Want to learn all about the pros and cons of selling on Etsy from someone who knows the venue?
By now, you probably know all about Etsy – “the” platform for cashing in on creative hobbies, right?
If you are thinking about selling your handmade crafts or using Etsy as a tool to launch your business, you’ve come to the right place You probably want to know if it’s as exciting as it sounds.
Yep, I am an Etsy shop owner. I also used to own another one back in 2013. It didn’t do so hot and I closed it (eventually) after about a year. I learned from my mistakes and then I started a new one a few years later.
(Here’s my shameless self-promotional shop link: my current shop. if you want to check it out 😁)
Some days things are going great other days it’s so quiet you could hear a cricket fart 😞 . Anyway, let’s look at the pros and cons of selling on Etsy!
👍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.
👍It’s Fun and Easy to Customize Your Shop
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 and Picmonkey to create the graphics for my shop. These are great tools, and highly recommended to get the image part down (which will be about 80% of your shop’s general appeal.) You can find predesigned Etsy image templates on both those platforms so you will have no guesswork on what size to make them 😊
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 lots of listings. You can also change and modify different shop sections, shipping cost amounts, etc.
👍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, or holidays) 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.
👍Lots of Niches to Sell in
If you thought Etsy was just for knitted bric-a-brac and handmade ragdolls, think again. Me, I sell – wait for it – coffee mugs!
I do not actually own the mugs; they are POD (printed on demand.) I create designs for them using these two graphic tools, and market them, and when they sell, I handle the orders via a third party drop shipping company.
Yep, no mugs taking up closet space, and no trips to the post office. Pretty cool right? So don’t think you have to be an embroidery or cross-stitch whiz to “make it”! In addition to POD items, “instant download” niches like printables and planner pages, are in BIG demand.
My first (failed) shop had a mish-mosh of items – I had soap I made myself, prints of my artwork, some of my handmade jewelry and a few vintage items thrown in – looking back, I realize having too much variety (at least in the beginning) was not a smart marketing move.
If you are good at SEO (search engine optimization) your shop has the potential to rank well, so you need to focus one ONE niche as much as possible.
OK, this all sounds good so far, right?? But now, let’s look at the cons!
👎It’s Pretty 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 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.(refer to my earlier explanation)
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 (!)
This book to the left became part of my repertoire back in 2013 as I was struggling with my first Etsy shop (not the one I have currently) As the tagline premise begins, “With over 400,000 sellers on Etsy, how can you make your listings stand out?” Mind you this book was published back in 2011, and the amount of new sellers has shot up exponentially since then.
Before you go “Yikes, do I stand a chance?” I do want to say there are a lot of gold nuggets in this book in spite of that. First things first…the author goes over stuff like choosing a shop name, creating a banner to adorn it with, and other embellishments – For graphics, I think he recommended the use of the site Pixlr for the banner, and it was kind of small. Nowadays, you can create bigger, more flamboyant banners that are like 300 by 1200 px in size. You’re also encouraged to create an icon too.
Photography – While there’s always some common-knowledge stuff we all should know, it’s still covered – things like lighting, photography techniques, etc. are covered. Inexpensive tricks for getting top-quality photos that make the right impression (as you only get one chance to do so.)
He talks about SEO, tags, and using good titles. This I know trips up some people, if you’re ever going to get found you have to know about how to use the right keywords by thinking like a buyer, using phrases like “gold bead stranded necklace” makes more sense than the name of the beads you used to make it.
Social media is covered, and how to make it one of your best tools. Although some of it needs a little updating, as nowhere is Pinterest and Instagram mentioned, which are the top contenders today. This was 2011, remember, heck I don’t even remember them being around then yet. I thought his Twitter protocol was excellent – only post a promotional tweet (e.g. sharing one of your new listings on Etsy) for every four non-promotional tweets.
Two things that need a little updating. The author mentions creating Squidoo lenses to promote your shop offerings. Squidoo is no longer a viable platform as of 2014. It apparently is how a lot of my blogger buddies got started, they built “lenses” (similar to blog posts like this one) around various topics that would act as lead magnets. I think I might have crafted like, one Squidoo lens, but I don’t think I knew what i was doing back then. If you want to use a current web 2.0 platform to promote your content relating to your shop, I would recommend HubPages…it’s very similar.
Another thing that needs updating, a certain link shortener he recommended that is no longer around. I can’t remember what it was, but I think you can still use bit.ly and tinyurl. This one he talked about, I never see anymore.
👎You May Have to Cross-Promote on Other Platforms
Because it’s gotten more competitive, you may find a disproportionate amount of your time will need to be spent driving traffic to your shop in other ways. You could do this through an email list, a blog if you have one, online forums, or social media channels.
This book I got back in 2013 talks about different means of marketing and promotion – trouble is, things are always changing. You will definitely want to brush up on up-to-date marketing strategies .
There is also a paid ads function on Etsy; which can help your items get a little more exposure: You can set the bid for whatever amount you’re willing to spend to get a higher placement in search results. You can always adjust the bid later on when you get a baseline for how they’re performing.
👎The Platform 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….some of these changes are sudden and kind of out of the blue. Womp, womp 😩
So now you know about the pros and cons of selling on Etsy! If you manage to make some real headway with your shop, you might consider starting your own website in addition. It could help give you a buffer in case something goes awry and keep you from putting all your eggs in one basket.
Blogging is a pretty time consuming gig too, and well, there are only 24 hours in a day 😊
But if you think you can deal with the cons above just fine, you might do well selling on Etsy.
Good luck to you! and happy selling.
Do you have any experience selling on Etsy? Are you thinking about starting your own shop? I’d love to hear from you!