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Last Updated on 16 April 2021 by Gertrude


Etsy is a handmade marketplace established for creatives. 

Many people sell their wares on Etsy to make a side income, while some create business empires on Etsy.

When Etsy started, it was a place to sell only handmade goods; these days, you can sell printables or digital downloads.

Digital Downloads/Printables do well on the Etsy marketplace.

So, is Etsy profitable? The short answer is yes.

Some may argue that it’s better to begin your website/store. I agree, but you cannot stop selling on Etsy because you have your store.

Spread your selling wings across many platforms, even social media.

Etsy is like Amazon with ready customers – ready to buy the best product in the market.

Etsy is popular because of the increase in custom-made goods/ Print on Demand products.

When receiving a birthday gift, for example, would you love your gift to be something that anyone has, or would you love to see a unique handmade gift?

Is it worthy to begin an Etsy shop in 2021?

Yes, it’s worthy to begin an Etsy shop.

You need a product, no website creation.

Because there’s no website creation, spend time learning how Etsy works and how to increase profits in your shop.

For example, include PDFs for the crafts you make. A PDF guide helps you avoid doing the work over and over.

A PDF guide is a way of upselling your product, plus PDFs are downloadable, and customers can access their guide anytime and anywhere.

Customers love it when you save their time.

Some customers prefer to DIY. What better way to enable your customer’s creativity than with a PDF step by step document?

Does Etsy ship to Kenya?

Of course, some of the Etsy shop owners do, some don’t.

The shopowners determine their shipping destination, but some say it’s hard to learn how shipping works; they stick to shipping within their countries.

How much does the average Etsy seller make? Depends.

Some Etsy sellers have established multimillion-dollar businesses while others grasp at straws.

To be a successful Etsy seller, pay attention to Etsy SEO, your pricing strategy and research to determine if what you are about to sell is what people want.

Who can sell on Etsy? Of course, anyone can sell on Etsy.

Check what sells the most, draw inspiration from there without copying anyone. And begin from a niche. For example, the crafts and supplies industry/field/niche/category sell the most on Etsy.

Don’t sell all kinds of crafts or supplies; sell ergonomic bamboo crochet hooks, for example.

You want your customers to know you for a particular product, then spread out/vary your products.

It’s easy to expand when running an Etsy shop.

How much does it cost to sell on Etsy? There are charges like the listing price, but it’s minimal.

You don’t have to worry; every platform takes money from the sellers, including Airbnb.

If it bothers you, then factor the fee into your product while remaining affordable to your customers.

Like any business, Etsy is a business. Have patience and take your time to learn.

The more unique your products are, the more customers you attract.

Is Etsy in Kenya? Yes, Etsy is available worldwide.

There is an Etsy-like platform within the Kenyan marketplace.

I haven’t used it or tried it. Some platforms claimed, Soko-Kenya is like Etsy, but it’s a platform for selling handmade clothes, plus, it’s privately owned!


How to Sell on Etsy From Kenya (Tips and Tricks for Building a Successful Store)  

  1. Etsy needs nurturing – requires your attention 

Because it’s easy to begin a business selling your goods on Etsy, many people assume Etsy won’t require their time.

In fact, an Etsy business is like a baby and a business like any business.

You have to upload new items, keep up with the trends to know what customers want.

You have to be present to answer customers questions about your products, shipping.

You cannot list products and disappear; you must develop a marketing strategy if you want to make an income on Etsy or live off of Etsy.

A neglected Etsy shop means neglected income

2. Optimise your products for search 

Optimising means, check what the bestsellers write as their product description. See a pattern?

On Etsy, you realise that the understanding of SEO is central to winning.

You must understand how Etsy SEO works.

A bit different from how Google works.

The basics include seeing what language the best sellers use then identifying how to list your products.

Etsy has a blog post about SEO and why it’s important.

I simplified for you the process of understanding how Etsy’s SEO works. 

RELATED: How Understanding Etsy SEO Helped Me Sell More in Kenya 

3. Be engaging on social media 

If you are a business person on Etsy, you must have at least one or two social media accounts where you keep your customers on your toes; engage your customers.

Your customers not only want to know what you sell but more about you.

Don’t talk about your products only; a good and great connection endears a customer to you.

Find out how they are and what problems they have in their daily lives.

Be interactive, informative, educative while adding value. 

4. Don’t copy what others are doing; originality is important 

Originality matters on Etsy. Customers throng Etsy not to see a product carried in a thousand other shops but to experience your uniqueness.

Handmade goods, after all, aren’t made the same.

So, in as much as you find products in the bestselling shop that you love, don’t duplicate.

Ask yourself how the products you want to sell creatively solve your customer’s problems will?

You want to come up with a solution and not a similar product in the market. 

5. Use social media to market your Etsy shop 

Social media is a free interactive tool built for engaging or socialising with others who may or may not have a connection.

You have many friends on Facebook and millions or thousands of followers on Instagram.

Use your ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ to enhance your business on Etsy.

For example, if you are a card designer, the best place to advertise or find customers is Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest.

Kenyans hang out on Facebook, then Instagram because it’s becoming a popular place, Whatsapp groups because Whatsapp is cheap.

Linkedin and Twitter are more for official engagements. Choose one or two social media, don’t spread too wide in all social media, then end up posting once a year. I am guilty! 

It’s important to know what your customers do when they go to a certain social media.

For example, what kind of content do your customers interact the most with?

What kind of information do they comment, engage with, and why?

How can you leverage this power to sell them your DIY products?

RELATED: Social Selling in Kenya (Selling to Your Facebook Friends Without a Website)

How to ”Use” Your ”Friends, Followers, Subscribers” in Kenya to Make a Fortune [Secrets of Social Media]

6. Patience pays when you want to sell on Etsy 

Every time a Kenyan begins a business online, you hear, I gave up online work after three weeks of not getting money. Why?

You cannot give up easily.

Are you on Etsy for the long haul, or are you there because you heard another Kenyan earning a million shillings or 10k dollars a month?

Put in the work, learn what works and what doesn’t.

Keep learning the best practices for listing or marketing your products, for example.

See the patterns your competitors and other bestsellers use to market their products.

Use social media to your advantage; it’s a free form of advertising.

Most importantly, don’t back down until you see results.

Online businesses, including Etsy, are overly oversaturated with customers giving preference to American traders.

That shouldn’t stop you. Encourage a fighting spirit in you to stand out as a Kenyan selling quality products on Etsy

7. Brainstorm what to sell on Etsy 

You cannot begin selling on Etsy without knowing what you want to sell.

Why? There are some niches/industries/categories that sell well while others may slack.

You don’t have to restrict yourself to selling products from a particular niche; beware, your quality, advertising, customer service will endear you to customers.

Customers love innovation.

To begin, don’t reinvent. Take what’s selling, then ask, how can I stand out in the noise (from other sellers?)

8. Remember, product photography matters; make your products stun 

Don’t sell anything on Etsy if your product photography sucks.

To stand out among the noise in an online business, you must have great photos.

Don’t employ a cameraperson.

Learn how to snap your photos in motion or make a short video of how to use your products.

Yes, Etsy has the video listing option. 

RELATED: How to Take Product Photos That Stun With Your Smartphone for Your Online Store in Kenya 

9. Price your products right – charge your worth 

Don’t overprice or underprice your products.

No matter how unique your products are or in demand, they price what your customers afford while ensuring you pay yourself. 

RELATED: The Art of Pricing Your Handmade Products for Maximum Profits in Kenya

10. Pay attention to your branding 

Just because it’s an Etsy store, don’t think there is skimping on the branding.

If you are going to ship your products, ensure you have packaged them in memorable bags.

Include your logo, mission and vision.

Always thank your customer for shopping with you.

Remind them to tell you how and what to improve in your product.

After all, you started your DIY shop for them; you’re doing all the work for them (progress of humanity).

BRANDING TIP: The real secret to branding lies with your customer. Are you offering them what they want? Do you please all their senses? Are you their friend?

The others, logos, website and all those you learn when building your business come after your customer(s) put their mark of approval (STAMP of ROYALTY).

RELATED: What Really is Branding and Why It’s Important When Selling Online in Kenya

Branding vs Brand: Understanding Why They Matter for Your Online Commerce Store in Kenya

Are You Customer-Focused or Brand-Focused? Why Customers Matter More for Your Online Business in Kenya

11. Research your idea for profitability before selling on Etsy 

Will the idea you make a profit for you?

How much time does it take to make the product?

For example, how long is the production process and cost?

What are the profit margins you expect?

The aim of beginning any business, even from the comfort of your home, is to make money, right?

Will your customers buy the product you sell to them?

Why would they shop with you?

Why are you the best suited to sell the product? 

RELATED: 100+ Questions to Ask Before Beginning Your Online Business in Kenya

Pros of Selling on Etsy for a Kenyan Handmade Business 

1. There are advantages of selling on Etsy, and they include:

2. A ready audience. 

3. The possibility of selling worldwide.

4. Make money from the comfort of your home.

 

5. It’s easy to expand your Etsy shop without spending a lot of money.

6. You pay attention to your branding and your brand.

7. Your customers leave reviews about your products, so it’s easy to know what and how to improve your products.

8. Invention – you can create a new product and test it affordably.

9. You aren’t restricted to selling on Etsy online – no copyright infringements. You can sell across platforms like Amazon, Pinterest, Facebook and Facebook Marketplace, your Shopify store/store of your choosing, your blog. The options to sell are unlimited.

10. Gaining experience on how to build an online business so you can build your own shop.

11. There’s an emphasis on being customer-centric, using Jeff Bezos words when selling on Etsy. You want to pay attention to your customers’ needs and what they want.

Cons of Selling on Etsy for Kenyan Handmade Business  

  1. You have no complete control of the Etsy marketplace. 

The policies on Etsy change, and they expect you to keep on your toes with the changes.

After all, it was there on the terms and conditions they said ‘‘are subject to change”.

Also, the Etsy platform isn’t yours; they can decide to close at any time.

See Google Plus, Vine or Myspace?

Don’t over-rely on a platform.

After establishing a customer base on Etsy, begin your Shopify store or WordPress with a Woocommerce store. 

2. You have to choose a payment plan 

Even though the money you make is yours, you must choose a payment plan.

Not a very bad idea but to some people, it is.

If you have to pay your workers or need the money for something extra.

It’s the expectation of every entrepreneur to get paid, right? You can wait out for a week or month.

Remember to pay yourself and reinvest money back in the business. 

3. Monthly fees

In my opinion, Etsy taking a fee from me isn’t a disadvantage, but it may be for some people.

The way to ease your mind on the monthly fees is to begin your own shop and get the max profits; you are using Etsy to make money; how do you want them to eat and pay their workers?

You can, of course, add the cost to your customers.

This is tricky if your product is one of a kind handmade that takes months to make or weeks and your customer is paying handsomely.

No matter how bad or the cons of a platform like Etsy, choose to look at it positively.

After all, you’re an entrepreneur, and you must be mentally prepared for the hustles of running a business. 

RELATED: Why Etsy Charging You Listing Fees Doesn’t Matter and What to Do

What are the Etsy Alternatives for Kenyans Handmade Business? 

Did you know there are some Etsy alternatives in Kenya? And the Etsy alternatives include:  

Selling in your own shop, of course, or within your blog 

Amazon Handmades for Kenyans 

eBay – an awesome marketplace if you are selling unique items not available anywhere else. 

Facebook Marketplace for Kenyans – Facebook introduced its marketplace for Kenyans because we love FB and spend most of our times there. 

Start an Instagram Page for your business

We will review other marketplaces like Alibaba in a later blog post. There are a dozen other places to sell your handmade online.

RELATED: 10+ Selling Platforms Like Etsy for Kenyans in the DIY Businesses [REVIEWED]

What Sells the Most on Etsy in Kenya

Handmade,

Vintage items, 

Natural beauty products (with natural oils or CBD oils),

Quote posters,

Printables or digital downloads like stickers, sewing patterns, crochet/knitting patterns/quilting patterns, greeting cards, clipart,

Jewellery,

Holiday-themed decorations, 

Personalised items (t-shirts, glasses, bottles),

Vinyl mugs,

Socks, 

Pet supplies, 

Craft supplies (yarn, fabric, wooden rings, crochet hooks, rhinestones, sequins, beads, twine, stencils, scrapbooking paper)

Airpod cases 

Quilt supplies  

Candles, 

Cute baby accessories (butterfly scrunchies, bows, headbands, headpieces/headwraps, bibs),

Baby blankets, 

Nursery crafts and some can include cute printable wall arts, 

and Soaps (bath bombs, salts, body scrubs, shower gels)


The list of what sells the most on Etsy isn’t exhaustive – this is a guideline of what people shop for when they visit Etsy.

Don’t limit yourself to these products.

If you have an idea that you believe your customers will love and it will solve a problem for them, go ahead and sell it.

Remember, it must be handmade. I know there are people selling clothes on Etsy, mass-produced but passing them as their handmade creations.

If you want to sell clothes, for example, for women, men, kids or pets, don’t order them from Alibaba and say, ”My handmade business”.

Come up with new and unique styles or fashion senses, or artistry. Don’t copy what’s trending.

Clothes are tricky to sell yet, profitable.

Because they go out of fashion in a season (a month or weeks).

You can invent/get inspired by the trends, then predict and sew for your customers’ different/one-of-a-kind pieces.

Also, sell or begin selling from a niche. For example, If you want to sell women clothes, don’t sell everything women wear; sell blouses/tops, then categorise them.

For example, office blouse, hangout blouse/lounge blouses/ t-shirt blouses, flouncy blouses, do you see what I am talking about?

Sticking to a niche, women’s blouses, in this case, means women, sisters, husbands shopping for their wives will come to your shop.

It’s easier to invent a trend or a style when you stick to a niche, and that’s what you want in your handmade business.

That way, you are known as a blouse seller, an expert blouse designer.

After establishing your credibility with your customers, you can make other items like jumpsuits, ball gowns. 

What Never to Sell in Etsy Store in Kenya? 

Even though there are a million and one ideas for handmade items you can make and sell on Etsy, there are some things that you cannot sell on Etsy, and they include: 

Certain animal products 

Human remains 

Hate items like clothing talking down on the LGBTQ community, single mums

Illegal items 

Porn 

Violent items like guns, bows and arrows

Alcohol, tobacco or drugs, this means cannabis oil included unless they make an exception in the future. 

Go over the guideline/terms and conditions to find out more.

Tips for Establishing a Multi-Million Dollar Etsy Store in Kenya

1. Take custom orders to make more money

Even if you make ”mass-produced” items, for example, digital downloads, allow customers to custom-made items.

For example, if you specialise in designing wedding cards, a customer, after shopping in your store, may not find something they like, they may request a certain design.

Though you charge a lot for custom orders, beware of the complexity of taking custom orders.

The correction involved and the time it may take to make an item.

Factor all these in your profits.

Taking custom orders requires you to have excellent communication skills.

Taking custom orders may involve thinking (thinking on your feet) for your customer to give them a unique gift. 

Related: How to Take Custom-Orders for Your Handmade Business in Kenya (Avoid Customers Conflict) 

2. Research product demand  

Do you want to sell a particular item but aren’t sure whether it will sell or not?.

Business owners face this dilemma; no matter how many assurances and thumbs up you get, you still ask, will this sell?

To ease your mind, use SEO to gauge the popularity of a product. Use Google search.

Ask yourself how would my customers search for this particular item?

Think like a customer.

Some people go for Google Trends and pay for Ahrefs and SEMrush. 

3. Concentrate on customer satisfaction and experience for your customers visiting your Etsy store

Don’t let a negative review deter you. If you take a negative review to heart, you won’t know how to improve your products and customer service/satisfaction.

Your well-meaning customer wants you to improve on your quality of service or product.

Don’t begin by complaining about how loud they were.

Ask yourself what did I do to make him/her outrageous?

How can I ensure this doesn’t happen?

You get quality answers from that angry, unsatisfied customer.

You must know the difference between constructive criticism, hate and not take it to heart.

If you listen carefully, you will improve your services/products in no time.

Stop and don’t ridicule the adage; the customer is always right.

RELATED: Why Is the Customer Always Right? How to Make Customers Rave About Your Ecommerce Store in Kenya

Real-Life Examples of How Bad Customer Service Kills Your Ecommerce Store

Why Your Customer Won’t Come Back To Your Online Store in Kenya

Reasons Why Kenyans Fear Shopping in Your Online Store in Kenya

4. Ensure your product photography is like that of Nat-Geo quality 

Well, you don’t have to pay a Nat-Geo cameraperson but utilise the power of your smartphone.

Learn how to snap high-quality photos for your products before selling them.

For example, take photos of your products from all angles.

Focus on the lighting and what most product photographers forget, how your product solves a problem for your customer.

For example, if you sell decorative pillows, show how to style the decorative pillows.

When you show how to style decorative pillows, your customers appreciate that and are more likely to purchase a product with a solution.

The fine part? A photo can help you solve a problem without using words. 

RELATED: Smartphone Photography for Your Online Store in Kenya [Easy Peasy Ways to Win Customers With Your Product Photos]

5. Engage a community 

The best and easiest community to have behind your Etsy shop is your social media ”friends” and ”followers” or ”subscribers”.

Tell them what you do and why. Build a community behind your products.

6. Influencer Marketing

If your product is unique and influencers in your niche, reach out to them and ask them to give honest feedback about your products.

For example, if you sell plus-size swimwear for chicks who love their curves, reach out to influencers flaunting their folds and love handles.

They will give honest review about your product more than curvier chicks with no love handles.

RELATED: Influencer Marketing and Why You Are Not Getting Sales in Your Store in Kenya

The Power of Influencer Marketing in Kenya  

FAQs on Selling on Etsy in Kenya

Is Etsy worth it?

Yes, Etsy is worth it. Why? If you want to learn how to build an online store, Etsy is the ultimate easy guide.

You learn how to brand, list your products for profits, learn SEO and why keywords mastery is important.

All these lessons help you understand how an online business works or how to market your offline business online. 

What sells the best on Etsy?

Digital downloads, vintage and unique handmade goods. 

Related: Digital Downloads to Make and Sell Online in Kenya [50+ Products]

How much does the average person make on Etsy? 

I don’t know what average is because even the most successful sellers began from average.

You need to understand what your customers want and how the Etsy platform works.

Don’t limit yourself to selling on Etsy only. 

Why is Etsy bad?

Yes, it’s addictive, in a good way. But once the platform fails, you lose your customers.

A way around it is to have your store plus your customers contacts; their email address. 

Related: How to Create a List as an Etsy Shop Owner 

Email Marketing for Beginner Online Business Owners in Kenya 

How much is Etsy in 2021?

Though it’s free to sell on Etsy, you can subscribe to the Etsy plus and pay $10 per month. 

Transaction fees are 5% 

There is a listing fee, and if you don’t pay it, you won’t get access to your store; the listing fee is $0.20 

If you subscribe to Etsy Plus, you can customise your shop (branding), get access to discounts and perks.

Stick to the free option until you get the hang of selling on Etsy.

Until you feel it’s important to pay the subscription fee.  

RELATED: Selling on Etsy in Kenya Simplified with FAQs 

Would you love to sell your crafts on Etsy but are confused about how to get started? 

Don’t be; this article simplifies for you how to begin selling on Etsy as a Kenyan crafter.

With Etsy, you will get access to a worldwide audience.

You don’t have to use Kenya in your listings in your titles. (I sell information to the Kenyan market).

Learn how to use Etsy SEO to make more money – the better your SEO, the better your customers find you.

You must know who your customers are. Who do you intend to sell to and why?

How will they know about you and the products you sell?

Etsy is a business so concentrate on your branding.

You want your packaging to stand out.

Remember not to steal anyone’s ideas.

You can use the inspiration from bestsellers to see what sells and how the bestsellers organise their shops but don’t get tempted to steal an idea.

The world needs new talent, not copied. The more unique your products are, the more customers you attract. 

Do you want to sell your crafts on Etsy in 2021 and build an empire? Is Etsy profitable in 2021 in Kenya?


stephanie

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4 Comments

Samuel Mwangi · 5 May 2021 at 1:02 PM

How is one of the Kenyan greatest blog has not written about roko.store? Its the Kenyan version of Etsy, porshmark and grailed. Built for fashion retailers. Here find out more about it. hopefully write about it.

https://info.roko.store

    stephanie · 4 July 2021 at 6:28 PM

    Okay, Samuel, I will check the suggested stores and write about them. What do you love about the stores? Have you shopped on/with them? Did you love their customer service?

James Brooks · 11 May 2021 at 3:29 PM

Etsy no longer allows kenyans and other countries that don’t have Etsy Payment Method to sign up from 2021

    stephanie · 4 July 2021 at 6:27 PM

    Yes, I learnt that Etsy doesn’t work in Kenya. I suggest looking for Etsy alternatives like owning your own e-commerce store.

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