Awhile ago I was trying to settle down and really get crackin on my art/craft business. In doing research I read blogs, browsed for competition, and read everything I could about Etsy vs Artfire vs Big Cartel. In the end I decided that I will never sell on Etsy, and in a method of extreme protest I refuse to buy there either.
While I love that Etsy has had a huge part to do with bringing handmade to the forefront, I can see that they’ve become like any other “evil corporation.” They are the Wal-mart of handmade. Yeah I said it, the evil corp Wal-Mart, they are the handmade alternative. (ETA. The below thing turns into a bit of a rant, to skip to a sum up, scroll down. I’ll make it all caps “sum up”)
It all started with pure fun on Regretsy, but that lead to a blog called Callin Out on Etsy. Among other things. Here’s a sum up of what' I’ve learned in all my years of perusing Etsy, and in my recent research:
When you open a magazine and see a glossy full-page ad for Etsy, Etsy didn’t pay for that. They market off those tiny two inch squares in an auction that you have to fight hundreds of other people to win. In reality ALL the Etsy ads you see, all the stuff you hear about, it’s word of mouth. Etsy has thousands of sellers, millions of items, 10 cents per item, they are IN the money. But what do they pay for? They don’t even create the treasury ads for the front page, other Etsiers do that work.
So if they are sucking in money like a giant money vacuum, what ARE they doing? Well it took over a year and a giant petition to get them to add a simple category to the listing choices, so they aren’t working for you (the buyer or the seller).
Work gets buried in seconds, because the search feature doesn’t go by most relevant, but by most recently listed, and have you ever noticed only top sellers are on the first few pages. Sellers have to relist items over and over to prevent being on page 1 zillion. All the more money Etsy is sucking in. Why are they listed by OLDEST first (a feature you can enable, if you pay attention and take the time) or more importantly why not most relevant to your search first?
And the big kicker, they DON’T CARE if items follow the rules or not. If you read a few posts on Callin’ Out, you will see (and they have more then enough proof to back it up) that every day on Etsy thousands of items are up for sale that are against the rules. They don’t police it, that would be a REALLLY hard job, but even when others police it for them, many items are never removed. Recently there was a post going on the official Etsy forum, which said to sum it up “Hey, how come such-n-such a seller is obviously a reseller, and even has reseller watermarks in their photos?” What did Etsy do? They REMOVED the FORUM THREAD, but you know what, last I checked the actual store was still there. Full of mass produced, resale crap. They are NOT vintage, they are NOT supplies. There are thousands of items in almost any category, jewelry, purses, and more. Did you accidentally buy a skirt, then decide you didn’t like it? That’s alright, Etsy will let you sell it. Is a skirt I bought at Target a supply? Ahh, no it’s vintage right??
They don’t care if items are using copyright pictures. I can set up and Etsy store, full of other people’s items, use the other people photos, and apparently Etsy won’t shut it down. It happens, A LOT. It happens with handmade, it happens using wholesale, it even happens with fair trade. It’s ALL over Etsy.
Okay, so I’ve turned this into a bit of a rant, but let me do a quick SUM UP:
Etsy is making BIG money, but allows people to break the rules (even after Etsy is made aware of it.) They don’t work for the sellers. They don’t seem to do any of their own advertising with the money they are sucking in. So what is Etsy doing with the money? What is Etsy REALLY doing for handmade, besides allowing it to be displayed next to wholesale crap made in foreign lands? What is Etsy doing for crafters besides allowing their hard work to be buried in seconds, never to be seen by a potential buyer?
Next time you go to buy that feathery headband featured on the homepage, google “feather headband wholesale” and I bet you’ll find the exact same one. The exact same one only mass produced and sold for pennies.
And why does everyone keep going for it? I have no idea. But sellers, I can tell you this, if you want money from this handmade lover you need to sell somewhere else. I don’t shop at Wal-Mart, and I won’t shop on Etsy.