How do you Etsy?

Up until yesterday, I told myself I wasn't going to use Facebook's "Ask Question" polling feature. No way. Most questions I've seen people post are as unimportant to me as Farmville. (Yeah, I said it.)

But I wondered if it's really practical to try selling assemblage works on Etsy. And then I realized I might actually know some people who could help me figure that out.
Sixteen people responded to my oh-so-scientific poll. Some also messaged me about how and why they use these sites. Twelve use Etsy (sometimes with caveats); the rest sell their work on Etsy and their own sites, through galleries or some combination of the above. In a nutshell, this is what I learned about their Etsy experiences:
  • My research sample skews heavily toward jewelry designers and 2D artists.
  • Etsy's fees vs. eBay's fees: no contest. Etsy wins hands-down.
  • People tend to go with Etsy (vs. Artfire, for example) because it's well-known, especially among mixed-media aficionados.
  • Networking with other vendors: useful, but word-of-mouth (via FB or a blog) is even more so. That's how some people are able to sell their work before even listing it on Etsy. No listing, no fee! MaryBeth Shaw and her stencils are a perfect example.
  • About word-of-mouth: people will hide your feed if you mainly post to sell your stuff. Unfortunately, no one knows the perfect balance between fun posts and sales posts, of course.
About their actual items for sale, I learned:

  • Most of their items can be shipped easily (prints of 2D or 3D work, jewelry, jewelry supplies). Pamela Huntington and Laurel Steven's works are the lightest of all -- file transfers of jewelry tutorials and digital collages.
  • Many items cost less than $50, and can be made in quantity relatively quickly (maybe a week). (Not really a surprise; Featured Sellers who earn most of their living on Etsy tend to make jewelry or stationery of some sort.)
I also did some general browsing of assemblage pieces, and the vendors with the most sales keep things lightweight and under $250, roughly speaking. Yeah, there are some pieces listed for thousands of dollars. But the only vendor I recognized who actually makes sales like that is Dolan Geiman. And from what I can tell, he's an industry unto himself with his own website as well.
  • Speaking of selling work on your own site allows you to avoid Etsy listing fees, but it requires more marketing on your own, and a solid fan base.

Thanks so much to everyone who responded: Pamela, Laurel, MaryBeth, Nona Parry, Sunny Carvalho, Bekah Ash, Regina Lord, Kelly Snelling, Lulu, Phyllis Peterson, Clarissa Callesen, Canace, Stephanie Green, Randi Antonsen, Stefanie Lin, and Delores Taylor.

What's your experience with online sales of your art? Tell me in the comments or email me.
Posted on January 6, 2012 and filed under "Etsy".