocks. Hangups, fears, uncertainties that keep you from moving forward with your goal – starting an Etsy shop, and sharing your product with customers who are eager to buy.
But good news! These aren’t real, they're myths. They’re fears that have no basis, because they’re flat out not true.
Let’s dive into 5 common myths that hold so many of you back from starting an Etsy shop, so you can finally get past them and earn some passive income on Etsy already! Alright, let’s bust ‘em up...
1. I need X number of products before I can open my shop.
This is a common one. I see so many Etsy sellers keep their shop under wraps until they have a whole collection of products to list, but guess what…BUSTED. You don’t have to! Wanna know how many products I had finished when I relaunched my printable planner shop? One. Uno. I created my Meal Planning Kit first, and as soon as it finished, I published it in my shop. So yep, I had one single product in my shop for awhile, before adding a second one. Once the meal kit sold a couple times, I started work on my second product – the Cleaning Checklist kit. Once that sold a couple times, I added a third. And so on, I added single products as I finished them, and slowly built up to 40+ products I have now.
So the myth that you need a certain number of finished products before you can open your shop is just a myth, and totally not true. In fact, it’s probably better to publish them one at a time, as you finish them, because you might be surprised which products resonate more with customers than you thought.
Related reading: How to Create Passive Income on Etsy with Digital Downloads
2. I need a website and an audience before I can open my shop.
Another popular one, do you think you need a website and a big audience (or audience, period?!) to open your shop? Big fat NOPE! I was nowhere near having my own website, and didn’t even know what an email list was when I opened up shop. In fact, this myth is the exact opposite of the value of Etsy – the point of starting on Etsy is because your shop is built on their platform and utilizes their audience. So the need for a website + audience before you even open up shop? Not necessary!
If you’re just starting out, this is why Etsy is a great jumping off point. By no means, should you build your entire business on Etsy and never establish your own website + audience, but this myth is a lie because it makes you think you need those things FIRST. The truth is you can start building your own brand outside of Etsy (read: website + audience), AFTER you open your shop + start making sales.
Related reading: Why Your Should Build Your Brand Outside of Etsy
3. I’m afraid people will steal my work + sell it as their own.
This common myth is one I never considered when I started, but did notice it happening once I was in the trenches, and as my business grew I saw so many potential shop owners getting hung up on this. Yes, there is a risk of people buying your product and selling it as their own. Has this ever happened to me? Once, with an obviously scammy Chinese website that was pulling their shenanigans on several printable shops. Have other shops ever been a little too liberal with their “inspiration” and created eerily similar products? Yep, but I’ve kindly confronted them and all have noted their mistake and adjusted accordingly. Honestly, there was a season of my business when I got hung up on copycats, and was even seeking them out myself. It can become consuming and haunts any other progress in your business, because you’re focusing on what other people are doing.
Speaking from experience: it’s not worth it. Don’t let this fear of copycats stop you from sharing your work. There’s a million Coca-Cola knock offs, but we all know the original, and it obviously doesn’t stop them from moving forward. Stop worrying about what other people might be up to, and just focus on how you can grow your business in new, creative ways. And if you happen to notice obvious copycats pop up, address them, and move on. Don’t dwell on their negative influence, and definitely don’t let it keep you from opening up shop. ALSO – copying work is easier to do in digital downloads than in physical products, so it’s no surprise that it’s a risk that comes with territory of selling digital products. But honestly? It really doesn’t happen that often.
Related reading: The Difference Between Inspiration + Plagiarism on Etsy
4. My products will never get found on a huge market like Etsy.
Etsy has grown a ton in the last several years, especially with their capability to easily sell + deliver digital downloads now. They certainly are a saturated market with certain types of products, but I’m living proof that it IS possible to stand out. But the key is finding a differentiator for your product – look for gaps in the market, a missing element that shops aren’t offering, etc. I designed my printable planners in a style that wasn’t being done at the time – it was gender-neutral, simple, clean, and printer-friendly when compared with the other options that were illustration-heavy and very feminine. Even though I was creating similar content (I was certainly not the first to create a printable planner), I did try to design them in a new way, that wasn’t being done yet on Etsy. So yes, it will take some out-of-the-box thinking and some hard work, but you can be found on Etsy if you have a unique product. (And psssst, stay tuned until the end of this post for a chance to learn 5 specific strategies to get traffic to your shop!)
Related reading: How to Stand Out on Etsy When Everyone is Doing the Same Thing
5. There’s too many moving parts, I can never figure it all out.
Lastly, some people just get overwhelmed by all the things that they think go into starting an Etsy shop, and they’re paralyzed by even starting in the first place. This myth couldn’t be farther from the truth – yes there are moving parts (as with any type of business or new venture), but it’s probably more simple than you think. With a platform like Etsy, you’re tapping into tons of services and tools that they are taking care of, so you can focus on creating great products and providing great customer service. I hate it when people bash Etsy’s fees – they’re providing a service, so yes that will cost you! And at 20 cents per listing + 3.5% per transaction, that’s a pretty low barrier for me to take advantage of their services. They’re taking care of the payment processor, the shop interface, the delivery of the product, the privacy of the customer’s information, and so much more. By starting out on Etsy, you’re actually cutting out a ton of to-do’s from your list, so you can get your shop up + running faster.
Related reading: Why I Use Etsy to Sell my Digital Products
Wanna learn how to sell digital downloads on Etsy?
My quick-start guide, Etsy on Autopilot, is your beginner’s step-by-step plan to turning your passion and skill set into a profitable, automated online shop, harnessing the existing audience on Etsy. Whether you’re new to Etsy or new to digital products, Etsy on Autopilot gives you the tools, resources, and know-how to confidently create + sell a digital product that your audience can’t help but love and buy – on a platform they already trust.
If you're curious about selling digital products on Etsy, this PDF guide is your ticket to getting there. It’s normally $79, but I’d love to send you all of Lesson 1 for FREE (12 pages), is that cool? It gives you good an introduction to selling digital products in general (including a list of 50 digital product ideas!), as well as an introduction and tour of the Etsy platform.