Does Etsy Paid Advertising Work? Is it Worth it?


Let’s talk about advertising.

We’ve always been a proponent of advertising to build your brand and to get more traffic to your shop. (these are two different reasons, btw)

So when the search ads on Etsy came out last fall, we were pretty excited about it. We were also pretty stoked that Etsy was willing to talk to Kim and I on the phone about it at length.

You can listen to the recording of that call here:

Etsy Search Ads Questions Answered Podcast

Our Excitement Faded Quickly

We jumped right in, purchasing ads for a couple of Kim’s shops right from the get-go.

However, the ads didn’t really seem to be working for us and we couldn’t really put our finger on how we could improve the results.

So we bailed out almost as fast as we jumped in. I’ve mentioned before, that in this online world it’s good to be quick on your feet.

We wrote a post about one of the things we didn’t like, which was that you didn’t get brand building for your ad money. With other types of advertising like blog ads or Google Ads, you get some brand building even when there is no click.

A repeated exposure to your name, colors, and logo is valuable. That’s why huge companies pay for impressions, not clicks.

Were We Wrong?

We want to know your results.

  • Have the Etsy search ads worked for you?
  • Can you share any numbers regarding your investment and your return on that?
  • Is there a strategy we should know about?
  • What else have you tried that works?

We love Etsy and we want to see the company be wildly successful. But we want to see Etsy sellers be wildly successful too!

So if Etsy search ads work, let’s hear it! If not, how could they be better?

We’re looking forward to the discussion in the comments below.


  1. says

    I am still fairly new to Etsy (have only been a seller for a little over a month), so am still learning the ropes. After a few weeks had passed with no sales, I purchased the $5 search ad on Etsy and it didn’t do much for me – only increased traffic slightly, and no sales came of it. I’m very curious as to what has worked for people. Thanks for this post!


  2. says

    I also tried ads when they first came out. I have a small niche in the “wedding” part of Etsy and found that the ads were too generic for me. The words I bought (my tag words) really didn’t increase the traffic and there were no sales from the ads. I have found that renewing is still my best strategy for visibility.

    • Tim Layton says

      Thanks for your input! Your comment brings up a question for me. Does renewing still help? It used to be huge and we did that religiously. But we cut way back when they changed the listing order from date-based to relevancy.

      Does renewing still help? I’d love to hear more about this.



      • says

        I would chime in and say that since Etsy changed their search, renewing doesn’t have the impact it used to which is a bummer. I have now found to drive in new traffic, I need to add something new each day.

  3. says

    I tried Search Ads for about 3 weeks and had two sales during that time frame. My sales were not from the items I was advertising, but were possibly generated from the increased traffic to my shop.

    I REALLY miss – and I mean MISS the Etsy Showcase ads! I used them regularly and as part of my planned advertising and always got good results and loads of traffic! I just can’t understand why they did away with them. I realize they still sell showcase ads, but you would have to be a miner to be able to dig deep enough to find them or anything about them!

    • Tim Layton says

      Thanks for putting a smile on my face with the “miner” comment! That’s funny. True, but funny too. Thanks for your feedback!

  4. says

    Esty paid ads did not work for me. It did not increase my views. I wish I haven’t spent the money that could have otherwise gone into materials for my products. Also I find that the top 4 sponsored ads in searches are half the time irrelevant. They are almost as irrelevant as the side bar Google ads that come up in Google searches. I hope this is helpful feedback, as I love Etsy, and appreciate Etsy’s efforts to constantly improve. I really do love you guys :)

    • Tim Layton says

      Cojo, I appreciate your comments. It sounds like you’re kind of saying the same thing we are when you get to the end of your comment “I love Etsy, and appreciate Etsy’s efforts to constantly improve”…

      We do too!

  5. says

    Hi, and thanks for this post.

    The search ads on Etsy did not work for me. I’ve also tried paid advertising on a few blogs, including Etsy Stalker. I had high hopes for that one, but it was a bust.

    The one paid blog ad that worked for me was on a blog with a pretty high readership, lots of interaction between the readership and the writer (as in dozens of comments on every post), and the same target audience as mine. I only found that this blog worked by trial and error. And I don’t know for sure that I got sales, but I did get a lot of traffic from it.

    It was kind of pricey and because I didn’t see an clear relationship between the ads and sales, I didn’t continue it that long. But I would do it again.

    Lessons for me were:

    1. You get what you pay for; cheap or free advertising never helped me
    2. Finding the right target audience is huge.
    3. It’s very important to have a bright, eye-catching and enticing ad graphic.

    • says

      Blog advertising is a great way to promote your shop and I’m not just saying that because we have ads. :) You do need to research a bit to find out the blogs that your target market would read and make sure your ads are just the kind of ad they would click on. After selling for awhile, you know who your buyers are.

      It takes a ton of traffic to get a small number of clicks, but you’ll make them count if they see what they’re looking for when they click. You shop needs to rock! Great photos and great selection are a big part of that.

      One thing to keep in mind when you are looking at the number of clicks you get from an ad is the number of impressions your ad gets. Each time a page is refreshed on a blog they get to see your ad again and again. If you use the same type {or exactly the same} of ad on all the blogs you have ads on they will eventually click. They’ll start to wonder why they see you everywhere! :) Blogs with great traffic will give you tons of impressions. :)

      Great comments here!!!!!! Etsypreneurs are awesome!


  6. Laura Smith says

    I did some Facebook advertising around the holidays. They make it pretty easy to figure out but you need to know who your target market is. I gained lots of new fans but not lots of sales. Building the bridge between fans and sales is the hard part and I’m still trying to figure it out. On-Etsy advertising never made sense to me. You’re still a needle in a haystack as far as I’m concerned. I have to build an advertising budget and when I do I’ll pay for ads on blogs way before I’d pay for ads on Etsy. I also have a new Facebook campaign ready to go when I’m ready to spend money there again. In the meantime I tweet, I FB, I pinterest but do it sparingly, I’m trying to build my network on Etsy, and lastly my blog is going live ASAP.

  7. says

    The ads didn’t work for me at all. I tried them for a good 6 weeks and it brought me nothing. However, having a facebook and twitter link on my Etsy shop has been fantastic for me. My facebook page is my number one referrer to my Etsy shop. My sales aren’t as good as my current following. So, I have to figure out why.

    • Tim Layton says

      I agree that building those social connections is a really important long-term goal. Once you’ve done that, you’ve got more options for driving traffic and sales in your shop.

      Kim has been having good success making the most of her social outlets using the Shop Marketing Helper app. It’s $7.99 a month but her sales are clearly higher when she uses the app to schedule out a marketing plan.

      She wrote a review of that here:

  8. says

    So far, the sales that have come in from the search ads are paying for my ads, so they have worked for me. If that doesn’t continue though, I will probably drop them, because this year(4th), my sales seem to be more steady, regardless of the ads. I think I’m spending less money with these search ads, than renewing my listings before. It works in that sense of keeping to a budget.

    • Tim Layton says

      Good to hear the search ads are working for you. We’ve heard from a number of people at various times who said the same thing. Maybe it depends on what category you’re in and the related difference in cost and competition?

      I totally agree that as you build your networks in various other channels that you can usually expect to get traffic from that with or without advertising.

      Kim’s been having good results using the shop marketing helper app for making the most of social outlets. She wrote a review about that app here:

    • Tim Layton says

      Hi Courtney-

      It’s great to hear from someone having success with the search ads. I’m sure lots of people are doing well with it.

      It’s also very encouraging to hear you say that the further into your business you get (now in your 4th year) that the traffic becomes more steady even without advertising.

      I think that’s true for anything online because of the long term impact of years worth of efforts.

      Thanks for the feedback!


  9. says

    I do search ads and am more of a long term user. I budget $10 a week and narrow my keywords down to just a few that are very specific to the item. I did try $20 one week but didn’t see an improvement. Here are my numbers since search ads began. I’ve been using them since they started:

    Cost $193.27 US – Impressions 201,611 – Views 1,527 – Favorites 109 – Orders 11 – Revenue $382.90 US

    Yes I’ve made more than I’ve spent BUT it is less than a 50% return…so I’m not sure if it is working for me or not!
    I’m fortunate to have good sales and I renew quite a bit and Tweet. So for now I will continue with Etsy search ads. I still have coupons for FB and Google adwords I haven’t jumped on yet.

    • Tim Layton says

      Hi Suzanne –

      Thanks for sharing the numbers! That’s so helpful for everyone. The cost is really pretty affordable. $10.00 a week isn’t bad and if you can even “break even” it can be worth it to build your client base.

      You remind me of Google Ads. That’s another topic I should cover in an upcoming post.

      Thanks for your feedback.


  10. says

    I do the Etsy search ads at the $5.00 a week slot. I have seen some sales and increased traffic. I am looking at this as just a piece of the whole advertising pie. I advertise on a blog which I get a lot of traffic from and on Mogal Mom listing along with Mom Made That Listing. As Tim has pointed out well, in this environment, you cannot rest on your laurels, but have to be on the look out for what is going to work this time. I also do blogger reviews and giveaways.
    Does that answer the question? I don’t know but at least it is some food for thought….

  11. says

    With great expectation I tried the search ads on Etsy and they did not increase traffic or sales to my shop. I was hoping that it would but it did not. However, the search change to relevancy has helped me sell more and keep more of my profit as I relist only when an item expires. I know that many may disagree but the change in the search engine has produced a much better experience for me as a shop owner and especially as a buyer. Before the change to relevancy, if I was searching for something, I would go high up in the search pages or to the very end to get a true variety of items instead of the same stuff looping over and over.

    I use twitter, facebook, pinterest, youtube and blogs to socialize and advertise. It is my experience that blogs and youtube improves my ranking on Google and other search engines as most of my traffic comes from the internet.


  12. says

    After sitting with my accountant for taxes, I found out I spent too much on advertising last year. I experimented with different blogs and magazines. Funny thing, the reputation and status of the blog or magazine isn’t always relevant to the traffic. Sometimes the little mom blog is way up there on the stats. A big, expensive mag brought me absolutely nothing.

    At least now I can look at my traffic stats, and see how my advertising is performing to know where to spend money. I actually generate the most traffic for myself through my e-mail/convo signature in my communications, FB, website and blog. Since using the shop marketing helper, I see that Stumbleupon is moving up. Pinterest is also moving, but I have no ability to function on Pinterest(unknown technicalities). Pinterest has to be others pinning my items(photos!).

    Bottom line, my own marketing and social media out perform all other advertising. This year, I’m going to try Google Adwords though. I’d love to hear from you two on that one!

    • Tim Layton says

      Glad to hear that Shop Marketing Helper is good for you. I talk to the app developer, Clay, all the time and I know he’s got his heart set on building a truly valuable application for Etsy sellers.

      I linked to it above, but I might as well give the link again since we’re talking about it. Kim did a review on her early experience with that app here:

      I will do something soon on AdWords. I think I might even be able to scrounge up some coupons. Look for a post on that soon. There really can be tons of traffic there and the “pay per click” model is good for Etsy shops because you don’t pay unless someone is interested enough in your headline to actually click through to your shop.

  13. says

    My “Etsy Buddy” (a fellow artist and Etsy seller) and I tried it out for 1 month ($10 per week for 4 weeks) and had no luck. We did find that amending our tags and titles made a marked improvement in sales and visibility – so we dropped the search ads and have spent more time trying to make our listings “relevant”. Renewing still helps in some cases but not like it used to – relevancy is the key, in my opinion.

    • Tim Layton says

      Cool. So I assume by “improving your tags and titles” you’re talking about standard SEO stuff like using the keywords that people would search for and adding more relevant tags. If there’s any tips on how you do that, I’d love to hear it!

      Thanks for the feedback.


  14. says

    I think with any advertising you have to try it for yourself.

    I’ve been using the search ads since Etsy introduced them and I’m very pleased with the results. I make about triple in sales compared to what I spend. I only use nouns as my search words, example: drink coasters, trivet, etc. I only use about 25 items from my shop to advertise, not the entire shop. I feature items that are new and seasonal.

    Advertising is so tricky and you just have to play around with what works for you.

    Ellie Jacobson, the head chick
    My Little Chickadee Creations

  15. says

    Search ads and showcases have not worked for me at all. Views increased just slightly. I tried the search ads for over 2 months and the results were discouraging. Creating relevant tags is difficult – maybe Etsy could at least increase the number of characters per tag. Ideally, if the tag process were automated somehow that when a new item is posted, there would be a protocol that would automatically bring up suggested tag words and have the seller select which ones are deemed appropriate. Although I have revamped some of my tag words that appear to be more relevant, renewing and/or posting new items frequently appears to be a better draw for me.

  16. says

    I tried it once and it did pretty much nothing for me. I got a couple extra views, but no sales. I think I might give it another shot though and really narrow down the keywords I’m advertising for.

  17. says

    I too tried Etsy adds for about two months and spent about $40 doing it and it just wasn’t helping my sales at all. I think I tried it because my shop was brand new in October/November and I was trying to find ways to simply get my shop noticed.

    Although the cost is not much as far as advertising goes, it really didn’t pay off for me since many of my items are not priced high at all, most of my items are from $2 to $6. Had it resulted in traffic and sales it may have been worth it, but I didn’t find that to be the case. And, once I learned about things like Handmadeology and Everything Etsy I learned better ways to “get noticed” that were free in many cases.

    Although it isn’t free, I am now trying the new Etsy Shop Marketing Helper Tim and Kim shared with us, and it has DEFINATELY increased traffic to my shop, but so far I don’t think it has led to any additional sales. At the end of the month I will be able to tell for sure, but I was hoping to get at least 5 or more additional sales with it’s use. I’m hoping it is more successful than Etsy adds, I guess time will tell.

    Thank you for the great info Tim and Kim!

  18. Tim Layton says

    I’ve got to do a meeting and a short little road trip between Tampa and Punta Gorda here in a few minutes, so I’ll be out of the conversation for a few hours.

    But what I’m wondering right now is if the Etsy search ads work better for those with a larger budget. That’s not uncommon for CPM ads (pay per impression).

    Thanks to everyone for your participation in this. I’m getting good ideas for what kind of research I can do to put together future content that might be helpful

    I’ll check back in later!


  19. says

    I found the search ads to be a total waste of time. I tried for about two months, each time I narrowed down to more specific keywords hoping that it would help. I didn’t even get many views from them, and no sales.

    I do find that renewing even with the relevancy switch helps a ton, and when I am constantly renewing, I am also selling more, and then renewing more (the items that sold), and it’s bringing more traffic resulting in more sales. When I get a lull in sales for a few days, and I renew several pieces again, the sales start up again. I’m also in an overly saturated market though, in jewelry. And since most people on etsy are now pretty relevent with their SEO I think we have to renew constantly or add new items to remain at the front of the list.

    I still find most of my sales come from outside search engines, ie: google and bing, yahoo search, etc…and also from my own marketing on my FB page. So backlinks, google page rank, and social media, at least for me, have been very important!

  20. says

    I am really glad to see all the comments. I’m a new Etsy seller and still trying to find the best way to get the word out. It’s nice to read all the feedback. Thanks!

    Blessings, Grace

  21. says

    Thanks Tim & Kim all the info you provide! I’ve learned so much from you guys! Etsy Search Ads – I did the $5.00/week ad for about 3 or 4 months. It was kind of a wash for me…I got a few sales directly from the ads which ended up paying for the ads. I might try it again in the Fall towards Christmas time. I tried a few different ways to advertise last Christmas and the most expensive one was the biggest let down. I tried an ad in a somewhat high end Children’s online magazine. I think the ad was $150 and I didn’t end up getting many clicks /sales from it. I had high hopes for that since that magazine was in my target market. Just this last month I started my first sidebar ad on a blog and I’ve gotten way more traffic from this ad in a few weeks than the mag. ad. I don’t think I’ll be advertising in a online magazine again because there isn’t any SEO that comes from it. There is too many steps/clicks to jump in order for someone to click on my ad buried in a magazine….go to the magazine’s blog, find the mag, open the mag, get lost in the long mag reading it, then maybe clicking on my ad. If the mag reader remembers my ad in the mag (after closing the online mag) and wants to go back to it there is too many steps to find my ad and they are likely to give up. I like doing giveaways on other blogs and if you can get featured on a blog in your demographic and have a write up written solely on you that’s even better. I still get clicks from old giveaways or features on blogs. That’s been some of my experience with my online marketing.

  22. says

    Disappointing results for about two months of advertising with Etsy search Ads. No sales, since they started them. I keep trying everthing, and not about to give up, so maybe it will be the shop marketing helper. Trying to learn SEO and backlinks like everyone else, so I plod on. Have even made the mistake of making what I thought people want instead of what I want to make. That doesn’t work at all. We will see.

  23. says

    I have had Etsy ads running for the past couple weeks, I had a couple sales but no major surge. I am disappointed that we as shop owners can’t pick the targeted keywords, because I find that many of the ones that Etsy suggests are too general or irrelevant. I’m going to try FB and google ads instead. Thanks for all the info in this post, very helpful.

  24. says

    I actually have been wildly impressed with Etsy search ads. My all time data shows that I average $9 in revenue for every $1 spent. I believe etsy ad (and general etsy search result) success stems primarily from catchy photos/ images and tag/ title/ description research. I researched these up the WAZOO! My business as it is now (used to be jewelry… ditched that!) has been going for 11 months. I’ve spent HOURS researching tags, titles, and descriptions (oh, and working on photos!). And it’s realllly paid off.

    For info on these topics, definitely scour Etsy’s Seller Handbook. And good luck, y’all!

    PS. I also am of the persuasion that NICHE markets are best. If you’re doing something that a bazillion other people are doing, you will most likely drown. That’s why I ditched jewelry. Everyone and their mother is making jewelry, and my skills just weren’t good enough to stand out in the crowd! So I found something I l have always been passionate about, created a few rough listings, and my business took off within 3 days. It’s been crazy ever since!

  25. says

    The ads are working for me, but most of my sales still come from search. I’ve made around $1400 on Etsy in the last 30 days, of which $264 came from ads. My cost for the ads was around $12. So, I’m keeping it! I think my key is only advertising my 3 best items and using only 2 highly targeted keywords.

  26. says

    I always love to read posts like this because I learn so much valuable information. I tried the keyword again (the first time I chose too many target words and they were too broad anyway) and only chose a few targeted words. We’ll see what happens this time. I think that so true about going after a niche market too…but sometimes it’s hard to think that way when you’re creating something you really love.

    Carol Joy