When you make handmade items or you deal in vintage things, it can be difficult to establish a viable sales platform on your own. This is ultimately what the goal of Etsy happens to be: to help individual crafters become sellers of their wares for a minor investment. If you’re thinking about opening an Etsy store, then here are the pros and cons you’ll want to think about.
What Are the Pros of Etsy?
1. There is a lot of potential traffic available for your Etsy store.
If you started your own website, it could take years to build up the same level of potential traffic that Etsy can provide on day one. Millions of unique visitors come to the site every month, looking for specific items to meet their needs. These are people that generally want to buy and if your store is live, they might just want to buy from you.
2. It is super simple to get started.
It literally takes 15 minutes to get your Etsy store up and running with products for sale. The same can’t be said about your own unique e-commerce platform. Instead of worrying about the font you want to use or what credit card processor you’ll need, you can focus on making things to sell and then listing them in your store.
3. You have an internet full of resources available to you.
There are many Etsy sellers that are generating tens of thousands of dollars in revenue every month. Their experiences are widely shared online right now, allowing you to learn from their experiences so you can build up your own store brand on this site. Seriously. Just search for “Selling Tips on Etsy” and see what your results happen to be.
4. There is a collaborative community.
Etsy from the very beginning wanted to focus on the community of sellers above everything else. Sellers share their tips and experiences freely with one another so that everyone can find a path toward success. You can mentor, be mentored, and make money all at the same time doing something you really love.
5. Sellers get to work at their own pace and on their own time.
Running a store on Etsy is one of the easiest ways for someone who specializes in handcrafted items to open their own business. Some jurisdictions may not even require a seller to obtain a business permit to begin selling products online. There are very few barriers to entry with this platform, allowing sellers to work when they want, set their own prices, and work at their own pace.
6. Etsy encourages sales to new stores.
Many of the algorithms on Etsy are designed to drive traffic to new stores, which means there is a good chance that your items can be at the top of search listings right away.
7. Listing fees on Etsy are just $0.20 per item.
Those items can remain active for 4 months, which means you’re basically being charged just a nickel per month, per item to list it. There are very few platforms that offer such a low rate and the listings can be renewed indefinitely, no matter how many items have sold or if the listing has expired. This rates are valid for 2016 at the time of writing, but are subject to change at any time.
What Are the Cons of Etsy?
1. The online market has become saturated with handcrafted and vintage goods.
If you started an Etsy store 5 years ago, there might have been a dozen sellers in your category. Today there will almost always be thousands. This is because Etsy has opened up their platform to mass producers in addition to the “Mom and Pop” craft shops and individual sellers. With the economy in the tank for many as well, Etsy is a low-cost viable option to bring in some cash to pay the mortgage or rent as well. This makes it really hard to establish a brand new store.
2. There will always be copycats out there.
It’s so bad, in fact, that the copycats will duplicate your images and your product listings in an effort to scrape some business away from you. It’s tough to prevent this from happening unless you can show Etsy that the listing has been image-for-image and word-for-word copied from you, but you can set yourself apart from these copycats by offering world-class products.
3. It is difficult to ignore the fees that are on Etsy.
Sellers have fees they face on every platform. It’s just the cost of doing business. The listing fees, PayPal fees, and other cuts from the product that get taken must be taken into account when setting the price of the product on Etsy, however, otherwise a seller might not make enough on the sale for a profit to be realized.
4. There are limited branding opportunities.
Etsy typically allows a store to have their own banner and their listing images. Outside of that, pretty much everything is standardized by the platform and that can create a look some sellers may not necessarily like.
5. Etsy has full control over your store.
Because you are selling on Etsy, it is the platform that often has the final say instead of the seller over what happens at the shop. The platform can shut down a store if they want immediately and without warning if a rules violation is believed to have occurred. Etsy might even decide to stop doing business altogether one day and close completely.
6. Search engine optimization is virtually impossible.
Many Etsy sellers like to say that you can either please the platform or please Google, but you can’t please them both when it comes to SEO. You’ll have to decide if you want to try to pull in traffic from Etsy as your main source or get traffic from off of the platform and then stick to your efforts for best results.
7. Other sellers might undercut your pricing structure.
One of the most common ways for new sellers to take business from established vendors is to offer a lower price. Even if your pricing is on point and your profit margins are slim, there’s going to be someone else who is willing to take an even lower profit margin. You’re almost forced to keep tweaking your business to make your products competitive to the new sellers that keep flooding Etsy with listing.
The pros and cons of Etsy are both encouraging and discouraging. It takes a lot of work to establish a brand on this platform, but the reward is the possibility of high-level income from the comfort of your own home. If you create handcrafted items or focus on the vintage market, then it is definitely worthwhile to take a closer look at Etsy as a way to increase your revenues today.