I joined Etsy (www.etsy.com) – an online artist community website – in March of 2008. I found this site because I was googling some hand made beaded jewelry I wanted to buy for myself. In order to buy the item I wanted, I had to set tup an account and add my Paypal information. It is pretty much the same process you would use for any reputable online merchant. I purchased the item via their checkout and it was just as described and delivered quickly from the artist. Since then I also have opened my own store there selling my own beaded jewelry, but have not sold much (11 sales in 17 months of membership). I have bought many (almost 200) items from there – mostly supplies to make necklace, hand made cosmetics and toiletries like shampoo and soap, as well as aromatherapy candles. The membership is free and the account is easy enough to set up, similar to an ebay seller account. So, I can evaluate the site from both a buyer and seller view point.
Buying: Buying is easy, but using the search function on Etsy to find an item you are looking for is not. The way it works is that artists sign up and open up their individual stores, sort of like Ebay or Amazon. The browse function supposedly lets you choose between handmade, supplies, vintage, all items, and sellers ‘” but often if you type in a key word under handmade your search results will reflect some supplies and vice versa. However, the worst of it is that even when following their search suggestions and trying to eliminate a search result the items you do not want still show up. Many users in the forum (community section) complain about that as well, and it has been that way for years. Also, many non-related items can show up. While Etsy has many great items for sale and is home to many good as well as renowned artists, sifting through the rubble can be quite frustrating and time consuming.
Selling: Setting up a store front is relatively easy. There is a fee of $0.20 for any one item listed for four months ‘” regardless of what you sell your item for (Etsy is not an auction site, the prices are set rigidly by the seller). There are no fees for uploading your pictures, and you are allowed to upload a total of five pictures. Etsy also takes a small percentage of the profit (3.5 percent, not including shipping) when you sell your item as well ‘” pretty standard stuff. All transactions are in US dollars, although sellers from many different countries are represented. Also, sellers get to choose what countries they will ship to and what forms of payment they accept. Most operate on Paypal, but will also accept checks, money orders, and varied other forms of payment. As a seller your listing and transaction fees are billed monthly and can be paid directly on line to Etsy via a credit card on file or Paypal.
The website itself is pretty easy to navigate. I have used it on different computers, used different browsers, different connection speeds and have rarely encountered any downtime. Buying is fairly easy ‘” once you find your item that is ‘” and sellers have a feedback rating and profiles as well as contact buttons.
Selling is difficult for me on Etsy. I think the problem is that people can’t find my stuff with so much competition and the overkill of the browse function. Nevertheless, I have read that people make a living on this website. It seems that if you want to sell on Etsy you should be prepared to do a fair amount of marketing and networking. Also, keep in mind that you are only allowed to sell items handmade by you, vintage wares (20 years and older) and crafting supplies. Listing any other items will get your account frozen.