If you want to sell your handmade, vintage, or supplies online, Etsy seems like a good place to do that. But I also hear a lot of people who seem to think it’s too expensive, too hard, or who have other complaints.
So is Etsy a good place to sell online? I asked members of my two Facebook groups for Etsy sellers what they thought, gave them three options (yes, no, and it depends,) and this was the result:
I polled 513 Etsy sellers, and of those, 386 said yes, 4 said no, and 123 said “it depends.”
They also offered some reasons for their answers, so read on to see those.
Table of Contents
- Why Etsy is a good place to sell online.
- Why Etsy isn’t a good place to sell online.
- Why the answer to whether Etsy is a good place to sell online is “It depends.”
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links that will pay a small commission if they’re used to purchase something.
Why Etsy is a good place to sell online.
The vast majority of people who said that Etsy was a good place to sell answered that way because of the traffic that Etsy is able to bring to the site, along with the fees that are lower than a lot of other online or in-person venues.
Dougie, owner of Shadow Myths, put it this way, and a lot of people agreed with him:
“The reason is that marketing is built-in. People always tell me about the ‘fees.’ I treat the fees not as the cost of selling on the platform but as the cost of marketing my products to people who have no idea who I am. Etsy’s organic search allows people to find me who never would have found me unless I paid for a lot of advertising. I can still get found for my products on Etsy without the advertisement costs.
“To get found on the web or any other platform that does not have organic search, I’m required to advertise or use a mailing list, which is the same as advertising to my current customers who saw me in public or who randomly happen to come across my website.”
Lori, owner of Lori’s Laboratory, points out that opening an Etsy shop makes it easy for people who are just starting out, but adds that you’ll still have things to learn. “It’s a popular, visible platform with millions of buyers and it’s easy to use. It’s by far the best place to get a handmade business going.
“Just remember that having this platform to create listings doesn’t mean you don’t have to learn how to run a business if you are more than just a hobbyist (there’s marketing, product creation, pricing, financials, photography, social media…)”
Cheryl, owner of Cheryl Kumiski Glass Studio, points out the convenience of not having to rely only on in-person shows. “I tried all of the other venues for 35 years. Galleries across the country, art shows across the country. Always a crap shoot if a show will be successful, always high overhead to do them.
“Gallery costs are 40-50% of the retail price of a piece. Etsy fees are low compared to all of the show and gallery fees and I love staying home and having more time to design.”
Becky, owner of Becky Sue’s Creations, says “Yes Etsy is a good place to sell, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t work or that you can ‘set it and forget it.’ Like anything, it is the seller’s responsibility to find out what you need to do to be successful and to follow the rules, etc.”
Alix, owner of SimplyLamayed, agrees that Etsy’s fees aren’t as bad as a lot of people seem to think they are. “It amuses me when people don’t want to sell on Etsy because of the high fees. You couldn’t sell in a local boutique without paying way more fees. An ad budget to drive sales would cost more than 6.5%. It is a built-in audience ready to buy! It seems like the ones who complain just do not get the cost of doing business!”
Anne, owner of Anne Londex Glass, says “Still yes for me. That’s not to say it’s easy, though!”
Lisa, owner of Spangler Stitchin’ Station, says “Yes it’s a good place to start but you shouldn’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”
Why Etsy isn’t a good place to sell online.
Only 4 people responded “no” when asked if Etsy was a good place to sell, and nobody left a comment about why they felt that way!
My guess would be the common complaints of the cost of offsite ads, the lack of customer support for sellers who have time-sensitive problems, the constant algorithm updates, and the increasing number of shops that are selling mass-market merchandise and claiming that it’s handmade.
These are all legitimate complaints, and they’re also things that some of the people who said “it depends” mentioned.
Why the answer to whether Etsy is a good place to sell online is “It depends.”
Most of the people in the group who said that it depends responded that way because they noted weaknesses in Etsy’s overall setup, or things like a lack of attention to shops that are violating the terms of service by doing things like selling manufactured products. A lack of customer service was also a common complaint.
Jan, owner of Gallery28, noted that price was an issue for the type of artwork that she sells. “It depends on what you are selling. My three-figure original paintings? No. Giclee prints at under 80 bucks? Yes.”
Darron, owner of Vintage Imagery X, says that it’s not a guaranteed money-maker like some people want to portray it. “It depends…It’s like everything, you have to put in the time to learn the platform. Don’t expect to put your new idea out there and make millions without doing some research. I see so many dead shops, I really would like to know the percentage of those compared to active shops, and not Etsy’s idea of “active.” I mean shops that have daily or weekly sales.”
Jan, owner of Patch Haven, points out some things that a lot of Etsy sellers complain about, which is the constant tests and experiments that Etsy runs. “It depends, takes work for sure, but the platform, like Etsy ads, really sucks sometimes, especially if there’s competition. I still enjoy the platform, but I always feel like I’m at the mercy of someone else’s whims, like when they’re doing search tests.”
Tracey, owner of Tracey Lipman agrees and says “Yes BUT…Don’t put all your eggs into the Etsy basket. Etsy used to be ‘do this and you will get sales.’ There are now so many variables, many out of our control.
“My main market and customer base used to be the US and I did well on Etsy. With all the changes it has become a lot harder for a non-US seller to sell to the US.
“I also feel Etsy has been flooded with cheap Chinese products, which are impossible to compete with. I sold over 70 bags and wallets in two local sales this past week. I can’t do that on Etsy anymore. Etsy has become my side hustle, rather than my main income.”
Molly, owner of Moonlovers Magick, agrees about the problem of the mass-market merchandise that Etsy allows on the platform even though they say it’s not allowed. “I’d say yes overall, but it’s not as good a platform as it used to be. It’s a yes because it has a huge amount of built-in traffic, setting up a shop is easy for beginners, the barrier to entry is low, and the fees are lower than other platforms.
“BUT the flood of cheap mass-produced items, heavy saturation of certain products, and undercutting make it a much less beneficial market for items like jewelry, digital, and heavily competitive products. That makes it a no for certain items.
“I’d say it’s a great additional source of income and exposure paired with a website or for really unique items. But if your product is not a standout, it’s going to be lost in a sea of sameness and cheaper prices. Add in constant algorithm changes that feel rather desperate on Etsy’s part and I’d say it’s not as ideal as it used to be.”
Lynne, owner of Our Seasons Past, made another good point about the Etsy search algorithm, which was about the importance that’s placed on selling the same thing over and over: “Etsy is more conducive to selling handmade than vintage due to the way the algorithms are set up, mostly due to the importance of recency.”
In general, the opinion of active Etsy sellers is mostly that Etsy is a good place to sell, but that it’s not the guaranteed easy money that a lot of people make it out to be. It definitely has flaws just like any other platform, and it’s not something that you can ignore if you want to make an actual income with it.
For more articles about selling on Etsy, click here to read the Home-Based Business topics on this blog.
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