It amazes me how many people still haven’t heard about Etsy.com —what a wonderful site for all of the handcrafted, vintage and artistic-type items that you used to only find at flea markets and craft shows.
For over 8 years, Etsy, based in Brooklyn, NY, has been allowing independent artists and collectors to sell a wide range of products including art, photography, clothing, jewelry, food, bath and beauty products, quilts, knick knacks, food items, and even toys. Think of it as eBay for crafts and vintage items. My wife and I have been big fans of the site for years and our home décor features all sorts of Etsy found items. Heck, we even buy our two greyhounds handmade collars from Etsy because it’s one of the few places that you can find nice martingale collars appropriate for the breed.
So other than finding some really cool stuff, why am I focusing on this site? Well, quite frankly because there is a wonderful business opportunity there for the person just starting out with their craft or truly niche business. Rather than building your own site, all as you need to get started is a PayPal ID and some great photos of your products. From there, you can set up your own Etsy shop within a few hours that will be exposed to a world of people looking for quality products much like the ones you produce. And it becomes easier to succeed there than floating out on the interwebs.
And this of course comes with a price. In addition to a $.20 per item listing fee, they also take 3.5% of the sell price when your item sells. But isn’t this worth the exposure and marketplace versus spending thousands on a custom store?
There have been many success stories including this recent article on CNN about Heather and Michael von Quilich who make customized holiday stockings, party hats, and baby bibs. It all started out with a sewing machine and now they have an entire family business built from their success on Etsy. And that success is possible for anyone with the right idea and determination to make it succeed.
By no means am I saying you shouldn’t build your own e-commerce site to sell your products. But if you are just starting out, sometimes the expense of doing it right with a custom design and all the features and functionality needed to sustain and expand a business can be outside the realm of budgetary possibility. So, establish yourself using a large marketplace like Etsy. From there, build your Etsy following and show that you are a dependable seller. Build fans and maintain relationships with them on social networks. Once your products are proven and you have a following, invest in your brand & identity and expand into a larger e-commerce presence of your own. That’s when you’ll find a cost reduction because your sales will dictate that the cost of investment in a new site will outweigh the ongoing transaction fees from Etsy.
And then of course, give us a call. We’ve had plenty of experience working with independent artists and crafters to get them their custom store up and running and even a few of them started out with Etsy!