Thursday, August 25, 2011

How to Not Hate Etsy

Remember when I broke up with Etsy? Seems like it was only yesterday, but it's been more than 18 months! So much has happened. Etsy has changed. I've changed.

It's not what it sounds like! I'm not going back to the way it was before, the endless forum-haunting, photo-tweaking, and re-listing. I just think there may be a place for Etsy in my life; my expectations are different this time. For one thing, we won't be exclusive. Etsy was never committed to helping my business. I know that now. Et$y is only after one thing. But I know what I want out of the relationship. All I really want is the Facebook tab.

Yes, that's right. I am doing it for the Facebook tab. Which isn't even a tab anymore but a tiny little link on the lefthand side.

This all came about as a result of all that math I was doing a few days ago. I left out a possible way to increase to kiln yield strictly in terms of dollars, and that is to sell more retail. Right now I have several big consignment and wholesale accounts, but only a few friends to whom I sell retail. (I used to sell to my friends at half-price, which I called the Friends & Family discount, but then it stretched to included acquaintances and co-workers and friends of friends. How do you tell someone, "I'm sorry, but while Suzy is a close enough friend to qualify for the F&F discount, you are not. It was a near thing, but I have to draw then line somewhere." Basically everyone I ever met was getting the half-price deal, which was unfair to my wholesale accounts, so I stopped doing it. Now it's immediate family only, and they are usually getting seconds anyway. But I digress.)

So. I needed a way to offer items for retail sale. I do sell through the sister blog to this one, but Etsy provides a way to showcase multiple items at once, and to have those items available on Facebook whenever anybody happens to want one. And it's only 20 cents every four months, per item.

So it's time to bury the hatchet with Etsy. With that in mind, I've compiled this list of all the things that drove a wedge between Etsy and me in past attempts. Here are my Top Ways to Not Hate Etsy:
  • The very best way to use Etsy and not hate it is to be a shopper. It's a lot of fun from that vantage point.
  • Stay out of the forums! This deserves subsections:
  • They are hatcheries for drama. I really don't give a shirt about resellers on Etsy, or someone copying someone's design, or what everyone thinks of the new relevancy search.
  • I can't resist clicking on those "Here's how I made a bajillion sales yesterday, and you can, too!" threads. Every single one of them was a list of things I was already doing ("Promote! Change your photos! Re-write your listings! Relist frequently! And if you are doing those things and the aren't working, do them more!" It's really frustrating and aggravating, so it's best if I just don't read them.
  • There's a creepy dynamic there between true believers, who worship at the church of Etsy, and people who apparently think Etsy is genuinely evil and yet they still keep selling there. Don't get sucked in.
  • Don't fall for that re-listing scheme. The more sellers relist, the more sellers need to relist to stay high in the search, until the ideal time between relistings is infinitely brief, and everyone is relisting everything, always. Counting on shoppers finding you through searching your category is a losing battle. Sure, it can happen, but when it does, it's like found money. I found $60 on a bar floor one time, but I wouldn't write it into a business plan. In fact:
  • Don't count on Etsy for anything. Money in the pot is the pot's money. A listing is 20 cents every four months, for which you get a link through which someone could buy something. It's up to you to do everything else to get the link in front of people, or nothing at all; it's only 20 cents.
  • Don't pelt your Twitter followers with links to your listings, unless you want them all to hate you.
  • This one might be specific to me, but I am choosing the "Made to order" option this time. Not custom -- perish the thought! -- but I will make pieces as people order them. That way I don't have to have a bunch of inventory here, languishing, when it could be sitting on a shelf somewhere, selling or helping something else sell.
I guess that's about it.

Just don't say "I told you so."


Patricia Griffin Ceramics said...

I love this line in your post: "I found $60 on a bar floor one time, but I wouldn't write it into a business plan." That's great stuff... Good info on Etsy too. Thanks!

barbaradonovan said...

heh. I can't help but think of visiting the Etsy forums as heading downstairs into a creepy basement. I only go there if I notice a strange change on the site and want find out what's going on. Only lurk. Never comment. Some of those people are scary....

- Cindy - said...

No listing fees and just as pretty (if not more) than Etsy.

Lori Watts said...

I considered Artfire, but while I was considering, they changed it up and now you have to pay a monthly fee, $12.95 month, which ends up costing a bunch more, unfortunately.

Truly Unique by Elise said...

I'm glad that I'll be seeing some of your work for sale online...I've been following you for a while. I totally agree with you and your Etsy philosophy. I'm on Artfire mostly now, but for a 4 month run, Etsy might not be bad for some extra exposure. If you stay out of the drama there :)

Lori Buff said...

"Don't pelt your Twitter followers with links to your listings, unless you want them all to hate you."
Nothing will get me to unfollow someone faster than seeing a long list of the stuff they posted on etsy. I like to read interesting tweets, an occasional etsy item link is fine but it's not fun or interesting and doesn't make sales.

Lori Watts said...

I agree: I don't think boring people into making a purchase is particularly effective.

Unknown said...

I really appreciate this post. I have been on Etsy for a year now and have finally reached your same conclusion. I use it as a way to get word/work out there. At first I was stressing over thinking I needed to list daily, then it went to weekly and now it is just when I can. I am less stressed and any sale that happens is okay. I even took things down at Christmas because I wanted items to be available to local customers. Luckily, I didn't have an interest in the forums so that hasn't been something that has been an issue either.

Unknown said...

You may want to check-out and as good alternatives.
If you want something different try out, I registered on and seen some sharp increase in the traffice directed to my website.
Unlike easy and artfire they are not restricted to handmade, I get to promote to a bigger audience (all design buffs).
The best about storemate is, I get to help out my customers in real-time using their ‘Talk-About’ feature. Helping out with questions on custom options, shipping queries etc in realtime.
I even passed on exclusive discounts to them during these help-out sessions, which turned casual enquiries into quick sales and followers for me.
I have been Storemate’s “Featured Designer” for 3 weeks, straight! ( My proud moment!)

Lori Watts said...

Hi Riley - Although I technically still have an Etsy page, I decided that if I am going to be doing all that promoting, I should probably be promoting my own website instead.