Making Money Selling Crafts On Etsy - Crafty Business Online

Your Craft Business: Should You Sell Your Artwork On Etsy?

Are you a crafter? Do you sell your finished products? If you’re not doing so already, then you are probably pondering the possibility of selling your items online. But where should you sell them? There are a proliferation of sites which you might consider. One of them which you may already have heard of is etsy.com. As far as craft-specific niche sites go, it is probably the most well-known and popular.



If you’re thinking of signing up with Etsy, what things do you need to consider? Probably the first issue on your mind is whether craft items actually sell well on Etsy. As far as total turnover goes, this Etsy page claims that a million items were sold on the site in just four months in 2007.


Making Money From Crafts: What Items Sell On Etsy?

Perhaps a more specific and useful question to ask is, exactly what crafts and what items sell well on Etsy? Popular opinion seems to be that baby items sell, that jewelry is death to sales (partly from saturation) and that supplies and vintage are a solid route to regular sales. Obviously, sellers of a particular hot item on etsy who are having their sales go through the roof, are unlikely to be sharing that information with the rest of us anytime soon. Certain products which have sold well in the past are common knowledge on the site, e.g. decorative scrabble tile pendants. These may not be good predictors of what will sell in the future, however.


Second-hand Goods and Antiques: Selling Vintage On Etsy

Vintage itself is a perennial hot topic on Etsy. Technically true vintage items (i.e. over twenty years old) are welcome to be put up for sale on Etsy. In practice, vintage sellers may feel themselves rather less than welcome on the site as far as crafters are concerned. You might describe them as the red-headed step-children of Etsy. On the other hand, as long as you’re getting sales, then who cares? Sticks and stones may break your bones, but dollars are money in the bank, baby! Of course, actually sourcing vintage items to sell may present problems of its own: the guidelines and definitions for vintage have been getting stricter and stricter on many sites for some years now. And competition for the choicest, most potentially lucrative items is ever keener and keener, as more and more potential dealers wise up to the opportunity.



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Public domain image.
Public domain image. | Source

Potential new Etsy sellers may reasonably ask, “Well, why should I choose Etsy in particular? Why not one of the other sites out there – it’s not as if there’s any kind of a shortage.” This is a good point: there are a lot of other sites out there where crafters and sellers of vintage goods can lay out their wares and hopefully make a few sales. The mighty giant of Ebay is one (though according to rumour the giant has shrunk a bit in recent months). Alternatively you can take your pick amongst Ebid.net, Folksy, Bonanzle, Artfire, Atomicmall, Ecrater and a good many others too.

Branching Out With Your Business: Alternatives To Etsy and Ebay?

So is there anything special about Etsy that should make you pick it over and above these other sites? Well, it is a craft-specific site, which is something going in its favour. Not all the aforementioned sites can claim this (with the exceptions of Folksy and Artfire).

Another alternative to selling on Etsy (or any other ‘hosting’ site for your online sales ventures) is to get your own website. This may involve some expenditure for hosting and a domain name, and possibly someone to build your site if you don’t fancy the work and learning curve involved. However the upside is that, once done, you’re looking at zero listing fees and zero final value fees. You can’t beat free!

It’s not always necessary to shell out for hosting, even. You can make sales from a free blog, courtesy of a Google Checkout or Paypal button installed via a little bit of code. Of course, these kind of options do not automatically provide the kind of traffic and easy sales that a large and popular site such as Etsy or Ebay can provide. You have to do some marketing and make some effort to get any sales.

Saving Money: Listing Fees and Final Value Fees For Selling On Etsy

You can also look into selling at craft fairs if you like to provide in-person customer service. However, be warned that this option has a list of expenses and stresses all of its own!

Is Etsy expensive to list on? Fees are a subject close to the hearts of those attempting to make a living from selling online! Well, it’s certainly cheaper than Ebay! (But then again, so is almost anywhere and anything.) A $0.20 listing fee will get you a four month’s listing – bargain, huh? Until recently that provided you with exposure on a level playing field with all other listers. However, be warned: there are rumblings afoot of something approximating Ebay’s ‘Best Match’ (haha) search in the pipes. And we all know how well that turned out!

Final values fees are 3.5%. Again, something of an improvement on Ebay.

Craft Community Strife: Problems On Etsy

So what’s it like to sell on Etsy? How is the whole general experience? The site itself is pleasant to look at, clean and clear. The listing process is rather laboured: a trawl through numerous pages, waiting for each to be accepted prior to loading the next. Oh, and if you want a sometimes hair-raising experience, go and have a trawl through the forums! This is where the grievances, scandals and regular bug-bears of Etsy users get aired – frequently! There are also many helpful and pleasant posters, I should add: you find what you look for.

Based on my personal experience I would say that admin sometimes deal with the forums in a high-handed manner, disregarding criticism and locking threads at will. (Now where does that remind me of…?) The politicking and persistent issues that are brought up in the forum can also be both wearisome and worrisome, e.g. accusations of admin favouritism when it comes to front-page spots for sellers, and re-listing fees (and the issue of whether to re-list at all). It seems these issues are insufficiently addressed if they come up so frequently.

Your Craft Business: Can You Make Money On Etsy?

Your choice of whether or not to list your craftwork on Etsy may come down to whether you view your crafting activities as a hobby or a business. If you find that you perhaps turn a small profit but not enough to justify expending great amounts of time and energy on the site (as many do, networking, marketing and socializing through the forums) then you may prefer to exert your energies and use your time more productively elsewhere. Certainly some sellers claim to make a full-time living on the site. If you doubt it then you can check out the 'Quit Your DayJob' section in the Community pages of Etsy.com. However, a trawl through the forums reveals many, many more sellers having trouble even making that first sale (and others who will snipe, with how much accuracy who knows, that many of the 'Quit Your Dayjobbers' have a financially supportive spouse or part-time job backing up their crafting venture.

Should you sell on Etsy? Only you can decide in the end. If you choose to take a punt with a couple of month's listing fees, it's not a huge gamble: and perhaps it may just pay off! Whatever you decide, I wish you the best of good luck with all of your future crafting and business ventures.

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Comments 2 comments

Sandra Akins profile image

Sandra Akins 5 years ago from Georgia, United States

I have sold a coupe of things on Etsy but not enough really to recommend it to anyone else. The listing fees are very low though and that is nice.

However, now that Christmas is past, some folks that were doing pretty well with sales have seen their sales totally stopped, I mean nothing at all sold since December 2010. I think a large part of this is due to the economy and the fact that so many people are out of work and making crafts and so the market is flooded with them.


chicklit 5 years ago

cool, i never heard of Etsy. Thanks.

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