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Monday, July 27, 2009

ETSY?

I'm curious and would like to get some feedback. Someone said to me the other day that I should sell on Etsy. I did a search on Etsy for pottery and there were 57,701 listings. I entered ceramics and there was 67,900 listings. How does anyone sit and go through that many listings to shop for pottery? Also, by the time you price your piece for the economy and the cost of shipping it, pay the Etsy fee, and the tax, take the time to pack and take it to the shipping place, not to mention maintaining the site, do you really make any money and is all that time worth it? I've been hesitant to sell on Etsy because of all of these things and also because I have seen a lot of crap on there. Although, now there are also fabulous potters with Etsy shops on their blogs, so I'm wondering if there are any success stories out there or any "Don't do it" stories. Feedback please............

13 comments:

brandon phillips said...

it is sort of worth it. it is a nice way to get pieces to folks who otherwise wouldn't be able to get them. i add $2 to the price of all my pieces to allow for the time spent photographing and uploading the work as well as packing time, i'm thinking of raising this a bit. i pad the shipping a bit to allow for the price of packing materials. for every sale i made on etsy there was someone wanting to know what else i had available and so i've been able to sell more that way without the etsy fees(which aren't that bad.) (and don't forget to add paypal fees!) the trick with etsy is to get people to your page, i haven't had a single sale from someone who was just browsing etsy and/or didn't know who i was...i think for pottery it just doesn't work that way. all my sales were directed from my blog or to someone i had met at a show. i don't break the bank selling on etsy but $1000-2000 over the course of a year is worth it to me.

Christine--RHP said...

It changed my life. But, then again, I do this to make a living, and had just closed my retail space prior to joining Etsy. Wholesaling wasn't cutting it for me.
There is a learning curve to making Etsy work for you, and it all depends on what you want to get out of it, and what you want to put in. Don't let anyone tell you that it won't be a lot of work. You can list your pots and just let them sit there, but if you don't market your work elsewhere, as Brandon said, not much may happen.
Your work is so appealing--I think you might enjoy a new audience there.

Linda Starr said...

I've considered Etsy but wanted to wait till I was sure I could replace work that sold. Since I'm hoping to sell my home I've postponed signing up, not wanting to gain some momentum only to say I'd be incognito for a while. But while browsing I too wondered how folks even found something they wanted to purchase - there are so many choices of pottery for sale. I know etsy has the etsy mud team and I think a forum where folks network to increase sales. It seems marketing pottery takes almost as much time as making the work. I am wondering why an artist can't sell direct from their blog or website. I've also thought a coop of artists with a studio/gallery space together might work, but location would be key.

Peter said...

Hi Tracey,

I was pleased that you asked the question about Etsy, as it is something I have been wondering about myself. I guess that I have had similar reservations about it as you have, and it will be interesting to read about other people's experiences.

Like Linda, I have also wondered why people don't sell directly from their blogs...? Is it the problem of setting up a secure transaction system?? Or have we signed something that says we can't? Or is it considered bad manners to sell from a blog??

I have been enjoying reading about your raku work that you have been doing lately. I do like your "most favorite" pot, it is really beautiful, and can quite understand why you wouldn't want to sell it!

cookingwithgas said...

we took our shop down. I think it works best if you are not trying to keep a retail space of your own.
The time it takes to shoot pictures of each piece and get them posted was something I did not have the time for.
I may try it again in Jan- but maybe not.

June Perry said...

From feedback that I've read, the people who do well have a customer or fan base that they can point to their Etsy shop. They also work the Etsy system well to get their work highly profiled.

jimgottuso said...

i guess it depends on what you compare it too. for instance if you're comparing it to gallery sales, it's worth it because etsy takes 3 or 3.5% and paypal the same so you're comparing 7% to 50 or 60% in a gallery. i haven't sold much yet and i'm gonna stick it out for a year or two before i decide. i'm convinced that it needs to be worked in their system though, unless of course you have a strong FB, Blog or twitter following and you are just directing those people to etsy. but there's tons of shoppers in etsy that don't know about your blog/FB/twitter etc. so there's more people.

Hollis Engley said...

I just had the Etsy sign-up page up the other day, investigating it. Another friend recommended selling off Facebook, which I haven't investigated yet, though I have a Facebook account. I think it makes a certain amount of sense, since you're getting your work in front of a lot more people than will come to your place to look at pots. Or, certainly, more than come here to my gallery on Cape Cod. From what people like Brandon and Christine say, you do need to maintain the site and make it dynamic and take down pots as they sell and put new ones up. All of which might be more than some people want to do. I've looked at some Etsy sites and seen pretty low-quality work, but you're right, some really accomplished people are using it, too. I'm eager to hear what you decide.

traceybroome@mindspring.com said...

Hi everyone, good to hear from you all. Lots of great thoughts! It all sounds like adding one more thing to my plate, and I don't know if I'm ready to do that just now. Maybe if I quit teaching and Wes goes off to school I can think about online sales. Of course, I could probably make more money on Etsy than from teaching. Also, good point about the $$ to Etsy vs. the $$ to a gallery. Lots to think about. Not sure what I want to do just yet.

Patricia Griffin said...

Hi Tracey - Interesting to read other potters' experiences. I don't have an etsy shop because I don't have the time or product to maintain both a retail space and etsy shop. I think it's really critical to market your shop (in whatever form it takes) to drive people to it.

Meagan Chaney said...

Loved reading over everyone's comments and opinions! I have an etsy shop, and have mixed opinions. I put minimal time into it and have sold several pieces each quarter. Not a huge source of income, but it isn't a time suck right now either.

Mostly, I have it so that when people ask "Do you sell your work online" I can answer "Yes". So potential clients are mostly being directed to Etsy through word of mouth, facebook, blogging and my website. Though I have had sales from people just stumbling across my work in the sea of Etsy listing. My Google analytic for Etsy always jumps WAY up on the days when I list. So that is more people seeing and being exposed to my work.

I keep my prices the same across the board - Etsy, personal retail, gallery sales, etc. If a gallery carrying your work realizes that the same items are cheaper online, it's just bad form. And I always include the cost of packing material in with shipping costs.

Those are my thoughts for now. I hope to expand on my Etsy efforts as time allows, but it's been work the effort I have put in.

Good Luck Tracey!

Mike Barber said...

I am not an etsy expert, in fact I've not sold anything on etsy because I can't keep up with my small retail shop that my wife runs (that's because I don't make much work, not that I'm wildly successful). However, I'm an internet programmer by trade and one side thing I have to do from time to time is help our customers understand internet marketing. I'm in the tax industry and initially many of our customers just think that because we give them a website people would flock to them on the internet and do thier taxes. Of course, that's not true. You should assume that nobody will ever find your website unless you "tell" them about it. How do you do that? Well, facebook, etc have been mentioned and that is correct. But the most common way is through search engine marketing. So you buy keywords to have your ads placed inside or above search results.
Try this experiment. Go to google and search for yunomi. Most of you will see an ad at the top for Kevin Phillips etsy store. PLEASE DON'T CLICK IT. With this type of marketing you pay a given amount (that you bid for) for each time someone clicks your link. It's a science to determine what search phrases to key on. You may have a conversion rate (how many sales do you get for a given amount of clicks) that is very low and then you've spent more money marketing the pot than you can sell it for.
However, if you have a following that lives all over the country and you want a simple way for them to purchase your pots, etsy is perfect. At that point etsy is really just a shopping cart. They come to your site and you direct them to your etsy site simply to facilitate the sale. In my opinion you should look at an etsy venture that way: it simply facilitates a transaction with a customer that you provide. Of course, that is not always true.
Sorry for such a long comment Tracey. I hope I didn't confuse the issue more.

Amy said...

It's been fun to check out your blog. You are so gifted at making raku pieces, for starters.
As for etsy, I have a page that is a direct link from my blog. I think it's a good way to let others see my work, and sometimes it leads to sales that include pieces outside from what's pictured. Meaning, I think it helps to get the interested customer thinking about the types of pieces I have. Plus, the overhead isn't much. Yes, it is alot of work. I think it's a good extra to my blog. I have sold a piece or two straight from etsy though. I heard that the best time to post something is in the early afternoon... and just to post a few items each day, rather than all of them. peace~