When people think of Etsy, they think about handmade handmade goodies and crafting supplies. A whole handmade movement is in our existance, thanks to Etsy and sites like HANDMADE PLEDGE.
Etsy grew very large, very fast. It all began with the dedication and vision of creator Rob Kalin, who launched the site in 2005. Originally something sustainable to encourage crafting, it has opened doors for people to work from home. Imagine all the stay at home moms, college students, and retired grandparents who are now able to make extra money. Last June 2008, they hit a million members. Having the backing of big names like Martha Stewart who has featured Rob and Etsy more than once don’t hurt either.
In addition to shopping, you’ll be happy to know that Etsy features a bunch of great material, that you can read and learn from. THE STORQUE is a plethora of do it yourself videos, blogs, and information waiting to be had. FORUMS have the Etsy community and staff talking about anything and everything. I have to confess, I try to be an artist, but I’m no where as good as some. Take Sushipot for example, she blows me away with her unique creations. She has two stores going strong and is a success story on Etsy. There are so many talented crafters who have a real gift, like Art Goodies. Her stuffies remind me of something I had as a kid and aprons remind me of grandmom’s kitchen. I fell in love with Etsy, when I was able to learn how to make everyone their own gift boxes out of scrap paper–via this video from Mary. It saved me shopping time, money, and gave me a new skill. If they can make a crafter out of me, they can make a crafter out of you too! Make sure to check out these areas as they are absolutely FREE.
Shoppers will find that compared to other sites, Etsy sellers are a breed of their own. My first buying transaction was the modern day equivalent of PLEASANTVILLE and it scared me a little because it was so perfect. I was sent a free thank you gift and it blew me away. I’m happy to say that I now share that same experience with others, no matter how chintzy it is, I learned it’s the thought that counts. This is a place where “Have a Nice Day” is a common phrase.
What most people don’t realize is that Etsy also allo sellers to sell Vintage items, which by their definition is an item at least 20 years old. BUYING VINTAGE a great way to keep excess used items out of the landfills and a big hit with environmentalists. (GO GREEN!) Each item you buy something used, you are recycling. Each item has it’s own special history and can bring back memories of yesteryear.
At any given time you will find almost 200,000 vintage listings on Etsy from shoes to old wood blocks.Vintage clothing which had almost 41,000 items listed today, appears to be a big seller Purses and table linens, retro kitsch, paper ephemera including old photographs, and old books are just a few items you might want to check out. . Vintage, estate, and retro jewelry had over 34,000 listings today. I must admit, I love vintage kitsch and my favorite is the plethora of plastic fantastic melmac dishes. You can find the toys you once had as a kid, dolls you saw at Granny’s house, country barn items, estate sale finds and even vintage decor like these birdhouses made out of vintage parts. Next time you are in the mood for a one of a kind gift, try the vintage search on Etsy. I must admit, I was shocked that the 1980’s movement is so big now. That makes the styles I wore in school vintage, which makes me vintage, so I suppose soon I’ll be listing myself; buyer beware.
Etsy is a GLOBAL MARKETPLACE, which means you can buy and sell all over the world. About a third of my customers are international. Believe it or not, you can ship items under three pounds, using the United States Postal Service First Class International for an average*** of $15 and less to countries like the United Kingdom, Finland, Canada and Australia. Up to four pounds costs a tad more. These countries don’t mind paying, as the US dollar is down, and it’s a real bargain for them. (***For up to date shipping information, visit the USPS website for an accurate quote.)
Vintage on Etsy is growing. Sellers are banding together in groups such as the Etsy Vintage Team, This group is close to 200 members, and chats weekly focusing primarily on promoting Vintage within the Etsy community. These sellers have over 75% vintage in the stores. Some vintage sellers have two stores, keeping their handmade store and their vintage store separate. Others like ArtsFarm combine everything from vintage to handmade jewelry, making it a one stop shop.
You’ll be happy to know that Etsy tries to keep things real. Feedback is in place to ensure smooth transactions. There is also a type of quality assurance in place. Any item that does not appear to be truly vintage, or is misrepresented, or strikes you as inappropriate ANYWHERE ON ETSY, can be “FLAGGED” by hitting a small “report this item to Etsy ” button. A member of Etsy Staff will contact the seller and ask them to investigate their listing and to take the appropriate steps to ensure it is being labeled properly,. Items listed incorrect. offensive, or inappropriate items will be removed. With so many new reproductions of old vintage out there, even the most honest seller can be unknowingly fooled. Often times you can use a conversation button to talk to the seller to ask more questions about the item. These balance and check features contribute to keeping Etsy’s quality of items higher and to maintain those within the categories of vintage, supplies, and handmade.
My prediction is more sellers will be flocking to Etsy to sell the aforementioned items. Opening an Etsy shop is much more cost effective anyhow. Etsy gives you free shop set up , and has tools such as free banner creation and lots of selling suggestions. Etsy allows five photos per item to show off your listing which is included in your listing fee of only .20 per item. Want to know the best part? Listings last FOUR LONG MONTHS and items sold only cost you an additional 3.5%. More information can be found here. Relisting after four months is easy as pie and can be done at the touch of a button.
Handmade items that are listed contain searchable titles, descriptions, material, and filter tags. Vintage items however, do not get the same exposure . Though all the fees are the same as selling a handmade item, certain beneftis are lacking. The big problem is that vintage description text is no longer searchable, although it was originally. Vintage sellers now are forced to work twice as hard and often speak out about their dissatisfaction about this. Even with this issue that negatively impacts me as a seller, I still overall love Etsy. I keep the faith that they will remedy this situation.
Etsy uses the state of the art technology on their site. You can keep a favorites list (by shops and by items) You can easily view purchases and sales. You can create Etsy Mini’s for free and neat treasuries of items. Sellers are able to track the web hits (visits) to their shop daily by a new Google Analytics partnership, and that is just another free service. You can search for items by color , My favorite tool is The Geo-Locator 3 . This allows you to search for item by location, and just think, there may be someone near you who is an Etsy seller. What a way to help support your local community!
What about the overall flooding of the marketplace? Some sellers complain of low exposure and within a few months of slow sales close their store. As with anything, there are no guarantees but there are plenty of useful FREE tips and tools available on Etsy to help you succeed. I didn’t even know about all these goodies when I joined. It wasn’t until I read three hours worth of material, was I able to turn my shop from no sales to sales I’m happy with. I learned so much by reading the Etsy Seller Handbook . I learned via the forums and chat rooms that successful sellers blog, self promote, and use name branding. They ensure their items are listed in the proper categories with the correct tags, and read the community postings for suggestions. They make every shopping experience a memorable one and enter contests for more exposure. Using these FREE tips have been known to increased sales and all can be found talked about on the Etsy site. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to be featured or discovered by the Etsy Community either.
In addition to the free services, Etsy also provides paid ad-ons that you can purchase to help you promote your store and feature key items. These services ranges from listing your item in daily galleries by category, or listing in a main showcase, Sometimes you can even buy special partnership print ads such as being featured in a Mary Englebreiht’s Home Companion magazine. These spots fill up fast and all have mixed feedback in the forums. You can read up before you purchase. Overall there is proof that all of these items help give your shop more exposure. Exposure is key, even if you don’t make any sales, you are getting your shop noticed.
I’m thankful to Etsy for creating this friendly community and offering an alternative to Ebay. I was one of Ebay’s original customers, and in the beginning I loved it. In the middle I liked it. As of last year, I began to hate it I closed my store and was very dissatisfied as both a longtime seller and buyer, My main gripes were increasing fees, and inaccurate shipping calculators that negatively impacted BOTH buyers and sellers.
After many emails to Ebay’s customer service, I was stuck in automated email response underworld that just aggravated me more. I tested this by typing the following letters “asdfjkl;” in one of my responses, Sure enough they didn’t read it and send another reply which was a reaffirmation of the first three replies. In addition calling in isn’t much better. If you are lucky enough to get a representative on the phone, your are likely to get a scripted customer service response. I felt that the person on the other end of the line wanted to help me, but wasn’t permitted to. In addition to crappy customer service, Ebay’s high listing fees, increased final auction value fees, and monthly store fees forced sellers like me to have to sell for more making buyers angry.
I can’t imagine the influx of new Etsians that will come over from Ebay’s recent “Pay with Paypal Only Policy” payment method. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about Ebay implemented this for “buyer and seller protection” but it simply amounts to sellers having to pay higher fees now to Paypal and being unable to accept checks or money orders. Sellers are angry, but once again, Ebay isn’t listening.
My prediction, having been with them from the start, is that Ebay will survive as it’s huge. It will however suffer collateral damage. I see it turning into a collection of unwanted commercialized trash and overstock. Shipping fees will be so high to offset selling fees, that buyers will shop on other sites like Etsy for handmade, supplies and vintage. They will go to Amazon for books, CD’s and accessories. The will turn to online sites like Overstock for appliances, rugs. They will shop Ikea.com for furniture, and turn to Blue Fly for name brand clothing. The items that will remain will be those items that are always left over from when you have a tag sale, the ones you end up donating to Goodwill. After Goodwill can’t sell them, they’ll go into a landfill.
Ebay will successfully alienate so many buyers and sellers by that point, that any campaign to recover their once loyal customers will fail. This will slowly lead to their demise. I hate to say it, but when you ignore the needs of the customers who made you so big , you become overly greedy, and now you take advantage of people. People wise up, and stop doing business with you, and overall karma will get you in the end. Sad but true.
Therefore I’m proud to say that I LOVE ETSY and I remain hopeful that they will continue to listen to it’s sellers. I hope they fix the vintage search descriptions to accommodate those loyal vintage clients.
?So, the next time you need something special, why not visit Etsy?