Can I sell on Etsy if I don't make Crafts? Great question!
Etsy is a website that markets handmade crafts and other products. It was launched in 2005 and has since grown to be a major player in the e-commerce world. The site welcomes many types of products as long as they are handmade, vintage, or creative in some way.
In this article, we will discuss the basics of selling non-crafts on Etsy. The fact is that you can sell many things on Etsy that you haven’t actually made or crafted yourself. There is a huge market for many items on Etsy that aren’t crafts. Here I’ll give you ideas of things to sell on Etsy that aren’t crafts but are still creative and therefore welcome on the platform.
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First: What You Can and Cannot Sell on Etsy
According to Etsy, here is what you can sell on their platform: “Everything listed for sale on Etsy must be handmade, vintage, or a craft supply.”
What Can Be Sold on Etsy
This seems pretty straightforward, but we can go a bit further and make it super clear.
Handmade items are things that you design and/or create. You must disclose any production partners, and you must use your own photographs for your listings.
Vintage items must be at least 20 years old. In 2022, that means that items made in 2002 are considered vintage!
Craft Supplies are tools, ingredients, or materials whose primary purpose is for the use in creation of an item or special occasion. These supplies can be handmade, commercial, or vintage. This also includes party supplies.
What Can't You Sell on Etsy
There is a pretty specific list of things that are not permitted to be sold on Etsy here. The list includes prohibited items such as alcohol and drugs, human remains, hazardous items, items that promote hate, violence or illegal activity, pornography, or otherwise illegal items.
Etsy also does not allow reselling in the handmade category of Etsy. You may not sell a handmade item that you did not make yourself. (You can however sell handmade items in the vintage or supplies category… sort of a loophole).
The Complete Guide to Selling Non-Crafts on Etsy
Decide what you want to sell on Etsy
Even if you aren't selling crafts, you have so many options when it comes to selling on Etsy. It’s important that you do some market research to see what’s already selling on the platform, and then use your creativity to figure out how to do it better.
Your Business Model on Etsy – Crafting vs Non-Crafting
Crafting: Selling on Etsy as a crafter, establishing your own online store on Etsy or off-Etsy
Non-crafting: Buying products and reselling them on Etsy as vintage or supplies, OR using print on demand to sell semi-crafted items on Etsy.
Crafting is the traditional method of selling items on Etsy, but it's becoming more difficult as competition increases. There are more crafters, and they're all trying to make a living with their handmade products. Smart Etsy sellers can see that there is room for other non hand-crafted items on Etsy too.
Here are 5 broad categories of non-crafts to sell on Etsy:
- Vintage Anything and Everything
It’s 2022, and things from the 1990’s and early 2000's are now considered vintage. Does this make me feel really old? Yes. Is it fine? Also yes. It means that I have the ability to dig through my mother’s basement right now and find vintage items that I can sell on Etsy. I can also hit up thrift stores, garage sales, and estate sales for the same.
I’m currently selling some vintage valentine’s day cards in one of my Etsy shops. I bought the cards for pennies at an estate sale about 10 years ago and forgot I had them. I’ve already made $15 selling two cards. Selling vintage items on Etsy can be so easy, as long as the things you are selling have buyers.
You can dabble in selling vintage knick knacks, vintage paper ephemera sells really well to junk journallers and mixed media artists, or you can get deep into the vintage clothing scene. Pick your poison, selling vintage items is super fun and a bit addicting!
More Ideas of Vintage Things to Sell on Etsy:
Vintage metal lockboxes and recipe card boxes (I just bought one of these and I love it so much!)
Mid Century Modern decor pieces
Old books, papers, records
Toys from the 1980s – what a blast from the past!
- Digital Items
I consider digital items a semi-craft. Generally, if you’ll selling digital downloads you have created them first, but they aren’t exactly crafts. Digital downloads are for sale on Etsy in the following forms:
E-books, workbooks, and journals
Digital and Printable planners and calendars
Files for crafters to use such as .svgs and sublimation files
Patterns for sewing, knitting, or woodworking
Social Media Templates
and so much more.
Don’t know how to make digital printables? I wrote a whole post on that! Take a quick course and you’ll be a pro in no time. This short course on creating Etsy Printables is what got me started.
I make all of my printables on Canva.com. I would be lost without it!
- Sell Craft Supplies
Craft supplies is a HUGE chunk of the sales on Etsy. In fact, most of Etsy’s top sellers are supplies sellers. As a crafter, I often look on Etsy for my supplies before ordering from bigger businesses. I do this for a couple of reasons. 1. I feel like when I buy from an Etsy seller they are looking out for me as a crafter and are going to make sure that I’m buying good supplies. 2. I like the feeling of supporting small businesses since I am one myself.
You can sell any type of craft supplies on Etsy, but I suggest sticking to a theme for your shop.
- Jewelry and Beading Supplies
- Paper and cardstock
- Washi Tape
- Fabric and sewing Supplies
- Cross Stitch supplies (and maybe patterns too)
- Vintage papers or Vintage jewelry supplies (see what I did there, it’s both Vintage AND supplies!)
- Paints or painting supplies
Where to buy craft supplies to sell on Etsy
Here’s where you need to do a little bit of research. The goal whenever you are reselling something is to buy a large amount of something at the absolute lowest price possible, and then sell it in smaller quantities in order to make a profit. Buying supplies as a wholesaler is the way to do this. Creating relationships with the high level manufacturers of whatever it is you want to sell will allow you to profit from this model.
Other options include buying craft supplies overseas from AliExpress or elsewhere. You can even drop ship supplies through Etsy and some wholesalers. This is not something that I’m super knowledgeable about, but I can tell you that there are TONS of Etsy sellers selling AliExpress items. I see them. I don't buy from them, but I see them.
- Sell Food on Etsy
Handmade food or manufactured food can be sold on Etsy, just be sure that you are following your local laws and regulations for such. In the US, not all states and counties allow people to sell food unless they have certain licenses. The Etsy Seller Handbook also provides some good tips and guidelines for getting started with selling food on the platform.
Once you’ve done that due diligence, consider the following:
- Honey and other bee-created products
- Baked Goods such as cookies, cakes, and candies
- Jams and Jellies
- Edible glitters
- Sea Moss (I just learned about this one, it’s so weird but so cool too)
- Elderberry Syrups
- Freeze Dried Candy
- CBD infused gummies (again, check your laws!)
- I’ve seen some THC edibles on Etsy, but I’m almost certain that that’s not quite legal yet! I can appreciate the hustle though.
- Sell Gift Sets on Etsy
Creating gift sets is a creative way to re-sell items. You can sell gift sets as a handmade item, since you've done the work of creating and packaging the set.
You can buy some things and put them together in a creative way to create a whole new thing! I like to call this concept “bundling”.
For example, you might not have much luck selling a bar of Dove soap on Etsy. But, if you put that bar of soap in a pretty box along with a fancy washcloth, some scented bath salts, and a few chocolates, you might be able to sell it as a pampering gift box.
(this is not a great example, I’d probably fail at selling pampering gift boxes, but I hope the concept comes though) **Actually, I checked. There are definitely people selling Dove Soap on Etsy! See, there are so many options!
Here are some examples of Gift Sets on Etsy that are well-done and mostly non-handmade. Sometimes gift boxes include one or two handmade items along with manufactured fillers, and sometimes manufactured items are used and “re-branded” to fit the box theme.
Excellent packaging is a MUST if you plan to sell sets like these.
Healing Crystals and Stones Gift Set
Care Package Gift Box with Succulent
Best Friend Birthday Care Package
Go Sell on Etsy!
You should be filled with ideas of things you can sell on Etsy that aren't crafts after reading all of this. What do you think? Are you ready to start making that extra money on Etsy with these ideas?
Remember, you don't have to be a crafter to sell on Etsy. You can sell vintage items, supplies, and semi-handmade items there too.
MORE CRAFTY TUTORIALS AND INSPIRATION
- How to Make Glitter Resin Keychains
- The Best Macrame Kits for Beginners
- Make Embroidered Notebooks – it's easy!