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Selling Handmade: Etsy vs eBay

Updated on May 19, 2014

Etsy and eBay are the first sites many people consider selling on when they begin to sell handmade items and/or supplies, but how do you decide between the two?

Each one has it's pros and cons and which one you should use would depend partly on what you want to sell. For some people it might be a good idea to use both!

So to make it easier to decide which one is best for you, here are the pros and cons of both...

You can sell digital items for Instant Download on Etsy!
You can sell digital items for Instant Download on Etsy! | Source

Selling on Etsy

Etsy is an online marketplace dedicated to handmade items and supplies. It has become a major part of the handmade industry and boasts millions of buyers and sellers worldwide.

Pros

  • It has a large audience which makes it fairly easy to get 'natural' traffic
  • Etsy allow the sale of digital goods and you can even upload files for Instant Download.
  • When listing, there is a button you can tick to let people know you are available for custom work.
  • There's a large online community built in, with teams and forums so it's easy to find support from fellow sellers.
  • The layout is is easy to use when buying and selling
  • You can upload 5 images per listing with no extra fees
  • The fees are low with 20c (about 13p GBP) listing fee and 3.5% end of listing fee.
  • You can accept various forms of payment including Paypal and Etsy gift cards
  • An easy to use Etsy Mini Widget to embed into websites/blogs
  • Facebook 'like' and Pinterest 'Pin it' buttons on every listing, encouraging sharing.
  • Nice layout
  • As of October 2013 you can use dropshipping services, but you are responsible for the service.
  • You can get 40 free listings when you refer friends who then open a shop (they get 40 as well)

Cons

  • Highly competitive and easy to get lost in the crowd (it sometimes feels there's more sellers than buyers)
  • The teams can feel spammy, with most only interested in promoting their own listings.
  • A large amount of low quality and/or copyright violated products
  • You can't alter the price or quantity of each item when listing a product with variables
  • You can no longer give feedback as a seller.
  • Etsy have been known to close shops without warning
  • A mostly American audience, so sellers outside the US may find they have a smaller audience, or have to compete with US sellers who can charge less shipping.
  • When listing in quantity, you are charged per item so if you have 10 of one item you will be charged 10x20cents.
  • No Auction format, Buy it Now only.
  • Using outside manufacturers must be approved by Etsy first.
  • The new guidelines allowing outside manufacturers and dropshipping has led to an increase of cheap imports, watering down the handmade message Etsy were known for.
  • Plain text only in listings (though some could argue this looks neater)

eBay has a great system for selling variations of items- perfect for selling supplies
eBay has a great system for selling variations of items- perfect for selling supplies | Source

Selling on eBay

I doubt there's anyone in the Western World who hasn't heard of eBay. It's one of those sites that has quite literally changed the world. From people making a few quid to get them through to the end of the month, selling their unwanted items; to others creating highly successful businesses through the online Auction marketplace.

Pros

  • Everyone knows it!
  • First 20 listings of the month are free (private sellers only)
  • Different types of account depending on selling volume
  • Auction listings starting at 99p or less are free to list.
  • Frequent free listings days throughout the year.
  • A huge amount of natural traffic
  • When selling in Buy it Now format, if you sell more than one quantity you still only pay one listing fee (40p or 20p in certain categories such as books)
  • You can list variations of an item, each with it's own photo
  • Different sites for different countries
  • You can give feedback as a seller and respond to feedback given to you
  • It's easy to buy and sell~ especially as you can link your paypal account to your eBay account
  • You can buy and sell in Buy it Now and Auction formats
  • You can allow people to make you a 'best offer'
  • If you sell supplies, eBay allow you to use dropshipping services.
  • share buttons (though very small) for email, facebook, pinterest and twitter
  • eBay money back guarantee for buyers (feel safer so more likely to buy)
  • HMTL allowed in listings
  • Buyers can add your items to their watchlist so more likely to come back and buy later.

Cons

  • There is a huge amount of cheap imports to compete with
  • Extra photos for one listing cost extra
  • Easy to get lost in the crowd and end up losing profits when trying to compete on price.
  • Not exclusive to creative items, so handmade has to compete with mass produced.
  • You are not allowed to sell digital goods
  • Quite steep fees with 40p/20p listing fee and 10% end of listing fee
  • No links to outside sites allowed
  • Listing an item can be slow and 'buggy'
  • Relisting an item automatically sets the listing to the original quantity not the quantity after any sales.
  • With eBay Outlet, you are competing with big brands

Which do you prefer?

See results

eBay vs Etsy

As you can see each site has it's different pros and cons.

As a general rule, I personally would sell digital and higher quality/priced items on Etsy. On eBay I would sell cheaper products and ones that are more country specific or want to gauge interest by using the auction format.

I hope this list has been helpful to you! Which do you use? Let us know in the comments below :D

Quick Comparison

 
Etsy
eBay
Listing fee
20c (about 13p) per product (not per listing)
First 20 Listings each month free. 30p Buy It Now (20p in certain categories). Free for Auctions starting at 99p or less. Other Auctions vary
End of listing fee
3.5% of sale
10% of sale
Formats
Buy it Now
Buy it Now, Auction and Best Offer
Digital goods?
Yes, with Instant Download
No
Listing duration
4 Months
Buy it Now, up to 30 days. Auction, up to 10 days
Photos
Up to 5, all free. No zoom
Up to 12 (fees can apply). One photo free per variation of listing

Comments

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    • KarenCreftor profile image
      Author

      Karen Creftor 3 years ago from Kent, UK

      My pleasure! Thanks your comments :D

      Sushma, my shop is DavellaHippygeek. I found you on there and have followed x

    • Sushma Webber profile image

      Sushma Webber 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Hi Karen, I will look for you too. What is the name of your shop? Mine is BeyondMindfulness.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I have not had too much luck with Ebay but a friend use to sell at Etsy and I am thinking of trying there. Thanks for the info. ^

    • fathomblue profile image

      fathomblue 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Very informative lens. I really appreciate the comparisons explained.

    • KarenCreftor profile image
      Author

      Karen Creftor 3 years ago from Kent, UK

      My pleasure Sushma, I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

      I sell digital too so am on Etsy, I'll look for you on there!

    • Sushma Webber profile image

      Sushma Webber 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for the article with pros and cons of both sites. I sell Instant downloads so Etsy is the best option.

    • KarenCreftor profile image
      Author

      Karen Creftor 3 years ago from Kent, UK

      Thank you for your comments :D I'm glad you like the article!

      I totally agree, it really does depend on what you are selling as to which site you use.

      Both do have cons, but I personally do use both as the pros are worth it. There are a couple of new things I've learnt today, so will update the hub shortly. I will update this hub as and when any changes are made too.

      Amanda, that is strange...maybe it's different on the UK eBay, but I can still leave feedback as a seller. I totally agree that handmade needs to be treated differently to mass-produced!

      ~Kaz x

    • jantamaya profile image

      Maria Janta-Cooper 3 years ago from UK

      Thank you for this valuable info. Great hub. I prefer Etsy too.

    • Amanda108 profile image

      Amanda 3 years ago from Michigan, United States

      Interesting article! I prefer Etsy for handmade items as people go there specifically looking for the type of thing I'll list and they're more likely to realize that handmade isn't the same as mass-produced when it comes to quality or pricing.

      Sellers cannot leave feedback on eBay either, so that's a con for both sites. A major con, in my opinion. I find it extremely poor business and treatment of loyal sellers who can easily be screwed over by buyers with one-sided feedback.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 3 years ago from Southern California

      How funny I just joined Etsy and about to list items for sale. Thanks for the article Karen. Even with the cons, I think I'll still list.

    • dearabbysmom profile image

      dearabbysmom 3 years ago from Indiana

      In the past I have found eBay shoppers more interested in a bargain than the quality of a handmade item, and had a hard time recouping my materials and time investment. But I can't sell things like household goods on Etsy unless they are antiques. So I use both for the two different types of sales. You have a lot of good and accurate information here, and I like seeing the side-to-side comparison. Voted up and useful!

    • KarenCreftor profile image
      Author

      Karen Creftor 3 years ago from Kent, UK

      My pleasure Purl, thanks for the comment!

      I'm glad you found it useful :D

      Good luck with your sales!

      ~Kaz x

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 3 years ago from USA

      Thanks for this useful information. I've been thinking about listing some items on either etsy or ebay. I didn't know about some of these sites' policies and procedures. These pros and cons are very helpful in making my decision. Voted up and pinned :)