Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The markets v. etsy selling...

This is such a broad and confusing topic, but I get asked about it ALL the time, so I thought I might try and write a post about my experience of these two things... be warned, it's quite long!


Well, Etsy is great, and I love it, but it's pretty hard to sell things in such a ginormous place. How on earth are you supposed to get noticed and if you do have an Etsy Shop, how do you convince people that your products are actually worth it... they can only see photos, then there is the shipping side of things... no instant gratification for mail order, especially if you are overseas. And then if you put Etsy into the context of the internet, which is an even bigger space with even more competitors and distractions, it's all a bit daunting! In some ways, I'm tempted to say that Etsy selling is cheaper than market selling, but when you take into account the time you spend taking pictures, writing descriptions, and promoting your item online such as through twitter, facebook, relisting etc. it probably isn't. It's all quite time consuming and whilst I'm pretty comfortable with it now, it was overwhelming and stressful when I first started. The good thing is that you can begin to build a network of people who love your work and who are really supportive of what you do, and who begin to help you promote your work with you, just because they like it. It can also be great market research, you get to see who is hearting what and you start to figure out the good and the maybe not not so good points of your products.


There were 171 000 new members in July on Etsy, that takes into account buyers and sellers, but it's rather staggering, and when researching this whole concept earlier in the year, I remember doing the maths that the view to purchase ratio is 300/1. So for every 300 views, someone buys something.

And I think it's only fair at this point that I mention that I have a Bachelor of Visual Communication where I majored in photography and imaging, so programs like Photoshop and Illustrator are second nature to me and I'm pretty handy with a camera... not everyone has this advantage!

The Markets:

The markets are utterly different. For starters, you have about 100 or so stalls, so the marketplace is tiny in comparison, and so are the number of competitors, and when selling handmade items at a market, you will always have a competitive edge over people selling cheaper imported items because you know your product so well, and often that passion alone can sell things! Plus people expect things like this at a market, it's often the very reason that they came. Almost everything on Etsy is handmade, and the people looking are often crafters themselves, and so are harder to impress than your average non-crafty type! 

The markets are time consuming too! You spend a whole day there, but you spend much more time in prerparation for them. Nothing worse than looking silly in front of potentional customers and the general public, plus you need to make sure that you have much more stock than you can sell. When I first did the markets, I didn't know what to expect, I find that I usually sell about a quarter to a third of what I take, I've had a couple of days where I managed to sell half of my stock, but then I had that horrific day which I posted about a couple of weeks ago, where I barely sold a thing! And you should always stay put until the end of the day... I made $220 as I was closing up last Saturday, and I always sell at least 2 things when I start packing up!

my table

So the positive side of the markets is everything that is negative about Etsy. You're right there, people can see, feel, smell your product, they can hold them and compare them with your other items, they can buy 2 for a little bit of a discount and they don't have to worry about postage costs and waiting. The crowd doesn't have to be internet savvy and they don't have to know about the wonders of Etsy, facebook, twitter, flickr or your blog to find you, and you can give them a funky little postcard with your name on it and they can specifically find that Etsy shop later on if need be. You will always sell more on a bad day at the markets than a good day, or sometimes week, on Etsy.

For me, I'm trying to use the two in unison. I get a lot of tourists at the markets and they don't always want to be carrying around an extra soft toy on their travels, so they want to go home and go online and have it posted them, they've already seen it and know that it's worth the money and the waiting. And you've just made someone else aware of the greatness of Etsy- of the online craft community!

Hope this helps someone out there!



kim said...

this is awesome thanks for taking the time to write it all out. One day when I get more comfortable with my craft I hope to sell and I have often wondered what the markets are like.

Holly said...

I find a lot of new sellers to etsy are like "great, I've set up my etsy shop, stocked it up and now I'm gonna sit back and wait for the sales to roll in." Etsy is HUGE! Huge! Your items last on the front page for like 3 seconds after you list them before someone else's replace them and they scroll off the screen. Basically unless you direct someone to your etsy shop through promotion there is no way they'd find you. So it's great in that there's no overheads but like you said - it's so huge! I like a combination of markets and etsy too. This article is great and I'll definitely point new sellers to it when I get asked questions! Thanks! :D
Holly xx

Sarah said...

Thank you for this post. I opened my Etsy store just a couple of weeks ago and just like Holly was saying, I was excited. I'd finally set my store up, only to find that something that I posted for sale 20 mins ago was now page 3 of a search for that item! It's really disheartening for new sellers.
I've now been thinking about some markets but just need a little persuasion so thank yyou for the article, it all helps.

Mitsy/ArtMind said...

What an interesting read! I've been on Etsy little over 2 years now and it is time consuming. I have been very lucky to be able to join probably the best streetteam on Etsy and everyone just helps each other enormously.
I would advise everyone to join a team - it makes you less of a loner in the big big Etsy world.
I've met some amazing people through Etsy - customers & sellers and it makes the world such a small place!
I've only started doing markets recently and I love it to hear direct feedback on your product. The first market was awesome and I made very good sales, the last one was salewise a disaster but the fact that you hear feedback makes all up for it. It does not always have to translate into sales.
I wish we had more frequent markets here as I think it would make me feel less like a hermit going out there instead of sitting in front of my computer screen! ;)
Thanks for this great post! :)

www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawl24HQiyXbBUKOPBYm6FJO7JJ73kCr9xdo said...

Hey Bec, thanks for taking the time to write all this out. I am not ready to do any selling yet but having looked into it a bit I have been having thoughts that even though selling through Etsy is what most people "do", the odds of making a sale amongst all of the sellers and all of the great stuff are so small its ridiculous. But I am also a "part time" crafter along with all the other part time aspects of my life (studying, parenting, working, crafting - not all all of the time and not in equal proportions) that preparing for just one market might take me a whole year! Its so good to hear of your experiences. Thanks.

Rosalind said...

Definitely pros and cons to both but at least with Etsy you get a chance at tapping into a market that you could never reach with local markets. I have made some great friends with some of my Etsy customers in the US which is lovely. If you are lucky enough to have an item used for a gift guide or treasury, that really helps raise the profile too. You can always search out a popular blog with US readers and do a guest giveaway referring them back to your Etsy store! Thanks for the post.