Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Thoughts On Being an Etsy Seller

Recently I read an article on "Inc.com" about the scalability of Etsy and whether or not Etsy owner Rob Kalin is capable of taking it where it could potentially go.

I was struck by the comments left following the article. It is my opinion that online forums and comment sections are pretty toxic places. Everyone and their brother can spit out their criticism, whether or not they've got any real qualifications to do so. So in short, I usually ignore the comments because I tend to get annoyed by the "Know-it-all" factor.

But this time I read through several of the comments. It seems that many Etsy sellers are relying on Etsy itself to bring them traffic. While I agree that Etsy should be motivated to make Etsy a great stream of traffic for any given shop, I totally disagree that it is the only way a shop should be getting traffic.

If a shop has crappy products or bad prices, why would Etsy be to blame for failure?

If a shop has poor customer service or bad photos, why would Etsy be to blame?

If a shop does not promote itself via business cards, social networking, good packaging and so on...why would Etsy be to blame?

I read the comments and find it fairly simple to understand why most businesses do not succeed on Etsy. It is unrealistic to assume that if you create a shop, no matter the quality of the products, marketing and so on, that the shop deserves traffic and sales.

M Design Boutique gets a good deal of traffic from Etsy. More than many other shops. Here's why:
  • I list new products every day if not every week.
  • I use every single "Tag" I can (up to 14 are allowed)
  • I take time to give good, thorough descriptions
  • I price my items so that I make money, but do not expect more than fair market price for handmade items.
  • I spend several hours a day promoting my shop via social networking. This means facebook news posts, tweets, commenting and becoming fans of other businesses, supporting business I love with links and comments and seeking out new ways to get my shop in front of people.
  • I put my shop links in the footer of every email I send
  • I pass out business cards everywhere I go
  • I spend a portion of my sales income on packaging, labels and new product development
  • I answer messages from buyers within hours, if not minutes of their inquiries.
  • I make products that the public wants
  • I make custom products
  • My products are professional
  • My photos are professional
  • I write articles all over the web about what I make and offer how-to info
  • I blog about my work and my shop
  • I am experienced at making what I make
  • I watch my sales and traffic stats to understand my market, my customers and my profitability
So...that is all on my end. Not Etsy. Not search engine rankings, and not Rob Kalin's business decisions. Etsy sellers need to buck up and get to work depending on themselves for sales. I get very tired of hearing people say that they tried Etsy and nothing happened for them. It is not a magic wand that makes sales happens. It is good old hard work and professionalism.

I hope that even if this upsets anyone, they will have learned that successful Etsy sellers are not just lucky. We're working hard in inventive, creative ways to keep our businesses flowing. We're offering things that the public wants, rather than what we want to make...and in many cases, we're lucky enough to have those things be one in the same! I have been perfecting my workmanship over 20+  years to have the level of quality you will find in my shop. So yes, I will get more sales than someone who just started making candles. I am a digital designer, so yes, I will get more sales than someone who doesn't know how to design custom labels for products and packaging.

Its like anything else. If you're better at each piece of the puzzle than someone else, you'll be more successful. So work on getting better every day! Learn why you're not making sales, and get better!

Stop holding everyone else responsible for your success or failure and watch what happens! You'll find that you've just given yourself control over your own success. That's pretty cool!

I say GO ETSY! I also sell on Artfire, in brick and mortar shops, on other websites and so on. Don't put all your eggs in one basket...but uh...Etsy's basket is pretty great.

Have a great day and I wish all of you success!


  1. Thank you for writing this! I will come back often to follow your advice!

    Homemade Breads, Brownies and Cookies

  2. Thank you Gypsie. You might consider leaving your website address under your signature so that people can visit your business if they are so inclined! Opportunities to spread the word are EVERYWHERE!

    Be sure to understand the etiquette of leaving your link places, and contribute helpful and friendly comments with your link!

    Thanks for reading!
    M Design Boutique

  3. I love the advice! I agree...in order to make Etsy work we must bring the people in! I have used your advice and have made decent sales since I started in January 2011. You come into my thoughts every time I list an item...


  4. Thanks Pearle. Glad to hear of your success!