The amount of talented cooks and bakers in the world never ceases to amaze me. Unfortunately, not everyone can just run out and open their own restaurant. To those of us who this applies to, there’s Etsy! Not many people know that you can sell food goods over Etsy, but I’ve purchased some amazing candies and even cupcakes over the internet!
While opening an Etsy business is nowhere near as complicated nor expensive as opening a restaurant, there are still some legalities that you have to pay attention to. The food industry can be tricky to break into, but hopefully I can provide some advice to help you!
So you have some ideas bouncing around in your head. Now is the time to look at other sellers and what they’re doing. Don’t get discouraged if someone is already selling what you had planned on, use this opportunity to see what they are doing right (and wrong) and learn from them! Do they have amazing pictures, is their copyright drool-worthy? When you read their reviews are there any complaints? Pay attention so you can get insight into what customers are going to expect from you.
Write a Business Plan
This is unfortunately an often overlooked part of many businesses, not just start-ups on Etsy. I cannot stress how important it is to sit down and write out a business plan. If you are creating your Etsy as a hobbyist, you can disregard this post. But if you are serious about trying to make money then you need to open up Excel and start planning! Create earning goals for yourself each month. How much of your product would you have to sell? If your earnings seem reasonable in comparison with your expenses, then kudos! You have yourself a potential business model. Never written a business plan before? Check out Entrepreneur for some guidelines (as well as tons of great advice).
Form a company, get insured, blah blah blah
Yes, if you want to support yourself off of your Etsy business, you’re going to have to trudge through the boring bits. If you have the money to hire a lawyer specializing in helping you form a start-up, then go for it. Otherwise, you’re going to have to do a bit more research. Find out the requirements for starting an online food company in your city (not just your state). One problem for most people is that they aren’t aware that in most states you cannot sell food you cook out of your kitchen! You may have to register a DBA, form a LLC, get a Sales Tax ID number and more. Luckily there are people out there that can help you (for free!). Sign up with SCORE and you can find mentors that are willing to help you make sure that you are doing everything legally, which will help you avoid getting penalized in the long run.
Open Your Etsy!
Back to the fun part! Once you have a business plan and have your plans for company formation all laid out, you can go back to focusing on the creative parts of starting an Etsy food shop. On the internet, appearances are everything. You have a split second to capture people’s attention, so make sure your photography, store design and product information is impeccable. Make sure your shop is user-friendly, and that every little thing is spelt out for your customer. If you’re not able to do this, unfortunately most people won’t stick around to ask you questions, they’ll just search for the next best thing.
- Need help raising start-up funds? Try kickstarter!
- Try licensed community kitchens if you can’t cook from yours
- The Etsy Seller Handbook
- Other useful Etsy Links
- Also, always ask questions! Some people won’t share their secrets, but you’d be surprised at the amount of people willing to help you reach your goals