Is Selling Crafts on Etsy Worth It? Here’s MY Two Cents…
Hi, are you thinking about selling your handmade crafts after hearing stories about people cashing in on their creative hobbies? They’re using a platform known as Etsy which caters to handmade seekers, including vintage, arts and crafts and collectibles. I first learned about Etsy through my first cousin, who designs greeting cards for a living.
Yes, I own an Etsy shop. I also used to own another one back in 2013. I’m currently on the fence about what to do with my current shop. Selling on Etsy is really really tough – unless it’s the busy fourth quarter, it’s so quiet I could hear a cricket fart. Earlier this week, I closed it….but then I had a change of heart and re-opened it…but I’m probably just going to leave it alone for now.
Now I know what you may be thinking…Why should you take advice from an unsuccessful seller, right? That’s understandable – but there’s that old maxim that says “Failure/experience is the best teacher” So I’m willing to share my experiences and let you draw your own conclusions.
So I’ve chalked it up to, after having 2 shops that didn’t perform, I guess Etsy is just not my venue. Now it could be YOUR venue, who knows? I’m trying to make this post as impartial as I can so I don’t color it with my experiences too much. Anyway,let’s look at the pros and cons:
👍Pros: Low Overhead Cost
Your basic shop in and of itself, is free – the fee for listing an item is 0.20. That’s a drop in the bucket, really….Even if you have up to 100 items, that’s probably about $20 give or take. Not too shabby.
The 20 cent fee for each listing lasts for four months. In which case you can renew them (if they sell) or let them expire. That’s the compromise I’ve reached lately – If something in my shop sells, I renew it , if not (after at least two renewal sessions) I let them expire.
Up until recently, you got a monthly bill for your listing fees, now the 0.20 is taken out with the transaction when the item sells. This in itself, encouraged me to persist a little more with increasing my inventory of items, at least somewhat.
There is also a final value fee when an item sells – I believe it was 3.5% of the final sale, until the middle of last year it went up to 5%. Didn’t like that too much, but it’s still comparable to other venues.
👍Pros: Access to Lots of Built-In Tools
If the idea of setting up your own crafters website sounds a little scary, the good news is that Etsy has a lot of built in tools that will make this part a lot easier. It’s practically a search engine in and of itself. You can customize your shop with a banner, small icon, and include some info about you and your process, to personalize it more a little.
I used Canva, DesignWizard and Picmonkey to create the images for my shop. All of these are great tools, and highly recommended to get the image editing part down (which will be about 80% of your shop’s general appeal.) You can find predesigned Etsy image templates so you will have no guesswork on what size to make them 😊
(I must admit, I did have fun with that ♥️) You can showcase up to 10 photos of your offerings….You’ll want to err on the side of bigger photos now more (which I believe is encouraged for mobile viewing.)
Other cool things you can do include being able to create batch edits, which is something that will really come in handy when you’ve got lost of listings. You can also change and modify different shop sections, shipping cost amounts, etc.
👍Pros: You Can Get Paid Quickly
You’ll probably enjoy this – you can be paid pretty quickly, as in the next day (excluding Saturday or Sunday) if you choose the “Etsy Payments” option and specify from the checklist, and that you want to do direct deposit into your checking account.
That’s pretty cool; and there are different payment options as well.
OK, now the cons…
👎Cons : It’s Saturated!
Oh boy, is it competitive on there or what. I wish I would have jumped on during the GWB years. Etsy has been around since 2005. If I had it to do all over again, I would have started my shop around 2005-2010 when it was less competitive and newer.
I have heard veteran sellers say that did very well during their earlier years but things took a dip as mass-produced items were permitted onto the platform.
I do want to clarify that part about “mass produced items” – you CAN have an approved third-party manufacturer that does some of the work. I have been doing this for the production of my coffee mugs and tshirts. I do the designs using these two graphic tools, and the drop shipping company (on the approved list) handles the printing and shipping part.
So yeah, it’s gotten highly competitive…Last I heard (don’t quote me for sure) there are close to 1.9 million sellers now (!) You may find a disproportionate amount of your time is spent driving traffic in other ways, such as through your social media following.
There is also a paid ads function on Etsy; which can help your items get a little more exposure:
👎Cons: The Site Is Always Changing
This. Big bugaboo – I’m not the only seller who gets frustrated by this apparently – all the different algorithm changes that go on periodically. I’m of the mindset “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” but when it’s not your platform, you don’t have that kind of control over things.😖
We know how we have to anticipate change, but the trouble is….I have no real baseline on what works and what doesn’t, since I don’t even know what the changes ARE to begin with! Womp, womp 😩
OK, now you’ve heard about the good and the not so good. If you’re more tenacious than I am and you’re seeing a lot more traction, you might consider starting your own website in addition to your shop…it could help give you a buffer in case something goes awry and keep you from putting all your eggs in one basket.
I’m including some tools in addition so hopefully, you can do better than I have done.This book to the left, by Derrick Sutton, is one I bought a few years ago to help me out.It goes into detail about all of the in’s and out’s of running a successful Etsy shop, from store branding to social media promotion.
Unless there is a more up-to-date copy out now, the one section I would disregard is a chapter devoted to use of a certain web 2.0 platform that no longer exists. (Squidoo – I don’t know if you have heard of it) I actually ended up giving this book to a relative who was interested in starting his own shop.
So, is Selling on Etsy Really Worth It?
For me….both times, no. I guess it was just a learning experience. On a more positive note, I am thinking about becoming an Etsy affiliate….I think I would do much better promoting other people’s art than my own. Who knows?
But if you think you can deal with the cons above just fine, you might find out that selling on Etsy IS worth it! Good luck to you.
Do you have any experience selling on Etsy? Are you thinking about starting your own shop? I’d love to hear from you!