Platforms & Tools

Optimize your print on demand Etsy business for great success


Congratulations! You have started an Etsy shop. You have a product, you have made listings and you are ready to start selling like crazy. But the orders are not coming in. There are some here and there, but nothing major. If this is your case, no worries – we will fix that in no time. Keep reading to learn tips and tricks on how to optimize your print on demand business on Etsy!

Product Title

The way you name your products aka listings is very important. It will not only trigger Etsy’s algorithm but will also tell your potential customer what your product is.

Keywords in your product title

The best practice is to think about how you would describe your product. Also, consider what a person might write into the search bar if they wanted to find your item. If you cannot think of any good search terms, you can use different tools to help with this task, for example, Google Trends, Ahref, Semrush, Google Ads, etc. Even though they are not specifically made for Etsy, they will show you what kind of keywords people often use in your category. If a person writes it in Google, they will write the same or something similar on Etsy as well.

Start your product name with the main descriptive words (or keywords) and add more broad terms at the end of the name. Don’t be scared to use long-tail keywords in your titles but choose just one long-tail for one title.

Leave out the original words and the name of the product line

If you are not a mainstream company that everyone knows, avoid adding original words you have created in the listing title. If that is not something people already know, they won’t be searching for it. If they are not searching for it, they cannot find you. So, in the title, there need to be only words everyone knows and can search for. For example, if you have created posters of dogs and you call them “dogsters”, don’t put that in your product title since no one is familiar with that term. Better name your product with descriptive words, for example, “Posters with dogs”.

The same principle applies to a product line name. For example, you have created a t-shirt line  “Becky” named after your dog and it has cute dog illustrations. Your potential customer doesn’t know your dog, they don’t know they need to search for “Becky” to find a t-shirt with dog illustrations. Don’t waste the precious space in the product title with words that won’t bring you value. Instead, add this to your title  – “T-shirt with cute dog illustration”.

Separate your keywords in the title

You need to write for the Etsy algorithm but also for humans who will read the title. So, make sure it is clear and understandable. The best way to do it is to separate the words with a comma or a pipe symbol ( | ). For example, T-shirt with a dog illustration, t-shirt for woman, boho t-shirt, organic cotton t-shirt.

Unique titles for every listing

And here comes the challenge. If you sell similar items on your Etsy shop, for example, t-shirts with dog illustrations that have different breeds but otherwise they are the same (at least in one line), you have to put on your creative hat to create a unique title for every item.

It is fine if some keywords overlap, but try to make every title of every item unique and specific. Not only the Etsy algorithm will be pleased, but people will also find it easier to distinguish different products of yours. Remember to start with the most specific keyword and move on to broader terms.

Product descriptions 

After working hard on your product name, you have to start thinking about the product description. It is a little bit easier because there are more symbols to work with but it also demands invested time and effort.

Start with the most important information for your customer

The best way how to write any description is to put yourself into your customer's shoes. What questions the customer might have about the item before they purchase it? Try to answer these questions as soon as possible in the description.

Pro tip! Don’t copy your title text into your description. It should read like one piece from the title till the end of the description.

Master formatting

You want your product description to be very easily readable and user-friendly. Use short paragraphs, easily readable sentences, and bullet points. Play around with capital letters for subheadlines and other symbols. You want your potential customer to be able to scan the description text to find information that is relevant to them.

Your grammar, tone of voice, and style

Grammar of your Etsy listing should be perfect no matter the other details. If you are not a native English speaker and feel conscious about your language skills, have someone take a look at your description. You want it to be polished, accurate, and a good representation of your brand. Sloppy grammar gives an impression that you are a sloppy shop, and that is neither true nor what your customers should think about you.

It is advised to have a united tone of voice throughout all your communication. That includes Etsy description, e-mail, direct messages, and social media. If you are one person who does all for your brand at the moment – you can still set your rules, but most likely it will be similar everywhere. Once you have someone helping you with the shop, things might get tricky.

To determine a tone of voice you can use descriptive guides like: ”Our shop’s tone of voice is kind, friendly, and polite. We speak to a customer as if they are a good friend of our best friend – in a familiar way but not too intimate. We don’t use emojis in client communication.”

Where do I insert the keywords?

Keywords are important for the description as well, but you want to avoid bulking them in one section, for example, at the end of the product description. Instead, try working them into your text. Most likely, they will come naturally when writing a description, but just to make sure, after writing the text, check if there are some places in the text where you can add a keyword and where it would fit in organically. 

The last chance – link in your description

There is an option to add an Etsy link to your description and it will work as a hyperlink. Take advantage of this feature! Add a link at the end of your description with a similar product or a complementary product.

Avoid adding the link early on in the description, since first people will want to read about the product they have opened, and once they know everything about it, they might start thinking about other products.

Also, you don’t want them to move on to something different too soon. That might contribute to confusion and no purchase. Better – use the link as a last resort! If someone has read the description and is not sure about it, they can check out these other cool things.

Exploit categories

Etsy offers to choose a category to which your product belongs. Be sure to use this option! You can tag the product in a category and then a subcategory. It helps your product to get more exposure on Etsy – it can be visible on category pages, in filtered searches, and more. It is a small thing that goes a long way.

Also, by using categories and subcategories you are expanding the number of tags you have. Etsy’s algorithm will use categories and subcategories to show your product when someone searches for a specific item.

Use tags wisely

Tags are words that describe your listing, and you can add up to 13 tags to one listing. Tags are used by Etsy’s algorithm and are perfectly matched by searches people do. So, when you create tags, be sure you choose words that perfectly describe your product, as well as think about phrases people might search for if they want to find your item.

The tags should be accurate and relevant to the listing. Etsy takes tags very seriously so better use fewer tags but make them really accurate rather than using all 13 tags, but some of them are a bit too broad.

All about images

The first rule to good product images is quality. If you are serious about getting sales on Etsy, make sure your product photos are high quality in all aspects – the resolution, lighting, and styling.

Product images that sell

The images you need for a listing will depend slightly on the product you sell, but, nevertheless, here are some ideas of what images could be useful to you.

Overall image of the product

It is a picture where the whole product is visible. It might be a studio shot, so the product is really at the center of attention. Remember to get all the angles of the product – the front, the back, from the side, upside down, etc.

Lifestyle shot

This is a picture of the product in real life. If that is a t-shirt, then it can be a shot of someone wearing it out and about. If that is a canvas print, it can be a picture of it on the wall in the living room. This type of picture also communicates how big or small the item is since it is seen together with other elements. Definitely don’t skip this shot!

Detailed shot

Make sure you capture all the details of your product – have a few good close-up shots. It will show the quality of the product and will give more information about your item to your customer.

Packaging shot

Use this one if your packaging is special and can be used as a gift. If your packaging is not tailored to become a gift straight away, skip this shot and use the slot for another picture.

Size table

If you are selling t-shirts or other clothing items, it could be useful to add a picture that holds information about sizes.

The limit of photos you can add to one Etsy listing is 10 pictures – make sure you use them all. You can always add an extra detail shot, a different angle of the product, and a few more lifestyle shots.

Add “Alt text” to pictures to broaden your audience

There is also an option to add “Alt text” to your images. This text is used by voice-over apps that people with vision impairments use to access the content of webpages. “Alt text” is also sometimes shown if the product images aren’t loading. In the Alt text”, you should write what is visible in the picture, for example, “a black t-shirt worn by a woman with the word “SMILE” in colorful writing”. You can be as descriptive as you like. Definitely take the opportunity to make your product as accessible as possible! It might make you a few extra sales.

How to choose a cover photo for your listing

The first picture of your product gallery will be used as a cover image for your listing. It is a very important image and it has to be the best one – the one that gets people curious and excited. Make sure that in the cover picture, the item is visible in full length (leave detail shots for those who are already interested!). You can use a studio shot, but if you have a good lifestyle shot where the item is clearly in the center of attention, you can use that too. 

Pro tip! For the cover picture, use an image that has a human element (hand, leg, body, etc) in it. For example, if you sell t-shirts, it can be a picture of someone wearing it but in the shot, there is just the t-shirt (you can see the head or legs of the person). If it is a cup, it can be someone holding the cup. If it is a canvas print, it can be someone “straightening” the canvas print on the wall or holding it in their hands.

Also, don’t be afraid to experiment. If the first picture you have chosen for the listing, doesn’t really work, change it up! You can also check out what your competition is doing by searching for a keyword that is relevant to your product. That way you can think of picture ideas that will stand out in the search results.

Think about image sizes

Your cover photo can be shown as a full shot, and also cropped for grid purposes. Make sure your images look good in all sizes Etsy might use them in. The best way how to ensure that is to have the product in the middle of the shot. That way if it is cropped from any side, the product will still be in the center, in full sight.


Once you have all your optimization bases covered, you should see an increase in sales and get some results. To keep growing learn more about Etsy SEO, keep educating yourself on Etsy marketing and digital marketing, and slowly but steadily you will get the results you are looking for. Good luck!

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