Thursday, 10 March 2011

Selling on Etsy

This is Ruth from Nice Day Designs, I originally posted a shortened version of the following article on my blog last week and it started some discussion, Purls thought it might be a pertinent read for the team since we are all in the same boat.

At the start of January I decided I was going to rejuvenate my Etsy shop, I've been selling there for 2 years, but I was never able to get sales moving consistantly. I started putting items in it other than my pocket mirrors, things like brooches, buttons rings and earrings. I love that my mirrors and badges sell well, but I wanted my items to reflect more of the crafts that I make. I spent time on improving my photos, as we all know quality pictures are key to selling on etsy and I've noticed the general quality of images has really improved since I started. I went to Maplin and bought a table top studio designed for taking quality images of small items. It's great as I can take pictures at night and not worry about lighting, which really frees up my schedule. I also thought about making my pictures more dynamic in an effort to get into more treasuries. I also took note of things like views and page visits on craftopolis , and even took out a one week ad. I shared more of my items on facebook, which is also linked to my twitter account. On top of that I've started blogging again which I'm sure helped a little too.
The results being that for February I double my etsy sales from an average taken for the previous few months, which is pretty good going since they were over xmas. I think a lot of that was down to the facebook badge I designed for Valentines, it was really popular and brought a lot of traffic to my shop. I also more than doubled the amount of unique visitors for the month.
For those of you starting out I don't want this article to come across as moany, I know I was baffled when reading in the forums why people were only giving out about 1 sale per week when I would have been delighted by that. Now that I'm a few years down the line I understand where they were coming from. I'm now doing this full time and I need to be more mercenary at how I divide up my work time. Even though I love etsy, and the community, the question needs to be asked 'does etsy pay me?'.

At the end of all this I'm still unsure if it's worth the effort, as these takings are still only a small portion compared with what I sell at the market. But I suppose in these 'interesting' times we are in at the moment the idea is to take whatever I can get, mush it all together and hopefully at the end it amounts to an income! It's satisfying to be able to make something at home, and within a half an hour I've taken photos and listed it online, ready for the open market. At the end of the day I want Etsy to be part of my business and I can't see myself closing my shops, but it's good now and then to take off the rose tinted glasses and really look at the reality.

How do the rest of you feel who are working/selling on etsy?


  1. I think that is a very realistic view Ruth, Etsy selling can be very time consuming and frustrating even though I love Etsy in general. I know some people will disagree with that but I do actually think selling different types of products in one shop attracts more attention as opposed to have a shop for each stuff. But all in all, it's often a labour of love isn't? smile, Virginie

  2. Great article, and I agree with everything you say, Ruth. I spent so much time online that I have to drag myself off to make things! And in my case, it hasn't paid off at all.

    However, neither have the markets - I spent a lot of money I don't have on stall fees and got little return, and I hear much the same from other small craft businesses here. So, in a way Etsy is handy - you don't have to stand in the cold and have customers wanting Primark (Penny's) prices for your handmade goods!

    And what I love about Etsy is this team! That's what's keeping me there :)

    Oh, and I have put a question in our discussion forums about the amount of online shops you can run before you do nothing else, so if anybody has a view on this, please go over!

  3. Great post! I'm not a seller, but a buyer...however, still found this incredibly interesting. I love reading how products are made and the process to get them sold.

    Thanks for sharing your work!
    Rambles with Reese

  4. Important topic Ruth.

    I'm happy to supplement my part time income with a sale or two, but I'm not getting a return on the amount of time I am putting in. But no way am I giving up!

    I have a burning need to create and Etsy enables me to keep doing that. It pays for itself and a little more. There is also nothing like the joy of knowing something you made is making someone happy, perhaps on the other side of the world. But if I were depending on art for a living I would be in a sorry state if I approached it the way I am doing now!

    I need to examine how exactly I spend my time and to address the balance so that I get back what I put in.

    Pricing is another point to ponder. Etsy are always telling us to value our time and to beware of underselling. Some shops seem to do well online with small, low-priced items going for a higher turnover of product not unlike a sweetshop/newsagent. Others go for high end, charging high prices in the knowledge that what they made by hand will be bought eventually by someone who appreciates the value of that once-off, high quality item that will last longer. The trouble for most of us is that we fall somewhere in between, but is that because we place ourselves there?

    Much to think about. Thanks for bringing this up.

  5. Thanks everyone for your response-I was nervous about posting this here, I didn't want to come across as ungrateful for the success I've had so far.

    Vivi-yeah I agree, I already run 2 shops, I don't want to add a third. I like seeing variety, ones it all matches in some way. It's definitely a labour of love!!

    Purls-markets can be funny, sometimes it's means having to change at the market you sell at. I've been to craft fairs where sometimes people just don't sell at them, but they sell very well somewhere else. It could be a case of there being too many knitters, or that people go to that market for something else. It's a very tricky balance. It can take years to find the right one. It took me 5 years!!

    Shopgirl-thanks that's really good to know a buy was interested, I didn't want to scare any buyers away with my doom and gloom questions :)

    Anne-Marie- definitely that is what has kept me going, I love thinking about where all my creations have gone. I can never see myself giving up. I've just had to make myself ask the tough questions since I went full time at this :(
    Pricing is hellish. My friend who makes silver is always giving out to me for underpricing, compared to the time I put in. I always has to be balanced with the perceived value of the piece too. If something is made of cloth,felt,paper, people expect to pay a lot less that precious metals. It wrecks my head.

    I really want to write a rant about how the recession has pushed people over the line from discerning customer, into a rude customer for asking for too much discount (at markets) but I think I would scare away all our buyer readers!!

  6. Ruth, that rant sounds like another interesting blog article :)

    I am all ear...

    We are all buyers, too, and it's not bad to get a nudge now and then - I recently was at a well-known high street shop, looking merrily at the sales until the thought struck me 'I wonder how much they are paying their workers for this...?'

    We are bombarded by the message to buy cheap, cheap, cheap without any regard for the value of the item and the hard work that goes into it, and the recession has made this worse, because a lot of people just can't afford things like they were used to.

    But maybe this is exactly the right time to examine one's buying habits and attitudes...