I have been on Etsy for a long time and have sold a lot of work there (it’s over 2600 items now) , but it will be different for everyone. The reasons it works for me are the following:
1) My prices are very low.
2) I list daily, and make paintings daily, in one sitting.
3) The work is small, often on paper, and very easy and inexpensive to ship.
4) I’m very prompt with customer service and ship the same day or the next day.
5) I use a number of social media sites and post there daily to direct people to my etsy page. I post on Twitter, a personal Facebook page, a business Facebook page, Instagram, and Pinterest,....but I am MOST active on FB and Instagram, and I enjoy spending time on both sites, aside from business reasons.
6) I keep a very full store, and also relist 3 pieces daily, so there are always new things for people to see (each of your listings will last for 4 months). New listings also take priority in search, so it is important to relist items every day.
…..and …this last point is perhaps the most important. I always treated online selling of art as an experiment. I made my living from teaching, so I did not need to rely on the money I made at Etsy. So the whole thing was fun, and I never worried about sales…they just came! It still is fun today. My activity selling art online was always completely stress-free. This freed me up to try things.
Models of success on etsy and online sales in general will vary from person to person. It has been so successful for me that I no longer show in galleries at all…it’s too much fuss and too much of a headache. I also enjoy dealing with people online and when I promote on my social media sites I’m also there to socialize and see other people’s art….so it’s not just a hard sell of the work.
You can research a lot of etsy shops. You can see how many sales they have overall. I keep all that information public. I think some people keep it hidden (there is that option) but it’s possible to actually see how many shops do financially. That is an excellent way to see success firsthand and to research other people's methods.
A number of years back, I made a website where I list ALL my available work. It's important that the prices are listed because people really do not wish to be bothered inquiring about prices. The work can be purchased directly from my website harrystooshinoff.com using PayPal. It is important to have your own platform, as well as any site like Etsy, because a company can change their rules at any point, making it unattractive for you to be there. So....you need a place to immediately redirect traffic in that eventuality!