On Etsy : The 2014 Experience part 1

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This is a huge topic – so this is part 1. The more I discuss it with people, the most I think needs to be added. So please bear in mind that this is a preliminary run down. There is room for more thought and fact here.

I would also like to say that I don’t HATE Etsy. I think Etsy has pros and cons and those pros and cons change depending on what you are selling and at what point you are at in your business. They have made a lot of very positive changes over the years I’ve been there and Etsy is basically the reason I’ve been able to do what I do for the past four years. They’ve added an on site credit card processor, made it possible to list large quantities without paying upfront for listings, hold in person events that bring their community members together and made it possible to print shipping labels for your orders. All of these are great additions. There are plenty of others.

It might be worth reminding you that I had a crazy year in my personal life, and I know the impacted my work to some extent. But I also know that I worked hard through out the year and maintained the same level of attention and interest in my Etsy shop. At the end of the year, I began to really focus on driving traffic to my site – but I maintained my Etsy practices as well.

But with the good there is some not-as-good. And it’s no surprise to anyone that Etsy isn’t perfect.

Frustration

On friday evening, I began tweeting about some of the issues I have either been experiencing or have witnessed happening in relation to Etsy and Etsy sellers. Most of it was not positive. My rant – as I’m okay with calling it – was brought on by a comment I saw (not the first) about how Etsy sellers are basically just sitting around complaining, not bettering their situations, and blaming everything that is wrong with their lives on Etsy.

I cannot believe how small minded some of these remarks that I keep seeing are.

People are “complaining”, I suppose. I prefer to call it “voicing valid concerns.”

Two distinct things happened on Etsy in the late summer/ early fall – seems these two things, in addition to some preexisting elements, really brought about this buzz of unhappiness amongst a great number of sellers.

Changes

Here is what changed:

1. the design of the front page changed – drastically.

2. some not-fully-explained changes happened to the search algorithm and (I think these were put in place to fully support) the new “ad” listings – a paid promotional opportunity within etsy.

These changes caused problems for many of the sellers I know – and there are quite a few people making their displeasure known on the forums.  Are you one of the sellers feeling less than thrilled with these changes?

Etsy admin themselves even acknowledged that sales were slow and views were down. For them to do this said to me that it could actually be a bigger deal than I originally thought.

Seeing the bigger picture

I’ve heard a number of truly unreasonable – and honestly disrespectful – things said about the sentiments of sellers who are making it known they are not happy with the changes or their subsequent consequences.  

I would like to address those remarks that I feel are small minded and unreasonable – because clearing these misconceptions up will help foster a civil discussion about the issue, which I would like to do. Because if we are going to talk about this, we can’t have these remarks coming up over and over anymore. They aren’t helpful.

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” – really? In theory this is a valid concept. Diversify, sell in multiple places, etc. But does this really serve or add anything to the conversation at the moment? Most people have one job or are employed by one entity. Do we scold these people for putting all their eggs in one basket if they get laid off? No. Holy crap, no! We wouldn’t dream of it. (Can you imagine?! ‘oh you thought having one job was safe? ha!’) So why do we scold etsy sellers – who have doe well and had a reliable and consistent income from their shops there -when they express a concern about changes that impact their income? I just don’t think this is an okay argument. Even if you are diversifying, it is very natural – and almost essential to a certain extent – that you put more effort into the place the brings you the most return. Which makes it hard to diversify to the point of establishing another equally viable revenue stream. Some people have done it, but it’s not easy.  I know for me, it has been hard to focus my plans elsewhere because my shop was so busy, and I am one person, and I can’t do everything, so I tended to stick with what was working. So please, stop saying this – it is not reasonable.

Next thing I keep hearing is “Etsy is a business / not a democracy.” When people say this, do they really think they are educating others? Everyone knows that Etsy is a business. Their business is to provide a marketplace of vintage, craft supplies and handmade items. I don’t expect Etsy to be perfect, I don’t expect it to stay the same forever, and I don’t expect that just having my items listed there will mean they sell like crazy. I do, however, expect an honest, human-answered, straightforward, timely response to a public outcry – or, to a personal email. Meanwhile, this thread – started by Etsy admin – has gone over a month with no response.

“It’s not up to Etsy to make you money / Etsy is just a platform.” Certainly. But we could argue that it IS up to etsy to provide you with what you pay for which is a marketplace free of resellers. It’s a hot topic – or in some cases, a blurry line. In other cases, it’s not blurry at all. But there is no denying that Etsy actively maintains that they are just as against resellers as the rest of us. This is a dead horse already, but it is worth noting. The issue I think is that what many of us consider to be authentically and responsibly handmade is not necessarily fully in line with Etsy’s definition of handmade, which seems to keep expanding to encompass many types of products and businesses. But if a product is truly just being resold in massive quantities, in theory, we are all in agreement that that should not exist on etsy. Opinions of how well this is being reinforced are varied. The reason this is an issue is – as far as I can tell – twofold. One, the more reseller-y type products on etsy, they more degraded the original concept and expectation set up by Etsy over the years becomes. And two, true resellers have massive amounts of product on hand – they can up their quantities, fill orders quickly, tend to have professional photos, list tons of items, can sell cheaper than a handmade item, etc – all of this makes less space for the genuine handmade products. Please keep this thought in mind as I move to my next point about the recent changes to search.

“No one is forcing you to stay here. / If you don’t like it leave.” I have to admit, in the past, i’ve had this exact thought. If you are truly unhappy and dislike nearly everything about a place, don’t stay. But it’s not very helpful to say that. People know they aren’t being held hostage on  but there is a lot that goes along with closing your shop entirely. If you have invested a decent amount of time building an audience, or creating listings, making connections, etc – it is difficult to just abandon that. Likewise, bearing in mind that we don’t know everyone’s skill level or available capital, it’s not really our place to suggest that someone else just go ahead and move to another platform. There is a whole lot of learning that goes into making your shop on etsy work, and when you go full time with it, it’s no small investment of time or energy. Just imagine having to forget all of that and start over. It’s intimidating. Not to mention, if you have any shred of optimism, you’ll keep giving it more time. Additionally, you’ve probably got a decent amount of money invested. Some of the benefits of Etsy are that they foster a community, you can save your favorites, shop multiple vendors in one go and they bring in a ton of traffic – things that would be hard to replicate on your own. So please, know that people understand they don’t HAVE to stay-  and have probably considered moving on – but it’s not as easy as it sounds when you have years of history, back links, customers, connections and know-how wrapped up specifically in Etsy.

Hard work, expectations, responsibility

Now, to this end, since we all agree we do not expect to magically begin making crazy amounts of money just by listing an item, most of the sellers I know are very active in bettering their shops on all levels. From photography to seo to customer service, I know most folks are actively working on their shops so they might garner more attention, views, links and sales. It is frustrating when you work on something for months or a year and then the standard changes. Example of this would be retaking all your photos to work with a listing layout that favors horizontal orientation just to have the listing format or browse page be changed to favor a vertical image. (This is an example, I seem to remember something like this happening a year or so ago, but again, just an example to give you a sense of what I mean.)

The new front page

I also expect Etsy to have a cohesive and intuitive front page. They always have, until recently. At this point, I believe Etsy does not. The fact is that everyone sees different content on their homepage.  I see a couple of key flaws with the current design of the elements that are the same for us all though. First thing that makes no sense to me is that when you “follow” someone on Etsy, you only see items they’ve favorited, lists/ treasuries they’ve created, and when they’ve followed another user. So if you “follow” my shop, you don’t see anything like new work from me. The expatiation that accompanies the word “follow” (as we are used to with instagram and twitter) simply just doesn’t apply to Etsy. In fact, only if you FAVORITE the shop (not the same as following) do you stand a chance of seeing their newly listed (or relisted) items in 1 of 6 small squares in a short row at the top of your unique front page. Above that – another thing that makes no sense to me about the new design – you see the 6 items you most recently favorited. Why? You already saw and saved these items to your favorites, why are they also here in valuable front page space? You can easily access these links again in your dedicated favorites area. You also see items you’ve favorited in your front page feed. (There are positives if you consider that if you have many followers on Etsy, any items you favorite will gain good exposure because they will show up in the feeds of your followers. Not sure how that actually helps you as a seller to sell your items, but yes, that’s some nice karma for you I suppose. Karma doesn’t pay the bills but…) Some have argued this is really no different than Pinterest, but Pinterest is for collecting and etsy is for shopping. The final thing that really irks me about the new design is that the categories are basically all hidden. The third thing about the new design that is super user-unfriendly is that most of the categories are “hidden”.  Take a look

ETSYFRONTPAGE

 

So this page sort of gives me the impression that they want me to go and search, rather than browse categories AND shop “socially” based on my feed. It’s not super cohesive and by hiding the categories, it makes the experience a bit more confusing for the average user. How do I know this? Because once this came into play, my friends started texting me asking how to find things on Etsy. These are young, internet savvy friends of mine. They are very familiar with online shopping.

Since this page really seems to support a search rather than category browse shopping experience, it comes to mind that you better be on your search ranking game as a seller.

Search + getting found

I decided a long time ago that it really doesn’t make sense to pay to advertise an Etsy shop off-Etsy. I haven’t really done any paid promotion within Etsy, so I can’t speak from experience there. But if I am going to pay for advertising on a blog, for example, I’m sure as hell not going to send that traffic to Etsy. There are like, 50 million ways a person can click right on out of your shop on Etsy. Your much better off directing traffic to your own domain. Free promotion like Pinterest suits me better for promoting Etsy. So this is why I tend to focus more on appearing in search. This has always been my game plan and approach to Etsy.

The changes that were made to search recently are not completely clear to me, I don’t think there has been a definitive run down of the changes or what exactly for sure goes into the algorithm regarding an item as relevant.

Relevancy + stats

You want your items to be as “relevant” in a search as possible because that’s what gets them showing up closer to the first page of search results for any term you might be optimizing for.

(EDIT: there are lots of factors that go into relevancy ranking that we have no control over, I don’t know for sure but I think any of the following could impact relevancy: number of sales on a listing, number of views, number of hearts, using all 5 images, back links, possibly even shop history. Just a guess)

At the end of the summer, I saw some of my strongest listings – that would often show up within the first 5-6 pages of a search- fall into obscurity overnight. Literally, one day they were there on page three, next day, nowhere within the first 30 pages. I have to think that’s not just a ME thing. This indicates to me that a change had taken place in the algorithm – and it did.

Another indicator to me that these changes were not playing in favor of my shop at least : there were no discernible  patterns in my shop stats anymore. From day to day the top keywords would change. If on a wednesday my top keyword phrase was “initial necklace” – on thursday, it was not even in the top six. I have always been very aware of my shop stats, so I noticed this immediately. Another thing I noticed was that I would get lots of hearts on items that had sold a long time ago.  I let it rest for a while to see how the “testing” would play out, but by the end of October I was really starting to get annoyed with the lack of consistency.

Oddly enough, at this time I was asked by Etsy admin to write a post for their Holiday Bootcamp about shop stats, keywords and the like – and how to bring all that together and understand it as the holidays approached. I was surprised by this because i really didn’t think I was “doing it right” anymore at that point. Even though I thought her invite was enough validation that I must have some clue what I was doing, I asked the admin who invited me directly – because I would not want to advise any other seller on something if I had it all backwards. She assured me I was doing everything “perfectly” in terms of keywords and such. I felt better, but I was more confused than ever. If it was something I was doing wrong, I could fix it!

Tweaking + tightening

I dove in and got my research on. I read and reread a lot about SEO within Etsy and made a bunch of changes that were basically just expansions on the things I already had in place. Meaning, I didn’t take on a whole new approach, I just tweaked and tightened up some things. And I did see some improvement after that. But it’s my personal opinion that overall traffic was down on the site – maybe because the new front page doesn’t draw in as much browsing as the old one? Maybe it’s more granular? Maybe people suddenly just don’t like my stuff? I’m not sure.

This is a huge topic, and I know it’s worth discussing because across the board my numbers are down. And I know for a fact that other people’s numbers are down.

Moving forward + the solution

I am very happy to acknowledge that Etsy has every right to change their ways and formats and do as they’d like. But I am also entitled to my opinion on those changes. And I also think that if those changes are negatively impacting me – or anyone else – we are allowed to be upset about it. Think of it as leasing a car. If your normally very reliable Honda that you count on to get your to and from work, suddenly stopped running you would be annoyed. You would take it to the dealership and you would expect them to have some answers about what was wrong/ how to fix it. You would be frustrated that this thing you are paying for, and have no just-as-good back up for – you would be annoyed. You know you would be. So please be respectful when discussing this issue with other sellers.

The solution to this will be different for me than it is for you or someone else. I like having a presence on Etsy. I also enjoy the freedom I get by selling on my own site. There are plenty of ways to approach the next steps. My shop is currently on vacation while I take some time to gather my thoughts for the new year and finishing up my open orders. I fully intend on reopening my shop after the holidays, but my focus will be on my site and on some new projects I am working on.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with Etsy this year!

EDIT: Part 2 is up

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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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59 Comments

  1. Danielle – I’m really looking forward to reading part 2 of this. I think you’ve addressed this issue in a remarkably straightforward and positive manner – and it’s obviously resonated with a lot of folks!

    Anyone who knows me knows I am a big supporter of Etsy – it’s where I started my jewellery business, and still where I make a very big chunk of my sales today – and so I think it’s important to bring to light any changes that affect a huge proportion of the selling population like the search engine algorithm (we think?) seems to have done. My own Etsy sales over the last few months are actually down as compared to this time last year (not by a lot, but views are down significantly). I’ve been seeing an increase on my own site (I don’t promote etsy off-etsy apart from the occasional pin, I promote my own site) I still had my best year ever on the site overall by far, but if the trend since September continues for me and other experienced sellers, it’s definitely something that needs to be addressed with Etsy and that they need to respond to. I’m a big believer in having your own site for just this reason – it’s the only place you have complete control over, and can grow exactly how you like it. That said – I’m certainly sticking to Etsy for as long as they’ll have me, because they are a hugely important platform not only because of the sales/money that platform brings me, but also the new customers that Etsy bring me that might not have found me via a Google search. As a business mentor, I still wholeheartedly recommend Etsy as a great place to start a handmade biz, for so many reasons.

    I suspect, though, that part of why the drop in views is happening may be related to the vast quantities of sellers who are joining and expanding their businesses? More competition may = less views to go around UNLESS an equal/greater number of new buyers are joining/people visiting. I have no idea of numbers here – is it just me, or does Etsy not do the ‘Weather Report’ posts any more – have they renamed them? I would like to have a look at the numbers for this year.

    Funnily enough, in contrast to lots of folks here, I actually like the new landing page ;) I usually find more stuff to check out than I did before with treasuries, because it is more ‘my style’ due to who I follow. Ditto for treasuries – I see ones that are more in line with what I like now. And that endless scroll has sucked me in many a time! :D I used to completely ignore the FP when I logged in, but now I’ll often have a scroll for a moment once or twice a day. I do agree it means you’re less likely to stumble upon truly different stuff you might not have seen otherwise, and for those who don’t follow many people, it could definitely get repetitive (agree re the faves bar being there though – not necessary!).

    This online biz game isn’t easy, that’s for sure, and part of the struggle is that the sand is ALWAYS shifting below us. I think it’s important to remember, though, that the sand is always shifting for everyone in business – no matter if it’s offline or online, handmade or not. Just look at the changes to Facebook and how that has affected businesses, or the print industry as a whole, or every time Google changes their algorithm and the huge impact that has, etc. etc. Change is the only constant, nothing is sacred, and things that work today might not work tomorrow.

    I firmly believe that part of being in business is being aware of the direction the wind is blowing, what’s happening around us, and having confidence in ourselves that no matter what happens, we’ve got the know-how to sort it out.

    • Oh, TOTALLY forgot to mention that I also culled about half of my listings from my Etsy shop a few months ago, so I wasn’t at all surprised that my numbers of listing views dropped – half the items, less views! :) Sales and revenue were still strong, though, overall, and my overall SHOP views haven’t actually changed that much, surprisingly.

  2. Thank you very much for post. I was kinda frustrated about the sale slump in these 2 months especially in this holiday season. I just thought i’m not competitive enough this these high shopping season since I didn’t spent time to update myself with the discussions about the etsy changes.

    I’m agree no more that we all are hard working group on etsy but hope we can find out a solution to fix this bumper.

    Thanks again to voice out for us. Good luck to your business.

  3. Thank you for articulating what many of us are thinking and feeling. Its confusing and disappointing to work very hard for yourself to have a successful business and to suddenly have that change so drastically. We are a hard working group of folks and would do what it takes to be successful. With these recent changes it hasn’t even seemed clear how to do that.

    Again, thanks for being a voice. Hopefully it will be heard.

  4. Danielle – I just shared your post on my facebook page. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and looking forward to part 2. So many of us are wondering why the lights were shut off. The philosophy “if it’s not broke – don’t fix it”- running through our heads. I too Love Etsy for many reasons but truly feel the frustration of the past couple of months. When the changes hit my shop – I was confused. Naively thinking Etsy was broken – had a hiccup throughout the night when I woke up to like 3 views???? I had dropped off the site completely when the previously I had multiple sales a day. The timing of the changes simply horrific – but what are we to do?
    I am one of the optimistic people. I have weathered strange Etsy changes before & will continue to press through and hope. I sell other places, my own site, other handmade sites – but I dont think they compare to the community of Etsy. I hope for all us something good eventually comes from this “bad”.

  5. As someone who used to sell on Etsy, I totally hear it; I completely understand the frustration, anger, and upset you must feel about these new changes.. but I do also have to say that this post comes across as very defensive. Some of the responses raised by other people (“don’t put all your eggs into one basket” and “Etsy is a business” etc.) are VERY valid and I think you take them badly because.. well.. part of you knows they are right.

    I used to have a hobby shop on Etsy years ago, once I realised I could make money I switched to my own domain so I could brand my business better. I quickly realised Etsy doesn’t really “do” handmade anymore, it’s obvious, as time goes on, that all Etsy cares about is putting $$$ in its own pocket.

    Using Etsy puts a glass ceiling above your business; the sooner people realise they are better off away from Etsy, running their own online shop with their own terms and conditions, the better.

    • Hi Sophie, Sure to some extent I am defending myself but I wouldn’t say I am taking them badly. t didn’t say either of those things were not true. In fact I said I agreed with both points: etsy is a business and it is good to put eggs in other baskets. I just don’t think that those are helpful comments in the current situation. They are extremely valid points, I agree, i just think they serve more in a conversation that might take place when someone first begins selling on etsy – in the sense that those are things you should be aware of and keep in mind as you go into it. I think if we are going to talk about the current state of etsy we need to deal with the facts as they are: some people aren’t selling anywhere else (and yes that might not be the wisest thing, and we might think that’s a bad idea) but scolding people for “putting all their eggs in one basket” at this stage doesn’t serve them – it only makes them feel badly for the time they’ve invested in their etsy shop. If it isn’t clear in my post : I wrote this not only based on my own experience. I do sell elsewhere, and I have been focusing more on my off etsy site. But I still feel the frustration for myself and others because etsy did work really well for many people. But I recognize the fact that things change, and that’s good. Etsy isn’t the be all end all, it’s just a wheel on the car for many people. So yes, sort of defensive but also, just don’t think those statements help resolve or discuss the current situation. I see your point though and I agree that it IS better for sellers to go off etsy, but I know it can be difficult to build up the traffic and get eyeballs on stand alone sites.

  6. I’ve always admired your shop. When all this started with the various shops talking about the downturn in sales and views I thought it was the same thing as always. I did experience the same thing starting around September but I had made some serious errors during the summer and I thought those were the reason. Then I started noting that a lot of the shops with concerns were the more successful shops that I have admired over the years and I realized there might be something more to what was going on.

    I’m pretty sure Etsy is somehow “managing” what comes up in search now. I know where my stuff ended up for the most part in various searches and now I notice I have one item per page. That’s not how searches normally work. That’s manipulated. Maybe they’re trying to be more fair, I’m not really sure.

    Anyway, I really like your blog post, it brings up some great points. I love your thoughts on not having your eggs in one basket. I’ve run into the same issue where I don’t have enough time to fully promote more than one venue.

    Good luck with your website. My first goal for the new year is to get my own stand alone website up and running as well.

    Lori

  7. Thank you for such a well articulated and thought provoking post. It is comforting to know I’m not the only one with low sales lately. I must say its very frustrating when I do research off-etsy to see how other etsy sellers are making lots of sales only to discover that a large amount of sellers who are making lots of sales are either selling mass produced low cost items or are selling supplies, which in my opinion kind of goes against the original premise of etsy. I’ve been selling on etsy for 7 years now and noticed with all of the recent changes they have implemented that my sales have dramatically decreased over the past 2 years and this is with consistently tweaking my keywords and search terms. On a positive note, you reminded me that in addition to re-tweaking my keywords, I definitely need to diversify more, and work on wholesaling. Also, a side note to possibly help others- I recently started using my social media accounts more consistently and have noticed that my traffic and overall brand attention has slowly increased and next year I am looking forward to re-creating my own website so that I’m not relying on etsy solely for my business income. Doing everything by myself can get so overwhelming at times so it helps to look at it as a game where I just have to work on a winning strategy. :)

  8. Very well written critique. Thoughtful and systematic. Ignore those people who say constructive criticism is just complaining. In many cases critiques such as yours is really a sign of a resourceful and perceptive individual. We pay Etsy for a service so I believe they should feel some obligation to respond to our needs and suggestions. We make the content – they do not! I hope in the next year, things change for the better. After reading your post and the comments I realize I am in the company of many good and hardworking people. Good luck to us all.

    • thank you for reading. I agree with you!

  9. Wowzas! Talk about fate. I sent my BFF a text 2 days ago that said, verbatim re: lack of sales in Nov & Dec, “I’m so stressed out I can’t even sleep. I literally feel like the whole biz changed behind my back.” She says, whoa whoa whoa, read this post – you aren’t the only one. And now I feel like I’ve stumbled upon one of those moments in life that appears to really suck at first, but in reality is a pure blessing because it allows you to be smacked into reality and make some really positive, really fruitful changes.

    I’m a successful full-time Etsy seller. I run my shop on the side of being a mom to a 2.5 year-old, and a 9 month-old baby. No babysitter, no nanny, no preschool. I fulfill orders, answer emails, market ,tweet, pin, list, relist, photograph, market, etc in my “free” time – like, an hour here and there. So needless to say I don’t have time to read blogs, threads, updates, digest emails, my mail, etc. Etsy wasn’t broken to me – 2014 was an amazing year, with a 50% increase in sales over 2013. Until November. And it. Literally. Halted.

    So yeah, I’m loving this blog post because it reaffirms to me that I’m not nuts, and it has inspired me to open my eyes to doing something I should have done a looooooooong time ago – sell directly from my own website. So thank you, Danielle. Thank you for throwing an iced coffee in my sleep-deprived zombie face, because in 2 days I’ve done more for my own business than I’ve done on Etsy in a month.

    Will I leave Etsy? No way. I get global traffic daily that is priceless. Will I enhance it with another outlet, and hold on a bit more tightly to what is mine? Oh yeah. My creative talent has made Etsy a crap-ton of money over the past 4 years. My turn.

    Cheers!

    • “And now I feel like I’ve stumbled upon one of those moments in life that appears to really suck at first, but in reality is a pure blessing because it allows you to be smacked into reality and make some really positive, really fruitful changes.” YESS

  10. When I started on Etsy three years ago, I felt like my views and sales climbed up and up and continued that way for two years before they started to fall. Then they really plunged since the beginning of this past summer. I feel like every time Etsy makes changes, I have to claw my way back up and it gets harder every time. When people trot out all the old advice, I say I’ve done it all – I’ve added more listings, a greater range of price points, worked on SEO until my head hurt, and promoted outside of Etsy – and yet I still struggle to build a following.

    As a visual artist, I had hoped I could circumvent dealing with gallerists all the time (and losing 50% commission with every sale) by building a thriving Etsy shop. After a dismal holiday season listening to crickets chirp, though, I realize I need to refocus on the traditional route. I won’t leave Etsy because I’ve put too much work into it to give all that up. Also, the occasional sale still makes it worth being on here. However, I will be focusing on other strategies more from now on.

    I feel really sad as a shopper on Etsy, too. It has lost its luster I think because of all the points you mentioned, especially wrt the Front Page.

    At any rate, I’m relieved I’m not alone in feeling this way!

    • I just have to say, you don’t “lose 50%” when you deal with galleries or wholesalers; you should be pricing your products to sell at wholesale so the RRP is twice the wholesale price. It should be all part of working out the retail price, you should still be making a good profit off wholesale/gallery prices because while they get 50% discount, they also buy in larger quantities.

      If you can’t afford to sell your products at 50% discount to wholesalers/galleries, then unfortunately you’re not pricing your products properly.

      • Sophie and heather –
        Sophie is right, it is a matter of pricing properly. It can be hard to do certain works both retail and wholesale for this reason and it might change which venues you sell in (if pricing has to be higher, you might be better suited to selling that particular item in a gallery or museum store setting, as an example) . This is a pretty big topic. Definitely something I have no mastered, I only do a small amount of wholesale on two products. Don’t be afraid to raise your prices. Often times it actually helps sales. (Bonus, you can make less product and make the same amount of money.) Like I said this is a pretty big topic though.

        • Thanks for your responses, Sophie and Danielle,

          I should probably clarify that working with fine art galleries is really different than selling wholesale. When I say “lose 50%,” I mean that most galleries, regardless of how they are positioned, want a 50% commission now where for many eons 30% was the norm. This is something I find frustrating but inevitable, so I do raise my prices when a commission is involved.

          I am really on the fence about raising my prices on Etsy, though, I do have some rather expensive pieces (original paintings) listed which have never sold. Most of what I have sold on Etsy is either under $10 or between $50-100. That tells me that average Etsy shoppers aren’t willing (for the most part) to spend more than that for art.

          Should I permanently double/triple my prices and only sell through my website or galleries and just forget about Etsy, especially given the recent downturn in traffic and difficulties with algorithms? I don’t know…. It’s a leap I haven’t fully embraced yet.

    • The front page has certainly lost it’s appeal, for me. And I know for many others. SEO is still an important practice – not just for etsy. And it can still work. It is frustrating to keep being told “just do this and this” – in this case, i don’t think the issue is soley with SEO and i don’t think it’s soley with any one thing. I think a lot of things are at play here.

      • I do not think it is solely SEO either, and I suspect it may have a great deal to do with the front page. Here are some actual stats from my shop for the first 8 days of December 2013 vs 2014. These are the stats only for ‘Views’.

        Taken directly from stats, these are the categories that my total views were divided into. (Many of you may have many many more views than this, I don’t claim to be a top seller, but last year I almost had my hands more full than I could manage.)

        Figure on left is 2013, figure on right is 2014.

        Browse: 692 / 123
        Shop: 534 / 216
        Listings: 519 / 130
        Search: 246 / 69
        Favorites: 64 / 56
        Shop Sections 51 / 4
        Activity Feed 11 / 17 (this is now “home page”)
        Other 11 / 6
        Profile 9 / 1
        Categories 8 / 3

        So. . . . .If my ‘search’ views are lower this year that is obviously SEO related (and I have begun to work on tags and titles.)

        My concern is actually the drop in views from the OTHER categories. For example ‘browse’. My husband had not been on Etsy for months, so I asked him to asses what he saw. One of his comments was that the very small “white on white” browse button was not sufficiently noticeable and he wasn’t really given adequate incentive to click on it.

        As far as sales go, this year I have sold only 45% of what I did last December.

        Other opinions?

        ~Allison

  11. Hi Sophie and Heather,
    Just to write back briefly on your comments: I’m also far behind in sales this year … and just when I had figured out (early 2014) a pricing formula that would allow the bulk/ discount / commission orders I was trying to bring in, and had been getting inquiries about. Turns out the manufacturing allowance(not acknowledged of the sellers, of course, but those of us who do actually make our items know when the limit has passed for one person, or even a small team, to be making a shop’s listed stock by hand) has made my prices apparently too high for many buyers, especially on first glance (so many shops listing a tiny bit of product at a low price that shows up as listing price). I was pricing specifically so that I could still cover costs of supplies and make a tiny profit per item if I had a wholesale or commission order. My time over the last few weeks spent on trying to resuscitate my Etsy shop included trying to add a line to each listing that said designed and made by me. For a long time I thought that selling on Etsy meant (to me, and to the buyers) that the items were made by the shop owner ….
    Still looking for my market niche and how to educate buyers, I guess.
    Best wishes for a peaceful end of the year and lots of energy for revising and reinvigorating in the New Year,
    Mary

    • My time over the last few weeks spent on trying to resuscitate my Etsy shop included trying to add a line to each listing that said designed and made by me. For a long time I thought that selling on Etsy meant (to me, and to the buyers) that the items were made by the shop owner ….

      such a good point, mary!

    • Mary, I have similar frustrations. I think it’s’ a great idea to add that note because so many things on Etsy now are NOT designed and made by a single person. For me, it’s the challenge of reaching people who want to spend money on original art and to communicate the process behind the paintings and especially printmaking, because many people, I find, are ignorant of the history of the techniques and the labor involved. But then, if the buyer just doesn’t care if they buy their wall art from Target or their jewelry from a manufacturer in China, what else can we do?
      Happy New Year to you as well and best wishes for your business! – Heather

      • yes! happy new year, heather + mary!! cheers to a fresh new start in 2015!

  12. everyone has great points and i feel as if i am coming from a different vantage point.
    i do not reproduce or have duplicates of my paintings or assemblages…
    so i cannot show my sales dropping…yet.
    my best sales are always between january and march.
    however.
    i have been a seller for since 2009 and a buyer for a bit longer…
    i have directed many people to my etsy shop over the years, but more times
    than not, my sales ended in private. people were put off by the paypal in the early years
    and now, just by the navigation of the site.
    if i show my newest painting on my blog
    and direct my followers to etsy,
    they view my listing and are stuck. and then leave.
    etsy isn’t user friendly
    for buyers or sellers anymore
    unless, of course if you are a person for whom
    computer-talk is easy.
    i am 50 and doing the best i can with etsy,
    but the truth is,
    i would rather spend my time in my studio painting
    than to spend hours (for me) learning
    and only have things change.
    or my paintings
    reproduced by some manufacturer in china.
    it makes me feel so crumpled & disappointed.
    and now that i know i am not the only one,
    and that my lack of computer skills isn’t the reson,
    i r think i will leave etsy and put my time into MY art,
    that i am not sharing with manufacturer poachers.

    that is eye-opening for me…a break-through…
    i really will miss the etsy community
    and the friends i have made here,
    the support i have received and given…it will not be forgotten.
    they will remain my friends through other venues.

    good-bye(ish)
    etsy, you really are a money-hog, aren’t you?

  13. Hi Danielle,

    I am just revisiting your post here to see what you think for a new front page Etsy idea. I started a discussion in the forums (I have rarely visited there before). I think you have a sensible viewpoint, so I am curious what you could add to the discussion. It is here if you get the time.

    https://www.etsy.com/teams/7722/discussions/discuss/15970635/page/1

    Thanks!

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