nstarleather

Selling on Etsy- clue me in? Please.

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Hello All!  

I sell mostly wholesale and what retail I do comes from my own website (my mix is like 90% wholesale and 10% retail), but I'm considering ETSY to boost the retail side.

I know lots of you folks sell on Etsy.  I had always thought it was for smaller "craft" type thing, but I'm thinking that was a mistake.

Can someone share some experience with me?

If I understand correctly it's .20 to list an item for a few months and then 3.5% of the cost and 3% processing plus .25?  It seems much cheaper than Ebay (roughly 10% + 3% to paypal)...

Am I missing anything?

This seams reasonable given that we're about 3% processing on our own site and my site averages out to 2.5% if I divide my monthly fee across the year's sales...

Is there anything I'm missing?  Do  they require to sell at the same price on Etsy as on my own site?

I'm assuming I can sell just "selected items" because a $3 wristband won't work with the percentage plus the .20+.25+?

Someone please share some advice and experiences.

 

 

Edited by nstarleather

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OLDNSLOW   

JLS should be able to clue you in I would drop him a PM and find out what he has to say about it.  One little bit of info I read and wished I had read the whole thing was that, it doesn't seem to matter with quality, but longevity with them gets you a higher rating doesn't seem to be right or fair unless I read it wrong.  But if you do get some info from JLS or other I sure hope it is posted here so that we can all learn as I have had the same thought.

O n S

Ron

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Troy I   

I've heard the same thing Ron longevity gets you a higher rating than quality. Not sure if it's true or not but I too would like to know. EBay is killing me with their fees.

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I'm going to start slow add a few of the better items and see what happens.  I total agree with quality not mattering much on Etsy (see my post on a dopp kit a customer sent me).

A little scary to me was that the business name northstarleather was already taken (at least there were no listings).

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Selling on Etsy is not an overnight sensation no matter what you do.  The more prominently listed items are unfortunately not from quality minded craftsmen but are typically from the long-time Etsy salesman who primarily works from pre-fab kits and like items.  They do make sales on a frequent basis but they have slowed down recently since Etsy changed the way listings populate when a search is conducted.  I still have my Etsy store but have also gone to a site called Aftcra (aftcra.com) and started a shop there (still in the process of getting it set up; just returned from a week and half cruise to Alaska today).  Give it a look and see if it is what you are looking for.  The Aftcra site is for handmade items only and only for those who are USA based hand craftsmen; you can sell Internationally though but you won't be competing with the myriad of overseas junk that you find on Etsy.  Aftcra also has a higher standard than any of the others and that is why I am giving it a shot.

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Bob Blea   

I can add some to this.  Etsy is very crowded in almost all product categories now, with their rules allowing some commercial manufacturing content opening things up to many items that you would not consider 'hand made' in the same sense as most of what we here make.  There is a lot of competition and varying levels of quality and it is hard to stand out.  You will need to be prepared to do a lot of outside marketing.  The 'longevity' comments above do have a basis in fact.  The Etsy search algorithm apparently bases it's results on many views and favorites ('likes' if you think in Facebook terms) an item has received, with more recent views and favorites being weighed more than ones that happened longer ago.  How long a listing has been around seems to figure into it as well, which means if you have a listing where you are selling multiple copies of one item (say a stock wallet type that you always carry) will theoretically rank higher in Etsy's search than a one of a kind wallet.  Even if the multiple copy listing sells one wallet, the listing and all it's views and favorites would continue to be active on Etsy where the one of a kind listing would disappear, and your replacement wallet listing would have to start from scratch.  This is probably why you see some fairly simple leather items that look like they are mass produced ranking so well in Etsy searches.

There is another problem:  There has been much talk lately about recent changes to how the search algorithm works.  According to Etsy, they made changes to try and make sure the sales get spread around to more people in a category which on the surface sounds OK.  However, what they apparently did was add a component that considers how recently a shop had a sale.  Users had experimented with this and say this is how it appears to work: If you have a sale, your shop is demoted in search rank on Etsy but it will work back up over time.  In theory, if you haven't had a sale in a while, your search rank would continue to improve and you would rank higher until you do get a sale.  Then you drop back again.  Etsy doesn't confirm if this is really how it works, but it's a business practice that would help Etsy by keeping all the players (shop owners) in the game by spreading the rewards (sales) around. 

Even if the Etsy search algorithm isn't really designed this way, there is still so much competition that you really have to work to get noticed.  You will need to work on external marketing (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to let the world know your products exist.  You can't depend on just the Etsy search tool and people browsing the site to find your products.  I'm still trying to figure that part out.

Hope this helps,

Bob

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You'll see 1000 stories from etsy people. The #1 'theme' that seems to recur, if sales are down then "etsy did it".  I personally don't have time for those things or the people who go with them.  IF you really are a businessman, then you should be able to find a way around whatever is "being done" and whatever upstream current you face.  It's simple to blame someone else when things aren't "your way".

Personally, I just use that due to the ease of downloadable files, and the fact that etsy collects any VAT due on international sales.  Not for that, I wouldn't be there.

But listings over there were "manufactured" LONG before it was allowed to do it that way.  Fact is, the quicker you can put them out, the better.  Quality not an issue, and some of the best selling items, you couldn't GIVE me for free.

You can see the type of items doing well at http://craftcount.com/category.php?cat=3&subcat=43

 

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I dropped like 3 of my higher end items to see what happens (Horween and my new tote).  Seems like pretty low risk at just .20 per listing.  I'm seeing my stuff pretty near the top when I search but no sales yet.

I'm not overly worried.  We keep super busy on the wholesale end and I wanted to sell in another retail venue.  I don't want to add Amazon or Ebay because of costs and because I'd really make my wholesale customers made. 

I am very familiar with the low quality in ETSY  Amazing what gets sold.  I'm under no illusions that it's all hand-crafted by one maker.  Speaking honestly that's not me, I have employees and do this full time.

I figure it can't hurt to get our name and products out there.

 

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As a rule, if you have items available for sale, then you will "rank" well in their search.  Where some get confused, is ... say I list a holster for the Colt Commander, right hand, black wth black stitching, looks good and solid.  But I only have 1 available.  That goes into the 'database' that there's ONE available.  Since "they" get paid a percentage, then it pays them to "promote" first teh person who has 10 of those, since at least in theory they would be paid more (percentages) in the same amount of time.  I could re-list mine when it sells, but unless I have another ready to go, then it makes sense that the one the is AVAILABLE would show in search BEFORE my "made when ordered" listing.  This has caused some to claim that "getting a sale" somehow "put you back" in search, when the truth is what "put you back" is that you dont have one available.  In these days of "i want it now", it doesn't pay to show people what ISN'T ready to go out -- you'll only irritate them!

Just one example of how the stories quickly get distorted ...

I sold tooled belts for $300 each back when $300 was like $629 now.  Now, I sometimes get $300, but that's far less money than it used to be.  Not that I think people don't appreciate the work, just that they don't want to pay "much" for a belt they know they will want to replace with something different in a couple of months ...

 

 

Edited by JLSleather

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For me I have a big advantage when it comes to quantities because I can realistically list hundreds for most of my stock items. The totes are the exception-I have 2 or 3 of each color available (I'm doing limited runs of specific colors) but for the Horween Wallets and Passport cases I put like 50 as the quantity because I have the materials for hundreds and hundreds and more than 10 in stock.  

Making any of those up is just a day or 2 at the most so I can ship quickly.

 

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That IS a big advantage, at least over there.  I would list maybe 20 items you can hold the pace with.  That number is [almost] random, just a number that will increase your visibility there.  The profit margins on small, quick items should be more than enough you could set one of your employees to doing nothing but packaging etsy orders.

 

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Is it just me or is there no way to do a simple priced based shipping table?  I see weight based and then just flat "+another item"....our priced based one seems to have worked well but maybe Etsy doesn't allow it?

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No, don't think you can charge shipping by total amount of the order.  Either fixed price, or by weight.

Being just a all-round swell guy, I usually offer free shipping on my digital download files ;)

 

Edited by JLSleather

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17 hours ago, JLSleather said:

No, don't think you can charge shipping by total amount of the order.  Either fixed price, or by weight.

Being just a all-round swell guy, I usually offer free shipping on my digital download files ;)

 

That's so very generous of you.  I'm going slow putting things up on ETSY.  No sales yet but I don't have much listed.

 

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@nstarleather The only way to charge shipping on Etsy is by inputting the shipping charge per item during the setup or by creating a shipping profile for each shipping charge that you will have and then selecting the appropriate profile each time you create a new item listing.  These are great if you are using USPS as your shipping carrier but doesn't work very well if you use either UPS or FedEx.  There is no way to have the shipping calculated by weight and/or dimension within Etsy.  

I get around this by basically adding the USPS rate for each item into my listing price and then have my shipping policy indicate that shipping is included with no additional charges.  I also enter that information at the bottom of the listing just for safety sake.

It will take awhile before you see any views, let alone sales, from Etsy as there are so many other "craftsmen" out there selling much cheaper stuff.  I have been contacted several times by potential buyers about my prices for items and I just let them know that I am not a hobby crafter like so many of the others listing there and that my product uses far superior materials when compared to the pre-fab kits that are typically in use among the others.

Good luck.

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If you haven't heard of it check out bigcartel.com

They only charge a monthly fee & the lowest membership is free.

They charge nothing to list and take nothing from a sell. ( except paypal etc.)

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6 hours ago, thefanninator said:

If you haven't heard of it check out bigcartel.com

They only charge a monthly fee & the lowest membership is free.

They charge nothing to list and take nothing from a sell. ( except paypal etc.)

Thanks worth checking out as well.  Looks like basically a separate site you build with them... I've already got a site, but maybe I'm confused.  

 

Edited by nstarleather

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Yeah, basically that's the bottom line Mike - your own site certainly the way to go (w/o going into all the why, which I assume you already know).

You mentioned an obvious issue that may be of interest to others, though.. is the fees.  Short version.. selling something on etsy will run about 7% of the sale price in the end.  And there is a small "minimum" charge, so selling 10 items for $10 each actually costs a bit more in fees than selling 1 item for $100.

With your own site, or even just using PayPal, you'd pay about half of that (3-4%).  I removed my holsters and tooled items from there (I still list a few very easy, very quick small items) and one of the reasons is the fees.  Sell a $100 project on etsy instead of fakebook (or wherever) and your "out" that extra 3.5%.. or $3.50 -- sell 100 of those, you're out a car payment, though you've done the same work....

Then, some may NOT have considered...

  • Listing items over there (or other places, too) is not particularly good for web visibility.  Your listings could end up actually competing with your own listings elsewhere in searches.
  • If someone does purchase from you there, when someone asks them where they got it .. they often say "from Etsy" (though, you'd likely prefer them to tell their friends they got it at North Star Leather).  Word of mouth may be reduced.
  • In the event that your listing content is good and search engines "like' you, then that traffic you created is directed to etsy, not to you.  You are -- in a real way -- paying them to let you advertise for them.

 

 

 

Edited by JLSleather

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particle   

Etsy is a very tough arena to play in. Too many people out there willing to make something for nothing and undersell everyone else just to make a sale. My 8-5 needed a custom chalk board framed out with reclaimed wood for a restaurant design project we were doing. We have a woodworker in-house that could have built it in his off-hours for the price of materials only, but once he sourced all the materials and added in a bit for finishing, mounting hardware, etc., he couldn't beat the price the Etsy seller was charging all-in + shipped.

I see Etsy as an additional avenue, not a single solution. It's a clientele that you might not otherwise have reached. So, even if I'm only making a couple clams on Etsy per month, it's a couple clams more than my website was bringing in. And it may be easier for an international audience to find my products on my Etsy store compared to my personal website where they're instantly greeted with a language they can't read and menus they can't navigate due to the language barrier.

I wouldn't eliminate it as an option, but I wouldn't rely on it as my only option.

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Thanks so much for the advise...it helps me know what I'll doing with Etsy: keeping the products limited and specific.

 

  I had another wrinkle this week in that I found one of my wholesale customers is also selling on Etsy.   I try not to compete with them because if you sell an item retail that would have sold anyway wholesale, the retail profit margin is cut down.   Plus you take on more of the return headaches not to mention the extra work to sell one item retail vs wholesale. Sure it's a little more money, but I'd end up reducing wholesale sales and making resellers a bit mad (especially if my price is lower).

Because of that I'm only selling on Etsy items that I don't wholesale: my new tote, Horween items, big assortments if pouches and a new Dopp kit I have in the works.

 

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The biggest challenge with having just your own site is getting traffic to it. That's where sites like Etsy have the advantage. They have a lot of traffic. In my last business we were spending all of our profit on Google ad words just to get people to the site. 

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Does seem to be changing over there.  All the rage (forums, articles,u-tube, blogs, social poo, etc...) lately is etsy adding other items to listings.  About like you'd see on ebay or amazon... the "you might also like ..." type thing.  Not on the desktop version (yet) - just the mobile version.  Since etsy went public, info about what goes on there spreads further than it used to.

Of course the talk (from sellers) is people are "undercutting" their prices in a "race to the bottom".  Truth is, many items have been overpriced for a long time, and "they" don't want this made clear.  They don't want it shown next to other items where it can easily compared.

Sadly, standard marketing crap all too often is about anything BUT the item for sale.  You'll see a $1 bill for sale for $10.  When you ask why that dollar is $10, "they" will answer 'all the work' that went into marketing that, and packaging that, and my time at the post office.. (blahblahblah). 

Each his own, really, but it does seem people tire of a fancy story and [yet another] video clearly intended to justify inflated pricing.

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I'm going on two weeks now and I'm about as cheap as anyone for what I'm selling but still no sales:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/NorthStarLeatherCo?ref=l2-shopheader-name

 

 

I just have a few listings still surprised to not have at least one order.  Not complaining too much my main retail outlet is my own site...

 

 

 

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It took me a few weeks to get my first etsy sale but man was it fun. Every day yields a few new likes or favorites.. sprinkled with sales and conversations in between. Making use of the tags they let you use is big in your searchability. Ive noticed even within my own shop I market to a group that most radio strap makers do not, and a good lortion of my sales come from that market. Obviously great pictures make or break your items as well. Although my straps are made to order, I use qty 20 and auto renew and explain both in the description amd thebshipping profile that my lead tome is 3-4 weeks.

 

Ohh and dont be me and forget to remove "ships everywhere" option unless you square away the shipping. I had a listing that defaulted to ships US and then another section that says "ships everywhere" wherw the default is free shipping. Paid $23 to ship $50 in product just to try to be a man of my word.

 

Keep up the listings. Youll get more traffic eventually.

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sos   
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It took me a few weeks to get my first etsy sale but man was it fun.

I had the opposite experience - sold my first whip online via etsy on my first day listing.

Then nothing for awhile.

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