5 Common Mistakes Etsy Shop Owners Make (And How to Avoid Them)

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Miroslav Novohradsky
Founder of NechEmpire

I'm Miroslav, a passionate graphic designer, Etsy seller and AI enthusiast. At NechEmpire, I'm here to share my knowledge and skills. I want to turn...Read more

You’ve been working so hard on your Etsy shop.

Making things you love and selling them online is your dream come true.

But there are some super serious rules on Etsy that you might be breaking without even realizing it.

If you break the rules, even by accident, Etsy could shut down your whole shop forever! No second chances.

That would be a nightmare, right?

All your hard work is gone in an instant.

The creative business that you’ve built, is destroyed. I don’t want that to happen to you, so listen up!

There’s a team of people at Etsy who are like police officers. Their job is to catch rule-breakers and punish them.

They’re scanning Etsy shops all day long, looking for anything sketchy or illegal.

Even tiny mistakes can get you in huge trouble if they spot them. I’m talking banned for life!

But don’t panic just yet. I’m going to spell out the top 5 deadly sins that get Etsy sellers in trouble.

Once you know what the big no-nos are, you can make sure to avoid them.

#5 Deadly Sin: Catfishing Customers

Have you ever gone on a date with someone who looked way different than their pictures online?

That’s called “catfishing” and it’s a big fat lie. It makes people feel tricked and upset when the real person doesn’t match what they expected.

Well, the same thing can happen with your Etsy products if you’re not careful.

If you use fancy mock-up photos that make your items look better than they really are, that’s considered catfishing your customers.

Etsy is seriously cracking down on sellers who misrepresent their products like that.

For example, let’s say you Photoshop your jewelry to look extra sparkly and colorful in the listing images.

But then when the customer gets it, the real necklace is quite dull and drab. That would be a bummer, right? They’d probably leave you a bad review and a headache for the rule police.

The fix? Use totally realistic, unedited pictures that show exactly what people will receive when they order from you. No fancy lighting tricks or editing allowed! Just straightforward, honest product shots.

#4 Deadly Sin: Buying From Yourself

I know it’s exciting when you get that little “cha-ching!” notification that someone bought something from your shop. It makes you feel like a successful businessperson!

But don’t get too eager and start placing orders under different accounts just to get that buzz.

Buying your own products is considered fake sales activity, and Etsy is not having it.

Their software can actually track IP addresses and see if it’s the same person ordering from themselves over and over.

Even if it’s an honest mix-up, like your grandma trying to support your business by ordering something, it can still look super suspicious to Etsy.

Next thing you know, bam! Your shop is suspended before you can explain it was just an accident.

The wise move is to resist the urge to test out your shop’s checkout process yourself.

I know, I know, it’s really tempting!

But stay strong and wait for a real live customer to be your first sale. It’ll be so much more rewarding that way.

#3 Deadly Sin: Copying Others

Imitation may be a form of flattery in the real world.

But on Etsy, it’s a big no-no that can get your shop in deep trouble. Etsy has zero chills when it comes to sellers stealing designs, product photos, or descriptions from other Etsy shops.

Let’s say you see a really cool enamel pin in someone’s store and think “Hey, I could make something just like that!”

Even if you change the design a little, that’s still considered ripping off the original creator. Which is a cardinal sin in Etsy’s eyes.

Or let’s say you’re fresh out of new product ideas, so you take a screenshot of another seller’s listing and rewrite the description to use for yourself.

No, that’s also considered intellectual property theft! You could land in hot water faster than you can say “But I thought it was okay since I rewrote it!”

The fix is simple: Only sell 100% originally created designs, graphics, text, and products made by your own human brain. Do your research to make sure you’re not accidentally copying something already trademarked or copyrighted too. When in doubt, remake it from scratch with your own creativity!

#2 Deadly Sin: Illegal Items

This is a no-brainer but it’s so, so important, I have to mention it.

There’s absolutely, positively, NO selling anything involving drugs, weapons, or other prohibited and illegal stuff on Etsy.

Like, zero tolerance.

If you so much as try to list something sketchy like that, you’ll get permanently banned from the site faster than you can blink.

The same goes for using copyrighted images that you don’t own, like celebrity photos, brand logos, or cartoon characters.

Even mentioning brand names or adding certain words as tags on your listings could get you in trouble for intellectual property violations. Yikes!

The smart move is to carefully read through Etsy’s gigantic list of prohibited items and copyright policies.

If you’re ever unsure about something you want to list, just email Etsy support and ask first. It’s way better to be safe than very, very sorry!

#1 Biggest Deadly Sin: Copyright & Trademark Infringement

Alright, this is the biggest, worst, most serious sin of them all when it comes to Etsy.

I’m talking about intellectual property theft – copying other people’s creative work and trying to pass it off as your own original product.

This includes everything from jewelry designs to graphic tee shirt ideas to catchphrases or funny sayings printed on mugs or artwork.

If you’re swiping concepts from other brands, designers, artists, or even other Etsy sellers, you’re committing a major crime that Etsy WILL catch you for.

Trust me, you don’t want to go down that road!

The punishment is swift and unforgiving. Etsy will completely shut down your entire shop, with no appeals allowed, and no second chances. You’ll be like an ex-con in the e-commerce world, potentially barred from ever opening another shop.

I don’t care if you saw other sellers doing it or if you tweaked the design a little to make it “your own.” Stealing is stealing, and ignorance is not an excuse.

The only way to stay safe is to sell 100% originally created items made from your own imagination and creativity.

Use online tools to scan your work and make sure it’s not infringing on any existing trademarks or copyrights too.

Phew, that was a lot of deadly sins to cover!

But you know what they say – knowledge is power.

Now that you’re well-informed about Etsy’s rules, you can run your cute little shop without any worries. Just stay on the straight and narrow, be original, and most importantly, have fun while you’re at it!

Let me know if any parts are still a little confusing. I’m happy to explain anything in an even simpler way so you really understand and don’t accidentally break any rules.

The last thing I want is for your beloved business to get snuffed out over a silly mistake!

BONUS FOR YOU: Unleash your potential as a print-on-demand entrepreneur with this free guide – download now!

Special Etsy Bonus (for new shops only): Use this link to Get 40 Free Etsy Listings.


I have made an entire section of helpful and mostly free tools you can use to build a successful online business on Etsy. See the tools here.

Graphic Designs:

Kittl – A fantastic place with highly professional templates, that can be edited and used for print-on-demand. In my opinion, it is a go-to place for any person, who wants to make money with print-on-demand on Etsy. Try Kittl for free.

Another of my favorites is Creative Fabrica. They have millions of cheap graphics that can elevate your t-shirt design.

When I sell my designs on t-shirts or other POD products, I always vectorize them. This makes them scalable without losing the quality. For that process, I use Vectorizer which is powered by the latest AI technology.

Disclosure: Some of the links above may contain affiliate partnerships, meaning, at no additional cost to you, NechEmpire may earn a commission if you click through to make a purchase.

Personal picutre
Miroslav NovohradskyFounder of NechEmpire

I'm Miroslav, a passionate graphic designer, Etsy seller and AI enthusiast. At NechEmpire, I'm here to share my knowledge and skills. I want to turn your design passion into a successful online business.

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