You are questioning whether it’s time to leave Etsy. It may be, but let’s start at the beginning of your journey.

You have decided to believe in yourself and take that wonderful leap to start your own business…Congratulations! It is an incredible feeling to start something for yourself and maybe even your family. 

You have created this amazing product by hand and are sure it’s going to be a hit.Is it time to leave Etsy? You think about starting your own website, but the idea of learning how to build one seems daunting, so while you look online you decide Etsy may just seem like a good fit. Love start up costs and with millions of potential customers already shopping there you decide to pick your username and open up shop. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this method, BUT, I am here to get you ready for the next step and GET OFF ETSY.

What is Etsy?

Etsy is a large ecommerce site that allows users to sell their handmade or vintage goods on their site. You simply chose your shop’s name, put in your bank details and voila, you are ready to start selling. 

Etsy was launched in 2005  and today (as of November 1, 2021) brings in a revenue of $1.725 Billion dollars.  In 2015 they went public and many say this was a turning point for both the company and it’s sellers. Etsy now had to watch out for it’s investors and stock holders and this mean streamlining a few practices for it’s sellers that turned into a sour point for many. 

Is it time to Leave Etsy?

Etsy Sellers

As the years pass, Etsy has implemented several policies that directly affect their shoppers but most of all, their sellers. There have been a huge influx of sellers from overseas who are directly copying or ripping trademark items, not selling items as listed, claiming handmade when it’s just massed produced. The marketplace has become so large, that unfortunately, Etsy can’t catch all of them. 

Trademark Infringement:

There are copious amounts of sellers, especially re-sellers and wholesalers from China that have infiltrated the market. The amount of new shops that have popped up as made it impossible for authentic handmade businesses to compete. Now, I’m not talking about a few dozen, but hundreds if not thousands of shops that sell items that are mass produced and infringing on trademarked items. I invite you to take a look at Etsy and search “Designer Inspired Bags” or even “Disney”. Within seconds you see them pop up. Some items don’t seem to have the traditional logo, like the beige LV purse pictured below, but upon closer inspection, you can see a poor job at blurring the logo. Once you receive the items, the are replicas of the high end designer bags. 

Here are a few examples from a quick Etsy search:

A final note on Trademark Infringement, there also has been a rise in frivolous Trademark Infringement claims. While Etsy can’t mediate and pick and chose who is right or wrong, they always side with the person claiming the intellectual property and shut down the listing in question. There is a large Facebook group run by entrepreneur, working at taking down false claims. It’s a great group with loads of information, Trademark Watch Dawgs – Stop Frivolous Trademarks. It is a private group, they accept and decline at their discretion.

Living and Dying by the Reviews

Because Etsy is such a large market place, having 5 stars is crucial to a shop’s success. Now, what happens is that customers see Etsy and think it’s similar to Amazon and this includes their refund policies. Customers can sometimes be the absolute WORST (not all of course). TikTok is flooded with “Karen Customer” stories. Often times customers threaten and black mail shops for refunds or returns or free items and if the shop doesn’t comply, the customer threatens to leave a bad or 1 star review. So shops have 3 choices:

  1. Give the customer what they want and hope for a good or at least decent review
  2. Bite the bullet, hold their ground, take the 1 star review and hope it doesn’t affect business
  3. Take the bad review and argue it with Etsy and hope they take your side and remove it.

This has created a culture obsessed with reviews. While honest reviews can help a customer decide if the shop is worth shopping from, consider the pressure it places on smaller shops who are being manipulated by less than stellar customers.

Now add to all this Etsy’s new “Star Seller” program. What is a A Star Seller ? A Star Seller on Etsy has to have the following:

  • 5 star ratings on more than 95% percent of their reviews
  • At least 10 order and $300 in sales (before shipping and taxes)
  • Must have been on Etsy for more than 90 days.

If you meet this criteria, you receive a badge on your shop, easily identifying you with customers. When I tell you this has produced so much anxiety on Etsy sellers, it’s the understatement of the year. There are so many things that are outside of the control of the shop. USPS has been slow these past few years, shipping rates have increased, it takes longer to receive materials, you are competing with large companies like Amazon with customers having the same expectations. It’s exhausting and why many are thinking it’s time to leave Etsy.

Don’t believe me, here are a few posters on the subreddit R/EtsySellers:

"Got my first 1 star review. God it hurts. I always get 5 star reviews so this really got to me. The thing is I was helping this customer through everything and then they didn’t even tell me they didn’t like. I would’ve just refunded the whole thing if they had indicated to me they’d do that. I don’t even sell this item normally until someone asked if I could do it. I listed 1 item specifically for them and they went and did this. I’m never putting that much effort into something like that again and I’m never changing what I do just for one customer. All to get a 1 star review! I wish people understood how that affects someone before just nonchalantly dropping a review like that. I’m bummed. Anyways, I guess I can just move on from this. Thanks for listening to my rant!"

Sorry to vent but I just refunded a $100 sale because buyers think I'm Amazon Prime. Ya'll. Ugh. I just had someone place a $100 order of ten $10 items, which ships within 3 business days according to my policy. They chose the free USPS first class shipping option, ignoring the Priority Mail, or Overnight Priority Mail options I also have available for a higher fee. And then they left me a note saying they need them to arrive in 5 days or they would demand a refund. I cancelled and refunded, stating I can't guarantee shipping that fast, and my heart broke because I could REALLY use that money right now. The delight at seeing a huge order on my Etsy app has now been crushed. UGHHHHH.

Anyone else’s traffic way down? Mine’s down 50% from last year. Are they screwing around with the algorithms again or is this that star seller thing?

Sadly that is it. I have to shut off a whole continent because a couple people don’t understand lockdowns and shipping delays. Review “I have no tracking and no one is responding to my messages.” Yes you do and I assume you are messaging Etsy directly because you haven’t messaged me. Ugh.

Your Competition is on the same page as YOU!

 This is more of a personal note on smart business practices. When you shop on Etsy, you have the benefit of seeing similiar items from other shops on the same page of a single store. Now, read that again as a seller and change the word “benefit” to “disadvantage”. This is the equivalent of having Louis Vuitton list Channel on their own website or Starbucks listing Dunkin Donuts menu on their website. It just doesn’t make sense. 

Whenever you visit any shop, you can scroll down and discover “You May Also Like”. This leads your potential customer down another rabbit hole and away from your shop. This absolutely won’t happen on your own website because you are the only one there.  Does it sound now like you should be leaving Etsy?

How can you start preparing your exit from Etsy

So now you are asking yourself if you should leave Etsy? Do what feels right for you in your current place of entrepreneurship. Does it make more financial sense? Are you prepared to build a website from scratch? What will happen to your business if Etsy shuts you down tomorrow? Could you afford it? Is Etsy’s current system not serving your best interest?

Preparing to leave a large platform like Etsy doesn’t have to be a scary thought. I always recommend you download all your data, including customer contact information. Download your descriptions and your images. Have it backed up on your computer.

You don’t have to make a clean break from Etsy, but you can start building your own site, your own happy space reflective of your brand, while still having Etsy. 

Pick up and purchase your Domain Name. Then you will need hosting. I always recommend WordPress with the Woo Commerce plug in. For $8.99 a month you can have an entire e-commerce site just for you. I don’t normally recommend sites like Shopify since their rates are high ($79 per month). It doesn’t have to be fast, you can take your time. If you need help, or just rather have me take care of it for you, I will me more than happy to handle the whole process for you. Just  message me here to proceed. 

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