The Etsy Experiment: One Year In

I started a store on Etsy a little over a year ago as a side hustle experiment. I wanted to see if we could sell some of the artwork that my dad hand-painted and created from parts from our old vintage motorcycle restorations.

If you’re not familiar with Etsy, it’s a marketplace that is a world of vintage and handmade goods with more than a million independent sellers from everywhere according to their home page.

The synopsis:

Etsy has been fairly good to me. In all of 2016, I made 12 sales  which came out to a grand total of $434.65. That averages out to 1 sale a month and a little over $36 per sale. It took me about 6 months to get my first sale in June which was followed by another singular sale in July. Things were slow, more like dead, until November which also happened to be my best month of sales with 6 followed by a steady sales month of December at 4. January 2017 saw no sales and I got another sale in early February of this year

The good: 

I like selling on Etsy because it’s a new marketplace full of opportunity for me. There’s millions of sellers so I’m sure there’s also millions of potential customers. Some people really like buying on Etsy just like some people really like buying on eBay or Amazon. For some reason, a lot of people do have brand loyalty to one online marketplace over the others.

Historically, the majority of the customers I’ve had throughout the years, simply because of the industry that I was involved in, have been male. However, the majority of users on Etsy are female. This is a whole new demographic that my products would appeal to. It’s the perfect place for women to get a gift for that special man in their lives whether it’s their husband, grandpa, brother, uncle, or boyfriend, especially for Christmas which my spike in sales in November and December tell me.

The fees are very reasonable. It only costs 20 cents to list an item for up to 4 months. I remember back in the day when I used to pay 30 cents to list an item on eBay and it would only be good for up to 30 days if it didn’t sell. The selling fees are pretty low (to me) at around 3-4% which I’m happy to pay compared to the 10% plus that I pay on eBay. There’s also no monthly store fee like I deal with with Shopify on our website so if I don’t sell anything it doesn’t burn a huge hole in my wallet.

The bad: 

Etsy boasts that they have over one million independent sellers. That’s good for customers as there’s a lot of selection but that’s bad for me since there’s a lot of competition for customers’ attention and money. It’s not easy being a small fish in a huge sea.

With my main customer demographic being males and most Etsy-users being female, it’s not the place for my ideal customer base to purchase. I’m sure sales would be better if there were more males using Etsy but I’ll take what I can since Etsy fees are so minimal. Whatever money I make on Etsy is a nice bump to my bottom line but I’m glad that it’s not my main selling outlet.

With over 70% of my sales occurring in the 2 months leading up to Christmas, it seems like it’s a very seasonal selling platform. That’s not a huge concern for me as I’m not dependent on a steady year-round income so I’m okay with that. If I was, that would be an entirely different story.

During the 13-ish months my Etsy store has been open, I’ve had 8,620 views. That means I average a sale every 663 views so that tells me that it takes some time.

The bottom line: 

I like Etsy but it’s not the end-all, be-all for me. If you make handmade goods, Etsy is probably the best online marketplace to showcase and sell them. I would use Etsy in coordination with your own independent e-commerce site like Shopify*. If you don’t make handmade goods then Etsy wouldn’t be a good fit for you. If you have a business that caters mostly to women, Etsy would be a great place to sell your handmade goods. If you cater mostly to men, it might be hit or miss for you.

It’s quite possible that it’ll take some time to make your first sale or to really get the ball rolling so you’ll have to be patient. If you can’t afford to take your time, Etsy probably isn’t the place for you and I’d suggest looking to sell your goods elsewhere.

Selling your goods on Etsy will more than likely give your business a sales boost during the holiday buying season, but it would probably more difficult for you to create steady year-round income. It’s a great place to earn some supplemental income here and there.

I’ll continue to use Etsy and I hope to build upon the small successes that I’ve already had.

If you’d like to check out my store, you can here.

*This is an affiliate link. I earn some commission if you sign up your shop after the free 14-day free trial. I use Shopify to run my e-commerce store and wouldn’t endorse something that I didn’t use myself. Thanks for your support!

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14 comments

  1. Congrats, man! I think that’s great! We had an etsy shop for about a year and a half (maybe it’s still up… I haven’t checked!). It only sold seasonal items, but other than a couple of digital sales, we never actually made a physical sale.

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  2. Great story! Terrific way to supplement the income side of the equation and too little discussed.

    I’ve never tried Etsy but I love Shopify. Give it and go. Good luck!

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  3. We’ve brainstormed ideas for setting up an Etsy shop in the past, but never pulled the trigger on it. It seems like it could be a good platform for the right type of product. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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  4. I just launched an Etsy shop two weeks ago. I’ve sold eight units so far (@ 2.50 a unit) and it’s been exciting! But my – shipping is a PITA! Any advice?

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    • Awesome to hear about the sales! Not so awesome about the shipping. We’ve shipped large motorcycle parts in a different business and even had to build a crate to ship a motor all the way to Norway so I know how annoying shipping can be! You could try changing/modifying your product to make it a little easier to ship? If you can’t, maybe raise your prices to make up for the shipping inconvenience? If you can’t do either of those then maybe forgo selling online all together. Maybe there’s some local art shows/festivals/pop-up shops that you can be a part of so you don’t have to bother with shipping?Hopefully those are some good starting points for you to explore. Let me know if you need anything else!

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