I used to love Etsy. It has been a consistent source of revenue for Sketchy Notions and a wonderful way to grow my brand and audience over the years.
But over the last few years, Etsy has forgotten their original mission of being a marketplace that supports small makers.
While I fully understand that Etsy is a business (and now a public company that needs to keep shareholders happy), they've made many moves that feel abusive of their power and the foothold they have in the handmade industry.
In recent years they've made multiple moves and enforced programs that cripples makers and takes a giant chunk out of our income, leading many makers to close up their Etsy shops for good.
Click below to read more about how Etsy is hurting its makers, and how you can still support handmade makers and small businesses.
The first nail in the coffin was a 5% transaction fee. Originally they were taking less, and it wasn't taken from our shipping fees as well. As a result, some shady sellers were undercharging their items and overcharging on the shipping in order to appear competitive. To discourage that (and as a result, punish the honest sellers), Etsy now takes 5% of each sale, including shipping prices. We also pay listing fees and transaction fees on top of this 5%.
Why does Etsy feel entitled to 5% of what I have to pay the Post Office to ship my items?
Fast forward to 2019 and the second nail in the coffin... Etsy rolled out a new requirement of "free shipping," despite our protests. In order to just show up in search on their platform, sellers have to offer free shipping on orders over $35. Absolute blackmail.
Etsy seems to have forgotten that makers that sell handmade goods are not Amazon, Target or Walmart. What was Etsy's recommendation? Add the shipping cost into the item cost and say "free shipping." Many of us cannot easily roll in shipping costs into our product prices to cover this "free shipping." Many of us, myself included, are in product niches that have price ceilings. My cards are not bedazzled so I can't justify charging $9 per card and then lie to buyers that it's free shipping...it just doesn't work and feels incredibly dishonest.
And now, the final (?) nail in the coffin...the mandatory ad program. Etsy has now decided to advertise for sellers, whether or not we want it. They will pick which items to advertise, and if a potential buyer clicks that ad and purchases from that shop in the next 30 days, Etsy will take 12-15% of that sale. We can't opt out, and we can't see proof of these ads. This percentage is determined by how much you made in 2019...over 10k, you're only charged 12%. Under 10k, they take 15%.
This means, that many sellers who have items priced over $35 (possibly to try and cover the free shipping they're forced to offer) could lose 20% on an order.
I've also read instances of sellers being charged this percentage on private listings that never would be been available to be advertised online. Many sellers, who have a better understanding of their audience and products, would rather allocate that 12-15% on their own advertising plans that they've found reliable success from. This new program is incredibly frustrating and feels like outright extortion from a company that claims to support small makers.
In response to this, I have been forced to raise prices in the Etsy shop to account for potential fees Etsy will deduct from my sales (and hopefully encourage buyers to seek my products elsewhere). I've removed all links and mentions of my Etsy shop from social media and business cards. I am also thinning the shop (no more stickers or custom listings there) and I will only be adding new inventory to the Sketchy Notions shop.
Why won't I just close up my Etsy shop? As much as I want to just throw up a giant middle finger to Etsy and close my shop, Etsy is now a destination shopping site for people looking for items like mine. This is why they feel emboldened to force these programs onto us because they know many of us have no other option to easily access potential buyers. Plus, many shoppers do not realize how poorly Etsy treats its sellers. While I can't easily educate buyers before they buy from my Etsy shop, I'm hoping I can educate them afterwards and lead them to my standalone in the future.
While I will no longer be shopping on Etsy, that doesn't mean I will stop supporting small makers. And neither should you! If you wish to support a small maker:
- Research to see if they have a standalone shop you can purchase from instead of an Etsy shop. This takes very little effort for you to Google them or search for their Instagram account.
- Avoid clicking any ads that could lead to Etsy taking more money from a small maker.
- Contact the maker! If their Etsy shop is the only option, try emailing them or DMing them OFF OF ETSY to see if you can purchase from them directly. Etsy sellers are technically not allowed to direct people to complete a transaction off of Etsy if it originated there.
- Tell your friends and family about these new fees to help spread the word about how much Etsy disregards its sellers in favor of their bottom line
- Support them elsewhere! Sign up for their newsletters, like their Facebook pages and follow their Instagrams to support them, even without spending any money.
How do you feel about all these new moves that Etsy has implemented and enforced?