I recognize this might be a bit of a hot-button topic, but I am curious to hear from the community about experiences (good, bad, ugly) on selling your jewelry on etsy. I am mostly curious about fine goods, and less so about sub $100 stuff, but I welcome anyone’s thoughts on the matter.
Thank you for making this thread, I’ve wondered the same. All I consistently read and advised, is that to succeeed on Etsy you must have a reasonable inventory to start out with; otherwise, you are stuck with low-traffic for extended periods awaiting new stock. I’d also love to hear of other opinions/experiences!
I can give you a real experience with Etsy. Not some “what if” or “should do”.
I have had an Etsy store (Heritage Jewelry 1901) for approximately five years. I started out with gold and diamond antique style pieces. Never sold one piece there.
I have sold all of the pieces (over a dozen or so) at the art shows I do over the various season I exhibit.
I have a web site selling various martial arts style jewelry. Mostly below $100.00 unless it is custom. I was a black belt thirty or so years ago. Many of my gold rings have been presented at Karate Tournaments in the US.
I have made the rings for the Diamond National Karate Tournament for over thirty years.
In any event I own the Copyright for the ring that was in the movie A Perfect Weapon. If you do an image search you will see it. Someone else was making my exact piece and selling it on Etsy.
This jeweler copied my ring and text indicating he was the maker of this ring.
He is also in Israel out of the USA.
It wasn’t easy nor cheap, but I believe I have stopped the selling of that piece.
Here’s the real deal. Etsy is legally based in Ireland. Off shore and hard to contact. They have legal representation in Washing DC. Just some hired lawyers I believe. Off shore they are also protected by not being in the USA.
If you follow all the instructions they give about protecting your property on Etsy you will eventually find they will do nothing to prevent a copy from being sold there. Unless you file a Federal Law Suit against the infringer.
I don’t believe you can do this without a Copyright in hand. I don’t believe an attorney will handle a case without one (my opinion).
The filing fee alone without an attorney is approximately $400.00.
I hired an attorney. There was an immediate fee of $1,000.00 to do anything. I paid it. Now the attorney gets involved.
He starts to communicate with the lawyers representing Etsy in Washington DC.
They indicate that nothing will happen unless this lawsuit is filed.
In the mean time I find on the FBI site a position the FBI will take on internet fraud when it comes to identity theft.
This was happening to me with my ring being copied. Not just the ring, but this rip off artist claiming to be me.
This FBI information may have finally stopped this theft. Not Copyright but identity theft.
As we were about to file the suit, the ring was pulled off the site by the rip off jeweler, not by Etsy.
As it turns out, if you have an identity theft, it’s not only the person ripping the piece off, but also who helps the online process happen(Etsy).
We think that Etsy may have told the rip off jeweler to stop selling the ring, but there is no confirmation of it.
We were going to go after Etsy as well as the infringer for damages.
I cannot honestly say it was Etsy who stopped the selling of my ring or not.
Etsy has not given us any communication on anything we have done.
In any event, my ring is mine again. I basically lowered the price to underprice the rip off and am selling the ring on Etsy.
I’m still selling there and hope to develop more of my products, and have found three other rip offs of my pieces there,
I don’t have the money to pursue the others, but will make sure my Copyrights are in hand before the next move.
I’m not done yet.
Is this jewelry design infringing?
My Etsy store has been open since May 2015. My prices range from $16-$550 and I have sold all price ranges through my store. I have sold to the US and other countries. I have found it to be an easy and relatively inexpensive way to sell. I also use the the sell local feature and have an Etsy card reader that I use at art fairs to take credit cards. All of my sales go through my Etsy store and I can download a file at the end of the year with all my financial info. I am a hobbyist, not a full time artist. My sales went up by 50% in 2016 due to my Etsy store. I would recommend it as a venue. It is not perfect, but I really can’t complain about much.
…just a few thoughts on my personal experiences and opinions, to add to the conversation
I have sold on Etsy for many years. I find it to be a great selling venue, not withstanding a list of changes and improvements that I would make if I were in charge! ha ha!
My personal opinions:
a narrow category of business is easier to gain traction with.
ie: forged shawl pins…versus jewelry/ pins…
ie: ceramic yarn bowls…versus pottery
ie: something that can be defined in 2-4 key words
a currently trending category of business, is easier to gain traction with, and develop an income stream with, to supplement more involved work
ie: brides/ weddings
ie: mothers/ new mothers
I will insert here that I research shops often, and there are many shops that have a consistent business selling higher priced items that are unique and do not fit into a “bucket” category…I am always impressed and try to learn from them…
a tiered pricing structure, with key item commodities at moderate price points, may help to develop a consistent income stream, as well as “get eyes on the page”, with which to supplement more involved higher priced work
that it depends where an item or commodity is on “the fashion curve”…
that Etsy has worked very hard on the buyer side to continually improve the shopping/ search experience, to return relevant search returns. (seller tool improvements were slower but still steady)
that Etsy has perfected what I call “The Art of the Browse”…in that you don’t really have to have a definitive item to search for, in order to find things to buy…I kind of equal it to flipping thru fashion magazines…like InStyle, and seeing all kinds of new and interesting things…they have many ways of presenting photos of work to you, often compelling you to click and go down the rabbit hole…rather than staring at a search bar, or clicking thru very general navigation bars…they help give you ideas
that Etsy carries the load for bringing eyes to the site.
that the sellers load is to constantly learn about and improve on their shop SEO,
that the artists load is to constantly offer relevant items
that being a shop keeper and selling on Etsy requires many hats…creative, production, customer service, administrative,shipping, accounting, etc…
There will always be shops selling lower priced, higher priced, same priced items.
There may often be shops selling similar items or categories of business.
That much of art is derivative, and truly new concepts are a bit more rare…like the tension set stone…or purple gold…or Hans Meevis! and Andy Cooperman! and…forgive me if I do not list more creative Orchid people!)
That even in a highly saturated, price sensitive, commodity category, there is room at the table for others…
I have found that good photos are important…they evoke many unspoken things…
creating and making relevant items is key
getting them seen is key
customer service in an un-manned shop is key (clear details, clear photos, clear policies to instill customer confidence)
I just keep telling myself something my niece told my mom, that I thought was hysterical, in the given situation…"mind your own business grandma’! ha ha! great advise from a 4 year old.
I mind my own business, literally, do my work, and stay focused, and keep trying to improve…everything…all the time…
…just a few thoughts on my personal experiences and opinions, to add to the conversation
Selling on Etsy is just another marketplace. The longer you are there, the better you will do. Pricing is a quandary sometimes. You can’t undercut you’re brick and mortar affiliates, which can make your pricing unattractive. Alot of what I see on Etsy is a race to the bottom. There is alot of junk.
I get about 35% custom work thru my shop. Visitors like something, but want it a bit different. My work is pretty eclectic to begin with. Right now I have a client who loves some of my hand carved wax / cast & fabricated floral earrings. She is getting them in 18kt yellow gold. They are the most expensive earrings so far at my shop at $1k. That’s new territory.
It’s alot of work sometimes, doing all the back side work of attractive photographs, descriptions & keywords. I have new designs to add and try to do several pieces at a time.
I chuckle because some pieces I have nearly doubled in price and they sell. Some things just sit. Sometimes a client will buy all of your stock of a design (wedding). The internet in a fickle universe but it can have some amusing moments where you connect personally with a buyer.
Pendants need chains or some easy to hang them!
Regular renewals of items to keep your items displayed nearer the top of the immense heap of Etsy vendors is one tip I got from another jewelry vendor who is a friend.
Clients will contact you thru their CONVO communications network asking questions about items. Alot of sales have been groomed by timely responses.
For non jewelry pieces - antiques, sculptures and fine collectibles I have learned to up the price to absorb domestic shipping in the continental US. Shipping costs outside of USPS are seasonally atrocious and kill sales.
Thank goodness most of my work is custom and trade related wax carving.
EileenFLORON at Etsy
Todd, I’m sorry this happened to you. You were very wise to have the legal dominoes set up in advance. I suspect that having it happen on Etsy, though, just made it obvious more quickly. Eg, a crook could have copied your ring and sold it in multiple non-Etsy places and, while you might eventually have found out, it probably would have taken longer than its happening right under your nose on Etsy.
I wonder how other online marketplaces would have reacted to the legal aspects? Do others have experiences with any online sales sites that intervened?
I have been a lurker for a long time, but this question made me finally post.
A few points to clarify what the second commenter mentioned. Etsy is based in both Brooklyn, NY and Ireland, and they have one registered lobbyist in Washington DC. They also have many other small offices around the world and remote employees. They primarily communicate with sellers via online forums, email, and social media, but you can request a phone call for specific issues. They don’t have a customer service number though.
Etsy is the majority of my online retail sales at this point. I get much more traffic there than on my standalone storefront. Customers frequently ask if I have an Etsy shop rather than if I have a website. Many people seem to trust a checkout process with a big company rather than just my merchant account. They probably also feel more purchase protection. I often give people my card with my personal website, but they still purchase via Etsy instead.
It can be a frustrating venue for one-of-a-kind items, but it can be done if you are good with social media and take gorgeous photos. You can sell expensive items (engagement and wedding rings sell very well on Etsy, and I know several sellers who have a very nice income in this market), but it’s a lot of work to list each time and get your Search Engine Optimization, listing info, photos etc tweaked to what works on that platform. And you will be competing in price with sellers who do not sell wholesale, and price their items for direct sale to the consumer. Stock items make this much more worthwhile, as you can continue to re-list as items sell, and previous sales of an item give it a bump in search placement. There is a learning curve to get traffic, but there is a tremendous amount of free info out there teaching you how to succeed on the site.
Copyright infringement is an issue there. They do not get involved in the disputes, but they are good about taking down copied items if you can prove original ownership. This can be simply showing the original listing date in your shop history- you don’t need to have legal documents. (I know this from experience from close friends who were ripped off by Ali Express, then had people selling their earrings with their own original photos! Etsy took everything down and shut down the shops that had multiple infringement strikes.) I do recommend you understand Etsy’s legal policies before registering a shop: https://www.etsy.com/legal/ip
You are wrong about Etsy doing anything to help or protect my product.
I hope you speak from your own experience with Etsy and not rely on hearsay.
All the rip off artist has to do is write back to Etsy saying they have ownership. They don’t really have to prove a thing.
This is the EXPERIENCE I HAD WITH THEM.
Etsy does not respond to legal process.
I faxed my Copyright to their lawyers in DC and they said my only recourse was to go to Federal Court and start a lawsuit.
Believe me if Etsy would have done the right thing they would have pulled the copied ring seeing my legal position.
Please share with me the product you defended.
I would like to share experiences with you.
I know very well Etsy’s legal policies. They have cost me over $1400.00 so far.
My other rings ripped off there are going to be in the future when I can afford to pursue it.
I have stopped perhaps the same guy on eBay with Copyright to eBay’s legal team here in the US.
They corrected it right away without it costing me a dime.
I did not mean in any way to discount anyone else’s experience. I certainly didn’t mean to imply your post isn’t true @trhltd. I don’t think Etsy is perfect and amazing- I think they are a business that I usually find helpful and aligned to benefit my own. From the original question, I wanted to share my own experience, which has been different than yours.
You can find terrible stories and amazing ones- I know plenty of both. Most of us are in between- it’s another marketplace with their own culture and policies to be aware of. I personally hated selling on Amazon Handmade, but others like it and closed their Etsy shops in favor of them. Your mileage will vary.
Best of luck to all who decide to sell there or not!
Well now. This a very lively discussion.
I have one question for all of the folks involved.
Do you make a living wage selling on Etsy and if so how many hours a week
do you work making, promoting, and selling your work?
It was only last week that I was made aware of the existance of Etsy.
So curious as ever thought Id take alook/see.
By the time I had got as far as page 4, some 240 odd offers and pictures thereof, I chose to stop looking. Why?
because there were only some 4 items that represented the original concept of this market place. The rest were items largely assembled from mass produced parts by folk who couldnt or didnt want to actually MAKe anything from the raw material.
So it was to me just another Ebay.
In this game, just about all the users of Ganoksin are one man bands or employ 2 to 4 helpers, who have to face the reality of the 3 elements of business, which are, design make and market.
The 3rd of these is where ,in my view the greatest thought and effort needs to be applied.
As many of you may have read my posts over the years here under Hanoman and prior to that at REc.crafts.jewelry under the moderator Peter Rowe,
(Hi Peter, can you drop me an email off list? need to contact you.Thanks)
So anyone choosing Ebay or Etsy or similar has to put up with in my opinion a great many more problems than having ones own exhibition unit, wether its on a big scale like I have now or as small as when I started. I am so pleased to say that on the 1.2.2017. yesterday, i started my 50th year at this game, and on the 29.1 2017 had a great day with the family on my 83rd b/day!
So if you can do try to design , make, and market RETAIL your passion for this craft. You will find its the best and simplest way to grow. Its the meeting the customer, discussing what you have made, have them try it on, then when they walk away with your handiwork is not to be surpassed. Especially if like me you always date, sign and stamp my work so in your works journey through time into the future it will speak for you and show you were proud of what you made. After all you put yourself into each and every piece.
you cant do better than that
I resource i use to learn and improve is www.craftcount.com
this website lists the top Etsy sellers, by category…
it can be repetitious, but patience will be rewarded.
it is very interesting…
Thanks Ted, always a reasoned reply.
Thanks for the original post / question and to all who have posted here. I’ve been considering a small Etsy shop and the comments and advice have been very helpful.
Still pondering, though I would love to see comprehensive answers to Jo’s questions.
To answer Jo’s question. I do not sell full time on Etsy. Making jewelry is my hobby and I love to work on it every free moment I have, but with a full time job and a family I get maybe 2-3 Saturdays a month to make jewelry. My goal with my shop was to sell one item per month and I was able to do that last year, plus a little more, and that is perfect for me. I even had a couple of custom orders that came in strictly through Etsy, which are my favorite to work on. For me, packing and mailing is quite insignificant.
To be successful on Etsy you must have a way to drive customers to your shop. Without that, the only thing I sold in many years has been a beaded knitted pattern I wrote. Never a finished piece of jewelry or knitted item. A keyword search brings of thousands of hits, my stuff just gets buried. My pattern now sells on Ravelry and Etsy is nearly forgotten.
I run my jewelry business full time and support myself in a very expensive city. If I moved somewhere with a lower cost of living I would give myself a substantial raise! Etsy is my main online retail venue, but it’s not all my income; I also wholesale, have my own website, sell at markets, etc. I would say most successful Etsy shops are diversified in this way. How much I work depends- during the holiday season I’m easily working 70 hours per week. Off-season I take things easy, but I’m still working of course- sketching, playing with new techniques, researching marketing, catching up on book keeping, reading about SEO, etc. So I’m not sure how to answer how much I work specifically on my Etsy shop, because working on it is also working on my entire business.
I think in the off season, I work less hours total than the people I know with corporate salary jobs. If I spent more time working on my business, I do believe I would make more money. But I am active in volunteer work that is also very important to me, and being self-employed gives me the flexibility for that.
I do know people who sell almost entirely on Etsy and do well. But even still, most business owners I know are always trying to have multiple revenue streams.
Hope that sort-of helps to answer your question!
Thank you for the insight! Perhaps this is too generalized of a question, but how much inventory do you feel keeps you ahead of the curve in terms of turnover?
What is your “protocol” in introducing new items vs maintaining current one’s or “collections?”
I started a mail order business in the late 70s. At that time all research indicated that no matter what you sell it was a game of percentages.
I heard the same from my first boss who died in his 90s a multimillionaire.
He and mail order marketing info said you are very lucky to sell 5 to10% of what you present.
I feel that has not changed much. I usually show over 100 pieces. Mostly earrings and pendants.
With whatever style you make, I feel a substantial inventory shows you are serious about what you make.