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I made nearly $1 million in revenue my first year on Etsy. Here's how I did it and my best tips for shop owners.

Aria Yang   

I made nearly $1 million in revenue my first year on Etsy. Here's how I did it and my best tips for shop owners.
  • Hannah Gardner is an e-commerce entrepreneur who made over $945,000 in her first year on Etsy.
  • She says the easiest Etsy niches are print-on-demand products and small-parcel accessories.

When I graduated college in 2018, I never had a regular job. I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Back then, the biggest thing was media buying, like doing Facebook ads, Instagram ads, and Google ads for people. So I started teaching myself by learning from YouTube videos.

When you're broke, you say yes to everybody. I tried to build a media-buying agency specifically for doctors. I went to every Chamber of Commerce meeting from Miami to West Palm. When it was my time to pitch my services, I was just horrible at it. I did that for two months and ended up getting zero clients in the medical field.

As time went on, I found myself undercharging for my services while overdelivering to my clients, which eventually led to burnout.

One of my clients back then had an Etsy shop, and she was selling products both on an Etsy shop and a Shopify Store. While managing her ads, I discovered that working with Etsy was so much easier than media buying. That's how I got into the Etsy world.

I wasn't the standard DIY or handmade crafts Etsy shop owner

I didn't make crafts or other handmade products — I was the give-me-something-to-sell-and-I-will-sell-it type of Etsy shop owner. I found a production partner online by just a regular Google Search and also hired a designer. I tested out a few partners before settling on one.

Together, we focused on the fast fashion accessory niche. Our manufacturer was in Brazil and we became very close. If we had new designs, we could have the inventory ready within two weeks.

2020 was just this magical year when the business started really pumping. In December 2019, our total revenue got up to $30,000. One of our highest months was actually August 2020 — we did almost $200,000 in total revenue with Etsy and Shopify combined. It was crazy.

I handled every aspect of the business on my own. It wasn't until I reached my second $200,000 month that I finally decided to hire my first employee.

Print-on-demand is the easiest for new beginners

Print-on-demand service is the easiest niche for new Etsy sellers, then small parcel accessories because the barrier of entry is so low.

In the Etsy world, sellers are more reserved with their funds. So the print-on-demand realm is very appealing to people because you don't pay for the product until it sells. It mitigates the risk and you can scale very, very fast.

The second best for scaling, I would say, is the small parcel accessory world. Small parcels are items that can be shipped via USPS First Class Mail, which entails 4-7 day shipping. This option is the cheapest for items weighing less than one pound.

Essential tips to start your first-ever Print-on-demand Etsy store

1. Define your brand

If you're starting for the first time, you want to define your brand to make it recognizable. It's like when you walk into Hollister versus American Eagle, they're similar, but still different. You want to maintain that level of consistency to be able to build a brand.

What people are kind of doing now, unfortunately, is they're just coming in and launching random products — nothing's in sync. We don't want to do that.

Instead, we want to create a brand identity that can easily translate into Shopify later on. Take into account factors like color schemes, brand identity, and other elements that contribute to a cohesive brand image.

2. Integrate your Etsy shop with tools

The next thing is integrating tools with your shops, such as Printify, Mydesigns, or Printful, the middleman that connects you to those print providers. For example, when you get an order from your Etsy shop, Printfuls will print it and fulfill it for you. I really like MyDesigns specifically because they can bulk upload a bunch of listings at once.

We also use tools like Canva for design. When it comes to making your designs, you should do research on the market to see what's selling. We usually type in keywords in the search bar and try to find other listings that have "best seller" badges.

If, for instance, there are 4,000 monthly searches for "Baby Bows," which is a considerable search volume, it's important to include "Baby Bows" in your title and create a competitive listing in comparison to the top performers for that keyword.

We then look at those designs and try to figure out how we can improve upon them, or how we can add value to our listings. These people are at the top of these micro niches, but we're careful not to blatantly copy them.

3. Do a competitor analysis

Etsy launched its own competitor analysis tools, too. One tip is to look at the key attributes of why those listings are the top for that keyword.

You need to analyze the trends they are following, the fonts they are using, whether they say something fun in their listings, the options they offer, their price point, whether they are running daily sales, the number of photos they feature, and the appearance of their mockups.

The common mistakes Print-on-Demand sellers should avoid

One of the biggest mistakes POD people can make is rushing through the launching process, especially if they're new to design. They might think, "Let me just launch." But their products are lacking in quality.

Also, a lot of POD sellers fail to establish a functional business model. A lot of people who come to Etsy don't want to invest a lot of money — they're just not the biggest risk-takers. When it comes time to scale, they're so unprepared and they haven't set up their business model.

A useful approach in this regard is to write out every if-then scenario. After answering a ton of customer service questions with buyers, you should have a lot of data about your customers and be able to list the top 50 most commonly asked questions.

For example, you should know about your fulfillment process, the quality control process for print-on-demand, the design process, research for print-on-demand, the research, and development process, as well as how you determine your priorities and what to design for.

Remember: this is a marathon, not a sprint

The biggest advice I would give to someone who wants to start an Etsy business is to set proper expectations for the niche that you're entering.

The Etsy online game is all about long-term business building. It's not a "Get Rich Quick" or "How I can get to 1000 listings in 30 days" kind of story.

The focus is on building scalable systems so your business is constantly growing. The simplest example is with your listings, your launch strategy should be repeatable and consistent from week to week.

If you're an Etsy shop owner and would like to share your story, email Aria yang at

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