Your FREE guide to setting up Etsy Ads

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Written By Sam Davis Ph.D.

Sticker Crypt is the internet's premier source of free advice for artists and small business owners! 

Etsy ads are a great way to boost your Etsy shop visibility on Etsy's site. But if you're not careful, you could be throwing away money. Etsy Ads are only good if you've already optimized your listings on your Etsy shop. This guide will walk you through how to get ready for, use, and tinker with Etsy Ads for the best results.

You should only spend money on Etsy Ads after you've optimized your listings. Start small, choose specific listings to target, run tests, then increase your ad spend at the end.

etsy ads don't have to be intimidating

What Are Etsy Ads?

Etsy Ads are a service on's marketplace where you can set a daily budget to run ads (also known as Etsy Promoted Listings) on your items. An item in your Etsy shop with an ad will appear at the top of the search results even if it's not normally placed there. You can set a daily budget that starts at $1/day and goes up to $25/day for an Etsy ad campaign.

When you first start selling on Etsy, it's hard to get organic views because your Etsy shop is new. Ad Targeting via Etsy promoted listings gives you an advantage by increasing the chances of someone clicking on your product or seeing your style. Ads are especially good for saturated markets, because your item may appear on page 5, and no one ever gets that far in search results.

Do people know about Etsy Ads?

Your ads will not be totally organic – they will appear as “Etsy promoted listings” in the ads. Lately, Etsy has even been removing shop names from the promoted listings, making it harder for people to avoid clicking on ads. Your ads will also show up on the Etsy app.

As your Etsy shop grows and your listings begin selling, the algorithm will naturally move your Etsy promoted listings up farther in the Etsy search results. Etsy's algorithm pays attention to things like Titles, Keywords, Conversion Rate, Free Shipping, and Star Seller status (coming soon).

The best part about Etsy ads is that they fall under the “personalized content and ads” category. In other words, your Etsy ads are going to show up when someone is searching your keyword. This means that if you're selling dog stickers, you'll be selling to dog lovers – not people who hate animals. These Etsy ads DO use cookies and data specific to Etsy users, but because the ads are displayed on their site, you don't have to worry about privacy.

Should I Spend Money On An Etsy Ads Campaign?

When I first started my Etsy shop, I felt like I would never create promoted listings. It felt like handing more money over to the marketplace that already took 34,000 separate fees whenever I made a sale. However, Etsy ads work when they're intentional and targeted. Here are some instances when I think you should – and shouldn't – spend money on ads for your Etsy shop:

  • You haven't made any sales at all – don't spend money on an Etsy ad campaign. At that point, you'd be paying Etsy to give away your products. If you haven't made any sales, then you need to figure out how to improve your SEO – search engine optimization, pricing, or pictures.
  • You make decent sales, but they're dropping off because it's a slow season – it might be worth spending on Etsy ads, but I would do some research on other Etsy sellers: where are you appearing in the search results, what are your competitor's prices like, and are you missing search terms in your Titles and Keywords? Your Etsy store isn't going to compete well if your listings aren't up to snuff.
  • You make sales and you want to increase your sales volume – Etsy ads might be a good idea. If you know which items of yours sell well, you can choose those ones to run ads and see if you can't get a few more sales out of them. Offering quantity deals or discounts might do the same thing for you.
  • You hate social media and want to do things a different way. You may want to use Etsy ads if you're tired of chasing the social media highs and lows. Etsy ad listings help you avoid constant posting on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Depending on your settings, Etsy ads will likely boost item views and sales. Just be sure that your keywords and listings are optimized for the best possible outcomes.

What are offsite ads?

While we're talking mostly about promoted listings in this article, I wanted to highlight offsite ads briefly as well. Etsy offsite ads are an opt-in service if you make less than $10,000 in a year on Etsy, and mandatory if you make above that threshold.

With offsite ads, Etsy is basically advertising your listings all over the web: on Facebook, on Google, even on Bing. You pay nothing for this service UNLESS someone clicks and then buys your product. The window for purchase is 30 days. If you do make a sale with offsite ads, then Etsy takes a much larger cut than usual to recoup their expenses on advertising.

Some people LOVE offsite ads and other people hate them. I think if you have tight profit margins, you should opt out. If you don't though – it's free advertising! Your ad spend is essentially zero until you make a sale. If you put your products somewhere other than your own Etsy shop, you'll always need to pay for advertising. So overall – it's a great deal.

How Do I Optimize My Listings & Run Etsy Ads?

There are as many opinions about listing optimization as there are clouds in the sky. However, we all agree on a few points:

  • Optimize your title and tags. Your title should echo your tags while still being human readable. Separate tags in your title with commas or other separators.
  • Take great pictures. Etsy is steering most of us away from mock ups, so invest in a good set up. Use natural lighting or buy some photography lights and a little lightbox. Look at how your competitors take their pictures, then do better.
  • Write that description. Aim for a few paragraphs for your description. It's ok if some of the description is similar across items, but make sure your first paragraph really tells the story of your item.
  • Use a helper tool. Both Marmalead and eRank are Etsy SEO solutions that are affordable for small sellers. I've used both and don't have a strong preference for either. Marmalead has a great podcast, and eRank is scalable for large businesses.

Testing Your Advertisements

When you're ready to run Etsy advertising, it's important to approach it from a scientific mindset. On Etsy, you're not allowed to set budgets for individual items. Instead, you simply turn ads on or off for your listings. Etsy automatically allocates the budget. While this makes the user interface easier, it makes optimizing your money tough.

Here's a great Etsy advertising example from my small business, Nonbeenary Designs. One of the stickers has the phrase “It's Trash Can, Not Trash Can't!” – and for a long time, the tags and title both had “trash can sticker” inside. However, looking at ad stats, we were able to pinpoint that people who were typing “Trash Can Sticker” into Etsy's search engine were actually looking to label their trash can – and probably not with a motivational opossum sticker. As a result of this analysis, we were able to adjust the title and tags, and run ads that were actually hitting our target audience, and not just padding Etsy's bank account.

How Do I Set Up My Etsy Ads?

We can't tell you exactly what to look for, but we can give you the general strategy for tinkering with Etsy Ads.

  1. Only change one thing at a time. It's painfully slow, but only run ads on one item at a time. Or, tinker with your budget once a week. Your Etsy promoted listings benefit from this slow, deliberate work.
  2. Give it time. Give every change you make to a promoted listing time to run at least a week. You can't do something for a day and expect results. If you're really patient, you should actually go about a month. But if you're not getting any sales off of your ad, turn it off so you don't waste a month's budget on a poorly structured ad.
  3. Review and document. You can't learn anything if you don't remember it. Keep a Google Doc or journal about your reflections every time you look at Ad Stats or tinker with something. That way, you can go back and check stuff months from now when you've forgotten. Your Etsy promoted listings will improve if you can actively know and understand what improvements you've made.

How Much Should I Spend On Etsy Ads?

You should spend as much on Etsy Ads as you can afford, that is reasonable. If you're selling $4 items, do not set an Etsy ads budget of $25 per day unless you're going to get $250 of sales from that budget. Definitely don't set an Etsy ads budget that might send your account into the red. This advice holds true if you're advertising on social media, too.

I recommend that most folks start with the minimum – $1 per day. Give it a week, see how your stats are doing, then increase by 10-20% if you want. Never make very large changes to ad budgets, as it can be wasted money. You should only ever increase (or decrease) by 10-20% until you're secure in what the ads are doing. You might think that throwing more money at it will help, but you could be wrong.

Similarly, only advertise a few listings at a time. If you have 20 advertised listings at $1 per day, that's only $0.05 budgeted per listing (if split evenly). Your ads will be more impactful if they have a larger individual Etsy ads budget. Etsy marketing is about being strategic and not just throwing your money at a problem.

Finally, only advertise your items that sell. If your items aren't selling, an Etsy ads budget won't fix the problem. Revisit the product, pricing, or optimization to figure out how to get those items selling before you invest in Ads. You'll save money and time.

Etsy ads worth is wholly dependent on the amount of effort you put into them. You need to make sure that:

  • Your ads focus on audience engagement and site “sexiness” (how appealing your listing is)
  • Your ads are age appropriate if relevant
  • Your ads are tailored to your knowledge about engagement and site statistics on your current Etsy shop
  • Running Etsy ads fits into your budget safely

Are Etsy ads worth it for all Etsy shops? Only you can answer that question about paid advertising for your small business. I hope this guide helped you increase your Etsy sales! Leave your questions in the comments below.

your free guide to setting up etsy ads

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