Wow! I can’t believe how much dialogue Tuesday’s post generated! If you haven’t read through the comments (43 so far!), I recommend you take a look. There have been some really great, well thought out responses.
I wanted to clarify something that came up in the comments. I don’t think that Etsy is the cause of the culture of cheap. The low pricing happening on Etsy is a result of our widespread love affair with cheap, massed produced goods, which has been going on for decades. What is frustrating is that Etsy has done nothing to position itself, or handmade, as the antithesis to cheap, disposable goods.
That being said, its only fair that I also point out that I have no intention of taking down my Etsy shop anytime soon. And I would still encourage anyone thinking of setting up an Etsy shop to do so. Etsy still remains an easy, low cost way for makers to develop an e-commerce website. (Though there are other e-commerce solutions, but we’ll talk about those another time.) There are some fantastic shoppers on Etsy who aren’t motivated solely by price. (Hooray for them!) And while its not a perfect system, as a shopper, I appreciate the ability to favorite a shop or an item. And as I seller, I appreciate that this helps spread my shop around the site. Overall, I still think its worthwhile to be on Etsy.
But I also think its important to view Etsy as one tool in the maker/seller’s toolbox, not a solution to solve all our financial woes.
As Charles mentioned in his comment, one of the best ways to drive sales on Etsy is to promote OFF Etsy. I know if you read a lot of tips on how to boost Etsy sales, they will tell you to relist often and promote your work in the forums, but those things don’t work for me. Truthfully, the forums make me want to stab a pencil in my eye. My most successful sales weeks on Etsy have come when I’ve gotten featured on a big name blog. And I can honestly say I’ve gotten sales by tweeting about an item. And years when I did a lot of retail craft shows, many of my Etsy holiday sales came from cities I had done shows in. (Coincidence, I think not.)
I do think buyers come to Etsy looking for handmade goods. Hopefully, if those of us who make fair priced work continue to list and promote both on and off Etsy, we can help buyers understand that shopping for craft should not be the same as shopping the bargain basement sales.