How to set up an Etsy store?

After I published my Coffees of Twin Peaks viz, someone asked me on Twitter whether I’m selling prints. I haven’t considered it before, but this was the first time I felt I’d be happy to hang this on my wall. Adjusting the two visualizations I selected, finding out about printing options, calculating shipping fees, and opening an Etsy store took most of the weekend. I also set up a Webshop page on this site that leads directly to Etsy. The fact that spring has been officially canceled in Budapest helped a lot since all my other plans included dry weather. 

Step 1: Generating Mock-ups

I had an envy look at some of the offerings of my favorite shops on Etsy, and I knew there must be some great mock-up generating tools out there. I wanted to place my vizzes in frames and picturing them on living room walls like the professionals do. The first app I find was VOUN (only available for mobile), and I already liked these results:

Later I learned that the most common approach is buying (or using some free) .psd files and adjusting them in Photoshop. I know how to use PS, but I was looking for a much simpler solution. That’s when Eric Balash commented on Twitter that Prodigi just came out with a free mock-up tool – and that solved not only one of my problems but most. These were the pics I generated with Prodigi:

I could have sophisticated them more (and maybe I will), but at the moment, I’m satisfied with these options.

Step 2: Where to print & how to ship

At first, I thought about printing here in Budapest locally and only to explore shipping options. I even ordered my first trial prints from a Hungarian vendor, but I realized I left some typos in (classic Judit), so I had to cancel. I was shocked by the international delivery prices, and the options were not clear at all. But even the cheapest solution seemed more than I planned to sell my prints for. That’s when I started to play with Prodigi. Such a great idea to print and ship worldwide! They are sending packages from 4 points of the world (UK, Netherlands, US, and Australia if I understood correctly), they have a massive selection of quality products, and they even ship sample packages free. And it’s not just that. Prodigi guarantees shipping within 3-5 business days. I ordered some posters on Saturday, and I will probably receive them by this Friday. I also sent a freebie to the person who gave me the idea to turn my Twin Peaks coffee viz into a print, so I hope they will turn out great. She might even receive it before me. Such excitement!

Step 3: Setting up an Etsy Store

I spent approximately 3 hours on this step because there were so many fields to fill. I still haven’t figured out how I am supposed to add size options. There’s an opportunity to add size variations that differ by width, height, or dimension. I thought it was the dimension where I could add sizes that vary both by width and height, but there was still only one place to fill. And then came shipping costs which gave me a headache that lasted for a day (more on that point in Step 4). It turned out that Etsy will place a small deposit on my bank account to verify it, which was 0,12 EUR. And for this transaction, I paid 7 EURs because my bank account is in Hungarian forints. If it will deduct 7 EUR every time they transfer money to me, it won’t be a favourable business. For me, not for my bank.

Step 4: Figuring out costs

By the time I reached this point, I already drank two coffees, and it was 4 PM. Different countries have different printing and shipping costs, and sometimes I need to pay VAT sometimes I don’t. And when I say different, I mean that the same product costs 6 EUR to send to Germany and 11 EUR to the US (+ shipping + VAT – or not). I tried out a couple of options and added imaginary client details to see the impact on overall prices. Based on that, I applied different rates to the EU, UK, and US + the rest of the world, while decided on free shipping for Hungary. Not because it costs less, but because we’re poor, and this is where I live. And nepotism is the Hungarian way, so I figured this is the true Hungarian thing to do.

I learned that this is quite complicated to figure everything out, but not impossible. And there are a lot of costs to think about, and I can’t imagine how people can sell posters on Etsy for 20 dollars and offer free shipping worldwide. 20 bucks are not enough to cover the production costs. Or maybe they just compromise with quality, which I could never do. All in all, it’s fair to say that I won’t make a fortune selling prints. However, I promise I’ll buy myself a damn fine cup of coffee and a new book to feed my mind after each order. And if I don’t sell anything ever, I still learned a lot during this process.

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