Is Etsy a good online marketplace to start selling your art? What are the essential things to know about as a newbie just starting out on this popular platform? Selling art online is as easy as just uploading your work and waiting for the sale, right?
As an artist just starting to make the transition from selling my paintings locally to selling online, I know how confusing and overwhelming it can be to try to make sense of all the information available to us about selling art via the Internet. Even picking a platform to start on can seem like an impossible task.
What if we start on one and it turns out to be a huge waste of money, time and effort?
And there's so much to wrap our heads around, even beyond selecting a platform or marketplace.
We need to learn about online marketing, which is a monster topic in itself that consists (among many other things) of creating a personal brand, building up an audience, learning what works on different social media channels and selecting the one(s) that works best for us, as well as consistently sharing our work/message with the world.
We need to learn about taxes and accounting because, make no mistake, as artists we are creative entrepreneurs. If we want to get to a point at which we're creating a consistent income from our work, we need to start seeing what we're doing as a business and not be afraid of stepping into our entrepreneurial shoes.
As business owners, we must be willing to consistently step out of our comfort zones, accept that we need to pivot or try something new when things are not working, and not be afraid to invest in different parts of our businesses. For some of us, this may even include looking for specialized courses and/or coaching.
Finally, and most importantly, we need to consistently work on our mental and physical well-being because our brands/businesses are an extension of ourselves.
The more time I spend working on building up my own business (which consists of many things aside from selling art online), the more I find this to be true.
It takes a lot of mental strength and deep-rooted determination to stay persistent with learning and implementing. To show up everyday, even when things aren't growing as fast as you'd like them to. To keep believing in oneself and consistently providing value, even when negativity is thrown your way.
I find caring for our mental and physical health is even more important as artists because, not only is what we do so personal, but most of us are working on both our art and all of the aforementioned things alone. We don't have assistants or a team to share our worries (or even wins) with.
I share the specific things I do on a weekly basis to stay happy and productive as an artist in my blog post/YouTube video titled 5 Essential Self-Care Tips for Artists and Creatives.
Because of all this, I'm incredibly thankful that we have the opportunity now-a-days to connect with other creatives around the world and learn from people who are willing to share their experiences/knowledge.
Today, we have writer and seamstress Annabelle Carter Short, who's had her own handmade business for many years, sharing a lot of useful information about selling on Etsy with us.
Let's get into her article!
The Pros and Cons of Selling on Etsy + 5 Key Tips
Many independent artists struggle to start selling their work. Not because they're not inspiring or creative, but because they lack an understanding on how to actually sell their art. If you're looking to make money off your art, consider trying Etsy marketplace for a start.
According to Etsy 2018 numbers, the platform has approximately 35.8 million active users, 1.98 million sellers, and over 50 million products listed for sale. With sellers all around the world, Etsy is a marketplace that is well-known for facilitating sales of arts and handmade products.
But, what are the advantages and disadvantages of selling your art through Etsy? And, is it right for you?
• It is convenient and has a more accessible set up than building your own website or physical shop.
• Through the years, Etsy has worked hard on its branding. It is already trusted and respected by customers looking for handmade goods. This is a huge help for starting businesses that haven't yet built up an audience or fanbase.
• Etsy has a blog, forums and a lot of resources for users on everything from product photography, customer care, packaging, taxes, branding your shop and much more.
• This platform has a targeted customer base. The audience here is not looking for mass products, and not necessarily for the cheapest ones either. Uniqueness (and quality) is what will sell.
• You can open up your shop for free in a matter of minutes and the fees taken by Etsy when a seller uploads a new product, as well as what it takes when a sale gets made, are very low compared to other selling platforms (like Amazon and eBay) or setting up your own e-commerce website.
• When you get a sale, the money is transferred to you immediately, as opposed to other markets like eBay.
• Etsy has frequent updates and you will need to always keep learning and adapting to change.
• Competition is fierce (especially for certain niches like jewelry, hair accessories, printables, etc.) and you cannot rely on the platform's search field to be your one and only traffic source. This means that you have to be very hands-on about sharing your work and growing an audience that you can promote it to.
• Though Etsy's fees are a lot lower than other marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, you will have to take them into account, as well as your shipping costs, when you are setting your prices.
• Having a shop on Etsy, means you have your shop on someone else's property. According to their Terms of Service, they can choose to suspend or close your store at any point in time if they feel you aren't playing by their rules. This means, you have to take time reading these documents carefully.
If you're looking to start selling your art online, Etsy is a great option. Through this experience, you'll be able to gain knowledge on the basics you need to succeed online like pricing, customer service, shipping, taxes, and marketing products effectively.
A lot of handmade businesses start on Etsy and move on to creating their own website/e-commerce store after gaining such experience and traction. Many of them keep selling on Etsy even after setting up their own independent shops, because they know the unique opportunities this presence can bring them.
To start on the right foot, you'll need to put some effort into understanding the platform, and how to maximize your business potential. As mentioned above, the competition is high, but that doesn’t mean there is no space for you. You just need to learn how to make people notice your shop.
Here are five essential tips for you.
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