Is Etsy Dying?

Etsy is a dream come true for Artists (isn’t it?)

Etsy is widely known as one of the premier websites for selling arts & crafts online. They essentially took eBay’s shop concept and focused it squarely on the creative niche so you no longer had to sift through lawnmowers in order to get to beaded lanyards.

According to the site, there are now over 7,000,000 items currently available for sale. These days it seems that every artist and crafter with a bedazzling gun, has opened a shop on Etsy. In fact, as of the middle of October 2010, there were over 249,000 active sellers, and according to our own highly non-scientific poll here on the site, almost 14% of you said that you are currently selling items on Etsy.

According to their own statistics in September 2010, Etsy sold 1,466,039 items for $26.6 million.  Now if my English-major math is correct, this works out to an average selling price of about $18 per item with about a 20% inventory turnover (7 million available items – 1.46 million sold) in the month of September.  In other words, it would appear that the company is doing quite well for itself as a marketplace for low-priced handmade crafts and collectibles.

[Update: Interestingly enough since this article has been published, Etsy has removed their “weather report” page cited above that shows their sales statistics and I have been unable to find this information anywhere else on their website.  I’ll let you draw your own conclusions here…]

So what’s the problem?

A friend of mine recently asked me my opinion on whether or not she should open an Etsy shop to try and sell some of her handmade jewelry online.  As a regular on the Art Fair festival circuit, she was looking for an additional sales outlet especially during the slower winter months.  Of course she had heard about Etsy before, but she had always been hesitant to sign-up after hearing more than a few Etsy horror stories about not-so-ethical sellers purchasing items from artists and then turning around and selling copycat designs in their own shop.

Putting aside this issue of unscrupulous copycat designs for the moment, does Etsy still have a viable future as a limited niche marketplace or has the handmade craft craze come and gone?

Now I’m not about to suggest that people are going to suddenly stop making felt hats for cats or crochet tea cozies, but I do think that the days of anyone setting up an Etsy shop and consistently making money with it may be over. . . that is if those days were actually ever here at all.

Taking a closer look at the numbers

Before we dive into the numbers here, let me preface all of this by reminding you that Etsy is a privately-held company and is therefore not required or very likely to publish any numbers that could potentially reflect negatively on their business.  In other words, we can safely assume that they only release the “good” numbers and very few of them at that.

So we take what little they give us and begin to make some assumptions about their business from there.  Please keep in mind that if you are expecting some well-researched and statistic driven journalism here–this ain’t it!  This is little more than the imaginative ramblings of a math-averse English major so take from it what you will.

Here’s the numbers according to Etsy’s own website for 2010.

  • January 2010: 242,028 new members signed up – 20.1 million dollars of goods were sold in January; roughly 21% lower than December
  • February 2010: 236,034 new members signed up – $20.2 million of goods were sold in February; roughly 1% higher than January
  • March 2010: 246,834 new members signed up – $22.4 million of goods were sold in March, roughly 11% higher than February
  • April 2010: 236,040 new members signed up – $22.4 million of goods were sold in April; (0%) roughly the same amount from March
  • May 2010: 239,340 new members signed up – $22.9 million of goods were sold in May, 2.2% higher than April
  • June 2010: 233,167 new members signed up – $22.1 million of goods were sold in June, 3.5% lower than May
  • July 2010: 260,267 new members signed up – $23.8 million of goods were sold in July, 7.7% higher than June
  • August 2010: 278,208 new members signed up – $25.5 million of goods were sold in August, 7.1% higher than July
  • September 2010: 280,538 new members signed up -$26.6 million of goods were sold in September, 4.3% higher than August

The biggest question that comes to mind after reading through all of these numbers is:

What exactly are all of these new members doing once they sign-up?!

Are they buying? Are they selling? Are they doing anything?

Think about this for a moment.  According to their statistics here, they are averaging almost 250,000 new members a month but it would appear that very few of these new members are actually buying anything.  I mean why exactly would you sign up to become an Etsy member unless you had already picked something out that you wanted to buy?

Since they don’t seem to be buying, does this mean that the majority of these new members are planning on opening up their own shop to sell their own creations?

Etsy (perhaps wisely) doesn’t divide up their new member numbers between buyers and seller accounts.  I would have to guess that the official line would be that since every new account is technically a “buyer” account, reporting this kind of distinction would be impractical.  While this may be true, because there is an additional seller account “sign-up” (aka give-me-your-credit-card-number), it would be fairly easy to report how many new seller accounts had been created each month.  Now since they’re not telling us what’s really going on, deranged Liberal Arts majors with overactive imaginations like myself, begin to create these half-baked scenarios about what might actually be going on behind the scenes. . .

Wildly Speculative Scenario #1 – 90% Buyers  10% Sellers

Let’s assume for a moment that almost everyone who signs up for a new account on Etsy is planning on buying something.  As I mentioned previously, why would someone go through the trouble of signing-up for a new account unless they had already picked out something they wanted to buy?

The only problem here, is that if you look at the actual sales growth numbers, it seems a little hard to believe.

According to their own statistics, over the first ten months of 2010, sales have increased roughly about 5% a month on average.  This seems okay until you realize that the company has been adding almost a quarter-of-a-million new members/buyers each month.  In fact, Etsy has signed up over 2.2 million new members so far in 2010 and had an increase of $6.5 million in sales, which may sound like a lot of cabbage until you actually do the math and realize that works out to about $3 a person.  Since we already know that the average selling price of an item is about $18, we can assume that a lot of these new members aren’t making any purchases at all and that doesn’t even take into account the thousands (millions?) of members Etsy had already signed up before 2010.

Wildly Speculative Scenario #2 – 50% Buyers  50% Sellers

Okay, let’s say that maybe half of these new members aren’t planning on buying anything at all. Maybe they just want to open their own shop and sell their arts and crafts. On the surface, this theory would appear to better explain the company’s so-so sales increase.

So if  we imagine for a moment that half of these new members who signed up in September were buyers, that would mean that the other half (~140,000) would become potential sellers.  So then our question becomes, how many new sellers were added between September and October 2010?  Was it anywhere near 140,000 people?

Because Etsy doesn’t officially publish the number of active sellers they have from month to month, I only have the numbers from the last two months to compare.

According to their website they had approximately:

239,000 active sellers in Septemeber 2010

249,ooo active sellers in October 2010

Net increase of 10,000 sellers or roughly about 4%

So even if you factor in those new members who plan to someday open an Etsy store but just haven’t gotten around to it yet, you still have somewhere in the neighborhood of 130,000 new members unaccounted for.  Unless of course, these new members really are opening their new shops, and it’s the current Etsy sellers who are closing down their shops and leaving in droves. . .

If this is the case, what’s driving these previous sellers away?

  • Is it the lack of business?
  • Is it the problem with copycat sellers?
  • Is it the competition or the fact that there are too many sellers?
  • Is it the lack of promotion or traffic to their shop?

What should I tell my friend?  What would you tell someone if they asked you about opening a store on Etsy?

What can we take away from all of this speculation? (if anything)

Even though we can’t really know what’s going on behind the scenes, it is fairly obvious that either a lot of people  are signing-up for an Etsy account and then doing absolutely nothing with it, or these new members are simply replacing the current members as they continue to leave en masse for whatever reason.

Either way, I would caution you to be very careful about putting your entire online presence in single marketplace whether it’s Etsy, eBay, DeviantArt, or any other online site.  As technology and the online environment continues to change and evolve, no one knows if today’s Etsy will become tomorrow’s

Even if they do survive, who knows if they are going to want you as a shopkeeper six months from now?  I have heard far too many stories of Etsy shops being shut down literally overnight for one reason or another.  Always remember that when it comes down to it, it’s still their “shop” and they have the power to close you down if they feel like you have somehow violated their “terms of service”.

This is one of the reasons that I always encourage artists to create their own online home first and then branch off into these other social media sites and online marketplaces.  Use these websites like the tools they are, and not as your complete online identity.  Remember to always send your visitors to your own website first and then link out from there to your Etsy shop, Twitter, or Facebook page.

[2013 Update: So has Etsy’s policies and customer service gotten any better since this article was originally written?  Here’s a hilarious new video created by Ming & Ingrid called “The Etsy Inquisition” that may help you decide for yourself. You can read more about their own harrowing experience in their post “Etsy’s Reign or Terror
Has anything like this ever happened to you or someone you know?]

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Are you a member of the Etsy community?

Even though Etsy may not be giving us the full picture, I would like to hear from you about your experience with Etsy as either a buyer or seller.  Give us the inside scoop and let us know if you think their current business model is going to be able to survive long-term.  Do you think that it’s still a good place to sell your artistic creations online?

I would also be interested in hearing from those of you who may have once had an Etsy shop and closed it up for whatever reason.

  • Are you currently selling (or buying) your art on Etsy?
  • What do you think are currently the biggest benefits or challenges to running a successful Etsy store?
  • How have things changed since you’ve been there?
  • What advice would you give someone who might be interested in opening up their own Etsy shop?

Tell us what you think!

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  1. says

    i just launched my website from which i will have my own store
    i have never had any success with etsy
    tho i know it looks like other do…
    like everything there are secrets to making this kind of thing a success
    apparently i lack that knowledge…
    good post!

    • Drew says

      Hi Mary, thanks for stopping by and taking a minute to share your thoughts with us :)

      I admit that I didn’t know a whole lot about Etsy before doing the research for this article. You’re right, however, that we always seem to hear about those big Etsy success stories in the media, but I’ve never actually met anyone who is making more than a few bucks a month on average. Maybe they really are out there somewhere, or maybe these Etsy masters are just another one of those “friend of a friend” urban legends.

      • Riley says

        There was a time I went through the same when my sales never rised up and that was very discouraging. But after a friend suggested to join I realized that was a Etsy alternative. For your sales to shoot up and to have the traffic driven to your website, you must try this place! Unlike etsy and artfire they are not restricted to handmade stuff. I get to promote a wide variety of products to a bigger audience (all design buffs).
        The best about storemate is, I get to help out my customers in real-time using their ‘Talk-About’ feature. Helping out with questions on custom options, shipping queries etc in realtime. I even passed on exclusive discounts to them during these help-out sessions, which turned casual enquiries into quick sales and followers for me.
        I have been Storemate’s “Featured Designer” for 3 weeks, straight! ( My proud moment!) 😀

      • says

        I am one of those success stories. For me Etsy started as an outlet for my hobby and over the last couple of years turned into a full time job.
        The way to succeed is to find a product that is unique, not a mainstream design. Etsy buyers come here not for the bargain, but to look for something different, especially made for them. Personalized designs are one of them.
        You have to be really dedicated to this. You can’t do it, when you have time. You have to invest time in developing the product, creating a look for your shop, good images, good description and then once you are done with this, you have to keep expanding and updating the shop.
        This is the key to success for every new business, not just Etsy. Whatever you start, you have to invest something, whether it is money, time, or skills.

    • Katie says

      I know that feeling! I’ve actually made about $400 since the beginning of October, but that’s obviously not enough to pay the bills :) I just can’t quite grasp what makes some people able to get it going, and others cannot. Ha, and like SkinnyArtist says, I only know of a friend of a friend who’s actually had decent success.

      By the way, Mary, how affordable is it to start your own site? I always assumed domain space was outrageous, which is why I attempted Etsy. Good luck!

      • says

        “By the way, Mary, how affordable is it to start your own site? I always assumed domain space was outrageous, which is why I attempted Etsy. Good luck!”

        Maybe I can field that one. Had my own site since 1998.

        I think you can still find free web hosts. (not sure, it’s been awhile.) I did that for several years. But there are many limitations to those. (Ads, page code limitations, can’t use it to host images, zero support.)
        Finally I found a service called I pay about 125.00 a year for the site space and 15.00 for the domain name. To me it’s worth every penny. Support it outstanding and I can do what ever I want, set it up any way I want, load as many images etc etc… without anyone telling me I violated some dumb rule or shutting me down with no discussion what so ever.

        Advantages to your own site,
        it’s yours and you will be the only star of the show. You can do with it what ever you want. Upload images, or even use it to host images (should you sell in ebay for example.) You can set it up as a store. Mine is not, more of a see what I do look here kinda thing. With links to where I do sell. I use mine when I want to send friends and family a big batch of photos. A simple “no follow no index” meta tag prevents that page from ever landing in a search engine. I send them the link and viola. Easier than attaching stacks of pictures they then have to download. And…. UNlike facebook, when I want to delete it, it’s gone. Also my site comes with some dandy stat tracking tools. (Found more than a few hyjacked pictures that way.)
        So if someone does hyjack something I can either delete it, or swap it with something else easy enough.
        can’t do that on any of the big sites. I’ve been off etsy for over a year now and I STILL am getting hits on sold items that show up in google. Once you put something on any of those sites? Kiss it goodbye. You have no more control over the content.

        Disadvantages, Getting it “out there.” Doing your own marketing and SEO is a royal time consuming pain. And if you do set it up as a store you really either need to hire someone who knows the latest things google is doing, (no one really does but some spend enormous amounts of time trying to stay on top of it so they can call themselves experts.)
        Or… do that yourself. Search for something, then try to figure out what the top sites are doing right.

        Advantages of being on an etsy, artfire, ebay or what ever, THEY do the marketing. They will get a whole hell of a lot more traffic than any personal site can.
        Now is that good? All depends. Yes a site like etsy will get more traffic, but think of it as a huge ant hill. Your still just one ant in it among all the other thousands of ants all trying to be seen. But one ant on an ant hill is more likely to attract the ant eater than one ant all alone on a beach.

        What I would suggest to anyone is do both. If you can’t afford a full size site, find one of the freebies, or one of the cheap ones, even if they only offer you a few pages of space. And get your own domain name. In fact, I’d do that first then use that domain name on every site you sell on. “branding.”
        This makes promoting much simpler. Put ONE domain name on a business card. And on that site you can still promote what ever site you sell on. Even if your site is a store. List some stuff on your site and other stuff on one of the big guys. (not the same stuff. That will hurt you with google.)
        Then when a site gets incredibly stupid like etsy did, and you move. You won’t have a ton of old cards pointing to an uh oh page. Simply change your own site to point to where ever you are next.

        • says

          Wow. $125 a year. That’s a lot of money. You can go with Godaddy for waaay less, I only pay around $50 a year, and if all you’re trying to do is set up a small online presence for yourself, say maybe a basic site with possibly a blog and links to your etsy, heck even an online store (and don’t expect to be the next ebay, or etsy), most people and organizations can get by with a basic package, and Godaddy has really good support.

          I say this is a web professional. I’ve been with a lot of “affordable” hosts, and Godaddy is just one of the best hosts all around.

          That “” site looks shady, and looking at their hosting packages, WOW that’s a bad deal. Really bad deal. I’d avoid them like the devil. The thing is, most hosts tend to beef up the things they offer so it sounds great to the end user. Most websites will never come close to use up a gig or two space limit, and they never will have enough visitors eating up their bandwidth.

          Think about it. Even if you did use up all your 2gigs of space and can’t even update your blog anymore, that means to use up your entire 30gig bandwidth for the month, users would have to download your entire site 15 times. Most inididual pages on your site (images included) only eat up less than 100k (1/10th of a meg, which is 1/1000th of a Gig).

          Anyways. I just don’t want people getting screwed over. So go with Godaddy, because although their stats are beefed up like everyone elses, they offer a good service. I should’ve gone with them myself from the start instead of bungling around with bozos for nearly a decade.

          • says

            Well I’ll tell ya, I did totally free sites for several years before someone clued me into wisesource. And they have been my host before Godaddy sprang up.
            Reason I pay so much for what little I use? Support! I have yet to find ANY business with such fantastic support. And no, I don’t get any form of referral. Neither did the guy who told me about it. The suggestion was made to email the guy and just ask a question. I did on a sunday night no less and got a reply in minutes.
            The site almost never goes down and if it does he sends out a letter to everyone explaining why, and what they are doing about it. (I think in the past oh, six years it was down for ten min for an upgrade. Everyone was warned ahead of time and it took place at about 2am.)

            Besides, Godaddy was just boycotted not all that long ago for supporting SOPA & PIPA. Officially they changed their position on it, but privately? Who’s to say.

            Naaa. I’ll stay where I am. Great support is worth paying for. If only more businesses would catch onto that. (staying on topic here, ETSY! Those morons don’t even own a phone. Never answer emails, they blow rotten beans.)

          • Bett says

            Godaddy is awful. In addition to Jenny’s comments on the subject, the owner kills elephants under the ridiculous excuse of feeding poor people in Africa, and their ads are full of soft-core porn.

          • says

            Yes, I use Weebly too and my domain name is through GoDaddy – both have been great services for me. Thanks for letting me know that Weebly has unlimited bandwidth and storage for free as well – I haven’t had time to read up on what they offer but it’s good to hear it shared by someone. With regards to Etsy – it seems pretty saturated – I have been on for 4 years and so very few sales – still trying to establish an online presence – I have been fortunate that through Facebook and the several social groups that are supported by people locally, I have been able to advertise my wares that way – it’s been good and it’s free!

        • says

          If Jenny’s words strike a chord, you should take a look at IndieMade. (Full disclosure: I work for the company!)

          IndieMade is a hosting platform that is specifically designed for the needs of crafters. It has a store, blog, photo gallery, event calendar, and more. You don’t need to know any HTML, you don’t need to get a hosting company, you don’t need to use your own domain unless you want to, and it’s easy to use.

          The store is full-featured, with an inventory tracking system, orders database, invoicing system, and all that stuff. And you can quickly get up and running because it can import your existing Etsy products. Better Etsy integration is on the way as well.

          The standard plan is $11.95 a month (it can go as low as $4.95 a month but that limits you to 10 products), and there’s a full 30-day trial. And the site is YOURS; no one can tell you what you can or can’t do with it. has more.


        • Norman Ridenour says

          I have been a nearly full time artist/craftsman in two countries (two languages) for over 30 years. I have been on ETSY for four years and I sell, not near enough. ETSY seems to be the best of a bad lot. I took the list of 200 on line cites for crafts and looked at each one. In general, tacky. I tried ArtFire for a year, nothing. From my point of view, selling up scale products, buyers see the on-line shops as a kind of swap meet / bazar. Right, $18-20 is the average sale on ETSY. I have been unable to get my prices, ($100 & up) so I under sell. I cannot afford to turn on the studio lights at $20 a piece for my goods. The ETSY marketing gurus are full of it, although Malinak does admit that his advise is for the $20 seller. I had my own web site, NO visitors, Jan-Oct 2014. I continue markets but again there is a ceiling price. The basic problem is, too many sellers chasing too few buyers. Too few sellers are professional in their attitude towards their work. Too much kitsch posing as ‘art’.

        • says

          I have been a seller on etsy for 2 years. I do not know if it dying, but know there is so much up there it is hard for buyers to find one artist. I do more sales from craft fairs. There are people who do well, I do not know the secret. If you do let me know. Angela

    • Jeanne says

      I found this site to be informative.
      Dont’ know where they are getting their statistics from, since you can’t find any good information on etsy anywhere. I convo’ed Sinohe Terrero twice, he does the etsy weather report blog and never got an answer.

  2. says

    I have been selling on Etsy for two years, since July 2008. I reached 100 sales in exactly one year, hit 200 sales exactly six months after that, and just reached 400 sales last week.

    I sell a lot of reproductions, but I’m also thrilled that I have sold original artwork all over the world as well.

    Etsy has it’s faults when it comes to my category, Fine Art. reproductions and originals are not separate searches. Under “art” you will also find wall decals (my biggest pet peeve) and any piece of jewelry or other item that has “art” in the description.

    I think this is the biggest drawback for buyers randomly searching on the site.

    I do drive a lot of my own traffic to Etsy thru my blog and my FB fan page, however, I think that it is time to develop a system on Etsy where new buyers do NOT have to register – just have a shopping cart feature (this is one of the nice aspects of Artfire)

    Etsy is saturated in so many markets, especially Jewelry, and unles Etsy decides to promote YOU, you will probably not be seen.

    I don’t think It’s a dying venue, but they need to start courting buyers thru magazines like AMerican Art Collector and stop courting sellers like they do thru craft magazines.

    • Drew says

      Hi Kristina!

      That’s interesting that they don’t separate original artwork and reproductions on the site. It would seem that if Etsy really wanted to expand their market into more upscale (ie higher priced) artwork they would try to make original work more of a focus on their site.

      I also completely agree with you about dropping the registration requirement in order to buy something. Nothing irritates me more as a customer than having to jump through unnecessary hoops and having to “register” to buy something from a site that I might not ever visit again (especially when buying gifts for someone else) Yes, I’m sure that they are hoping to boost their member numbers and put you on their mailing list, but why not make this step optional?

      I think you’re smart for driving traffic to Etsy from your other sites. Too many artist seem to think that because Etsy gets millions of visitors a day, they will somehow get some portion of that traffic automatically. They don’t understand that you have to build your own traffic sources, which might explain why so many sellers are eventually abandoning their Etsy stores.

      Love your website by the way! :)

      • says

        Thank you so much! I think this year I am going to really push myself to get back into Gallery Shows and Outdoor Art events. I have met many many ownderful clients on-line, many of whom I connect with regularly, but I also love meeting clients face to face.

        And yes – Etsy does need to allow shopping w/out an account. Maybe you could talk to them about that?!?

        And the Art category, overall, needs to be re-vamped. But it’s growing so fast, I don’t even know how they would start!

      • Vic says

        this upscale originals and higher price thing is exactly what’s killing my business… the problem with Etsy is that it’s a lot Like EBAY – lots of things for CHEAP prices. It’s getting more and more difficult to compete with the ultra low prices that many of the ETSY Sellers list their things for.

        I have had my own site since 2001 and have always gotten plenty of business there. I opened an ETSY shop a couple years ago to sell “pre-made” items that I wanted to have sales on. All my custom made items were still through my site. it all went well, until this year. This year as I see that my wedding catagory has gotten more and more cheap sellers on it… my actual website sales have plumetted. I am just speculating here… but I believe my drop on sales is due to more people searching on ETSY and finding inexpensive things. They are still looking at my site. My Google analytics shows my numbers are still good and my search results are good – but people aren’t buying they are just looking. It’s frustratings. I am HOPEING that this Etsy thing will be a fad but not too sure about that…. they may be killing my business.

        • Michelle Stowe says

          I agree, I have been on Etsy for over 8 months, and have not sold anything. It’s very hard to compete even with lower than average prices, when the market is flooded with people selling like items for way too cheap. I sometimes wonder why bother throwing my money away on listings, when there is some person selling an item similar to mine for half the price or less…and I have had the same problem with a lot of lookers, which are mostly other store owners, and zero buyers. And now people are selling non-handmade things like flooding the market with cell phone covers that all they did was use a POD and someone’s copyrighted image and pasted it on it. That isn’t what the site was supposed to be, and they sure didn’t pay for licensing fees (ie Marvel or Disney) to sell some of the images that are used–it’s very discouraging to say the least about it. So, my only solution is to quit the crafting business, and go back to what I originally intended, which is creating my art. I’ve sold more crafted items on my own to people who don’t have money to spend but buy it anyway offline. I’m through throwing away money on something that isn’t taking me anywhere,..

  3. says

    I think Etsy is a good place to start selling, because it’s simple to set up. I don’t know many people who sell over the long term who use it as their only sales tool. I used it off and on while I was working out the kinks in my personal web site—both for convenience and to build my community. Now, I rarely list anything there, because I’ve moved on to tools that fit my business better.

    • Drew says

      Hi Lisa!

      I think you’re right that it is a good place to start selling your work online because it’s easy to set up and it’s an established marketplace. The downside to it, as you point out, is that it shouldn’t probably be your only sales channel.

      It sounds like you were using Etsy as the marketing stepping-stone that it is, and not the final destination. I think that a lot of sellers are starting to realize this and eventually they are moving their business to either their own website or into additional markets as you have.

      Good for you, bad for Etsy.

      It seems to me that Etsy has build up this reputation in the public mind that it’s primarily a marketplace for handcrafted items, which is fine except as all of the previous comments here have pointed out, this particular market is absolutely saturated. Sooner or later, they are going to have to figure out that the potential market for handcrafted items is not infinite and look to expand their horizons a bit.

      I would have to bet that very few people go to Etsy looking for fine art. Not because it’s not there, but because the public perception is that Etsy=Handcrafted Items. I think that they are going to have to change this perception fairly soon or risk losing out to some other company that will emerge to fill that void.

      • says

        I think a lot of people view sites like Etsy through Field of Dreams goggles: if I build it, they will come. The reality is that nobody really cares if you build an Etsy shop. You really have to build a community of your own, and use many sites and tools to promote whatever it is you’re selling to be successful at it.

        There must be a market for this kind of site, though, because there are many others just like Etsy: ArtFire, ShopHandmade, MadeItMyself off the top of my head. I know artists, especially jewelry artists, who have shops in each place, plus their own web sites, blogs, Flickr, Facebook fan pages, Twitter accounts, all to promote their work. Those are the folks who are making a (meager) living at their craft.

      • Vic says

        I think the reason many people are looking on ETSY for things is for a “deal” that’s why Etsy probably won’t do well for fine art or expensive items – as they are like an online craft show… seems to be a bunch of people selling their crafts at yard-sale prices.

        only a few are actually selling them at higher prices… but the more a catagory gets laden with cheap stuff the less the high quality items can charge, because they can not compete.

        This is the reason I only sell “sale’ items in my shop. I can’t compete with the prices if I was going to do custom. Because my custom prices are much more than what I would have to competitivley list them for on Etsy.

        • MIlly says

          While I agree on using other tools to create your “own customary market”. I do not agree that most Etsy sellers price points are too low. At least in the Vintage category! Ive been able to sell stuff on my shop above retail in Vintage & Antiques store.

          It does seem like a full time job to get “Etsy homepage” attention. I know very few sellers who do. If anyone has tips on this, ears wide open!

          I do find it frustrating that they removed the option to see what items sold for & when. This was a helpful tool as a seller. Its seemed to become more private. Like the author here said. They are private company, so they dont have to put it all out there.

    • Margaret says

      Hi Lisa,

      I want to open a online shop and was considering etsy. Do you have any advice on other companies, that offer
      very good website or online store services?

      • Deb says

        Actually Margaret, I made my first purchase on Etsy in March 2011 and have told many about it since then. Could it be that the artists know about it but the consumers are just catching on? I would cross-hatch with Pinterest to drive traffic to an Etsy store.

  4. says

    Yeah, we’re all just little fish in a big sea (well, most of us are little fish), but for someone who doesn’t want to set up a website, it’s a good enough way to have a presence online. I’ve been on Etsy for 5 years –almost since the very beginning– and I like their setup (low cost per listing, no set monthly fees) better than any other venue I’ve seen. I trust them overall.
    I think it’s unfair of you to imply they’re just out to get your credit card number.

    • Drew says

      Hi Alisa,

      I’m certainly not anti-Etsy, although I do think that they may have painted themselves into a corner with the whole “handmade craft” thing and they seem to have some issues with copycat products, but overall I think that Etsy is a good marketplace–I just happen to think that they may have reached their ceiling as far as the handcraft market goes.

      I’m glad that you have had a good experience with them and I don’t think that they’re out to get your credit card number, I just don’t understand their need to have you register before you buy something on their site.

      Glad to see you here Alisa! :)

  5. says

    Good article. It sums up a number of my thoughts on Etsy. I have an account there, but only so I can keep up a favorites list of the stores I like. I think I’ve bought one or two things there over the last year…

    I am an artist, and echo the sentiments of the above people who said that Etsy doesn’t work well for traditional visual art (paintings and the like). I use Redbubble for selling my prints – it’s much better set up for that sort of thing, and focused on fine art.

    It is getting easier and easier for people without technical knowledge to set up their own sales websites, which also cuts into the growth of places like Etsy.

    • Drew says

      It’s nice to see you here Heather!

      First of all, I have to say that I really like your new web design. Now that you’ve become a CSS master, maybe you can help out the rest of us 😉

      From the feedback I’ve received so far from this article, it seems to confirm my suspicions that Etsy has pigeonholed themselves into this handcrafted market and once that stream of eager new craft sellers runs out, they’re going to have to play catch up with Redbubble and all of those other online marketplaces for visual artists that are growing rapidly.

      I think you’re exactly right that once these artists are becoming more comfortable selling online, they are abandoning fixed platforms like Etsy and moving towards setting up there own websites.

      Great stuff!

      • Sandy says

        Your article mentions collectibles but doesn’t use the term at all! Vintage is a HUGE part of Etsy now, and since this original post is about 2 years old, I’d say that a lot has changed since you wrote it. I still see a lot of those silly things like the cat hats, etc., but I also see some quality artists, some beautiful artwork, and some quality handmade jewelry. I also see some people trying to sell their wares for way, way too much money, but the ones who do quality work for a reasonable price seem to be the ones that I keep coming back to.

        That said, it seems that Etsy isn’t all bad and perhaps you need to sell what’s selling and sell it for a going rate. I check ALL OVER the web before I buy anything to see if I can find something like or or similar for a cheaper price, all while taking into account a seller’s feedback, how long they’ve been on Etsy, etc.

        So, while crafters and artists may be what comes to people’s mind initially, in some cases, I think of Etsy when I want to buy a vintage piece for my home. I also have bought artwork from a talented painter, and some hand made jewelry. I believe in promoting where you live, so I tend to buy on Etsy as much as I possibly can.

        Like I said, a lot has changed in 2 years.

  6. Janine says

    I’ve been an Etsy member since Dec. 2007 (started selling in July 2008).
    Etsy definitely ‘sells the dream’…and with so many people who are down on their luck financially right now, it’s no wonder that there are more new sellers everyday wanting nothing more than to make that dream come true.

    With the ‘cheap’ 20-cents per listing and the articles Etsy publishes about people who have quit their day jobs , it’s all too easy to believe the hype.
    One always has to keep in mind, though…if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We’ve all heard that one, and it goes for Etsy as well.

    The 20 cents per listing is for a 4-month placement, but doesn’t include the ‘re-newing’ of your listing at frequent intervals (at 20 cents each time). Etsy’s search defaults to “most recently listed”, so those who continue to pump their 20 cents in constantly for the same listing, will have a better chance of being seen.
    Often, when you search Google for a certain handmade item and those items can be found on Etsy, you will more likely get a link leading to an Etsy category or canned Etsy search result, instead of a link to an actual listing.
    Say you make crochet plush animals. You have a fox listed, and someone is looking for a crocheted fox. So they enter into Google’s search: handmade fox crochet. The first two results link directly to Etsy’s internal search, which is prioritized by, you guessed it….whomever has paid another 20 cents for ‘re-newal’ most recently and fits the search description.

    That’s really only the tip of the iceberg of what has been discovered by many others; just always remember to research everything you can about a venue before deciding to associate your business with theirs. User’s forums are a great place to discover what issues there are and how quickly (or slowly) the sellers’ needs are met by the venue. I emptied my Etsy shops months ago and I’m STILL learning things that make me shake my head.

    Take care out there.

    • Drew says

      Thanks Janine for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us :)

      I think you’re right that sellers are going to eventually get tired of being “nickel-and-dimed” to death by Etsy for constantly relisting their items, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is one of the main reasons for their high seller turnover.

      That’s really interesting about the Google search results. The fact that they don’t link directly to your store for the product but to Etsy’s internal search engine seems ridiculous. I mean when you think about it, what’s the point of having a so-called “store” if you can’t get people to find it directly in the search engines?!

      Your advice about doing your research and checking user forums before signing up with an online marketplace is excellent. As you know, every selling platform has it’s own set of pros and cons, and you can’t leave it up to the company’s website to give you an accurate review. Always talk to someone who has used that particular marketplace before and find out what they like (and don’t like) about it.

      Thanks again Janine, I hope to hear from you again soon!

  7. says

    Interesting way to analyze the numbers on Etsy. I have had a shop since 2008 and I’m one of those with not a lot of sales. For various reasons I can’t do live shows, so Etsy is my only sales outlet. What I constantly question is – the amount of time I spend on marketing and SEO tasks is horrendous. I can’t imagine how much worse that would be if I sold in more online sites or my own website. I love doing my art and I love the people I meet online but I’m in this to make money and that’s not happening. So for the moment I’m stuck on making any decisions.

    • Drew says

      It’s good to hear from you again Felicia!

      After reading Janine’s post above, I’m starting to understand why you might be having such a hard time getting search traffic to your Etsy store. I can’t help but wonder if the way Etsy routes their Google search traffic is unusual, or if it’s like that with most of the online marketplaces?

      For what it’s worth, I honestly think that getting traffic to your own website has now become easier than getting search traffic from these large marketplace sites like Etsy. Keep in mind that Etsy’s goal with search traffic is to get as much traffic as possible coming into their site (not necessarily your store) and then keep them there as long as possible.

      My advice would be to keep focusing your efforts on building the traffic to your own blog/website (which takes time) and then link directly to your store as you have. Stay involved in the incredibly active artist community on Twitter and Facebook and keep making those valuable connections.

      Keep the faith!

  8. says

    This is a great post. I have an Etsy account and I am a visual artist. I opened my Etsy store in 2008 and I have had 11 sales. I opened an Artfire store around this time last year and sold 4 items in 1 month. I now mainly focus on driving collectors to my website. I sell mostly original art although I have prints as well. I have found more success just promoting my own website. When ever I sold on Etsy buyers always wanted to low ball the prices of my original pieces. Not to mention the whole re-listing game you have to play just to stay visible. I have had a lot more success just marketing myself. I paint live, do time lapsed videos, and now I’m focusing more on galleries etc etc.

    I just found that the money I spent monthly trying to stay visible on Etsy was becoming a nuisance. I think it works best for people who already started out with a following of collectors or else you just get lost in the shuffle.

    • Drew says

      Hi Antwanyce!

      I think your comment really reflects what I’ve been hearing from artists who have sold on Etsy. They perception and the reality of having a shop on Etsy seems to be vastly different, which probably explains why long-term seller success stories are hard to find.

      Now having said that, selling anything online is a lot more difficult than it appears to be, and driving enough traffic to your website in order to convert a small percentage of those visitors into paying customers is the number one frustration I hear from all types of creative artists.

      I think you’re absolutely right that it’s becoming easier to drive traffic to your own website then it is to be able to stand out in a overcrowded marketplace like Etsy.

      By the way, I love the bold colors of your paintings. Your work has a very powerful vibe to it. Great stuff! :)

    • Drew says

      I still think there could be a market for them, although you may want to rethink your marketing strategy because when I Googled the term “nut sack” the results were a bit . . . off topic 😉

  9. says

    Hi Drew!

    I agree with you about Etsy dying. The end might not happen for awhile but it will happen. I’ve had a couple of shops over the past few years and I never felt any love. You have to promote yourself unless like someone said earlier Etsy falls in love with your products and decides to promotes you all the time. After awhile I thought, if I have to do it all myself, why help etsy out with selling and transaction fees. So I went to big cartel, (one flat fee a month) and now I’m soaking up all of the marketing help I can find. I have my big cartel shop linked to my website and I feel much more in control of the process.

    Etsy is great to get an idea of what you want to sell and how online selling works. But afterthat, not so much.

    • Drew says

      Hi Rachel :)

      In a lot of ways, Etsy reminds me of AOL. Those of you who have been around the net for awhile may remember that there was a time not so long ago when AOL ruled the online world and every other internet provider was an afterthought.

      Although it seems a little hard to believe now, when the WWW was new (and we still called it “WWW”) everyone was a little afraid of it because it was new and unfamiliar. Then AOL came along and promised to not only give a safe place to play online, but they also promised to technologically hold our hand as we explored this brave new world.

      Being on AOL was kind of like being at a Sandals resort, where you were discouraged to go off of the resort and explore the “wild web” on your own. As the web evolved, however, we gradually became more comfortable with it and we discovered that life outside of the gated AOL community wasn’t that scary after all.

      I think the same will eventually hold true for marketplaces like Etsy. When we first try selling our art online, we don’t know what to do and we’re intimidated by all the technical details of setting up a website, merchant account, a shopping cart, etc… So we turn to easy selling promise of Etsy, and before we know it, our shop is up and running.

      Sooner or later, however, we start to feel more comfortable with these various online tools and we outgrow the inherent limitations of this beginner platform. We want more design freedom, we want more flexibility, and we want fewer links to other people’s products in our shopping carts. Like teenagers we eventually get tired of playing by their rules, so we pack up our digital bags and decide to head off on our own.

      I think Etsy will always have a place for the hobbyist and the artist who is setting up his or her first shop online, but I still think that its only a stepping stone towards a path of independence.

      Sorry to ramble on Rachel, but I think your path is a great example of where so many others are heading. . .

  10. says

    Hi Drew!

    Really good food for thought here. I hadn’t given Etsy’s numbers a lot of thought…

    Etsy has been great for me and I have high hopes of growing my etsy sales. But, I agree, all my eggs in one basket is a bad idea– I do need a shopping cart without links to thousands of other people’s shiny things for sale. :)

    I think one reason you may see so many folks close shop is that the barrier to entry is so low. Many people open a shop without determination to make their business a success. Some of sort-of trying it out. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard sellers say in the forums that they would never spend X on advertising. What if X on advertising (or some other business investment) would return 10X? I’m not sure many of them are thinking that way…

    It’s also a social site– people may join and sell to be among like minded folks… It may be more of a hobby shop.

    Thanks for the post! :)

    • Drew says

      Hi Tricia!

      I completely agree with you that Etsy has been able to attract such a large number of new members because the barrier to entry is so low. I also suspect you must have some marketing/business background which. . .

      #1: Explains why your Etsy shop is doing so well

      #2: Explains why you are comfortable using terms like “barrier to entry” and talking about the value of advertising and return on investment. Of course you are down there in Raleigh/Chapel Hill, so maybe you just absorb this kind of thing by osmosis down there 😉

      I also think your shop excellent example of how it’s not necessarily the tool, as much as it is the willingness and commitment to selling yourself as a creative artist. As you said, too many people open a shop and just expect that their customers will be lining up to buy their artwork. It just doesn’t work that way. It never has, and it never will. . .

      In the end people will take your art only as seriously as you do.

  11. says

    I think it’s very tough to sell Fine Art on Etsy when you take into account the average sell price per item. $18! Etsy does do a good job of bringing in traffic to Etsy. But after a buyer gets through the front door, you as an individual shop have to compete with the $18 items.

    • Drew says

      I think you’re right Anne because not only do potential buyers have to sort through a pile of trinkets in order to find your original art, the public perception has become that Etsy is marketplace for low-priced items. So not only is your original artwork becoming increasingly hard to find on Etsy, but people are becoming more reluctant to pay a premium for it.

      Like TheRichAnt mentioned above, more and more artists are discovering that buyers are beginning to low-ball and try to negotiate a better price for your artwork — This is the type of behavior you would expect to find at a flea market rather than an art gallery. . .

  12. says

    Interesting article! I totally agree with you in that having your own website as a professional exhibiting artist is critical. I would also agree that the Etsy fast money days are over (2006-2008). It’s hard to build momentum as a newer seller. Additionally, I support Krystyna’s comments above in regards to the taxonomy mess. Many of us have been lobbying for “Fine Art” to be pulled out of “Handmade” and to become a distinct 4th top-level category. There is even a petition with about 700 signatures.

    Besides the conversion from being a selling-based site to a social media site (several recent forum discussions about this as a result of new investor strategy), I believe that artificial “success stories” are also being made of select sellers to entice new sellers. This is done via Etsy’s built-in advertising outlets (Featured Seller articles, repeated home (front) page exposure, and Etsy Finds, the daily push email campaign). You can view my full comments on the issue here:

    *Note that when the topic of front page repetition is brought up, we typically see about 5 individuals vehemently defending the status quo (plus one supplier to these favored sellers). In case you weren’t aware – you can look up the # of front page appearances any shop has had by member name here in the Vault section:

    “Calling out” – referring to a specific shop for any reason other than to be complimentary will cause a forum thread to be shut down, even if someone partially disguises a name. So… it’s best to check the numbers individually/off-line using the Craftcult tool when forming an independent, unbiased opinion.

    • Drew says

      Hi Joy!

      You’ve given some great insider advice here :)

      I think you nailed it when you said that Etsy is using a few select “success stories” to rope in these new accounts. I completely understand that they want to show off their success stories, but perhaps they need to spend a little more time fixing their site to make it more artist friendly and a little less time recruiting even more sellers to clog up the system. Maybe they should even consider closing the doors to new sellers for a month or two until thy get some of these issues straightened out and take care of their current sellers.

      Very interesting stuff!

  13. Lily says

    Great article!

    I have to say that I am one of the ones who jumped through hoops in order to buy something on someones Etsy… By the time I got done filling out all the bologna, I decided using their website was too much of a hassle, especially since every god damned names I wanted were taken.

    My account has been set up, but I have not used it. I’ll just go to art fairs to buy my stuff. It’s best that way anyhow.


    • Drew says

      Hi Lily, it’s great to see you here!

      I completely agree with you that Etsy has made it way too difficult for someone to just make a purchase, especially when you’re talking about items that are mostly non-essential in the first place.

      With over 2.2 million people signing up just this year, I can imagine how hard it must be to find a catchy and memorable Etsy username besides lily235869 these days. Based on the numbers, I’d have to imagine that you are probably not alone in the “account has been set up, but not used” category.

      Thanks again Lily for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us :)

  14. says

    I don’t believe that Etsy can compete with selling venues that offer a flat rate per month. Here’s why: can you imagine a million sellers renewing dozens of listings a day just to get seen in the searches? note: Etsy ranks listings in terms of most recently listed and a lot of sellers use a renewing strategy.

    In crowded categories, you are likely to get seen on the front page of a seach for a few seconds now. But with a million sellers, perhaps that works out to a quarter or a tenth of a second.

    The searches are also a nightmare. Check out the Hanukkah section under paper goods/cards at Etsy and you will see what I mean (thousands of Santas, hardly a menorah in sight).

    Previous to Etsy, I was (and still am) selling primarily through brick and mortar galleries and shops, successfully, before I decided to give Etsy a try last year around this time.

    The impetus for selling on-line was: I was feeling discouraged about the brick and mortar galleries and shops in my area opening for 6 months – 2 years and then closing, so I thought I’d set up a little on-line shop until I got a full “shopping website” up. I also know many, many artists (personally) who sell through Etsy. Some of them sell several items a day, some sell 4 items a year (none are “favorites” at Etsy, however, i.e. get promoted by them) and many thought it was worthwhile for me to try it out.

    I was surprised that just about all of my sales on Etsy came from my brick and mortar customers via my website. Only 2 small sales came from browsers. That speaks volumes.

    So, if I was going to park items somewhere until I got my “shopping” website up, I decided to park items at Artfire (because my customers don’t need to be a member of the company and the general searches are much better– I was feeling a bit embarrassed about sending my customers to Etsy, especially with virtually no customer service and what was reported to me personally from one of my elderly buyers as a confusing shopping experience).

    My future plans for Etsy are to keep a minimal shop and use it to try new art “ideas”. In my year there, I have learned what their preferences
    are (all shopping venues have preferences about what they carry and promote, even brick and mortar galleries), so one has to either go with the flow or get out.

    All in all, it has been an interesting year of learning & meeting new on-line sellers, even if just cyber-ly (of which Joy Appenzeller Bauer was one).

    • Drew says

      Thank you so much Lise for taking the time to give us an excellent insider’s perspective here!

      I think you’re exactly right when you say that Etsy has become so overcrowded and unorganized that sellers have had to turn to such desperate tactics as renewing their listing repeatedly just to get to the front page momentarily. Sure it’s still fairly cheap (the first dozen or so times), but is this really the best way to market your creations?!

      By shifting your focus to your own website, I think you have a far better chance of building your personal brand over time and having people find you by searching for you specifically as an artist and not by searching for your product on a site like Etsy. As I’ve said repeatedly throughout this site. . .

      It’s not the art your customers are buying–it’s you the artist!

      This is the reason that it’s become so important to build your reputation online as an artist through your own website as well as with social media sites like Twitter and Facebook so that eventually people will be Googling you specifically because they know and like you as a person.

      Great stuff :)

  15. says

    Thank you for providing such useful information! And, as an aside, reconfirming my exit from Etsy a long time ago when it was still a crowded mess. I agree that it’s a place for people to get a cheap portfolio, but not much in the way of good exposure. I did finally get my own website and it’s going to be easier to focus on it than to wonder how to bring my art to the top on Etsy.

    • Drew says

      Hi Jean! Thanks for taking a moment to share your thoughts with us :)

      I think you’re right that Etsy has just become way too crowded to get any real exposure for your work. I also agree that you’re probably far better off focusing your energy on building up your own site, where the long-term payoff will be much greater. By the way, I love the “Snoring Dog Studio” name and the your watercolors have this incredible whimsical and dreamlike nature about them. Beautiful work!

      Thanks again for stopping by Jean and we hope to hear from you again soon.

  16. Lana says

    I have a designer friend who makes couture hats, she makes them for a living and sells the average hat for about 120 bucks. She has told me that etsy is a great place to have your ideas stolen and copied. The same goes on ebay, maybe are on ebay copying other artists ,especially off shore production companies who can knock off your design and have it in the stores in no time for UNDER a buck! Most REAL artists/designers who are actually LIVING OFF the sales of their art are being butt right up next to part time hobbyists who, by the way, probably have a full time job ,but make crafty things with a glue gun and some scrap parts lying around the house as a SIDE thing for “spending ” money. This to most REAL artists is non-existent,for most of them, making a living at their art is what sustains them. Most people that buy on etsy,like on ebay ,are looking for a deal, sort of like shopping at a thrift store with no understanding that the artist pays alot in materials AND time on a daily basis. Maybe a site that existed of “juried” artworks, by professional artists and let etsy keep to the part time hobbyists! sorry if I offended anyone,but really,think about it…do a jewelry search and see what comes up! same as the MASS amounts of knitted hats and so on…maybe it is time someone steps up and makes a change…maybe that will be me!

    • Drew says

      Hi Lana!

      I think you’re right that there really needs to be some more internal divisions created within Etsy itself. I really like your idea of a “juried” section or even subdomain of Etsy for hand-selected premium fine art pieces that are, of course, priced accordingly. Maybe each category could get it’s own guest artist for a month or two and have them feature their favorites in that particular category.

      Great idea Lana, and by the way, don’t worry about offending the artists here with your comment — If they’ve been reading my stuff this long, they’re probably pretty much “offended-proof” by now 😉

    • rosemary dingman says

      I am not in the same class as most of you speaking…while i dabble in the arts a little, never would I have the talent to make a living at it. However I feel that you guys are maybe looking down your noses at the so called “hobbists” out there. Alot of people are just looking for a way to make a living, not just wanting to sell their free time creations. There’s alot of reasons that a person cannot work in the normal workforce…….. children at home, taking care of elderly parents, location/job market, disablies just to name a few. In my case I can’t venture more than 10 ft /30 seconds from a bathroom. Makes a normal job impossible and telemarketing can’t be run from a bathroom without bad sound effects. LOL I’m need to work, just have a different set of conditions to work within. I’m just trying to figure out a way to pay my bills and keep me and the stray animals fed . So if anyone has ideas I’m looking for them. Sign me out as a 60 year old still trying to paddle. Rosemary

    • says

      I am currently an Etsy seller, and have been reading all these posts re what is wrong with selling on Etsy.
      I joined in Nov. of 2010. My website is only a link to my Etsy shop at this time. I have resisted putting in my 2 cents, here because I wanted to get the feel for what others are thinking.

      When I came to your post, Lana, I had to chime in. You are “so right” about having sites, such as Etsy, having
      a well rounded “jury panel” for the different categories of media sold on Etsy. It has become impossible to make,
      your items, photograph them, list them, and pay for them over and over. Especially, when they aren’t selling quickly.

      I now feel that it is time to close my Etsy shop. Everyone is “favoriting” and not buying. I feel they are doing as we all suspect, “copying” and not buying! There should be a distinction made between those who really have talent and are
      investing their soul, as well as money, in their effort to design real pieces of art, and those who just want to blow away a few hours dittling with junk and trying to sell it.

      I have no idea, other than what friends and relatives tell me, as to the perceived quality of my jewelry pieces. I do
      know that ” I ” spend a lot of time and money trying to make a quality item, which is as unique as possible, for the
      pleasure of the buyer. I have had a few sales while on Etsy, but I suspect my prices are too high, as many have
      said, for the average Etsy buyer. I cannot sell them for less and turn a profit.

      To the persons here who complain about the poor craftsmanship and quality of some shops on Etsy, who undercut
      your prices, I ditto that as well. That will be there until someone starts and merchandises a website for “real” artists
      which must by definition be “juried”. The purchaser must be aware of the time, effort and talent, going into a quality

      The best to all!

      PS: To Rosemary: enjoy 60! I am older, LOL! Keep enjoying your talent, God’s gifts should never be put aside!


  17. says

    This article was very interesting…thanks for putting these numbers out there!

    I completely agree with many points that you make. For one, getting “noticed” is very difficult and somewhat impossible for the average seller. I crochet hats and accessories, mainly for the little ones, and each time I get “featured” in someone else’s treasury, the only people who I see actually viewing the treasury are other sellers who are also featured. I have never been featured on etsy’s front page, but all too often I see sellers with much less in their shops featured. Another snag I run into is copycat sellers…they search through the etsy listings for items that are appealing or selling well, and *try to recreate them and sell for a much lower, unfair price.

    When I first started selling on etsy, I never ever expected to make huge sales. I am a stay-at-home-mom of two little boys, so my time is very limited. Crocheting a quality piece takes time and attention, so I admit that I could never handle mass sales. However, all too often I see sellers who started selling say, 6 months ago, make double the sales that I’ve made in the year or so that I’ve been open. I think that etsy is a fabulous outlet for someone with a hobby who wants to make a little spare change on the side, but I would never expect to make a living off of etsy. It’s just another outlet that I can use whenever I WANT to.

    I have found that networking has been my best source of sales. I have come into contact with several very talented photographers, who photograph my items in exchange for their photos (the hats, etc are modeled, of course). Since I started having my wares professionally photographed sales have really increased. These photographers mention me to their clients, post photos of my pieces on their websites, blogs, facebook pages, etc, and that starts a bit of a trickling down effect. The photos make a huge difference too…if it looks good at first glance, chances are more people will click on the listing and check it out more closely. I have also hosted reviews/giveaways on various independent blogs with quite a bit of success. And I always use my own facebook page to promote sales, etc. Without all of the networking I think I would still be twittling my thumbs (literally!). I would say from experience that if your friend wants to open her shop on etsy, then she MUST NOT rely solely on etsy to promote her shop. Most serious sellers who are actually trying to make money and not win a “most sales” contest on etsy do not renew listings daily, and therefore we are not seen nearly as often as we should be seen.

    I hope that etsy will realize that we sellers are not happy with the search engines they currently utilize, and therefore I hope they will try to construct a more efficient way of searching through the TONS of new items. I also wish they would go to a flat -rate monthly fee instead of the gobs of 20cents charges that we have to pay. And like many of the other readers have mentioned, I hope that etsy can allow new buyers to opt out of registration…I lose so many sales to people from other online sources who just don’t feel like signing up for an etsy account. Etsy is great, but it definitely has its flaws….

    • Drew says

      Thanks Samantha for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us. I think your experience really echos what a lot of other Etsy sellers have been dealing with and how Etsy has simply become too large and too unorganized to be an effective marketplace for the individual seller.

      You’re exactly right that networking and getting yourself out there will always be the best type advertising for your business, especially in a creative marketplace where the personality of the artist can often mean as much to the customer as the quality of the work itself. Using Etsy primarily as a way to transact your sale, and not as a marketing “hope-you-can-find-me” method, is probably the way to go. As a checkout and payment system with low listing fees, Etsy is hard to beat. The days of having someone discover your shop by searching on Etsy, however, are probably long gone.

      It sounds like you are doing the right thing by using Facebook, various blogs, and Twitter to drive traffic to your Etsy shop. On a side note, you’ve also done a great job modeling your hats and other items on actual cute kids rather than simply setting your items on a table and photographing them like so many other sellers seem to do–so kudos to you!

      I also think coming up with some sort of tier or flat-rate monthly fee is probably a good idea that would allow Etsy to offer some additional perks listings/promotions/features to their premium customers. I would think that you could even offer some of these listing features a la carte like eBay does with highlighted, starred, and bold item listings for a small additional fee.

      Thanks again Samantha–Great stuff! :)

  18. says

    I am getting pretty sick of etsy. I have over 400 items I need to list and I was thinking just today, they are going to get $80.00 every 4 mths that I relist my items. That’s crazy? why should we have to pay a relisting fee again? Also, I was thinking, Etsy is trying to keep some of the venues that are able to pull sellers listings and put them on their venues, very simply too. The way I look at it; I pay for my listings, and therefore they belong to me. So if I want to list them elsewhere , I should be able to . Plus they get a commission too.
    It seems like constantly I am seeing that F**king little frowning yellow face at the top of my etsy page that says, you have unpaid fees. I am sick of it. I first started with Artfire, but saw no sales hardly with it. But I am going back. I wish Artfire had the means to
    automatically pull your listings to their site. It would save me a lot of money and time, that I really don’t have. My major concern is I want a site that makes good use of Google, and I know people can find my items. I have paid for optimization sites, but I haven’t noticed any change in sales. I think those sites with their little robots and spiders are a waste of money. Does anyone know what venues will pull automatically the listings from Etsy?

    • Drew says

      You’re certainly not alone Carolyn in your frustration. I just can’t believe that Etsy still hasn’t caught on to all of these issues with their customers. Where is the support for their current customers? Sometimes it seems that they are spending so much of their time and energy on recruiting new buyers and sellers, that it doesn’t bother them to see all of their current customers get pissed off and leave.

      Unless they get their act together fairly soon and start taking care of artists like you, I really don’t see this ending well. Sooner or later they’re going to run out of new recruits and discover that their business is collapsing around them.

      I hope you’re able to find a good alternative soon!

    • says

      Just went to Artfire website and found this info: “Are You Ready to Start Selling on ArtFire?
      Let’s get started building your ArtFire shop. Start your FREE trial now.
      CSV Import
      CSV Import

      You don’t have to spend time re-listing products that you listed on Etsy. With the CSV data from your Etsy shop you can easily import your items and make a few (necessary) edits to get started on ArtFire faster than ever.” Don’t know how easy this will be or how well it will work, but apparently it is possible to pull listings from Etsy into Artfire. I’m considering doing it; if it works I will let you know!

  19. Sandy Jameston says

    In your article you calculate the average selling price of $18 (counting shipping charges?).
    Who can make anything for $18 and make a profit?
    Just add up all the time to make the item, the cost of the materials, the time to photograph it, put it up on etsy, etsy costs, then if it sells coordinating the sale, packing it (don’t forget the cost of packing materials), taking it to the post office and any etc, etc. costs.
    One would make more money working minimum wage for some one!

    (And for all you people putting things up for $50, $100, $200 more —-forget it. $18 is the average price of an item sold.)

    And the other thing you need to look into is the type of sales on Etsy.
    What is the most item category sold?
    Art and craft supplies! Supplies! Beads, jewels, do-dads, do-hickeys and whatevers to make things that are then (not) sold on etsy for an average of $18.

    • Drew says

      It’s interesting that the biggest categories of items sold on Etsy are Arts & Crafts supplies. . .

      This reminds me of those old stories about the gold rush where the only people who ended up making any money were not the ones looking for gold, but the ones who were selling the shovels and pans to the people looking for gold. In our own case here, that would be the bead merchants and the people running the selling platform itself (Etsy). As you point out, it’s NOT the Etsy sellers who are paying to list (and re-list) their items month after month all for the promise of that glorious $18 payday.

      Fortunately, the smarter sellers like yourself are starting to notice the ridiculousness of it all, and it’s just a matter of time before this giant bead-covered house of cards will fall if something is not done soon.

  20. Mel says

    I want to know if Etsy can somehow slow/block traffic or get it redirected from your shop if you, for example, might have overdue fees or you go and open a shop on Artfire, open your own website or something?

    • Drew says

      That’s an interesting question Mel but one that I don’t have an answer for, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Etsy did have something like this in place. Any of you Etsy users have an answer to this?

      • trinlayk says

        there is suspicion, that like on Ebay, Etsy uses “rolling black outs” to push some shops forward, and others back… for example the smaller seller might be doing really well for a few months, sales will be picking up, and then suddenly stop. a few months of nothing, and then sale start going good again, start really ramping up and then suddenly stop.

        this can be contrary to the sellers promotional practice, contrary to holidays etc coming up… (when i look at my stats from year to year there’s no pattern that makes any sense. one year I have NO sales during the holiday season, but Jan- May sales were like mad. The next year the holiday season is insanely busy with sales, but then February as the ramp up to Valentines comes up (which was HOT the year before) suddenly nothing, as if someone shut off a faucet.

        Others have observed that they’ll be visiting with someone who’d never been to Etsy before (or testing out a repaired computer) type in their direct URL and end up on the ETSY front page instead of in the shop.

        So what’s happening when that sort of thing, and those sorts of patterns are going on?

    • says

      Even if Etsy is capable of doing that I doubt they would because if you have overdue fees they are going to want you to have the money to pay them ASAP. Slowing down your traffic would make getting their cut even slower!

  21. dan says

    Let me ramble a moment. I have a brick and mortar store, a WEBsite , attend artisan shows and have an ETSY Store. I sell things through each channel and each has its issues, (talk about cost per listing then try paying the overhead of B&M Store! =) )

    Now, I sell more through ETSY than my on WEBsite for the same items so the shear exposure and built in SEO does help in the ETSY environment.

    But here is my AHAH! I started doing some API work thinking I would use my descriptive and inferential statistical background to find patterns in the data and then use that info to improve my own sales. I won’t go into all the details but here is an example for just about any category:

    I looked at top sellers (volume not $) and quickly found (as others have pointed out) that these folks are mostly a supplier of some type or are sometimes involved in mass sales that may be questionably hand made or vinatge. A simple histogram of the data shows that these mega sales folks are , as we say, outside the normal distribution of sellers and are just doing something different.

    So, you kick out that data (unless you want to be a supplier) and start poking around in other corners. I like to turn to Mr. Pareto and ask him what he sees in data. Well, it becomes apparent real quick that the volume of sales is split over a VERY LARGE number of very small volume sellers. ETSY gets their $.20 regardless but each one of these low volume sellers gets back very little.

    Hey, its free enterprise system and their lots of folks are wanting the “American Dream.” When the sorting out (not worth all the trouble) does occur, I predict that few will continue to be sellers And the folks that quit will be the ones that will also be taking ETSY’s revenues down with them (remember that category is the one generating the income for ETSY)

    I notice that ETSY is making strides in the direction that ETSY really is a social site. Circles, Virtual Labs, Chat Rooms, etc. That will keep ETSY alive as all these folks that are generating ETSY revenue and not sustainable, business revenues for themselves will need something to do.

    And as they say, “If it feels good, do it.” =)

    • Drew says

      Thanks for stopping by Dan and sharing your thoughts with us. I think you’re exactly right when you say that sooner or later the bulk of the low-volume bell curve are going to give up and Etsy is going to lose their cash cow. Eventually Etsy will probably move more toward a percentage type framework (a la eBay) but as you point out, so much of Etsy’s business is low-price supplies that this really isn’t going to boost the bottom line either.

      I have to admit that I had no idea how social Etsy is becoming, but unless they are generously stocking the forums and chat rooms with happy employees, I can’t imagine the conversation evolving into anything but a giant bitchfest for disgruntled users grumbling about their lack of sales. Then again, if you can’t make them money, you might as well keep them entertained. Bread and circuses my friend!

      • laine says

        the chatters will be wannabee business owner who have invested nothing but think they are big shots with an online shop and along with that are braggards, posers, boasters, self glossers, and dreamers. why does anyone chat with strangers they do not know or will never know? i consider social media a brag festival of self centeredness, no one care but the socity at large wants to believe they are special.

  22. trinlayk says

    I’ve left Etsy for other venues, mainly because of concerns for the privacy of my customers, and concerns about their information being Data mined.

    However, I’ve noticed that with many of my customers, and Your Mileage May Vary, is that quite often someone will see my work at a show, on a website, at a friend’s house/flickr site, blog, etc… they’ll come to ETSY to buy from ME having seen my work and gotten excited about it. They register and buy from me that same day they’ve registered, usually one or two items, sometimes a shiny happy customer buys a handful of items at a time.

    ….and then they vanish… they often don’t come back to ETSY at all EVER, or come back the next time they need a gift, or want another of my items, and they they want to come DIRECTLY to my shop, get the one or two items that is exactly what they want… and then POOF….

    so yes, there may be a lot of people registered as new users, but if the majority is like the greater number of customers that I’ve had… they come, they buy one or two things, and then THEY NEVER RETURN TO ETSY.

    more and more I was hearing that it was becoming more difficult to actually get to my shop, even when the customer had my direct link… it was more difficult to browse, MORe difficult to make a purchase.

    registration also included being set up for the circles (and notifications of “shop so an so added you to their circle” and other forms of spam) and other “features” without many of the privacy settings being opt in. (the default is apparently “show everything”)

    they’ve responded to the privacy concerns, not by fixing the privacy PROBLEM, but by breaking the feedback function… they’ve turned feedback from a tool into a weapon…. pretty much the same way Ebay had, possibly worse.

    And they keep investing time, money and energy into extras that aren’t needed, or should be at 2nd or 3rd priority and STILL don’t have a customer service hotline AT ALL. by this time a company of that size doing world wide business should have a customer service hotline that’s open 24/7/363 … but they don’t… having a customer service 800# should have been there since the site started up.

    Yes, you can email, for help… but you’ll just get an auto mail telling you they’ve got your mail, and maybe eventually you’ll get an email answering a different question than the one you need answered and no way to figure out who you really need to contact. Each Help email goes to the department and not a particular person, so a follow up email will probably not go to the person who sent the one you need the clarification on…

    Communication and customer service issues have plagued the company since I started selling there in 06, and admin/ownership has been informed that they really really need to take care of this gap RIGHT NOW, since that time… and they just don’t take care of their clients (the sellers) very well at all.

    • Drew says

      Wow, you bring up some really disturbing points here about Etsy’s complete inaccessibility to their sellers which are (or at least should be) the lifeblood of this company. You are exactly right, how could a company the size of Etsy not have a toll-free customer service hotline setup for their sellers?!

      Okay, I understand that the company may want to encourage buyers to contact the sellers directly if the item they ordered is not what they were expecting, but to not offer any real type of customer support to their sellers other than an email autobot — that’s completely absurd!

      It’s also a little bizarre that the company has addressed their customer’s privacy concerns by once again sabotaging the feedback function. This company seems to have a history of making things more difficult and convoluted over time for their sellers instead of making things easier and more intuitive as you would tend to expect.

      Thanks again for taking the time to share this with us!

  23. says

    I had an Etsy store for a while…made four sales in five years! I was doing mostly crocheted baby blankets and hats/scarves, stuff like that. I haven’t bothered stocking anything there for over a year, seriously contemplating taking up painting and opening a shop on Zazzle. What I’ve heard about what’s been going on at Etsy since the last time I was there really doesn’t sound good….

    • Drew says

      You’re right Ruth, that has to be discouraging.

      Etsy promises you this great marketplace that is full of eager buyers when it reality it seems these days it has become more like an overcrowded flea market where the merchants are jostling to get the attention of that one guy who accidentally wandered in looking for directions. . .

      Let us know if your Zazzle experience is any better

  24. says

    “giant bead-covered house of cards” lol!

    I opened my Etsy shop over a year ago, but still haven’t listed anything. I’m not quite ready to sell online yet (or offline for that matter), but I thought it would be a first step. After a year of reading online, now I’m hesitating. I get the Etsy newsletter and follow them on Twitter and see the “Quit Your Day Job” postings. I also see the advice to new sellers: Relist! Relist! Relist! It’s worth the price!

    I also hate that you can’t search Etsy for actual original art – you get all these “prints” – sorry to offend but I really don’t like printouts of artwork marketed as prints. I’ve been to printmaking studios and I know what a print is vs. a laserjet printout of a picture of a painting.

    I’m not sure how to sell via my Typepad blog yet (I’m not jumping on the WordPress bandwagon) but I like the Big Cartel idea.

    • Drew says

      Hi Lisa!

      I think in general we are still sorting out this whole everyone-can-have-a-store thing online. In the past everything like this had to be done in a large marketplace like Etsy and eBay because that’s where the buyers were. It reminds me of the old shopping malls that are slowly falling into the abyss here in the U.S. Specialized niche stores have taken over and those one-size-fits-all departments stores are slowly realizing that their days are numbered. Highly specialized niche websites/stores seem to be the future because one store or marketplace can no longer serve the needs of everyone.

      Etsy has tried to be everything to everyone and their efforts seem to be failing. Their response so far has simply been to go out and enlist more sellers. Maybe I’m just out of touch (surprise), but when was the last time you’ve seen an Etsy commercial to get new buyers to the site? What exactly are they doing in order to get more people looking to buy something. At this point Etsy seems to be following the Amway and the other network marketing models where they focus their energy on recruiting more sellers in order to collect their money in fees instead of finding actual paying customers.

  25. Arrrrgh Polly says

    Lots of “experts” write about how to sell on etsy.

    There are many scam authors who have never sold or made jewelry who write articles on “how to sell jewelry”.

    I’m frankly quite sick of all the garbage on the internet on this subject.

    The people who are selling a lot of product are clearly too busy and unmotivated to write articles and teach others how to compete with them!

    hardly any of these “experts” have ever done it themselves, let alone opened an etsy store….hmmmm.

    • Drew says

      I’m not sure where exactly you put this site on the internet “garbage” scale, but I do agree with you that there does seem to be an unusually large number of Etsy experts out there who have never made a dime on Etsy.

      The sad fact of the matter is that it has become far more profitable to sell books about “How to Sell on Etsy” than it is to actually try to sell anything on Etsy. The marketplace has simply become too crowded and so far Etsy has refused to organize or divide itself up in some kind of meaningful way. Until that actually happens, we’ll probably be sitting here and talking about it.

  26. Dave says


    I just closed shop with etsy as a seller. Here’s why. I originally went to etsy, because I know they concentrate on art and are very focussed on that specific aspect . It seems like every other website including ebay is focussed on everything else except art. My biggest problem with etsy is that it ironically focusses on the artist instead of the buyer. Who ‘really’ buys anything on etsy other than no one. The answer: ‘artists.’ That would work work great if artists ever had any money. You can sell something on ebay in 1/90th of the time it takes to even try to sell something on etsy. Why? Because people that actually have money shop on ebay. Don’t get me wrong, the artists on etsy give exceptional moral support to other artists and this is almost priceless. It doesn’t pay the bills though. I’m glad I did list on etsy for the time I did, but I just don’t have the time and money to spend waiting for my work to escape revolving in cyberspace compared to the real world of an actual purchase. That probably made no sense, but esty could make a huge amount of money instead of inflating their ‘almost’ annual reports, by putting more focus on marketing it to people with money who typically are not artists. Of course the flip-side is that etsy sells out to the ‘kinkadean’ dominant buying philosophies of the rich. How terrible that would be. Go figure.

    • Drew says

      Hi Dave!

      I think you nailed it when you said that Etsy for whatever reason seems to focus all their efforts on recruiting more artists rather than finding more buyers to actually buy the art. As anyone knows, once the customers stop coming it’s only a matter of time until the merchants/artists start cannibalizing one another. Instead of a thriving marketplace, it eventually unravels into some Darwinian experiment to simply see who can survive the longest. . .

      Thanks again Dave for stopping by and let us know if you find any better alternatives out there.

  27. says

    I have dumped hundreds into trying to sell on Etsy bought a new camera Take tons of pictures post all the time like they say and keep lowering and lowering prices on items it even took me 6+ hours to make On average I get about 50ish -100 views before an item ends and then a couple likes But that’s about it I get Favorited but no buys Ive had 11 sales since I started and about 5 of them were my grandmother from far away lol >.<
    Basically Etsy sucks and is a waste of money I have recently been looking into other Options and Art fire seems the way to go It's not like my items suck or Are too expensive I just think that Etsy has crap as far as traffic It's mostly window shoppers and highly opinionated people I've also had people favorite an item of mine then turn around and copy me That blows!
    At one point I even had 50 things at least posted at once now that is 0.20 cents a posting x 50 =10 dollars on artfire it is 10 dollars a month for as many things as you want to post and Unlike Etsy which takes 3.3 FVF Artfire Gives you everything you make from a sale!
    Worth checking out.

    • Dave says

      Art fire eh?

      I’ll have to check them out.

      What you’re saying is entirely the reason why I closed shop with Etsy. Same with me, I had photos and I lowered the price and it made no difference. (Meow meow Kudos on that meow meow advice)

    • Drew says

      I think you certainly aren’t alone in looking for alternatives to selling on Etsy. I’ve been thinking about possibly doing a followup article to this post looking at some alternative online marketplaces to Etsy (like Artfire) and the pros and cons of each but I would definitely need your input on what else you’ve tried and what you liked and didn’t like about that particular marketplace. So if any of you have moved on from Etsy and are trying something else, please let us know about it and tell us what you think!

      • Tere Yons says

        Please do a follow up article! I’ve found this whole article and comments section incredibly interesting and informative. My entire family is made up of “struggling” artists (meaning struggling to succeed, but we all have money to live on from other sources), so I know some of the struggles of trying to sell art for a price that it is worth, but I had no idea about a lot of these new online issues. What I find so incredible is how SUPPLIES are the number one selling items! That just blows my mind, even though it seems so obvious now, especially when I think of my own family and we spend so much money on supplies to make all this “art.”

        I would definitely be interested in reading what you find out about Etsy and similar sites since you wrote the first article. Thanks so much for your hard work!

        • laine says

          businesses have money and they spend money and are usually not cheap and fickled, people/consumers on the other hand are cheap fickled and down right horrible, except for the wealthy. so i am not surprised.
          you have to get as far away as you can from consumers and lower and middle class. i sell to a lot of professionals and they can be the bad too. you have to get above incomes of 100k, they its wonderful.

  28. Marc says

    Unfortunately your premise is incorrect. You identify that Etsy is taking on new people all the time but overall sales are not increasing to meet the $18 per person level. The reason for this is quite simple. Some are sellers only, but the majority are buyers, but these buyers are not all buying at the same time. In one month a certain group may buy items and represent the total sales for that month. The next month you may get a certain small percentage of crossover buyers but for the most part it is new buyers who represent the sales for 2nd month. This goes on and on month after month. It is in this way that 2.1 million Etsy people can account for a fairly narrow (but growing) sales range.

    The number of individuals buying more than one item a year is increasing and as a result the buying power of Etsy buyers grows every year exponentially. Etsy is only on the cusp of their potential. Look at their financial information in comparison to Ebay and one can see the room for growth.

    • Drew says

      Hi Marc,

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us.

      I would certainly welcome the opportunity to compare Etsy’s financial information with another online marketplace such as eBay, however, Etsy being a privately held company provides very little actual financial information about their company (of which I can only assume that you are a part of) whereas eBay being a publicly held corporation has their audited financial statements readily available. In other words, the rest of us can all only speculate what is actually going on behind the curtain because Etsy does not publicly release these figures.

      For example, you mention that “the number of individuals buying more than one item a year is increasing”. I’m curious about what percentage of buyers we are talking about, and where exactly you acquired this information?

      And even if it’s true, that still doesn’t address the concerns that have been expressed from these current and former Etsy sellers about the long-term viability of an individual seller being able to thrive in an increasingly overcrowded handcrafted marketplace. eBay continues to work because they have not only effectively segmented their marketplace, they also have a strong search algorithm in place where a buyer can find exactly what they’re looking for, and they historically have strong support tools for their sellers.

      I do hope for the sake of all of these sellers who have pinned their small business hopes and dreams on the Etsy marketplace that the company really is “on the cusp of their potential” as you say and the number of new buyers will continue to grow exponentially . . . but I still can’t help but wonder what happens if they don’t?

  29. Drew says

    On a completely unrelated note. . .

    Interesting article about the recent management shakeup at Etsy on TechCrunch as visitor growth to Etsy has apparently “stalled”

    Here are a couple of intriguing quotes from the article:

    “Today marked a bit of leadership shuffling at Etsy, the online marketplace to buy your local hipster a handmade good, as CTO Chad Dickerson takes over the reins as CEO from Rob Kalin.”

    “Etsy has been growing fairly steadily over the last few years, and a report by GreenCrest Capital, a private equity firm, estimated that the startup’s revenue will grow from $72 million to $201 million by 2016.

    However, while growth potential is high, the firm said that “storefront concerns were reaching a crescendo”, with customers expressing concern over the amount of effort it takes to maintain an active Etsy storefront.

    In Green Capital’s survey of ‘over two dozen prolific Etsy sellers’, more than 80 percent of sellers ‘had concerns about their Etsy experience’. These concerns also included financial considerations, competition, privacy concerns, and ‘Etsy’s lack of technological capabilities’.”

    “comScore also had Etsy hovering at around 7.4 million monthly unique visitors worldwide in May, a number that has remained largely flat going back to December 2010.”

    [Editor’s note: hmmmmmm. . . ]

  30. Daniela says

    Yesterday, etsy changed their default search to relevancy. It will be interesting to see how that effects sales.

    • Drew says

      Thanks for sharing this Daniela. It’s interesting and also a bit sad that Etsy just realized that a search should almost always be about “relevancy”. If anyone notices any differences in their sales because of this switch, please let us know!

  31. says

    You keep saying that people are leaving in droves. This may be true but what is the real reason behind this migration?
    I personally think it is because many people start up their etsy shop only to find that it takes a lot of work to manage a shop. Many believe they are going to get rich quick. They soon find out that you cannot let the store front sit idle.

    Just recently etsy changed the default on the FP to relevancy. This has upset a lot of people because they were spending lots of money renewing and of course gaining visability and thus the possibility of sales. The other side of the coin were the little users who were leaving because they did not have the capital to invest in large marketing renewal programs. Thus the were only visable to the public for about four seconds then they went into the vortex.

    Now however, etsy has changed the FP search and it has brought out a lot of little sellers who have a great product and will thus have more opportunity to sell.

    I was upset at etsy last fall when they started the big changes. The one that got my goat was the forums changes. So I put together a small poll and put it out on the forums to see what people were thinking. Now the servey is not a real knock down mathimatical wizard computed stats type but it gave me an idea what was on the mind of the people on the forums.

    You can see it here:

    The point to note here is that approximately 88% of the respondants stated that they both bought and sold. The numbers selling only was about 7% and buying only was 4%.

    I was chastised by many who said my pole was slanted. But it still showed a slice of thought of about 1000 people. I would have continued collecting responses but the cost was to much for me to personally carry.

    Even after I closed the poll many people continued to respond. Strange the stats remain similar.

    Food for thought.

    • Drew says

      First of all, thanks Terrance for taking the time to create this survey and then sharing with us. There is a lot of good information here and it certainly gives us a better insight into the Etsy community. For what it’s worth, I think every poll cannot help but be slightly biased but I think yours has a large enough response that it accurately shows the feelings of the Etsy community.

      It will be interesting to see how the switch to relevancy in Etsy’s search will affect the sales of these smaller (and quite possibly higher quality) merchants who don’t have the marketing dollars to stay on the front page.

      If you would, please let us know what you are hearing from the Etsy community about these changes both now and in the future.

      Thanks again Terrance for stopping by and sharing this information with us :)

  32. says

    Thank you so much. I do have a story to tell since I just left Overstock’s Worldstock as a small vendor and joined Etsy. But I’ll have to get on the computer to join your feed, my iPad is acting jittery. BTW, vendors really are freaking out about the new relevancy search, and I’m one of them!

    • Drew says

      I’d love to hear more about your experiences as a recent new seller with Etsy. Have you had any issues with the relevancy search tool. It seems to have completely changed the way a lot of Etsy sellers market their work on the site. Thanks again for stopping by!

  33. P.S. says

    I joined Etsy about two months ago. In theory, wouldn’t it be easier for people to find you/ to become known- on a site like Etsy then with ones own website? There is a lonely feeling thinking about starting my own site….speaking of “If you build it, they will come.” Having said that I do have to market my Etsy shop aggressively and I could be doing it for my own website.

    I haven’t been around long enough to make a real judgement but check out the link below. She closed down shop because of “copycats” and now sells her secret sources to anyone who will pony up the cash.

    My opinion on people copying your ideas is this: Get over it. Everyone gets inspiration from somewhere. Even you. If someone purchased something from you on Etsy to copy it…they could have done so just as easily on a website or somewhere else. I have seen many renditions of famous paintings/art. Some will pay for the original some won’t. It makes art accessible to those with money and those with little.

    I am not sure I care for artfire…for many reasons. Their aesthetic appeal and the shops seem to separated- for lack of a better word. Their new banner and shop re-do is limited and unappealing.

    So where are the masses moving to? I would like to hear from people who moved on somewhere else. In particular starting their own website- how has it worked out for you?

    • Drew says

      I think you nailed it when you said that it is lonely (not to mention frustrating) starting a brand-new website and then not getting any kind of real traffic coming into your site for those first few months. The good news is that once you do get that traffic coming in, no one (except perhaps the great Google itself) can ever take that traffic away from you.

      I think that’s one of the reasons so many Etsy sellers have freaked out when they changed their search methods. Those lucky souls who had figured out how to work the Etsy system, just got the proverbial rug pulled out from beneath them and many of them feel like they are staring over from square one.

      You’re right, of course, about getting over the copycats. Much easier said than done, but there will always be those parasitic idiots out there who have nothing better to do than swipe everyone else’s ideas. You just have to accept that as the price of doing business online. With any luck you’ll eventually have more sales (and hopefully more ideas) to replace any financial loss either real or imagined.

      I would also be curious to hear what others have to say about ArtFire or any of the other Etsy-alternative marketplaces that are out there.

  34. says

    Interesting, I am one of those gazillion new members between September and October 2010. I set up my shop in September last year, where I sell my artwork–primarily jewelry with some stained glass and painted glassware. To date I have had 12 sales, only 2 to strangers (i.e., the other sales were to friends or acquaintances). I am beyond discouraged at this point, and after hours upon hours of research on SEOs, marketing, keyword optimization, social networking, and dozens of other marketing issues that are over my head, I feel as though making any money at doing what I love–forget making a living–is a dream that is beyond my reach.

    After a year on Etsy I have learned more than I have sold. None of this information is particularly helpful to me as a person trying to sell her own work, but it could provide some insight into Etsy’s future.

    I think the biggest issue with Etsy isn’t about how many buyers and how many sellers make up its membership, but about the nature of the sales themselves. It’s not just about buyers and sellers–it’s a matter of what I believe to be the makeup of the membership responsible for buying.

    Etsy has two different types of customers: shoppers looking for handmade goods, and the Etsy sellers/artisans themselves who also purchase from other shop on the site. Unfortunately, I believe that it is this last group that makes up the majority of Etsy’s sales, which means that most of the sales are going to be of supplies, not goods. To wit: I have a friend on Etsy who is a supplier of gemstones whose shop opened exactly one month after mine, and she has (I kid you not) 150 times the number of sales as I do. My theory is that If your sole goal is to sell on Etsy, then the best way to do it is to sell supplies–beads, gemstones, jewelry components, etc.–as the majority of Etsy members are artisans, not your everyday shopper. I myself purchase most of my supplies for my creations through Etsy, and I suspect that most of the other artisans/Etsy members do as well. So I would not be surprised if Etsy’s sales, were you to examine them closely, would be made up primarily of art/crafting supplies sold to other members of Etsy, most of whom are probably there to sell the items they make from these supplies.

    I think this is a symptom of the biggest problem with Etsy, at least for those who attempt to sell their artwork; Etsy is, and really always has been, a place for artisans. That is, most of Etsy’s members are artists/crafters. When I have asked the average person on the street whether they have heard of Etsy, the answer is invariably “no.” (It should be noted that I am in the UK, and this may be not be the case in the US, where Etsy may be more widely known.) So most of the sales on Etsy, it would be my guess, are comprised of items that are sold to other crafters. This is (at least in part) why my supplier friend does so well, and my shop seems to get very little attention. I would probably do better selling off my massive inventory of vintage supplies than to actually use them in my own pieces. This, to me, is the problem for Etsy artisans–we simply aren’t going to get attention from other artists, because we are all there to sell, and if we’re going to spend money, it’s going to be on supplies. Other, similar sites such as ArtFire and DeviantArt are probably even less well known to the buying public and are comprised almost solely of artists.

    As if this issue weren’t problematic enough, Etsy has implemented several changes to their site that have hurt sellers. Last year they disabled the Alchemy feature, which allowed customers to request items upon which artisans could bid, giving shop owners a surefire way to gain custom orders. I was too late to Etsy to utilize Alchemy to gain sales, but I can see its appeal, and I have read several accounts of artisans losing more than half their business as a result of its discontinuation. I would not be surprised it those sellers who were making the majority of their sales from this feature might have left Etsy in frustration after this, especially since Etsy had promised to replace it with something better, a promise which has yet to be fulfilled.

    Additionally, Etsy has also recently changed their search engine to sort for “relevancy.” This could be a positive change, as it apparently mirrors Google’s search engine. (Although if you have used Google recently it’s likely that you too have been frustrated with some of its newest features.) Previously sellers have had to use the relisting procedure to get our items to the top of the list in searches; that is, in order for items to make it to the front page of a search result, it had to be the most recent item listed. The change to relevancy allows us to bypass that (often fruitless) chore of constant and timely relisting. Until now, the only way to get noticed was to 1) flood Etsy with listings, meaning you had to have many items in your shop to even make a dent in the search results, and 2) relist a) often and b) at the right time (Etsy’s users are primarily US natives, so those of us in the UK had to list or relist at the optimum time for traffic, which for me would be between 12-4 AM). Not to mention that in order to be seen this way, it was necessary to relist items every couple of days or so, and although 20 cents a listing seems like a small amount, imagine having to repeat this every two or three days for ten items. If I were to attempt to have my items seen by relisting in this way, I would have to sell at least four items a month just to make up costs, and my shop has 53 items (as of August 30) and is currently averaging one sale per month. All in all, the “relist often” tactic just isn’t very efficient for most of us. So the change to “relevancy” for the search engine could prove to be a good thing.

    However, this change has thrown me off, and I suspect many other sellers who are not as market savvy as others. Trying to figure out how to best cater to this relevancy factor is more difficult than it sounds. Tonight I went through my listings and attempted to change keywords and the listing text to accommodate this change. Unfortunately in doing so I had no luck whatsoever. It seems that the same shops end up at the top of the list no matter what the search engine’s design; the shops with hundreds of items do well, while those of us who simply cannot flood the market are left behind. This change is still too new for me to have figured out, so I cannot speak to its effectiveness; my inability to move my items up in the listings might have less to do with the change itself and more to do with my ignorance of how SEO works. But this change still gives an edge to folks with more money to spend on marketing strategies such as search engine submission and keyword optimization. Those of us who are just the figurative starving artist (or, in some cases, literal) do not have the option of hiring people to help us with marketing strategy. The same people who are currently at the bottom of the listings–like myself–will remain there simply due to an inability to get this kind of assistance. All the reading I’ve done on this subject has left me more confused and discouraged than I was to begin with.

    I know that I’m not the only Etsy seller with these problems. Averaging one sale a month is still a better fate than that of some other less fortunate Etsy sellers; in fact, I know of some artisans who, after a year of running their shop, have yet to make a single sale. But I cannot describe how discouraging this can be. I spend a LOT of time working on my Etsy shop, time I would rather spend creating. Doing the thing I love has become less and less of a joy and more of a chore as I have tried researching marketing strategies. My art is no longer about creativity, and a lot of the fun has been sucked out of it since I have tried focusing on sales. I used to create for its own sake; now, I judge myself according to my sales numbers, and those numbers being so low, my self worth has plummeted as a result. This may sound shallow and silly, but it’s difficult not to get caught up in this logic. For as many people as I’ve seen with low sales, I nonetheless continue to come across countless Etsy “success stories”, many of them found on Etsy’s front page, each extolling the virtues of hard work and savvy marketing, each containing the inherent implication that a lack of success is due not to the likelihood of your items getting lost in a sea of sellers and shops, but rather due to the lack of some work ethic or character flaw. This makes it difficult not to fall into the trap of believing that there’s something inherently wrong with me, or perhaps worse, my work. It’s difficult not to take the lack of sales personally.

    As far as I can tell, the only thing that is going to help sellers is for Etsy to find a way to better market itself to buyers. Unfortunately, the continuing effect of what I like to call the Walmartization of the Western World does not lend itself to supporting handmade, and if I had a dollar for the number of times I’ve exhibited at a craft show only to hear a customer say “Eighteen dollars? I can get the same thing at WalMart for a buck!”, I might have a better product to sell.

    • Drew says

      Thank you so much Jenny for taking the time to share your Etsy experiences with us!

      It’s interesting because I have been thinking about writing an update to this article that covered all of the various changes Etsy had made over the course of the previous year, but I think you just did it for me, so thank you! :)

      This is an amazing post in itself and it really describes what the small Etsy shop owner has been going through over the past year as Etsy has “tweaked” its business model. I would have to think that any independent artisan who has honestly been putting in the effort to build their storefront only to be disappointed by their results month after month will easily relate to your story.

      The only thing I would add to this would be to tell you not to get too discouraged, because if there is one thing that I have learned from my experience online it is that in the end your perseverance will pay off. Maybe not in sales, but perhaps in recognition of you as an artist. Things may not always happen the way that we first imagined them, but I do know that if you keep moving forward and try to remain open to new opportunities, success will find you . . .

      I wish you all the best!

      • says

        “…if there is one thing that I have learned from my experience online it is that in the end your perseverance will pay off. Maybe not in sales, but perhaps in recognition of you as an artist. Things may not always happen the way that we first imagined them, but I do know that if you keep moving forward and try to remain open to new opportunities, success will find you . . . ”

        I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you saying that. I kinda needed to hear that today. lol.

        Something rather important I forgot to mention in my (already long-winded) post:

        One of the most disappointing (and damning) of Etsy’s business strategies is its promotion of items that are in direct contrast to its self-professed goals. Etsy claims to be a source for all things handmade, but what do they market more vigorously than anything else? On their front page, on their multitude of Facebook presences, you will find, more often than anything else, the bane of the Etsy seller’s existence–the omnipresent wall decal. Judging by the number of times I have visited Etsy’s front page and found items featured there that are either obviously NOT handmade or items that I would deem sub-par (have you seen Regretsy?), Etsy’s interests clearly do not lie, as it claims, in promoting handmade items by talented artists. And make no mistake, Etsy is chock full of talent. Unfortunately, as it was built on the eBay platform, it has also gone the way eBay has gone to a certain extent; it has become, as my British husband would say, a place for “old tat”. I can’t tell you how depressing it is to see truly amazing artists constantly being eclipsed by sheets of mass-produced adhesive-backed vinyl that say “Just Breath” [sic], or seven listings by seven different shops of a brass octopus on a chain.

        I understand that Etsy’s main priority is to make money, but for a site that claims to be THE outlet for artisans and crafters, that kind of marketing, in my opinion, is doing its reputation a disservice. And it also discourages the rest of us who are actually making our own stuff and not mass producing items and selling at a deep discount. Unfortunately, Etsy will never remove these shops from the site, because these are the money makers. Just as it will not take down shops that are engaging in obvious copyright infringement, as long as the shop is making them money, it will continue to exist unless an outside source forces Etsy’s hand.

        Yes, I have been very discouraged with my lack of success. It’s actually amusing to me because I moved to jewelry making from pottery and glass work because I thought it might be easier to sell. I fell in love with vintage buttons and decided that making jewelry out of them might be lucrative. This was wayyyy back in 1999, and since then button jewelry has become all the rage. Interestingly, when I sold on eBay, I did much better than I do on Etsy, something I would never have predicted. Now everyone and their Aunt Minerva is making jewelry, and of all of the categories on Etsy, the Jewelry category is by far the most bloated. It’s near to impossible to get noticed unless you concentrate on making hundreds of items at the lowest possible cost–and I’ve seen plenty of jewelry that is exactly the same, duplicate items being sold by different shops flooding the category–and catering to the lowest common denominator. Most people aren’t going to care whether or not the items I use in my pieces are real vintage or plastic fakery, or whether the glassware I sell is handpainted or stamped out with decals by workers in sweat shops earning 50 cents an hour. It seems that most people don’t see the difference, don’t know or care to look, and Etsy is taking advantage of that fact. Perhaps it’s elitist of me to say, but I think they should be above that lowest common denominator marketing. For a site to claim to be a source for handmade items, presumably by creative folks, it just seems ironic for Etsy to use the WalMart business model to sell itself.

        I have spent money on trying to find the right marketing strategies for my shop (which in and of itself has become a very lucrative business thanks to the lack of Etsy sellers’ lucrative business!) and doubt I’ll even recoup those losses. And I don’t know that I’ve really learned that much from it, frankly. But if perseverance is the key, then heaven knows I’ll be okay–I’ve been persevering for quite a few years. :)

      • Sarah says

        I have to agree with Jenny. I’m getting to the point of being more frustrated than optimistic. I just opened my Etsy shop in November, and I’ve had 4 sales, which you’d think I’d be happy with since I’m new, but three of those people I knew, so in a way, I don’t really count them. 😉 I never received feedback from the fourth person, whom I did not know, about the necklace he bought from me for his girlfriend. I have about 20 items on my page, and when I started to get a bunch of hearts for my items, I was pretty excited, to say the least, and I’d obsessively check my page all day to see if a new sale had come in. One of my necklaces is a wildly popular “hearted” item, and is featured in several treasury lists, but I’ve only sold one. During Christmas and New Year’s, I had 20% off sales, but got NO sales during this time. I do realize I’m new, but I’ve started to resent getting hearts, with no purchases. I’m starting to wonder who is “hearting” my goods: other sellers who want to copy me, or just think an item is cool and impulsively “heart” it? Are there actually any buyers who are serious about buying my items? I’ve continued to lower my prices, relist, and read about marketing in my free time, but sometimes it just feels like all the effort of picking out materials and SO much thought I’ve put into each piece isn’t worth it, and I’m starting to come down from the “I Can Do Anything!” high that Etsy gives you in the beginning. Because really, does it really matter if I’ve been on Etsy for two days, or two years? Wouldn’t someone buy my jewelry if they thought it was worthy of their money, regardless of how long I’ve been there?

  35. says

    Wow, great article and terrific responses.

    I presently have an etsy fine arts site, GailKentStudio, which gets no attention whatsoever – no eyeballs go there for art sites. Etsy made a joke of art by categorizing silly junk as art. I’ve had two sales of children’s ACEOs in almost two years. I also had a shop selling my natural products, soaps, etc. that I closed after only 2 sales. Your friend should take her jewelry there only if she already has a huge following .

    Marketing “treasuries” are a method etsy uses to get eyeballs for other shops within a theme you choose and get yourself in lots of “circles.” So what good are circles if no one is buying? And, the treasuries that are artistic do not get views.

    There are also games that groups play where you buy someone’s item, then your own will be offered for sale within the group. Well, now, if everyone is selling $10 items and I’m selling a $200 item, what are my chances in the game.

    Several etsy artist friends and I were wondering how someone could have a thousand views of their item within a few minutes. There seem to be a lot of games going on with unethical pay for click software. Someone asked to friend me and then proceeded to fill my Facebook, my Twitter, and then started e-mailing “sharing” lots of other shop items. I noticed that the “sharing” had a lot of x-rated junk included with my name on the Twitter posts. I had to clean that up, change my FB account to a page and mark as spam on my e-mail. No doubt this person gets a lot of eyeballs!

    Take a look at the etsy’s just sold items stream in that section and you’ll seldom see art. Most sales seem to be fashion fluff and sales to 20’s-30’s of kitsch from the 60’s. Vintage and costume jewelry seem to sell well.

    Etsy was a good concept by a young man that is in the process of being internationalized. Yep, it’s making money. But are most sellers making money?

    • Drew says

      Thanks Gail for stopping by and sharing your Etsy experiences with us. I think you’re right when you say that these days the only way to get noticed on Etsy is to somehow “game” the system. I think it’s a little sad that it is no longer about having the most creative or high-quality product available to sell. Now it seems to be more about how much time you’re willing to spend rigging the system in order to get noticed.

      The concept behind Etsy was a good one, but the sheer size of the marketplace has turned it from a niche boutique atmosphere to a mass hodge-podge of random merchandise that is more akin to Craig’s List these days than a dedicated hand-crafted marketplace for individuals. I think at some point, there has to be somebody responsible at Etsy HQ for quality control instead of blindly accepting any shady spambot with an internet connection and a credit card.

  36. says

    I am so pleased to have found this wonderful article as this is the reason why I created Styleoutsidethebox. We are an exclusive independent designers site meaning every item/ designer is juried onto the site since at the end of the day we not only want to be selling one of a kind quality products, but we want to be working with the best of the best independent designers. The problem with Etsy (please don’t get me wrong there are a lot of wonderful talented artists on Etsy) but it has become an overgrown marketplace. I use to be a shopper on Etsy but now it’s just got too big and not to mention its getting harder and harder for designers to sell their products within the very competitive marketplace.

    I appreciate your article and it is wonderful to hear everyone’s thoughts.

    Thank you again!

    • Drew says

      Thanks Laura! I think we are probably going to be seeing a lot more smaller boutique shops like yours emerge as artisans continue to splinter off from the bloated everything-for-everyone behemoth that Etsy has become. If you would, please let us know what you are hearing from your sellers and your customers as to why they were looking for a smaller more focused shopping experience like your site.

      All the best!

  37. etsy artist says

    hello, i would like to add my two cents about Etsy relevancy search. i had to evaluate the ‘relevancy’ of the search on etsy, because my paintings would not show up when i did specific search. I read all the information on the forums on Etsy( very interesting thing is that Etsy administartion ONLY talks about relevancy rules on the forum and their labs). They talk a lot about titles, tags and description, i got it. But i made a search on some keywords for a few days in a row and i understood that Etsy didn’t tell everything.
    Relevancy depends not only on title and tag, i even don’t want to mention description, it is also about how much time ago your item had a visitor, how many items you have in the store( the more the better), how big is concentration of keywords items in your store (e.g. if somebody searches for ‘tree’, then the more ‘trees’ are in your store the higher you will be in the search)
    I had to understand about relevancy on Etsy, because their categories in Art are somewhat very not professional.
    So, i made my own research, but i have more questions now then before:
    1. why Etsy prefers that absurd in categories? who does it help to?
    2. why etsy doesn’t tell the complete truth about relevancy?’s is easy to find algorithm of ‘relevancy’ without being in Etsy IT, why Etsy is not afraid that etsians will find the truth?
    the last question is the most important to me. i am fine with sales now, but this policy of hiding some information from members who legally have rights to have it – bothers me. How should it work? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    • Drew says

      This is really interesting how Etsy has adopted more of a “Google-like” algorithm to factor in things such as how many visitors your had (and when) and how many other items you currently have listed in your store…..

      I think Etsy knows that if they begin telling their sellers that they are going to start basing their search results on things such as traffic, keyword density, and the amount of items currently listed — they are going to really going to discourage any potential new sellers from joining their site because they obviously don’t have any of these things.

      Let’s face it, when it comes down to it, Etsy is going to do what’s best for Etsy and not for their sellers. You have to admit that it makes far more business sense to not reveal this type of information than to let everyone know what’s really going on. I’m certainly not saying that makes it right by any means, but when you are fighting to keep these new naive sellers signing up, you want to make things look as attractive as possible.

  38. Molly says

    I don’t know if someone already touched on this because I haven’t reaad many comments, but I fall into the category of people who sign up and haven’t purchased or sold. I however do not fit into any of your theories of motives for signing up. SOme people like myself would love to buy but, as a college student can’t afford to buy my favorite items yet so by making an account I can save favorite shops/ items in the hope that i will someday buy an item or something similar. But I have had an account for almost 2 years and have yet to purchase anything. hopefully i will someday.

  39. says

    I used to have an etsy shop, but I closed it and moved it away for a better designed interface over at

    I like your hypothesis, but I wouldn’t mind offering one of my own. I think Etsy is signing up too many sellers versus the number of buyers, because they’re trying to act like a mass marketed site when they really are a niche market. If there are twice the number of sellers than buyers, then the numbers wouldn’t match up like they do above. When an isolated marketplace has a lack of consumers, competition becomes really high and people will start closing shop and moving away. Add in the fact that Etsy is crawling with resellers that can undercut a regular shops prices every time and the actual crafters will have to go. They can’t compete over such a small audience.

  40. says

    I have an Etsy storefront – there’s nothing in it right now and there hasn’t been for many months. My experiences with Etsy are similar to some of your respondents’ i.e. difficulty in getting new buyers to find your work, difficulty in having your listings show up, many “favorites” but no actual sales and everyone there looking for “bargain basement” sorts of pricing on the work. I found it very frustrating to try to sell my work through Etsy primarily because of the last bit.
    I don’t sell reproductions (or rather, I haven’t in the past although friends insist that this is THE way to make Etsy work for you) and I found that for original pieces ( that would often take upwards of 20 hours to produce + cost of materials) I couldn’t get sales if I priced them in such a way that I wasn’t actually losing money on the deal!

    In my experience, real art collectors who know that a hand made piece of original art is generally not going to be sold for $18 (or less) weren’t hanging about on Etsy and while high fives from fellow artists are great,that’s not putting bread on the table or new paints in the tabouret! I finally got an email from a woman who told me she loved my work but “Do you really think it’s fair for you to charge $100 for a piece that’s just going to end up on someone’s bookshelf? I will give you $20 for it and that’s my best and final offer.”

    Not to toot my own horn here, but I just had a similar work go for over $300 at auction in a gallery last night. In person and at galleries, my work routinely sells for between $300 and $500 a piece. For me to even be charging $100 for the work has me making less than $1 an hour for my efforts after the cost of supplies was factored in. This woman’s email was just so shockingly insulting and yet, so honest that I realized that fighting the tide of misperception regarding the value of my art on Etsy was a fool’s game and not a battle i could ever hope to win.
    I went back over my Etsy sales and realized that every time I was getting decent prices on my work, I was selling to collectors I already had cultivated a relationship with through other venues. My collectors would then be irritated with Etsy because they have a flat price/first come, first served purchasing scheme. I’d get feedback from my collectors telling me how much they hate it when I put my originals on Etsy because they want the option to bid on pieces even if it means the prices go up, for the chance to get the pieces they really want before they’re snatched up and gone. They were actually urging me to go back to Ebay!
    So that’s why my Etsy shop is just going to stay closed. If Etsy were to have some way to vet artisans and let actual art collectors with a clue about value and worth find quality art it’d be worth investigating again but as it’s arranged now it seems to be akin to setting up a card table in the parking lot of the local flea market. It’s just not worth it to me to sell my art that way and it’s got a cumulative demoralizing effect that tends to make me wish I’d been born an accountant. That’s not a particularly good mindset for me to work from and so I’ve begun to give Etsy a wide berth as a place that has a potentially hazardous influence on my artistic endeavors.

    • Drew says

      It’s interesting because your experience echos what I hear all the time from current and former Etsy sellers — For better or for worse, the public perception seems to be that Etsy is a virtual flea market where items are cheap and the prices are always negotiable. You are exactly right when you say that this is a fool’s game and a battle that cannot be won.

      It seems to me that Etsy should really think about segmenting their buyers and sellers before the competition does it for them. Why not separate the suppliers from the creators, and the crafters from the fine artists? Why not create an entirely new site (eg. Etsy Fine Art) where you can allow the sellers in that category to opt-in and move their storefront if they wish? What’s the harm in segmenting the market so that the buyers can find exactly what they are looking for more easily and the fine artists aren’t competing with the crafters for precious search result space? What advantage is there really besides raw membership numbers to maintaining this monolithic online flea market?

      The world and the web are steadily moving toward focusing on smaller and more specialized niche markets. One size fits all may work great if you’re a company the size of Wal-Mart, Ebay, or Amazon — but I really think that Etsy needs to take another look at their marketing strategy.

  41. etsy artist says

    again, about Etsy policy on relevancy search. Sure, Etsy does what it good for Etsy. But i don’t think it’s right. If google does it, it’s ok for me, because Google doesn’t hide it. But Etsy does hide how real algorithm of relevancy search works and it hurts new sellers, who pay the same fees as others… any legal issues here?

    • Drew says

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not defending Etsy here. Honestly, I think it’s just plain bad business to not be upfront with their sellers.

      My point was simply that I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for them to change. It’s not right, but they are probably going to continue doing what they are doing until somebody comes along and makes them change. Now whether they will be forced to change for legal reasons or simply because their customers end up leaving in droves, is yet to be seen. My argument is simply that when you sign up to sell your stuff on a site like Etsy, eBay, Amazon, or wherever — You are essentially agreeing to play by their rules. Again that doesn’t make it right, but that seems to be the nature of the game.

      If there are any legal experts out there on this topic, we would love to hear your take on this whole thing.

  42. krista says

    Etsy F*ing SUCKS. I loved all the stuff on there and the prices, but they ONLY accept paypal which is so ancient it isn’t even funny. I don’t even think they know how much money they are losing but not allowing people to purchase with credit cards or debit cards. I kept trying for the past two days to buy a few things and it keeps saying I can’t , even though I have funds in my card account. This makes no sense and now im just pissed.

  43. says

    your article is very interesting and so are all the comments (which i have read pretty much every one of them)

    i’m a fashion illustration student in my final year, which means i have to complete a final major project based on anything we want. i decided i wanted to do some personalized fashion illustration and also work out how to go about selling it at the same time. taking in the consideration of marketing and packaging my work.

    early on i decided i want to use etsy as my main selling platform for this project, despite it’s faults. i opened my account/shop around a year ago this time, but only officially started selling a month ago. i agree that traffic is very slow and sales even slower (most of time none at all). i did like the fact that etsy is relatively the biggest ‘niche/handmade market platform’ with more people knowing it and is open to international buyers, but this is also it’s downfall, as read from a lot of the comments above. the more i read and find out about etsy, the more im sure i can’t depend on etsy bringing me traffic and sales. since my area of concern is fashion illustration, i looked at other successful fashion illustrators selling on etsy and not to my surprise, i believe a lot of traffic is generated through external sources such as a good web presence, already a reputable fashion illustrator and traditional ink & paper press.

    though im still keeping up with having an active presence on etsy, such as the occasional renewing of listings and such, working on general web presence is important too. i dont want to complain too much about etsy because afterall, all of these selling platforms have pros and cons. i do find that because etsy has been around for longer than other niche/handmade websites, more people know and feel comfortable about it. but im keeping an open mind about other selling platforms and traditional ways of selling as i progress with my project and learn.

    if i were to continue with my project even after i graduate, my ultimate move would be to have my own website/web store, like several of the ex-etsians. but for now, on a relatively meager budget, i will stick with these selling platforms. i do find it a rather good learning curve for me (and let the fees i pay to etsy be my tuition), and perhaps even prepare me for bigger and scarier e-commerce in the future. like it’s been said for many times, etsy is a good place to start for first time sellers.

    • Drew says

      Despite its many flaws, Etsy is still probably one of the best options currently out there. Of course that might have more to do with a lack of direct competitors than it has to do with their superior business model. It’s true that Etsy has a sizable lead over their competition, which is partly why its so infuriating that they won’t make the necessary changes that their own customers/sellers are requesting.

      You’re also right that Etsy, like most online storefronts, is a B.Y.O.T. (Bring Your Own Traffic) selling platform. While the Etsy site itself gets plenty of traffic (although maybe not as much as they would have you believe) that doesn’t necessarily translate to traffic to your particular Etsy store.

      From what I hear, the people who have actually made some money from their Etsy store have several things in common: First of all, they don’t rely on receiving traffic from Etsy, but they direct their customers to their storefront from various external sources (eg. personal websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc…) And secondly, they don’t expect their items to be found using Etsy’s much maligned search system. Instead they find other ways to get their fans and potential customers to their storefront and then use Etsy as little more than a shopping cart and payment system.

      Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your experiences with us!

      • Clarice says

        It seems to me that Etsy has a conflict of interest in regards to their policy and procedures. New members are drawn in to Etsy because it is well known and appears in most web searches for items for sell. This should mean that as a member Etsy increases its member’s shops visibility and buyer traffic.

        First Conflict: Etsy offers to sell Shop owners “Search Ads” and “Impressions”
        Second Conflict: You must pay renew fees, even on active item, to place it in the top search results in a shop search. (More Info under HELP on Etsy)

        If Etsy makes money by charging its own members to promote Shops within Etsy then what real incentive do they have to promote any shop that has not purchased “Search Ads” or “Impressions”?

        This means that, as a “Shop” owner, I not only have to compete with all selling site outside Etsy, but I have to compete with “ETSY” and the shops that are paying for preferential treatment.

        This just seems wrong to me.

  44. says

    I opened a store with ETSY in February of 2008. Up until a few month ago things were fine. Not a whole lot of sales but withing reason and the views I got where still good. Since ETSY implemented changes I found that my oil paintings are NOT showing up in search anymore. I have no idea why. I did contact ETSY a few weeks ago when noticing that even when I searched my own store much of the searched for art would not show, even though I have proper tags and titles. They ended up fixing whatever the problem was but I still do not show up when relevant words like Impressionism are used in general ETSY searches. It’s as if my store does not exist. However non relevant items show up, like earring or abstract paintings when searching for Impressionism. I have contacted ETSY a few times trying to get an answer explanation but so far no response from them. In all these years I rarely had to ask them about anything and now that I need some answers/help they are no where around. This is NOT the ETSY business model that I signed up for. The truth to be told it looks like more like EBAY every day. A real shame. Right now if someone in the FINE ART genre asked me if ETSY was a good venue to try to sell fine art paintings I would say absolutely NOT. Don’t waste your time. If things don’t change I will fade out my ETSY store. I am right now looking in to making my website shopping cart friendly. Purely because I am tired of starting out with a site that has an art friendly business model only to end up a few years later in a site that is greedy for more and more sellers and allows tag abuse and titles that are nothing but strings of tags, and mass produced stuff that clutters up the venue . It’s becoming very trashy now on ETSY!

    • Drew says

      If you’ve spent any amount of time online, you’re probably well aware that there is now so much information floating around out there online that the trick is to somehow find what you’re looking for. In order to find what we’re looking for, we usually turn to the search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. There job is to somehow find a way to organize all of this stuff and then help us to find exactly what we’re looking for whether it’s a local restaurant or a really cool piece of artwork.

      The problem usually happens when they start to mess around with the search algorithm. Suddenly things that were there have disappeared, and things that have no business being there are. From what I’ve heard from other Etsy sellers, it seems that Etsy’s search results have been consistently getting broader and less refined rather than narrower and more focused on the keywords a buyer is searching for.

      While this may appear to give the searcher more options, the truth is that most of us really don’t want more options. We want the closest match to what we’re looking for and that’s it. We don’t want to have to cycle through page after page of search results. We want to find what we are looking for and then move on with our lives. More is not necessarily better. Hopefully Etsy will listen to the feedback of its customers like you and fix this issue soon.

      Thanks again for taking the time to share you experiences with us. Please keep us updated and let us know if things begin to change on Etsy in the future.

      All the best!

      • says

        Things haven’t gotten any better. ETSY now has a program where you can pay for certain search words. I will do that for about a months and see if I see an increase in traffic. The problem is finding “Buying” customers not just browsers. I get lots of people liking my art in the last week or so, but not buying. One thing is probably my price point compared to what others sell for. Frankly I have no idea how they do it. The cost of paint and canvas alone is seems some are lucky if they make 10 or 20 dollar profit on one original painting and they must crank them out on mass. I have seen some amazing fine art on ETSY in my price point area and higher, but when you look at how many sales these fine artist have it’s none to just a few. I don’t think ETSY is a place where well informed fine art collectors hang out. It is a more low price point place, for the decorative market type, similar to EBAY the prices that are rock bottom cheap are more attractive. Another symptom of growing fast is now that there is lots of deception going on about what is ORIGINAL Art and hat is Reproductions, sellers tweak their descriptions and subject lines to misuse and abuse keywords. I am also now getting more request from hagglers to lower my prices, similar to what I got on EBAY when it all went bad a few years back. They say things like “I give you such and such amount” usually ridiculous amounts, that would put me in a hole and on the end of a food line in no time!

        My advise so fine art sellers is stay away from ETSY unless you don’t mind not selling or giving your art away. I am looking for a place that caters to fine art painters or I will build my own website up to sell directly. I already have a credit card merchant accounting for processing sales from art shows that I can use to integrate online credit card processing plus I use PayPal too. I am thinking it all through right now.

  45. says

    I have three etsy shops. When older users coming back to Etsy or new artists looking for a venue to sell on ask me if Etsy is good : about 6 months ago I would have said OH its the best.
    It sucks. Plain and simple what Etsy has become is discusting. My account will face review at some point soon. I have watched many shops get shut down 2 very close friends.
    There is no tech support.
    They no longer need our sales to get rich.
    They are now in bed with Facebook enough that they are making their own bit of cash by You simply promoting your items on your page (I de-activated my account from Etsy and rarely get on FB anymore for what its becoming).
    I am only 34 but somewhere I feel really old, because with 3 etsy shops, 2 dead in the water, and 1 account the best bang for the bucks is artfire right now.
    I re opened this supplies account on etsy to follow the popular feather trend, what artist wouldnt want to make some real cash. I felt great. The heat was off me until August.
    I contacted tech support got a response a month later from Rob White who didn’t give me an address to respond back to. It said

    but the article is correct read the fine print and take screenshots It is likely to disappear or change.
    WHO works for etsy.
    Google who’s in bed with Etsy (including of course GOOGLE),
    see for yourself the treasuries we can NO LONGER POST for this is why two friends accounts will be closed:
    for showing a collection of the
    SAME HANDMADE IN CHINA Pendant, from a different startup seller in China.
    each 16 boxes were filled same photo (handmade in bulk with a wholesale brass chain for 3.50) but each item was a different seller. (against etsy policy) instead of removing the sellers they are removing the ONE seller that is making these treasuries so people that refuse to look HAVE to see whats going on eventually they will click one of these treasuries thinking “a glitch”No they are different sellers.
    why do I feel old?
    at 34, well hey OUR YOUTH the new wave of keyword searchers are MORONS.
    So think like a moron and you’ll “maybe” get your etsy shop to show up near the front of their flawed system using relevancy but blaming YOU the user the CLIENT of etsy for your stupidity or poor photography in my case (but yes we were discussing keywords right – pictures arent keywords AND I am a professional photographer / exact words from the ONLY admin that responded to a help inquiry in the forums. –
    But they dont need you anymore –
    The data’s pretty well right above and you see the numbers.
    My shop went from 22 sales in May. to 2000 by July.
    In august 12th to be exact – my shop fell dead in the water.
    They introduced paid search ads (yes you guessed we pay for them) I thought it was fishy from the start but they did – they made us SO dead in the water that they forced us out of desperation of having no income to hope it’d bring business but NO they pick your keywords for you based on their selective phrasing system.” So they want you to usually do all the work while they get paid, and now they want you to do LESS work ? NO etsy isnt like that at all. YOU do the work you pay and I could have already hired a professional designer 2000 dollars for what I lost from August til November (that summer trend money is spent!)
    For months I have been learning SEO and learning words I shouldnt have to at the rates I PAY ETSY
    for their POOR service, they should be paying me for helping their clients try to budge their listings to show up even on the 14th page would be nice.
    I finally said come January 1st 2012 I will pull my Etsy cord, and take the last bit of money I made (to have it stolen from under me in a fraction of time as my shop is dead in the water),

    • Drew says

      It’s really kind of sad how so many companies begin to lose touch with their customers once they reach a certain size and begin to look at their customers more as assets to be monetized rather than actual people. However, there are online companies out there that have proven that this doesn’t have to be the case. Look at companies such as Amazon, LLBean, and Zappos (which Amazon bought) who are well-known for their legendary customer service.

      In fact just the other day, I accidentally ordered two identical guitar tab books from Amazon after adding them to my shopping cart twice and then not noticing what I had done until after they were shipped (call it an egg-nog induced holiday shopping frenzy). Anyway, when the duplicate books arrived, I was fully prepared to box up the extra copy, go through the online return process, and then stand in line for an hour at the post office to mail back this $9 book since it was completely my own fault.

      But get this — as soon as I initiated the return process Amazon emailed me and told me that they would not only refund my money for the duplicate book, but I wouldn’t have to ship them back the book either. In other words, I not only received a full refund for my own dumb mistake, but they told me to keep the extra copy as well! Now that is what I call customer service :)

      Are you listening Etsy?

  46. says

    Great ongoing advice given here. I’ve had an Etsy account since 2010. But, to be fair, I only just got serious about building my shop a few months ago. What I seemed to notice thus far is, it seems I’m posting work and connecting with other artists there and that’s about it. I too am finding that it doesn’t seem to be the best fit for original fine art work. I have originals listed for $100. I was hesitant listing anything I had knowing the average was around $20 or less. It takes a significant chunk of change for me to have my work reproduced and scaled to a size that I could sell for a mere $18. I am frustrated for buying into the thought that Etsy could work for me. I gleaned some helpful info here. Thanks!

    • Drew says

      Thanks Kristi for sharing your Etsy experiences with us. It sounds like you’ve been discovering what so many other visual artists have noticed about selling original work on Etsy. For whatever reason, the public perception of Etsy has become a kitschy crafter’s paradise at flea market prices, which is driving the fine artists away to look for other options.

      On a side note, does anyone else remember all of those Etsy commercials they used to run around the holidays? has anyone seen any of these lately? Do they even still do that anymore?

  47. says

    Wow interesting to read all about this. I have really enjoyed doing etsy but mostly what I enjoy is the shopping, researching, photos, listing and even going to the post office (I know crazy right)?
    But Kelly, I have to agree with the fact that I too, was doing so great in the summer selling sometimes 4 things in one day (all vintage) and really since Aug, Sept, he has been much deader. There was one day recently I sold 3 in one day but that was because I had a shop sale (which I started again pre black friday till the 27th) I didn’t really understand why it dropped so I just kept posting new items, doing fb, twitter and joining teams and forums. I have over 250 things up there and I am still shopping. Thank God for outside sales doing flea markets here and there and garage sales. If not for those, I dont know.

    I’m not ready to give it up, I enjoy it so much. So just hoping it will somehow get more sales.

    Good luck to all. I’m really sorry to hear all the tough stories The economy is so bad also and that doesn’t help.

  48. says

    Great discussion, I find it very interesting… I am the founder of and I still think Etsy can offer value. I think it is yet another way for new customer acquisition. But you have to work it, and from some of these responses, it seems harder than before.

    For me, I wasn’t content with just an Etsy store. I didn’t think Etsy was enough for any of my “brands” (indie greeting cards & toys) and always wanted a dedicated website. Even for my artwork. This way, when I did shows I didn’t have to send customers to my Etsy shop to purchase, I could keep em on my own site, using my own shopping cart. (That’s why we started IndieMade, it seemed like all my artist friends felt that way.) For a few years, I also kept an Etsy store to sell vintage finds, and sold quite a few things that way. Now, I am not sure Etsy is properly “tooled” for quality personalized searching, which is really important when you are weeding through millions of listings. Paid search scares me a bit. I am sure their funding is helping them improve their platform.

    Question for everyone: what other marketplaces have you used or would like to use?

    Thanks Skinny Artist, Drew, this is an awesome website.

  49. says

    First I want to say excellent article and so telling it like it is so adorably. I have been a seller for multiple years now and last year was super crazy busy for me and this year this are definitely much slower. I noticed that things have slowed down starting with when the began changing everything around. I have alot of sales total (almost 1400) but am not getting nearly as many sales as last year. I thought it would keep building but maybe a plateau is on its way? I have totally thought all of the things you so clearly stated, I love that graph by the way,. It seems like maybe the market is flooded with too many sellers and not enough buyers . I am primarily a seller But I have bought several times from others. I am particularly annoyed that they got rid of the suggestions for you tool bar on the front page. Seems like that was a great tool for finding things you would like and getting things you made to people who would like them. This has become my main source of income and it’s kinda scary to not know if I will make enough this season to be ok. I love working for myself, but hate the stress of being not knowing when I will make money and if it will be enough. I keep feeling more and more poor. Some one else started a copy cat of my best selling design and sell it for half as much. They only have about 65 sales total but they are all pretty much knock offs of my rainbow mohawk hat, and I really could have used those sales. So that is super annoying.I have tried other online venues but none have worked out too well. Artfire was good for a little bit and now it has been dead for a while. I change things in my shop everyday. Newer picture, items, keywords, descriptions….. and creating and posting new items. Sometimes I think I have too many items of various kinds on my page and maybe I should open another shop to streamline different items. If I were to give advice to someone opening a shop I would be very tempted to say, “don’t”

  50. says

    O my sorry for not checking my post above for grammar! But i was in a moment there… I meant
    First I want to say excellent article and for telling it like it is,so adorably!

  51. says

    Thank you for this informative article and all the passionate, battle weary artists that have posted their experiences with Etsy. I feel as though I am duplicating the stories of those who saw their business grow over the past 2 years, only to watch their sales flat line after the second week in August. My shop has over 3000 sales and I have made every item that I have sold. By January of 2011, I had hired 2 part time helpers to assist with tasks such as ironing, packaging, mailing and bookkeeping. I had just added a third helper the first of July, to help the other two. By the end of August, I was back to a one person operation, minus the sales. I opened up a shop on Artfire, however I am still minus the sales I had been enjoying. I have tweeked and tinkered with my site til I can’t tell if I’m making it better or worse. Every weekend Etsy seems to drop another change-bomb, and I find myself once again reeling from the latest alteration. The real game-changer in terms of my opinion of Etsy came about 2 weeks ago with their announcement that they would be sending a followup spam mail to any “new” to Etsy customer that happened to purchase from my shop. It is fair to say that I have a number of first time Etsy buyers. I work like a dog to be sure that MY customers feel valued and cared for. I hand write a thank-you note. I will drive an item to our airport to be sure that it will arrive in time for a baby shower if necessary….and now Etsy is going to not only spam my customer…they are going to go so far as to suggest “if you like this baby item, you might also like these baby items…” and provide links to my competition! The outrage on Etsy, among sellers has been loud. On a recent Forum there were 6048 posts to one thread and (this is my point!) only 4 posts by administrators! Honestly, when you have a “community” that is that vocal about a topic and almost zero input by the Etsy organization,… This is the Etsy of today and they will be the death of Etsy… in time:(

  52. says

    My wife creates custom necklaces and has tried to sell them on etsy, but has been met with no success. I then started analyzing etsy to see what makes it great, and what makes it not so great, so that I could try to build a better solution for her and others like her. Since then. I’ve created a website called With this site, I tried to address a lot of the complaints that people have with etsy, ebay and artfire. While all three do have their positives, I felt that there were some areas where each of them are still lacking, and as a result, they are hurting their customers. is brand new and in some ways, it is still a work in progress as it will continue to evovle. With that said, I believe it does help answer a number of issues that people are struggling with today. For instance, there is no charge to list an item and that item will stay listed until it is either sold or you disable it. Another issue that I’ve seen complaints on is the requirement for a customer to create an account just to make a purchase. This sort of thing can cause lost sales for you and should not be a prerequesite to make a purchase from your store. If you’re looking to try something different, and this case be a first mover, please check us out and give us a try. We’re at Thanks!

  53. says

    I have written on this article many times and would like to add in that I have been silenced indefinitely from posting in the forums where this article speaks about – so for me now – my shop has flatlined further after making it seo friendly – I have 4 now emails into tech support and now they stopped responding, wait its time to pay bills, but I cant login, my shops listed in (.me) I had to google where that was, and another user tells me “are you sure you want to choose seo over relevancy)

    WAIT what?
    I thought it was hard but this is ridiculous.

    If someone knows a SEO ENGINEER that can specifically apply their knowledge to my etsy shop for hire today over the weekend for LESS than 500 bucks please contact me I am desperate and SEO folks are no longer allowed to “sell seo services on etsy” only sell tangible items like Website Design templates and E-Zines.
    thank you.

  54. says

    Full disclosure: IndieMade provides full featured websites (blog, store, image galleries, etc.) to artists, affordably.
    BUT, I had to step in–consider getting your own website with a cart included, if you are not getting the benefit of the marketplace, time to work other angles. You don’t need an SEO engineer, just write great product descriptions and create content on your website to attract your own traffic. Keep your Etsy shop if you want to…. But, if you are going to go to the trouble of enhancing your current storefront, you might as well be doing it on your own site.

    • says


      THANK YOU for founding IndieMade. I sell on eBay (Top Rated Seller) and Etsy (finished items on eBay, extra supplies on Etsy), and I just found IndieMade not 36 hours ago.

      Tonight I will be adding my first products to my new IndieMade store :) And I am so happy!

      Will I keep eBay and Etsy? Yes, for marketing reasons, and for selling out old inventory.

      Then why my own website? Because I recently obtained a direct wholesale account with Swarovski (R), which has opened the doors for me to design and make the jewelry I really want to. Which also happens to be in an entirely different price range that does not sell well on either eBay or Etsy.

      I will keep my eBay store, selling off my “resale” inventory that is not the quality level of my own designs, then list my low end design items on eBay (ex. simple earrings and bracelets). With every shipment I will include a marketing flyer for my Indie store, where people can find the matching pieces for the one they bought, or can find similar items in more colors. Ironically at a slightly lower price (made possible by your pricing structure!). This will help bring traffic to my Indie store, and build brand loyalty to me, instead of to eBay.

      I will keep my Etsy store as well, because as many have said, it is a great place to sell supplies. I have discovered that with my Swarovski (R) wholesale account, I can really, truly, offer Etsians lower cost Swarovski (R) supplies than what they can purchase now. I can help Etsians improve their profit margin or free up money for marketing.

      That said, IndieMade will contain my life’s most passionate work, and I can advertise it directly to the people most likely to purchase properly priced quality Swarovski (R) containing jewelry (yes, Swarovski (R) has approved me to co-brand/partner with them). I am so excited!

      Again, THANK YOU! I researched a total of 11 e-commerce platforms, and yours is the clear winner for me!

  55. says

    Hi there! I thought you might actually want to know that Etsy had its most sales in history in November 29th, 2011, and that sales have increased by 80% in the last year. Etsy is certainly not dying, but for making as much money as the business does, I do have to say that they could treat their sellers a bit better and it would be nice if they weren’t cutting so many corners. Nevertheless, I survive on Etsy sales and so do many others.

  56. joricat says

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this article and all the comments. I’m just starting researching sites to sell a friend’s jewelry. I have a lot of experience on eBay but thought Etsy might be a better fit for her product. From all the input here, it looks like I might do well to figure out how to set a website up first. When I went to Etsy to see fees, the relisting aspect was not clearly spelled out. The thought of continually putting out a relisting fee, even if it is only 20 cents, just to have one’s item come up higher on the queue is ridiculous when the profit margin on handmade jewely is not very high to begin with.

    I still have a bunch of venues to check out, including some mentioned in these comment posts. Thank you all for your extremely valuable information. – Jori

  57. Blue Bayer says

    Ah, guys I started with one unique item on Etsy in 2008. I now have 250. My business has grown by 100% from 2010 to 2011. I sell my own line of pieces ( jewelry) designed and made in NYC. Yes I do get copied. Yes I have had my shop summarily shut down twice for short periods with no explanation for minor infractions. But overall Etsy has worked for me and worked well. Now, the change of formats to relevancy searches hurt me, I adjusted my tact.
    Here is the trick, we need to drive the traffic to our own shops and stop sitting back and thinking the internal Etsy traffic is going to generate sales. One good blog mention is worth 1000 renewals. By way of example, if you had a shop in a small town you could get mad at the chamber of commerce or the people renting you the store for your lack of customers or you could go out and find some.
    I am far from rah rah for the Etsy platform. I think I see it for what it partly is. It’s rental retail property. But it’s also still a platform that has helped me build my line and a customer base. I am not sure where it’s going as an entity but I’m in for as long as it works for me and I don’t feel overly dismissed or disrespected by the company.
    It’s grew really fast and it is bound to get out of balance somewhat. I am going to continue to also build my facebook fan page members and stock my own online store as a hedge against what may yet lay ahead.

    • says

      I have just read through most of these questions and responses and was glad to come across this topic as I have been wondering about many of these issues.

      It bothers me there does not appear to be anywhere you can get regular sales information about Etsy. I want to know from month to month how many buyers and sellers have used the site; how many shops there are; how much revenue has been generated by the site, and even in what categories. These are statistics that should be available to their clients (us) IMO. I keep thinking maybe they are out there somewhere and I just don’t know how to find them (that’s how I ended up on this blog – looking for the stats!).

      I have been selling on Etsy about a year (although I signed up for an account at least 6 months before actually listing anything). The jury is still out from where I sit as to the value of the site. One thing I have noticed, is that it is like a lot of other things: You can put as much time in as you want and probably will be more successful with the more time you put in. For example, a while back I realized it was important to add people to my Circle as it expands your reach when your items were “Favorited” by someone else (everyone in their Circle is going to potentially see that item and therefore know you have a shop). Also, adding shops to your “Favorites” and items to your “Favorites” expands your reach as well. Unfortunately, as with a lot of other social media things, there is a level of dishonesty involved (i.e. you end up “favoriting” shops or items that may not really be your “favorites” as the motive becomes expanding your reach rather than any real “like” of the item you discovered. But through this process I began to see there are various things you can do to expand your reach; all of which take time.

      The Etsy playbook has always stressed the importance of getting on blogs or having a blog; and here again, you can put in as much time as you want to further these ideals. I personally have always gotten responses when sending questions to the Etsy staff although there have been a couple they had no answers for. I really liked when they had the live chat option but I think that has been phased out. You can also now view your shop stats to see what keywords people used to find your items, what they have actually looked at when on your site, and what avenues they used to get to your site. And although this can become habit forming in all the wrong ways, it is kind of fascinating and could be put to good use (again the time thing). Some of these changes have been an improvement.

      An observation on the fairly recent change of searching by the Default setting of “Relevancy” vs “Newly Listed”. I am all for this change. In the past, the Default setting favored those sellers who were more successful as they were listing new items more frequently (since they were selling more frequently) – so their items were popping up at the top of the list all the time. The change to Default by “Relevancy” makes more sense, is more democratic, and levels the playing field. And buyers generally want to search by what is Relevant. It is an easy thing to change the search option to Most Recently Listed if that is what one wants to do.

      My one big complaint to Etsy recently was that in the Treasuries that are listed on the home page, and the online newsletter they send out – many of the same sellers are featured over and over and over again (which is basically free advertising). I don’t think they have any way of tracking what shops have been used or how many times they have been used and I strongly think they should. I suggested they diversify the number of staff members who make the newsletter and Treasury picks; but still feel they need a more professional way to keep actual track of which shops have been highlighted and how many times. Undoubtedly their researchers forget who they pick from month to month and just end of repeating themselves way too much – to the detriment of many sellers who are never featured.

      I have come to the conclusion there are 5 types of general sellers on Etsy: 1) Those who mass produce a limited line of items that are similar to each other (often items created with the assistance of studio workers). These items are easier to ship as they are uniform in size so boxes, weight, etc. can be calculated in advance; 2) folks who are trying to make a little extra money who are willing to sell their items for next to nothing and are pleased as punch if they are just breaking even. Many of these items are often godawful IMO; 3) one-of-a-kind artists and crafters whose items sell for more $$ as they are truly unique and original and take more time to produce. This is the hardest category to make money in as all the packaging is also one of a kind and has to be retrofit to the particular item (which takes more time and money in packaging materials); 4) supply sellers; and 5) vintage sellers. And obviously there is cross over.

      I am both a buyer and seller on Etsy. I probably have bought more than I’ll ever sell on the site. I have been told by others who have been on the site longer than I have that if you sell supplies you do better than with actual arts and crafts; and that has been my experience since I carry supplies in my Etsy shop as well. Probably a tenth of my overall sales are what I consider my art items and the rest is supplies.

      I did not sell anything for my first 4 months on Etsy (my photos were terrible until I learned how to take better ones). My first customer was in England which was kind of exciting. I’ve told myself I am going to give it another year to see if things actually get better or worse. But there again, some of the outcome will depend on how much time I am willing to devote to it (or other ways of getting people to my shop such as a website, blogs, etc).

      Beatrice Moore, Kooky Krafts Shop

  58. says

    Hi Everyone!

    I am sorry for my late response but it’s great hearing everyone’s comments. To answer your comments, our customers love shopping on because there not over-bombarded with products and they love that our team juries every item so they already know they are shopping amongst quality products. Our designers love working with us because they don’t have to worry about competing against each other- since we do select every single product- and they love how we plug all of their products in our social media, press, and homepage- with NO additional fees.

    Next year we are headed up to NY Fashion Week which is where we will be bringing products from our designers to be featured in a gift segment- you can’t say any independent designers site has ever offered this- but we will be! Look out for our segment being featured during NY Fashion Week in February!
    Thank you again,
    and Happy Holidays everyone!

  59. says

    I highly encourage anyone who wants to sell their handmade items full time to try to establish their own web site and spend your time / money promoting *that* site, rather than your etsy shop. You can go to or any number of other selling platforms and pay less per month than you would in etsy fees (on average). Etsy is certainly not going to be around forever and as this article points out, it is THEIR store and you can be removed for any reason or no reason at all.

  60. says

    I’m not sure it’s going anywhere, at least anytime soon. There are far too many people (both hobbyists and professionals) who will fork over the .20 cents per listing. For many (as it should be) it’s just another online presence.

    In reference to the buyer/seller issue- many start off as buyers and then decide they too can do what everyone else is doing and then start buying. I find that alot in photography. Now anyone with a point and shot camera fancies themselves a photographer, but there’s more to it than just taking a snapshot.

    The problem with etsy is the oversaturation of pretty much every category. And because of the competition, it’s become more like a flea market. People are selling their work for virtually nothing, but they don’t seem to mind just breaking even. I’d like to say that’s the hobbyist’s mentality, but it’s not. The people who sell the most in photography are the ones who have year-round sales including the BOGO.

    Are there favorites, absolutely, they’re the ones who get all the exposure- they get their treasuries on the front page, are listed in the etsy newsletters etc. Etsy also has a certain ‘style’ of work that is more popular. In photography it’s the faded, highly textured work. You need to find what’s popular in your category, if you want to sell, alot.

    I have a website, but it doesn’t get much traffic, so I have to depend on etsy. But I am branching out to Fine Art America.

  61. says

    As a lifetime artist/craftsperson, I love looking on etsy (and in other places online too) to see what others are creating and selling. Many times I see items for sale on etsy that I think would be good sellers (because I like them) and when I see that the seller has sold hundreds or thousands of items in the last two years I look to see which of these wonderful items has sold the best. Time after time I am shocked/disappointed to see that the majority of what has sold is craft SUPPLIES instead of the wonderful finished items I expected would have sold. This tells me that everyone wants to be a crafter but there aren’t that many buyers.

  62. says

    I created an account on Etsy back in November ’11. I posted several of my creations a few days ago and what I got was 2 (TWO) views.

    I did some research on similar items I make and I didn’t find more than a couple of shops. Nothing what I searched for but it came up in the search results anyway. I used the report option to signal Etsy about a shop selling hundreds of items for 2-4 dollars per item, essentially the same items you see on alibaba dot com mass-produced in China. Really sloppy, poor quality. Handmade? Probably? Is it what Etsy want to be known for? I’m beginning to think — yes. This shop is still operating.

    I came across this discussion and decided to make my own site. I registered my domain, found a free host and made my own site.

    I agree, after much perusing it’s clear Etsy is a virtual flea market with little standards and apparently making it harder and harder for sellers to sell and for buyer to find and buy what they want.

    • says

      Hey Lola,

      I am sort of using big-cartel, but as I’ve only just started selling online I wasn’t to keen on paying for it yet. And with that it is quite limited, and as essentially I haven’t got many traffic going to my website yet, there are barely any traffic going there at all.

      Have you/are you using it at the moment? And would love to hear how have you gone upon driving traffic to your personal website? I’ve got a website, but I just can’t seem to get any much traffic there!


  63. says

    Each venue has some tradeoffs. However there is a new approach that people love – Post what you Want and let Sellers respond. A new Silicon Valley company Ubokia has reversed the status quo by empowering Buyers to state exactly what they are looking for. On the flip side Sellers see qualified buyers.

    Recently introduced Seller Items allows sellers to Post Items for Sale and instantly matches buyers to seller items. If no match initially sellers can set alerts that notify them when Buyers Post a Want that matches their seller item.

    Ubokia is new and growing rapidly. Worth checking out as an additional avenue for your products.

    Scott Pine, Founder

    • Tere Yons says

      The idea of your site sounds great, but I think over 50% of the posts on there are jokes. Too bad. Please let us know when you get funding for some moderators.

      If you focused on things like art maybe the whole thing would fare better, like Etsy’s old Alchemy format.

      Good luck, I hope you can make it work.

  64. Kelly says

    I wrote in several times on this thread, looking back surely I was angry yet my views do not change. I simply wanted to come and respond to Scott Pine saying thank you I am going to check that out – but for a lot of us we’re running now multiple accounts on etsy. Seo doesn’t work the same on etsy as it does say “on google search” etsy failed to provide us with the necessary tools to learn the stuff that I have in 7 months of having a popular trendy feather shop (not my true art), flatline with relevancy I corrected all my seo and its perfect according to google’s developer tools and hiring tons of outside seo companies out of loss of what to do when you can’t get proper tech support from the people you pay to host your shop.

    We’re talking volume on this account to a 85% sales loss.

    What the person above said about the flea market artists – it’s true. And it stinks that I am a participating member of it but to grow in popularity I have started mutliple accounts up as most etsy folks did loose ranks with relevancy, to “compete” for keywords we are “taking up keyword names”

    For example:

    if you go to etsy and type in a shop name and replace the “shops name” with say “roosterfeather” you will probably see “a blank etsy profile”

    SO in regards to the original “is etsy dying” where we talk NUMBERS and stats:

    There is no way Etsy could have a true accurate count on anything. I have heard nightmares from sellers being plucked off shut down (I am one of these and hope you can respect my shop dedication and harm it), I had my site drug through “link farms” by competitors in China. Sweat shop Link Farms, Seo Link Farms AND yes the sweatshop etsy pendants running all over. So

    November 2011 – ETSY BOASTS the best sales numbers in history: WAIT November 2011 was the worst sales month ever on ANY mail order site for me since 1998 starting with Ebay! THE WORST.

    Why doesn’t Etsy hire more help if they are banking rich? To help with the reseller issue? The main complaint of etsy has and always will be these two things

    1. front page favoritism
    2. the RE seller issues

    we used to just “report shop” and their shop was down. Now not so much. However Etsy by muting me in the forums for “calling out” one of these “reseller shops” and hushed me so I don’t

    1. get peer help
    2. cant post (its not cool I had even started another account that is NOT blocked from posting but decided it simply isn’t worth it with the forum lurkers that do not want to make sales they sit and report you- they try to make you so ANGRY which is exactly what happened to me in August forum lurkers pull anger out and then report your post in the forum for fun. I made some public posts (no cursing) but would I have not made them ?
    (actually no – despite the banned from speaking on 4 etsy accounts) reading is enough. They are stuck there until Etsy fixing and removes these pages and it will be a lot of work!

    Didn’t you wonder as a shop on etsy that is familiar with forums why they never brought back the “Forum Search tool”? People are curious what’s going on with Etsy.
    The things I say aren’t really opinions – These are things I sat for months looking up saving screenshots, collecting data, screenshotting admins NOT disclosed pages, showing treasuries and shops being popped off that tried helping contain the resellers and the krummie not so handmade in china brass peacock pendants tag stuffed with the word feather extension knocking me out of most my searches I want to rank well for”

    I see cursing and activity very suspicious. While google searching a link farm issue i see this odd link to the etsy message boards. Do as I am told “community policing they call it” and I asap TWIT TO etsy help on twitter.

    I get a response like all others that say “thanks we’lll look into it” NOT thank you for telling us OUR OWN FORUMS were hacked.

    and they were. Not all of etsy and I do not recall the search where I found it (you could write privately though).

    So how does etsy being under-staffed of 171 employees (they added 1 new person to help handle the integrity of etsy) wait 1. person to handle these 800,000 shops?

    1 person per 800,000?

    They don’t want the resellers gone. Now they are just shutting the good guys doing it honestly and working their tales of for months with heads burried in seo guides and books, Nothing like seeing your ranking #2 in the world for the word feather after wikipedia and moved 10 more shops into their #1 spots on google but when you click INTO ETSY from a google search

    EVERYTHING CHANGES tag stuffing reseller issues, tech support making issues that are their own feel like “your fault” and of course when they see happy HELPFUL threads in forums they shut them down without saying “why”.

    Some posts have just disappeared

    SO as advised I went broke started 3 of my own websites. It’s very difficult but at least I can say I am doing everything possible to do this relevantly not repeat keywords like “feather feather feather” as others are (my competition tag stuffs)

    I rank perfect for my wanted searches “feather extensions on google” for example most times I fall where I want to but SEO Is evolving and you have to be patient see what changes are good and bad and re-apply and wait to be re-indexed, however,

    when you see the “etsy click in link” you will not get the same results.

    It’s not a fair game either. I have proved in screenshots even if anyone would like to see them just message privately – I prooved that I was #1 for “feather extensions” based on a tag inspector tool provided by
    and a few keyword density tool checkers.

    So I knew which item to “renew” (push to the front on etsy and YES it does extend your listing and you pay another 20cents. 20 cents doesnt seem like much but .20 cents x 800,000 (if one person lists one item a day and renews 1 item thats even .40 cents) so they make the MOST cash on etsy off “renewing items” Out of desperate people like me (proving a point in my case though)

    I was #1, brown feathers. Naturally relevant
    my competitor got shoved #2. I knew what she was gonna do. She renewed and she pushed in front me to the 2 spot.

    I waited ten minutes took screenshots of the whole process – and then hit “Renew” paid the .20 cents to prove the point – 5 minutes later I was back #1 for feather extensions.

    It doesn’t matter WHAT your product is.

    What sucks as well is etsy has no “feather section” theres a section called supplies – then its fabric – then bird

    thats the closest we get for selling craft feathers. So feather jewerly is popular – I am popular by my old name (Prefer some anonymous on that name easy to figure out why I changed to “featherswholesale” my shop name contains some important keywords.

    Now imagine a whole sweat shop ready to go to rank and take up all keyword searches that are being “searched according to trends in google”

    And if they don’t rank – they put your sites through these “spinners” it de-ranked my shop because I was beating them.

    This re-seller issue is hitting artfire now as well.
    It’s disapointing I really love artfire. Zibbet on there as well – but I really don’t put much effort in it’s a mimic of etsy down to layout and know it wont be long before resellers in China take that website over as well.

    In conclusion: Is Etsy Dying?
    Heck no they are just getting started as MOST non cupcakes in this fabulous skinny artist article (I watched it grow and GROW), sadly the renewals – the 1.01 they charge your card to validate you – each account you sign up to either 1. use for real 2. register to take away keywords from another (just like BUYING DOMAINS IT HAPPENS ON ETSY!!!!)

    I cant get wholesale Feathers but I did get featherswholesale (etsy doesnt tell you how much google DOES CARE about your shop name)

    If you want to solely exist as an etsy peddler – It’s an unfair game.
    If you want to exist on google and have a nightmare unraveling your analytics comparing shop stats on etsy to real stats on analytics – welcome to the not dying etsy reseller flea market.

    Build your own websites.
    Keep this article going

    Point out and REPORT reseller shops.
    Follow all CHANGING daily rules on etsy to not be “silenced” like myself.
    Do some simple google searches and type in things like “etsy call out”
    “does anyone work at etsy”
    “who manages etsy”
    “why are shops being shut at etsy”

    the power of the words ETSY my oh my did it improve my rankings. Who’s in bed with who?
    etsy facebook china

    knowing NOW that NO seo company can make the claim to #1 and site submission to 15 major engines. (there truly is only 4) Open Directory, (yeah I was unaware the biggest engine was written by real humans too), there is Yahoo (who gets its feed from Google), There is MSN/BING (where I wish I could exist more because it plays fair) AND GOOGLE -ask, lycos, exite webcrawler – these sites – all get their feeds from google the powerhouse of China, as well as you are ALREADY SUBMITED to the smaller engines if you exist on google.

    So work on your OFF ETSY shop SEO.
    I am always happy to help those in need as others did me but you need to make contact privately.
    Thanks for reading this updated ramble. My mood has lightened but now I am appauled nailing it on the head “the flea market for artists” and I happen to be tossed in with my gorgeous sterling jewelry but hey – I can’t beat China.

    Sad Etsy sides with the re-sellers.

    But say “this shop” its “calling out” and you will be shut down. DONT DO IT if you need your income there. DO NOT talk in the forums. DO NOT talk to peers even unless you trust them.
    I found a website and will stop with this where they located the “hidden admin pages” wait the admins can sell products – well sure they are artists too – nice having your competition being your techs huh?

    With Much Respect for the Original Writer of this article and most people that have kept in going – Some chic named Kelly.

    — if you have a site suggestion to help me grow — that is new like Scott Pine wrote above – I would love to know about them. I wish to compile a list of the new sites and also before registering blindly ask them : How will they handle the re-seller issue when it hits their company.

    • Tere Yons says

      Hey Kelly, I’ve just found this article today and I have to say reading your posts makes me so angry at Etsy! I just can’t believe, I want to never buy anything from them again but of course I don’t want to hurt the artists. Whenever possible I’ll definitely try and buy directly from the artist (I do this already for the most part). And I’m also outraged by Google and the whole helplessness of it all.

      I’m sorry you’re having to go through this and being constantly stuck by the Man.

      Best of luck.

  65. says

    I have been an Etsy member since 2006 and have run an open shop on Etsy since April of 2010. I think the biggest problem that new sellers at Etsy have is what another commenter called the Field of Dreams syndrome. Etsy makes it so much easier to open a shop than it is to open a brick and mortar shop. You can avoid taxes, the IRS, rent, contracts and a large over head. New sellers that fail to take off on Etsy encounter many misconceptions and mistakes. You are setting up a shop in the world’s largest craft show. Competition is greatly misjudged. Few take the time to ask themselves “What makes my items better than all the others?” Few sellers also think that Etsy is going to drive their sales. Half of my sales from from Etsy searches. And I get those sales because I have done my research about Google search words and how Etsy’s searches work so that my items are labeled and tagged properly. Etsy has also changed their search methods as well. The default search lists items by relevancy instead of recency. The other half of my sales I drive from social media and networking. Namely my Facebook page and blog. (

    However these shortcomings of new shop owners are not unique to Etsy. They apply to every new small business that opens in America. The largest percent fail because they have not done their research. Just because you are good at making something doesn’t mean you are good at selling it. Or that you are good at graphic design, product description writing, product photography, social media, networking, or have a good business sense. All of these things are necessary to have a truly successful business whether on Etsy or else where.

    Also what you call the “Etsy horror story” is not unique to Etsy either. One’s designs are just as easily copied from craft fairs, their own webpages, or in any environment. Knock offs are the nature of any business. But knock offs aren’t what take down a successful business. If that were true, Chanel, Gucci, Coach, etc wouldn’t be in business today. People who claim knock offs ruin their business didn’t have a strong, unique item to sell in the first place. There are items I can make that I don’t sell well on Etsy because the Etsy market it flooded with them and I would have to price them down so much to be competitive that they wouldn’t be worth my time to make. Hair accessories are a great example. Every crafty mom who has a baby girl inevitably can make hair clips and head bands. All you need is a glue gun and some ribbon. So Etsy is FILLED with hair accessories. I don’t bother to post my hair accessories to sell on Etsy. However, in a physical market place where I am most likely the only handmade infant and toddler vendor, I can sell hair accessories like hotcakes. It takes some market know-how to be successful.

    There are also flaws in your math and numbers. In business you don’t compare month to month sales numbers to calculate increases. December will always be a much larger sales volume month than January. Just think, how many presents did you buy in December vs January. The retail volume has an ebb and flow all year that is largely holiday driven. So when calculating increases and decreases in sales volume (or any other metric) You want to compare each month’s numbers to those of the year previous. i.e. December 2010 to December 2011. That will give you an accurate picture of business health.

    Also because there is no distinction in Etsy accounts between being a seller and a buyer, you are correct in assuming there is no way to determine what the intention of each new account opened is. I am both an Etsy seller and an Etsy buyer and have always been. Also, new accounts could be created in order to favorite items and shops for later purchases, making them neither sellers or buyers. And while you have the number of new accounts opened you do not have the number of accounts closed or left dormant.

    Etsy isn’t dying at all. It is making great revenue off of listing fees and sales commissions. People who try to open a shop and fail blame Etsy. When in fact they should look closer at critiquing themselves. Those people would have failed at a brick and mortar shop too. They aren’t putting the dedication and effort it takes into running a business because that is what it is. They say Etsy as the easy way out, when it isn’t at all. It’s a launching platform. It’s a market place. Etsy makes it easier to have a successful shop, but they do not make it easy. Running a business is not easy. In the end the shop owner still has to do most all of the work. And those who don’t will ultimately fail.

  66. says

    This is a great article and the feedback has been great. I would like to just add one comment: Not every failure on Etsy is a failure of a concept or an idea. Etsy is a very competitive marketplace and getting your product to shine in the midst of thousands of other choices is difficult. It is not really that you are failing because of Etsy but rather that you are not succeeding when using Etsy as a platform on it’s own. To shine there you need to invest money into the many things Esty offers for you to shine. Of course, when you are just starting you may not have the resources to do so. This is not failure or lack of research on how to succeed in business but rather reality: sometimes your finances don’t compliment your vision of success. As such I believe many talented individuals find that Etsy is not the right marketplace for them, whether at this very instance or ever is unique to any one individual. You can fail on Etsy and not be a failure as a business or concept.

    As a stay at home mom, I found that I was not able to commit the money needed to advertise and get featured at this time. This reality is probably true to many stay at home and work from home moms. I recently launched a website, Mom’s Workshop, to give moms like myself a free marketplace that is 100% free: no fees and no commissions to pay. This was not my attempt to fault Etsy, but rather my attempt to give others like me a free alternative (the website also is more than a marketplace it is about building a community of moms who support each other). Mom’s Workshop is only a few weeks old now and there is much to be done before it is complete, but with members signing up every day, I believe that many moms appreciate the chance to start slow.

  67. Sandra says

    What a totally discouraging post/threads. Not to mention that link to I would be so very upset if someone copied my work; I can’t even begin to say…

    I guess I fell into the Field of Dreams category too. I opened my shop in November ’11, and aside from five friends/acquaintances buying items, I’ve not had a single sale. I get hearts, and likes, and people on Facebook liking my page and giving me compliments. I promo in the threads, as well as on FB. And on my blog (though I confess I do not blog often).

    But I’m beginning to wonder if this “Quit Your Day Job” stuff is total BS. I am not even sure WHY I am doing this anymore. Because people say things to me like “oh, you should sell your jewelry/artwork” all the time. Well, guess what? They are not buying from me. Somebody recently told me, “It’s a compliment. They don’t really mean you SHOULD sell your artwork.”

    I started doing art for therapeutic reasons several years ago. It seemed like everyone was jumping on the selling bandwagon. Like my friend Michelle says, “And everybody’s got a blog, and is writing a book, and does online classes.” Whether they are good artists or not!

    This is all starting to seem like a lot of work for little or not return…and right now, I am flat broke, I need a “real” job, and I don’t even feel like making art.

    Thanks for letting me vent here. I’m interested in hearing more from this thread.

  68. says

    I have been selling on Etsy as an artist and designer with my former partner since 2006, and have nearly reached 900 sales. I opened my own shop over a year ago, and started selling last April, and have had quite good sales so far, considering many of my items are expensive originals.
    I do feel that Etsy needs to look at how items are tagged and categorized, as it is hard for us true Fine artists to sell our original artwork and for customers wanting to buy our art to find us on Etsy!

    I would not say one can rely on Etsy solely to provide a liveable income, so it is very important to extend your sales to your own website if possible, and to markets, co-operative galleries and art festivals.

    Great topic, and good luck everyone!

  69. alan says

    I have been on Etsy for two years and I have to say its been up and down regarding sales , I tend to sell more of my jewelry in the summer than in the winter for some reason. I do have to promote my products and make sure that I keep updating my listings.

    Over all I think Etsy works but you have to put the effort in like any shop either online or on a main street to keep customers coming. My other tip is to spread your products out on the interweb to other sites as I have found my

    buyers have been telling me they are not exclusive to buying on etsy and they buy from, etc and recently the, they are like a few of the free sites out there that are currently offering no listing fees just a monthly fee only issue is they will only allow american sellers to set up a shop,

    we call that protectionism in Ireland , you guys call it patriotism. Maybe someone will do something that smart over here some day LOL. Keep craftin Guys. Was going to promote my shop but will bore you some other time. Cheers

  70. says


    I have had an Etsy shop since August of 2010. I make (made) fantasy-fantasy jewelry. I like Etsy. I shop Etsy. However, I completely agree with those here that have said that for FINE art, this may not be the best venue.
    I am currently weaning my jewelry out. I know longer desire to make jewelry and talk about a difficult thing to sell on Etsy. Wow, you are fortunate to get your items in a search. You can pay for search ads, which I have but with those fees and others, I am not making much.
    I have returned to my love of poetry and painting and am really considering not posting my original canvas paintings there.
    Etsy certainly has it’s place and does help, some.
    Thank you all for your comments, it has made me think a great deal about where to sell my art. I have my own websites and one I could develop into one that would cater to such a dilemma.

    Best to you all

  71. susan says

    I’m going to be another boring voice of reason, balance and practicality…sorry!

    My Etsy Experience:
    I’ve used Etsy purely for marketplace testing and feedback before going into production and retail. I hand make my products for Etsy as they are in post testing phase and I’m not willing to spend money on outsourcing until I’ve tested and received feedback from the marketplace. I’m realistic about my expectations and I’ve found Etsy to be wonderful for this. You could also use Ebay to achieve the same thing but you don’t receive the marketing opportunities both with Etsy and externally with magazines that Etsy provides (more on this later).

    My recommendations:
    – Have a unique, quality product. I’d almost say don’t bother if there are many other sellers selling your items unless you have the time, energy and money to market externally. You will get lost in the masses. My product is a stand alone (no-one else makes it) so I stand out in Etsy world.

    – Quality professional photographs. To do well on Etsy, you need the Etsy community to promote you. They won’t unless you have BEAUTIFUL photographs. This goes for the Etsy blog etc as well. Etsy can’t afford to use “home made” photos in their promotional emails etc. This is their business and they need to promote themselves as well. You need to make your product “available” to them. I’m useless with a camera so I paid a pro to do my photos and it was worth every cent – Etsy PR (yes, they have a PR team devoted to lining up Etsy sellers with magazines, TV etc) have provided me with several magazine, TV and promotional opportunities with MAJOR international brands that I would not have received without pro photos. Be aware that the Big End of town DO peruse Etsy – I have been shocked at the companies who have contacted me via Etsy PR. The Etsy machine is much bigger than I think we realise and I think they may be working hard on developing this side of the business.

    – Do your research, know your buyer! Do I really need to say that?? I’m going to be blunt, if you sell fine art Etsy is not your venue. Would YOU go to Etsy to buy expensive fine art? Would Bill Gates go to Etsy to buy fine art? I wouldn’t. Don’t blame Etsy for not bringing your customers to you. Etsy isn’t an art gallery and doesn’t pretend to be one. Please be realistic. It’s your job to research where your buyers are. You need to be there – make it easy for them to find you.

    – Do a business plan!! If you are serious about making money….do a business plan! And if you can’t be bothered (shame on you, don’t expect to make money) then at least do a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). The research you do to complete your business plan would have identified if Etsy was an opportunity or a waste of time for your product/s. Time is money in my world… and I hate wasting money!

    – Use Etsy for what it is and be realistic – Etsy is a marketing opportunity to get your product and brand out there. It does provide an opportunity to communicate directly with potential and actual buyers. Feedback (good and bad) provides you with the roots of change for your business. Be sure to listen and action. I have come up with new product ideas or refined current ideas based on people who requested items through Etsy. I agree with others, you should never put all your eggs in one basket for any business including online so make sure you’re covering all your bases.

    There’s a place for everything and Etsy is just one option so research all options. A word of caution – please be careful about denigrating something just because it doesn’t work for your product/service…particularly if you haven’t done a business plan…lol :-))

  72. Marcelo says

    You goy it all wrong, The new people that sign up every month are buying, the ones are not buying are the people that signed up months before. You need new people to sign up and buy, otherwise your sales are gonna go drastrically down because some of the people that are members already, signed up to buy one thing only.

    I have an etsy shop and sell close to 5k a month.

    • Tere Yons says

      I wish you people who sell so much would post links to your stores. I can’t think of any good honest reason why you wouldn’t want to.

      • laine says

        what does it matter? the people who need to know what someone sells is so they can copy it and steal ideas and sales. you try to spin it like a person is not honest for telling you what their shop. NO YOUR NOT THE HONEST PERSON, AND YOUR EVIL FOR WHAT YOU DO. no one tells or should tell. why don’t you tell us how we can make 60k a year from your business, that we can steal from you and cause you loss. we will all be waiting but my guess is its only ok for you to steal and copy from others and not ok to have it done to you… right? of course i am right. take your evil and leave.

        • Tere Yons says

          I can’t even make sense out of half that paragraph. I’ve enjoyed browsing the shops of people who post on here, and I found it interesting and coincidental that the few who don’t link to these shops that they speak of are the ones that claim the most sales. It would be nice to be able to see both sides of the Etsy story, those who aren’t selling enough and those who are.

          I apologize if I’m making things worse by even replying, this will be my last reply.

          I’m anxious to see how the Etsy story continues, hopefully for the best of the artists and consumers alike, and not for the abounding good of China.

  73. says

    Etsy? Once the only, once the best. but they got too big and seem to be run by a bunch of power hungry high school hall monitors.

    I had two shops. Many requests for more sections (by a lot of people) finally I had to open a second shop. I had HUNDREDS of sales. Perfect feedback. But with all their idiotic changes people started complaining. And one by one, complainers were muted. I got muted. Damn it I am a paying CUSTOMER who brings in many more customers. To be muted like some five year old REALLY set me off.

    The first muting was only for a week. I spent that week looking more closely at some of the many other sites that had started to spring up.

    came back after my week long time out. Was VERY careful to only copy and paste other peoples thoughts in what was left of their fractured forums. Can’t mute me for agreeing right?

    But one day, I pulled up a link to a news story that CEOs of ebay, one went to google and one landed on the board of etsy. That post is STILL open in their forums. But for that post I was perma muted.
    And that did it. I stuck clues everywhere that I was moving and before they could remove me (I knew it was coming at that point.) I copied ALL my customers contact info. Good thing too because they up and closed my accounts while I had pending sales.

    Well. I sent an email to ALL my good customers. Many followed me over to Artfire. Ha, I sent a copy of that to etsy admins. To this day they refuse to answer a single email. WHY was I muted? All I get is an auto responder saying the reason would be in that forum post. It still isn’t. This was all last april.

    Not the stupidest part about being kicked off, I can’t even SHOP there. If I find something in a google search and it lands me on etsy? I can’t shop. I can’t contact the seller. I can’t spend money on etsy.
    I do searches now with -etsy in the search field. How stupid is that?

    And I’m certainly not alone. I wrote my whole saga (including links to the forum posts that got me in trouble.) And posted it on my own site. It amazes me how much traffic I get from google searches “etsy sucks.”

    No. Etsy is dead to me now. Artfire has better tools, PHONE support, customers don’t even need to sign up to shop. They take all sorts of payment methods. And the CEOs are in the forums ALL the time. Changes to the site are open to discussion long before they are put into place. Usually with improvements based on what sellers say.
    Etsy did that once. early on. Before all the stupid HS nonsense started and was allowed to get out of hand.

    I’ve had hundreds of sales now on Artfire.

    oh… and I’ve met a LOT of former etsy sellers there. A good deal of them also got booted or just got so fed up they left on their own.

    • says

      Hoping Jenny two people up will see this message and try to make contact with me. I would love to speak to you Jenny privately of course based on BOTH of our situations there. It’s a horrible thing what they did and I am threading so lightly that I am barely saying anything on or offline.

      Today was depressing as they said “work it out between sellers” how do we do that when we are silenced for the same person saying I harassed them? Watching them go another round of “steal my images” (three more friends of mine plus more of mine and followed to ebay and even PURCHASED MY OWN ITEM to see where this person is) .

      Creepy Weird And Nothing I can do about it if I Want to remain “OPEN”
      I did want to say this

      I watched this thread grow from the beginning and see my tone change but my views stay the same. I like what Jenny said best. High School Hall Monitors make sense.

      And wanted to say THANK YOU TO Skinny Artist – Keeping this going – flourishing – and CONVINCING me it was time to make my own website (go easy on it lol). It’s above! :)

      HUGS TO ALL Of you for sharing your opinions good and bad – it keeps me in my nice love/hate relationship with etsy.


      • says

        Kelly I’d be happy to talk off line. Just click my name, it leads to my website and there is a contact page in there. I’d post my email but that will only get it spammed to death. But it’s findable. My artfire shop is right on my front page too. And you can contact me through that as well.

        The thing about etsy not having any support, no phone, no prompt answers to emails, and their arbitrary tendency to just kick people off make them one of the worst in my book. Businesses with no support are not worth it. Period!

        Keep in mind, all websites will have their own issues. Artfire makes it easy for people to shop without an account. The down side is spammers can easily send their junk to everyone there and there is not one thing you can do about it. Always trade offs.

        Artfire did already get rid of the non paying buyer though. Items don’t vanish from your shop until they are marked as paid. (or if you take checks, YOU make them paid, or put them on hold.)

        Right now, still in planning stages, they are working on a new thing. Customer assurance program. Can’t give you details on that since they don’t yet have it all worked out. But… it should improve things. If customers feel confident that if there is a problem, and if the seller won’t answer or do anything, the site will step in and fix it. This also applies to sellers being protected from (hard to believe) bad customers.
        Some people are upset by this. (some are upset with any change, even good ones.) And there is a small fee increase to help pay for this. Gees it’s a dollar a month increase and a bunch of sellers want to pack up and leave. everything goes up. New programs designed to cover the few bad deals that might happen so that the customer doesn’t equate a bad deal with “artfire” and never return cost money. But I think it will be a good thing.

        As for stealing, for years I’ve been telling people you simply must watermark your photos. yes that’s not a guarantee. Watermarks can be removed. But most thieves, too lazy to take their own pictures are also too lazy to photoshop out a well placed watermark. They just steal from someone easier. It also means you have proof images are yours since removing any watermark will leave signs it was done.

  74. says

    It’s hard to say what those numbers mean. As Etsy gets more popular, both vendors and buyers will increase. But I think many buyers just sign up to buy one specific item. A lot of my buyers are like that. I can see they were not members until the day they bought my item. They may never buy again for another year or two. They may forget they are members and sign up 5 times as a ‘new member’ over the course of many years. Plus the economy is down so vendors across the board have been seeing decreased sales, not just Etsy. Plus there are a lot of vendors on Etsy who simply have too high prices or stuff that is not likely to sell. Or vendors who put up a few things, realize they aren’t rich quick and lose interest. Most of the vendors are not super serious about it. However, if a vendor puts in some research time, works at developing popular items, learns about marketing skills and SEO and good photography, etc, I think they have a good chance of succeeding at Etsy over the long haul. The question is if other places will be better than etsy or not. And what is good for one vendor might not be good for another. -Eva

  75. says

    Jenny! The images ARE watermarked that’s the messed up part! They won’t do anything about it they cut our logos out – I started using a big overlay image now but it’s ridiculous having that over my whole product lol. :) I am looking for which person is you now from above :) Hugs! Kelly

  76. says

    I have now read every post above mine. Most of them seem to be about fine art…the most telling comment was…”would you buy expensive art” from any online store?” I would not unless the shop policies included a returnable clause.
    I have mixed feelings about etsy…I began a shop 2 years ago…have had 65 sales in that time…I tried Zibbet which is an up and coming selling site…they keep adding etsy-like features AND etsy does allow you to create a file to transfer your etsy listings to zibbet or whoever you like, I think…I found in the long run using two sights was a LOT of work…leaving far less time for creating…BUT after reading the posts I may go to zibbet exclusively and will take a look at other sights mentioned in the body of posts above.
    I use Etsy mainly for a place for my “show” buyers to go after the show…I do VERY well at shows if I am careful to pick my market. I have not experienced copy cat problems to my knowledge, but I do try to create very unique pieces. Very difficult to copy…
    I have a personal facebook page and a business facebook page…I belong to my local bead society, I read all I can about selling online…I originally had a website thru constant contact…very hard to promote and $16/month with no sales. I write a newsletter monthly (blog to some of you) – send to 100+ contacts…offer incentive coupons for etsy and even that does not generate sales very often…my best sales are at SHOWS!! Shows are a lot of work…and “juried” is interpretated differently by different venues. So be careful. The economy does play a role…I was just in a show for the second time here locally – Savannah, GA – and sold only half what I did just last year…many, many compliments…people came back to say they liked my work the best of all the jewelry people at the show…loved my display…my prices are good…so many factors play a role.
    I am currently trying the paid ads…at first – verrry slow…but it is picking up…no sales, however. The best info etsy gives you are your stats…and the key words. My work has been in over 125 treasuries…no sales generated…probably for the reason stated above…those looking are the sellers.
    I have made many, many virtual friends and they often buy from me…I have done everything that Etsy suggests for a shop and promotion…no real changes although Christmas sales were better this year.
    Jewelry is the largest category – 35,000 shops so competition is fierce.
    I have too many business cards to change to zibbet without putting correction stickers on the back of the cards…so we shall see.
    Oh, and when my work is favorited, I contact that person and thank them. My packaging is really nice…My shop is cohesive…It was quite a learning curve…as I said…we shall see.
    I googled Etsy dying because to people said they had read that recently…two from the bead society…very interesting posts…
    Thanks, y’all!!

    • says

      Cathy, you know I clicked on your name and it only brings up the dreaded Uh Oh page on etsy. So can’t even see your work.

      Try googling your own work and see where and if it shows up. I can guarantee you zibbet NEVER shows up in google. You would have better luck on Artfire.

      Also… Artfire has a guide in their forums for people coming over from etsy. One of the things I learned is NOT to duplicate listings. Google will penalize you for that and both listings get tanked. So tools to transfer listings over aren’t really much help since you still need to reword your whole description, and I’ve been told even using the same image might hurt.

      Fine art is a hard sell on line only because the computer does such a poor job of showing what the art really looks like. I’ve tried and gave up on it. (crafts sell better on line.)
      But some people do very well.
      Again I can’t see your art, but if it’s 2d images, another way to make money off of them is to use zazzle. (Print on demand.) You upload your images, set what “stuff” to sell it on, and collect checks. Best part is you retain all rights to the work. AND the originals.

  77. says

    Hey, does anybody know if the stats on Etsy that show how many sales a shop has made are actual sales. I’ve been spending some time looking at different shop stats just to see overall what the potential is. Can these sales numbers be manipulated in any way? If they are accurate numbers, I’m surprised how many artists/crafters are making sales. I’ve just opened an Etsy shop at the first of the year, and it is pretty darn slow. I’m thinking of investing more time into updating my already existing website. By the way, I love Drew’s Skinny Artist site. It’s the real deal. Thanks, Drew for your efforts.

  78. says

    As a blogger myself I wanted to commend you for putting your words into this great post, because that is what freedom of speech is all about. I do understand the examples you are giving. The thought process is that it should be more of a sales type pyramid or domino effect like

    Increase in Users vs Sales
    x this month
    xx next month
    sort of like the pyramid effect xxx

    But not exactly so after what I have seen. I have been on Etsy since 2007. I sell (part time ) when I feel like messing with my shop but I also buy just about anything I need for art supplies, the home, or vintage gifts. I used to run a team so I can tell you what I noticed. A lot of people pop over to Etsy and open up a shop and expect to sell out or get rich quick without really investing time to treat their shop like a business.

    I have to admit I was one of them having been on there for a year not knowing what I was doing reading the Do’s and Don’ts or really take the time to see what successful sellers are doing. They list things that will never be found–are not SEO friendly using words like cute and cuddly instead of descriptive words that will get their items noticed.

    I have seen vintage go from a few thousand items when i opened up shop to over 2.2 million so I have to stay on top of my game but still there’s a lot of new shops that come in and get sales fast, others will be frustrated that they are not selling and will be gone in 90 days.

    I commend Etsy for offering a huge alternative to selling on other sites. Etsy’s fees to list and sell are the lowest around–on top of the fact you have have a free storefront.

    Just like you (and your links up top by the way are redirected to total shops), I cannot locate the totals for shops anymore. It redirects me to shops in my area and I cannot even search for total in USA it keeps reverting back to local. Not sure if they are having a glitch or that is intentional but here’s what I say, shame on a seller for going into a business of any kind without the proper time and dedication to their shop.

    It takes time to network and promote your item and Etsy doesn’t have anything to do with that. Success is on the individual (unless of course you do hit the front page and land in a magazine well, hey, that would be nice…)

  79. says

    Oh, I have a personal experience with Etsy to share. It might be of interest since I’m a dedicated full-time craftsperson who has been totally committed to selling on etsy pretty much when it started. I started selling there when it was really small, I think I was the only person who made anything out of leather. It was January of 2006 when I made my first sale and the sales ramped up steadily after that. In 2007 I grossed just under 19000.00 (not including shipping). 2008: 27,400.00. Then in Sept 08 the global market crash happened. It took a few months for it to really start, but in 2009 I grossed only 13,000.00 Last year sales came up a bit to 19,400.00. I create this stuff full time, and with etsy as my primary sales focus venue, it was so hard to let go of the dream and accept that it is not working for me any more. The golden age of 2008 is now a distant memory. For this year I have shifted my focus to wholesaling, I work a lot harder making quantities of stuff but my sanity is partially restored knowing I am not totally counting on etsy to support me. I still have my shop but i don’t sit by the computer feeling sad nearly as much as I did the last three years!
    I wish I knew why I can’t be successful there anymore. I think it’s a combination of way way more sellers, a depressed economy, more resellers of cheap stuff that undercuts mine and also there are some really amazing bags on Etsy now that are putting mine to shame :( And people are making amazing, fashion-magazine calibre photographs with models and styling and props and I just don’t have time to do that.
    I also think Etsy’s site infrastructure has changed, making it complicated and overwhelming to shop there. Almost everybody I talk to about etsy says they find it overwhelming and just look at the pictures without really ever buying anything. However it’s a living evolving site so I’ll hang in there and see what happens.

  80. Marie says

    The comment the author made that, “every artist and crafter with a bedazzling gun has opened a shop on Etsy” speaks largely to the ignorance about Etsy about why many people are not successful selling in this venue. I am a full time Etsy seller, and consider myself successful – I can make a living through my sales. Etsy is a handmade marketplace, which should speak to some level of quality or uniqueness of goods. While you do find some tacky bedazzled items available for sale, you will probably notice these are not the successful sellers. Those that are successful usually have something unique to offer, or a skill not easily reproduced. I like to think it is where art meets crafts, or a community of artisans…not your everyday flea market crap. I went to school and received my Bachelor degree in Graphic Design. I also have a background in bookkeeping. These skill sets serve me everyday in my Etsy business. That being said, Etsy doesn’t translate into the appropriate venue for all sellers. If you have something unique, well-crafted or well-designed people will buy it. Period. Knowing a little bit about how to operate a small business helps too. I understand it can be intimidating to get started but honestly Etsy shouldn’t be easy for everyone or it would saturate the market! What I have said may sound harsh, but there is a silver lining…the great thing about Etsy is you can start up a business today, with little to no overhead. If you fail then you haven’t lost much. If you succeed then the sky’s the limit! It took me 2 years of evolving my products and testing the market before I found a product that resonated with buyers. You get out of it what you put in. Is it easy? No! Is it worth it? YES!

    • says

      With all your education you should agree that the first rule in business is to NOT treat your paying customers like dirt! Second rule, (perhaps not in this order) is to offer outstanding customer support.

      Etsy failed both.

      I HAD two shops. PERFECT feedback, hundreds of sales. But like many others I was unhappy with etsy’s latest rash of stupidity and complained too much. For that I was muted, then perma muted, never with an explanation or any discussion. After that I took a much harder look at other venues and found one.
      Artfire! THEY DO offer support. They DO care about their paying customers. They are constantly improving and almost always put new ideas up for discussion before rolling out changes. Etsy stopped doing that very early on.
      They stopped caring what anyone thinks. Like it or lump it is their attitude.

      Finally, everyone they have booted, (and I find more in the forums on Artfire almost every day.)
      once booted I CANNOT SHOP ETSY!!!! I DO find items I’d like and would buy but I CAN’T. I can’t even contact the seller unless they are smart enough to leave a trail to twitter, blogs, personal sites or something. Which etsy gets more and more anal about allowing.

      Then lets bring up the abuse and resellers. A very large magazine published right on the front page some wedding dress only to later find out it was a mass produced rip off. I bet they NEVER publish etsy anything after that blunder.

      I follow several blogs and twitter people who find resellers on etsy all the time. Etsy boots good people with real hand made items, in favor of making listing fees????
      Anyone who really looks will have no problem finding this sort of thing.

      Artfire on the other hand, willingly invites resellers to do business. AS resellers. Just make it clear what you do. As it should be.

      no. etsy is dead to me now. When I shop I generally start with google. And I put in my search -ebay, and now -etsy too. Why bother finding things I have to then jump hoops, find someone on Artfire with an etsy account and ask them to contact the seller for me. Phoey! I don’t need anything that bad.

      Etsy staff would flunk business 101. They started out great. And as the first and only of it’s kind for awhile they grew. Too fast and too much for the flunkies running the show.

      oh well. It was nice while it lasted. Artfire works for me. better tools, better support. And yes. Sales.

  81. Stacy says

    I’m a buyer. I would like to be a seller of handcrafted (steampunk and upcycled) jewelry, but I found you because I was wondering is there is no market space left for this and used the search phrase “Are there too many craft jewelers out there?”. It seems to be almost a craze to make jewelry.
    What I’ve bought on Etsy is vintage clothing and jewelry, not art per say.

  82. says

    I have been on Etsy for a while,had an excursion with 1000 Markets (don’t ask) and have a website.Ultimately I would like to just have the website and I have basically been using Etsy as a shopping cart.The problem with that,for me,is that most of my buyers find me through Google searches and must sign up to purchase.Hate that.

    The teams are a real time suck,although I have met some great folks.It is seriously cutting into my creating time with little results,sorry to say.

    I am now in the process of setting up shop on Big Cartel and this looks like a much better solution for me.Etsy has been making weird choices and the site outages have become too frequent (search issues 2x and site completely down for over an hour just this month) .Seems less and less professional.

  83. says

    I have had a gallery shop on Etsy since 2007. I was happy with the way it was going until 2010 when traffic more or less dried up. There were some issues with SEO at Etsy at that time. I was busy with other things in 2010/2011 in any case, so I didn’t worry about this drop-off too much. I returned late last year to rejig and try to recover my traffic and sales there. The traffic has been easy. In many ways it is a more engaging and easier to use site than in 2007 and a seller certainly gets more bang for his/her 20c nowadays. However two things seem to be clear to me; it has become a more engaging site for simply ‘window shopping’. I have found many new members, who are not sellers, are hearting this and that, have loads of favourites, but little or no feedback (therefore few if any purchases). The addition of ‘circles’, the activity feed and being able to favorite things from thumbnails has encouraged this window-shopping activity. Secondly, as a painter, I have been really surprised in the last several months at the sudden, so it seems, presence of a large number of formula painters. There had always been a few, but now, if I take a look at the top page in the art category, this is mostly what I am seeing.

    At this point I really had to wonder about the suitability of Etsy for my work as an artist. I went to Google Insights for search and entered ‘Etsy art’. Yes, the searches using these terms are growing, but predominantly in the category of ‘crafts and hobbies’ not ‘arts and entertainment’ or ‘shopping’. Other Etsy search terms bring up shopping at the main category and this is what I would like to see for art, but it’s not happening. I am now considering a rather different way of making my work available online. I like Etsy, but I don’t see a future for it in my situation.

  84. says

    I sell vintage items.Pretty girly items mostly.I use my pretty cottage as a background to help give ideals how this vintage item can be displayed.My cottage has been featured in a national decorating magazine and this helped my etsy store.I am a stay at home mom and the extra money does help.I could not make a living off etsy that is for sure.!However it is better then consigning my items at one of our local antique malls and paying them 35% and working a few day’s a month at the antique shop.It is also better then what I have done in the past which is to sell all my pretty castoffs at my yard sale for next to nothing.!.Etsy is better then those options however I am still holding out hope for a better option in the future.!Do not even get me started about ebay!Sharks!!

  85. says

    I’m intending to open an Etsy store in the next week or so (I used to have a Folksy one, which I had to close for personal reasons a year or so ago). I don’t expect to get much, if any, random traffic through it from Etsy’s search listings – instead I’m using it as a reliable, relatively cheap, storefront. It’s already set up to appeal to creatives, and I’ll link through from my website/blog… it will literally be my shop, while my website will be the heart of Ducking Fabulous. And I think that’s maybe the key – I have no expectations from Etsy in relation to promotion of my items, I just want somewhere that’s trusted for people to execute transactions :)

  86. RaDonna Fox says

    I was a #1 seller on Etsy! Isn’t that where everyone dreams of being? I was so seasonal though and I went from working 10 hours a week to 90! At 90 hours a week I was unable to keep up with the demand and customers became irritated, yet I was killing myself to try and make them happy. In the end I had to close my doors, the demand was more than I could bare. I wish you all success, it is possible but something not without a price…. RaDonna – thebearfootshaman

  87. says

    I sincerely appreciate the information. I opened an ETSY account a year before I did anything with it, but in February, I listed a few simple crochet pieces and now I have over $200 in sales. It is great fun to from a social viewpoint, but I’m not quitting my day job. :)

  88. Dave Laane says

    I think the entire problem is the “New Member” numbers versus ACTIVE member numbers. I for one am an Ebay seller looking to change / diversify my market and have signed up but done nothing else for several months while I continue to develop more inventory space. I realize the sell through may well be lower than Ebay and I’ll have to hold more inventory longer because the urgency of auction selling is removed.
    Next to think of is the fact the Etsy allows not just crafts but vintage items so there may be more sales in certain categories and not others, again we’re not privy to what’s driving the actual numbers or how many who have signed up are online sellers seeking a foothold into a new market only to abandon it after in depth review and deciding to forego selling there is another variable that’s been left unconsidered.
    Given these bits of information I’d suggest a review of sold items and which categories they were sold in and an active participant number, perhaps using the rating system to determine regular users versus casual users can determine the real core customer base, then it might be found the sellers who aren’t doing well either are not meeting consumer tastes or crafting sub-standard or unwanted items and the same for vintage item sellers who are the most like Ebay’s clientele.
    It might also show the average sold price to be higher since there are fewer genuine participants versus sign ups and that there is a nice, niche being filled for those who have a business model that fits well with the platform Etsy has designed

  89. says

    Hi again to all artists who have mentioned in the commentary that they are looking to have their own website as an alternative or supplement to Etsy.
    I have found what may be a good website hosting option for many kinds of artists.
    It is free if you want a basic package, and then you can apparently add a shopping cart system using PayPal for payment for a small fee each month. there is no commission or other hidden fees.

    here’s the link:

    Good luck!

  90. says

    Not sure if Etsy is dying or becoming over saturated but Etsy and soon my Lilyshop will be a place I can send my prospective buyers and returning customers to view the items I offer.

  91. says

    I opened an Etsy store and uploaded a ton of prints that I sell as greeting cards to retailers nationally in volume. Only 4 sold and I was super surprised it bombed. BUT I developed a new genre of prints and it took off as soon as I changed my format. I expect my sales to keep increasing as I add new products. If I hadn’t changed my
    theme I would have had to close the shop, so I consider myself a survivor. I had to put a lot of time into drawing a bunch of new prints to replace the old ones I thought would fly off the site.

    My take is that it depends on what buyers want and it doesn’t matter if the are sellers on ETSY or shoppers. Alot
    of business people and artists, students, moms buy my prints. Some people haggle but most do not. It’s important to know what your margins are and what your expectations are when you start.

    I consider it very much like a retail store, they come in pick up what they want and then they are done and will not come back, different than my wholesale buyers. But I don’t mind because on-line shopping is infinite, people are not shopping at gift stores anymore and galleries are going out of business.

    I would suggest if that if you’re not getting regular sales after 6-8 months reevaluate your products. Start uploading new things four months before Christmas to see what the potential of sales could be to project how much time you are willing to spend on this endeavor. It is disheartening to here about artists having to take down there store after investing in so much time to set one up. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. I would say at best it is a part-time venture or hobby for the average shop owner that has another job. I earn a lot of sales when my wholesale selling season is down, and I use it to cross market my other business.

    ETSY has some serious branding and the fees I feel are fair, I like the stats and the billing sections and they always provide artists with more fuel and I feel for a large entity they care about the artists sincerely. Our fees pay for having an easy cool website, I have one and when it breaks I have to shell out big money for a developer to fix it. As a business person, you are saving more money on marketing and tech labor by just paying ETSY there fees.

    They could do a better job on organizing and keeping the good stuff away from the el cheapo stuff but hey it’s like eBay. They are improving functionality and they promise to be a progressive site for users and buyers. The are also profitable for the first time, which shows that what they made went back into the company and not in some deep pocket of a corporate CEO.

  92. says

    I’ve been on Etsy since 2010. It hasn’t been easy, nor am I yet a resounding financial success, but after having some brick and mortar retail experience I’ve learned a digital presence tends to be more forgiving of easily overlooked business details, and presently my Etsy business continues to steadily grow 25% over last year.

    Some things I’ve learned from my Etsy experience so far: 1) have a good quality product you enjoy creating 2) provide good photographs/images 3) don’t expand your listing selection too quickly until you understand the ins-and-outs. 4) set up processes and standard to-do lists and share what you’re doing with your customers.

    There’s no guarantee for anything. Just do what you love and do your best — and do your best to keep up with technology and Etsy policies. Whatever you learn from the latter may be carried forward towards your next venture/selling community website.

    No sincere effort is ever really lost.

    Good luck!

  93. says

    Esty may not be dying, but it appears to be morphing more and more into a commercial mass produced Ebay type marketplace.

    Many Etsy sellers are protesting the neglect on Etsy’s part to properly manage sellers who claim to be hand made but are actually mass producing items.

    Here is a link, and there is also a planned 24 hour shop closure on May 10th for all sellers who would like to protest :

  94. Karie says

    I have this vision, or perhaps nightmare, of millions of Etsy handcrafted ware, including perhaps my own, sitting on the thrift store shelves in another 10 years, begging for someone to give them a prominent place in their home once again before the handcrafted movement fell to the outdated wayside! I have never quite understood the jewelry craze and I am jealous of anyone who can knit ( I can’t keep track of the counting)

    This is why I try to create timeless original personalized pieces that are not easily reproducible or copied by just any one with a glue gun or sewing machine. I did pretty good in my first year and received one of the “mixed blessing” 1099K forms this first year for selling over 20,000 or 200 items. That being said, I still want to transition to my own site this year while still keeping one foot in my Etsy shop. Just not wise to place all your eggs in one basket! Esp when they can and do regularly suspend shops with no recourse. I totally think the quality of photos makes all the difference and coming from a photography background I think that was my key to receiving the dreaded 1099K:)

  95. says

    I am an Etsy seller. Last week Etsy decided to change the wedding category leaving thousands of wedding sellers in an uproar. Go and curious the new wedding category. It is horrible for sellers and buyers. Many protests are going on but Etsy isn’t listening. Please write a story about this. Etsy has made a huge mistake that is costing thousands of seller their livelihood. Thanks!

  96. says

    Wow great article.
    We are gel candle mfgs (not many of us left) & I was asked by many to sell on Etsy & several said we would do well.
    We also make a line of 100% Soy, dripless tapers, reed difussers, pillars, tarts, & votives.
    So we did just that openend a store so we could have another avenue to sell on
    I was totally dissapointed by the lack of orders.
    GREAT buyers & Ive met ALOT of other sellers who are wonderful.
    Its the management that totally sucks.
    I go to log back in this afternoon to reply to some emails reguarding shipping quotes & POOF my acct has been deactivated!!
    I took ALOT of time to add pics & discriptions & without ANY kind of email from them giving me any kind of heads up.
    I shipped 1 pair of our dripless tapers out to Ca & was checking to see if they had been delivered.& it showed they were delivered today.
    I left the lady a note & said that if she needed any more to let us know.
    I had to go check on some shipping quotes for a few others that emailed me & when I went to try to log back in POOF my acct has been deactivated!!
    So im wondering how many others Etsy management has done this to without warning.
    No wonder they are dying.
    I have tried to contact them reguarding this but they have BLOCKED my email address.
    How many sellers are going to put up with this?
    This is the way they conduct business?
    They wont be around much longer & Ill be REAL SURPRISED if they are.
    If you are looking at opening up an Etsy store you might want to reconsider.

  97. says

    Not sure if you still read the comments, since the article is from 2010. But hey, maybe someone is reading the comments here.

    1. Are you currently selling (or buying) your art on Etsy?

    Yes, but not only. I don’t believe it’s doable to live on just 1 venue, so I have several online shops that I do keep up myself..
    Currently, Etsy is about 1/4 to 1/3 of my income.

    2. What do you think are currently the biggest benefits or challenges to running a successful Etsy store?

    Right now Etsy has very bad publicity, because it hosts resellers and just featured a reseller on its front page, so it lost a lot of credibility, thus all artists on Etsy lost some credibility too (I mean, what is really handmade and what’s not?)
    On the plus side, you have a lot of traffic, so people can find your work more easily than if you only run your own online shop (that asks a lot of marketing). Don’t get me wrong, your Etsy shop needs some marketing too, but a tat less that if you were on your own.

    3. How have things changed since you’ve been there?

    I’ve been on Etsy since 2008 and it used to be a very friendly small community. Now it’s huge and well… Etsy have gone nuts. They close handmade shops but they still keep the resellers.
    I don’t think they’re doing that badly, since they have quite a lot of job offers, but they seem to be unsure what to do next, so they do everything.
    It’s not a nice place to be anymore and it’s very disturbing not to understand what is going on in their mind (ie. closing small handmade shops for no particular reasons – featuring resellers on the FP – denying the fact they want to keep resellers – buying trunkt, a wholesale website).

    4. What advice would you give someone who might be interested in opening up their own Etsy shop?

    Don’t have just an Etsy shop, use Etsy for their traffic, but have your own online shop elsewhere and try other selling venues similar to Etsy but which are more local.

    • says

      Hey PetitPlat,

      Thanks for the info! As you seem pretty experienced I was wondering what advice would you give in regards to driving traffic to your own website? I’ve started a few months ago and I have an account on Etsy, Folksy and Bigcartel but most sales are going through Etsy, but now I’ve heard a few stories, I’m a little worried about completely trusting and building it around Etsy.
      I have my own website but I have no idea how to get people there? I’m not so much of a blog writer, so I’m not sure what other ways could be effective :s

      Appreciate any advice!

  98. says

    I am a seller on Etsy who also occasionally buys things… so… both a seller and buyer! More like a seller, most of the time, however.

    Your article is very interesting…

    There definitely is money to be made via Etsy, but it comes down to the old 80/20 rule. 20% of the sellers on Etsy are going to be making 80% of the money. The inverse is also true. Why? Because those who take the time to master the “art of selling” on Etsy will take the lion’s share of buyers.

    Just as eBay became cluttered with a lot of non-interesting, same-old same-old, Etsy is also somewhat becoming cluttered. However, the amazing and unique items still have a chance to shine through.

    And believe me, if you fall in love with a product, you’ll join Etsy just to get what you want!

  99. says

    Shawn, thanks for reminding me to focus on making the most amazing things I can imagine, and not getting caught up in repeating myself and playing it safe. I think that’s a bit reason why my sales have flatlined on etsy recently.

  100. says

    I’ve got to saw I don’t find Etsy as bad as mentioned in this article (maybe things has just changed?)
    I have heard that their forums were horrible before, but I have not yet experienced any of that there as of the few months since selling on Etsy, and I participate in a lot of teams. Though I do find lots of people only use these to just promote their own items.

    I think it’s great how Etsy is providing their sellers a lot of information on how to make a good shop and how to make it successful, their resources are great for lots of start-up artists! However, I’m not sure if this could be giving false hope to many too? How do you know if you’re just straight-forwardly not creative enough? Some of the items I see people selling seem so… common, poorly made, and quite a few times a bit of simple craft made by 12-year old girls? (not saying mines are great … )

    A lot of the forums seem to be comforting zones for many of these desperate sellers who just exchange “likes” on their FB pages and “hearts” each other’s items. As much I’d like to promote my items, I’m not sure about people liking my page and hearting my items just so I’d do the same back. So I only participate when I do see someone’s work I like first.

    Anyway, my point is, the amount of new members joining could be a portion of these sellers, it seems not many make many sales so I don’t think they take a lot of share of the marketplace.
    As Shawn says in the post above, “those who take the time to master the “art of selling” on Etsy will take the lion’s share of buyers.” and similarly, I know quite a few people who do just sign up to get that one-off, unique item! sometimes returning at a much later date, and many who also just browse. Either way, them knowing and talking about it can drive further traffic into Etsy which is good for Etsy and it’s sellers.

    One thing I do agree to though is there is a lot of low-priced competition out there (though may not necessarily be in my category) as people are just desperate to only get people to LOOK at their item. But a recent online lab, “The art of pricing for profit” Etsy held I think would’ve woken a lot of these sellers up who are pulling the market down with their cheap prices, which making Etsy a less and less profitable market place for people.

    In conclusion, I don’t think Etsy is dying, certainly growing (gradually) in the UK. And it certainly provides a space for artists to see somewhere to spread some wings

  101. Joan says

    Ok I have a presence on Etsy can’t say its a shop as I’ve not sold much, its more a place where my work is on show for other to look at for free. Recently listed all new stock so here’s hoping.. My pet peeves are:-

    Cumbersome search on Etsy, lack of ability to sort your searched items. You can’t search for sold items (completed listings on ebay) so you have NO IDEA what your type of craft is selling for, if any. Unless you find a similar thingy seller and look to see if they have sold then go to their sales and then look for a like item, then it may not have the sale price – you get the idea.

    On Ebay you can even look at completed listings per seller and see how much they have sold and at what price over a 15 day period. That is so handy as you can then see if the market has a flood of items and the price has dropped, or reverse if there are none and you could make a killing.

    This is called lack of ability to do market research and if I can’t research why should I sell on there?

    You seem to have to list every day at varied times to get people to see you. You can’t seem to find who favourites your stuff.

    They do not allow you to schedule listings – so you can list for USA times if you are UK based.

    Hardly any body (artists excluded here) in the UK knows about Etsy. I’ve done lots of research, asking live people (over 2,000) at craft fairs in UK and they our possible customers really have no idea what Etsy is. I emailed Etsy on this – no reply – are we surprised.

    There are no sites that can help with your listing like Auctiva for Ebay. My ebay sales are going great on my vintage and kitsch stuff as I use Auctiva and find a lot of sales are going for more because I can get more pictures on, schedule my listings and so on. Pictures, good ones, sell things. Oh and its so slow to list one picture loading at a time.

    Summing up Etsy has its place as a trendy place where those who can afford to can relist countless items to keep themselves at the top of the searches. The jury is still out on me keeping a shop going. My best selling place is a Charity Bookstore that allows me to hang my art on their walls, they take a %.

    There’s an anomaly on the postage or I am thick and don’t get it. If you put a price in the “send with another item” box Etsy adds the totals together. I have been told this by prospective buyers who queried why my combined postage was so high!!!! So now I put ” Buying another item – Message me and I’l work out a great deal for you” in my listings.

    Excellent article and great comments.

  102. says

    My Etsy site ( is small, and seems to be getting smaller. . .

    I think a lot of the changes Etsy has made over the last year has hurt my viability. My jewelry is not exactly very searchable by name (but is great once you’ve found me), and renewing to the front page certainly helped out in the old days in that respect. (I don’t like having to spend extra money to get the same or less visitors to my shop through sponsored adds, and I certainly don’t see quite as many visitors as I once did.)

    There are also a lot of copy cat shops now, who couldn’t care less about infringing on copyrighted works. I see that many of the designers who were here when I joined are getting choked out by copycats, with little they can do about it :(

    But for all the problems that Etsy has, I think it is a great place to showcase your designs and crafts. I don’t think that it is a dying site, but I do think some tweaking may still need to be done. . .

  103. says

    There is another site that is called Zibbet, also only for handmade goods, much smaller then etsy but you have no fees for anything and a lot of etsy sellers come over and join.Then there is also a site called eCrater where you can open a free store, no fees and on that site if you enable in your admin area a UK and AU currencies you have tree store with your listings in different currencies in US is .com, UK is, and also Australia is .au, what is nice, and they feed your product with google attributes automatically to google search a few times a week, all for free,so there is a chance your items to be found by google search.
    eCrater has about 4 million listings if I’m correct in different categorys. Not so small market place.
    Maybe a few new options for everybody…
    Have a nice day everybody and lots of sales…Glassexpression

  104. Karen Rector says

    I have been looking for alternatives to Etsy and Ebay. I ran acrosss this site that may be interesting to painters. Sells only original art work…no membership fees, no listing fees, no monthly charges.
    However, there is a flat 30% commission when a painting sells. You can sell your painting elsewhere too just letting Zatista know if your painting is no longer available.

    Personally, I find the 30% very reasonable considering art gallery commissions plus this site isn’t loaded with, how do I put it,, cheapness…I guess. Take a look!

  105. says

    Not sure what you other folks are doing wrong, but we opened our Etsy site 6 months ago (as an alternative to Google Adwords program), and we started getting sales immediately. The listing fees are cheap compared to PCC. We do wedding save the date magnets, die-cut by hand, and have customers in USA and Australia. If you’re doing poorly on (or any platform for that matter) you need to re-evaluate your product and it’s position in the market first. It’s possible no one wants what you’re crafting or it’s overpriced or even under-priced. Additionally, as a buyer myself, I can tell the difference between sellers that are just taking pictures / listing and those that are truly passionate about their craft. If you’re the former, keep yo’ day job, you ‘ant foolin’ nobody!

  106. says

    Not sure what you other folks are doing wrong, but we opened our Etsy site 6 months ago (as an alternative to Google Adwords program), and we started getting sales immediately. The listing fees are cheap compared to PCC. We do wedding save the date magnets, die-cut by hand, and have customers in USA and Australia. If you’re doing poorly on (or any platform for that matter) you need to re-evaluate your product and it’s position in the market first. It’s possible no one wants what you’re crafting or it’s overpriced or even under-priced. Additionally, as a buyer myself, I can tell the difference between sellers that are just taking pictures / listing and those that are truly passionate about their craft. If you’re the former, keep yo’ day job, you ‘ant foolin’ nobody!..

    • says

      You’re lucky to be in a newly opened category on etsy….weddings. They’ve made a big deal out of promoting this as special. I do hope you keep getting sales :)

  107. Sher says

    I have had a shop now for almost a year. I am doing very little selling. The big problem with Etsy is the search feature. It is awful. It is way worse than any site I have seen. You cannot search by price, color, sleeve length, cut. No wonder it’s such a problem to get people to the shop.
    I cannot sit for three hours and go through 256 items.
    The current site is like going to a huge flea market and searching through hundred of interesting items, but not being able to find exactly what you are looking for, and as far as the items that I sell, I find that the keywords make little difference in the search.

  108. H in Cali says

    This is an excellent article. I just opened an Etsy store earlier this year because I prefer to be my own boss and, add that to making crafty things and bam: selling things online. Upon hearing about Etsy here and there, I opened a store and have a few dozen items in it. Well, let me tell you I am glad to see others with replies saying they have not had many sales. I’ve had less than 10 sales–okay not too shabby–but I do everything as Etsy implies. From being on and using several social networking sites, to adding new things often to stay in the top results, to proper use of key terms to attending the online labs, I do a lot to try and gain sales and views. I am constantly researching ways to succeed and using those ideas in my own store. Because I am not seeing an increase in sales, I assumed it was me and my crafts that were just unsuccessful until another idea came to mind: are these Etsy success stories for real? Well, that’s how I came across this article and I am sure glad I found it. I am not alone in not being one of those stores with these golden tales that seems to be strewn all over the Internet. Everywhere I look I see these so-called success stories and spotlights of sellers who are earning 6 figures a year. I am just happy I caught on early before I spent more money on this “dream”. Thanks for sharing this. :)

  109. says

    A lot has changed on Etsy in the last 2 years, but I can’t say what exactly, since I left Etsy in December 2010 to sell exclusively on
    I was on Etsy for 3 years and had 100 sales in that time. About 75% of my sales were to new Etsy buyers who found me on Google. I had to leave, though, because I couldn’t afford to keep paying for renewals on items that should sell for $5. To keep that listing up for a full year, you would lose $1. Not to mention the fees they take if the item does sell… On small pieces, you just can’t make a profit. may be smaller and have less buyers, but the community of sellers is fantastic, the support from Admin is unparalleled, and the look/feel of the site is clean and uncluttered. I’ve been on Zibbet for just over 18 months and had over 65 sales. Not quite as good of a sales rate as on Etsy, but not too shabby for a still-very-new marketplace. Interestingly enough, I’m still getting about 75% of my sales from new shoppers who find me through Google.
    Considering the age, this article is still pretty pertinent. It seems like every couple months, Etsy changes something and more sellers leave. I personally believe their time as a handmade marketplace has come and gone, and they are serving as a lesson in what NOT to do if you run a site for handmade selling.

  110. says

    I had an etsy store years ago…didn’t do well. Someone convinced me that it had changed & I should try again. I’ve been back on there for 1.5 yrs, and only 17 sales, and I can’t say I like it much better. I’ve done the facebook & social media stuff & promoted the heck outta it….but funny, as someone else mentioned, most of my hits are from my own promoting, not from etsy.

    I am planning to take most of my stuff out of etsy, and keep a minimal store. The only reason? I have a customer from etsy who buys from me on a wholesale level….she only found me because of my etsy shop. It’s ok for exposure, but I can’t keep trying to sell people on etsy….I’m going to start selling them on me & my artworks :)

  111. Liz says

    I was on Etsy for 10 months last year .. another victim of Terms of Service, and it was not even in my control – probably just other jealous sellers with similar items..which I am seeing more and more of..

    I was paying over $300 a month in Etsy fees. BUT i have to say I did bring in just about $1,000 – $1,500 a month in sales a good part of those 10 months. I am no longer on etsy, have my own website and i am happier.

    I sell handmade jewelry by the way. and yes i really do make it

    a few tips :

    (this was true as of last year, things may have changed… and its really quite basic BUT it does work..)

    1. You must re-list at least 10 items everyday, pick 10 new items all the time- this bumps up your items and makes them visible at the top of the list in searches. Try to pick a peak time like 7pm

    2. If you don’t have 10 items, you need to get more, er .. make more.

    3. The saying is absolutely true to make money you have to spend money – this true when it comes to advertising, in this case etsy fees is your advertising. Make a budget!

    4. Make your descriptions, detailed and meaningful .. the buyer needs to be motivated or have emotional attachement to your item. Read blogs about writing ad copy for websites, or how to motivate your customer to purchase. you really do have to use slogans, or catchy phrases etc..( this part use to take me hours to figure out!)

    5. Pictures , lots of them and at different angles. Take photos outside on a sunny day too

    6. have a niche or theme ..

    7. ship it fast ! answer convos fast!

    That’s really all I did.

    Im going to look at Artfire next !

    Good Luck

    • says

      Hi. I would like to say to LIZ that she gives a very simple clear CORRECT way to help boost your etsy sales. With etsy’s new expansion beta testing and everything else going on now more than ever – you need etsy if you sell online and YOU NEED MANY OTHER sites Your OWN as well as a few etsy shops to stay competitive.

      What Liz says is 100% accurate / true to getting sales. If you slack 1 single day expect the day or two to feel those effects. What I call we get “false HOPESIES” to give it some etsy oomph I am not an etsy cupcake I am banned from their forums and have FOLLOWED this article “is Etsy Dying” from the beginning to find wonderful posts – but some days I make a ton of sales (I sell supplies I am used to making sales but etsy is beta testing my account / I have no way to get help on etsy being banned) so I had to learn SEO and SO DO YOU NOW to sell online anywhere! – The days I made great sales I didn’t have time to add the new items. I experienced NO SALES days a few days after until I realized that NOW ON ETSY the same good google practices you would use need to also apply to your etsy shops. SO LIST CONTENT NO MATTER HOW BUSY YOU ARE EVERY SINGLE DAY – GROW GROW BIGGER AND GROW EVEN BIGGER!

      LIST new content daily. Google wants you to grow and SO does etsy. Maybe why the re-sellers do so well.

      The days I do not renew re-list (which DOES NOT push forward but does help with that “thing you can’t put your finger on” why your sales go up down some days you get flooded and then others you are invisible?

      LIST new items daily. Go under your “sold out” and revise these items as well as any expired or de-activated items quickly because of the way etsy now re-directs users to “DARN this sold out but here’s some of THEIR COMPETITORS choices” on Google cached links for our sold out or expired/de-activated listings etsy now recommends 1 or two items from your shop (if your lucky) and about 16 from your competitors. No BIG link back to your shop. SO

      You will get crawled more frequently by Google and have a better chance of getting organic traffic to your etsy shop by NICHES (ie compare my site) my NICHE is my shop title “Long Feather Hair Extensions” (why did I add on Long?) its WHAT i sell.

      My second Niche is “craft feathers” (add on my shop name (changed to rank higher in google from solkatsupplies to featherswholesale”

      If you were to search google for Long Feather Hair Extensions + WHOLESALE (I would move up in ranks)

      – thats the only thing I would suggest adding to Liz’s list above – add new content and consider a name change and another etsy shop for more exposure as WELL as your own website”

      and be clever with your shop title (what google wants to see and place you) consider a new shop name that contains a high competition keyword “handmade” Jewelry etc.

      Typing quickly wanted to say thanks to Liz and say I totally agree.

      Ps Artfire i Totally gave up on. I know some Seo stuff but when I tried 3 days pulling an item into search and I just see my competition (same person) all over the place – I gave up on artfire. I did try though. Zibbet forget it they barely pull into any search ranks –


      Nor does handmade artists or any of these new etsy clone websites.

      STICK with etsy and Artfire and get your own shop domain name taken (even if you can’t build websites YOU CAN ( built my in 8 hours with NO html knowledge ) by using free css templates online google them and be careful that you choose templates from a reputable online source like is good.

      I hope this helps some folks out.
      Thanks to Drew the original :) I am so glad I found this article and its thriving.

      ps – My shop has bombed out many many times and I had to learn this stuff starting back in 9/2011 I had NO clue what “seo” was or meant. If you don’t know start there and get your shop blooming! List List List (I know its very hard I also make handmade jewelry not just selling feathers here) and if you seem to be “invisible” on etsy now, where a month ago you were doing well – this still all applies to sellers used to making 1-2 sales a week (me for jewelry) or 20 sales a day on supplies.

      My shop is slowly picking up but my work days are about 18 hours a day. 8 hours are put into etsy listings and tweaking my seo

      FIND your niche and research what’s going on with etsy OUTSIDE of etsy. IE searching the forums won’t work and you will not get this info in an etsy forum – in fact I was booted for trying to help that was one of my terminations from the forum “helping” with putting seo tip in. They hate me there :( But my shops doing okay again.

  112. says

    hello!,I love your writing very so much! proportion we keep in touch extra about your article on AOL? I need a specialist in this house to solve my problem. Maybe that is you! Taking a look forward to see you.

  113. laine says

    its the same thing that is ruining the economy. people with jobs go out and get a part time job and then open an online store somewhere too. that means the person who strictly sells online for a living, who pays taxes, lisc, ins, space lease and complies with all the cost of business has ceased to make a living. just so the opportunist can have 3 jobs and steal ideas and income of others. if you have not noticed everyone is a seller these days. they see someone with ideas making a living and then they just steal those ideas and income just so they can be someone they actually are not and get the money. they operate under the radar and have no expenses. they are so puffed up with pride like they thought of something when they just copied someone. these selfish evil doers ruin complete markets buy cheapening product because they have no knowledge experience (and no overheard), therefore they give stuff away and are happy to make 5 or 10 off an item for extra spending money off the back of the solid stand up sellers who hold the prices up. these people will actually are mentally disturbed because in their mind they are so cool and awesome and brag and posture. if we could collectively close down all the impostors this problem would not be an issue. the problem is anyone with $100 can start these sorts of enterprises. if it actually required a lisc, reporting, training, money, tools these evil joksters would not be in it proving further they are frauds. funny how you do not see any of these prideful joker starting a car lot of a/c repair business because that would mean they actually had to be what they claim to be experiences professional not self proclaimed experts, they would have to have credentials and money and tools.
    i consider these people the very lowest of the low. with all trends once the dollar goes electronic and these slims operate under the radar they will be looking for something else to copy plunder steal and ruin. my advice is do not buy from them unless they do it full time and pay irs. that keeps the self employed in a job and kills the dreams of the takers. the vintage market is about destroyed. i laugh its my business, i can out buy any of these losers and i do every chance i get. if they cannot get product they are out of business. my advice to the true sellers is spend 120k a year and buy out all the product. then you control everyone who sells at least in your area. trust me if you push these ignorant thieves to spend over 100 every time they have to buy something they will find another idea to steal. crush the roaches and selling will be like what it was before everyone was a dealer, artist, talented and special. you remember when businesses where legitimate and not operating out of a house (first sign of the illegitimate business a CHEAP home business). never forget to ask the sellers where they got their idea and how long they have been doing what they do and how they got started. it dose not hurt to ask what the businesses legal name is, you will see their eyes get as big as saucers.

  114. laine says

    also beware of the braggers and those who are so thoroughly impressed with themselves, their copied lives, their copied products, their copied talents, their copied ideas. this is sure sign your dealing with a market ruin-er and a thief. i love to ask them question that only experts would be able to answer and most of the time these idiots make up a bunch of hogwash they pass of as superior knowledge and truth. you can see they have no idea what they are talking about and clearly have not read about book about the subject like true enthusiasts they claim they are. which means few things and none of them are good. name drop and see what happens, the lies flow as they expound on their mistruths and delusions. keep it going by bring up people in the business they should know and see the disillusionment and you slowly shred their facade and destroy the character they so believe they are but if becomes clear they are just fake fraud and a evil person.

  115. laine says

    true sellers and businesses have investments in websites, you a good website is at least a grand then there are teh renewals and hosting cost as well as the web change fee to your webmaster. it good that ebay is making it very hard to survive the first few years. etsy seems to be keep the profits low so it weeds on the illegitimate!
    not many use ruby lane but its a good site. no many use it because they charge 75 a month to be on it. most of the sellers will not invest in a business lisc so for sure the will not invest in a monthly cost! that would cut into their illegitimate $100 business budget. i got news for you people. if you want a thriving business bring 50-100g out and spend it. not your chump change. you look ridiculous cheap. and when you look cheap, guess what? the loser who buy from you will see and opportunity and 30 days later they will operating as if they were you copying everything from your ads, photo style, tag lines, options, business plan, to your product. then they will try to cancel you out! and you will then fell like what it is be on the end of your evil and thieving. it will be wonderful, fair, just, and righteous. and you will say they did good ending my extra spending money, right?
    if you do not say right, your a complete hypocrite.

  116. laine says

    when you pick a business pick one that no one with $100 and your ideas can go into. its so easy everyone will be doing what you do that you meet. that way your insured that your field will not be plagued and ruined by copy cats and evil doer. pick on that requires tools, money, experience, training, know how, lisc, legitimacy. most copy cats will not do the work, but in the time, lay out the money, do the diligence to become legit or expert. all these website you depend on will be ruined eventually. its best to no rely on any of them. play on your own platforms you create, that is a store, website, network. most of the zeros are looking to cool and flush quick with little to no investment. make sure it will be impossible for any one to steal your ideas creations customers business without tons of time and money. it pretty much kills the time and time again investments only to see all your work either get stolen or crumble into a pile of dust. next you have to be discreet. if anyone asks tell them you make no money, all your supplies are very expensive and hard to obtain, tell them the market is ruined already SO THERE IS NOT NEED TO COPY YOU. when they ask for your suppliers give them fake names they will have to spend 1000s to get them. make sure you ruin any evil ideas in their evil brain. and never fail to mention legitimacy of lisc paying sales tax and the irs. an the fines and jail time for not doing so. that usually get them and kills any glimmer in them about becoming you and then they get some or all of your share of the pie. tell them others have gone to jail. it is true and the devil inside them will look for something or someone else to pilfer.

    • Sandy says

      You sound paranoid……plain and simple. Ok, well, paranoid and bitter. Don’t you think your time might be better managed by moving on and hopefully, moving up?

      Just a thought……….

  117. Reverend Clint says

    a) you cant copy talent B) everything is copies of something else, did you come up with a product that nobody has ever sold or created? C) Where should people start… should I open up a 10k sq foot shop to do some tie dye that may or may not sell? D) Not everything people sell needs to be heavily invested into say for example making vases out of used glass… you can literally get started with a $5 glass cutter and some sand paper. E) you seem to not understand entrepreneurship even in the slightest. If i can make a product that is as good as yours but still sell it for cheaper then i clearly am better at than you. Im not saying selling your items at a loss here but maybe i don’t need a 100% mark up. F) I dont really follow what you are babbling on about taxes and bringing up the devil. G) please dont insult small business owners who are trying to make a small amount of money doing something they find even a little bit interesting or fun. I’m sorry i don’t have $120K to invest in something that at most costs $500.

  118. Angelica says

    Hoping to quit your day job because you opened an etsy account to see jewelry that you make in your spare time is silly. Usually you only make a small amount. I fyou want your business to grow, you have to market. Advertise yourself by going to art shows etc. Get your shop on other sites and create your own site. If you want this to be your full time gig then you have REALLY got to WORK WORK at it. MOre than just “in your spare time” and even more than 40 hrs per week. Etsy is just one way to drive your business, not the only way.

  119. says

    Oh wow. I haven’t seen a comment in here in ages, then this morning a pile came in. I think hey? Something stir up a new ruckus on Etsy? But no. It’s one very angry person posting over and over.

    what big hairy bug crawled up your butt to make you so angry at the world? You have pretty much found a way to insult everyone. Rich, poor, little guys, big guys, everyone.

    A few of your comments;
    “i consider these people the very lowest of the low”

    “and are happy to make 5 or 10 off an item for extra spending money off the back of the solid stand up sellers who hold the prices up. these people will actually are mentally disturbed because in their mind they are so cool and awesome and brag and posture.”

    “most of the time these idiots make up a bunch of hogwash they pass of as superior knowledge and truth.”

    I could go on but my eyes are bleeding from reading your BS.

    Listen. People have been “copying” each other since the first cave man put his hand print on the wall.
    Many of the great masters studied together, and yes, often did the same painting.
    My own art teacher often gave the class an assignment of “paint in the style of a master.” We were encouraged to learn how some master worked, and try to duplicate it. As a learning tool! Sure a forgery is a cheat. But even that takes a good bit of skill to pull off. There are actually sites that sell hand painted replicas of masters works. Legally! It’s an affordable way for some people to have a real painting, one they love, who can’t buy the original version.

    I would say if someone is copying you, (obviously pissing you of no end) consider it a compliment. Spend your energy making new things. Perhaps invest in a copyright and go after people copying you. And if you are, or got accused of copying, (I’m guessing perhaps etsy booted you without listening to your side? That would be a cause for such anger. And I know it’s something they seem to do frequently.)
    Just move on.

    Etsy is simply an on line venue. They are NOT the only one and not even the best one. (They were once, but no more.) Others have sprung up and some are very good.

    One last point. Your idea that some people are happy with “extra spending money” well that would be ME!
    What I do, I do as a hobby. A self sustaining hobby. I’m HARDLY going to put anyone out of business. I’ve been told I don’t charge enough. I charge enough for me. So do you think that makes me “mentally disturbed?” How can you possibly go from assuming someone who is happy to earn a few bucks to being mentally disturbed?

    You simply cannot jump from how much money someone has, or wants to earn, or what they make, or try to sell, or where and how they sell it, to being “ignorant, mentally disturbed, low life….” or any of your other wonderful comments.

    Go cool off. And for your own sake, never ever ever post where you sell on here, because your comments would fix it so NO ONE would want to buy from you. Something you might want to keep in mind. Anything you post on line can stay there indefinitely!

  120. says

    Just a couple of thoughts. I couldn’t sleep, so have read through this whole thing. After re-reading, I find it is too long, but am going to post it anyway. There is no intent to brag or complain … just to share some learning experiences of an old man with over 50 years experience in trying to sell stuff.

    I build log decorator items such as lamps, mirrors, benches, etc … mostly directed to the cabin owners in Colorado. I started doing farmer’s markets last year and had a learning curve, but this summer I have learned enough that I am working 10 hour days for five days to do two farmer’s markets on the weekend.

    Like many, I started off blaming everyone else because my stuff wasn’t selling. I would comiserate with the other non-sellers, but the sellers were too busy to visit. I found that most of the folks were doing it as a hobby … and just happy if they sold enough to pay for the exhibitor fee. I was serious about doing this to provide an income stream during the summer.

    One of the things that I learned from watching others is that every concept doesn’t work. 94% of new businesses don’t make it. Just because you made it and your mother loves it (or says she does) does not mean that there is a market for that product. If people don’t want it … they aren’t going to buy it … at any price. If you are struggling with sales, ask yourself if you are willing to change to become more marketable in your offerings. The market I attend has turned over about 75% of it’s vendors in the past year. If you have a few hundred people view your product and you don’t sell anything … maybe you shlould take a hint. Either you are in a very bad venue for you product … or you have a weak product.

    You have to adapt. If what you are offering isn’t being accepted, you may have to tinker with the products. The first year I built a lot of large pine log adirondack chairs. They required a tremendous amount of labor, weighed about 200 pounds and were a real pain to haul and set up. By the end of the year, I had only sold 5 or 6. They were a major part of my presentation, but I would sell three or 3 or 4 lamps a week, a bench, 2 or 3 picture frames a week and maybe 3 or 4 little benches a week. Although I only made a few lamps and benches and picture frames, I sold those … and they were an afterthought in my presentation. Now, I don’t take any chairs. I try to have at least 20 lamps, 12 benches and the picture frames have dropped off. But, I try to add new items that will increase my sales base. I have adapted to what works … not to what I think should work.

    You can’t make the market buy your stuff (no matter how much you love making it). You have to sell the market what it wants.

    I have owned retail stores. For many years I had high end meat markets. At one point as many as 7. If you think the cost of sites like Etsy are expensive try making enough to cover the cost of monthly operating expenses in the $50,000 range. Add $75,000 in monthly payroll expenses and $35,000 in advertising.. Opening a new store cost about $250,000. The opportunity to potentially reach thousands of customers for $100 or $200 per month is a phenomenal bargain. Who cares if the host website makes money? It gives you an opportunity to test market your product at a VERY low cost. If it doesn’t work … adapt … and find another website … or change your product. I have watched numerous individuals invest their life savings in a storefront that used up their total assets in a matter of months. The internet gives you the opportunity to do the same thing with almost now risk.

    One other thing that stood out to me was that many seemed to be worried about people copying their product. If your product is unique to this world, you would be a genius … a Steve Jobs or Albert Einstein. Everything we do is influenced by stuff we see. I have people take pictures of items I sell every market. Some of them are going to send the picture to a friend of the treasure they found, but many of them are taking a picture so that they can go home and have their husband build them one just like the item they liked. It’s not as easy as it looks and after hubby quits trying or says he won’t or can’t do it, they often come back and buy from me anyway. I will telll them how to finish their project, but don’t always tell them everything they need to know. I am trying to be helpful … not conduct a class. If they want to copy it, I consider it a compliment. My products are unique … and they may find the efforts is not worth the result. One thing I won’t tell them … How to drill a 60″ hold down the middle of a floor lamp. I let them know that if I tell them this secret … I have to kill them. LOL

    I’m considering using some kind of online vehicle besides my website (which I haven’t used well) to market my products through the winter. It may be etsy … it may be somewhere else. My main reason for writing this is to share the fact that marketing anything takes persistance, innovation, integrity … but most of all accepting responsibilty for what you do. If something doesn’t work, change. If etsy doesn’t work … change. If you can’t find the proper website … build a better website. But if it isn’t working, look to yourself first.

    The price of a site like this is an unbelievable opportunity to explore the market without investing your life savings.

    • says

      I’m a bit late to comment but, yes, this is very well put. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      This particularly strikes me as true, and this is the part many “artists” have hard time accepting:

      “You can’t make the market buy your stuff (no matter how much you love making it). You have to sell the market what it wants.”

      Sometimes there are very rare exceptions where what you love making happens to sell well. This is sheer luck but these people often think it was because of their hard work. That is the dream scenario that most artists are hoping for but it rarely happens, and they do not have any control over it either.

      So, what people should ask themselves before they start selling their work on places like Etsy is: “When push comes to shove, do I care more about business or art? Those who are more passionate about business have no problem adapting like you recommend (i.e. “You have to sell the market what it wants”). But those who are more passionate about art wouldn’t go there because it defeats the whole point of doing it. Making what they love making is their ultimate goal, and they are trying to find a way to finance it. If they cannot make what they love making, then they would rather get a job as there would be no real difference to them. Making things that they do not love would probably be worse than having a job that has nothing to do with art.

  121. Sandy says

    I’m a VINTAGE seller on Etsy and do VERY well. In fact, this July, 2012, has been my very best month other than the Christmas season of 2011. I can’t speak for people making felt hats for cats (who buys those?) or crocheted tea cozies (again, who buys those?) but as a vintage seller with quality merchandise, a good work ethic; meaning I sell true vintage items, which are 20 years old or more, that are in good shape and have accurate descriptions, with quality AND friendly service, I do well.

    That said, it takes TIME to build up your customer base. It takes TIME to get your shop to show up on google and it also takes time to get your shop syndicated by Etsy. All of this means you may not have a single sale for your first month or two. The vintage area is very saturated online, but….if you are patient, and if you BUY, as well as sell on Etsy, you will meet people there who help you learn how to market your shop. You HAVE to invest time on Twitter and have a shop dedicated FACEBOOK page and get your friends to “like” your page!

    Most things worth waiting for don’t happen overnight. While I don’t sell “crafty” items, I do have a good eye and I work hard, sell my items at a competitive price, and have done the things needed to make a successful shop, at about 1/20th of the cost to me of Ebay (FEEBAY)….never will do that again, ever!

    So,as for Etsy dying? Maybe for those crafters who don’t have any items that are actual useful, yeah, but for quality hand made jewelry that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (because I know what those beads cost and those vintage charms/pendants, etc…I know what it costs to make those statement necklaces sold for a couple hundred dollars and I ain’t buying! )

  122. Sandy says

    Sorry, one thing I left out. You people complaining about Etsy’s cost must never, ever have sold on Ebay. I don’t get the complaining. The cost of LISTING an item is 20 cents!! You don’t pay a fee to have your shop there with syndication on google, your own name for your shop, on and on and on. No, I do not work for Etsy, but even with really good sales my bill is NEVER 100.00, it’s always much, much less. The highest bill I recall is about 50.00.

    I try to list several days a week. I renew in the month that the item is due to be renewed. I do update my listings, change the wording and you MUST use key words that will show up in google. OMG…how in the world is Etsy expensive? One month my Ebay bill was 340.00!!!!!!!! I’m thrilled with Etsy, with the new changes they are making and the fact that now I can offer credit card payments directly from my shop! My sales have sky rocketed from this, among other things. I get first time Etsy buyers and buyers with no paypal accounts who buy from me because they found me on google, then they see they can just buy from me with their credit card! Also, now I can ship from my Etsy account.

    I don’t understand the gloom and doom. If you’re not happy, leave…………but I wouldn’t blame Etsy at this point. I see nothing but good things coming from them. Are they perfect? of course not! But they beat the other places I have sold, like Fee Bay, Bonanza, HANDS DOWN. I’ll stay where I am, doing what I do, and smiling all the way to the bank. I should qualify tho, I don’t have great months all the time, sales go up and down depending on the seasons, the months of the year, if people get their taxes back, or if they’re gone from home on Summer trips and not shopping online….etc. It fluctuates. But, I think I have finally found what works for me.

    I find Laine’s posts just downers….like the very smart lady who makes chairs, lamps, picture frames….if your items aren’t selling, maybe it’s your items?? I don’t know what Laine sells…….or why she’s banned from the forums on Etsy, but after reading the rants I can figure it out.

    Like anything else, there is a give and take AND a learning curve. Read, read, read the forums on whatever site you sell on, use social media, put business cards in your packages, give discounts, have sales, and most important, get those key words to show up on google! Google is your very best friend!

    • laine says

      all my comments were about sellers. i never mentioned etsy and never in a negative way. i happen to love etsy.
      you clearly have me confused with another posting.

  123. me says

    One question I have, is there a way to encourage buying instead of favorite-ing and copying one’s idea? It’s getting discouraging.

  124. says

    Hi everyone,

    I’m a Former Professional Poker Player (online and casino cash games) and Former Powerseller on eBay. I majored in Economics and minored in Business. I like to think I have a decent grasp on the concept of mastery.

    Here are some of my tips for improving as an artist (so far):

    – Register your
    – Observe art in other cultures (cities/states/countries) for inspiration and creative ideas
    – The above step can help with discovering what sells successfully (“market research”)
    – View all experiences (including “failures”) as feedback
    – Be open to constructive criticism (the ego can sometimes get in the way)
    – Learn the art of sales, marketing, and entrepreneurship
    – Know your audience and/or target market
    – Selling art is like dating and finding a partner – it’s all a numbers game (just kidding! or am i?)
    – Mastery is a long-term, lifelong commitment
    – Create. Adjust. Tweak. Improve. Evolve. Repeat.

    Good luck!

  125. says

    I was expecting to find mostly PRO Etsy comments here, but from what I have read over the past hour or so it isn’t that way at all.

    I have been selling online since 2002 and I have two websites of my own in which I offer my products and services. I became a Pro member on Artfire back in October 2010 when Artfire offered the group deal for $5.95 per month. Prior to becoming a Pro member on Artfire I was a seller of a few products on Etsy. Etsy is were I heard about the group deal. Before becoming a Pro member on Artfire I had one ebook listed on Artfire and it was my only product as a Baisc seller.

    I now sell four ebooks on Artfire that I wrote for Artisans. I sell on Artfire because artisans are my target market for my four ebooks. Plus I enjoy helping people in the Artfire forums on a daily basis. Anyone that has been on the Artfire forums for more than a week or two knows that I help a lot of Artfire sellers with their photography, SEO and studio critiques. Prior to becoming a Pro member on Artfire I was helping sellers the same way on Etsy.

    Since I became a Pro member on Artfire I have also gone over to the Etsy forums numerous times and tried to promote Artfire as a better place for Etsy sellers to sell their handmade products. I feel sorry for the sellers on Etsy. The Etsy forums use to be much better a couple of years ago, but now they are all broken up. I don’t like seeing, in most cases, sellers being muted and their shops closed. I also don’t like seeing Etsy sellers paying high fees in order to be found and when they make a sale. Many of the Etsy sellers ignore me when I try to recommend that they sell on Artfire, but that is fine.

  126. says

    I just begin to open my etsy shop last month. As other friend said i also have several issue regarding the selling volume. not like offline selling which contribute spesific selling volume, the etsy is not easy like I image.
    not many people see my products eventhough in offline, my products contribute very good selling …

    could any one help me..

    i share my etsy link and let me know what i need to do to improve my selling … thank

  127. LyndaMakaraCreations says

    Well this certainly was an eye-opener. I’ve had an Etsy shop for 16 months and have only had 12 sales. I’ve priced my art (and by the way, I’m not selling grandma’s crafts) lower than it’s worth trying to attract customers, thinking I would gradually raise prices as sales increased.

    I need to find a different outlet but I’m not sure if my own website is the answer. The problem has always been trying to get traffic. Etsy does attract a certain amount of traffic, probably more than an unknown website would.

    Anyway, thank you for this article. I think your analysis was right on.

  128. says

    Linda, pricing your products low is not the answer. The PERCEIVED VALUE will be too low and your products won’t sell because people will think that their must be something wrong with your product since it is priced so low.

    Having your own website is great as long as you know how to optimize it for the search engines. Search engine optimization (SEO) is extremely important because if your web pages and/or products are not found on the first two or maybe three pages the chances are pretty slim that you will have very many visitors coming to your website.

    In addition to having your website optimized for the search engines your website also has to give your visitors a good first impression. You only have 5 to 15 seconds to make a good first impression on your website visitors or they will leave and they may not ever return.

    You also have to MARKET your website to your target market in order to bring visitors to your website. Marketing needs to be done on a regular basis.

  129. jam says

    Lets add to the mix too that there is absolutely no customer service available for the amount of sales made, either on the seller or buyers end. No one is held accountable for mistake that take place on developers end at etsy / experiments are encouraged and not required to be approved by a committee first, meaning that stuff goes wrong all the time. The site is usually down atleast a couple times a month. It is down right now actually. Some a**hole intern probably decided to do some random experiment with the site and now no one can get on it. I am starting to think that many of the people that run etsy are idiots.

  130. anghiari says

    i am 50 years old. i have been an artist since i was a child and a collector and dealer of antiques and collectibles since i was 12 years old. i studied art in florence, lived in santa fe, went to fit and sva in manhattan. some of my art has been on fine art america for over a 2 years–sold 1 print for $25.

    i was very successful selling antiques and collectibles on ebay for over 10 years but got tired of their arrogant, bullying, often irrational attitudes and outrageous fees. a few times i put some of my artwork on ebay and it didn’t sell, one piece of judaica that i put about 3 months of work into received a single offer of one cent.

    i was very scared about the move to etsy because ebay is such a powerhouse and i had found no other venue: ebid, amazon, Ruby Lane or what is it: Tisa Tica Lisa? .[.the long time antiques mall]– that had any visibility in search results until i found etsy. although i do not get some of the high prices i got on ebay i am quite surprised at how well i’ve been doing on etys with my antiques and collectibles-and most of what i’m selling is still going for from 5 to 20 times what i paid for it- there’s a lot of old, rusty “rustic” , artistic stuff such as old useless compasses and calipers, thrashed old drawers, that can’t be given away on ebay but sells on etsy–also, there’s a lot more competition on ebay–whereas there might be only one widget #2 on etsy there will be 20 identical ones on ebay.

    the key here is established market value. as much as we artists love our work and value it the plain fact is that with rare exceptions unless an artist has established credentials and a following there is NO established value to their art [unless it contains some intrinsic value such as precious metals]. for example, so far as i am concerned warhol is mass produced garbage but because it is warhol even if he creativley sneezed blood on a cocktail napkin it’s worthy of sothebys because it is established documented VALUED warhol. jo shmo’s paintings from Podunck have no established selling DOLLAR amount track record.

    on the other hand 99.9% of antiques and collectables are a commodity with an establisehd track record of value and therefore when priced “:right”: reasonably: they will sell. they tend to hold their value and often increase in $ value.

    here i think etsy is missing a great opportunity because at this time it appears to be the only internet venue that can hold a candle to ebay and if they would upgrade their categories and search engines to be more ebay like but minus the ebay tacky circus atmosphere they could take a huge chunk of antiques and collectibles business away from ebay because millions of ebay sellers of antiques and collectibes HATE ebay but are terrified of leaving. etsy is a far more aesthetically attractive venue and doesnot constantly bombard its members with new fees, new restrictions, new bombast, etc etc because obviously ebay has too much money to spend on too many lawyers to complicate things and find ways to justify their existence and ebay is all about GREED GREED GREED!

    [etsy categories: for example under the vintage or antique categories there is a subcategory for “wall hanging” but none for “painting, print, poster, or lithograph” which is utterly absurd.]

    i’m sure the owners of etsy are noticing that the antiques and collectibles dept is thriving and producing steady returns. if etsy would add a “completed” search function so sellers can get an idea what to price their items for without having to go to ebay for “appraisals” and, if, in the sellers “sales” records of their shops add a description of which category the item sold in this would be extremely helpful for sellers to know which is the best category on etsy for listing their similar items for quickest sale–more $ for sellers and more $ for etsy. dread it as they might, the most proftiable thing etsy could do would be to bring in a former ebay exec or two as a consultant, especially for their antiques and collectibles dept….they are wasting a tremedous competitive opportunity probably worth billions of dollars.

    MY FELLOW ARTISTS: bottom line if you want to sell you need promotion, you need a NAME and you need to publish books of your work in order to establish credentials. You need PR! it’s not as much about the venue as it is about: 1. who you know and 2. who recognizes your name because you are seeing to it that you get published and that builds credentials. Read Dale Carnegie on How to Win Friends and Influence People–there’s also a lot in there about SHOWMANSHIP and MAKING CONNECTIONS.


  131. says

    I opened my Etsy shop in August 2010. I work part time about 20-25 hours a week on this business (this includes daily online with customers) and made $31k revenue in my first year (I have already subtracted shipping costs) and $51k my second. My Etsy shop has allowed me to help support my family while attending college.

    The more effort I put into my shop, the more money I make. Sometimes I have to study for exams and don’t put in my time and not surprisingly my sales go down. But this is the theme of all businesses. The ones I see failing either don’t have a good product and/or don’t put enough effort. Whining on the forums doesn’t count as work.

    • SoWhat says

      do not tell nosy what your doing. they will copy you if they are able. if you have to make something up to get them off the track of successfully becoming you. let other figure out it out on their own. do not trust any of the friend inquisitors. trust me they are not friendly, tragically most people are evil. protect your income and business.

      • says

        I like selling on etsy mainly because I can’t get the right customers coming to my main site. I sell geeky crafts and art and also original cartoon art. People found me on etsy because I try to do my best out there then most geeky crafters. I just had my 1 year etsy shop anniversary and I so I think my shop is way more successful that I thought it would. But I think success depends on how unique and popular are the stuff you sell, and how much time you put into the shop. I found it helps to add a lot quality products as more people will more likely find your shop through the search engines.

  132. says

    I’m a little late to this discussion, but thought I’d leave a comment anyway. I agree with many of the complaints and suggestions regarding Etsy as a venue for fine art. I am a painter and have experienced the same problems with people “favoriting” my items or putting them in a treasury but never buying them. And I am not lowering my prices. I believe in making them consistent no matter where I sell them. I use Etsy as my shopping cart. I have it linked to my website. All my original art sales have come from people on my e-mail list who have seen my work in person. I’ve had a much easier time selling extra art supplies on there than anything else. Even selling vintage items takes forever.

    As an experiment, I took several vintage items that had been languishing unsold on Etsy and put them on eBay, where they sold immediately. I also tried selling an original painting on eBay. That didn’t work. From that experience I learned that Etsy is still a better venue for my original artwork than eBay. Still, I think that Etsy would be better if it put more effort into having a fine arts category that worked better for artists, with more sub-categories, and perhaps even a separate e-mail newsletter for prospective art collectors.

    I’m also pretty active as a buyer on Etsy. I love their vintage items because they are usually in great condition and very well photographed. I feel like too many people on eBay take out of focus pictures with camera phones. What annoys me, though, are the sponsored ads that come up at the top of the screen. They are usually irrelevant to what I am searching for. I do have a lot of things on my “favorites” list. Like the college student mentioned several comments ago, I add them for future reference in the hope that someday I will be able to buy them. Right now all my extra money goes into my art studio.

    I think Etsy is decent for what it’s worth, and appreciate the fact that there aren’t too many fees (like eBay). And now that there are new sites dedicated to selling original art online (like Cureeo) perhaps they will start taking their fine artists’ grievances more seriously. I’ve had an online presence for my art (blog, Etsy, website, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) since 2008, and I feel like the Internet just isn’t doing as much for me as it used to. My new focus is meeting more people in person, and getting gallery representation. It helps that I live in Chicago and there are lots of opportunities for artists here.

  133. Tara says

    I have never considered selling anything on Etsy for one main reason, they are the worst thing to happen to artists and crafters period. Before anyone posts on Etsy they should be taught to properly price their goods, the only concern with Etsy sellers seems to be how much they sell not how much they made. No one includes profit or retail pricing, everyone is trying to undercut each other, there is no way anyone is making any money other than covering the cost of supplies. It’s terrible and all they are doing is devaluing each other, they don’t realize the damage they are doing to themselves and everyone else. I recently saw an article saying Etsy was going to go wholesale, well this will blow up in their face because everyone is already selling at wholesale prices, how much lower can they go before they bust! Very sad what the Etsy community has done to artists and crafters alike, no one knows the honest value for art anymore unless they are educated serious buyers.

  134. SteveM says

    Competition is what drives all business markets, if people are buying cheap versions of what you produce, then you need to diversify or promote the value of your ‘brand’ to increase it’s perceived value in the mind of the buyer. This forms the basis of a business strategy and is the task assigned to the highest paid executives in big companies, as it is one of the major difficulties/obstacles faced in nearly all business sectors….in summary your goods are only worth what customers are willing to pay. You might have a stunning piece of work that took 2000 man hours to produce and in your own opinion is worth thousands of dollars, however the harsh truth as someone earlier in the thread has said, is that it’s inherently worthless over and above its material value (i.e if it contains precious materials). Its commercial value is totally governed by buyer perception.
    Undercutting existing market values with lower quality copies will always be one of the options, because for the people selling them this forms their business strategy (stack em high sell em low), it’s a valid business model and not piracy unless copyrights, trademarks or patents are infringed. In fact the idea of not lowering prices via some secret behind the scenes ‘teaching of how to price art’ sounds more like the illegal (in many countries) activity of price fixing, anti-trust laws are there for a reason and any form of restriction of competition is just generally bad for any market (might be good in the short term for the sellers but most markets are driven by the buyers).

    Instead of the stack em high sell em low strategy others can still be successful by taking the bespoke path and are able to charge super high dollar for very few items (if the quality of their product is suitably high or their ‘perceived value’ is substantially higher), take an Aston Martin vs a VW Golf, they for the most part do the same job and to a very large extent contain the same parts, however the perceived value of an Aston Martin or a Rolls Royce is far beyond that of a Volkswagen far, far in excess of the difference in manufacture costs.
    I think what has happened here is that artists have had a golden age where they could charge a price regardless of the quality and need do no marketing or self-promotion as the competition were all selling similar quality at similar prices.
    For those crying ‘foul’ that the cheap copies are killing their business, my advice is work harder to improve the perceived value of their own produce or get out of the business altogether. I hate the selfish sentiment that skilled amateurs or hobbyists shouldn’t sell their creations at little more than what they paid for the materials, why the hell shouldn’t they? if the thought of someone buying their work brings them joy and someone buying gets a bargain everyone involved in the transaction comes away happy and that is how business should be. Does it de-value the work of other vendors? No, as already stated the material value of most items is negligible, it means that ‘that’ piece of work at ‘that’ time to ‘that’ buyer was worth ‘that’ amount of money.
    Art is more subjective than most commercial products, I would suggest that the first step is to look honestly at what you produce and define your target audience and their realistic buying power. From here you can determine whether you are better served by targeting boutique jewellery outlets or bricks n mortar galleries with their associated higher selling fees and commissions, or continuing to list on auction sites or online marketplaces offering their reduced fees but who also have a totally different audience and one that is likely looking for the cheapest not the ‘best’ products. Horses for courses, some businesses get lucky (for a while) but real success comes from knowing and monitoring your market and being able to adjust to how that market changes, it would be so nice to just sit in a studio all day ‘creating’ beautiful things but the reality is this needs backing up with some serious business acumen.
    Maybe this forum has detailed that there is definitely a current opening in the market for an in-between category of online showcase where the works are juried originals of a given standard (that meets that particular jury’s criteria) and follow a nominal pricing structure based on size or whatever. But how long before a similar venture copies the idea with an alternative site that has lower prices etc…. it’s not evil, it’s just the competitive nature of business.

    Sorry for the long post, but business themes are often more interconnected and convoluted than lots of people assume and I’m usually far more verbose than I would prefer.

    (for those wondering where my observations come from, I’m currently working as a business professional for one of the insanely huge multinationals that involves 5 days out of 7 living out of hotels, I create in this ‘dead’ hotel time and sell my finished products well above material costs but well below Gallery prices, I could in theory live off my painting alone but in a very reduced capacity so I have made the choice not to go full time pro as I currently find I have a happy middle ground)

  135. nana says

    Well, haven’t read everything here, but am interested in some of the comments. Lots of valid and great content. We’re relatively new to Etsy. Not really a full time thing for us. It is hard to price things. I think that’s the most difficult point I, at least, reach in every listing–what to charge. The 3x or 5x the supplies doesn’t always work. If I did that in each and every case, I’d either get nothing, or the item would be WAY too expensive for anyone to want to purchase it, and as already happens far too often, it just sits there. And, in this economy-at least until we make a positive change in this Presidency and Congress tomorrow, we won’t begin to see any improvement in the lives of those in the U.S. , at least enough for average people to have purchasing power. Perhaps it would also be a good thing if I took the time to read each and every blog article and tips coming from Etsy, but we really don’t have time to comb everything through and through (that would be a full time job), so just read what catches the attention.

    I realize this commentary began some time ago, and I hope Etsy isn’t going out of style any time soon. If so, that sure was a flash in the pan. We’ll need to move on and find something else should that happen. We’re already exploring other options, as we really wonder what’s holding us back, if it’s us, or a combination. Sure don’t like the efforts to parade us before the Senate and put us on their $ radar. That can’t end well. Really don’t like some of the newer changes to the the site, the “activity” page, etc., as it doesn’t show everything anymore. We hate that, and stuff doesn’t show up right away. We have to check our stats now to find out what has been favorited and looked at, when it was easy to just go to the activity page before. I’m afraid we’ll make a sale some time and it won’t show up right away. Also, since I made a comment on one of the articles some time ago, it would appear we’re receiving some retaliation? (if that’s an accurate assumption) or maybe it’s just neglect, from Etsy. At least one of our shops, has not had favorites show up at all (we’ve tested it), I don’t hear back when I ask a question that requires a reply (at least haven’t for some time), and, as I said, the activity doesn’t register everything. Don’t know if that’s common to everyone or just us. But, they could do better with some of their issues. I’d love it if they would broaden, or whatever it’s called, their search results so you don’t have to type in exactly what the seller has to find their item. i.e. CHRISTMAS vs. Christmas vs. christmas vs. chirstmas…and the like. II’d like to see in the feedback the item’s sold. I’d like to see the price, so we could compare and see if we’re in the right ball park. I like that they have the lower to higher price feature, and some other things are very pleasant about Etsy. Their fees are great and there’s more.
    I’m sure I’ve said way too much, and I sure don’t know everything, and I know it’s hard to please everyone, but it would be nice to see some of these things change for the better.

    • a fellow seller says

      I know what you mean about the sales getting mixed in with the faves and all that, but you can hover on “your shop” at the top and a pull down menu thing will show up and then just click on sold orders. Or, you can have the sold orders get sent to email. That’s what I do, then I always know if I sold something or not by just checking my email.

      Just wanted to comment on that. :)

  136. says

    I’ve been on Etsy for a long time under Retrochalet. At one time I had a few shops, now I’m down to one. After using them I would never go back to Ebay unless I had some absolute junk to sell.

    However, I am not at all for sure that people realize what Etsy is or what to expect. I see this all the time. People jump on and open an Etsy shop. They load up their store, and four months later they are closed or upset that thay aren’t selling anything.

    The truth is, it’s hard work. Etsy gives you a wonderful platform for selling your wares, and I think it’s very cost friendly to sellers, but the rest is up to you. If you are one of the lucky ones to make the front page all the time, or be favorited by one of their admins, then maybe you have hit the golden grail. But don’t count on it.

    90% of the time I see people using one or three tags instead of all 14 (Etsy’s way to label your item) and I’m thinking why, why why would you not want to take advantage of this free service?

    The more items on Etsy, the less your odds of selling them are UNLESS you have great photos, tag and label your items right, and network yourself to death outside of Etsy.

    I do, and it works for me, but I can’t quit my day job.

    • says

      Retrochalet, I too have a shop on etsy… BMSNYC… I am not one much for commenting on message boards, but after reading this article, in a quest to help build my brand and store, I felt compelled to write something… and reading through all of these comments I got to yours, and well, you said it all for me! Thanks!


    • laine says


      • says


        Spending only works if you spend it on the right things. For instance, all advertising is not worth the same. A bad advertisement with $1 million spent will hurt you, while a great advertisement with $200 thousand spend can help you. The content has to be good enough to be worth spending the money, and the better your content, the less money you have to spend to get the same impact.

        Throwing money at something simply guarantees you have less money now than before. Consultants are not universally good. Sure, they know how to tell YOU how to do something, but have they ever done it successfully? An old joke about stock brokers is that often they are broker than you! I mean, if they were successful at their own trade, they wouldn’t be sitting around hoping you’d hire them! So, by definition, the average person can only find a stock broker that doesn’t have enough talent to even build their own wealth.

        Your posts lack nuance, lack understanding, and lack discernment. Only money well spent is a useful investment.

        I can do market research by randomly asking people on the street to look at a product. Sure, not as scientifically sound as spending $50 thousand on market research, but a very cheap and easy way to identify a loser idea. My market research money is better spent on ideas that have passed this “sniff test.” I avoid spending market research money on products that will definitely fail (saved money) AND I increase the likelihood that the products I market research will succeed (higher return on investment).

        Like others have said, but not in quite this way, your brain is the best investment you can make in your business. Money spent guided effectively and efficiently by your brain comes second. Wasted money is just that – a waste.

        • says

          oh laine,

          I forgot to mention, my wife was an executive running a $0.5 billion business unit in a Fortune 100 company. You are way off in what you think big companies do, at least in the United States.

          What you are describing is a monopolistic and Machiavellian approach to business, which is actually illegal in the United States. My wife says that you also far underestimate the amount of chaos in a large company.

          She tells me that large companies succeed when they manage to simply stumble on a smaller chaos (it reduces the cost of doing business). From thermodynamics, we know that all systems tend towards chaos unless acted upon by an outside force. Large companies have simply had a long time to become more and more chaotic, and eventually it kills the company (compare the Fortune 500 list today to the one 100 years ago).

          To merely survive, let alone prosper, one must progressively stumble onto smaller chaos’. That is the secret to the success of a large company, not the illegal schemes you describe. Besides, somebody will always come along that is even more cutthroat than you. Evil knows no bounds. But as chaos always grows, there is always room for growth by deliberately creating a smaller chaos. So you again come back to the brain, not money, as the primary driver of growth, through the reduction of chaotic thinking.

  137. Kristian says

    etsy is a waste of time. Ive been on etsy for 6 months i have sold 3 things! there are defiantly more sellers than buyers on etsy. the problem is if you are selling cheap stuff, you arent going to make any profit, because you have to relist your item every other day at 20 cents, otherwise you get lost in the searches. so if your selling hair accessories at 6 bucks and have to relist in a matter of days your item is actually costing you money to sell. etsy is only profitable to people selling expensive stuff, where you have the room to take 20 bucks off the price to relist every other day. and even then you could probably do better. I have spent WAY more money buying stuff on etsy than selling on etsy. Im going to check out Artfire and see if that is any better.

    • laine says

      SPEND AND FEW THOUSAND AND YOU WILL SELL A LOT MORE…………… what you expect? a flood for you 20 cent listing fee? get real. its cheap because it does not offer you much if anything. . some sites are free listings and you sell nothing. you get what you pay for. if etsy listing were say $100 but secessfu, would you pay for them? probably not. seems most want something for nothing. todays society is all about cheap.

  138. says

    I haaaaaaate Etsy! They just shut my shop down because someone is making multiple reports of infringement on my shop. All you need is 1 hater and all your hard work is down the drain! They are ignoring all emails from me that have anything to do with why they shut me down; however, they have the nerve to contact me insisting I pay a .33 cents fee for ad renewal??? I was so pissed I almost punched my computer!!!! Then at the end they just say…you still have buying privileges.

    I sell little resin cabs, rhinestones, and handmade flowers. How is that infringement?? There are no brand names in my store. I had hello kitty stuff in there, but I removed them when I was warned. So their excuse for shutting me down is just a bunch of BS! I worked so hard on my shop for 2 years. Funny thing is that right when my sales just suddenly started hitting the thousands mark….BAM! Shut down just like that.

    I fell so bad for those who had to go through this. I wish I read the horror stories before ever joining them. Now they took away my rights to my own items, and my reports I really need for tax time etc etc…they are horrible, unprofessional, heartless, and unreasonable! So I took my happy little booty over to :)

    • Val Glaser says

      just had the same thing happen to me…. I’m kind of in shock over the whole thing. So much for 2 years of loyal support of Etsy.

  139. says

    Its as easy as pie”when you have a group of programmers diligently working
    like all get out day and night trying to discover exactly how
    Microsoft generates their activation codes.
    play and compete with different gamers around the world.
    These occasions aren’t common and only occur when sponsored by some other company.

  140. says

    Also, I feel like Etsy is getting better now with their new introduction with gift cards which brings in more buyers. I can see sales in my shop dramatically increasing or it could be I got lucky from bloggers who like geeky stuff in my shop. But I’m definitely gaining more buyers each month.

  141. says

    Also, I feel like Etsy is getting better now with their new introduction with gift cards which brings in more buyers. And recently there are websites that promote window shopping such as which I found out ARE NOT scams. I actually use to get discounts from other etsy shops and I got awesome rebates too. They are really helping bringing in more buyers who are actually buying.I can see sales in my shop dramatically increasing or it could be I got lucky from bloggers who like geeky stuff in my shop. But I’m definitely gaining more buyers each month.

  142. Susan says

    Many Etsy sellers grossly overcharge; and grossly overcharge on Shipping and handling, especially to Canada. So screw off.

    • An Etsy Seller says

      Hi Susan. I just wish to make a comment about that. In January, the post office here raised rates about 2-3 times what they were before and so now you see these new rates. Not sure if that is what you are seeing or sellers really are indeed gouging or some mix of both, but just thought I would let you know this.

      It’s unfortunate from a selling standpoint. I used to ship all over the world. what used to cost $3 to ship to Canada is now $6 and $7 and shipping to Europe is even more. It sucks.

      • says

        Unfortunately the $6 and $7 dollars is not what is offered to most Canada Sellers, since the price hike they are gouging and I know my shipping prices. I know my shipping very well across the globe. Your usually charged double.

    • says

      @ Susan:

      Seller above is correct. January 28 2013 America’s postage has tripled internationally.
      Canada can now sell more cheaply than we can in the USA another bad thing for America’s economy but hey – just letting you know it’s not by our choice :( We also hate it for you it’s even the commercial price we’re getting on etsy making it even cheaper :( I am sorry Hugs!

      • says

        I buy from the U.S. all the time, its my job. Even personally I purchase on a regular basis also from the U.S. and with regards to the prices sellers offer Canadians, they are ridiculously high. If your a buyer that has no knowledge of what the real price should be you get taken to the cleaners.
        I personally write sellers that I want to purchase from and tell them what the cost really is, the decent sellers drop the price once thy find out. Some sellers just don’t do the leg work to find out the actual cost and copy what other sellers have in there shops. Its just plain lazy.

        Not true what you say about Canadian shipping Kelly. Or prices have always been higher and stll are. Anything over a inch thick and your prices sky rocket.

  143. says

    I love your article Drew, the math does not add up even now in 2013 and there are less figures to work with..

    Etsy has become nothing more then a data collecting site, in which Etsy tech’s analyze there stats to see how they they can play with the site like it was there own personal arcade. Did I forget to mention that the analyst is not even sure if they analyze it correctly. Yet they play with your livelihood knowing that. They are to cheap to spend money for testing before they implement a program, so the Etsy sellers become there lab rats.

    My shop is in a lab rat experiment now. I have asked to be removed from the experiment to no avail. They are to cheap to spend there money but have no problem wasting yours. Nor do they give a flying (you know what) to the fact that you have been working for hours not even knowing that your in an experiment.

    My shop has recently died this month. I went from regular sales to 1 sale this month. With a blink of a eye your sales stop coming in. A first for me but apparently not for others, I am now finding out. Many other sellers are having the same thing happen, not just my self.. No explanation, no nothing from Etsy. Half there experiments kill your sales, not to mention the bugs they produce. This weeks bug forums are just nuts; any thing from whole shops disappearing from Etsy search – to Paypal issues and other check out issues. There are posts after posts of problems sellers are having with the site.

    There have been numerous post on shops declining views and sales since mid May. These posts are from sellers that have had success with sales for years. Some have gone from 10 sales a day to 1 sale a day; if they are lucky. Some have completely died like my self.
    No answer from Etsy, as usual the administrators don’t feel the need to chime in and give an explanations. These guys shit on there costumers all the time. Talk about biting the hand that feeds them.

    Don’t bother writing them, getting any kind of support from Etsy is really none existent. You get the same animated answers or they send you links how to improve your shop. They dance like politicians around your questions and you end up loosing time you will never get back folks.

    Do not, I repeat do not ever think that Etsy is your friend! Do not post anything even relatively negative about them in the forms or you’ll get booted, even if what you posted was the true or you hoped your post was to challenge them in to doing some thing better for the sellers. Do not as Drew says in the Original post here put your eggs in one basket, specifically an Etsy basket. They will crush your eggs any time they want.

    There never ending tests and experiments kill segments of seller at a time. And guess what folks; they don’t care. You know why? Because every thing is a win win for Etsy. The more your store suffers the more money you spend and the more they make. For every seller that leaves, more sign on. They make more money from listing and re-newing fee’s then sales people. What does that tell you?

    And for all you Etsy lovers and groupies, guess what? History does tend to repeat it self.
    Also keep in mind that while your in love right now and delusional, love dies down eventually and reality hits. So whats not happening to you now, does not mean that it won’t happen later. Its okay when it okay and its not when its not.

    • laine says

      to be frank, i am not sure why your complaining. you must be inexperienced or just one of the self important entited under 40 all about me types or the self centered mommy. i really do not know what you expect from a .20 cent lising? if you spend .20 cents ( for a 4 month listing) i guess you expect the flood gates to open to you, as if your the center of the universe. first off its etsy’s site they create the traffic … they can do what they want. you play there at their pleasure with their customers. none of it is yours and none of its was created by you or for you, it was created by them for them… they are a business it is all about them NOT YOU. since you feel so entitled yet your investment is pennies many you should build you own site ($1000 plus month hosting charges and paid for web updates) and then spend the money/time to get traffic and exposure to the site ($100s a month and lots of time). then wait a few years to become sucessful and pay the dues ………. YOU GET WHAT YOU INVEST. and all these cheap listing sites are not for people to build a lifestyle on, they are there for the website to make money, ITS NOT ALL ABOUT YOU. i see this a lot. low investor expecting “get rich quick” pay off. you must know (if your smart) that you do not own the etsy’s client base, etsy does, and they deserve IT too………. they spent millions to build it. grow up, and quit acting like s spoiled selfish child. if you want security build an infastructure (your pay for), like smart people do, never rely on someone elses infastructure. etsy owe you nothing, why do you think the listings are so cheap? they are not planning on giving you much and at .20 cents you lucky to sell anything. if etsy charged you $20 a listing you might have a reasonable arguement, but chances are if you had to pay $20 for a listing you would not do it, you would still look for the cheap way. etsy makes the listings cheap, so every cheapskate will put their stuff on there, make the competiion so steep and the competition desparate to sell will take profit so low its not worth it. thats what .20 cents get you, look at it with intelligence. the more who come to list cheaply (like you) on etsy the harder it will be to sell. have low expectations for any platform you do not control. never depend on any platform you do not control. and finally you usually get what you pay for. you want more ……….. pay more, a lot more. never selfishly expect more than you deserve. you should never speak badly about those who are letting you use them (etsy), that just plain evil. i think etsy is great for many reasons, you do not like them because they are not catering to you like your special (because your not). i find those who are most agitated about etsy are first expecting 10 while paying 1, expect complete sucking up to them when they pay literally noting to list, selfish people who want it all-who care nothing about other sellers who are coming in droves. you act like etsy owes you explanaitons and a living, maybe there are a million sellers in your category now… maybe there are cheapers sellers… mayber your item is less popular than it was…. maybe other sellers market themselves better with social media…. maybe the unemployment rate and economy has meant no one is spending money, maybe this time of year is notorisouly slow………….. ETSY OWES YOU NO EXPLANATIONS FOR WHY A .20 CENT 4 MONTH LISTING DOES NOT WORK. YOUR FREE TO CHOOSE HOW YOU WANT TO PROCEED WITH YOUR BUSINESS, WHY HAVE YOU NOT GONE TO ANOTHER SITE OR BEGUN YOUR OWN? BEAUSE YOUR STILL BEATING THEM OVER A .20 CENT LISTING. I HAVE NOT SOLD ANYTHING IN ONE OF MY SHOPS SINCE MARCH, ITS STILL GREAT EXPOSURE FOR ALMOST NOTHING, WHEN I DO SELL SOMETHING IT A GIFT AND I DO WELL OFF THE ITEM. ITS VERY PROFITABLE FOR ME CONSIDERING MY LOW LOW LOW INVESTMENT. I DO NOT EXPECT MUCH, MY INVESTEMENT DOES NOT DEMAND IT. I AM HAPPY TO GET EXTRA BUYERS A FEW TIMES A YEAR, AND AT THIS RATE I WILL BE SUCESSFUL IN A FEW DECADES ON ETSY. IF I WANT IMMEDIATE SUCESS I WILL SPEND 1000 TIMES MORE AND BE SUCESSFUL IN 6 MONTHS. YOU GET WHAT YOU PUT IN.

  144. says

    My experience on Etsy has been mixed. I’m not making as much as I’d like and sales are very sporadic, but there have been periods when I made what I needed, and the income has paid my bills, but other times it’s pulling teeth just to bring in one sale in months!

    I am no expert in SEO but try to read what I can about it and make changes and tweak things to try to get better results.

    Lately however all the promoting and SEO in the world is not helping.

    Adding people who are target market to the activity stream used to work but for some reason it isn’t now. I do feel something has changed in the way Etsy programs the back end of the site which makes the seller to put in 100 times more effort and time in order to achieve the same results as before. I can’t put my finger on it, but something definitely doesn’t add up.

    I have both a jewelry shop and supply shop and oddly not even supplies are selling now.

    I don’t know if that’s a sign Etsy is dying or whether they’re configuring things so that newer sellers are more relevant (that has crossed my mind).

    They do seem to favor shops that make alot of reproducible items versus one-of-a-kind. That’s probably why they like the resellers, and who knows, maybe they adjust for that in their algorithm (unbenounced to the rest of us). I am not a volume seller and don’t want to change my style to be more like somebody else’s just to make more sales. Nobody should have to. I’d rather make things that can’t be found in other shops even if each piece takes longer to finish. Maybe Etsy penalizes for that. I don’t know.

    • laine says

      i believe a few things are at play. first, there are more sellers than ever. take into account all the tv shows that feature crafty people make stuff and selling for a second income. everyone has the idea they can do it too. how many of these non-business novice sellers do you think the market can bear without it completly destroy the market and genre and legitimate businesses? when $100 and a computer is all one needs to basically form an enterprise its a disaster for legitimate lisc and insured businesses who cannot compete with someone who has no investment, no overhead, pays not taxes, adides by no rules, answers to no one and steps on everyone, and since the investment is so low everyone is in and no one cares if they destroy the market or not……….. because its just something they do for extra spending money. second is they ruin the market because they have no idea what they are doing, they price items much to low and turn the genre into a cheaper but better product alternative to retail. these people singlehandley turn an thriving market into a bargain basement and sell not to qualitly buyers, THEY SELL TO ALL BUYERS BECAUSE THEY ARE CHEAP. they are happy to make $50 a week doing it. they operat under the radar and have no expenses so they can sell dirt cheap. they do not care about the market or other businesses cause they have an income somewhere else, this is zero investment start they all think will take off and one day they will thrive and have an enterprise, until then they are happy to ruin you full time job so they can make weekend spending money. the only way out of this is regulations. internet sales tax reporting will get ride of alot of these thieves. you see they do not want to pay and they do not want report and they do not want to invest. once they have to do that they will eliminate themselves. some will try to go legit but after they see they will make a lot less once they are a real business selling at cheapskate prices and that will eliminate more. we need these sanctions to shore up the marketplace and that is why we need to support internet sales tax legistlation. it will be as a flushing toliet and get ride of all the people do not belong. these laws will mean only legit business will be in the market places and they will al be paying sales and income taxes and be lisc. in other words have more than a $100 investment and no legitimacy. once this charlatons the sales field will be cleared of10 of millions who cheapen everythhing.

      • laine says

        ps this includes all the recips of gov freebies, you see they have to show no income to get their gov checks. so they have their ciphend on etsy which is unlawful. they operate under the radar so they can hide their extra money they are not suppose to have (so they can still get their gov checks). they are happy to make $5 a day as long as the gov does not find out. thats your competition. its wonder anyone can sell anything with these typec trolling all the online selling mediums.

    • says

      Seems to me your problem may be that your art immediately becomes a commodity as soon as you post it on Etsy. You’re now just one more jewelry seller in a sea of other jewelry sellers. You really need your own site to be able to brand yourself as special and maintain the relationship with customers over time. It’s certainly extra work in that you have to promote yourself and drive traffic to it yourself… but what use is the million buyers that Etsy brings to you if they’re bringing it to every other jewelry seller too?

      • laine says

        the problem is all these sellers have zero investment and want to keep it that way. you do not build and enterprise without spending money. first to protect you name logo and brand (by lisc and incorporating), then you product and ideas by trademarking. next money needs to be spent to promote. i read these stories of the sellers spending years on seo and key words…………. NEWFLASH your spending value time on what you should be paying others to do for you. DO NOT BE SO CHEAP. pay a few grand and have a dynamite site created, i got mind build for about $1000 and it looks like a site a million co would own. you have design it too, you do not let the web master throw you into some overused templete. its worth it. then spend a few hundred a month on promoting it. bingo your sucessful. the problem is NO ONE WANTS TO SPEND ANY MONEY. THEY WANT THRIVING ENTERPRISES BUT WANT TO BUILD THEM WITH THEIR OWN EFFORTS, YOU WILL FAIL OR MAKE VERY LITTLE. ALL SUCESSFUL BUSINESS THROW MILLIONS AT PROJECT TO MAKE THEM SUCESSFUL. THAT IS HOW IT WORKS. if your time is worth $10 an hour and you spend 1000 hours a year doing seo and key word tactics, that is $10,000 you spent and if your not seeing great increase in sales, you just wasted 10k (as you could have worked a job and made 10k for 1000 hours). all you time is wasted. better to invest $10,000 and let professional give you results. WHY IS EVERYONE SO CHEAP> YOU CANNOT BUILD A BUSINES ON ZERO. SPEND THE 10K AND IN 6 MONTHS (IF YOUR PRODUCT IS RELEVANT AND PRICED CORRECTLY) YOU WILL BE SUCESSFUL. LET PROFESSIONALS DO THE WORK. I SEE MANY STRUGGLING FOR CLUES AND ANSWERS, THE ANSWER IS SPEND MONEY PAY PROFESSIONALS.

        • Debbie says

          I’ve made quite a few sales in my vintage shop on Etsy and I’ve been hoping for business growth, but the last month or so has been very lean and hasn’t been as good as last year. It’s so bad that I’m making a website where I’ll try to do the SEO myself, but I’m staying on Etsy to have more that one “fishing line in the water”. I’ve done this before with my own domain and failed to have very good results and quit (the monthly fees were way too high for the sales)…this time I’m spending less and using a free template from a good company in business for many years. I have a BS degree in Computer Information Systems and am thinking that I’ve finally run across something good since the SEO is very important for sales. Some templates and web hosts are definitely more “SEO friendly”, even. I’ve read several books on SEO and ready to try again. I’m also writing a business plan for a business that is not related to online sales or computers, will return to college this fall and studying to take the MCAT to see what happens (I did premed many years ago before my computer degree). I really think that online sales have drastically declined everywhere, but am forced out of necessity, for now, to keep trying to sell online while in college again. I’m really disappointed in how online sales have gone for me, but I have always had lots of success with “in-person” sales and want to open my own weight loss clinic, try to get clients, etc. And maybe, will be a medical doctor in a few years? If so, this downturn has taught me that it’ll never be that good, not as good as being a doctor and/or owner of a weight loss clinic. Sorry for rambling, but online sales are just crummy and it’s been a big disappointment, a lot of work ahead for me….wondering if there will ever be a day where I won’t have to work so hard and then be amazed to have ONE SALE in a week or two or more…
          Oh, I pay for advertising, too…it is not profitable…
          I also think the looming sales tax issue, the past activity of the Regretsy site (image) and it being summer has hurt Etsy.

  145. Stephen says

    I was able to sell a few things on Etsy, but those are dresses, not artwork.

    Then, someone from Marketplace Integrity suspended my account for an item they suspend to be non-handmade without giving any reasons or proof.

    OK, I followed every instruction they provided and send them over 51 photos of my mother making the dress and a detailed illustration of how to make this dress. I sent the file both by replying to their email, and through the email form on their website. No one is replying to me for 4 days.

    I complained, of course. Then they replied. Ridiculously, they denied having received such information. But the fact is they were replying to those emails I sent with a trace of attachment.

    At this point, they started to find excuses, saying I am in Canada, and my other is in China, this is not allowed. OK again, I agree, you can suspend my account for this reason. But why didn’t you mention this until I took all the trouble to document everything and prove the item you wrongly suspected to be non-handmade is actually handmade?

    I request them to confirm if the photos can prove the dress is handmade for three times. Everything I ask them this, they just disappear and never answer the question! For god sake, even though I am a seller, I am a customer to them. I paid listing fees, ad fees, and every penny for transaction fees. How can they treat a customer in this way?

    Then I found I can’t post a question on the forum, can’t ask a question, can’t receive convo alerts from pervious customers. Hey Etsy, are you afraid of me telling any truth?

    With this kind of dictatorship management, I believe this site will die anyway.

    So, for anyone who want to sell on Etsy, be prepared to photograph and document every step when you make and sell something, because you don’t know when you will be flagged by some jealous sellers or will be suspended by the Etsy Marketplace Integrity team solely on basis of their discretional concern.

    Gladly, I have found somewhere else to do my business.

    • Debbie says

      Just since yesterday (and my comments above) I had a really good sale on Etsy! It feels good after so long, but I still don’t have any misconceptions (for me) that it will ever be as good as being a brick and mortar store or in private practice as a medical doctor. Sure, some of the vintage shops look like they do pretty good (some have a good staff of employees and are very professional), but I really think it’s slowed down everywhere…just like my other comment above….the looming tax issue and Regretsy hurt (image) ~ plus, it’s summer. I sell on another site (not eBay) and have done really well in the past…I’ve only had a couple of sales there all summer! Don’t know if Ebay is having a lower sell through rate, but I used to sell there several years ago and it had slowed down a lot back then and the fees were so high. That’s when I moved to Etsy – found that there was generally a more refined business environment on there, not like a yard sale or flea market feel at all. And, I know a lot of Etsians used to sell on Ebay (or still do). It really feels like the next best thing to having your own brick and mortar boutique… I especially like that about Etsy…just sad that it’s not coming around like I’d hoped (for me). I’m getting ready to add some more to my inventory, though and I really think that might help, just started working on a vintage blog that I’ve neglected, too. So, I’ll still sell on Etsy while working on my brick and mortar business plan (and going back to college, may become a medical doctor, after all, or get my MBA) ~ just wanted to mention that I DID have a great sale! Yay! If nothing else, it could help me through college a little bit or until my diet business is up and running. I’ve spent the afternoon getting quotes for it and feel much more happier than yesterday.
      Another thought…I might make some more treasuries, these are really fun for me to do. They remind me of how my grandmother used to pick out fabric that went together to make a quilt…same design principle. I’ll always love artsy things.

  146. Lisa says

    I have been selling on etsy since 2009, I have 3 shops open. I have consistently made more each month than I would have if I worked part time at Walmart or equivalent job. It is providing a nice second income and lets me work from home and be here for the kids. When tax season rolls around it does cause a TON of confusion on how to file my earnings though. It took me a while to find my niche, and it is not crochet sweaters for turtles, and string knot friendship braids.

    I think etsy has opened the door for many Mom’s who are crafty and want to be home with the kids and bring in a second income or at least some money to pay for the extras. The key to selling on etsy is to evolve your product and keep current.

  147. says

    It was very interesting to read all your experiences with Etsy. I closed my shop about one month ago. I sell primarily fine art and also a few silk scarves. I sold only 2 in one year. My prices were not outrageous – people always clicked “favorite” & put me in “treasuries” but that was about it. I paid every month for their search engines. I have found since then many smaller sites that represent fine art only and am going to investigate them. I was so disappointed with Etsy. Glad to say “bye” to them. They got a lot of my money.

  148. aj says

    I don’t sell on etsy. I’m a buyer.
    I can’t say I love the site or anything but most of this seems like a bunch of aimless complaining to me. Not being able to sell. Not being good at marketing. Etc, etc. The thing about etsy is that there’s a lot of people doing and making the exact same thing as you. If you don’t stand out, if you’re not cheaper, not better, not more unique, do better pictures, market better, whatever, you’re not going to sell anything. Because you’re not special. Art is a subjective quality, but I can pretty much subjectively say a lot of the things on etsy are un-unique, uninteresting, and never going to sell, unless they price it at tiny prices.
    etsy, on the other hand, has been a boon to me, as a buyer. The sign-up to buy stuff is annoying, but once I did I find etsy amazing. Now I can find a whole lot of people making whatever thing, I can look for whatever strange, weird thing I can’t find anywhere or find an artist who does that style and commission them for whatever. I don’t buy stuff advertised off the front page, though it probably does lead to a lot of sales for the artists who do end up featured.
    I find the numbers in this article misleading. It doesn’t matter how many unused accounts etsy has – an unused account doesn’t amount to anything. It isn’t selling things, it isn’t buying things, it’s useless. etsy pushes them out to try to show how huge they are but it doesn’t mean anything either. The important things are the users who are actively selling and buying. Not that you can actually tell how many are active, but you can’t just pull a “average purchase is for $18!!!” when divided among all these unused accounts. The actual number is clearly higher.
    So, no, etsy is not dying. Maybe it is for the sellers who find themselves furious that they can’t garner a sale when they’re nothing special. And maybe for the sellers who find themselves big enough they can finally branch out and leave the site, but that’s kind of the end goal of etsy anyway. But not for the rest of us.
    I hear about artrage, bigcartel, whatever other sites, but they’re tiny, or, in the case of bigcartel, it’s a pain to browse. Why would I bother?
    I will concede that etsy is terrible for selling prints and things that aren’t handcrafts though.

  149. says

    I started back on Etsy when it first opened and had pretty regular sales. Life got busy and I stopped updating my inventory and store. Now in 2013 I’m thinking about using it again. Differences I’ve noticed are there are many more users so it is much harder to get noticed and there seems to be a lot of items that are not Fine Art or Handmade craft. I like to collect art with Lincolns image and one of the fist things to show up was a coin seller. If I’m selling original art, it’s hard to ask a good price when mush of the site looks like a flea market. I think Etsy’s newer rules have been coming into play because the original focus was a place to sell original art and handmade craft.

    In the end I find it a convenient store front, which is why I will try using it again.

  150. says


    We would like to bring light to the unfair treatment of Etsy.

    I am a seller on Etsy (located in France) and I would like to bring light to about the unfair treatment from Etsy Integrity Team.

    I have described my items correctly according to the website’s policies but the shop has been deactivated without warning or any possibility to explain. Etsy has decided to close it without reliable motivations, not giving me the possibility to explain my work or defend myself. Etsy clearly states that whoever might be considered unfulfilling the company’s policy has to go under a preview process, and that hasn’t been done. Even worse, every single item of the store deactivated carefully fulfilled the requirements and policies, the Etsy officers who decided to delete them didn’t even bother to read and/or examine anything, they decided to shut everything down without even reading.

    This is completely unbelievable, unreasonable and unfair.

    We have done what they said, comply to their rules and change what we could at the store.
    Yet we received no reply, no review before shutting the store nor any explanation why our store remained closed for (and how long)

    This is not professional for such a big company. Yes we know that closing our store would not make any difference to them but it is for us. There are so many so called ”handmade” stores on Etsy (even selling contact lenses etc) Instead of focusing on those stores, they focus on the stores that are truly handmade and offering altered designs.

    Shamira Crivellaro

  151. says

    Same thing happened to me. I tried and tried to resolve with people there. No phone number, deleted my listings, etc.

    I think they are a terrible company that uses the touch feely advertistment to have people buy into and believe that they are there supporting artists. The main thing they are doing is making a lot of money and putting a lot of people in peril.

    My suggetion: It is one fee for the whole year, no money taken from your sales, no listing fees. The best thing of all is that each time I’ve had a question, they have gotten back to me in a very timely manner. It is not as busyy as etsy, but if they will be eventually. If you can support them and open a shop there.

    Whenever I can, I try and tell people the truth about etsy, hopefully enough will catch on and some of the more reputable and ethical sites will replace them, and they can go to the graveyard of failed unethical businesses.

  152. says

    I have been an Etsy member (buyer and seller) since June 2011. From a buyer’s perspective, I love Etsy and all the amazing things that are on it. Sure there are lots of resale schlock on there but, as was stated above. at least you don’t have to wade through all the lawnmowers to get to the good stuff; that is, it’s fairly easy to find the good stuff it you look for it. On the down side, as a buyer, the good stuff costs money… but then depending on what you’re looking for, that seems fair if it’s not truly mass produced. People who buy online, IMO, buy for only two reasons, convenience because they can’t easily get to the item physically; or because it’s a good deal, priced lower than elsewhere.

    As a seller, I have found Etsy is a great place to get my feet wet and learn the ropes of how to sell online. Etsy has phenomenal venues for learning how to sell what you make, and the cost of opening a shop and learning with that shop is minimal considering other alternatives. Initially I joined Artfire and Zibbet as well as Etsy, but I wasn’t thrilled by ArtFire’s UI like I am with Etsy and in the end didn’t have enough time to give to all three so the other two have suffered.

    Over the past two years, I have sold a bit through Etsy, not a lot, but I’ve had some sales. I have found that you have to do one of two things if you are going to play the Etsy game, either pay for search ads (which I did for a long time and almost all my sales were a result of those ads), or be very active in the forums and make lots of treasuries, which I’m not… I just don’t have the time and which is why I opted to pay for the ads.

    I have learned that diversification is a key concept to financial security, whether you are buying stocks or selling products or services; if what you are doing is an endeavor to make money, then you have to diversify your efforts and have multiple streams flowing in to you. Etsy should never be your only online outlet; if it is and they pull the plug on your shop and your livelihood, for what ever reason, right or wrong, you have only yourself to blame, not Etsy. I agree with Drew in that you have to create your own online shop at some point, perhaps not at first, but at some point. Eventually, once I got the hang of online vending (some… there is still so much to do and learn!) I started my own website, and currently I keep the two going in sync.

    Etsy’s mission will change over time, has changed and will continue to change. You have to decide what your mission is, and find the venues that are in line with that mission. If Etsy’s isn’t, then it’s time to move on, if it is, then more power to you. :)

  153. rainbowgirlfan says

    I was an Etsy seller for over 3 years, then all of a sudden w/o any warning I Lost my account because Regretsy falsely reported my whole store for no reason. They falsely accused me of taking their listings, ect. And they continue to harass me to this day. The mob known as regretsy is responsible for people getting their listings taken down. They go around, create sock puppet accounts, report as many listings as the can, then blog about it on their blogs and forums.

  154. Steph says

    Pretty much sums up my experience with this horrid company! I had a shop with them for two years, and I had close to 800 sales in that time period and had 400 items in my shops, everything I made was HANDMADE and they shut me down because they claim I copyrighted an idea from the Hunger Games. I had one necklace where I had painted on a mockingjay, it was not a sticker and I never claimed to own the rights, I was simply accommodating a customer request. What I find them to be hypocrites for is that if you type in Hunger Games in their search engine, you will get over 30,000 hits on Hunger related items, and most of that is FACTORY PRODUCED that shops buy wholesale and resell retail claiming they handmade the item when they DID NOT! How is this fair that I pay the price while these other shops still stand?? I even had two customer orders that were not filled out yet and I had no access to their information because etsy wiped out EVERYTHING! My customer feedbacks, my shop scores, my customers names and addresses, all gone with the click of a mouse! I hope they go down in flames, it would be a suitable punishment for all the harm they’ve done to etsy shop “owners” who authentically hand made their items, while those goons who re-sell from wholesale just to make a quick buck are still standing, why? because they are the ones who rack in the big bucks for this company, of course it would make sense to Etsy to keep those stores around instead. Just a shame for the unaware customers who truly think they are buying an “original” hand made items when they are not….

  155. says

    I’m curious if anyone has an opinion on the new look of the etsy website.
    Me? I’m dumbfounded. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get seen on etsy. So I just started paying for ads. And now I see the new front page. What the heck are tastemakers? Martha Stewart’s recommendations for etsy sellers?? Now I not only have to get noticed on etsy…but please tell me why I need Martha’s approval to get seen? (among other very commercial *tastemakers*) Marketing nightmare for etsy sellers??

    • says

      to Val, and Marie above me: I totally agree.
      I have 4 etsy shops 3 with active products (2 are HUGE supply shops)
      ALL 3 shops are down. My sales started falling in April, then again in August, now I am at a 60% drop off because of “curated browse” they literally block the words for the hair products I sell.

      rolling servers, Maybe not but ROTATING listings on etsy! Absolutely by region using the cookies at the footers of the etsy webpages – and those that were stupid enough to tweet out “earn free listings” those sellers got pushed, as did the new resellers that signed up – while us 2007 accounts are still down.

      I started following this blog in the beginning because I went down at that time and was googling HOW TO GET HELP ON ETSY and stumbled on drew with Skinny Artist Blog.
      Since that time I started learning about Google search and data tracking cookies in my free time (etsy down time) I DID quit my day job.
      I now am in the same spot but with my eggs spread in other baskets and stopped renewing on etsy.
      The new page is horrible and trying to give a new definition to handmade to suite the resellers disturbs me.

      I stopped even linking to etsy after I found one of my back-links on a sold out products from GOOGLE search – linking to with SEE SIMILAR Items and all 16 slots were the same shop (NOT MINE) and NO Items of my own.

      They told me at support to “work on my seo”
      Wait, That WAS my SEO they just altered and steered the buyers away from my shop.
      Learn Seo, they need to learn how to stop copy and pasting their responses.
      Hugs to ALL of you struggling with etsy or with bad etsy experiences.
      Thanks to Drew for keeping this lovely blog active for well over a year now.
      Ps – Etsy Treats their sellers VERY Badly :( If you see the forums you will think they are such a great company. But don’t read too deeply. What they did was SILENCED Us that disagreed with their methods.
      They muted me in 2011. Ridiculous. The appeals process was ridiculous. (there wasn’t one) I got a canned auto response in regards to muting.
      The town hall thing was just a publicity ploy. Just like their “rape shirt” seller is.
      Notice they removed ALL traces of the 1000’s and 1000’s of posts to “we don’t like false advertising handmade” yet the one thread in the forums that makes etsy look good “we’re sorry we apologize” that thread is still standing for all new etsy folks to think they are SO wonderful. Pffft.

  156. ALena says

    Hey, everybody! Don’t waist your time if you really planning to do serious business!!! Beware of this site!!!
    They closed 2 my shops before holiday season last year!!! I felt lost and lonely!!! Thanks to Gos I was strong enough and now I have my own website!!!

  157. says

    Hi all.

    Just starting out looking into ways to sell my sculptures. I’m in the process of putting my own site together but wondered what alternatives there are to Etsy. Some have mentioned Artfire but I was just interested in getting other people’s thoughts and how much success they’ve had from them. Of course, it always depends on what effort you put into a site, be it your own or some organisation’s.

    Thanks Drew for the site. My first time here today and I’ve spent the past few hours educating myself on various aspects of artistry.

  158. says

    Hi Jonathan !

    While I have found that Etsy is okay for sales, you might also be better off joining up with a website / organisation that supports artists in your state. I have joined two artists co-ops / art centres where I live (Iowa) and also some artists websites for the state of Iowa, funded by the government: This way, people are more likely to find you.
    I am guessing that postage may be a problem when selling your sculptures online? A gallery is always a good option, too, where you can physically sell your work, or perhaps a garden centre, coffee shop or outdoor restaurant for example.
    Good luck!

    • says

      Hi Liza and thanks.

      Yes, those are all places I’m looking to approach although it’s kind of bad timing on my part what with it nearly being the festive season and then the typical quiet time post frivolities, but it gives me time to work on a few more pieces.

      Love your work.

      Thanks again.


  159. Jennifer says

    Hi, I’ve been running an Etsy shop since May and now I’ve only had 2 paltry sales at best. No I do not have a website. I thought a lot of it was about promoting thru social media.

    I agree with the poster who said the “favoriting” outweighs the buying. Too many lookie-loos. I hear the crickets all day long, but the cha-ching very seldom. I don’t know if this is a website for the seasoned sellers, or those who have develpoed a following already.

    No I wasnt expecting to get rich in 10 days, but im telling you its kind of a letdown.

    any feedback would be appreciated.

    • Cadi says

      You are really lucky you had any sales at all without advertising in Etsy’s program. To get sales from Etsy, you have to participate in their promotional ads, which you also pay for.

      But unless you sell a lot of really big ticket items consistently, by the time you’ve paid taxes, Etsy Sales Fees, Etsy Transaction Fees, and paid for the cost of supplies, you have almost nothing left, unless you charge less than the product is worth.

      You aren’t the only one who feels this way. Supposedly, you don’t consistent success unless you have had 100 successful sales and have 50 items listed. It took me 4 years to get 56 sales and I just walked away from Etsy because they shut down my shop after confusing my username with someone else’s who has huge shop problems and cases open. My shop has never had a single case and no customer complaints. I’ve worked hard to build a happy customer feedback record. But because my username is similar to this person’s, they can’t get it resolved even though we have been working on this for a while. The identity difference is so obvious–just look at the different real names and different financial info. But the support team is unable to handle basic problem solving skills. It’s unbelievable.

      It’s not your fault. I am going to try Zibbet because I heard they

  160. says

    I’ve been off ETSY now for about six months, and I have gone to I would really like to encourage others to do this instead of letting the etsy bs blues get you down and stop selling altogether. I find that Zibbet it is a really easy way to continue to list items and not feel ripped off. Not only are they supper nice on it is really affordable. You pay a one time fee ($79.00) and that allows you to list as many items as you like and then anything you sell the full amount is yours, they do not take a percentage. They encourage you to list more and more items, as it cost you nothing and it helps the site.

    It has taken me a while to get sales to start coming in there, but they did start to trickle in. Of course the more I read, the more my disgust and dislike for etsy grows, but remember there are alternatives, and Zibbet is the one I would encourage and highly endorse. That’s my .02 for this lovely Monday morning.


  161. says

    I’ve been on Etsy since 2007, and frankly do not remember when I opened my Etsy shop. The concept of Etsy seemed great and a better alternative than eBay then for the handcrafted items I make.

    While I was a big fan of Etsy & the treasures it held, having some favorite shops I’ve purchased from on Etsy and having had some sales though mediocre and pretty much hobby level until I had a great idea and went with it only checking that I my item was not at all like any available by a certain brand however making the mistake of using the product for which my items were inspired by and made for as my “model”, in my descriptions & titles, and tags and so on – but believing and thinking I had solved the problem and returned my items to my shop without any reference to the specific brand nor any photos of that brands product, I subsequently received too many notices of infringement – which by the time I made my corrections and followed the pathetic and vague instructions in the canned form letter notices my shop was shutdown & I “no longer qualify to sell on Etsy”. Now after 6 years on Etsy, I really was giving it one last shot this holiday season and see how it went which turned out to be a nice little run with some good sales followed by a big fat dose of their nonexistent support & everything. It did not matter the content of my conversations/message sent to Etsy Admins or Legal.

    If any of my favorite sellers on Etsy have alternative selling platforms I WILL opt to purchase through those platforms instead of Etsy. I will NOT endorse or encourage someone considering opening a shop on Etsy and if they still choose to do so, proceed with Extreme Caution, Do Not count on Etsy alone. I am now slowly trying to rebuild an online shop through Bonanza as a starter platform while I regroup & figure out what next which may very well be go back to craft shows & art fairs with a couple options online for selling my items & supplies I’m parting with. The timing of this was horrible & while I’m not “giving up”, I am ready for a break from it. So for now I’m happy with my blog, my modest & humble website that link to my new Bonanza booth while I continue to get sales from some items I’ve put on eBay.

    Sorry for the lengthy comment. Fresh off of being shutdown 7 days ago


  162. Cadi says

    My shop was shut down suddenly because it was confused with someone else’s shop. I didn’t get an explanation of any kind about why my shop was shut down for 3 days. 3 days of waiting and not knowing what was going on. I lost a customer in the meantime–she was waiting for me to create a custom listing. My shop has never had a case or a single negative feedback. Nothing was wrong with my shop. I frantically searched for a phone number to call someone, only to find that Etsy, this $300,000,000 company, has an Etsy Policy of never talking to sellers on the phone. They only communicate through messages. So I waited and finally got a vague response that I had violated Etsy Policy and that I needed to conform to Etsy Policy in order to have my shop re-opened. So I wrote back and asked what policy I had violated? After 3 more days of waiting for a response, we discover that my username has been confused with another seller’s username whose shop has major issues. After spending a lot of time explaining to Etsy, that I was not this other person (!!!!), they shut down that shop too (the one they intended to in the first place) but they didn’t open my shop back up. I continued to ask them nicely to please open my shop back up. So,still confused by the usernames, Etsy opened up this other woman’s shop (the one that has problems, unpaid fees, and multiple cases against her, apparently) and my shop, the one with no problems, ever, remains closed. After multiple attempts to reason with them, with no response, I finally filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau in New York. Etsy is a $300 million dollar company and they need to hire staff who have basic problem solving skills. I have lost my shop for doing nothing wrong at all. This other person’s shop, the problem one who was confused with me, remains open. Go figure…..Etsy has the worst customer service to sellers. I walked away from Etsy at that point, but my shop, which remains indefinitely in lock down mode, can’t even be accessed so I can properly close it permanently. Thus, my account with them, and all my financial info, credit card, billing info, etc, is permanently accessible to anyone who works for Etsy….and I no longer trust Etsy.

  163. pamela says

    you are leaving out one very important factor: if a seller is hawking items no one wants, no one is going to buy them. dozen, perhaps thousands of etsy shops feature basically unsellable goods–and you can’t blame etsy for that. if one has a fairly priced, interesting, in demand product, it will sell on etsy. it will sell in stores, it will sell on websites. if it doesn’t sell, perhaps consider that no one wants it.

  164. Jonathan says

    Hi Pamela.

    Of course you’ve got a very valid point. I guess what surprises me (and others perhaps) is the fact that the shops that Etsy seem to block ARE the ones that are doing ok and have products that sell – at least a lot of those posting here have implied as much.


    • Catherine says

      Jonathan, I think you are right. It’s a bit odd.

      In my situation, I had a successful shop open since 2010. Last year, a younger friend of mine tried her hand at sewing children’s clothes for a shop on Etsy. It was wildly successful so that, 8 months into it, she was 4 months behind on orders and finally asked someone for help. It was me, because she knew I could sew. I knew her family’s financial situation so I sewed for free so she wouldn’t have $10,000 in orders that she would have to refund. I never got paid a penny, but I helped answer messages and sewed for four months with no pay, trying to help this young family. She finally went off the deep end and gave up completely, deciding that she “hates Etsy,” which was immature, but that is what happened. So I assumed she would eventually finish cleaning up her mess and told her I could no longer help either. A couple of weeks later, Etsy closed my (unrelated) shop, which has never had a single issue, and has always been a successful shop. Etsy refused to respond to any emails or messages for two weeks. I was trying to find out WHY my shop was closed. Finally, I got a vague message that my shop was “not in compliance with Etsy regulations.” What? I finally figured out they were holding me responsible for my friend’s shop, since she had formally announced to them that she was jumping ship. So, because I had helped for free, they told me I could not have my own account back until all my friends cases were closed and her debt paid off. It took me three months to do this, because I HAVE to have my shop back. This is my liveliehood. I filed a complaint with the BBB in New York against Etsy, because they were completely unhelpful in this whole process, refused to believe me, and didn’t even have a phone number for me to call them. They are a $300 million organization and told me their policy is to not talk to sellers on the phone, ever. They have since changed that. I don’t think it was me, but they said they are *starting* to implement a policy in which they will call you if it is an emergency and you request it. I don’t know what constitutes an emergency. But they didn’t consider my unfair situation to be an emergency. Etsy is a large, slow moving, antiquated machine when it comes to policy making.

      I tried to sell on Bonanza and ShopEnvy and Artfire during the time my shop was closed. I never made a single sale. Etsy has the better market for my stuff, but I hate them with a passion for what they did. I hope they change their policies and offer better customer service to their sellers. I told them I give them a 1 star for their horrible service. I found the Etsy Integrity Team to be a clueless group of low paid college students who didn’t know what was going on.

  165. says

    Well I’m one of those who had a store that was doing very well… about 300 sales in my first year. They shut me down saying I had a copyright violation. I tried over and over to reach them, email, phone, kept just getting the same form letter. customer service is non-existant. I have since talked with two very reputable copyright/trademark attorneys. Both had said that I had no violation, and had all of the disclaimers done right. Of course as Etsy probably knows the time and money it would take to pursue this is way beyond my reach, probably much like others.

    I’ve been on Zibbet now for a year. Yes, it is much slower, but it is really a great place to sell and not get taken advantage of. One price for the whole year, as many listings as you want, and no money fee for sales, what you sell is what you get.

    That’s all for now, I’m glad to see this conversations continue and I hope everyone realizes and keeps spreading the word that there are other options out there.

  166. BtA says

    It’s a nice mix of destructive behavior by other users and destructive behavior by Etsy. I have a number of ideas and items I will never post there because they’re great sellers that would be immediately copied by a teenager who can afford the time to work for pennies per hour. In the meantime the circus of failures that is easy management. I use the site to purchase materials now, and an occasional lovely little thing for myself, but I’ll probably never get around to posting anything for sale that is more interesting than the scrabble tile pendants you can get on every other page.

  167. anne says

    I have a shop on Etsy and it appears to me they do not stay true to what they claim. They claim they will investigate all fraudulent shops that are not selling handmade items.. I find this not to be the case. I have found many many shops that are selling retail items … not vintage and certainly not handmade. This will of course be the end of Etsy at some point since the claim they have is for handmade items that separates them from machine made. I have also found many of the people copying the style of art that is selling instead of being original to their own style. I have sold items on Etsy… but mine is all made by me and not copied from someone else . There also seems to be a geographical component to the buyers… if you live north… you support northern artists… if you live west… you buy west artists… etc… there is also a lot of witchcraft art and mythical type. it will be the downfall… it always is.

  168. says

    Hello ,
    I’m Italian , I live in Rome and at the end of 2012 I opened a shop on Etsy, I was initially registered because I wanted to buy some items that I had seen in other stores, then I open one of my own in August 2012. I make lost wax jewelry, paintings and painted objects for the home, totally handmade and inspired by Japanese art and aesthetics . My items on sale are concepted, designed and manufactured entirely by myself. I made on ​​Etsy just one sale in December 2013, I have my own website and a blog, but I do not use facebook nor twitter. What I have noticed is that in general the shops located in the United States have a lot of sales as compared to those of us Italian (with a few rare exceptions) and always appear on the homepage of Etsy favorite shops and suggestions about the united states .
    For me I think that my creations are of a good standard and I do not understand what determines my lack of success, my items are not cheap but not expensive. There are stores that have thousands of sales and objectively do not sell anything so very special , there are others where we are limited to assemble such earrings with pieces bought elsewhere and not handmade, and there are several shops that sell the pieces whose components are the same as others listed in other stores on Etsy. In my personal experience I would not recommend to a friend to open a shop on Etsy unless its products are not simple to make and can be sold at a very low price.
    Thank you for this article.

  169. aalish says

    omg, I was searching for something completely else, when google had your article at the search.

    due all the respect, etsy is an amazing marketplace.
    I started last year with my little shop, the first month I make 184 dollars, after a year I made within a month $1500 and it keeps getting up.This year I am planning to reach by the end of it, $3000 per month, I know it is possible, I just need to work it
    All these people who are complaining that they didn’t make sales, or there is a “secret” that only successful shops know, thats a load of crap. Sorry, those people they either DONT have good images,or they DON’T have goof SEO, or they had like 5-20 items……they lack good titles, good descriptions, etc…
    Thats the same exact people who come to the etsy forums and many of them are giving up because they didn’t sell anything after a month.

    Want to know whats the key to be a successful seller?
    1. SEO
    2. Good description, write about your products, don’t have 5 lines and expecting customers to trust you.
    3. good pictures, you really want to make good sales? buy a good camera learn how to take eye candy pictures.
    4. buy materials to have more than 100 items, some shops have 600 items….do have any idea how much work is 600 items?
    5. promote yourself, blogs, pinterest, wanelo, etc…
    6. forget about your husband and kids, until you reach that point that sales will come one after the other, you belong to etsy, your shop will be your focus for 8-12 hours per day. Once in a awhile you might have some time for others…….

    you thought people who are making crazy sales are myths? no, they are very very hard workers who sit and read about SEO, who sit and read how to take good images, who sit and design day after day for hours.
    Thats the big secret.
    how many hours did you bother with your etsy shop?

    • lucky says

      aalish – I totally agree (although your tone is a little harsh) ! The months where I treat Etsy like a full time job are the months I make a legitimate salary. You get what you put in. You need to research the tech aspect, you need a product someone wants, and then you need to update your shop regularly and have as many variations as possible. It’s not magic!

  170. Sonya Olivera says

    Glad I came across this article! Here is an email I wrote earlier today to Etsy’s legal department:

    Dear Etsy Legal Team,

    I really hope that you will seek to enforce a better system for tracking sellers (especially the ones from overseas – China) that violate Etsy’s Terms of Use by selling large quantities of mobile products that are not “handmade”or “original” to US customers. It looks like Etsy has created a sea of opportunity to the Chinese market to import their goods into the United States at extremely low cost. This trend is causing American retailers to loose business all over the US, ultimately sabotaging the US economy. It’s sad that Etsy, an American based company, is supporting such a corrupt business model.

    I understand that Etsy might wish to keep these foreign sellers, because they contribute to a large number of sales on Etsy, from which Etsy generates a large percentage of its revenues. However, this unjust business conduct is wrong and needs to be better regulated.

    This link: https://xxxxxx is an example of how many foreign sellers go on everyday to generate sales on while being overlooked by Etsy’s admins. It’s quite a widespread problem when browsing thru and looking at how many sellers are actually “not” selling products which are suppose to be handmade in the “handmade” category. Many of such sellers generate sales in the 100’s some even in the 1000’s, all while Etsy’s admins blatantly disregard their violations against Etsy’s Terms of Use – WHY???

    I understand that Etsy is an international marketplace and you cannot stop overseas sellers from selling goods at wholesale prices and shipping them into the US. However, what you can do is at least make sure that EVERY MEMBER is conforming to Etsy’s Terms of Use and sells products that are “original”, “handmade”, or “vintage” – like the terms spell out.

    I believe you need to reevaluate your Integrity Team and their performance of making sure EACH SELLER is following Etsy’s Terms of Use by selling only what is allowed to be sold. It seems that the Integrity Team is loosing focus of maintaining a safe and fair marketplace enjoyable for all.
    Maybe it’s just time for Etsy to modify their Terms of Use and allow more room for flexibility. Whatever image Etsy is currently trying to promote, is obviously not working and will ultimately fail and/or cause many legal consequences.

    The below public link says it all:

    This message is not intended to be taken as entertainment; instead the legal department should really reevaluate the concept of and how it functions. At least Amazon  and and Ebay treat every seller equally.


  171. says

    I just opened a store selling my Pennyology jewelry on Etsy a couple of weeks ago. I do have my concerns, but figure it is all part of the process of finding out what works and what doesn’t. I have thought of having my own website, but as someone else pointed out, you have to know a lot about SEO and other things to really make it work. My alternative plan to Etsy is to take some actual products to stores that may be willing to sell what I make. And I am having my extended family help me out where they live. I am glad to have read through the posts as I have learned of other Etsy-like sites to check out.

  172. says

    Thanks for this post. It has been interesting.

    I am just about to open a store on Etsy. I have a Shopify store, but I feel that they overcharge their monthly fees. As I’m just starting out in this online selling business, of course I have issues with marketing and getting out there. However, I am willing to learn. I think Etsy’s model of charging you when you sell and $0.20 to list an item is more reasonable than paying $36 per month when you are not selling much at all.

    I intend to sell Art Prints that I print individually on my home printer, from artwork I create. I find a lot of people complaining that “Art Prints” are not “handmade”, but how is this less handmade than someone buying fabric, or stones to make clothes or jewellery?

    I may also sell my self-published book, and hand-bound books I create.

    I can also do custom portraits, but I find pricing on Etsy ridiculous low for quality realistic portraits.

    I need an online store, because customers at markets keep asking me for one. If you know of a better alternative that allows Canadian artists of my kind to sell physical art products online, please let me know. (Here I’ve learned of and may give them a try. If they have a reasonable shipping service.)

    I do not expect Etsy to draw buyers for me. I just need a place I can send my physical customers and followers to if they wish to purchase more art.

    I think I will give Etsy a try and let you know how it goes down the line.



    • says

      Hi Mili,

      I had the same train of thought as you when I opened a shop on etsy two years ago but with 400 items in my shop times .20 is already $80.00 and that’s not counting the cost of relisting when they expire and the cost that etsy keeps for making a sale in the first place and the cost of re-listing an item once it’s sold. Understandably if you have a smaller shop with less items it may seem more cost effective. Shopify to me is much more reasonable. I would also recommend you check out, they don’t charge listing fees at all and no re-listing fees, they keep a small percentage of every sale so to give you an example if you sell a $20.00 item, they keep $2.00 of it, that’s it which is much less than what etsy is charging overall and I actually make more sales with them than what I was doing with etsy ( and I was doing fairly well for myself with them). Just something to consider :)


  173. Marah says

    I signed up on Etsy to purchase supplies. I have looked at some peoples shops that sell crafts, artwork etc. But I am a skeptical person, so I tend to be hesitant on purchasing items even if a company stands by their ethical and legal mumbo jumbo. I honestly like Etsy to purchase supplies. I am a artist and love to support other artist, but I do not think this is the route for anyone. I live in a remote part of Alaska so like said I love being able to find craft supplies that will ship at reasonable prices… Etsy does have that positive side for me. I just don’t think it is a route to go for artist to sell their work.

  174. Kendra says

    Well it makes sense to me… It doesn’t matter what business you are in, the statistics are that 90% of businesses fail. People think Etsy as an easy money button but it isn’t like that at all. I’m sorry but the vast majority of the people I know that have went into Etsy went into it because they went into it with magical thinking, they thought it was a 1, 2, 3 you build it and they will come situation. It reminds me of when I use to do tarot card readings on I knew 5 other people who also did readings on Keen. I was the ONLY person who was successful. Why was that? My other friends saw how much I was making at the time and then decided to copycat and try it to. When they found out that it took 12 or 16 hours of work to make what was less than minimum wage when you did the math, they were no longer interested. Yeah 300 bucks or 150 bucks a day sounds nice until you figure out it takes WORK. Most people who are interested in Etsy are looking to quit their day job by working less than their day job. That’s a myth people. Billionaires are billionaires because they don’t have a life and sacrifice everything to be a billionaire. #truthBombs.

  175. Marja-Leena says

    My mum has an etsy shop and she does really well. This past year she made approx. $5,000, although the first year she only sold one thing, and the second year she made about $400. I just talked to her about it now and she said that with any business you can’t expect to make much in the first year. Even if you just break even, you’re doing really well. She used to own a coffee shop in Vancouver back in the early 80s, and it was the same kind of deal.

    I’m a student and I’m going to be spending my summer working on my mum’s etsy shop, and I think it has a lot of potential to continue to do well. Simply by renewing a listing, my mum still continues to sell things each day (she doesn’t do it full time, she also works as a teacher). I’m really excited about the prospects, although I also think it’s an interesting idea to start with a website and branch out from there, and that’s something to consider. My mum uses twitter and facebook for her shop and both seem to help a lot. Also, it has to do with what is being sold. She sells vintage clothing and up-cycled clothing, and while there is a lot of competition for this, there are also a lot of buyers. One last thing is it’s important to establish a good customer-base, and to find your “niche” so to speak. I think anything is possible, and we’re both going to continue working at it.

    I really hope that people continue to buy and sell on etsy because I think it’s such a cool idea, and a great haven for artists and other creative types. I also think it does have potential simply because online shopping has become so popular over the past while. It’s unfortunate that people are having frustrating experiences with it, but I would say don’t despair! You have to work really hard and it may take 2 or 3 years before you see results, but it’s worth it if it means doing something creative and something you really enjoy. Interesting article, and it’s fuelled some good discussion.

  176. Caroline says

    I think the reason Established Etsy sellers are leaving in droves is because Etsy has a seriously messed up way of dealing with their paying customers, where they just DELETE shops without notice, and leave many people empty and completely guttered at the fact Etsy just ripped away their only means of making a consistent cash flow. Shame on Etsy!

  177. says

    I have been selling with etsy for a good few years and a couple of years ago I went full time…sales have since dropped as the etsy community has grown although I still recieve around 200 views per day. I do however have friends on etsy who earn triple the UK minimum wage (<this is definitely NOT me!) I am only just keeping a float. It is possible but I am finding it difficult to get new customers now. Its a bit of a pickle but if combining etsy with other selling platforms it can be a brilliant way to make a living and be happy about your work.

  178. fhd says

    It’s 2014 and Etsy seems to be No. 2 after ebay. “Shut down for confusing your usernames with someone else’s who has problems” – really? Have to say that’s rather vague and hard to believe.. I know that Etsy have to be very strict with sellers suspected of re-selling new “hand=made” items, and have been accused of making mistakes, but I doubt if they are half as stupid and uncaring as ebay. Hopefully sellers can start again after their problems have been resolved.

  179. says

    I couldn’t agree more that Etsy sellers need to have their own platform for selling. Very few have their own websites and a lot of those seller who do, send the buyers back to Etsy to convert for some reason. I have never understood this.

    I believe it is still very possible to make a nice income utilizing Etsy as ONE of your selling platforms. There are so many sellers on the site now. If a shop owner wants to really make a business out of this they are going to need to actually treat it like a business and learn the things they need to know to succeed.

  180. aaron saxton says

    Etsy is failing. I have an etsy store and an ebay store. Last year we sold substantial amounts – over $50,000 but not on etsy…why? I sell Mid Century Modern, an area with continued growth.

    They do not listen is one thing.

    You write them about critical factors on their imaging software and key word searches and you get nothing back from them. I have premier items that people will search and look for but guess what? Etsy tells you what keywords you can use and they do not include (incredibly) designer names!

    Why? Because they know you will get less clicks so they enforce you use a word that will get 100’s of clicks, but not from actual buyers you want.

    So the question is, who do they want to click on your listing to drive up “advertising costs”? They realized they can’t make money so they now enforce you use a minimum amount to advertise – like $80 per week…seriously??

    Last month I gave it a try. Without a doubt, people with “favorite lists” 5,000 items in length who buy nothing go into your store and click on the listing they like. I paid $200 to have hopeless no-buyers go and click on my valuable listings so they could then “look cool” on their favorite lists – not that they actually ever buy anything.

    And guess what? Etsy promotes to these people to do this – so they gobble up valuable advertising revenue. This is virtually a con game and real sellers pay for it.

    Etsy figured rather than make meaningful sales for people, they would just ride them out until they get sick of it and leave the shop.

    I had over $50,000 in sales last year, and it costs me more to sell on etsy than anywhere else for less results because of how they manage the facility.

    I am in the process of finding another on-line store and ditching Etsy. Whatever it was, it is not anymore. And guess what? I could write them all the above and the response I would get would be…nothing.

  181. Jack says

    We followed your comments and critics carefully and working on a better alternative. We started to build this since the beginning of this year.

    Fair play and transparency, since Etsy is going for short term success. For us the challenge will be to acquire many shopholders since we are quite new on this market. Next to that we need as much as feedback as we can get in order to make a better platform.

  182. Indre says

    I started selling on Etsy in December 2013, so around 7 months ago.
    I make gemstone jewelry, which is an extremely saturated market on Etsy, so I did not expect much at the beginning.

    But after about three months my sales started to pick up.
    I make around $1000 in revenue monthly, since about March, and while Etsy is not my only income source, I was surprised that it was actually possible to sell jewelry there.

    However, I have to say that I invested A LOT of time into my store. Taking pictures, perfecting titles and tags, item descriptions, among other things, have taken many, many hours.
    It is doable, but sellers nowadays will most likely have to work harder to get these sales than some 5 years ago.

  183. says

    Ebay and Etsy both made a huge mistake. Not for themselves, but for us…the sellers…the artisans…the homemakers, bakers, mechanics, jewelers…those of us who thought we could take a talent and become our own boss under the umbrella of a major online shopping community.

    Ebay and Etsy welcomed us with open arms. We were all happy. We built our dream. Etsy and Ebay smiled.
    Then after a while, Etsy and Ebay realized they could make more money if they let sellers sell more than attic finds and homemade items.
    Along came Sears and JCPenney and many many more retailers you USED to go to brick and mortar stores to buy from
    Well, that’s all fine and dandy. You still have your art and jewelry and cupcakes and fondant goodies and those retailers don’t sell the stuff I make…. Do they?? Enter Walmart prices and alas, your prices were too high so Walmart took your business and China could come in and sell for 1/15th of the price you’re asking. Suddenly the market is filled with China made items for CHEAP. Who needs your $30.00 necklace when I can buy one that looks the same for $1.99?

    And Etsy and Ebay smiled. And they smile all the way to the bank while the sellers who got them where they are, were thrown to the wolves and are now scraping to pay for their store while their sales are down to dwindling change. And Etsy and Ebay smiled. We don’t need the small guy. We have big retailers. We have China. As long as we make money…….and they smiled.

    And the lowly artisans tucked their tails and said their good-byes while they scurried on to their day jobs.
    And Ebay and Etsy smiled.

    The End.

  184. says

    A little over 2 years ago Etsy put in a new activity feed. Feb. 2012. The shops began to slowly die. Mine included. The views and sales dried up.

    What most people don’t realize is that this new feed was put in place so Etsy could direct traffic on the site. They send the high buyers to the high sellers shops. It allows them to maximize their profits and keep the high selling shops happy and selling. Etsy lives in fear that the high selling shops might leave.

    I have watched the feed trends when my shop started going downhill along with so many others. The only time we will have increased views and sales is when Etsy eases their control of the activity feed during the Christmas holiday season. Then they go back to business as usual. And people wonder where their sales have gone.

    Etsy is a private company and they arrogantly announced in the past that they can and will conduct “experiments” any time they feel the need. Most experiments seem to revolve around the feed manipulation,

    So, the next time you wonder where your business has gone, reread this.

    • Ariel says

      @JC >> very interesting, but not surprising. Would be great to chat with you about your experiences there, specifically the point you made about the traffic control. i can be reached at info at wada dot org. thanks for sharing that info! ~ ariel

  185. says

    I have open a shop on etsy on Sep 1st 2014. No sales as of now. At the same time I met on Etsy and in real life etsy sellers who doing good enough income to live off (one example – roughly 100k a year). I do believe in Etsy, and in my shop :). So far I quite like it. I am sure though, that it is best to broaden your presence online, no secret here – never good to put all your eggs in one basket.

  186. says

    I am s supply seller and after being burned by Ebay I figured I give Etsy a try which worked out good, at least it helped pay off some of my inventory i had invested in but now sales have gone down to nothing just like on Ebay and it seems to be only a win for Etsy and not the seller. I do have my own website at least but now its time to move all of my items there, so tiered of all of these promising sites and then they get greedy and let you hang there and bleed you dry with fees, at least they made their money…what a shame!

  187. Erica says

    I have a direct friend who kills it on the etsy market. We saw something cute at Comicon one year and wanted to try our own. We decided to sculpt over a glass of wine one night. Soon we were making these little sculpted creations. She started selling them on Etsy. I originally laughed at her price. It was much higher than I ever would have thought to mark them. She sold her first one in 3 days. Within a month we were backordered. She was selling them 4 times faster than we could make them. It ended up being too much. We were only casual wine sculptors, after all. There is a way to make it- you just have to have a product people want to buy… and apparently they are willing to pay boutique prices for them.

  188. treeR says

    In the last two years I have grown an etsy store that now gives me equal income as I earned in my professional job. Without etsy it would never have happened for me. You have to work hard, not socialise on there, be business minded, research, know the wants needs fashions of customers, get pricing right, be prompt, polite, astute, respond to etsy changes, build a large inventory. Then the world IS your oyster!

  189. says

    Since Etsy is still around and thriving, more than 4 years after you first posted this article, I think it’s safe to say that Etsy is FAR from dying.

    I am primarily an Etsy seller. The biggest current challenge is the abundance of resellers on the site, in addition to “potentially” trademark infringing items.

    Anyone who is considering opening an Etsy shop would do well to read everything they can about selling on Etsy and learn about “Etsy SEO” (and how that differs from Google SEO) before they get too many things listed.

  190. Sue says

    I have had an etsy shop for about 4 years and have only ever sold 1 item, it doesn’t matter what I do, no one will buy my stuff. I guess it must be rubbish, that I make. Next bill that I get, I’m ducking out of etsy. Sick to death of it.

  191. Nia says

    I am surprised no one mentioned that selling only hand made on Etsy is a huge myth. There are many commercial sellers on Etsy. And there are many importers of cheap crap (I am not naming any countries, but you know which ones) undercutting legitimate cottage businesses and driving them into the dirt.

    I would definitely set up my own site and market myself rather than use Etsy.

    What Etsy claimed to stand when it started is a very far cry from what it has become. Evolving to stay in business is one thing, but Etsy is doing whatever it takes to keep the owner’s profitable no matter who it alienates or drives away. At what point does a business become a caricature of itself? Etsy is there.

  192. says

    I know this post is old, but here goes:

    I came across this site while trying to find tips to help my Etsy shop.
    I started my Etsy account in 2011, at first it was just to support friends who were artists & I did purchase a few things. But, in 2012 I decided to open my own shop as a hobby & sell my work (candles, body products & photography).
    It’s been 2 years & I’ve only sold 10 items. This was meant to be a hobby, but I treated it like a business & I did everything I could think of: promoted with Facebook, purchased ads, held sales events, promoted locally & more. I could really use the extra income.
    It’s seems like success on Etsy is just pure luck. I have 1 friend that’s been successful & 2 that have not. I’m at the point where I’m thinking of closing. I’m spending more money to promote than I’m making in profits. It’s just not worth it to me. I’m going to try it for 6 more months & maybe change my product line to sell paintings & a larger variety of things.

    To those who have been successful, do you have any tips/advice for others?


  193. Guest says

    Etsy is a great selling venue if you are from Taiwan, or Istanbul, or Crete, or Rome, Paris, Nepal . . . anywhere but the USA! Etsy gives preferential treatment to those from outside the US in some warped sense or “fairness”. It is truly bizarre to me how they bend over backward to kiss the backsides of people who are in effect stealing American jobs. The site is loaded with resellers of dime store crap, handmade(not) clothing from any number of retail manufacturers, and tons of new garbage pretending to be vintage. Etsy is not the sweet, geeky venue they pretend to be. No, they are the fat cat getting richer and richer off the backs of naïve and unsuspecting American citizens just trying to earn a living. Etsy is ebay is Amazaon is . . . The beat goes on. PS, all the preference these sites ALL give to foreigners selling on American sites – is quite illegal!

  194. says

    This is a great article and appreciate your thinking regarding the distribution of members. It would be interesting to know what Etsy spends its marketing dollars on… promotion of its marketplace for sellers or for the products you can buy there. I entered etsy into SEM Rush and looked at the trend of product listing ads and see a big decline in spending. Which tells me they are not interested in promoting products in their marketplace but it is hard to say what the strategy is. I hope it isn’t as greedy as that video makes it appear. Ultimately, I believe sellers, makers, artists, and creative people have the ability to take ownership of their sales and marketing. You are essentially doing that already with SEO and blogging.

    For those of you looking for an alternative, I would suggest doing the same work with SEO keyword research, content marketing, and social media promotion but with your own domain name. A domain name is the most important thing to digital marketing and something you need to build equity in over time. This will give you ownership of the traffic you generate and you can remove listing fees and depending on a third party to market your business.

    I created a website theme for the ecommerce platform Bigcommerce called Crafted. It has a design similar to Etsy and works well with existing product photography your shop may be using. The theme is a lot cheaper then what it would cost for a custom theme and allows you to customize your marketing message to your customers. You can view a demo here

    Selling online used to be dependent on large brands that could advertise and drive traffic to a marketplace for sellers to get visibility. It seems the trend is shifting to every man/woman for themselves. Which may be a new opportunity for a lot of us.

  195. says

    Etsy seems like a great place to sell things if there is sufficent demand for your goods. I’ve made more from Etsy this year than my website- more than the lat 3 years of sales combined.
    I’ve had a website up and running for 6 years now- and at first it was a very good outlet. But a website requires constant maintanence and I found that without marketing ad advertising my web sales have diminished while the Etsy store I set up in 2011, has done much, much better with no paid promotion.
    I am looking for other outlets to etsy- I saw a refernece to which I plan to pursue- and ebay is a fall back if sales drop too low but besides a personal Domain- are there any good outlets for sellers like Etsy?
    Hoping Tsu pans out as a social network / selling platform but like anything it needs to gain momentum. Etsy seems to have a substantial number of customers and gives me quite alot of unsolicited hits through etsy searches and just being associated with other circles and such. I’d love to hear of better options though.

  196. says

    Hello there!

    Long story short, my shop was shut down due to a few shipping issues with clients. I custom restore and rehab vintage furniture and do professional upholstery. While we are not new in our trade, we are beginners at shipping large furniture and have had some issues with clients and damaged goods during shipment. Although we have made good on all issues with clients and cases – has shut down my store for good. This is my ONLY source of income and although my store is on various other online markeplace platforms, 80% of my business comes from
    I have tried using other personal information of my assistant and husband (last names and credit cards, etc are all different) however seems to know that these new shops I am attempting to create are somehow linked to my old shop – although ALL of the information is different. Even used different computers as to be assured they weren’t tracking the IP address. Anyone had this issue and were you able to create a new shop? My business is going under every second I am not live on!!! Thank you.

  197. FrancesG says

    I’ve been a seller on Etsy since 2008. I’m not particularly computer/internet savvy so I haven’t investigated a stand along website. This year on Etsy was my best by far, sales up 25% over any previous year.

    But, Etsy has a lot of work to do. The site is flooded with resellers and rip off artists; there are multiple posts in the forums every day about buyers paying and having sellers disappear without sending anything. There is virtually no enforcement that I can see of Etsy’s policies about what is prohibited on the site. The customer service is abysmal; there is no phone support and email support is slow to nonexistent.

    I use Etsy as right now it’s really the only game in town. The fees are low and it’s very easy to list and maintain a store. I can use paypal and don’t have to accept Etsy’s Direct Checkout (that’s not going to happen without customer service by phone). I’m fortunate in that my items are not easily reproduced so I can function in a truly handmade niche.

    I really don’t know which direction Etsy will go – down the tubes if it acquires a reputation for cheap knockoffs from those “other” countries, or as a site true to its own roots for unique handmade items.

  198. says

    Great article, I found this awhile ago when helping my sister research about setting up a web store. Her needs were really simple, she just wanted an online store to post some products and to be able to accept credit cards. Most of the existing stuff was too expensive or complicated for what she needed. So I built a really simple web app for her to do that. I’m looking for some people to help provide some feedback on the web store software I built. If you’re interested in setting up a free web store, check it out at It’s designed to just provides the basics. Thanks and good luck everyone!

  199. Ed Snelson says

    I had an Etsy store up until recently, when the store was closed overnight with no prior warning and had not breached any of their policies.

    It turned out that it was because another seller in my office building who operates an Etsy store had been closed due to alleged (but unverified) copyright issues.

    Etsy had matched up the 2 addresses and closed my store as well, when I tried to appeal I was met with a stone cold brick wall.

    24 hour delays between email response, no phone number to call, all emails appear to be generic pre formatted responses and they had no concern for the damage that they would cause to my livelihood.

    I am still fighting the battle, and I am unsurprised to hear that I am not the only one suffering the perils of Etsy’s shocking customer service – BE WARNED NEW SELLERS.

  200. says

    This article is really interesting and seems to follow my experience with Etsy. The 2 sales we made so far were both to other seller who had shops on Etsy. That is not a bad thing, I just guess its more of a hobby website than an income stream, especially if you are spending all your income on other products.

    I am so glad we set up our own website at because I wasnt aware of the inherent risks of Etsy shop closures.

    The etsy community is incredibly supportive and kind with me. They have suggested multiple ways to improve my shop, listings. However its seems Etsy unlike Ebay requires a huge time investment in SEO etsy. I was about to embark on a huge workload of optimising all my etsy listings for Search in the hope of hitting it big and getting a lot of sales.

    After your article I think I might utilise my time and efforts on my own site first.

  201. Sam James says

    We are a non-profit cruelty free marketplace ran by volunteers, if the products you sell on Etsy are not tested on animals or contain animal derivatives, you will be entitled to a 100% free store – for more details –

  202. says

    Well I think it’s time to add Artfire to the “dying” list. They recently decided, without any warning, to sell out. Each listing now has over 14 adsense ads on the page. And blended in to look like part of the listing which surely has to be confusing to shoppers. But… when sellers are logged in they don’t see any of it. Only if you visit the forums, and only sellers with pro accounts can see most of the forums, might you learn what’s going on. It’s already caused many long time sellers to put their shops on vacation mode or just close them completely.

    It’s unethical and driven purely by greed.

    And that’s it for me. It may take me a few months to carefully move all my 500+ listings, but I have had quite enough of the venue sites. I should have done this years ago. I have my own site. It WILL be converted into a selling site now.

    DIsgusted with all the venue type sites. They are all in it for their own gain. NOT anyone elses.

  203. says

    I felt that i should respond to this with my own observations, namely that IMHO Etsy is not dying, far from it. Nor is the demand for handmade products in the decline. What is happening though is that we are clearly reaching a saturation point as far as potential outlets for selling is concerned. So many makers have decided to leave P2P sites because they believe that they can do better on Fb and elsewhere without paying anyone for the privilege. I feel that this is false economy, as the seller stats on Etsy will show.
    For myself, I’ve had steady 10% growth year on year for the past 5 years, which in a recession I think is totally remarkable. The amount of customers who are coming to my store from the so called social media sites is trivial compared to the customers who come directly from Etsy searches, Google and other more relevant sources. What I have noticed is that in addition to the serious crafters and makers on Etsy, we are seeing a number of new sellers who open their shop, put up a couple of items, sit on their hands and wait for customers. If they haven’t sold in week one, they lose interest and move on. Clearly this is a symptom of the instant gratification generation. Compare this to the bricks and mortar world where you open a store, and then for two years you lose money, and by year three you try to break even. Those same people are the ones who close within six months, but here we are seeing it on an accelerated scale.
    How on earth new sellers expect to be suddenly found among 19.8 million sellers is just astounding, and yet the ones whose items are clearly original, outstanding and unique are being found and thriving. I think it’s time to look at this sector as being somewhere that true artisans are appreciated, but those who buy Tibetan silver trinkets and try to resell for a massive mark-up, or who make the same knitted do dads as literally hundreds of other sellers are just never going to succeed on Etsy, or elsewhere. Those whose imagination and abilities stand out are doing just fine…
    Etsy is for life, not just for Christmas!

  204. says

    I have been SHOPPING on etsy for years and I have never sold anything on there. I buy 2-3 items a month. I was just looking up some info about Etsy for my review of it on my website. I do not think it’s dying and I don’t really understand your jump to that conclusion.

  205. says

    It is important that I join you in thanking “Skinny Artist” for keeping this article open. I have just spent an hour reading the history of Etsy, right here. I believe this article was published around the time I became a buyer later to become a seller. It is self-evident it is “good, bad and ugly”. I am one of the fortunate ones that only have experienced the good and the sales have become bad in the last year.

    Special thanks for those who shared links to this topic of discussion. The links led me to this discovery. Here is the news flash to update everyone. (May 14,2015)–long-pa-announces-a-securities-fraud-class-action-lawsuit-has-been-filed-against-etsy-inc-300083903.html

    Read more…

    Here is a just a few paragraphs to gain more interest.

    …………..The Complaint alleges that throughout the Class Period, defendants made materially false and misleading statements, and omitted materially adverse facts, about the Company’s business, operations and prospects. Specifically, the Complaint alleges that the defendants concealed from the investing public that: (1) more than 5% of all merchandise for sale on Etsy’s website may be either counterfeit or constitute trademark or copyright infringement; (2) brands are increasingly pursuing sellers on Etsy for trademark or copyright infringement, jeopardizing the Company’s listing fees and commissions; and (3) as a result of the foregoing, the Company’s public statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times. As a result of defendants’ alleged false and misleading statements, the Company’s stock traded at artificially inflated prices during the Class Period.

    According to the Complaint, on May 11, 2015, before the market opened for trading, numerous news outlets, including Bloomberg and the Associated Press, reported that Gil Luria, an equity analyst at Wedbush Securities, issued a note downgrading Etsy to “Underperform.” Among other things, the note mentioned, “Our research indicates as many as 2 million items on Etsy (>5% of all merchandise) may potentially be either counterfeit or constitute trademark or copyright infringement.”

    News at 11.


    (grins & moans)

  206. Boho Hobo says

    In some odd way, I have been able to live off of my Etsy earnings for the past year or two. Of course, I live modestly, and have shared a house and costs of most things with my girlfriend.
    Is Etsy dead?….well, yes and no.

    There are always a handful of shops, out of the millions that have done well, and continue to do so.
    But that’s like the most popular guy or gal in high school thing, even though you know you are much more awesome, they are still the most popular. I think it’s 50% work and 50% luck
    As of the last couple of months, my Etsy shop has gone from making several hundred $$ per week, to barely making $200 per Month.

    So what happened? Something significant, that is for sure, but for most of us who sell on Etsy…we’ll never really know, as there is no real communication from the Top.
    Maybe it’s because they went Public?
    Maybe some algorithm changed? somewhere?
    Maybe it’s because Etsy broke their own rules and (obviously) allows people to buy bulk items from overseas sold at Dollar Tree and resell them at here at markup, hey, take good photos, get a cool store name and logo, and it’s not only possible, it’s making people richer by the minute.. This is not something people have made up…just search yourself….and then go down to your local Dollar Store….
    Listen, people have been busting their nutz forever trying to figure out how to break the Etsy nut…..
    All I can say from experience, is that I was used to wrapping at least 1 to 4 or 5 packages DAILY.
    Now, it’s one a week, if I’m lucky.

    So, Etsy is dying, at least for MY store it is….and from the word out there…for many others’ too.
    it’s real basic….American Greed…where once, a million is enough profit, now it must be billions. There is never ever enough, and companies will bend or break almost every and any rule to meet profit standard.

    When you stray so far from your core nature…what made you what you are…soon you just become a caricature of your former self. A joke, a laughing stock… It happens with huge companies just as with people.
    Etsy has sold out…I think in very little time here, you’ll find basically just another Dollar Store online….with a smattering of carved spoon makers, and ”’ahem” furniture makers , who rip apart pallets, and drive a few nails in them and call them “coat racks.” Yo, there’s always a sucker out there…”Look’s real wood”. Or someone living on the 80th floor in Singapore who doesn’t get out. much..and they’ll buy this crap.

    As it was suggested earlier..and I’ve done the’s spot on…the average sale price point is around $18.00 on Etsy.. I’ve average my sales over 4 years on that site., and I’ve sold items from $10 to over $200 divide the total profit by almost 1500 sales, and it’s…yep $ 18.00 per sale. Ummmm…that’s if you even get a sale anymore.

    Etsy, eBay, Amazon, Walmart, Kmart online: it doesn’t really matter anymore. They’re all appearing rather the same these days..

    Funny, it used to be sortof cool telling people you sell on Etsy…and hardly anyone knew of it…because it was such a secret little glen of artistry, vintage items, and other woo woo handmade stuff.

    Now, EVERYBODY has heard of Etsy….but for all of the wrong reasons, as Etsy makes the news almost weekly because of it’s unethical sellout behavior It’s kindof sad. Expected, but still sad

    Etsy shop owner now living in my car.. lol


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