THE ULTIMATE SIDE HUSTLE: ETSY
By Ashley R. Hall
Like many others, I’ve chosen, and the economy chose for me, a varied career path, as opposed to staying with one career since I graduated college eleven years ago. The side hustle list is long from television post production to screenwriting to substitute teaching to running the aforementioned an Etsy store, which I’m confident I will continue for years to come.
My Etsy store is called kissmytarot and you can find it at
My store sells hand designed tarot cards and personal tarot card readings. Right now, the site features a hand designed set of Fleetwood Mac tarot cards and Stevie Nicks inspired tarot card readings.
Last Christmas I looked online for a set of Stevie Nicks tarot cards to send my friend for Christmas, only to find that they didn’t exist, so it occurred to me to make some myself and I did. It then occurred to me that others may want some as well, and the idea for an Etsy store planted in my head.
Below, I’ll explain how I started and some tips I’ve learned along the way.
Starting Out: Product Attention, Research and Need
I put a lot of time into designing my first set of cards before I even considered opening the store to sell them. I showed them to people, got tips, made adjustments and spent a lot, a lot of time getting them in fighting shape. I also went to a local print shop to get a quote on how much it would be to have them printed so they looked professional and neat. If I had found out each deck was going to be $100 a piece to print, I would have stopped, because its unlikely people would pay over a hundred dollars for a deck of cards, let alone a little more to make a reasonable profit.
I also researched other tarot decks and made sure something else similar to my product wasn’t already on the market. There wasn’t, so I moved forward with a reasonable thought that people might be interested in buying. Now if you make something that has been made before, don’t be discouraged, but focus on what makes your product different and think about that while designing your store and focusing your marketing.
Starting Out: Etsy Research
I also did some extensive Etsy research before I started out. You can type Etsy into YouTube and find hundreds of howto videos on how to start, how to sell and other great tips. My favorites were by an Etsy best seller named Olivia Hayward. You can type her name into YouTube and find tons of great how to Etsy shop videos. You can also go to the help section of Etsy and find beginner’s guide to selling and guides on how to open your store. There’s also a Etsy Success podcast. As a site and business, Etsy has a ton of resources and you should definitely look into them before you jump in.
Jumping In: Finances and Time
Before you start, you should think about how much time and money you plan on putting into your Etsy endeavor. Etsy itself is fairly inexpensive and has very little overhead, which is great. For every “listing” or product you post, you pay about 20 cents a month, which isn’t a lot. I only have three listings at the moment, so my overhead is low, but if you, for instance, sell 30 different types of pins or buttons and want to do 30 listings, be aware you will be paying more.
I do not recommend buying thousands of dollars worth of product before your store has even opened, even if you’ve sold the products elsewhere. I waited for my first order and then bought a moderate amount, about $250 worth, so if it didn’t do well, it wasn’t a devastating loss. You will most likely have to put money in before you get it back, so also factor that in.
I also decided I was willing to put in a lot of time upfront and then back off to upkeep about 3 times a month with general vigilance. I advertise about once a month and obviously put in time when I have an order I need to send out. Have an idea of how much time you want to put in before you start.
Getting Your Store Started:
Essentially, listen to Etsy here, they know from which they speak. They will tell you-Create a good shop page, a good bio, a good about you page, get great pictures for your shop page and great product pictures. The pictures included here are professional pics I got taken for the page. Look up other Etsy pages similar to yours that have done well and study how they put their pages together. And do all this before you make your page and products public. It’s tedious, and one might hope that your product is so great people will buy it based on a small description alone, but its really not so. Buyers expect a pristine and well thought out page and it pays to do that now instead of later.
It’s really vital that you have a good handle on social media before you open an Etsy store, as most if not all of your advertising will be social media based. It makes sense to advertise online since you’re opening an online store, and I also think it pays to study some online marketing and things like Google Analytics before you start.
Create pages for your store particularly on Facebook and Instagram. I created a Twitter page for my store and just found that Twitter didn’t make a lot of sense for something so visual so I let the Twitter slide. See what works and what doesn’t.
You also want to be as specific as possible. If you’re making tiger bracelets, join every tiger and wildlife and bracelet group on Facebook and other social media outlets you can find, because you already know the people on those groups have an interest in something relating to your product, but don’t just jump in the groups and immediately start advertising. People will see through that and it will create more negative feelings than good. The rule is five points of engagement for every point of advertising. In other words, you interact with people in the group without bringing up your product on five separate occasions for every time you bring up your product or page.
Patience and Being Realistic
Even though it seems easier than opening a store on Main Street, and it is, having an Etsy store requires a lot of patience and realistic thinking. You will put in a lot of work before you make a sale and you will need to continue that work for many sales after that. It can take from 2 months to a year or longer to make your first sale and even longer to break even, but I think the time is worth it to own your little business and make some side money. Please please do not quit a job or other source of income in leu of your Etsy store, especially if you haven’t opened it yet. Look at your Etsy store as a fun way to learn sales and earn some extra money, and remember it takes everyone a good long time to get started and gain a customer base.
And my last tip is to not be afraid to bring up your store and products in public and online conversation. I understand the impulse to stay quiet, but no one will ever know about it if you don’t bring it up yourself. Good luck and don’t forget to head to www.etsy.com/shop/kissmytarot and pick up some tarot cards, a reading or some playing cards. Thanks!
Ashley R. Hall