Thursday, December 11, 2008

From the Bitches Auxiliary: Quit Your Day Job for Welfare

Just want to put in my $.02 about this Quit feature. I wish it were gone-- it's so depressing and misleading. The Quitter now is a woman who has sold 818 pieces-- and they are nice, by the way-- but by my estimated calculations, if her average sale price is $50, she has sold a little over $40,000 worth since Sept. 2007. That is gross, not net. How can someone quit their day job for a job that pays them much less than $20 grand a year and has zero benefits? People who take these profiles seriously will be setting their course for the poor house, and retarding them from truly being independant. She would qualify for social services with that income.

This comment was not composed carefully enough for publication, but it needs to be said again and again. Poor, simple, naive little girls should NOT be propagandized into buying the idea that they can support themselves this way. It's disingenuous for them to believe it, but so many young and inexperienced girls will believe it-- just at the time when they should be out making the decisions that will make them successful and able to pay their own bills. Cinderella much?


Well Aux member, we feel that your final comment was composed perfectly for publication. The sooner that young and/or naive Etsy sellers understand that the entire "Quit Your Day Job" series is a load of hot steaming horseshit, the better. Get real with your dreams people.

37 Comments:

ebbandflo said...

I seriously hope the QYDJ series is at least a little tongue in cheek. Very few QYDJ interviews feasibly describe making it on your own and often imply some kind of financial backer is neccessary (or a very low expectation of progression thru life). With the lowering of handcrafting value sitewide, Etsy has a lot of work to make QYDJ anything more than pie (or cupcake) in the sky.

organidog said...

Artists not live on Etsy alone. Unless you're one of the very FEW true success stories. Most of these features have a common thread- college kid making some dough in between classes, the former PT worker, the single mom who now has some spending cash. If you roll a turd around in enough powdered sugar and sprinkles, it may be deceiving to some, but ultimately, it's still a turd.

organidog said...

ETA: My last post was not intended to downcast the achievements of anyone re my examples of the student or the SAHM, but to push a bit of perspective here. Etsy forum posts on this very subject have shown numerous times that a large percentage of sellers are FT employees outside of their goods, single moms, etc whom are struggling as it is. Me included.

adam selene said...

Please note that the seller in question is Canadian. So $40,000USD is closer to $50,000CDN. And Canadians have universal health care with a very small (I think @ $350) annual premium.

Also, I would hope that her net profit is better than half of her gross income, considering that she works out of her home and therefore has low overhead.

My guess is that she probably nets *well* above the Canadian poverty line. Statistics Canada defines the "poverty line" (or low-income cut off) for a single person living in a major city in 2007 as $21,666 (before tax).

I do agree that the QYDJ series fosters unreal expectations. But in this specific case, it's not as unreal as it seems at first glance.

XO Handworks said...

The QYDJ series, for obvious reasons, focuses on the seller's Etsy shop, not their business as a whole. What they're not telling us is how much business they're doing outside of Etsy.
I've sold a lot on Etsy this year, but that's only part of my business. I also do local shows, consignment in local B&Ms, wholesale to stores around the country.
The QYDJ sellers may be at poverty level if you only look at their Etsy sales, but that's not necessarily all their sales income.

TinkerAndPo said...

God what crap.

QYDJ... hahahaha said...

I always think the QYDJ are either trust fund babies... or they do a ton of business off Etsy, but don't admit it.

Either way, it's a farce. As you pointed out, the math proves this in about two seconds.

Megan McGory said...

Seriously, it's almost impossible to run a successful business without tools we NEED to be successful enough to quit our day jobs...stats? Anyone?

What the QYDJ doesn't mention is how many of these women who quit their day jobs have husbands who really are the breadwinners, who didn't want to work outside the home in the first place.

The Dangerous Mezzo said...

Um, adam?

$40,000 US is net. Let's say she's got $25,0000 after that. She's still got to pay currency conversion and PayPal isn't cheap. And she's got to pay taxes.

Even if she's left with 21,000 US, things cost more up here, often a LOT more.

(Not the health care, though -- and I've never paid a premium in my life.)

:)

LaurenB said...

I absolutely agree, I've done the math for myself and if I sold one item per day for an entire year I would be below the american poverty line. The profiles sound like the sellers who are making a living are shackled to their sewing machines and still living with their parents.

honesty said...

What I would LOVE to see a selected seller say in their article.


QYDJ interview question:

"If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself, knowing what you know now?"

Answer "I'd never put my etsy URL on anything. I would register my domain and have it link to etsy because it would be much easier to change now that I'm selling on Artfire."


Question "What have you found to be an unsuccessful promotion?"

Answer "I think the showcases are complete rubbish and waste of money. The renewing thing used to work sometimes since it was a necessary evil because the general search feature sucks---- but then that damn batch uploading bullshit started and now I can't even throw away 20 cents at a time to get a few more views. I think to get real success with promotions, I just need to do the opposite of what etsy suggests."



Question "Is there anything else you'd like to share?"

"Yes there is. If anyone else wants to sign up on Artfire, please let me give you a referral link so I can get free listings for life. I need the money to get my business cards reprinted and move out of my parents house."

Hey Buttons ! said...

I know it was mention before, but this seller is Canadian and the cost of life is probably different from the USA.

Normally I would agree with you about the QYDJ, it's not realistic to be able to live off $40 000 US in the USA.

We have free health care and that takes a lot of financial burden off someones pockets.

I also think that mortgages are also much lower, mine is around $600 and it's a normal house.

In Canada a single person can live well on a small income (my mom make almost $50 000 a year before taxes). But, it helps a lot if you have other venues to sell on and a second income.

Margaret said...

I'd agree. Every few months or so, you'll see a forum post from someone who has sold fewer than a dozen items, talking about how they just quit their job and they are doing etsy full time. That's ridiculous---established sellers with thousands of sales can do that, but that is .0000001% of etsy sellers.

Hey Buttons ! said...

Oh I forgot to mention that if we only look at her Etsy sales, this seller might be able to live off of that, but it might be that she as an apartment and not a home.

And it will be a small apartment.

I also have to say that I would love to see the QYDJ to be more realistic about the financial side. Sellers might sell on other venues(I hope), consignment and wholesale. I wish that would be written in the article, because it would be more realistic.

XO Handworks said...

In November, two MEN were featured and it appears they are not being propped up by wives with high salaries. It's also clear that their business goes beyond just Etsy.

It is possible to live well and support yourself through the work of your hands and this should be celebrated. As with any business, it's best not to have all your eggs in one basket (rely on one venue or one big account), but to have many income avenues.

canadian said...

I could go on and on about how it is NOT cheap to live in Canada but I'll just point out that for a good chunk of the year, the US dollar was worth LESS than the Canadian dollar. I think the lowest exchange rate I saw on PayPal during 2008 was 93 cents. I keep a close eye on that terrible PayPal exchange and try to withdraw funds only when the rate is up (compared to the last few days). I've averaged out the rate I got during the year and it is 1.07. At that rate, US$40k would be CAD$42,800. It's only in the last month or so that the exchange has shot up (thankfully).

♥ Eden said...

I think that these sellers must be doing trade outside of etsy - just check out QYDJ seller HoboCampCrafts - 334 sales since 2006, apparently she does a lot of craft shows.

Andy Mathis said...

lol at honesty- the reprinting of the business cards and moving out of the basement.

The Funny One said...

The QYDJ is the closure of the "Etsy circle of life" which starts out with name that trend, promote that trend to death for months on end, do 6 or 7 "labs" on making that trendy trend, encourage new sellers to produce that trend in order to get Etsy's free promotions (and lots of them ALL over the site) and get picked several times a week for the front page since that's now the main goal, and then get written up in Finds, a couple of Dorkies, be a Featured seller at least once (maybe twice) and then BE NAMED THE QYDJ!!!!!!!

And it took 75 fulltime employees 4 years to come up with the Etsy Formula For Success. Yep, all they do is plug everything they do into the Etsy Formula and poop on you if you DO NOT BELIEVE!!!

Good luck in 2009 when the cost of living is about to go up about, hmmmm, 20% for most people? And selling retail online looks, well, hmmmmmmmm, like shit?

jodie nicholson said...

I would much rather see Etsy provide realistic encouragement for sellers. This QYDJ stuff is bullshit. As is much of the advice they have offered...like the Storque article on customer service.

I do Meringue full time. I am currently working 18-20 hours a day, sometimes more. I have a sales background as well as certificates in Small Business Management and Business Administration. And I find it a freakin' struggle/overwhelming.

I'm all for selling the dream but sell it with some realism. Offer real advice. Get real business mentors in to write guest posts on the Storque....not Etsy Admin, because they have clearly shown that they are not capable of offering sound, educated advice when it comes to running a business.

Day after day I see so many posts in the fora from sellers who bought into the dream, 'List and they shall come'. And all I can think is, you poor bastards.

Etsy keeps bringing more and more sellers in and the place is starting to feel like an over-crowded sheep pen. If they truly wanted to help the handmade movement, they'd arm new sellers with plenty of useful information and even go so far as to scrap the Labs in its current state, instead making it a seller training centre.

Here's a tip, Etsy....when your sellers thrive, so do you. Duh.

and another thing said...

Here's the Storque article I want to read.
"How I Make A Living Since IGFFMDJAE"*

I would enjoy seeing how some of the employees like the way etsy functions after they lose their paycheck and are forced to become just a seller again.

Etsy has a lot more fat to trim.
The name of the obese hog is The Storque.

I have empathy for people that are laid off. It sucks. But perhaps tasting a bit of the bitter etsy medicine will be payback for some of the incompetent staff who have grown accustomed to the sweet cupcakes they try to force feed us.

(*I got fired from my day job at etsy)

Amen Sistah said...

Meringue said: Etsy is starting to feel like an over-crowded sheep pen.

Holy cow, truer words were never spoken!!! I feel like they try to hide all the disorganized mess of a site behind a front page that features Admin favorites!!! All the while enticing poor sad people on who don't even know where the macro function of their camera is, let alone what a lint roller is good for!!

The site is just that - OVERCROWDED!!! And overcrowded with a lot of poor quality merch! Who wants to look through pages & pages of crap to find a few hidden treasures anymore?

OK, rant over...

Vanda said...

Ok. Ok. I love you guys, but

I did make a living out of Etsy for a year and some change. I live in the UK and, although my health care is free, cost of living is vastly superior to the one in the US. I don't have a trust fund and my husband did not support me.

Do I consider wholesale accounts at the time into the picture? Yes. Because people contacted me through Etsy and so, if my shop wasn't there, that wouldn't have happened.

I did give an interview for the Success Stories and I was Featured Seller for about one hour, until Matt realized I had less than 100% feedback and it got pulled. (My biggest peeve is the feedback fascism - when did you last see an Ebay seller with 100%? - and the fact that each item counts, as opposed to transaction. A buyer buys 10 items, transaction goes awry, and well..you get the picture) Two days later I opened my own shop and I'm selling a lot more there than at Etsy.

My point is..it's a springboard. It gives you a taste for it, you gain your footing, get your stuff out there, and then get the hell out of Dodge. It helps that I always had a website, even if it just had a contact link and a link to Etsy. It boggles that so few people thought of that.

Good luck on Artfire, guys! :)

The Kinky One said...

"Here's the Storque article I want to read.
"How I Make A Living Since IGFFMDJAE"*"

Sara is that you?

and another thing said...

The Kinky One said...

"Here's the Storque article I want to read.
"How I Make A Living Since IGFFMDJAE"*"

Sara is that you?


*****

No. I would never work for etsy.

forum rubbernecker said...

The QYDJ has had very few articles on what I would consider viable businesses and product lines that are sustainable beyond an initial Etsy high. In addition to a better emphasis on financials, I would like to see them emphasize sustainable product lines that go beyond trends. ESPECIALLY if they are making anything that violates copyrights and trademarks of other artists. Ahem, fan art.
I've been fortunate enough to take a leave from the real working world to pursue this, but I don't think I can do it full time. I have been working at least 14 hours a day this month. Unless you are a college student living in mom's basement, the financial reality of supporting yourself (at a decent wage) is pretty harsh. I would like to see an article about a single person (no offense to the married people whose spouses support them) who solely supports themselves without living in a cardboard box.

The Funny One said...

It's always interesting to hear from sellers who are in the top 20 on Etsy's list of sellers, but absent from each of their 1st-person perspectives is how much free advertising and promotion they get from Etsy that puts them in that small and finite group.

Etsy gives free promotions worth thousands of dollars to each of these stores, which can go on for several months (and in several cases, 2 years). Some of these stores (once they were picked as Etsy faves) didn't have to do any off-site marketing, which is a never-ending, exhausting and costly "requirement" of setting up a store on Etsy.

While it's evident Etsy had turned into a trend-making-machine that actually marginalizes the world of handmade, Etsy has done little to improve the reputation and value of handmade. Etsy likes the easy way out. They fixate on what they like and promote it. End of story. And it sure has gotten to be a predictable and boring story at that.

fourcrows said...

I just found you and I'm SO happy I did...I really thought I was one of only a few who was questioning the whole Etsy "Quit your Day Job" feature!! Thank you for this post, thank you for this blog!

And, I should add, as an etsy seller...THANK YOU!

Oh...and I just signed up for artfire yesterday.. ;)

no-name-us said...

So nobody should quit their day job until they're already making $50K profit? How does that happen if you also have a day job?

As someone who did quit a day job to start a business a decade ago, I didn't just quit and expect a living to fall into my lap overnight. I had a spouse who was supportive and able to provide health benefits. I had savings to help even out the cash flow, and I secured a business loan. And I was prepared to lose money for the first few years. Turns out I didn't lose money that first year - I cleared about $50 in profit. I would have been thrilled to clear $20,000

Why do you assume that the people in the etsy articles haven't done their homework and prepared to start a business? Why do you assume that they have blindly given up a paycheck to follow a promise of riches made by Etsy? The people who end up looking ignorant of how small businesses are started aren't the people in the articles, but the people who imagine that Etsy is leading people down the garden path to ruin.

Etsy isn't hypnotizing people into quitting their jobs, and the people in the features are doing a lot better business than most of any of us on Etsy, so I wouldn't be so quick to brand them as idiots.

The Righteous One said...

no-name-us, have you been in the Etsy forums? There are many many people who come to Etsy, eating up the QYDJ stuff, and expecting it to fall in their lap.

Great for you having a spouse and benefits to prop you up...that's the point!! Not everyone does.

I'm self-employed, I have no health insurance, and I make a hell of a lot less than $50k - and I'm damn lucky for what I do make. THAT is what they should be talking about - links to the IRS, links to the SBA, talk about how to get a loan, how to manage business vs. personal budgets, where to get health insurance, how to protect yourself as an LLC, etc....not the 'oh I get to work in my pj's and craft all day!' bullshit

Don't QYDJ... said...

Thank you, The Righteous One! I'm always shocked in the forums when I see people (who are ALREADY selling) asking if they need to pay taxes on the money they are making from Etsy, if they need to form a corporation, if they need business insurance, etc.

I feel for the people asking this stuff. Etsy could be a really good resource for information around protecting yourself, your assets and your business. They just choose not too. I'm scared for some of these sellers who are not protecting themselves through a corporation... what happens when someone decides to sue because they are sue happy?

Etsy is so off the mark when it comes to providing real information that is actually helpful to those trying to start a business. When I answered one forum post by saying I have an LLC, I was shocked that many people didn't even know they could do that... they thought sole proprietorship was the only option for them.

I digress... Etsy just wants to keep telling people, QYDJ. It's so easy. It's not easy... it's a lot of work. Rewarding work, and amazing when one can make it happen, but it takes a lot of work, sleepless nights and in my case, it means actually holding onto my day job to pay the bills while I work on my business at night and on the weekends.

jodie nicholson said...

no-name-us, have you been in the Etsy forums? There are many many people who come to Etsy, eating up the QYDJ stuff, and expecting it to fall in their lap.
---------------------------------
Yep. Just one visit to the fora will give you plenty of examples of people who believe they are going to make a living, without doing any homework/research at all. Hell, I've lost count of the number of times I've read where people:
Don't structure their prices. At all.
Believe that their hourly rate is their profit.
Don't know what a business plan is.

To be totally lame, I'll compare it to American Idol. It's like Etsy telling everyone that absolutely anyone can sing. That singing is easy and that everyone can make a top selling album.

It would be far more helpful for them to point people in the direction of places to take singing lessons... it would be a real point of difference from all the handmade sites popping up now.

Done said...

However irresponsible and wrongheaded the QYDJ series is, anyone who is stupid enough to buy into it deserves to be taken for a ride.
Abject poverty builds character.

Heidi said...

Maybe many on the forums can quit their day job.


They might have a $7.50/hour 20hour/week job.

Many have a husband/parent/family that financially supports them.

We don't really know.

blackberry said...

Wow, way to be super cynical. If anyone quits their job to sell full time after just reading a few QYDJ article and not doing the maths, then they're stupid enough to deserve whatever they get. Personally, I dream of being able to make a living off my online craft shop, along with another webshop I'm setting up with my boyfriend. There's really no need to put a downer on people's inspirations.

soapdeli said...

Actually, where I'm at she'd have to make under $11K to qualify for things like food stamps.

With what I made from my sales online and off with one dependents in 2007 I'm over the poverty line but I'd be dirt broke and unable to pay my existing bills unless I was debt free.

My dependent would qualify for free healthcare through the state though but probably not medicaid.

cynicallyopenminded said...

Gosh, its hard to Quit My Day Job, when I am currently being forced to chase a Non Paying Buyer. Nice checkout fix Etsy ::flipping bird yet again::

FWIW, I am *not* going to relist this piece.