Is Selling on Etsy Worth It? Biggest Pros and Cons

by Erin Schollaert

Updated

Etsy is one of the hottest markets on the internet, offering a place to sell anything from vintage goods to unique handmade items.

Although it started as an indie place for small creators, it’s quickly become a platform for businesses. Still, is selling on Etsy worth it?

There are tons of Etsy pros and cons from the fees and the unpredictability of a buyer base. However, these are the most important things to consider when selling and why it may or may not be the best fit for everyone.

How much does the average Etsy seller make?

Nobody wants to get into something that’s destined to fail, and Etsy’s sellers’ success stories depend on what you see as success.

The average income for an Etsy seller is just under $45,000 a year.

etsy

Of course, there are ways to build up your audience and break into a higher income: but one of the most important things to know before selling on Etsy is that you have to set realistic expectations.

With the right strategies this can be one of the best second jobs.

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Tactics for Success

  • A mix of digital and physical goods is a great way to ensure you continue earning income even when you can’t physically ship out items.
  • Although making sales can bring more people to your shop: don’t do them long-term or they’ll take a large amount from your profits.

Is selling on Etsy worth it?

If you’re starting from nothing and have to build your shop up with no social media following or previous traffic to lead to your shop: the average store takes around two weeks to get its first sale.

From there, many sellers say it takes two to four years before they start getting steady weekly or daily sales.

If you’re expecting instant success, you’re going to be disappointed unless you already have hundreds of thousands of followers on other social media.

shipping-books

So it’s important to take your time and decide if this is something you’re willing to invest into growing, or if it’s something you’ll get burnt out on and leave without ever making a profit.

Some people have spontaneous success, but it depends on your product, marketing, and pricing. If you haven’t set up your store yet, make sure you are focusing on lucrative things to resell for profit.

Don’t go into selling on Etsy, assuming you’ll get to be one of the overnight successes that get lucky enough to hit it big immediately. This just isn’t realistic for most people.

Trends on the Rise

The top Etsy seller in the USA, PlannerKate1 has made over 1.2 million sales since opening, offering low priced digital goods to sell in bulk. There are over eighty million active buyers, which means there’s a large market on Etsy for those who are ready to sell.

Etsy Pros and Cons

There’s no perfect platform out there, and although Etsy offers a chance at changing how you make money, and can severely supplement your income: it’s not flawless.

These are some of the pros and cons of Etsy, and why it might or might not work for you.

Pros

  • There’s no limit to how much you can make. Like Three Bird Nest, some sellers make $65,000 a month selling their handmade headbands. This is awesome for anyone who sees a lot of growth in their future.
  • You can sell whatever you want. Although, of course, you should follow the law, Etsy allows the listing of everything from bubble baths to adult toys and anything in between. This gives you more freedom than some other stores might.
  • You don’t have to pay to create and run your own website. This is awesome for those who want to avoid putting a lot of money upfront into their company.

Cons

  • Etsy is far more likely to side with customers in disputes. This means a customer might get a refund forcibly taken out of your account if they lie and say something is wrong with a product that was in perfect condition.
  • The fees are steep, especially if you have many items selling for high amounts of money. There’s a listing fee of $0.20 per listing, which is small- but it gets recharged every month the listing is up. On top of that, Etsy charges 5% of all sales. This means if you sell $45,000 worth of products in a year, you’ll have paid $2,250 in fees to Etsy that year. That’s a steep amount to many sellers.
  • No control over site or company changes. Unfortunately, you’ll have to deal with whatever changes Etsy makes, which can be frustrating to those who want more control over their goods.

Tactics for Success

  • When deciding whether or not to use Etsy, budget thoroughly to find how much time and work go into each item and how much money is from supplies. Don’t undersell yourself.
  • If you’re struggling with Etsy fees, factor them into the price of your items so that they’re already covered. Then, don’t forget to include these fees as deductible items when calculating your taxes at the beginning of the next year.

Etsy vs. Other Online Marketplaces

Etsy has competition! This means that it’s important for sellers to know the popular websites to sell things. These are some of Etsy’s biggest competitors and what they bring to the table.

Flipkart

This competitor is less known than Etsy yet carries many sales with more varied options than Etsy.

Instead of having to feel like you’re pigeonholed into indie or vintage things, you can sell whatever you want.

This makes the site incredibly popular for dropshipping, where you buy massively made products at a discount price and sell them for large markups.

Amazon

Amazon is similar to Etsy in handling customer issues, usually siding with the customer.

Unfortunately, because of the high amount of competition and highly saturated market worldwide, it’s harder to get your items in front of customers.

This can be a pain for anyone who already struggles with marketing.

eBay

eBay is less common for those who are trying to set up their own business but is still a solid option if you know how to advertise yourself.

The fees are lower than Etsy, and your listings can be more creatively laid out.

eBay-fee-example

Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict how everything will sell, so advertising is important. This isn’t a great site to build an audience on like Etsy is.

However, you can sell just about anything, whether you’re selling books on eBay or selling laptops for profit.

Trends on the Rise

There are over 187 million eBay users worldwide: and it’s making a comeback in recent years. Scoring $10.8 billion in revenue in 2019, there’s a lot of money to be made on this site.

Poshmark

This competitor may be the only one that can beat Etsy.

There’s a large range of customization possible, it’s also aimed towards vintage items and clothing, and customers expect to pay more here, so you don’t have to enterprise your items.

If you decide between Poshmark and Etsy, it’s important to consider whether your brand works with its aesthetic. Don’t miss these tips for selling on Poshmark.

How to increase sales on Etsy?

Making your Etsy thrive is something that everyone has opinions about, but a lot of it is gimmicks.

It’s important to be patient, work hard to create or source awesome products, and follow each of the three tips below.

Build Social Media Presences

The most important thing you can do for your brand is to work on your social media presence.

This means picking at least two different platforms, whether that’s TikTok and Instagram or Twitter and Facebook, and building your brand on them.

The platforms you fall on should be based on what you sell. For example, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook are great for fashion items.

At the same time, for retro home decor or design, it’s a better idea to go for Twitter and TikTok specifically!

Work on building a brand for yourself and growing an audience excited to see when you post store updates. It’s far more difficult to try and build a following on Etsy since discoverability is hard to create.

Optimize Your Listings for SEO

using-keywords-to-increase-sales

SEO is a powerful tool that shouldn’t only be used by large businesses!

When you’re building your company on Etsy, remember that the first and last ten words of your item description are the most important and that your title matters.

Avoid cramming a ton of keywords into your titles, and instead, focus on picking a handful that fits your brand the best.

Try to avoid being too flowery with your language; describe things as they are, with just enough personality to set your brand apart.

Give Your Shop Several Unique Attributes

Although it may seem obvious: the best way to set yourself apart from the competition is by having something the competition doesn’t have.

Generally, it’s a good idea to try to keep your Etsy as unique as possible while still being marketable. This means having items that will sell but are something within a niche.

For example, instead of selling all vintage shirts, you could sell vintage horror shirts to create a niche for yourself. Having a recognizable brand will make it so that customers will want to return to you.

Wrapping Up

Whether you craft your goods, or you’re hoping to start a business selling vintage favorites you’ve collected through the years: Etsy could be your opportunity to gain success.

Stick with it, set yourself apart from the competition, and you won’t have anything to worry about!

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About the Author

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Erin is a business teacher and mother of three. When she’s not in the classroom or fulfilling her obligations as an A+ hockey and lacrosse mom, she’s working on her latest article.