I remember when Etsy launched. Pretty much, I mean. Because obviously I don’t remember the exact moment, but I do remember the huge news of it. And I remember thinking, “What kind of stupid name is that?” And I remember being all, “Holy crap, this is amazing.”
I’ve been to Etsy HQ in Brooklyn. I sat on a panel there once. I spoke at an Etsy conference in Portland once. But though I have worked with many, many sellers of goods over the last decade, until last month I had never sold any goods online, myself. I have always worked on the editorial side of the crafts industry.
In the time since Etsy came around, the e-commerce landscape has changed dramatically. It’s no longer brain-breakingly difficult to set up an online store – not only because Etsy’s still around, and also Shopify and BigCartel and any number of other options, but also because there are plugins to get the job done in a relatively straightforward manner on platforms like WordPress.
When I decided in October that I wanted to sell personalized, signed copies of my book, I didn’t really even consider using Etsy. I didn’t already have a shop there, so there was no audience there for me to build on, and I’m a DIY web person, so I barely challenged my assumption that the obvious way to proceed would be to build a shop on my own website.
I installed the free plugin, and I paid for a few extensions for it that would make my shop better and my life easier, and I got it all set up.
And then I didn’t really like it. I felt like if I was a potential signed-book buyer, I wouldn’t really be impressed by this author’s online shop. It didn’t quite look right.
And as the author, I wanted it to look better. But I didn’t really feel like I had time to do that task justice and still have books available in time for holiday delivery.
So the morning I was ready to launch my not-quite-great shop, I went over to Etsy to see if maybe that might be a better solution, at least for now.
Holy smokes, you guys. I had my Etsy shop set up and ready to go in like an hour.
And so then I launched both shops, and decided to see which one is a better solution for me on the back end, and which one is more popular with customers.
I launched the shops not quite two weeks ago. Since then, I’ve made one sale of one product on my website, and five sales of a total of seven products on Etsy.
For one of the Etsy sales, I needed to make a partial refund due to some confusion I created. I thought it would take me a while to figure out how to do that. It took me approximately fifteen seconds to get it done.
Etsy’s seller app on my phone makes a delightful ka-ching when I make a sale. The delightfulness of this is neither to be dismissed as useless nor underestimated for its significant degree of happy-making.
Now, if you’ve been a seller of handmade goods for a long time, I know you may be smirking at the naïve author going on about how great Etsy is. I’m well aware that longtime Etsy sellers have had more than one bone to pick with the service, and a lot of the complaints I’ve heard have been both very real and very appropriate. But I’m not naïve, despite being a noob. It’s quite possible that down the line I’ll decide Etsy is no longer the best solution for me, but not for now.
For now, Etsy most certainly is a great solution for me. For now, I see the fees I pay Etsy the same way Abby Glassenberg sees them – as a pretty darned inexpensive way to reach people. And I see the Etsy platform as one that lends credibility and ease of use to my brand-new shop. Like Abby says in her post, Etsy is a household name. My name is not a household name. My (small) sales numbers support my suspicion that people trust Etsy more than they trust me (or, at least that they trust the Etsy platform more than they trust my own platform).
I don’t know why I’ve been surprised by how simple and robust Etsy is, but I sure am glad I’m using it.