Why I don't Sell on Etsy: Pros and Cons

Why I don't Sell on Etsy: Pros and Cons




When people find out that I make and sell earrings, the first question they generally ask is, ‘Do you have an Etsy?’

Fun fact, I DO have an Etsy, but I don’t actively sell on it. Instead I use it to buy some of my supplies and materials (which in itself can be a real pain, more on that later).

I opened an Etsy shop back in 2009 to try and sell my art and products with my art on it (ie. prints and greeting cards). Another fun fact, Etsy is NOT a great place to try and sell art. Art is just really hard to sell.

Flash forward to now, almost eleven years later, I chose to not to go back to Etsy to try and sell my work. Why you ask? To put it simply, it didn’t make sense for me. It may however, make sense for others. So let’s look at the pros and cons below.


  • Etsy is EASY. The main pro of Etsy that you’ll hear from many people is that it is easy. For those of you who like myself, are not engineers/programers/web designers/etc, Etsy makes it incredibly easy for anyone to ‘open a shop.’ Listing items is made super easy on Etsy as it organizes all the descriptions you can enter for your products. You honestly could leave this blog and set up a shop in minutes if you wanted to. Etsy is also easy to use for buyers, which is key if you’re trying to make sales.

  • Traffic. Etsy gains a lot of traffic because people trust the platform, it’s basically a household word these days. This kind of trust is huge pro for a seller. If a person enters Etsy already trusting the platform, they therefore trust to spend their money in your shop. Etsy can get you in front of potential customers (IF you have patience and put in the work).

  • Returning Customers: Etsy makes it super easy for sellers to run sales, send coupon codes, etc. If someone favorites your shop, they are immediately notified whenever you add new listings when they log in. Little things like this encourage a returning customer. You can also entice those who have hearted an item of yours by sending them personal discount codes. All of these selling tools are free to utilize.



  • Etsy is saturated. This was the biggest con for me personally, given that Etsy is incredibly saturated with earrings. It's hard to get noticed than ever before on the platform, you really have to put in the work for your shop to get traffic. From learning how to utilize tags to paid ads, to listing new items consistently, it can become a job to try and gain traffic to your shop (fwiw, it IS a job no matter what platform you use to sell on).

  • Loss of brand identity. Honestly, this is another huge con not many people think about. When someone buys, let’s say a pair of earrings from your shop, and a friend asks them where they got them, they’ll say, ‘I got them from Etsy,’ NOT your shop. Ouch, think about that one for a sec. Now if someone buys a pair of earrings from my site, they’ll say, ‘I got them from Palettes and Petals!’ = Win.

  • Dilution. This is similar to saying Etsy is saturated. The definition of dilution is the action of making something weaker in force, content or value. The problem here also lies in pricing. You know what your time and products are worth, but you may find yourself up against other shops who make similar products to yours that list for half the cost, therefore decreasing the value of your work to potential buyers. Another not-so-cool thing Etsy does? Share other shops when someone is on your shop. Think, ‘You may also like…’ So all the work you did to get that person to view your listing can easily be swayed to another person’s shop.

  • Free Shipping: In my research, this was the big one that rubbed a lot of Etsy sellers the wrong way. A couple years ago, Etsy dropped a new option to offer free shipping for purchases over $35, and if you opted in, you’d be pushed to the top of searches. If you opted out? You’d be pushed to the very bottom of searches. Etsy pushes for free shipping at makers expenses, so you either have to raise your prices to absorb the cost of shipping, or eat the cost.

  • RESELLING. What was started as a niche platform for makers to sell their handmade items, is now flooded with resellers. Once upon a time, if a shop that was reselling was reported, they would be taken down. Not as much now-a-days, since there are just so many of them. And quite frankly, lest we forget Etsy is a business in itself, and they are making money off of resale shops, so they aren’t as quick to take them down. Resellers also dilute the platform, which is why shopping for supplies and materials can be really time consuming and frustrating for me personally, as I try my best to not buy from resellers or mass produced materials made in China.


Final Thoughts...

At the end of the day, Etsy is its own business to make its own money, and therefore they aren’t as supportive and empowering for makers as they used to be. They can change their policies at the drop of a dime to benefit themselves, but alternatively affect your business negatively.

Etsy does have a lot of hidden fees and will take a cut from your sales. When it comes to selling online, just remember that any platform you use it going to take a cut. You’ll have to do your own math to see if using another platform is cheaper than opening an Etsy shop, and if the time it takes to set up shop elsewhere is worth it to you.

Remember Etsy’s number one pro, it’s easy, and that can be a deal breaker for anyone just starting out selling their handcrafted goods for their first time. It should be seen as an additional tool to sell your goods, but not the end-all-be-all method to promote your business.

Etsy is not a get rich quick site. Don’t expect to open a shop and get sales the very next day (unless they’re from your friends and family that you continuously annoyed with launch announcements…). Any platform you use, you’re going to have to put in the work to garner traffic.

I'll finish off by saying this: I give mad props to all my fellow makers who are successful on Etsy. And as I said before, I still utilize the platform myself to shop for cool and unique gifts and get silicone molds and jewelry making supplies.

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