Is Etsy too Expensive, or are we too dumb to understand

So, I have a confession to make. I am a Facebook lurker. I tend to read more than I “like” and comment on. I’ve gotten much better recently and started commenting more, and liking posts of friends, and even in a few of the local pages that I have become a member of.  I have to admit though – there are a ton of pages that I have liked over the years and (embarrassingly) utilized a lot of the tips and pointers that they hand out like candy on there, but rarely do I remember to go back and comment or like what they posted.One page in particular, not only do I read their stuff pretty regularly, but I LIKE their stuff to – is Craft Gossip – they have great tutorials, free patterns and great DIY stuff. The other day, they posted an article that I just couldn’t not read. Just based on their link title alone: Has Etsy lost its Indie Cred? And in all honesty the article they linked to was a fantastic article – I love the title of that one even more: “How Etsy Alienated Its Crafters and Lost Its Soul”  because – well… duh. Etsy HAS lost/sold it’s soul. I found myself nodding my head and give mental fist pumps as I read the article.

 

Now, I was one of the first readers of this article, as it happened to be at the top of my feed just as it was posted. So, there weren’t really any comments on it when I opened the article. So, when I finished the article, I was curious if anyone had had the same whiplash from nodding their head as me, so I started reading the comments. (now, I need to remind you – this is a craft focused site) My whiplash and fist pumping turned quickly into me scowling and fuming… to the point that I not only commented immediately, but I make a three paragraph comment.

My, in the heat of the moment comment brought me 159 likes, and 13 comments (17, if you count my responses back to people).

What in the world, you ask, would make me respond so quickly? Out of the first 10 or so comments that I read from other people, 6 of them said that they would “never shop Etsy”, or “don’t shop Etsy”, or “no longer shop Etsy” because… “it’s too expensive” and “it’s overpriced”

My comment was not angry, or mean, it was this:

But, what was better (and reassured my faith in people), were the comments I received on my comment:
What I found to be the most frustrating part of this experience was that some people – even people that claim to be “crafty”, who really should know what it takes to make a profit as a small designer/creator, Or at the least, what it costs to make said products, are not only criticizing those of us that are putting ourselves out there, trying to make not only a name for ourselves but a lucrative business, are basically trashing us and boycotting one of the only sites that some crafters have to work with, because of our prices.It is a sad fact, that since Etsy has begun to allow third party manufacturing to be utilized, as the article states: “sellers, desperate for clicks, often price their products so low as to make real profit an impossible dream.”  Which to me, is an incredibly sad state for us to be in.

What made Etsy unique was that it was the one place you could go to, that was like a virtual craft fair. It made it possible to shop independent designers and creators from cities, states and even countries that you normally would never be able to get to. It gave those of us with a desire to maybe not quit our day job, but at least be able to make a small profit doing what we love. When Etsy started allowing manufacturers to sell, it took away from what it’s initial purpose was – to give us creators a home and community to reach people that we would never under normal circumstances be able to reach.

Those of us that still believe in what we make and the process and talent it takes to make it, can no longer compete. On a personal level, I can’t compete with the manufacturing sellers that have journals on Etsy for $2 when my materials alone cost me $2.25. Nor can I compete with the sheer volume in which they produce. I can make a pretty good amount of handmade hand-sewn books in a day, but I am cutting by hand, every page, and every cover. I am punching the holes in the spine by hand, and I am sewing with needle and thread every binding.

Now, lets play devils advocate. Say you were on Etsy, and that is how you got started. You are super popular and have a tremendous following, and can no longer keep up with demand. (how many of us would love to be in that situation, no?) But lets just say for the point of this argument, that that is the situation you are in, and you have no other option to keep up with demand, then to utilize manufacturing. I am going to say it flat out: You no longer belong on Etsy. Yep, you heard me right. Get off of Etsy. If you are making so much, you can afford to host your own website,, and if you really want to keep an Etsy presence. Keep your store, and feature some of your product that you will produce on your own without the assistance of manufacturing. No one is stopping you from including a business card with your website in your shipment. Stop under cutting those of us NOT manufacturing our products, stop flooding the categories with your recently acquired 100 products from your manufacturer, and give the rest of us a chance to be found. Let those of us that are still chugging away, doing what we believe in to have a presence. We applaud your success, we really do, but please give the rest of us a chance.

And Etsy – if you listening to a lick of what so many of us are saying. Take a look back on when you started what was the best idea to hit the internet since cyber shopping began, and remind yourself why you started: “to fill a need for an online community where crafters, artists and makers could sell their handmade and vintage goods and craft supplies”  Or at the very least, if you are as money hungry as so many are claiming, create a “sister site” where independent designers who utilize manufacturing can sell, and leave the HANDmade to the rest of us.


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