Common Etsy Concerns + Hesitations – Episode 132

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We know that Etsy can be a powerful tool in your business, but only if you feel okay enough to give it a try and use it. That is, of course, the first step to making it work for you! Check out our full rundown on the actual first 3 steps to Etsy success. Many Etsy sellers, would-be Etsy sellers or Etsy curious folks have heard loads of stories about Etsy that have thrown them off and discouraged them from trying.

This makes us very sad indeed. That’s one of the reasons we made this Etsy myth-busting video! Many current Etsy sellers also have concerns. We are hoping to address some of the most common Etsy concerns sellers have so that you can make a better decision for yourself and more effectively tap into Etsy’s unique power and leverage it for your business on and beyond Etsy.

As a reminder: we here at Merriweather see Etsy as a tool that you can use in your business, and we always encourage sellers to use Etsy in conjunction with a branded domain site. For that, we recommend Shopify. This means we see you first and foremost as a business owner, not just an Etsy seller.

I know we all love memes, so here are two that explain our take on things simply:

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Additionally, we want to empower business owners to make decisions that suit them best. If that means not using Etsy at all, fantastic! We don’t care about which decision you make; we just want you to have the best information as you make that decision. There is no peace in making a decision that you still feel uncertain about. So make your decisions for yourself, but do it with the correct information!

We have covered all of these concerns before but never in one centralized place, until now! These are the most common Etsy concerns that we hear from current or would be Etsy sellers.

Etsy Fees

The fees on Etsy are outrageous / Etsy is so greedy/ it costs too much, and I never make any money.

Etsy charges sellers a listing fee of 20 cents per listing for 4 months, a 5% commission on the full value of your sale, including any shipping costs, and a credit card processing fee that also applies to the total amount of money being processed (again, including shipping costs if they are charged.)

You MIGHT be charged for Etsy Ads if you choose to participate in them (these are the on-site ads formerly known as promoted listings.) You MIGHT be charged for Etsy offsite ads if you are opted in for them.

Here’s all the info straight from the horse’s mouth about fees.

And about Etsy Ads (completely optional / not something we recommend).

Please review Etsy’s articles on Offsite Ads.

Related post: 3 benefits of offsite ads most sellers missed

Commission Fees

Etsy increased their commission amount a few years ago. Before that, they hadn’t raised their prices, so to say, for 12 years. I cannot think of a single business that would not change its pricing structure for more than a decade. Even still, a 5% commission on the total value of your sale is an excellent rate.

To sell on Amazon Handmade, they charge a 15% commission. (They call it a referral fee.) That is on EVERY SALE. EVERY SINGLE SALE. I think that is a reasonable amount, too but i’m drawing the comparison for you.

Credit Card Fees

As for the credit card processing fee, you would pay a similar amount anywhere, with any credit card processor. Paypal, Stripe, and other popular processors will charge you a similar rate to what Etsy does to process payments. So yes, that is part of the fees you pay to Etsy, but it’s a fee that is not specific to Etsy. Your listing free or 20 cents per item and your Etsy commission are Etsy specific.

If you purchase shipping labels through Etsy, you pay for those on Etsy, but they are not Etsy fees; they are postage costs.

Does this all add up to something that feels significant? Sure! Gotta spend money to make money, fees are part of doing business, and complaining about them truly is an amateur hour performance. The thing is, for what you can get out of Etsy, and the power it holds that you can leverage for your business, it’s pretty much the best deal in town.

Remeber Etsy is a Service Provider

They make their money charging for those services. That is not “greedy” that is business. Just like you want people to pay you for your work, Etsy wants to be paid for what they provide as well.

Etsy holds the burden for so many things that sellers regularly forget about or aren’t aware of, there is a very low barrier to entry, you can even start for free it’s a plug and play platform, and most importantly, it has a huge, very targeted existing audience that you can reach simply by being on their platform.

It’s an outstanding deal if you know how to use it properly. //For more information on this incredible, unique power of Etsy and to learn how to unlock more of it for your own benefit, RSVP for an upcoming session of our free Etsy masterclass.

Adjust your Pricing

Another aspect of this is pricing. If you have a problem with Etsy fees, you actually have a pricing issue, not an Etsy issue. You’ll have to make your prices work for the expenses of doing business no matter where you sell. If you sell in stores, at markets… there are costs associated with those. You have to account for Etsy fees just the same way you would account for market fees. If you need support on pricing, we have covered it here many times.

Etsy Offsite ads

Offsite ads are garbage what a rip off.

I’ll be honest, I don’t LOVE that Etsy decided that sellers would have to participate in these if they have an active Etsy shop that generates over 10k a year. HOWEVER, I respect that decision, and I actually believe these offsite ads are an asset to sellers at any level. With that said, offsite ads are still a very common Etsy concern.

If you make less than 10k in the last 12 months, you can go into your Etsy account and toggle a little button to remove your listings from showing up in Etsy offsite ads. If you made more than 10K in a twelve-month period, you do not have that same option. You can, of course, effectively opt-out of these ads by ceasing to sell on Etsy.

Selling on Etsy is not compulsory; therefore, no one is being “forced” to participate. You have a choice here. If the idea of closing your Etsy shop to ‘opt-out’ bothers you, that indicates that Etsy is working well enough for you to tolerate the reality of the offsite ads. That’s my personal, humble opinion.

Etsy pushes free shipping

I am being punished for not offering free shipping / they are pushing free shipping too hard.

They explicitly said you need to offer free shipping to rank well in search.

Shipping costs have been a factor in your search relevancy for quite a while. When Etsy first started their free shipping push, they even went so far as to say that the first page of search results would be reserved for listings that ship free… but it didn’t ever happen as far as I can tell. Here’s a recent post and video.

Despite this common Etsy concern, you are NOT being punished for not offering free shipping. If your listings don’t rank well, they aren’t optimized well enough. And that is a fixable problem.

Further, let’s consider this: Etsy isn’t going to show people listings JUST because they ship free. They will try to display the most relevant items to a search – and lots of factors make items relevant both as far as the algorithm goes and just by plain common sense.

Etsy is like most other businesses in that when they have an idea they want to promote, you hear about it a lot. That doesn’t mean you HAVE to participate. It means they are excited about a new feature or concept they’ve rolled out, and they are promoting it to their sellers to get more sellers to try it out.

I talk about that in-depth here: Understanding Free Shipping and Discounting on Etsy

And here: explaining tests sales and discounting push post.

Etsy algorithm changes

The algorithm changes too frequently

Plainly, it doesn’t change all that frequently or as dramatically as people seem to think it does. It can’t because if it changed too abruptly, too rapidly, it would go belly up … because sellers don’t get on board that fast, and Etsy needs sellers to do certain things for their site be effective.

Every platform you use is continuously making minor tweaks and adjustments that you don’t know about… EVERY SINGLE ONE. Etsy is no different, but they do not historically make massive changes very frequently at all. People tend to believe that because, honestly, it’s an easy out. It’s an easy thing to point to and say, “look! Their fault!” But really, it’s a team effort between YOU and Etsy.

There isn’t enough support on Etsy

Etsy doesn’t support their sellers / the community/ Etsy doesn’t care about people. They are only out for themselves.

If this is what you truly believe, you should not sell on Etsy. I personally feel that they DO care. To me, things like this are meaningful.

Etsy is too big

They allow manufactured items, the site is too big

Etsy allows production partners to be used by sellers with an approval process. This provides many opportunities for small business owners who work in ways that make it impossible to produce their work entirely in-house or who could use the assistance. That does NOT change anything about how powerful of a tool Etsy can be for YOU.

If you see items that are NOT within the proper scope, you should report them. If you do not like the fact that Etsy allows for some manufacturing ASSISTANCE, that’s okay, it is your choice to make, and you should not use this platform if you disagree with their terms regarding this or any other policy.

When you sell on your own domain site, which we encourage you to do, your search discovery opportunities are the big guys: Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. You are ‘competing’ with EVERY SINGLE OTHER entity similar to yours, whether it’s manufactured or not. It is a MUCH larger pool to compete in.

When you list on Etsy, no matter what, the pool is much smaller. Even if Etsy is flawed at times (it’s not a perfect platform, but it is the best one we have available to us as handmade sellers right now), it’s still a more targeted, smaller pool to compete in.

Etsy doesn’t care about small business anymore

I miss the old days of Etsy when everything was perfect and Etsy focused on small businesses.

“The old days” that many people feel nostalgia for were far from perfect based on the amount of griping people did then, too. Back in the day, you couldn’t even process a credit card directly, you had to arrange payment the old fashioned way or use PayPal only. People complained about that.

Back in the day you couldn’t add more than 5 photos to a listing, people complained about it (rightfully, because more than 5 image spaces is really useful!) You had to use a third party to generate shipping labels… it was a hassle. People asked for more and Etsy gave it them, but then they found ways to dislike it.

Things change and develop and overall, they are for the progressive best interest of most. I personally wouldn’t want to do business with a business that doesn’t evolve to meet the needs of the time. I WANT Etsy to evolve and develop – it keeps things fresh and interesting and tells me they are in it for the long haul.

It is not “greedy” for Etsy to grow in their own business – it’s smart. I want to do business with other smart businesses. Many of the changes Etsy has made over time DO support small businesses better. That credit card processing thing did for sure! Allowing sellers to use manufacturing partners is another way Etsy CAN support more small businesses.

While it is likely that Etsy does operate with their best interests in mind, I believe fully that they see seller success AS one of their best interests. That includes you.

Selling on Etsy is a choice

The question I want to pose to those of you currently selling on Etsy you is this: regardless of any flaws you might see in the platform, if you are still using it anyway, why wouldn’t you want to leverage it as best as possible for your own benefit?

To those of you not currently selling on Etsy, I would say: if you think there is a better option for getting started, go for it! Again, we are not here to judge your decision (and we ask that you respect the decisions others are making as well) we are here only to provide a perspective relevant to helping you make the decision that works for you.

Where to sell, what to sell there, and how invested to be in any platform. These are decisions that business owners need to make for themselves. Etsy is a tool. It is not something that is obligated to provide you with your ideal situation. The best we can ever do is use it for our unique situation as best we can. If we here at MWC can help you do that, we are so glad to! If not, and if you do not want to use Etsy at all, that’s entirely fine and we can still support you as a small business owner, and we would be honored to do so. Pop over to get the details on our not-Etsy-specific membership experience for makers in business!

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Oh, hi! Welcome to The Merriweather Council. I’m Danielle and I am a maker in business and mentor to other makers in business. I teach you how to turn your crafty tendencies into profits!

Oh, I’m also really into crafts, boy bands + iced coffee. Email me anytime to say hello or send cute Backstreet Boy videos or dog pictures .. or whatever! danielle (at) merriweathercouncil.com Thanks for stopping by.

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