The Great Debate

whos louder

Has anyone read this article that came out yesterday on CNNmoney.com about Etsy? It seems like there are a lot of people on both sides of the fence here. Whether you love it, hate it, or love to hate it- I think its safe to say EVERYONE in the handmade community has an opinion about Etsy. Here are a couple of note-worthy quotes from the article:

Etsy, boasts 2.4 million registered members in 150 countries. Its more than 155,000 active vendors sold $58 million worth of goods in the first five months of 2009, doubling Etsy’s sales volume over the same period last year. Despite the recession, the site facilitated sales of $87.5 million in 2008 and is expected to break even for the first time later this year.”

“Etsy actively markets itself as a venue where the arts-and-crafts set can achieve entrepreneurial success. Kalin often talks about creating an economy of diverse owners. Each week the official Etsy blog, called the Storque, runs a feature called Quit Your Day Job, profiling sellers who have stopped punching the corporate clock. Yet Etsy spokesman Adam Brown acknowledges that the “vast majority” of sellers use the site as a ‘secondary source of income.’ Some Etsy sellers say the Quit Your Day Job campaign doesn’t jibe with reality.”

-From The Etsy Wars

This is quite a topic! What are your thoughts? Weigh in below in the comments section. And on a lighter note, don’t forget to enter this quick-to-enter contest for a surprise gift from papernstitch…contest ends tomorrow at 8pm eastern.

image c/o Who’s Louder via Maureen Fischinger

3 comments | Click here to reply

I think that Etsy is just a venue and a lot of people open up a store on etsy thinking they’ll make some handmade stuff and other people will flock to them to buy it. That’s just unrealistic and it’s probably not going to happen.

It’s just like opening an actual store and sadly, there’s just as a high. Perhaps an even higher failure rate because it’s easier for people to open an online store then a brick and mortar store. People want the money to flow quickly but don’t realize just how many small businesses stay in the red for long periods of time before they catch their big break and start making money. There’s a reason most small businesses fail within the first two years and opening on Etsy isn’t going to change that

Amanda

Amanda, I think your point is insightful. You are probably right that there are some people who come across a site like Etsy and think to themselves, ” Well if they can do it, so can I”. And may decide to open up a shop without much thought or planning, simply because they see that others have had some success. But as you mentioned, Etsy is a venue: a tool to help people sell their work. Its not a magic wand or potion, and if you put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, or you are lacking quality products, it is going to be a long journey…there is a lot of elbow grease involved in having an online shop. That’s for certain.

On the other hand, there are also those shop owners who make great products and are incredibly talented (and may even have a business plan) that might have very low sales. Which could be for a variety of reasons…one of which being visibility. With over 150,000 shops, it can be difficult for people who might like your products to find you sometimes, even with the available searches, categories, and gift guides.

So where does that leave crafty business owners?

papernstitch

I think that the sheer number of people on Etsy does make it hard for people to get noticed on the site, but I also notice a lot of sellers trying to sell to other Etsy sellers instead of figuring out their target audience, where those people surf the web and advertising there instead.

Craftcult.com is a huge seller tool for me and I often see people mention advertising on it which strikes me as odd. Although I love selling to other Etsy sellers, they’re not who I advertise too when I advertise. I try to bring my sellers to me/my store instead of opening on Etsy and expecting it to be enough.

I asked some friends (who also happen to be the type of people I try to market towards) to give me a list of sites they visit daily. I then went to those sites and shortened the list to sites with advertising opportunities. From that list, I figured out which ones I could afford to advertise on and got to work. It was a bit of leg work, but I’ve seen a lot more hits (and sales) to my store after doing so.

A successful store on Etsy is either a lot of work or a bit of luck (usually a mix of both imo). You need that one big site to notice you and it seems to snowball from there. So you do what you can to get noticed without seeming like a self serving tool that’s only posting to get noticed and you keep churning out quality product. It takes a bit of time to spread word of mouth (even with the internet) and perhaps that’s what’s missing from the equation. Most of those “quit your day job” people spends gobs of time every day on their store and then have spent quite awhile slowly building it up. Success doesn’t come overnight but quite a few people I know seem to expect it to happen right away. They opened a store, filled it with pretties, and give up before people can take notice of them. Just like a b&m, you have to give the store time to mature and get a following and you need to have a plan on how to make a living until your store is successful enough to support you.

Amanda
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