Is Etsy Worth Exploring?

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For many entrepreneurs and artisans creating physical products, it is natural to explore opening a shop on Amazon, Shopify and Etsy. 

And while much is written about Amazon and Shopify, Etsy seems to be more in the background.

So it begs the question: Is Etsy worth exploring?

What is Etsy?

Etsy is an online marketplace with a global reach.  It is not a fulfillment house – so anyone considering opening up a shop on Etsy handles their own warehousing.

While Etsy’s own website declares it is to ‘Keep Commerce Human,’ Etsy focuses on helping creatives bring their creations to market.  ‘Creations’ as used on Etsy officially includes not only handcrafted items but also vintage wares that are at least 20 years old.  Unofficially, a lot more manufactured items are sneaking their way into the platform.

The marketplace is designed for an audience looking for ‘a personal touch.’  Part of this mission is to help spread sustainability and responsibility on a global scale.

Because of this, Etsy is committed to having low seller fees, training, and education to help sellers get started and tools to make it easier to start selling in the marketplace.

And while Etsy started as a marketplace for unique handmade goods, some of the current complaints are that people are bringing in manufactured goods from China and other locations.

What Does Etsy Offer As A Platform Compared To Amazon And Shopify?

One of the benefits of opening a store on Etsy or Amazon is that buyers are already coming to the marketplace.  Instead of having to figure out how to find buyers, the challenge instead is to figure out how to get in front of the right buyers already coming to the platform.

But wait – what about Shopify? 

Shopify stores, unlike Etsy or Amazon, are separate from an organized marketplace.  So while the store themes are great, you will have to do your own work to get people to come to your store.

Speaking of store designs … Etsy has easy-to-use and easy-to-customize stores (much more so than Amazon or Shopify) but the trade-off for ease is limited design choices.  Amazon is far more limited in design features or custom look.  And Shopify?  You can design beautiful stores with your own domain and still integrate into Amazon.  But in exchange for the customization, Shopify is considerably harder to set up and get selling.

And should you open up an Etsy store and later decide to leave their platform, Etsy makes it easy to download your listing via a CVS file.

Does It Cost To Get Started on Etsy?

One of the ways Etsy brings this global mission to fruition is by making a very low entry point for sellers to get started.

In fact, there is no initial store set-up fee.  Instead, it only costs $0.20 (yes, you read that correctly – twenty cents) per item to set up your Etsy account and list your first item in the marketplace.

And when you make a sale, you are charged a 5% transaction fee on the price of the sale.

By comparison, Shopify has a 14-day free trial but then charges upwards of $29 per month depending on which plan you select.  And while Amazon has a low entry individual seller (under 40 products) for .99 cents per item sold plus selling fees, a business account will run you $39.99 per month plus fees.

On top of that, Amazon charges not only a referral fee per sale but also a UPC code to list each product.  By contrast, Etsy doesn’t charge an arm and a leg for a listing and it also makes marketing and selling tools like coupon codes free and easy.

While the Etsy transaction fee is on the total sale, there is no transaction fee applied to sales tax if you are selling from Canada or the United States.  Sellers outside of Canada or the United States must include the appropriate sales tax in the total price of the item and are charged the 5% transaction fee on that amount.

Like all platforms, Etsy allows you to pay for other elected services should you want them.  There are ad fees, shipping label fees (you ship but use an Etsy label for a third party carrier), and fees when you choose to list an amount in a different currency than what you signed up to use. 

And you don’t have to worry about sending in money to cover the Etsy fees.  Etsy will automatically deduct any fees you owe on a monthly basis.

Does Selling On Etsy Actually Work?

Etsy is an easy place to open a store – much more so than Shopify or Amazon.  That makes it ideal for someone who is first getting involved in running an online store.

But here, too, the ease of getting started is balanced by the struggle to scale.  It is very hard to scale on Etsy.  Many people who start on Etsy gain success and move on to other platforms – or add platforms as they move up the success ladder.

And like any online business venture, it takes a while to get traction. 

Fortunately, Etsy provides tracking tools and insights to help you navigate the shop owner terrain.

Even with this, inventory issues, cash flow, fulfillment, marketing and frustration over the speed of getting regular sales can make new or impatient store owners leave any business.  Etsy is no exception to this.

So if you are looking to sell on any of the platforms – Amazon, Shopify, or Etsy – be realistic about what is involved and how long it will take to get traction.

But Can You Make Money On Etsy?

If you are impatient, unwilling to learn, or limiting your listings to just a few items, it will be nearly impossible to be successful on the platform.

And if you try to open a store without a plan and informed strategies, it will be hard to succeed.

In all online businesses, it takes time for many to get one sale per day. And of course, it depends on what one is selling.

But for those committed to having a business and willing to invest the time and attention to building a store, it is clearly possible to do well.  From what can be gleaned from reports, ‘doing well’ can mean getting to six to seven figures a year on Etsy alone.

Just like with any online business, getting to six and seven figures appears to be the exception rather than the rule. 

And also like any online business, those who work with someone familiar with marketing and able to help carve out the right strategy (one for jewelry will be different than for vintage home goods, for example) for a specific market and product will save time, money, frustration and likely – ultimately – success.

Of course, the first strategy is going after the right market.  Keep your audience specific and narrow enough that people looking for your product will find you.  

And then provide them with an amazingly clear description so they can find your products and differentiate them from the competition is key.  Then, deliver an incredible product and an even better customer service experience.

Don’t Go It Alone

Etsy is committed to helping creatives and vintage sellers get their crafts and products into a thriving marketplace.

And from reports, it seems that Etsy has served 1.8 million sellers do so.

It’s a low-cost entry into an online store. 

Just be willing to up-level platforms when the time to scale arrives.

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About The Author

Laura Rike

Laura Rike is a Pinterest Powerhouse. She helps high-performing business owners, content creators & influencers (like YOU) grow PROFITABILITY the right way with SUSTAINABLE systems, so you can be found first without tantrums over tech and trading sleep for success. She has helped clients and students bring in over 50k+ in revenue month after month. Laura’s clients have become industry leaders with 6-figure and up businesses, most now found on page one of Google and growing sustainably with targeted email leads daily. With over 3.2 Million monthly viewers on Pinterest alone, Laura has been featured as a guest on podcasts like Ultimate Marketer, Twin Cities Collective, and Small Business Revival

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