As a buyer, especially as a bride, I loved Etsy! So many creative, one of a kind items, all in one place and from all over the world too; yes please! Etsy is a bride’s dream come true. You can find those vintage and hand crafted items that give your wedding a special touch in one place. It is hard to beat that. I bought my bridesmaids vintage, collage inspired jewelry from England. Not only was this jewelry exactly what I was looking for, the owner created a special piece for one of my bridesmaids to complete the collection at no extra cost to me. I was thrilled to find this shop and felt like Etsy was such a magical place to connect me to this crafter in England!
As a seller, I am starting to become wary of Etsy. I started selling on Etsy this past February, and have big dreams of turning that little shop into a full-blown website of its own. I started my shop on Etsy because it was easy, within two minutes I had a business to call my own and a $0 start-up fee! Doesn’t get much easier than that. You read through all the articles Etsy publishes and the general promise is you get back what you put in. Meaning if you take your shop seriously as a business then you will reap the rewards of Etsy, but if you take your shop as a hobby, then that’s all it will ever be.
Behind the scenes, in the forums you start to see the cracks in this promise. So many discussion threads are based on the question,”why am I not selling?!” These sellers do everything they are told by Etsy Success and the Seller’s Handbook, yet their views are low and their sells even lower. As a collective Etsy is generally viewed as one of us, a crafter and lover of all things vintage and homemade. However, I have come to see them as a corporation that is making bank off the dreamers and the unemployed.
Etsy rakes in millions of dollars every year! They receive a percentage of every item sold, as does Paypal. Need I remind you the inventor of Paypal is now playing with cars and rocket ships? They also receive $0.20 for every listing, and have set up a market that rewards those that renew their listing on a regular basis charge the same $0.20 every time. Other ways to spend money inside Etsy is to advertise, $7 per Showcase (I still don’t understand what this means), or you could set a weekly allowance to promote your item at the top of the search results only paying when your item is clicked on. Times all this by millions of items and shops and you get an idea of how much Etsy is bringing in. (See Etsy Fees.)
I have been told repeatedly this is a slow season for Etsy, but looking at March’s report sells are up 41% from last March and have increased 5.5% from February. What’s slow about selling over 3 million items with over 1 billion page views? Etsy takes in 3.5% of all transactions, if they use direct check out they get another 3%, plus listing and advertising fees. Let that sink in while you look at this number from their March report:
$62.8 million of goods (after refunds and cancellations) were sold by our community in March, 7.7% higher than February’s $58.3 million
Yeah, I no longer think of them as one of us. By the way, this report is not sent out as part of their newsletter, you have to go searching for it yourself. Here is what really gets under my sink though, it is stories like how Etsy handled this woman that got suspended for suspected drop-shipping when she shipped her handmade goods from a friend’s house in PA while she was on a military base in another country, Etsy Shop Suspended. Versus how they’ve handled the recent scandal of Regretsy uncovering a reseller used as Etsy’s Featured Seller. Instead of suspending the shop that is breaking their #1 rule of selling handmade and taking down the article, she’s still open for business and is being featured on their coveted front page. While the woman who tweaked a rule to reduce her shipping fees was suspended right away and without notice.
The more I see how Etsy’s admin handles certain situations, the more I am ready to jump ship. Like this “copyright infringement” story. I no longer feel like Etsy’s inner workings are on my side. I think back to the first article I read discouraging me from taking the “easy” route of opening an Etsy shop, Why Etsy Stores are at a Disadvantage, and realize he was right. I got what I paid for. I thought I could open my shop and test drive products, but it takes hard work and money even to be seen on Etsy. You could be putting all that hard work into promoting your own shop, not Etsy itself.
My father is a small business owner and his first bit of advise to me was to advertise on Google. When I showed him my shop, he immediately retracted his statement. He said don’t pay for outside adverting when you are bringing your potential customers directly to your competition. When you pay for advertisements outside of Etsy what you are really doing is paying to promote Etsy’s marketpalce. To reinforce this sentiment, Etsy has recently changed the search within this shop to feature other seller’s items. Really Etsy?! I think it’s time I invested my time and money back into myself.