Tell me about Etsy

I like to knit – it’s something to do with my hands while I’m watching TV, or playing Scrabble, or chatting with a friend. I switched from needlepoint to knitting for this after accumulating a bin full of completed projects that I never got around to doing anything with – knitting seems more “practical.”

I’ve made several scarves for myself and a simple sweater. I then tackled a stitch sampler afghan, and am now finishing up another afghan for a friend. Last week I went to the shore, and took along a slew of perle cotton and some circular needles to play with. I’m almost done a scarf – straight stockinette on oversized needles, with stripes running lengthwise. I used about 15 shades of yellow-green-orange, with each row a different color and long tails at each end for a self fringe. It’s turning out really nice, but it’s totally not the kind of thing I wear (it’s a lightweight accessory scarf, not a heavy outerwear scarf).

I started thinking, hm, I should sell this. Hm, Etsy. Hm, I could make more scarves like this and sell them. I poked around there last night, and the logistics seem pretty straightforward, and I think I could ask for $35 for this with a straight face. I’m not sure what my materials cost was – the cotton came out of my needlepoint yarn stash – but it’s probably $15-$20 worth of yarn. Obviously, to charge roughtly double what the materials cost me doesn’t make sense from an hourly wage point of view – but looking at it as “I like to knit anyway, and this way someone else pays for the yarn” it has a certain appeal. Quite a bit, in fact.

So – tell me about Etsy, both about quirks of the site and the process I should know about, and about your experiences selling there. Do things sit there for months, or is your turnover decent? Should I wait until I have several items to open an account an post? Is my plan totally nuts? Etc.

All comments and anecdotes welcome – TIA!

This isn’t about Etsy, but just to say that as long as you’re fine with not even making near minimum wage for your work (so you’re not doing it for money to live on and you’d be doing the knitting ANYWAY since you plain enjoy it but can’t keep everything you make), you might have a chance.

People honestly don’t understand the amount of labor that goes into handcrafted objects. Check out this cross stitch I did.. It’s around 20,000 stitches (40,000 really, since a cross is two separate stitches) and used 90 different floss blends.

People LOVE it. People practically DROOL over it. People say I should SELL it. And when I ask how much they think I should sell it for, they say, “Oh, you could get $50 for it!”

A hah. Hah. Hah.

The labor ALONE (going with $5/hr) would be at least $4000. Anyone willing to do that? Heck, the materials (linen it’s stitched on, floss, scroll frame, etc.) were about $100.
Just don’t plan on making some huge business, is all I’m saying.

That’s very lovely work, zweisamkeit. I look at etsy and drool over the items they sell. I bought a beautiful dress for a friend at her baby shower there and was very pleased with the quality of the workmanship.

I don’t have much advice on selling items there, but I’ve bought a few items from Etsy, and I absolutely LOVE the selection and uniqueness of the items. I could spend hundreds of dollars there a day if I could… What I love most is that it’s affordable and you’ll always have that one-of-a-kind item! I think the drawback you might find is that people may not spend a gross amount of money of a handmade item… I know these items are make by hand which takes a lot of time and love… but I couldn’t/wouldn’t spend over $50 on a handbag for example.

Yeah, that’s pretty much the point of the OP.

This scarf will end up taking a little over a week, at an hour or two a day – and all of those hours being multitasked (I’m talking, watching TV, or playing Scrabble at the same time).

I like your work, twickster. Have you used etsy before? I’ve never sold anything on there, but I do buy regularly, and everyone seems pleasant and generally nice. I imagine the hardest part about etsy is being seen - etsy provides several ways for buyers to showcase their stuff. I find myself going back to the same shops; I imagine building up a group of semi-regular customers is how a lot of etsy sellers keep their shops going.


Bueller? Anyone?

How about advertising your skills and making stuff on request? Sometimes people will have an old sweater they loved, or a knitted doll, or anything handmade, but it is falling in pieces. Suppose they could send it to you and ask you to make a replica?

Thanks, guys – but apparently I’m not being clear. The question isn’t “how can I make money,” but “is there anything it would be helpful to know before starting to offer stuff on Etsy?”

Sorry, I can’t help. The only ETSI I know is the European Telecommunications Standards Institute.


Heya,** twicks.** I have an Etsy site.

I’ve had it for more than a year and have sold only one item (to a friend!) I recently joined one of the Etsy “Street Teams” for my medium. Street Teams are groups of artists. Go to “Community” then click on “Teams.” On the page that takes you to, under the “What Can I Find Here” heading, is a link to “Profiles,” where you can look up teams.

I’m guessing there are many knitting teams, and there might be teams that are better suited to your particular kind of knitting. There’s probably a Philadelphia team.

My point about joining a team is that I have learned a helluva lot about promoting an Etsy site. I don’t necessarily do it, because my time and energy right now are going into doing juried shows, but since I have started participating in my team’s blog and in the monthly “challenges” (i.e., create a piece based on a particular theme), the number of views of my items has increased significantly. And that’s paid off in my Google ranking. Google “Bepob Beads” or “bebopbeads” and I’m the first hit.

I’ve also learned that the way you “tag” your items is really important.

The logistics of the site are indeed very straightforward. I suggest you search Etsy for knitted items like yours and look at the way they are described, photographed, priced, etc.

If you put your stuff on Etsy with the expectation that it will sell just because it’s out there, you’ll be disappointed. But there ARE many people selling successfully on Etsy because they have figured out how to promote their presence.

Feel free to PM or e-mail me if you want more info.

Thanks, freck. I’d thought of you, but couldn’t remember whether you were on Etsy or a similar site. This info is extremely helpful – and I’ll definitely let you know if I come up with more questions!

I opened an Etsy store to get a ‘supportive’ friend off of my back. Haven’t sold anything through that.

Glad to be of help! (And gorgeous afghan, BTW!)

Are we allowed to show off our Etsy shops? Here’s mine. I like Etsy very much. It’s low maintenance, really easy to navigate, and the fees are extremely reasonable–far less than the fees I’ve paid with Ebay. It’s got a thriving customer base and seems to be a great online handcrafts community, in addition to a marketplace.

How you tag your items is weirdly important, as is your photography and your banner–those are the things people seem to get snooty about. There’s a ton of helpful information about the best marketing and promotional practices in the forums and the “Storque”. They hold online seminars and critiques.

Helpful things that immediately come to mind–take the best photos you can, and use all the available photo slots for each item. Every time you list or renew a listing it appears briefly on the front page, so the more frequently or routinely you post, the more exposure you’ll get. I go through cycles where I post things all the time, then slack off for a bit. My sales fluctuate accordingly, but I still get bursts of interest even in the slack periods, so the search functions must work.

One thing I like is the Time Machine feature, which allows you to browse the last 1000 items listed. You can also browse by geography to buy locally, color if you have a friend that likes pink stuff, and a fun feature called “pounce” which finds you new shops with low sales.

What freckafree said about Google rankings is true, too. I had someone find me from the other side of the country because they’d done a Google search for a particular feature on a dog leash–and my Etsy shop was in the first few hits. Sweet!

Very cool stuff, NajaNivea – and an excellent example of a great Etsy shop. Distinctive, niche merchandise. I’m swimming out there in the gigantic sea of jewelers. Good advice, too. I am guilty of not taking advantage of all the photo slots.

BTW, your punk kitty collars? BEST. MODELS. EVAH! :slight_smile:

Freckafree and NajaNivea, both great sites – I’ll be back to both!

What I like about Etsy is Alchemy – the idea that if I want something, I can have somebody make it for me, just like that! If I don’t have a friend who knits, I can acquire a friend who knits – in Tennessee or Wyoming or wherever – and have her make me baby booties or a scarf in any colors I want at a price we agree on! Everybody wins! I just love even looking through Alchemy and seeing the stuff people are looking for. Right now I see people wanting:

A handmade chuppah
Ceramic toilet bowls to serve chili in
Tea-flavored lollipops
Medical alert bracelet for 5-year-old girl
and plenty of people who don’t know exactly what they want, like “Need favors for my bridesmaids.”

The only tiny issues I’ve had is looking for tuba items, I found a woman who had French horn earrings and when I told her they weren’t tubas, she said she’d change the description, but it took her two months to do it (her loss, because she might have sold them to a French horn person) and when I wanted to sign up as Sigmagirl, there was already a user by that name. But there has never been any activity by Sigmagirl. I wonder if I can ask if that account is dormant, can I have it?

Thanks for the info, Naja. Sounds like you and freck are in agreement that I should come up with a distinctive name and look for my shop – yikes. I’d been planning just to register as twickster, always my preferred nom du net, and leave it at that. Guess I’ll have to give that whole end more thought.

Glad to know it before I get started, though – thanks for your advice!

ETA: Yes, those collars are way too cool!

Yeah, one quirk of Etsy is that you can’t change the name of your shop later.

my shop

I can’t complain about Etsy. It’s very easy to use, and I always get a surge of adrenaline when someone purchases something from me or picks one of my items as their favorite.

I wonder how many Dopers are on Etsy?