Home/Posts/Calligraphy, Calligraphy Business 101, Business Tips/Pros and Cons of Running an Etsy Shop

I was an early adopter of Etsy and I am grateful for the platform it gave me. However, as most of you know, over the last 8-10 years Etsy has become increasingly over saturated. Because of this, plenty of creatives are jumping ship or not even considering Etsy at all. Even though it is a different site than when I started out, I would still recommend considering if Etsy is a good platform for you.  I put together a quick list of pros and cons to help you decide. Disclaimer: These opinions are my own and based on my own Etsy experience. I welcome any other additions to the list in the comment section.

pros

EASE OF SETUP AND USE
Setting up a shop can take you a matter of minutes! The set up is free but there is a listing fee of $0.20 per product. Etsy takes you step-by-step with the set up so you never feel too overwhelmed. In addition, If you’re selling digital products, Etsy is an easy way to make that transaction happen. Don’t have a program or software to make yourself a logo or banner? Try Canva for a free Etsy banner. Also try Creative Market and/or talented graphic designer friends for any of your other branding needs.

GOOD FOR SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION & ADVERTISING (SEO)
We have had great luck with tweaking our SEO on our site to get more views which continue to generate into sales. You can also pay per week to advertise which might be well worth it (and almost necessary) since the market is so saturated. Here is a good guide and introduction to Etsy SEO.

ANALYTICS
Etsy offers great analytics, especially after you work on your SEO and spend some money with advertising. You get to check the keywords people are searching for when they find your shop which helps you advertise more effectively. Also, You can easily download your sales and financial statistics which will help your business growth and management.

GREAT MOBILE APP
If a customer asks a question or a sale comes through, we can track it very easily on our phones or tablets without having to take out a laptop. You can even set up new listings through the app.

BUILT IN AUDIENCE
Many people search first in Etsy before even a google search when they want to find a specific product. That is why it is important to get in front of the potential clients using advanced tools like SEO and advertising.

COMMUNICATION & PEACE OF MIND
It is very easy to communicate with customers, especially with the mobile app! You also don’t fear that your shop might have a technical glitch or mess up an order. Their platform is very trustworthy so you can rest easy regarding technical difficulties.

 

cons


TOTAL MARKET SATURATION
I know most people are scared off by the hundreds of thousands of etsy shops out there. To be honest, I don’t blame you — it IS saturated and increasingly hard for new shops to get noticed. My advice would be to never rely on Etsy alone to make your sales. You will most likely not sell very much (if at all) if you don’t spend time working on your SEO, paid Etsy advertising, social media & online presence, and in person sales.

SELLER FEES
There is a 3.5% transaction fee on all products sold + a $0.20 list fee. For example, let’s say you are selling a print of your artwork for $25. The listing is $.20 and the etsy fee for each sale is ~ $.87. Not a huge cut but if you sell a lot of product, this does add up.

POOR SHOP AWARENESS
For some reason, when people buy something from Etsy, they are more inclined to say “I bought this from Etsy” vs. the artist or shop owner’s name. This makes it hard to grow word of mouth if this is your only platform. This makes it very important to spend time promoting your work on social media platforms like Instagram, which works really well for product based creative businesses.

SUGGESTS COMPETITORS’ SHOPS
If your Etsy item sells out, Etsy will “suggest” similar items, none of which are from your own shop and are all from competitors. It can get annoying since you want that potential customer to keep shopping with you!

LIMITED INTEGRATIONS
Etsy doesn’t integrate well with many inventory systems as well as email service providers such as Mailchimp, in terms of tracking sales from Eblast campaigns.

NEGATIVE FEEDBACK
Etsy makes it so anyone can write a review about your shop if they purchased from you. This is definitely for the shop owners benefit as it legitimizes your business which brings in more sales. However, if you are a shop owner who has a lot of fine print and your return policy is strict, chances are you will get some negative buyers who either haven’t read your fine print or are just upset that they can’t return your item {even if it was custom created for them}. A lot of sellers bend over backwards trying to please those customers so they don’t write a negative review or sometimes buyers write a negative review without even contacting you to see if you will correct the issue. This happens at the cost of sellers and can be difficult to navigate.

finalthoughts

FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU

If you are just starting out, the ease of use and SEO are so important that there is no reason you should NOT have your calligraphy business on etsy right now. It is a great platform to learn from just by opening up a shop and taking the plunge!

If you are already an established calligraphy business and other channels are working for you just fine, stick with what you’re doing and don’t feel the pressure to join and manage one more thing.

You have to know what will work for you: what do you offer? Are you product based? Do you want to focus on just custom work? Do you have physical or digital prints to sell? Ask yourself clarifying questions to hone in on what you actually want to do and get paid for.

Additionally, Etsy is not the only online retailer for creative entrepreneurs! For continued research, check out this article to explore and compare the alternatives to Etsy such as Big Cartel or ArtFire.


POINTERS FOR SELLING CALLIGRAPHY SERVICES

Most of these pros and cons are applicable to an Etsy shop with physical products – not specifically calligraphy services. If you are a calligrapher simply looking to get more exposure for your handwritten work, we would recommend deposit-type listings that include images of your offered scripts and various services. I would still have your clients sign full contracts offline, so that they accept all of your standard policies. While we did start out handling wedding work through Etsy, we no longer accept any custom orders through our Etsy shop, it is strictly product based for us at this point. I will have another blog post soon about how to set up your deposit-type listings on etsy or your personal website.

To learn more about running a calligraphy business, including shop options, be sure to check out Calligraphy Business Bootcamp coming this Spring. 

2017-05-31T00:33:45+00:00 February 8th, 2017|Calligraphy, Calligraphy Business 101, Business Tips|

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