I have been working with Etsy for 12 years and at the beginning there was a basic understanding that this was a marketplace for handcrafted goods. Maybe you’re a woodworker, or artist of some type. Some people worked wonders with their sewing machines or showed off their painting skills. Others were like me that were able to up-cycle and mashup old discarded junk into new amazing items that were one of a kind unique pieces of art.
hand·made – han(d)ˈmād/ made by hand, not by machine, and typically therefore of superior quality.
As time went on the word “handmade” started to be stretched and lines blurred. For example, some sellers cast their own jewellery while others took wire wrapping to a new level. In my opinion this is truly a handmade item. Other sellers began buying charms and simply put them on a chain and sold them as handmade. Their hand did make it, but was the item really “handmade” Etsy allowed this to take place, and soon two new categories popped up Vintage and Supplies. I was fine with this strategy since items on the site were still primarily hand crafted
The early years!
During my first 5 years on Etsy starting in around 2006, my sales were good. I was able to move about 1,000 orders of my wares each year and made enough profit to put gas in my car and treat myself to a few new tech goodies . During the holiday season I could hardly keep up. My hobby was not only fun but was profitable.
What went wrong?
Sometime in 2013 Etsy began allowing manufacturing partners. Huh? Why would they allow that? What Etsy basically said is, its OK to have your product mass produced. Doesn’t this go against everything Etsy stands for? Like everything else in this world it all comes down to money and in Etsy’s case the shareholders. Think about it, 20¢ per listing and 3.5% of a sale adds up, and the more listings the more sales the more profit!
A niche website that was empowering the little guy, mom and pop crafting industry is now completely over run by the mas market. I am writing this article not because I’m bitter or angry that Etsy needs to make money. (we all need to make money) It’s just disheartening that over the past 12 years, something that was so good for the crafting and “little guy” could do a 360º about face and shun the people they were trying to support.
There are over 30million items listed on Etsy, and my 80 or so trinkets are now lost in the shuffle to mass produced items from China, and people reselling stuff they picked up in the Christmas Tree Shop. Had the creators of Etsy held their ground and demanded a pure handmade marketplace Etsy would still be a unique and fun place to find one of a kind artwork. Unfortunately Etsy has the feel of just another Ebay or Amazon marketplace. The influx of non-handmade goods has also diluted the marketplace making sales 20% of what they were just a few years ago.
At least I have time now to write about it!
BTW – My store www.geekgearstore.com
Related Reading – Forced Etsy Payments
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