A long time ago, i wrote a post about some of the best (at the time) platforms to sell your art on and how to market your art online.
This was sometime in 2009 i think.
Since then, i have been selling primarily on Etsy and i have been enjoying the experience a lot. Until about 1-2 years ago when things started to go south.
It’s not that i wasn’t putting as much effort as before in my shop, i would list new paintings weekly and renew as usual. However, the platform quickly started to get flooded with cheap, copyright infringing, wrong category listed “artworks”, priced below dirt level and soon someone like me (and others no doubt) were buried under the pile of crap mostly coming from China (yes, it’s the truth no need to be politically correct about it) . Etsy also allowed outside manufacturing, drop shipping and most importantly localized search which didn’t help at all.
At this point i was faced with the choice of dropping my prices drastically and paying for ads and everything else Etsy slowly implemented to get priority over others in search.
I didn’t see the point of underpricing my art, for which i make an actual effort – i spend a lot of time making a painting, i invest in quality materials and i’m trying to make a living out of it, not to sell it for peanuts.
Paying for adds is could be an option if you have cash to burn upfront. They use the bid for click type of adds so if the mass sellers with more capital outbid you, then they are still at the top of search and you are still among the rest and you pretty much pay Etsy a lot of money nothing.
Win for them, not so much for you.
After trying adds for a few weeks, i found that sales were the same with or without them. My sales did not increase when i was running adds, nor did they decrease when i stopped them.
So i decided to stop wasting money on Etsy’s advertising and instead invest it in adding a few new items to my inventory which could bring in more viewers and potential buyers. This is why i added the pressed flowers and some handmade jewelry i had made some time ago.
One other thing i truly didn’t appreciate is that if someone uses search to find your product, Etsy shows other people’s items, similar to yours, at the bottom of your item description. So what’s the point of paying adds, renewing daily, adding new items all the time just so someone else’s stuff can be seen o my product page.
After some consideration and looking through other listings and what seems to be popular on Esty at this point, i reached the conclusion that it’s mostly hipster items, personalized everything, recycled up-cycled crap (my own opinion), beard care (the demand must be high, see the hipster items lol), bags of any kind and of course wedding stuff.
The platform changed from being able to just list your stuff and see if someone likes it and wants to buy it, to needing to have a whole marketing strategy, a ton of photos, gift wrapping, branding etc.
That works for most of the products mentioned above, but with original art is a little bit different. I don’t have a brand, i’m an artist. I don’t gift wrap a painting, i pack it safely and securely and that doesn’t look pretty (unless you love cardboard and bubble wrap), i don’t have a ton of photos of my “item” other than the usual front, sides , back (maybe). No photos of it being “in use”, and so on.
They also ask for very high resolution images as your main photos, something that i will never do because obviously anyone can right-click, save the photo and go make a print or whatever else they want to use it for.
I feel that Etsy’s generalization when it comes to listings is stupid and not very helpful. I’m not sure why they also have to penalize people in search if they don’t adhere to all of these “guidelines”.
To make a long story short, i couldn’t care less about Etsy or selling there. I have my items there because i paid for the listings and i am leaving them until they expire.
If something does sell in the meantime then i can budget 1$ or so to renew something 🙂 but i will not pay Etsy upfront to be on page 187 or similar, while people who clearly sell prints and not original art are on page 1 of ORIGINAL ART section (??), or those who clearly mass produce the same paintings you find on Alibaba and sell it as “one of a kind” original art.
Perhaps Etsy should take some of their “hard earned” cash and police the sections and penalize those who list their stuff everywhere just to get extra exposure.
Just to make myself clear, this is not a compliant that Etsy isn’t working for me anymore, it’s just my opinion and experience with this platform for almost 10 years. Would i recommend it to anyone at this point? Sure, if you sell beard oils or BBQ spice blends or similar stuff 🙂 But to a new artist..not so much. Only as a “gallery” at most, where you price your art however you see fit regardless of China and others and see if anything sells. In the worst case, the listings will be up for a few months and you can always close the shop afterwards.
But i would’t go out of my way to list like a madman, renew, advertise Etsy to everyone (in the end they make cash from your advertisement) and so on.
I would keep it as a casual showcasing gallery, much like i’m doing right now and direct traffic through Etsy to my own Blog, website, social media or whatever, so if i decide to close shop, people who bought my art or love it can always buy directly from me!
I hope this post helped some of you who might wonder if it’s worth selling art on Etsy or not!
If you are already selling art successfully on Etsy or don’t agree with my points, i’m happy for you and i don’t care for arguments or uncalled for comments 🙂