Got vintage, handcrafted or customized merchandise? Etsy.com is just the shop for that. Etsy allows its members to sell commodities under three main categories: Handmade by you, Crafting supplies and Vintage goods. Here is a look at the different prerequisites and constraints for each of these categories:
Category 1: Handmade by you
The term “handmade” may seem self-explanatory, but there are requirements for your merchandise to qualify under this category on Etsy.
First, the item must be handcrafted or hand–assembled by you – not another party. In addition, your merchandise cannot be deemed handmade if you’ve just tailored, restored or repaired it, or if you’ve assembled it from a kit without substantial alterations to the original design. If your listing doesn’t comply with these guidelines, your account may be flagged for review.
Still unclear on whether or not your item qualifies as handmade on Etsy? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Did someone else make it? No dice. If Aunt Linda knits gorgeous ski hats, you can’t sell them for her in your own shop, no matter how much of a technophobe she may be. (Now, if you and Aunt Linda choose to team up and create an Etsy shop together, that’s a different story. As long as you’re clear about who crafted the items, you can sell her hats alongside your own handcrafted items, or run her shop for her.)
- Did someone else help make it? It’s all right to have some help with administrative tasks like listing and billing, but Etsy is about featuring your work.
- Is it an existing item that’s been altered or upcycled? If your efforts have resulted in a unique creation, it can be considered handcrafted. For example, laundering or mending a vintage dress doesn’t make it handmade (look below for more on the “Vintage” category) — but transforming it into a funky apron does.
Before you get busy crafting, stop and consider if any of the following will be part of your creative process or Etsy store:
- Custom orders. Custom-crafting items for purchase is a service buyers appreciate, but list this kind of merchandise carefully. Custom items must have listings with a set price, and if color/size/material options affect pricing, all options must be listed separately.
- Gift baskets. A basket of commercial items decoratively or creatively packaged doesn’t constitute “homemade.” To sell commercial items, they need to be assembled as components to create a new product; for example, mixing Epsom salts with fragrant herbs to make a bath product.
- Production assistance. Remember Aunt Linda and her knitted hats? If she starts her own shop, you can help her with administrative tasks like listing or shipping, but you can’t contribute a majority share of the needlework or finishing.
- Services. As a rule, services can’t be sold on Etsy; exceptions exist for certain custom work like graphic design, altering or repairing an item to a customer’s specifications, and instructional workshops that provide the buyer with a physical instruction book, supplies or finished product.
Category 2: Crafting Supplies
Not sure how Etsy categorizes ribbons and buttons? You may list both hand-made and non-handmade materials under Etsy’s Crafting Supplies category. Other examples of crafting supplies include materials like patterns, yarn, beads, rhinestones and instruction manuals.
Just make sure that what you’re calling crafting supplies isn’t ready to use as-is (such as clothing or doll furniture). Remember, you may not sell any commercial tools such as make-up brushes or wax tar burners that are used along with crafting supplies to create new products. Still confused? Etsy’s Help section explains exactly what’s acceptable and what’s not (including tools and accessories used for crafting).
Category 3: Vintage Goods
Whether for style, nostalgia or curiosity reasons, there’s an eager market for vintage goods, from attire to toys to household goods. Only items that are at least 20 years old are considered vintage by Etsy.
Remember, vintage merchandise sold on Etsy must be in its original condition or faithfully restored, but not altered, upcycled or reconstructed. If you’re itching to transform that 1950s sundress into a retro-style apron, the finished product will be considered “handmade,” not “vintage,” and needs to be listed accordingly.
Prohibited Items: What Can’t I Sell on Etsy?
As an e-Commerce seller, it is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with all of Etsy’s guidelines, including those on forbidden items. Etsy prohibits the sale of any items that fall into the categories below:
- “Mature content” such as pornography and other items depicting sexual activity or profanity
- Tobacco/smoking products
- Live animals and illegal animal products
- Human remains or body parts (although human hair and teeth are acceptable)
- Firearms and other weapons
- Recalled items (do your research with those vintage pieces!)
- Real estate
- Motor vehicles
- Items that promote hatred, illegal activity or acts of violence
Putting It All Together
Etsy was created as a one-stop shop for its members to showcase their creativity through their uniquely designed pieces. By adhering to Etsy’s guidelines, you can do that and become a successful e-Commerce seller too!