Etsy sellers having tissy fits

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Forum topic by Tennessee posted 06-02-2017 12:08 PM 3415 views 1 time favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2901 posts in 3314 days

06-02-2017 12:08 PM

I’ve been a seller on Etsy since Late September, 2015. My main product on there is golf club hat racks. (Not exactly a real woodworking project for me, but easy and they sell.) I also have sold a few acoustic guitar clocks from reclaimed acoustic guitar faces where I manufacture a back, and various bandsaw jewelry boxes and some wood/metal artsy stuff, like steel roses in wooden vases, etc.

Etsy is in a transition right now, as a new CEO is on board rebuilding the brand. Layoffs have occurred, and changes are afoot. Especially in the front end for sellers, all the menus have changed as they make huge software changes to enhance the mobile app buying experience, a long standing weak spot for Etsy. Obviously with any change, all the change haters and scare mongers are out in force trying to sell Etsy as NOT the place to be. They could not be more wrong…

I read in their forums how bad sales are, how views and visits are down, but I’ll be honest, for me it is just a great place to sell and my sales are climbing accordingly.
Through the end of May 2017, compared to 2016, my visits are up 91%, my orders are up 300%, and my revenue is up 349%.
Although the numbers look big, I am still small potatoes and in reality I have just sold my 91st sale. But I did 91 sales on Etsy from the pleasure of my home in about 18 months with my average sale North of $41, and I believe I am on track to sell 100 golf club hat racks by the end of 2017.

So if you are an Etsy seller, or thinking of going on there, don’t let the scare mongers drive you off. Yes, some of the older sellers are seeing lower visits, but when I look, it is almost always people selling cloth items, jewelry, or antique stuff. It may be more of them just running their course and having huge competition since those kinds of sellers are a dime a dozen on Etsy. Also, more Asian sellers are onboard, and most of them are in the jewelry/clothing categories.

And although I think there fees will go up a bit this year before all the changes are complete, for me, 20 cents to post a four month listing, and only having to pay 2% fee for sale to Etsy, and the usual 2.25% fee for credit cards and Paypal add up to a fairly low cost platform to enhance your sales.
Way easier than setting up a tent in a hot festival and being on my tired old legs 12 hours a day for three days…

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

17 replies so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

24923 posts in 3905 days

#1 posted 06-02-2017 12:38 PM

That great that you are having such success. You must have a good product at a good price for the customer.

I have been on there for a few years. This year I changed credit cards and forgot about ETSY. They sent me a notice and I updated it that day. In about a week they sent me another notice that my site has been pulled off ETSY because I did not have a valid credit card. I called and had them check their records for the update I did a week ago to correct that and then they wrote back and said they found it. I told them if it takes that long to electronically get their records straight, how long would it take me to get paid if I sold something on there. I left ETSY and did not go back and re enter it all.

I’m glad you are have success with them!!

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View DocSavage45's profile


9001 posts in 3642 days

#2 posted 06-02-2017 05:35 PM

Hey Paul,

been awhile since you’ve posted?

Been reading the same thing about ETSY. where else can small potatoes compete? LOL! Many artisans are in areas that have Gallieries that they work with and that’s good or Art shows , and that is a lot of effort, sometimes weather or type of customer does not play well. And there are others who are in remote areas?

I’m glad ETSY is working to increase sales. That’s what it is all about?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View rodneywt1180b's profile


185 posts in 1186 days

#3 posted 06-03-2017 04:07 AM

I signed on to Etsy at the end of November 2016. Yes, they’ve changed things a bit but so far it hasn’t had any negative effect that I’m seeing. Change isn’t necessarily good or bad. It’s just change.
I’m pretty happy with the fees too. I think I’m paying around $0.20 per 4 month listing then another 3.5% to Etsy off the sales price and another 3.5% for using their financial services. 7% plus $0.20 is worth it to me for the convenience. Cheaper than your average consignment store. They also give a small break on shipping charges using USPS so I get a couple dollars back there.
Overall I’m happy though I do see a lot of complainers on there.

-- Rodney, Centralia, WA, USA

View OnhillWW's profile


246 posts in 2032 days

#4 posted 06-03-2017 12:51 PM

I’ve been on Etsy since 2012. I have seen quite a bit of change since then. True enough that the price structure and product exposure is great as a seller.

HOWEVER – they have moved away from their original mission if you will which was to feature vintage items and handmade items. They have broadened their definition of “hand made” to an absurd level. The original format built the brand and attracted an audience which sought quality goods and was willing to pay for it. Over the years it’s been a slow race to the bottom. If I took a brand new, off the lot car and changed the color of the tire stem valve caps to a different color I could now list the car as “hand made by me” – ridiculous. They have watered down the offerings to the point where I personally know people who used to shop there regularly and have stopped doing so. As one put it – it used to be a nice stroll through a high end craft store now it feels like a flee market. All of this was exacerbated with the stock offering; the focus moved to pump up sales volume = $$$ and let the integrity of the experience degrade. I have no issue with their move into offering craft supplies, that is fine, I have made many purchases from such vendors. If you tailor your search to seek such items they are there for you. But if you apply the filter to display “handmade” goods you will be inundated with hot off the CNC machine, laser engraver and minimally modified asian imported trash.

I have no quarrel with their offering such items but they need to curate offerings better and create a category for such goods so that original and handmade goods can be spotlighted in a search if that is what the buyer is looking for.

-- Cheap is expensive! - my Dad

View ArtMann's profile


1480 posts in 1616 days

#5 posted 06-04-2017 12:17 AM

How do you define “hand made”. Does it include stuff cut on a table saw? How about stuff finished with a HVLP sprayer? Should the wood be planed by hand or is it acceptable to use a thickness planer? What if an item like a wooden box was made “by hand” but includes a carving on a CNC router or perhaps a laser engraving? Does that cancel the “hand made” status? Why is the use of one modern electrical machine acceptable but the use of another modern electrical machine is not? We think it is odd, or even laughable, that the Amish chose an arbitrary snapshot in time as the correct level of automation for their lives but aren’t we doing the same thing when we condemn certain arbitrarily chosen tools? If you carry the definition of “hand made” too far, you are going to limit yourself to tools made from sticks, sinew and chipped flint rock. Everything else is modern “machine made” work.

I make coasters, trivets and cutting boards using original designs by my wife, who is a graphic designer by trade. I use traditional cutting and finishing techniques but I use a CNC router to make the relief cuts, inlays and engravings. I freely admit the use of such machinery. If I used traditional carving skills, my products would not be affordable to the average buyer because of the amount of labor required or I would be giving my products away at a few cents an hour.

I would never want a product that is made in a factory to be labeled “hand made” but the stuff I make is made with my hands using traditional 20th century woodworking methods and CNC technology and should not be labeled “machine made” either.

I think the majority of the people who look down on CNC woodworking as somehow inferior haven’t the slightest idea of what it is or how it works. It is absolutely not as simple as designing something on a computer and then letting a machine make it. It requires far more skill and experience than most other woodworking tools.

I don’t sell on Etsy, because I don’t need to. I want people to see the quality of my work in person. Then they will understand why I set prices the way I do.

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3314 days

#6 posted 06-04-2017 01:07 PM

Doc: Yes, been a while, been too busy to post. The Etsy format fits me well, and so far, my sales show it.
Inhill: I understand what you are saying, it is all over the posts in the forums on Etsy. But to be honest, there are just as many people like me who keep trudging on, sales in hand, and as long as those continue, I could care less about how watered down it gets. If you have something somewhat unique on Etsy, more than likely it will sell. And that is the way I look at it.
ArtMann: I can appreciate how you want to present your things. Your products, your way. But I recently met a fellow who builds wooden guitar holders who is on Etsy. His products are totally made with a CNC unit, in 3-D relief. Dolphins, Lions, Trees, all kinds of things on round and square plaques that have an extension on the bottom where he attaches the standard guitar hook for hanging the instrument.
He gets fairly good money for these, in the $60-75 range. He has sold 63 of them in the last three years. Not steller, but not bad for doing basically nothing but building them. Definitely not hand made. He calls himself simple Guitar Wall Hangers.

So I guess it is up to the artist, on how they want to show the world what they do, how aggressive they want to be.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View OnhillWW's profile


246 posts in 2032 days

#7 posted 06-04-2017 03:20 PM

When a seller buys a box or trivet or coaster in bulk (usually made in asia) and monograms it via CNC or Laser Engraving I have an issue with that falling into the “handmade” category. Items like that water down the listings and people give up on a search especially on a phone when they are inundated with these ads while looking for original handmade goods. I also have an issue with sellers who make items out of pine and stain it walnut then list it as a “Walnut FILL IN THE BLANK”. Pure deception, call it walnut colored or something like that.

I do not have an issue with any goods being offered on Etsy, i.e. I don’t think that they hurt the brand or site by doing so. BUT I do have an issue with their search filters. I do not buy into the “well if you use a power tool it can’t be called handmade. Beyond that I will not get into the debate – most reasonable shoppers looking for a handmade item know what they are looking for and items from a “Things Remembered ” type store are not it.

-- Cheap is expensive! - my Dad

View r33tc0w's profile


192 posts in 1284 days

#8 posted 06-04-2017 03:53 PM

Etsy’s search engine is abysmal. Just search card scraper and you get greeting cards, buttons, weed grinders and clip art. Oh and one card scraper…

-- Matthew 13:53-58

View OnhillWW's profile


246 posts in 2032 days

#9 posted 06-04-2017 04:08 PM

In line with that – If I search for my shop – it does not come up!

-- Cheap is expensive! - my Dad

View nate22's profile


493 posts in 3675 days

#10 posted 06-13-2017 08:05 PM

I’ve been on Etsy since about 2012. I haven’t sold a lot but sometimes it depends on what your selling to. I did get a email from them telling me about there changes though. And that’s great that you’re product is selling.

-- Gracie's wooden signs. Middlebury, In.

View BlasterStumps's profile


1699 posts in 1239 days

#11 posted 06-13-2017 08:40 PM

I narrow my search criteria with the use of the comma, and by using plus and minus keys.
There might be other keys you can use also. When using the plus or minus keys, just put it in front of whatever you want to filter out, i.e. -gemstone.

Etsy s search engine is abysmal. Just search card scraper and you get greeting cards, buttons, weed grinders and clip art. Oh and one card scraper…

- r33tc0w

-- "...I've been through the desert on a horse with no name." So name the damned horse already!

View magaoitin's profile


249 posts in 1749 days

#12 posted 06-13-2017 09:10 PM

Caveat Emptor should be the slogan for Etsy.

To me, Etsy is just like eBay was 15 years ago, and I would be willing to bet in another 5 years you will have to slog through 10 pages of brand new Chinese made stuff before you find anything vintage or actually hand made on Etsy.

As wood workers I think we have a fairly good idea of what hand made is. I don’t know too many people that would consider buying a wood cutting board at Target and routing a 1/2 round over edge on it consider it hand made.

Take that same cutting board and put in in a CNC machine and cut out an inlay, then put another material inside of that, and sand it down, yes, much more hand made, or greatly modified.

This is just an example so take it with a grain of salt, but I recently wanted to buy a pair of welding goggles and happened to searched Etsy using the term Steam Punk Goggles, to see some cool ideas. I found more than a dozen sellers that had obviously bought a $7 pair of goggle from Amazon

and painted them Red, and is charging $30.

I’m not trying to call out this seller, he has some really cool ideas and has embelished quite a few pairs of goggles that I love, but really do you consider this hand made? Obviously hand painted.

You say potato I say pot-ah-to

-- Jeff ~ Tacoma Wa.

View bronzed1's profile


7 posts in 1157 days

#13 posted 06-21-2017 10:43 PM

Etsy is getting hard for woodworkers. There’s so many people and so much stuff(junk). You really have to stand out. I have an etsy account, but I haven’t listed anything on there in a while. Also tried Amazon Handmade, but I cancelled that account. Etsy no longer seems to care about handmade. As long as they can make money they look the other way.

-- gives woodworkers more exposure and therefore more sales.

View DocSavage45's profile


9001 posts in 3642 days

#14 posted 06-22-2017 12:45 AM

Just listened to “Market Place” with Kye Risdal and the talk was about Etsy. Just laid off another 15 percent of their workforce. It seems they may be returning to the thing that set them apart which is people made and hand crafted. We shall see???

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View rodneywt1180b's profile


185 posts in 1186 days

#15 posted 06-24-2017 02:55 AM

I use machines for roughing out my canes but final shaping and sanding is all done by hand. I don’t mind the use of machines for making things. I think the defining thing for me is “made by an individual” instead of an assembly line type of set up in a factory somewhere.

Doc I really hope you’re right.

-- Rodney, Centralia, WA, USA

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