Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Is Etsy For Me?

Whether you want to work at a hobby level or work towards quitting your day job, Etsy is a pretty good fit for most people with something to sell.  What you sell must be handmade, vintage, or supplies, but that covers a lot.  Some people I meet are intimidated at the thought of selling online.  Here is what they are concerned about and my answer to those concerns:
  • I don't want to have to handle payments or get burned by someone who doesn't pay me or bounces their check.  Fortunately, the primary payment method on Etsy is through Paypal.  Paypal processes the payments for you, keeping you safe from bounced checks and providing security for the buyer's credit card or bank information.  Your customer doesn't even have to create a Paypal account unless they want to.  Both Etsy and Paypal have policies in place to protect both buyers and sellers from fraud.  Paypal takes a percentage of the money you are getting, but its comparable to what you would pay to do credit card processing on your own.  
  • I don't make enough stuff to sell.  You only need to list what you have or what you are willing to make if someone orders it.  Your shop will do better with more items, but you can do what's comfortable for you.  Some shops even sit empty for periods of time.
  • Nobody will ever find my stuff.  Etsy has a worldwide audience. You'll be impressed with how many people manage to pop in and take a look.
  • I don't have anything to offer. What is it that you get compliments on from other people?  Are you great at designing cards and invitations?  Maybe you crochet baby booties or make hair bows.  Do you recycle/upcycle/repurpose things into new creations?  Maybe you have a knack for finding great deals on vintage items or can provide supplies for others who make things.  Take a look around Etsy and you're bound to see something that you identify with.
  • Isn't it expensive?  You only pay 20 cents for each item listed for sale.  The listing stays up for four months (unless it sells).  You can renew the listing at any time for 20 cents more.  Some sellers regularly renew their listings so they show up sooner in searches, but you only need do what you can afford.  When your item sells, Etsy will charge you a fee of 3.5% of the price (not including shipping).  Twenty cents isn't really much of a gamble to have your item out there in front of the world.  Local boutiques and craft fairs often cost $25-$100, whether or not you sell anything, and some even charge an additional percentage of sales on top of that.  Don't believe me?  Here is the information for a craft show held in my area:  $100 plus 20% of gross sales.  Etsy is a great deal when you're just getting started.
  • I don't have a clue how to set up an Etsy shop.  Etsy has a Seller's Handbook that walks you through the process, answers questions, and even gives you information on more advanced things for once you get your shop going.
  • I don't want to become a slave to the Etsy shop.  You don't have to babysit your shop.  Etsy will let you know if something sells.  You'll get an email so you know to prepare the item to be shipped.  Going on vacation or just need a break?  Etsy has a vacation setting that shops can activate so items won't be sold while you're away. When you're ready to sell again, take the shop off of vacation status.
With finances being tight for so many people,  it only makes sense to find ways to bring in a little extra money.  Who may eventually be able to quit your day job (or avoid having to get one).

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