Monday , 30 November 2020
Etsy Promoted Listings: How I Turned $600 into $3000

Etsy Promoted Listings: How I Turned $600 into $3000

jew guide

Guest Post from Mike @

Etsy Promoted Listings is a topic that fuels a lot of conversations in the Etsy forums, or pretty much anywhere people discuss Etsy. Experiences with Promoted Listings vary widely, as do overall opinions of this important tool.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand Promoted Listings, and I’ve had pretty good success, so far. Here’s actual data from my Promoted Listings between mid-September 2014 and December 2014.

etsy success tips

During this time, I spent just over $600 on Promoted Listings. I earned more than $3,000 in revenue as a direct result of the $600 investment!

In this article, I’ll show you how to get started with Etsy Promoted Listings, and I’ll share what’s working for me.

How do Promoted Listings Work?

When shoppers search for items on Etsy, the results of the search include both normal (non-paid) listings and Promoted Listings. In the example below, I searched for the phrase “burlap print”. Two listings from my shop, Busy Bee Burlap, appeared on the first page of the results.

etsy success tips

The first result is a Promoted Listings. You can tell because the word “Ad” appears in the top left corner. The second listing appears in the third row as a normal listing.

Etsy Promoted Listings work on a Cost per Click (CPC) model. This means you pay based on how many times people click on your ads (Promoted Listing) in Etsy’s search results, not how many times your ads appear in the search results (known as ad impressions). So, regardless of how many times your listings appear as Promoted Listings, you’ll only pay when someone clicks on the ad.

You buy an ad by entering a “bid” amount for each listing you want to promote. This is the amount you’re willing to pay when someone clicks on your ad. You can let Etsy handle your bid amounts automatically (default setting), or you can manage your bids manually.

As a general rule of thumb, as more Promoted Listings qualify for a specific Etsy search, the price per click will increase. This is the nature of an auction system.

5 Easy Steps to Start

  1. Set a daily budget. The minimum is $1 a day. As people click on your ads, your daily budget decreases by the cost of the ad (more on this later). Once you spend your daily budget, Promoted Listings will stop until the next day. Your listings will continue to appear in Etsy search results – just not as ads.
  2. Set a maximum cost per click (optional).  You can decide how much you’re willing to pay Etsy for a click on your Promoted Listings, or let Etsy decide the best bid amount (default setting).
  3. Choose the listings to promote. You can promote a single listing from your shop, all listings in your shop, or anywhere in between. You’re in control!
  4. Place a bid - you can use Etsy’s automated bid feature, or you can set a custom bid amount for any or all Promoted Listings.
  5. Start Promoting - once you’re ready, turn ‘em on! Your ads will start appearing in Etsy search results.

But, Before You Start…

To get the most out of Promoted Listings, you need to get your shop’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and your listing photos in shape before you start. Otherwise, you’re almost guaranteed to lose money on Promoted Listings.

SEO determines which listings appear in Etsy search results. It’s essential that listing titles, descriptions, and tags accurately reflect the item. Use words or phrases that people will likely search on to find your listing. Think like a customer.

Tip: Look at the “Traffic Sources on Etsy” under your Etsy Stats. If “Search” isn’t showing up in the top 3 results, revisit your listing titles, descriptions, and tags to make sure you’re using the best possible words and phrases.

how to sell on etsy

Awesome photos are important because you’re competing with every listing that appears around your listing in the search results. Your photos need to entice people to click on your listing to take a closer look. If your photos are dull, unclear, or so busy that it’s difficult to tell what you’re selling, potential buyers will click elsewhere.

Now, let’s look at how to get started with Promoted Listings.

1.   Set a Daily Budget

The “Daily Budget” is the max you will spend each day on Promoted Listings. Once you reach your daily budget, your Promoted Listings will stop running until the next day.

To adjust your daily budget, click on the green “Adjust Budget” button. Thanks, Captain Obvious.

sell on etsy

You may not always spend your daily budget, but you should plan to reach that amount each day. I started around $7 a day and as sales increased through the busy shopping season in November and early December, I increased my budget to $10 a day. I adjusted my daily budget back to $7.50 in January, and I’ll continue to watch and adjust the budget to find the right balance.

2.   Set a Maximum Cost per Click (Optional)

To optionally set a maximum cost per click that will apply to all of your Promoted Listings, (1) click on the little gear-looking wheel next to the “Adjust Budget” button, then (2) click the “Advanced Settings” link. You’ll see the pop-up box below.

selling on etsy

Automatically Promote New Listings - this one is self-explanatory. Etsy enables this feature (checked) by default.

Maximum Cost Per Click - this feature needs more explanation. It only applies to listings in the automatic bid mode (covered later). If used, this is the most you’ll pay for an ad click. You might pay less, but you won’t pay more.

It sure seems simple enough…what’s so confusing about it?

Say you have 50 listings in your shop, and the prices range from $10 to $50. The automated bid amount recommended by Etsy may span a wide range for your listings. For example, the auto-bid amount could be $0.03 for some items, $0.26 for other items, and $0.33 and $0.42 for still other items.

Now, suppose you say, “The max I’m ever going to pay is $0.20 per click.” You check the “Add max CPC” box, enter “.20″, and click the “Save” button.

You’re all set now, right? Well, maybe. Then again, maybe not.

That $0.20 max CPC will work just fine for Promoted Listings with an automated bid amount that’s already less than $0.20 because you may pay less than that amount, but you’ll never pay more.

But what about ads where the automated bid amount exceeds your max CPC?

These Promoted Listings are now a “Low Bid.” These ads may not appear as often, or as high in the search results. Why? Because you’ll be “outbid” by other sellers that didn’t set a max CPC. This is why Etsy doesn’t recommend setting a max CPC – it can hurt your performance.

Some people (including me in a few cases) use “Low Bid” as part of their strategy. So it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just something you need to understand.

So, what should you do?

It depends largely on your budget and your strategy.

If you have a max daily budget of $1.00, then a max CPC of $0.02 to 0.03 might make sense. You’ll still get ad impressions, though the “Low Bid” ads may not show-up as high in the search results. However, you also won’t spend your daily budget as quick.

Here’s an example.

  • $1/day budget with an auto-bid amount of $0.05 means your Promoted Listings will stop for the day once 20 people click on your ads (assuming the auto-bid amount doesn’t fluctuate).
  • $1/day budget with an auto-bid amount of $0.05 but a max CPC of $0.02 means your Promoted Listings will stop for the day once 50 people click on your ads, assuming you pay the max CPC each time.

So, it seems like setting a max CPC of $0.02 is a great solution if you have a $1/day budget, right? After all, you’ll get more clicks before your money runs out for the day.

Yes, you could get more than twice the number of clicks with a max CPC of $0.02, which increases your chances of selling that item. However, the lower CPC also means your ads won’t appear as high in the results, so you may not get as many clicks. Still, this strategy may work well if you have a small budget. I’ve seen several people say this works well for them.

Another option is enter a custom bid at the individual listing level instead of setting a max CPC. This option gives you more flexibility, but it’s time-consuming if you have a lot of listings to change.

Before you set a max CPC, I recommend that you first watch your impressions, clicks, and conversions for a while to see how your ads perform with the automated bid amount.

While I do use custom bid amounts at the individual listing setting, I do not use the max CPC setting. However, I can understand why many sellers do. 

3.   Choose the Listings to Promote

You can easily select the listings you want to promote or stop promoting. Two methods to start or stop listings are below.

selling on etsy

1. Select Multiple Listings to “Promote” or “Don’t Promote”

To change the status on multiple listings, check the box to the left of the listing you want to change, then click the “Promote” or “Don’t Promote” button (see image below), depending on the change you want to make.

selling on etsy

 2. Quickly Change the Status on Single Listings

The little green bullhorn symbol next to a listing means the listing is promoting. You can quickly switch back and forth between ”Promote” and “Don’t Promote” by clicking on the little bullhorn.

selling on etsy

To decide which listings to promote initially, I downloaded my Etsy sales history and found my top 25 listings in terms of total sales. Those are the listings I decided to promote. I chose this strategy over promoting all listings because I wanted to get my most popular listings in the search results as often as possible. I also figured that if someone clicked on my Promoted Listing and visited my shop, they’d see my other listings.

I then watched to see which Promoted Listings performed the best. Those that were costing me money but not bringing in sales – I either stopped promoting or I entered a “Low Bid” to reduce my cost while still promoting.

4.   Step Right Up…Place Your Bids!

Like any auction, a bid is the amount you are willing to pay for the item. In this case, the item up for auction is the ad space in Etsy’s search results. Your bid is the most you will pay Etsy when someone clicks on your Promoted Listing.

There are two types of bids – automated and custom.

Automated Bids - Etsy decides the best bid price for the Promoted Listing. This amount varies by listing.

For example, the automatic bid amount for some of my Promoted Listings are only $0.07 while others are $0.38.

So, if you have a small budget, pay close attention to the automated bid amounts just a few clicks could spend your daily budget!

Here’s an example of an automated bid.

selling on etsy

Custom Bids - You don’t have to use Etsy’s Automated Bid tool. You can set your own bid amount for any or all Promoted Listings.

If you set it higher than the automated bid amount, your Promoted Listing may show more often and higher in the search results, but you’ll pay more for each click.

You can also set an amount lower than the automated bid amount (a “Low Bid”). I covered the “Low Bid” concept earlier in this article.

Here’s an example of a custom bid. In this case, I’m setting the bid amount slightly higher than the automated bid amount.

selling on etsy

Sometimes, I’ll bid lower than the automated amount (“Low Bid”) because I’ll still get impressions with the listings, but they won’t appear as high in the results. I do this for listings that have a high automated click amount (say, $0.30 and higher), but aren’t converting well.

Promoted Listings Revenue

The “Overview” section shows the overall performance of your campaign. The image below shows my results from the month of December 2014.

selling on etsy

  1. The “View All Promoted Listings Revenue” link will take you to a page that shows the details of your revenue. You’ll see exactly which Promoted Listings led to a sale, and which item the customer ultimately bought.
  2. The “Revenue” tab shows the amount you earned as a direct result of someone clicking on your ad. The bars show the revenue by day, or if you have the timeline set to “Today” or “Yesterday”, it will show when you earned the revenue during the day.

Etsy calculates Promoted Listings in two ways.

selling on etsy

So, as long as a customer buys the Promoted Listing item within 30 days, or they buy any item in your shop within 24 hours after clicking on your ad, the revenue counts toward that Promoted Listing.

5.   Get Started

When you’re ready to start promoting, click on the settings cog (wheel-looking doohickey next to the “Adjust Budget” button), and then click “Turn on Promoted Listings”.

Keep in Mind…

Turning on Promoted Listings is just the starting point. You need to experiment to see which strategies and settings work best for your shop.

Don’t forget to take great photos and to use listing titles, descriptions and tags that people are likely to search on when looking for your items. Think like a potential buyer when you create your tags and listing titles.

If you have more tips or strategies, please share them in the comments. We’re all looking for ways to get the absolute most out of our Promoted Listings campaign. I’d love to hear what works for you!

Author Bio

Mike Adams is an IT and business professional by day, and a handmade business owner and blogger by night. He and his wife run Busy Bee Burlap on Etsy, and he blogs at

jew guide 

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  1. This is the first article I’ve read that explains Promoted Listing clearly and is easy to understand.
    When Promoted Listings were first offered I found it difficult to manuever around and couldn’t
    quite get it. With Etsy adding a promote or not promote button to each listing and articles like this
    it manageable now. Thank you for expertise.

  2. Thank you so much for this article! I was debating whether to try the ads but I didn’t really understand how to use it. This article explained everything and I’m now going to try the ads for a month and see if my sales improve. Thank you so much again!

  3. Thank you this has been invaluable! I have started with a low budget and already see an improvement in visits. Let’s see how it converts to sales!
    Many thanks, Celia Elizabeth –

  4. Great article. I just compared my shop stats to yours, and while 361 clicks converted in 18 sales on your September stats, mine so far this month shows 350 clicks which converted on just 3 sales!
    So, pretty much I am earning the same I am spending… Don’t know if this is such a good idea for me!

  5. Thanks so much Mike for this great article. We just started using the promoted listings, theres a lot to know! I’ve also found that product pictures are key, we’ve been trying to get the best shots possible and it has made a world of difference in sales.

  6. Thanks for the clear information. I sell digital invitations and some of my items have small audiences and little competition and I was concerned if I used promoted listings that I would waste my money on those items. Thanks for clarifying how I can choose which listings to promote. I am going to do a little more research and try out promoting for those items that have so much competition.

  7. Thank you, Mike

    I do understand more than before.

    However, if one’s promoted items are not showing up in any keyword search, from where are the impressions coming.

    Do our promoted listings gain a place on the page, even though they don’t get the prized AD SPOT?

    Thank you for your response. ~ Gracie

    • Hi Gracie – thanks for the comment. I’m sorry, but I’m not sure I understand your question. If your promoted listings are not showing up in any keyword searches, then you need to spend some time revisiting your listing descriptions, descriptions, and tags. This is how Etsy determines which listings to show in the search results. Since Promoted Listings is largely driven by this information, it’s critical to a successful campaign.

      As for if promoted listings show on pages even if they aren’t in an ad spot, it would only be shown as a promoted listing if it is in an ad spot (i.e. has the word “Ad” in the top-left corner). Your non-promoted listings and promoted listings can still show in a non-ad spot in the search results, as well. For example, if you reach your daily budget before the end of the day, your promoted listings can still show-up in search results, they just won’t appear as an ad.

      If I completely missed the point, feel free to contact me through my website and I’ll be happy to try again. :-)

  8. I’m a bit confused about “Promoted Listings” if a sale results from a PL does that mean that a percentage of the sale goes to ETSY?

    • Hi Beverly – great question! You pay Etsy for Promoted Listings whenever someone clicks on your ad – whether they buy the item, or not. However, when you make a sale as a result of someone clicking on your ad, there’s no additional percentage over the normal Etsy seller fees. You’ll pay for the click, and then you’ll pay the normal fee you pay anytime you sell an item on Etsy.

      I hope this helps.


  9. Very helpful! Thank you!

  10. Great information. Thank you:)

    Welcome to our etsy shop

  11. Thank you so much for your sharing. My item is cost only $4-$6. Should i use the promoted listings or not?

    I am afraid it will not be worth to do so since the item is quite cheap.

    • It will probably depend on the CPC rate suggested by Etsy, but it’s probably worth a try if the CPC rate suggested by Etsy isn’t too high for your listings. If you are able to spend $1-2 a day and it leads to even 1 additional sale a day, then it’s worth the investment (unless you can get a better return by investing that money in some other marketing channel).

      The great thing about Promoted Listings – you can easily adjust the budget or turn them off if it doesn’t work. You could try it for 1-2 weeks, set a low daily budget, and see what happens.

      Good luck! If you give it a try, I’d love to hear how it works out for you.


  12. GREAT, GREAT article! Thanks for lending your expertise on the Etsy world. :) Do you happen to know if there is a way to view what search terms were used for Impressions?

    Thanks again!

  13. Thanks for this, very helpful as i’m about to start investigating promoted listings on my store! :-)

  14. Thank you so much for the article! I’ve been reading about the promoted listings for several days and it is the most comprehensive and useful article I have ever found! I am new on Etsy and have just launched the shop with digital products ( I’ve been tracking the competitors for a while and found that those who do promoted listings are much more successfull than those who don’t (but this, of course, might be not the only one reason).

    But before I do the promoted listings to, I want to figure out, if I pay for those clicks, which come from the same person during one day. For example, a person clicks through the promoted listings in a search result, but doesn’t buy anything, then a couple of hours later this particular person does the search again and clicks through the very same promoted item. Do I pay twice in this case?

    • Great question! According to Etsy (posted in a Q&A section on Etsy’s website) “Abusive practices, such as clicking on another seller’s ads in order to run them out of money, are a serious concern and once that we’ve spend a lot of time thinking about. We have multiple lines of defense capable of detecting and preventing these abusive behaviors. While I can’t go into detail here, rest assured that we are continuously monitoring for bad behavior.”

      So, while Etsy doesn’t specify how they prevent someone from clicking on your ads just to burn through your budget, they claim it is being monitored.

  15. A great article, it made me finally understand the automatic and custom bid system!
    Thanks a lot!
    I just started with promoted listing and can’t see the results I have been expecting, so hopefully in the future.

    x Julie – (get 20% off every item with the code MPDESIGN20)

  16. Great article!
    I was trying to understand how these promoted listings are working for a while!
    Mike explained so understandable!
    Thank you!
    Let’s try now!

  17. Hi! Thanks for this comprehensive article. I found it really useful.

    I have a question though: how can I turn the promoted listings off? I’d love to try it but first I want to make sure how to get out if it does not work for me.

    Thanks again for the article!

  18. This is a well written article, thanks for taking time and explaining this all in a simple way. Question: would you start promoting products in a brand new shop with no sales or you would wait for a couple if sales to happen first?

    • Marketing is always important to your shop. Promoted Listings may be the perfect way to get your listings in front of more people, more quickly. Just be sure you take care of other necessary steps before you start promoting. You’ll want to make sure your shop listings, tags, and descriptions are optimized (for SEO) and that you have great attention-grabbing photos.

  19. This is a very informative article and I like how you explained the bidding system for promoted listings. As well, thank you for pointing out that a max cpc doesn’t affect custom (only automatic) bids.

    I definitely spend quite a bit on promoted listings (around $300/month) and I think they are helping my shop a lot but it is hard to say as I create custom listings for all my clients so they are not essentially buying from my store within 24 hours. I wish Etsy tracked if they purchased within a month from a different listing. That would be SO helpful!

  20. This is great – thank you! I have a question I haven’t been able to answer for myself.

    As best I can tell we are generally encouraged to use all 13 tags and max out the character limit in listing titles to make it more likely that customers will find us. Sometimes this means I’m stretching a little when it comes to using relevant words. For instance, I include words in my titles like wedding, birthday, baby shower, graduation, etc. so that my listings show up when people are searching for party supplies.

    I presume this means that my listings may show up when someone searches for “baby shower” gifts or “graduation” present, which is not the best use of my promoted listing budget.

    Would it be better to restrict my titles and tags to only the most descriptive and relevant of words, even if it means limiting the audience of promoted listing impressions?

    • While you definitely need to use all 13 tags and use descriptive, relevant words in your listing title, I wouldn’t go so far as to say you have to max out the character limit. I’m not a proponent of “key word stuffing” – shoving as many words in your title as possible just to use all the space. Rather, use descriptive phrases that your potential buyers will most likely search on if they’re looking for your specific product. Put yourself in the mind of your target customer. What are some key phrases they would likely search on to find your listing, and similar listings from other shops?

      This may mean being more selective in your titles to use only relevant phrases and words, and I think that’s fine.

  21. Great article! It covered most of my doubts, thank you so much.

    I am new to Etsy ( and want to be sure to get my shop seeing and noticed in the long run :)

    Thank you!


  22. Hi Mike,

    This was the only article I have come across that explains promoted listings clearly–thank you! It’s also extremely helpful to hear your experience and see your stats. I’m really glad I came across this article and your site (through a google search on promoted listings) and just signed up for your newsletter!

    Thanks again!

  23. Hi Mike

    I do appreciate you explaining this. i think I get it but have to absorb it more. Would you mind taking a look at my site. If you have the time. I would like your opinion on my shop I think the photo’s are good and prices. and quality is there i think my tags are good. I’m a painter. I paint in oil I’m not getting too many sales. I get a lot of favorites but that its not sales. I have not done promoting listing for lengths of time and when I do $1.00 a day. Because it bothers me to loose money.

    If I might add in June a did a brief promoting one painting got 230 impression 2 clicks avg CPC 90 cents cost $1.81 no revenue and the bid was

    Any incite would help me and again thanks so much for explaining

    Much appreciated

  24. Amazing article!
    I did have doubts about it, but now there is no doubt !
    I do appreciate your explanation, than you!

    I am very new to Etsy and trying to sell tablecloth and pillow cover on my shop ( and I want to pomote my best product which is

    If you have any feedback about shop, would be much appreciated,
    Thank you!

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