It’s time to say goodbye forever, Etsy. I had a shop on Etsy for five long years. And when I say long, I mean quarter after quarter of bad business decisions for sellers forced on us by Etsy corporate. With every bad news we got, we received maybe one good small feature out of the platform. But then other things seemed to disappear. Like seller support, for example. The uniqueness of products, for another. So this article explains why I closed my (very profitable) Etsy shop. There is trouble afoot at Etsy. And I’m not sure its relationship with sellers is reparable.
I didn’t strike. I didn’t boycott. I simply closed, sending Etsy another statistic as part of its bad decision-making skills relating to seller relationships. Will I survive without Etsy… you bet. But it took some planning ahead and a lot of hard work.
Leaving Etsy Requires Planning
Now before you start to feel bad for a creative like me, just know this. You don’t make this kind of decision overnight without planning ahead. Leaving Etsy, if it’s your sole source of business income (never was for me) takes some time and planning.
You have to be doing very well on your own to be willing to cut off a $75k annual income stream. This is a strategic move that I have been planning for the last two years of my life. I could read the writing on the wall back in 2020, even with the Etsy pandemic boom, that using the Etsy business model was not a sustainable one without sacrificing income. The forced 12% offsite ad fee was what set the wheels in motion.
I left for a variety of reasons, but the last transaction increase of another 1.5% was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Etsy’s Stock Price Directly Related to Trouble with Sellers
It would be in Etsy’s best interest to get into the good graces of its sellers. Think Etsy’s stock price isn’t directly impacted by its relationship with sellers?
Sellers are who produces revenue for Etsy. Without them, there is no Etsy. I certainly don’t see executives in the corporate office making hand-knit mittens, downloadable printables, or jewelry.
Today’s (April 18, 2022) current stock price after the strike? A low of 105.87. $45 more and we’ll be back at April 2020 stock price of $65. I remember when you could buy Etsy stock at $10.63 back in April of 2017. Five short (yet long) years later, the stock price is dropping consistently by the day in a downward
Every day, the Etsy seller forums are getting more and more posts about launching websites and branching out on their own outside of Etsy. Weaning themselves off of a marketplace that expects independent sellers to:
- absorb shipping charges if customer spends $35
- pay a flat rate of 12-15% for offsite ads (no opt-out possible) on every sale Etsy supposedly brings from Google or other platforms
- deal with the ridiculous Star Seller program which is unattainable with the number of Karens out there whose 1 go 4-star review ruins any opportunity of being able to reach the 95% goal of ALL 5 STARS
- manage their store with limited seller support from Etsy corporate
- participate in a marketplace loaded with resellers of Alibaba products
- pay an additional 1.5% of transaction fees [now 6.5% total] on top of the $.20 listing fee and 3-6% card processing fees
- respond within 24 hours to a seller [even on weekends – what happened to available office hours?] or face getting a case opened against you, or wreck Star Seller status
Etsy is Not Amazon or eBay – the Onboarding of Josh Silverman
Back in 2018, Etsy hired Josh Silverman as its CEO. While he made bold promises to increase Etsy’s performances in the marketplace, it came with a cost. They monetized and created a revenue stream of its base: hurting its sellers, the very people in the capacity to bring them income. Instead of focusing on customer acquisition to the site both on the short- and long-term, Etsy chose to continue tapping the sellers for more and more money. After all, other places like Amazon were doing it, right? So they could justify the fees?
Etsy is not Amazon or eBay. Its vision, from the founder, was to provide a marketplace for handmade goods direct from individual sellers, whether it be digital or physical products. They adopted a point of view that you have to work 24/7 in order to be considered a good seller.
Josh Silverman and the culture behind Etsy has made the marketplace unprofitable for sellers, as well as physically draining. They now take almost 25% of a sale. You’re not allowed to set your own working hours or respond on Monday with a Friday night question waiting in your inbox.
This was supposed to be a place where handmade artisans thrived. How is any creator supposed to thrive when 25% is being taken from a digital sale alone? At what point do we say that the corporate greed is a bit much?
Etsy’s Growing Culture Problem
A post related to the Etsy strike of 2022 (There have been two protests already, and still nothing changes positively for sellers. Another strike is scheduled for around Mother’s Day) popped up on my Facebook feed today, and it was a short story shared by Jeff Simmermon, who had interviewed for a position with Etsy. You can read below:
Will sellers still be loyal to Etsy after years of bad treatment? Not if they can help it. There’s a wave of sellers seeking out to re-establish themselves offline of Etsy, and draw traffic there for customers to reach them. The process of building a brand is often slow and steady, which is why so many new creators flock to marketplaces like Etsy, where there’s already and abundance of traffic.
But what happens when all the good sellers who feel frustrated and taken advantage of by Etsy leave? What will be left? Only new sellers, desperate for sales, and the proliferated breach of resellers that have overtaken the platform with no repercussion by Etsy. All the original gangsters will be gone. Like me. See, I’m pre-Josh Silverman era. Back when the craft and artisanship of Etsy actually mattered. When sellers mattered.
Why I Closed My Etsy Shop
I closed my shop for a variety of reasons. But I’ll list them out below.
- 1.5% increase to 6.5% total transaction fee —> was at 3.5% back in 2017, and should have remained that rate instead of increasing to 5% in 2018.
- 3-6% card transaction fee —> it’s odd, but most of my card processing fees on Etsy have been 5-6%. Yet I pay 2.5% on my own shop at kerrielegend.com, so you have to wonder if Etsy just cannot bargain or negotiate quality card processing deals or if they’re just charging us double as a revenue stream
- Etsy reported record earnings and stock prices in 2020-2021. This is sheer pandemic profiteering and contributing to the overall “inflation” wave of raising prices.
- The Star Seller program. No one actually likes this program. And no one asked for this–it contributes NOTHING to sellers as a positive benefit. You have to have 95% of your sales reviews at 5-star. They won’t qualify 4-star as a good rating. So if you get 9 5-star reviews and 1 4-star review in 1 month, it automatically disqualifies you from the Star Seller program. You also have to return messages within 24 hours at a 95% success rate, or else you lose your qualification as well. Which means you have to be working 7 days a week. You can’t have regular office hours. Again, a culture problem.
- Failure to remove shops that violate policies. Want to know how many shops I stumbled on that were selling counterfeit items or stuff that was never handmade? Thousands. Sellers are buying and reselling things from Alibaba on the cheap, opening up Etsy stores, and saying they’re handmade. Let me assure you, they’re not.
- Copyrights and trademark. Every week I was filing copyright DMCA takedown notices of new sellers springing up everywhere for copying my work. It got tiring and exhausting. I would often find they had been an Etsy customer, took my files, and often just made a few color tweaks and would re-list or resell my work right on the same platform. I think Etsy has become a haven for copycat artists and digital thieves.
- Bad interface that didn’t promote customers reading listing descriptions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to answer messages that had the answer right there in the listing description. Etsy’s interface simply didn’t show the listing description… instead you had to either click on “Listing Description” just to read it, or “show more”. That’s not a good business practice for mobile purchasing platforms. Customers need to be confronted with listing descriptions as part of their shopping experience so they understand what they are buying.
Now, I do believe Etsy still has its pros. I do think that creators have a good chance of building their brand with Etsy as a starting point. But I don’t think any shop owner should get too comfortable on Etsy, and should instead focus most of their attention on their own website and brand. And with that, I recommend never linking your social media, Pinterest pins, or outside links to Etsy. Bring all that traffic to your own brand.
I say this because Etsy has shown us time and time again that they’re willing to continuously use sellers as low-hanging fruit for additional revenue streams until we break. Because they’re not willing to do the hard work of investing in profitable customer acquisition activities. A culture problem, and a marketing problem.
Etsy’s storytelling abilities to inspire both customers has utterly fallen short. Right along with the grandiose promises we’ve heard for years about making Etsy a better place for sellers. And I don’t think we’ve forgotten all the things that have needed to be improved on the Etsy platform for um… <checks calendar> for the last 5 (five) years.
And I also believe that you should sign up with AWeber and utilize that email list as much as you can. Because Etsy does not allow you to talk to your own customers outside of that platform.
Again, Etsy is not a long-term solution. It’s just a good starting point that’s truly expensive. Which is why I worked so hard these past few years to build my own brand without relying on Etsy or traffic there. And believe me, it requires stamina, technical now-how, lots of hours of working every week, and knowing there are no shortcuts to that pathway to success.
Make it your mission, if you’re currently selling on Etsy, for off-boarding there. Move all your traffic onto the website you’ve built, and work on building your email list, as well.
If you’re a shopper on Etsy, look for ways to support your favorite creators OFF of Etsy. Instead of making a purchase on Etsy, buy directly from them through their own website. Seek it out. Ask if they have one. They’ll save on fees, you’ll probably get better pricing, and we always appreciate the support.