9 Etsy Mistakes To Avoid

Forever Bebes | Open an Etsy shop

When you first start out on any platform including Etsy sometimes you don’t know all the things you should do but especially all the things you should avoid.

Here I compiled a list of 9 mistakes to avoid why selling on Etsy and some of these can also pertain to other platforms.

As someone that has sold on Etsy for several years and have heard stories from other Etsy sellers that have had problems with their shops such as low sales, copyright warnings and suspensions, and closures, it is very important to avoid the following mistakes.

#1 Posting Bad Photos

Back when Etsy started you could easily get away with having bad photos but not anymore. The mere fact that back then it was for newbie online sellers, un-experienced sellers selling handmade items made a big difference and the expectations were lower.

Etsy has evolved and so have Etsy sellers and buyers. Buyers want to see beautiful photos and sellers have upped their game. So your competition is really trying to upscale the look of their shops. Etsy shops are looking like more small boutiques then a dollar store or flea market.

Avoid photos that are blurry, dark, distracting background and over exposed.

Here are some product photo tips for your listings:

  • take your photos using natural light

  • decide on a consistent first photo

  • don’t use distracting backgrounds. Make your backgrounds similar.

  • Use mockups if selling wall art, mugs, pillows.

  • use a photo editing editor like Photoshop or Snapseed if using your phone

  • use a tripod to avoid camera shake and unsharp photos

  • get details of your product and take shots from different angles

Besides taking a great photos there are also the different types of photos to consider for your listing. There is the studio shot (white background), the macro shot (closeup), the lifestyle photo (the item in its element), and the scale shot (shows off the size of the product).

#2 Copying Others

It’s never a good idea to copy someone’s work or shop. I have seen this done numerous times, shop owners frustrated that someone else blatantly copied their designs, mockups, banners and even listing descriptions.

It’s fine if you get inspired by other artist’s work but there is a fine line between copying and inspiration. So with that said I suggest that you don’t copy anyone’s work.

#3 Use Copyrighted Items

Copyright Infringement is defined by Copyright.Gov as when a “copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner.” Copyrighted and trademarked items are widely listed on Etsy by sellers that haven’t been caught yet.

Believe me it is easy to fall into this copyright or trademark trouble. I had a trademark notice filed against me with Etsy from a law firm that represents Moulin Rouge. It was filed against my photography Etsy shop and was of a photo of a metro sign in Paris with the Moulin Rouge building in the background. The Moulin Rouge wasn’t even the main focal point of the photo. So it was a combo of the two, the Moulin Rouge in the photo and the use of the word in my tags and description.

Although my shop wasn’t suspened (the item was just deleted) there are so many shops that have been shut down by Etsy. Getting shut down is pretty upsetting and frustrating but much worse things can happen, like getting sued.

So it’s best just not to sell trademarked or copyrighted items.

What is the difference between copyright and trademark?

Copyright is used for literary works and artistic works of art such as art, books, and videos.

Trademark is used for slogans, logos, company names, brands, and symbols.

Here are a couple of examples of trademarked words that shouldn’t even be included in your title, tags or description:

  • Bandaid

  • Disney

  • Onesies

  • Chapstick

Examples of copyright items not to sell on Etsy unless you have a license from the owner:

  • Disney characters

  • Brand names such as Nike

  • Harry Potter

  • college logos

  • sport’s team logos

I know that there a lot of Etsy sellers selling Disney items for example, but just because they are doing it without a licensing aggreement it doesn’t mean you should. Please avoid any heartache and legal issues by avoided trademarked or copyrighted items and terms.

If you want to learn more about copyright items in the U.S check out the U.S copyright governmental website. For trademarked items, check out the U.S Patent and Trademark office.

#4 No Branding

Before you even open an Etsy shop you should definitly think about how you want your shop to look like and who you want to attract.

First, let’s discuss what branding is all about. By definition from the Business Dictionary, branding is “the process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers' mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.”

So, even the Dollar Tree has it’s own branding. You should really brand or rebrand your Etsy shop. What does this really intail? First you need to figure out who your target market is. For example, if your products cater to men, then your brand colors shouldn’t be pink or feminine even if it’s your favorite color.

Branding includes:

  • knowing your target market

  • selecting appropriate colors

  • selecting fonts

  • creating a logo

  • creating a tagline

  • and many other elements and putting all these together to create a cohesive brand.

    This could be the fun part of creating your shop. If you need some inspiration, Pinterest is a great place to find examples of branding, colors, logos, and fonts.

Below is an example of an Etsy shop I just opened. It’s so far a great example of an unbranded Etsy shop. It doesn’t have a banner, logo, shop owner photo and nothing else. It’s a pretty bland and boring shop. It lacks a cohesive store front that customers can trust and feel safe to shop from.

Branding for etsy shop

Below is an example of one of my branded Etsy shop, Red Little Vintage. Here you can see I have a brand large banner and logo, head shot and a tag line. It completely different from the one above. Doesn’t it look more inviting and professional.


#5 No Polices

Most of us don’t want to shop somewhere that doesn’t have any type of shop policies. What if we want to return something, how long will it take to ship, are sale items refundable. There are so many important questions that a customer may have that they might just move on to another shop that already has there questions answered and they don’t have to reach out to the seller.

There are a couple types of policies that you need:

  • Refund policy

  • Exchange policy

  • Shipping policy

  • Payment policy

  • Processing times

These policies will make your potential customers feel better about shopping and communicating with you. Having these in place will get you more sales than if you didn’t have anything in place. So take the time and fill these out.

#6 Not Learning About SEO

Forever Bebes | Mistakes when selling on Etsy

Not learning SEO or search engine optimation could be the worse thing to do. SEO is the main way how customers will find you on Etsy.

If you don’t work on your seo you will have a hard time being found by Etsy search algorithm and making any sales.

The search bar on Etsy is how a potential customer will find your listing. For example, a customer types in “pink baby headbands” in the search bar and listings with that keyword will show up. If your title and tags don’t have that long tail keyword then your listing won’t be found.

Etsy seo isn’t difficult. There are two places that Etsy looks at for keywords, the listing title and the 13 tags at the bottom of your listing.

And if you want to be found by Google adding your focus longtail keyward to the description of the listing is also helpful along with the title.

If you don’t know where to get your keywords you can use eRank, Marmalead, and the Etsy search bar. Erank has a free and paid version, Marmalead is a paid tool and of course the Etys search bar is free.

#7 Not Promoting

Etsy gives sellers the opportunity to promote from their site. Promoted listings and Google ads are now together an option. At one point you could have chosen between the two but not any more. They are lumped together when you choose Etsy Advertising. Facebook advertising is also available.

When selecting Etsy Ads you would select your daily budget and then Etsy/Google selects the best possible times to show them for more possible visability.

I suggest trying out Etsy Ads once you have worked on your SEO. /keywords.

I would also suggest using Pinterest to promote your items and creating a business account so you can claim your Etsy shop. That way your items will show up on Pinterest as rich pins and products pins.

#8 Half Assing It

No HALF-ASS work allowed! Slapping up one listing, and then walking away isn’t going to work. Sure, you might get some views and maybe even a sale here and there but there is a lot to do to make a profitable shop.

Etsy is flooded with new shops everyday and with people who are willing to do the work. You should also be willing to do the work.

#9 Giving Up Too Early

Forever Bebes | 9 mistakes to avoid when selling on Etsy

Sometimes it feels like you are just spinning your wheels and wasting time when you aren’t getting any sales. Selling on Etsy isn’t like the movie Field of Dreams, “Build it and they will come.”

Sure, Etsy does drive it’s on traffic and is a well known handmade platform but you can’t give up and close shop if you haven’t made your first sale in a month. For some it takes a couple of days but for others it takes longer.

Before you give up and close shop you need to ask yourself if you’ve done everything possible to get views and sales. Do you have great photos? Have you done your SEO homework? Have you tried promotions? Are you are Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook promoting your items? Do some research and see what your competition is doing. Are they offering variations of the same type of product you are selling? For example, if you sell photography, are you offering canvas prints, or large prints?

Exhaust all possibilities. Don’t give up!!


Etsy is a great platform to start with if you have no ecommerce experience but like I said before you need to put in the work. Uploading items and not fully completing every aspect of your shop isn’t going to provide you with the financial and self-satisfaction that you are looking for.

If you are looking for an Etsy checklist check out this FREE printable. It contains a checklist, To Do Weekly Worksheet, and a Score Your Shop Worksheet.

Check this this post on the reasons why you should open a shop through Etsy.

Feel free to ask me any questions you may have. I would love to help!