On the blogesphere there is no shortage of posts that are critical of Etsy. I have written quite a few critical posts myself such as the Etsy 20 cent addiction. At the same time I, and many others, sell and buy on Etsy.
There are several reasons why I decided to sell on Etsy. First, Etsy is a known entity; people know the brand and generally trust it. Two, Etsy does have a large customer base of buyers and users. Third, after talking to many sellers and buyers Etsy came off as the best after weighing all the trade-offs. Fourth, Etsy does have a supportive community.
Etsy is a known entity. Talk shows, such as Oprah and The View, have praised Etsy. Major news outlets have done stories on Etsy and magazines have said Etsy is a great place to find good deals. This publicity has paid off by making people who like vintage and hand made goods go to Etsy. I remember a few months ago that I told someone I sold on Etsy and they said “It’s like Ebay, but for handmade stuff right?”
With a larger amount of people knowing Etsy has not been a 100% good either. More scammers and con-artist have been attracted to Etsy (myself the victim of one). In the long run though the more people using Etsy the better.
Large Customer Base
There is no denying that Etsy has lots of registered users. In addition Etsy also has plugged itself well into sites like Google Checkout, giving Etsy more exposure. Other sites have a small percentage of users, which means that fewer people are exposed to your stuff and will want to buy it.
This large customer base was by far the biggest factor for me when I decided to sell on Etsy. At the time that I joined Etsy the only popular outlets devoted to selling handmade goods were Art Fire, 1000 Markets and Etsy. Art Fire really has very few users and almost every seller I know on Art Fire also sells on Etsy. 1000 Markets was purchased by Bonanza, an Ebay clone. I am so glad that I decided to go with Etsy.
Talking to Sellers and Buyers
Before I set up my shop I talked to several people who sell on different sites. All of these conversations pointed in the same direction: Etsy is the best of them all with the fewest negative features. From the seller’s side this had more to do with the fact that Etsy has a pretty easy to use interface and doesn’t charge too much in fees.
At the same time very few of the sellers I talked to gave Etsy anything above mediocre praise. None of them said Etsy was the greatest thing ever to happen in their lives or say that it will change the commerce world. Most of the sellers responded by saying “it does help me sell but it does take a lot of time to manage my shop.”
Buyers generally liked Etsy because they trusted it. Either they have bought items from Etsy in the past or knew other people who had. Another reason why buyers like Etsy is because it is cute and fun. These buyers felt that sights like Ebay where sterile and boring.
A “Supportive” Community
I know the above heading will gain a bi-polar response. One will be “Etsy is super supportive!” and the other will be “Etsy never helps.” Well, both experiences are true and I have experienced both of them. The forums and the Etsy staff can be very helpful when used properly. I have gotten great advice from reading forums and spending time in chat rooms. Also, the Etsy site staff has responded to some my issues relatively quickly.
At the same time I have encountered some mean and rude sellers and customers on Etsy. I don’t know if these people are mean and rude in real life or just because they are online. I just learned I had to have a tough skin in order to deal with some of them.
In addition, I have had some long delays dealing with problems with the Etsy staff, including canceling sales or not having an item shipped. I won’t lie, it did leave a sour taste in my mouth, but at the same time losses are part of any business, and the mark up is meant to help cancel those losses.
Deciding which website to sell your goods is a tough choice. It is similar to choosing the location of a shop in the brick and mortar world. A considerable amount of time and energy should be put into it and hopefully it will pay off. For me the biggest factors for deciding on Etsy were the facts that it was known and had lots of users. I also knew I needed a site where my higher end jewelry would not be completely overshadowed by cheap stuff from China, although this does still happen on Etsy. The key thing to remember is that no site is perfect and to carefully weigh the good with the bad.
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