What are the Pros and Cons of having an Etsy Shop?

If you’re thinking about selling some of your crafts or art work, I’m sure you’ve thought about the online marketplace Etsy.  I’m often asked if Etsy is the right place to sell to start or is it more trouble than it’s worth?

Well, I’ve put together a pro’s and con’s list of what I have found in my experience with Etsy.

What are the pros and cons of having an Etsy shop

I first started selling on Etsy in late 2012 and I still have a few items listed there even though I have a shop here on my own site.  I’m glad I started my online shop on the Etsy platform.  I learned so much in the course of getting over 400 sales there.  Here is what I feel are the pros and cons of this site.

The Pros of selling on Etsy

  • User Friendly – Etsy has made their site so easy to navigate and set up a shop with in a couple of hours.  Even with minimal computer experience, you can upload images, descriptions and get your items selling.  They also provide you with great customer service and an easy to read seller handbook to address any questions you may have.  Their ability to print shipping labels from their site is very convenient and you even get a discounted price than going to the post office.
  • Great Reputation – With 1.5 million sellers, they are the largest online platform for handmade and vintage items.  They have earned a reputation among sellers of trust and minimal technical problems.  They are often the first place buyers go to for handmade, unique and original items.
  • Advertising – Etsy makes it very easy for sellers to promote their items within the site.  You simply set your daily budget, select which items you want promoted within searches and they do the rest.  How easy is that?  With their statistics page you can keep track of what’s being viewed, what search terms are used and you can use all this information to help your promoted items by tweaking your keywords or tags.
  • Community – Etsy offers it’s sellers several ways to be a part of their online community.  You can go onto the Forums page and read comments and questions, or even post one yourself.  Teams are also a great way to get to know other sellers, support each other and help promote each other also.  As a new seller, these can be essential for getting questions answered or discovering new tips.
  • International – They provide an easy way to dip your toes into international selling and shipping.  You can start off by shipping to certain countries and then move onto worldwide.  This opens up a whole new segment of potential customers.  I’ve had the pleasure of shipping to Australia, England, Ireland, France.  Places I never would have thought of or had the ability to meet these customers.
  • Digital Products – If you’re a graphics designer or print artist, you have the capability to sell digital products that automatically download for the customer upon payment.  You simply create the listing, upload the file that will be downloaded and Etsy takes care of the rest upon purchase.  I know of shops that sell only digital items and they never have to ship anything, it’s all done by downloads.  I’ve had good experience with this type of listing and never had any technical problems.


The Cons of Selling on Etsy

  • Competitive –  As I mentioned in the intro, they have over 1.5 million sellers.  That’s a lot of shops!  And sometimes I definitely felt like a little fish in a big pond.  It’s easy to get lost in this sea if you don’t work on the things that will help you get found, i.e. good photography, good descriptions, keywords.  It’s not a “build it and they will come” place, you have to really work at the marketing aspect to stay competitive.
  • Little Customization –  If you’re an artist or creative person, you like to customize and show your own brand.  But, on Etsy you really only have the banner section at the top of your shop and your about page.  Everyone’s shop is structured exactly the same way so it does not allow for real customization or branding.
  • Fees – When you’re first starting out, paying only .20 cents a listing and a 3.5% transaction fee per sale is very reasonable (Update: transaction fee is increasing to 5% effective 7/15/18).  It’s much less expensive than paying a flat fee on another platform that may be more than you make in sales for a month.  But, after sales start picking up, so do the fees.  Then that listing fee and transaction fee can add up at the end of the month when you pay your bill.  This was actually one of the reasons I created my own shop on my own site.
  • Not really your site –  Let’s face it, your shop is really renting space on the Etsy platform.  If they want to shut down your shop or even the entire site, they can.  I’ve heard of shops being shut down for policy infringements and it can be a pain getting it back up.
  • Brand Recognition – Now you’re probably wondering why I put this as a con.  But, this goes back to the first bullet point of they amount of shops they have.  Let’s say you see someone with a beautiful necklace and you ask her where she got it, “I got it on Etsy”.  See my point?  They didn’t give the shop or the artist’s name, just Etsy.  Many customers view it as a large marketplace and don’t always see the individual shops within the sea of sellers.

So there you have my take on selling on Etsy.  It’s an individual decision for each seller whether to be on this platform or not.  I’ve chosen to continue to have my prints and note cards in my Etsy shop for now, but have plans to open a shop on this site soon.

Thinking about opening an Etsy Shop? Here's some Pro's and Con's to think about. #etsyshop Click To Tweet

If you’re looking into opening your own Etsy shop, here is a link for 40 free listings.  Using this link will also give me 40 free listings, so it’s a win-win for both of us!

What are your plans?

Do you plan on opening an Etsy Shop?




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19 thoughts on “What are the Pros and Cons of having an Etsy Shop?

  1. Kimberlee says:

    Good info on etsy. I have had my shop for over 5 years now, on etsy. It is very competitive on there with so many sellers – and more joining every day. I think it is like any type of business though you have to work hard to get noticed and get sales. Etsy is also continually changing certain things within the site and you have to keep up with the changes in order to succeed.

  2. AnnMarie says:

    I have had only good experiences selling on Etsy. I don’t feel the vintage side is spotlighted enough in their promotions but I am online everyday promoting my own shop. I don’t think I even tap into all that Etsy offers but I do what I can everyday. It is fun and gives me a nice “part time” income even though I am on it 12 – 14 hours a day!

    • Carmen Whitehead says:

      Good for you Annmarie! You’re right about the vintage side not being spotlighted enough. I’ve purchased quite a few vintage items and you can really find some great deals on there. Good luck with your shop!

  3. Jackie P Neal says:

    Merry Christmas dear Carmen!! I am truly grateful for having you to call friend! Many blessings to you and your family!
    xo Jackie

  4. Jann Olson says:

    Your really shared great info Carmen! I tried an etsy shop, but honestly; I just hated the shipping. 🙂 Hope you are having a wonderful Christmas! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  5. Melinda says:

    Great article, thank you Carmen! I have my own website and plan on selling my items on there. I’m on Etsy but do feel like a ‘little fish in a big sea’. Good point on the “I got it on Etsy”. As a seller, I never thought about that!

    • Carmen Whitehead says:

      Yes, I’ve had that same feeling Melinda of a little fish. I do love Etsy and I think it’s a great place to start and grow. Having your own place brings on new challenges of marketing and SEO, but for me, they’re definitely worth it. Good luck on your site!

  6. LaTourStudio says:

    Thanks, Carmen, for these tips!
    My eco-friendly stationery shop has been open on Etsy for 6 months, I’ve found more pros than cons up to now. I like the general layout of the site and shops, the community and the international exposure. I’ve also liked to learn so many things, like SEO, online marketing and so on. I keep learning and having fun!

  7. Karen says:

    Hallo Carmen
    Thank you for the great advice. I’m thinking of selling on Etsy as well but I’m in South Africa. How does the shipping work? I sell on a local on-line shop but wonder iif the international shipping is nog going to be too expensive.

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