Skip to main content

How to Sell Vintage on Etsy

I am a vintage junkie , author of Melmac Central and run the Living a Vintage Life podcast.

Selling Vintage on Etsy

Using Etsy to sell vintage items at least 20 years old is a great source of extra income. In August 2012 there were 1,182,784 "vintage" items on Etsy. By December, it tripled to 3,007,136 items. Within 7 years, in 2019 that amount has tripled 10,162,857 items. By 2022 post-pandemic the average is 14,817,867 . That is nearly 14 times the amount of items for sale with the vintage tag, just ten years ago. It's booming, and here are some tips to selling so you may get your items found.

Opening your Etsy shop is as simple as choosing a user name and providing limited personal information (plus a credit card on file) to pay your monthly bills. You may wish to choose a name that you can also intermingle with your social networking down the road. For instance, my shop has a matching Facebook, Twitter, Blog , Instagram, and Website. It was hard finding a name that wasn't already taken but I did this early on.

There is no charge for having a storefront unless you choose optional upgrades. Etsy charges only twenty cents per item listed, and this includes TEN free photos, 14 tags and lengthy description of your item. Your listing will stay on Etsy for four months for this price. What a bargain! When your item sells, they charge only a small fee of the total sales price. There are additional fees as listed below, but overall the storefront is very easy to manage and you should start by reading the Do's and Don'ts of Selling on Etsy. You can set up your state tax information in accordance to the laws of your state. Etsy even gives you a "profile" page so you can tell the world a little more about yourself.

For someone trying to start a business, Etsy in my opinion, is still the best place around.

I will give you the top three secrets!

Three keys to selling are:

1. Proper Use of Tags (Etsy gives you 14 of them)

2. Great Photographs (#1 way to sell your product)

3. Promoting and Marketing your Items (to drive exposure to your shop)


Vintage world globe by Swansdowne etsy shop

Vintage world globe by Swansdowne etsy shop

Secret #1 : Use of Tags

What's in a tag? Etsy tags are the way your item will be found. It's hard getting used to this at first, but the key here is to think like a buyer. If you are selling a globe, what kind of tags would be used, or, how would you search when looking for it? Would you search for the type of globe? Would you call it an Earth? What about Science? Astronomy? Planet? Sphere? Round? Topography? Map? Cartography? Sea? Atlantic Ocean? Continents? You really have to think like a buyer when listing and tagging your items.

Secret #2 : Good Photographs

You don't need an expensive camera, most sellers use their smart phones. You do however need to read up on how to use your Macro function. IPhones or smart phones come with great cameras now! They key to selling is taking good, clear photographs.

Make the background not distracting, use natural light and show the item in a visual setting. Many users swear by white backgrounds, but I like to change it up and show the item in natural sunlight.

The easiest tip I can give you here is to make sure the photograph is something you would want shared into cyberspace. Would visitors want to send your photo to Pinterest?

Natural Settings or Items in Use

Natural Settings may showcase the item.

Natural Settings may showcase the item.

Item Photography, Closeups and Macro means a lot.

Item Photography, Closeups and Macro means a lot.

Promotion & Marketing : Sing It Out

Play your best tune when promoting your shop.

Play your best tune when promoting your shop.

Secret #3 : Marketing and Promotions

Etsy is an inexpensive storefront but the promotions are up to you. Refer to the beginning of my article, now fourteen million items, how will yours be found? You must utilize hard work and social promotion.

In my experience, you will have to promote your items harder in the beginning, until you build up a client base, that will help promote them for you with a pyramid impact. Etsy also offers advertising options, but if not used properly may be costly.

In the beginning you must work on promoting your shop, and balancing time to stocking and running it. Unless you are lucky enough to go "viral" there is a lot of hard work coming your way.

Scroll to Continue

How to Promote Your Shop


A photo is worth 30 hashtags,and use them wisely! Instagram is a great visual marketplace to showcase some of your items. Use a business account and make sure to link it to your Facebook and Twitter so it posts updates for you. On your Etsy shop make sure to list your Instagram so users can follow you. I have had a great success with Instagram.


Using Twitter is easy, because you can't go past 140 characters. Basically you are just sending little mini updates out into cyberspace. I have been using it for a long time but you muse use proper hashtags for good engagement.


Having a page for your Etsy account is great and you can share your items there, turn it into a business page for helpful insights and integration with Instagram.


A visual site where you can share your items if you have a business account! You can easily categorize and organize your best and favorite items. For me, Pinterest drives a lot of views to my shop thanks to Etsy's integration of the PIN IT button next to every item. This helps when my customers like my items and share them to their pin boards!


I have not personally used this for my Etsy shop, but a few users report adding their items to their SnapChat.


This platform is growing rapidly and many users create a business account for their Etsy and have gained followers this way.

More on Instagram - Tips

Since I personally feel Instagram helps me the most I wanted to share some Instagram tips.

Many people have different opinions on what you should and should not do but this is what works for me.

  1. Turn your personal into a business account and you will have more features and helpful analytics.
  2. I DO add personal photos into my business page but I make sure the pictures I post are something that may gain me more followers. Cats, dogs , motivational words. In other words, you will not see my “ club party” photos or me “kissing my guy” because that won‘t help me sell my vintage...
  3. I try not to appear too salesy when I list my vintage items for sale I talk about why I loved the item and how it could be used in the home to give ideas to potential buyers.
  4. I make sure to only post high quality photos. I also post photos of vintage things which helps appeal to a vintage audience- sometimes these things are not for sale but just part of my feed.
  5. Engagement is important on instagram. Make sure to read and respond to comments.
  6. I follow good Etsy related accounts on Instagram, this helps see what's trending and also to help with the tags!

Added Etsy Fees

Etsy sales fees (the cost of selling your item including shipping and gift wrap) were once only 3.5 percent sales fee initially, but have steadily increased over the years, the first hike went to 5 percent circa 2018. As of April 11, 2022 the company's CEO John Silverman announced they would be increasing sales to 6.5%. Some Etsy sellers organized an Etsy Strike to protest the rising fees, explaining that in addition to listing fees and sales fees, there are also payment processing fees, advertising fees, offsite ads fees and optional advertising and shop plan upgrades. . There is also another issue.

Etsy also suggests to sellers to offer free shipping of sales $35 or more, making it hard for bulky vintage items to ship clear across the country and sellers to make a heavy profit, which has inevitably crushed some small business owners. If you do not offer free shipping, your shop placement may not be in the same placement per se, as a shop who does. This can hurt your visibility on Etsy. The company did this a few years ago in order to stay aligned with Amazon's free prime shipping business model.

It is a good idea to review Etsy's sales fees here, before deciding whether to open a vintage shop.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2011 Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer

jane silverman on March 24, 2019:

this article is really helpful

WriterJanis2 on December 04, 2013:

I have never tried to sell here, but at least I know how to now.

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on April 22, 2013:

Great tips for selling on Etsy. I have an Etsy shop where I sell mostly vintage items. I love the hunt and can't keep it all unfortunately so share with others here:

anonymous on January 29, 2013:

Hi, Etsy is OK but have you ever seen Retrophoria? List your vintage items and pay a small transaction fee when your item sells.

John Norman Stewart from Cottonwood, CA on December 06, 2012:

Hi: Really enjoyed reading your very informative lens. I have an Etsy store at

My wife has a busier shop at:

SecondSally on November 26, 2012:

Thanks for the info. I've been thinking of switching over from eBay due to the costs involved for longer running listings.

anonymous on October 28, 2012:

Glad I found you! LOTS of great information here!


Callahan's Collectibles - Vintage Collectibles and Antiques


Billie Keeslar from Mississippi on October 02, 2012:

Its my lucky day - I found your site!! I love everything vintage. My shop is

Thankfultw on August 31, 2012:

Thanks for making Esty easy!

susieque2 on August 10, 2012:

Good hints!! thank you!!

anonymous on April 23, 2012:

I love selling vintage items on Etsy. It's a great way to make some extra money, and I love going on my own treasure hunts for vintage stuff.

anonymous on March 05, 2012:

very helpful i am thinking about opening up shop!

dwnovacek on March 04, 2012:

I'd never thought about selling vintage on Etsy. Great information! Angel Blessed!

anonymous on March 01, 2012:

I had no idea you could sell vintage items on etsy! Great lens!

anonymous on September 13, 2011:

Love it.

anonymous on August 19, 2011:

Great information!

BlueStarling on August 08, 2011:

Interesting and informative lens -- I'll be coming back to check out the various links. I don't yet have an Etsy shop, but am looking into opening one for supplies and vintage.

SeanVernall LM on July 09, 2011:

My sister is just going back into the vintage clothing business so I'm going to email her about this lens. great info.

Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer (author) from Hedgesville, WV on May 30, 2011:

@anonymous: Thank you for sharing your shop Barb!

UKGhostwriter on March 26, 2011:

brilliant lens

anonymous on March 25, 2011:

Great article- Knowing what to sell was key. When I first started I went crazy and bought a bunch of stuff that I now think is ridiculous. You have to find a niche. My shop has developed into a Mid-Century Modern Type. I try to focus on the 1950s and 60's. I think narrowing my field has helped my sales.

anonymous on March 25, 2011:

Thanks for referencing my shop, Cindy.

anonymous on March 25, 2011:

One of the best parts of etsy, is the community of sellers who help one another. Great tips for new sellers and some of us who have been a seller for awhile. Thanks Cindy for being a big part of that community.

Find an eclectic vintage mix at

anonymous on March 25, 2011:

Well... this blog is amazing! thank you for the hats off to the vesties team! reporting in here!

has anyone told you you are the best...lately!?

anonymous on March 25, 2011:

Fantastic! Great info!

anonymous on March 25, 2011:

Make sure to list your links, shops, etc like this:

anonymous on March 25, 2011:

These are some wonderful shops and you have some very good ideas. We LOVE Etsy!

Related Articles