Etsy has been great to me. I consider myself an 80% handmade seller. I do not grow my own wool. I do not sheer my own sheep (I actually don’t use wool very often as it turns out). I do not spin or dye my own yarn (yet!). But, with my hook and my time, I make some pretty cool stuff (toot toot). About 90% of the time, I design my own patterns or just make random stuff. About 10% of the time, I use other people’s patterns. So…I figure, I can claim to be about 80% handmade.
If you get onto the Etsy forums, you will see dozens and dozens and dozens of posts about how Etsy doesn’t care about handmade sellers. About how there are no handmade sellers left on Etsy. About how Etsy has destroyed the handmade market.
I beg to differ. I am proof, 100% living proof, that there is still a handmade market on Etsy. I have seen similar products to mine, produced on knitting machines in droves, all over Etsy…and guess what, they are 1/2 the price of my products. And yet, my products are selling. Have I made millions? Nope. Have I reduced the debt my business was in by 82% since January? Yup. I sure have. I am still in the red…but I am a WHOLE LOT LESS in the red now than I was in January. And, I still have 2.5 months to pull myself into black before the year ends.
It is easy to complain. I do it constantly, just ask my poor husband. But what good has complaining really done for you, or your shop?
Is complaining about the “new” categories going to change them? Nope. But, you can sit in on the Etsy admin forum talking session thingies and give your recommendations. Are they necessarily going to take your recommendation? Maybe, maybe not…but at least you have then voiced your opinion in a constructive way. Think of it this way…if you absolutely love how you fold the laundry, but your kids complain about it all the time…”I hate having to unfold my clothes!” “I want to hang everything up all the time!” “I want you to fold the arms in first before the rest of the shirt!” “I think your way is stupid and inefficient!” Are you more likely to change the way you do things, or to defend the way you do it? You are more likely to defend your methods. Now, if your kids come up to you and say, “Mom…I think that if we folded T-shirts like this, it might save you time based on this and this and this. Also, it would help keep the wrinkles from setting in as quickly because of this and this.” Are you more likely to now consider what they have to say? Probably. And, you may or may not change your methods…but the important thing is, they have spoken to you in a way that got through to you and made you at least listen and consider what they were saying.
You see posted a lot that people don’t bother reporting resellers of non-approved mass manufactured goods on Etsy. “It isn’t my job.” “It isn’t my problem.” “It isn’t worth my time.” But, these same people are the ones making dozens of complaints about these resellers. Here’s my question…how long does it take to report something you have already seen? I mean, I ma not talking about going out and searching for this stuff…I mean, reporting it when you come across it. Thirty seconds? I mean, you are already there, looking at it…it is two little buttons. Does Etsy have a staff that combs the site and tries to get rid of this sort of stuff? You can bet your bottom dollar they do! Is that staff huge? Nope. Can they keep up with the new shops constantly opening? Nope. Did you agree to report “illegal” behavior when you joined Etsy? You sure did, it is in the TOUs. Reporting the item gives it a better chance of being seen, of being removed. Help Etsy fight from the inside.
Am I totally frustrated by every single change to search and to SEO? Sure I am. I hate writing listings. I hate SEO. I hate having to go in and change my listings. I am not hip. I am not fly. I don’t keep up with the times. I have never been, and never will be, classified as “cool” or “fetch.” (so not gonna happen!). But, after a brief mumble under my breath, I go in and make the changes I need to. Do I think the way Etsy does SEO is terrible? Sure…it doesn’t make sense compared to large search engines. But, the way I see it is…while people are in the forums whining and crying and refusing to change because they “know how to do SEO”, I am editing my listings and being found in search. They aren’t. That gives me a clear advantage for selling…because well, it is hard to buy a product you can’t find.
Yes, your sales may have dropped. But when you post that, and someone responds with, try social media…and your response is “F– YOU I DON’T WANT TO!” Well, then you have given up your right to complain…because you are not doing everything you can. And no, posting a listing on twitter once a day does not count as social media time. Learn about social media…use it to your advantage. Bring in your own customers! When someone responds that your SEO needs work…and your response is “I’ve already worked on it!” Well, you have given up your right to complain…because you are NOT doing all you can. Running a business is a hard work…and it should feel that way sometimes. If it were all cakes, lollypops, and ice cream…well…we would all be much fatter, in pocket and in belly.
As the most incredible Stacey says, it is all about perspective. I can look at my business and freak out because I am still in debt. Things aren’t selling at this insane rate like for some shops. I haven’t been able to quit my day job and make $10,000 a month off of my shop. Or, I can look at where I was a year ago and where I am now. Was it hard work? Heck yea. Am I exhausted? Most assuredly. Am I in a better situation with the shop than I was a year ago? You betcha. And that…my friends…is what matters.