Saturday, April 4, 2009

Tickle us pink, we were right

Remember how we were afraid that Etsy was "branding" the wrong image - remember how we always call them hipsters and people laugh. Remember the shit some of you gave us for it.* Well, guess what?! We were right!

Last week, New York Magazine did a shop local feature with their fave items from Etsy, which, in the writer's own words, is about what exactly?

When Etsy, the Brooklyn-based online marketplace for all things handcrafted, launched in 2005, it sounded like another small-time, doomed-for-failure venture trying to capitalize on homespun hipsterism. Why not just sell and buy stuff on eBay, like the rest of the world? And who wants to buy other people’s crocheted pot holders, anyway? Hah. By 2008, Etsy’s sales had reached $87.5 million. And to its 2.1 million registered users, Etsy is much more than a virtual warehouse. Etsians, as regular buyers and sellers call themselves, want to live in a handmade world, from the clothes they wear to the forest-life stencils on their walls.

The Etsy lifestyle has a recognizable aesthetic, which looks remarkably like that of skinny-jeans-wearing, Slow Food–eating, bike-commuting hipsters. The site has pushed this aesthetic global; its vendors represent 150 countries.

Wow...way to ignore the majority of sellers who don't fit that aesthetic! What about all the metalsmiths and artists with years of experience and/or training? What about the potters who actually know how to make stoneware? What about the non-hipsters (which is just about everyone but admin)? Now granted, other NY hipsters like NY hipster ware - so NY mag was appealing to its own demographic. But this Etsy brand is out there - it's public knowledge - it's in stone.

This branding should piss off everyone who sells at Etsy because this makes Etsy it's own brand, attempting to attract only a certain type of buyer - they don't know who their sellers' audience or clients are. All they know is what they like - it's a fucking juried site! Only those they promote are going to benefit from being on Etsy.

My advice, and do take this as you will, but I would jump ship faster than rats when they set a cat loose. If you're going to be bringing in all your buyers anyway, might as well do it somewhere cheaper - say a free shop like ecrater or blujay, or on a handmade site like Artfire where a free shop is possible - or an outright juried site like 1000markets - there are lots of alternatives that haven't yet branded themselves into a corner!

When we told Etsy to advertise, it was to use their trademarked tagline (which is misused in the NYMag article btw) not to brand themselves. As a venue, their brand should be broad - instead they narrowed it down to themselves and their taste, 20-something delusion with a whiff of arrogance.

*Many of our regular readers did get it, but there were some doubters, some cupcakes, and some denialists - so to them: how's Etsy been with the vaseline? cause you have been taking it whether you realized it or not


Anonymous said...

Thank you Sir, may I have another?

AliciaMae said...

so glad I haven't relisted in a while...and I've been shopping on Artfire lately because I love their search. btw anyone leaving Etsy should drop their link on my Former Etsy Seller lens on Squidoo to help buyers find them or contact me with the link.

forum rubbernecker said...

My most recent sales were to a New York socialite and someone who lives right on the CA coast among the gazillionaires. I doubt that these are what Etsy had in mind when they started, yet these are who have found Etsy. I am baffled at Etsy's insistence on clinging to their grungy-too-hip-for-the-real-world roots. A lot of what Etsy promotes is not based in reality, but in the world of 20 something princesses who like to dream of dressing up in wood nymph felt leaf necklaces and equestrian prep while sipping from mustache glasses as they stand in an emo pose that indicates likely scoliolis. And while this is all fun and quirky, it has very little to do with what people use and wear and do in their lives. Etsy, for whatever reason, wants to continue to operate in the red but sticking to their unprofitable guns.

Slightly Twisted said...

When you are RIGHT, you are so RIGHT it is scary! They definitely do not understand the idea of the things outside their little Brooklyn walls, do they?

I knew it was a matter of time before sellers started to pull out and go where they are REALLY and TRULY appreciated. Just check out all the yahoo groups. People are letting their listings run out, closing up shop and moving on to better things.

Etsy when you are WRONG, you are so WRONG!

Pretty Things said...

Just goes to show you, that Front Page issue is very real, and has very real implications!!!!

I'm not the least bit hipster, and have bought a TON of things on Etsy, none of which involved a mustache, a cowl, or anything of the kind.

WTH, Etsy?????

cynicallyopenminded said...

Oh so incredibly interesting and a slap in the face. Most of my buyers are 30+ years of age.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again...My listings on Etsy are dwindling and my stock is moving elsewhere. I will be keeping a small presence on Etsy. Note: small.

Bent over one too many times by etsy said...

I am so over my etsy love affair.

I've set up shop at 1KM, Artfire, Winkelf, Shophandmade, Art Garage Sale and Dawanda.
Screw etsy. They're turning into ebay with nothing but resellers and stick up their asses cliques.

UnHip said...

WEll, I hope the assholes at Etsy read it-- maybe then they will understand what the fuck we have been saying all along.
too hip to be successful, if your hips are so narrow (minded).
I'm gone as soon as google indicates I can get buyers elsewhere.
Stay tuned to EtsyBitch for the news worth reading.....

forum rubbernecker said...

too hip to be successful


The Funny One said...

Thanks for putting it all together. I could go on.....but I've been skeptical from the start.

What bothered me about a mega-site for "handmade" with no quality control and NO customer service at all for its sellers has turned into everything that hurts artisans who have been in the business for many years.

I feel both protective and loyal to that community, damaged by a site that continues to use the trademark "all things handmade" when it is clearly NOT.

Etsy also broke the bond that the handmade community holds dear -- by putting the product and the artisan at the bottom of the pile.

It's all about Etsy and their personal taste, and it's all about promoting the few stores they pick as their idea of what would sell in their "fantasy boutique."

It's about a warehouse full of products hidden to the buying public EXCEPT for those favorite products made by their favorite sellers who have decided to make products to fit the Etsy Merchandising Plan (which has been in effect for about 2 years).


What the hell is this? Why, it's Etsy's plan on how to "manage" their big box size. If they ignore you long enough, you'll pick up and go to another site.

And what Etsy's done to pricing handmade products????? Don't get me started.............

life-during-wartime said...

Yes, the FP issue is real! A couple of years ago I used to gaze at the FP burning with consumer lust. Now I almost never click on an FP item. What looks kinda cool and quirky mixed in with other styles is just butt ugly filling up the whole FP. All day, every day.

The only exceptions seem to be the treasuries from European shops. I've found a few sellers from Turkey that I've bookmarked (not 'hearted') for future reference.

teawithfrodo said...

Part of me wants to say "well the magazine was given these shops, basically having them shoved down their throats as representing etsy"

but the part of me that was a journalism minor says "they should have dug more, looked at other shops. Shown that etsy only promoted the shit that appealed to a smaller crowd and not some of their really talented artists"

Seriously...Brooklyn is not that hip. And I'm not just saying that because I'm from Queens originally.

SO over Etsy ... said...

I've found this site none too soon. I'm at the end of my mo-fo-in' rope with Etsy! I thought I was the only one, but deep inside I knew I couldn't possibly be. I'm sick of reading the forums where everyone raves about all the admin and sticks (sucks) up for them.

I, like "Bent OVer" was madly in love with Etsy. Not any more. I even used to think people who pissed and moaned about their "favoritism" were jealous.

I've learned the hard way that if you aren't in their circle of favorites you have very little chance of being promoted by them. I do my own marketing, etc. but it'd be nice to have a fair chance on that site. I've joined Artfire (sigh.. it sucks) and now 1000 Markets which I have high hopes for.

What the hell do people want with those damn mustaches anyway? :D

forum rubbernecker said...

It's all about Etsy and their personal taste, and it's all about promoting the few stores they pick as their idea of what would sell in their "fantasy boutique."
More and more I just shrug at this. While true, it isn't going to change anytime soon. I just work it the best I can. Yeah, I game the treasury system, throw in their fantasy picks with some great newbies, and it hits the FP. Yeah, it may be overload on the FPFP (front page fantasy picks) but it's helped some new sellers get a boost too, and that is cool.

Rana said...

I remember that when I first opened my shop on Etsy I wondered about how well my aesthetic would fit with the site.

Oh, well, I thought - I have a large portfolio of images - how hard could it be to find some that would fit with the Etsy "look"?

(So even at the beginning I was operating under the assumption that I would have to fit into Etsy-land if I was to be successful there.)

What I discovered is that, on some level, I clearly don't "get" the Etsy aesthetic. Or at least I don't get it as well as those who get featured on the FP. It's an aesthetic I can mimic, but it's not really my aesthetic.

I am grateful I figured this out fairly early on - but still, it annoys me (and continues to annoy me, which is why I'm closing my shop) that the site prides itself on its apparent inclusiveness while it is, in fact, a de facto juried site. (And not even a juried-for-quality site, but rather a juried-for-the-Etsy-aesthetic site.)

I can't compete with sellers for whom Etsy-ness comes easily - and I've realized that I don't want to. My best work is not "Etsy-ish" and it doesn't make sense to look for buyers there any more.

The Funny One said...

FPT's are not what they used to be now that Etsy has taken over more than 50% of what gets featured in that choice piece of real estate.

And, other than the throw-your-money-away-showcases, Etsy controls 100% of every single item that is picked for every promotion on the site.

A fair shot is not the norm on Etsy. We all pay the same fees, but we do not all get the same free advertising and free promotions.

Old Hippie Bitch said...

forum rubbernecker said:

as they stand in an emo pose that indicates likely scoliolis.


Best LMFAO today!

Oh dear... said...

Thanks so much for this post. I thought it was just me. Now I know that Etsy is just a big reality distortion field.

One of my friends tonight was groaning about MLMs, and I realized Etsy is something like that - if someone spends more time talking about how much money you'll make (QYDJ) and getting people to join rather than the actual product (Etsy's website), chances are it's rather shady.

Jamy said...

"Other than that, there are few restrictions in the Etsy universe, which means there can be a lot of junk to wade through."
Okay, so we have Martha Stewart pointing out shitty workmanship on that hoodie and now this. *sigh* They're branding themselves all right, but I'm not sure they're going to end up with a brand image they like if they continue to get PR like that.

Knot By Gran'ma said...

That suuuuuucks. I'm pretty sure I don't fit in with the aesthetic either.

triliva said...

now that they have so much money streaming in from the million new sellers or so and the constant sales of their besties, etsy can well afford to go out and advertise like real businesses do. dont they keep telling us to bring in business - so
now its time for them to do so too.
craigslist,ebay and google didnt make their dough by staying a hipster secret.
maybe someone's pants are on a little too tight over there?

sillygirl said...

someone must of dissed the cowl in the forums, it's on the front page every hour again.

Kreated by Kelly said...

Old Hippie Bitch said...

forum rubbernecker said:

as they stand in an emo pose that indicates likely scoliolis.


Best LMFAO today!

Ditto! I literally spewed coffee onto my laptop on this one. AWESOME truth-telling post y'all!!!

EtsyWTF said...

Oh, Sillygirl! Did you not know that this is their effort to market to the Australian crowd! It's winter over there, you know. How internationally saavy they are! I am so pleased!

RRobin said...

I checked out the NY Mag piece online and the 37 comments thereto, every one of which was gushingly pro-Etsy, and one of which even proffered an "I Quit My Dayjob Thanks to Etsy" testimonial. Hmmm,,,,