To sell on Etsy?

June 21, 2007

This has been an ongoing topic of discussion among jewelry artisans since the inception of the increasingly-popular Etsy.com, where anyone can set up an ecommerce shop and offer their handmade wares for sale online. 

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When you visit the Etsy home page, you’ll immediately notice that there are some high-quality, very artistic items listed there (see “Hand-picked items”.)  There are also many  lower-quality, “novice” level items, though most of them have very low asking prices.

As usual, the Jewelry category is the most saturated of them all.  This means more than increased “competition” in the strict sense.  It also means that your jewelry listings can be lost in the shuffle more easily (or diluted), resulting in less exposure.

Overall, it seems that Etsy is worthwhile for many jewelry crafters, although it’s certainly no panacea.  I do plan to set up a storefront there myself . . . if time ever permits!  In the meantime, here are summaries of some of the feedback I’ve received about Etsy from various sources over the past year.

 

  • Some artists have acquired new wholesale accounts from buyers who found them on Etsy, but many more have not.

 

  • Very few jewelry artists report “high” sales volume using Etsy for their jewelry, although some have success selling “supplies” there (like beads and findings).

 

  • The only reliable way to drive traffic to your Etsy site is through self-promotion; merely having an Etsy storefront typically is not enough.
  • For some artists, most or all of their Etsy customers are other Etsy sellers.
  • Sellers who participate in the Etsy “community” through its forums usually have more sales (because of their exposure to other sellers who are also customers); but in recent months, negative and unprofessional conduct in some of the forums has driven members away.
  • Etsy shops seems to be doing relatively well with their Google rankings.

I’ll post on this topic again as I learn more about the Etsy experience for jewelry crafters.  In the meantime, I hope these thoughts help you decide whether it might be right for you.

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3 Responses to “To sell on Etsy?”


  1. Hi Chris! I’m glad you’ve joined us on Blogland!!! Please feel free to ask for any of my articles if you want to ok? I’ll be more than glad to contribute!

    There is something I would like to say about Etsy: I think it is completely overrated and, as Ebay did, the trend will pass with time. I have my own shop at Ecrater (www.ecrater.com), which is COMPLETELY free. No posting fees, no transaction fees, no monthly fees, nothing. They are also integrated with Paypal. When I was looking for a server to host my online shop, I found many places like Ecrater, I mean free places, just as professional as Etsy can be. As you say, you have to promote your own shop: then why paying money just for having your stuff displayed?

    I’d like to point also on what you say about “For some artists, most or all of their Etsy customers are other Etsy sellers” – I think this is a very negative attitude and surely not the right way to build a succesful business. I’ve seen that not only on Etsy, but also on Flickr and many other sharing sites. If you spend all day on the computer praising this and that person and get into a “crafter guetto” you will make sales – that may be true, but how long can that last? How much jewelry can you sell to other jewelry makers? Really, I don’t have the time to compliment everyone I find… because I work all day!!!

    I don’t want to make this too long but I want to say that both Etsy forums and Etsy administrators lack of professionalism. I’ve never seen anything like that on the Ecrater sellers forum, where sellers are helpful, polite and professional and administrators answer your questions the day you post them, something that I have proved doesnt happen on Etsy! I’m sure there is no bad intention from Etsy admins but maybe this is too big and has grown too fast for them to handle it! Again, we go back to overrating and trends. In a few years, another indie business host will come up and crafters will move to it as sheeps. In the end, jewelry is fasion, and fashion is trends. Is my opinion that if you want to stay on Internet for a long time we should avoid trends and go for alternatives.

    One last note: I will be adding your blog to my blogroll right now! Good luck in Blogland my friend 🙂 !!!

  2. cmfm Says:

    Hi Carolina! Thanks for the awesome comments. I agree that selling to other jewelry artisans solely is not the way to build your business. That’s been a concern of mine regarding Etsy.
    I love your tip about avoiding trends and going for alternatives – I agree 100%. It’s not easy – I think for many of us it takes years of experimentation and discovery – but it’s the way to go if you want to do this for the long term. Lately I’ve seen a number of jewelry artisans close shop and quit making jewelry altogether, saying they “ran out of ideas” and lost their motivation to keep going. I think one reason that happens is that they didn’t focus enough on alternatives to trends.
    I will get my blogroll going here soon and add your blog, and I’ll check out your articles too!


  3. You are so true. I think some people don’t see the difference between making crafts and living of crafts. There’s a lot of business stuff some “artists” refuse to accept and I’m trying to change a lot of absurd concepts about art, artists and art business with my articles.

    I also see a lot of people who simply are not good enough to compete in this overcrowded jewelry business. They do not give enough time to themselves to learn both the skills of making jewelry and of marketing their business. Making loops or stringing beads is definitely NOT being a jewelry designer. It’s much more than that.

    Commitment is another problem I see on beginners. They think the can make a living out of making jewelry working 4 or 5 hours a day- I work 12 to 14, no holidays, no weekends! If there is something you like more than your jewelry business, then you should be doing that! I breath my business, eat my business, sleep my business…I’m completely focused and committed. People make one necklace a week, post on their blogs each two weeks, and then they write to me moaning that they don’t sell, asking “what can I do?” – my only answer, always, is WORK MORE!

    And of course, being too trendy is a big problem! The “etsy style” will pass and all that crafters won’t know how to do other things when we don’t see more vintage finds and slide pendants – when you have 1.000 vintage pendants to choose from, it looses uniqueness and then it loses value as a jewel. You must know very well people just LOVE that their jewels are exclusive!

    And motivation? what motivation? I would make jewelry even if I was a millionaire! When people say they have lost motivation, either they did not work hard enough or they don’t love making jewelry enough. Picasso said “inspiration exists, but it has to find you working”. I won’t say more!


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