Monday, June 2, 2008

Etsy says “Quit Your Day Job”

Really? There are now six articles in the Storque promoting the idea that people can make a living on Etsy with that title. Really?


These are mainly interviews with sellers that have been able to quit their day job by selling on Etsy. They are the success stories, if you will. Though there is an opt-in Etsy Success newsletter, they choose to spend man-hours writing Storque articles on the matter, too. Well, they’re mainly just formatted interviews.

Let me focus on the idea being sold – that Etsy can change your life. That Etsy has been responsible for the businesses that have ‘made it’. That Etsy deserves a little praise and faith on our part. Nevermind the countless hours of promotion a seller has to do to 'make it'. Nevermind the fact that most sellers that 'made it' can also make it on eBay or at local craft fairs or brick and mortar shops (depending on their particular trade/items) because of their own talent. Nevermind the fact that many sellers who ‘make it’ (talented or no) are heavily promoted and put forth by Etsy themselves, which results in more exposure and sales. With 100,000+ shops, it is impossible for a good number of them to be promoted to the extent the others have been and actually make a living selling on Etsy.

With a revenue stream based on renewals and relistings and high item retention (over 700,000 new listings in May but only 449,000 sales, which are sold from a pool of all previous month’s listings which also have that terrible balance of nearly 1:2), it is statistically impossible that the dream they are selling can come true for more than a handful of people. And those spots have already been filled, most likely in Etsy’s second burgeoning year before the marketplace became saturated and the economy tanked.

Now, let’s revisit the theme – that it is possible to make a living selling handmade. Should I note that the majority of top sellers on Etsy are supply shops. Oh, and according to the article the latest interviewee still has a day job to bring in a consistent paycheck. And, according to a self-proclamation on the forum, another in that sextet had to take a break because of the demanding pressures…assumingly of working without help.

Be able to quit your day job my ass.

26 Comments:

TheSneakyOne said...

Let's not forget that there's another Etsy success, who is also related to an Admin that has had to take a day job as well.

impetuous said...

well, well, well.
it was all shits and giggles up near the top of this here article
but it got a might bit more serious down below.

Anonymous said...

I do believe you have to be a little bit crazy to put all your income eggs into the malfunctioning basket that is Etsy.

But then, I kinda admire crazy as long as crazy isn't posting every single, sordid, personal life detail on ETC.

"Let's not forget that there's another Etsy success, who is also related to an Admin that has had to take a day job as well."

Dying to know who but won't ask.

Anonymous said...

Oh oh, wait a minute. Does it start with a C?

impetuous said...

now hold on here. can we call out in a guessing game?

If I guess the right name can I say it?

Simone said...

I'm willing to bet that there's pretty much nobody who makes their living from Etsy alone. Even if some sellers' primary income does happen to be generated by Etsy sales, I can't believe that any entirely self-employed designer/maker wouldn't have offline outlets, maybe other online venues/outlets and possibly do the occasional craft fair or market.

And, if not, to be honest I think they'd be crazy not to diversify to at least protect their own business from being so incredibly reliant upon a single other business.

Plus I think Etsy ultimately needs its top sellers in particular far more than they need Etsy.

impetuous said...

I've been acting silly but this is actually a very serious matter.

Etsy does seem to take advantage of, how do I put it, naivety?

Simone said...

Well, I've long suspected that Etsy's success is pinned primarily on 'selling the dream', not by necessarily making that dream a reality.

Of course everybody wins if they can manage to do both, but there is a lot of evidence of Etsy promoting heavily to audiences where they're much more likely to find future sellers rather than buyers.

Plus the site is geared up to require people to renew, renew, renew to be seen. Maybe that wasn't intended to start out with, but I bet they're very heavily reliant on those mountains of 20 centses now! Which is a shame.

impetuous said...

I don't envy them.

The Righteous One said...

impetuous said...

" well, well, well.
it was all shits and giggles up near the top of this here article
but it got a might bit more serious down below."

lol I'm just proud of myself for forming coherent sentences and not saying "Really!?" in a dozen different ways a hundred times over!

Really? REALLY!? Really?! Ra-eely...really? I don't think so...whaaaaaa?! really?

SewCrazyDogLady said...

I just paid my bill.. with paypal fees, etsy fees and materials going up... guess what? I just broke even.. well not really.. I still have products to sell..

seriously, I'm really thinking of bailing.. I can't increase my prices (well I could but without having your HANDS on my collars you wouldn't know how beautiful they are)

Anonymous said...

You guys hit the nail on the head...

Until anyone has a steady following, fan boys and girls who will shop in their stores even if they don't try, there's little hope to make a living from etsy. I agree wholeheartedly with Simone, the way that etsy makes money is by getting new sellers and have them spend 20 cents a hundred times over. Instead on focusing on getting us more customers, they focus on getting us more competition.

cgc said...

"But then, I kinda admire crazy as long as crazy isn't posting every single, sordid, personal life detail on ETC."

But if they don't post every little bit of excrutiating minutia from their lives, how will they know it really happened? Where will they get their validation from? OMG, they might have to become a little bit introspective. Oh the horror!!

UGH!

But I digress...

Anonymous said...

Even when they do a bit to draw in new buyers its focused solely on what they think is hip and cool. They need to take a look outside their own ideas of what is promotable.

Start targeting those groups who have money but no time. Those people though tend not to be into fake moustaches and the like. To do that though means admitting they are a real business and they might lose their indie street cred.

The Disgruntled One said...

Really? REALLY?

And thank you, anonymous, for this comment:

"Start targeting those groups who have money but no time. Those people though tend not to be into fake moustaches and the like. To do that though means admitting they are a real business and they might lose their indie street cred."

That is so very, very true. It also means not spending quite so much time making really, really stupid videos of useless things.

Andy Mathis said...

I love how one of the labels for the original post is "don't quit your day job".

I was surprised back in January 08 when Sugar Lips closed her store. Even lots of sales wasn't enough satisfaction to keep her happy.
Other sellers were sad also, probably because they were worried about being smelly.

Anonymous said...

In a recent thread in the forums on how Etsy is cleaning up by having an inadequate search engine that doesn't return most relevant results so people are forced to renew, someone stated: "I still heard no one complaining. We get to list on here pretty dang cheap. I still think we have it pretty good."

Dang.

Anonymous said...

Etsy should be required to post

**results not typical**

under each of the Storque articles about quitting day jobs.

Just like diet programs, miracle hair-grow snake oil advertisements & all the other companies who advertise on late-night infomercials: trying to sell a dream by featuring the rare success story.

The Righteous One said...

"I still heard no one complaining. We get to list on here pretty dang cheap. I still think we have it pretty good."

They obviously aren't paying attention.

I actually recommended Etsy to friends who sell pretty darn well elsewhere. And they sold absolutely nothing on Etsy in 4 months! Why? Because they didn't renew a dozen times a day to get exposure or to the top of the search results...they already have advertising in place so it wasn't about promotion (as everyone always says). I was so embarrassed that they wasted their money! And they have 3 kids to feed!!

Anonymous said...

YEAH, i don't see how they can promote anyone quitting their day job when as Simone said, they target more sellers, more competition, and not buyers. Even with their half hearted ads in Bust and Home Companion, who do you think reads those mags? Crafters, DIYers, people who will open shop. Not the buying public, and definitely not the people we need shopping etsy in order to actually have a livelihood via our shops.
It's a great dream, but it's unrealistic, and it's irresponsible of etsy to promote it like it does.

And yes, if we all had the crazy backing and support from etsy that the top sellers do, well then shit. Maybe it wouldn't be unrealistic. But we all know the "in crowd" there isn't taking new applications.....

impetuous said...

I am disgusted by Etsy's filthy underbelly.

I agree, anonymous, this is very much like "companies who advertise on late-night infomercials: trying to sell a dream by featuring the rare success story."

People believe this shit. It's not right and totally irresponsible.

Cover That Mother said...

anonymous said....

***results not typical****

Man, that is so funny, so true, and so sad.

j. hart photography said...

LOL! i laugh but then i feel soo bad for people. i see this dream on the etsy forums all the time. we all want so bad to be able to do what we want and not have to go in to an hourly JOB. we all want the "dream". i feel soooo bad for some of the people on the forums that i KNOW really think they can "make it" on etsy.

annoyingly there really are some that keep up the regular sales month after month. i'm pretty sure most have been around for at least a year. i can't believe that the span of time has anything to do with it.... i think it's that they started to sell before etsy got so big and now they are able to retain their momentum somehow. people continuously say "just wait it out" but i don't get it... how do sales gain momentum on etsy???

how can there be some magic sales number that pushes you over the top into regular sales that make a decent profit??

oh man. i could go on. i'm really not quite sure why i care anymore other than i feel like people are being taken advantage of.

Ess said...

I used to work for a very large church in my town. The higher-ups were making some big changes and began meeting regularly with the entire staff (about 100 people) to keep them "informed".

Yeah... It was all about us buying into the vision they had for the church, which many of us did NOT do. They called it "vision casting". The basic idea is that if you tell them how wonderful it is enough times and with enough enthusiasm, they might actually believe it! Can anyone say brainwashing?

The "Quit Your Day Job" series of interviews is eerily similar... Just saying. :)

impetuous said...

vision casting! that just gave me chils. don't drink the kool aid!

Bunny Pincher said...

And, according to a self-proclamation on the forum, another in that sextet had to take a break because of the demanding pressures…assumingly of working without help.
-----
I figure what they don't know, won't hurt me :)