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Sarah Waggoner

Etsy Pros and Cons (2024)

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If you have a handmade business, you’re probably wondering about the Etsy cons that may pop up as you start selling on the platform. It’s good to know what you’re getting into on the platform. Let’s talk about the pros and cons of selling on Etsy.

Pros

We’re going to start with the positive aspects of the Etsy platform because overall, most successful Etsy sellers would recommend it to other makers due to these positive features.

Easy set up

First and foremost, setting up on Etsy is easy with very little investment as far as your time and money go. You can get on the platform in an afternoon if you have a product ready to list with only a small listing fee.

It is important to note that Etsy is considering making changes to the shop onboarding process. There may in the future be a fee for starting your shop. You can learn more about those changes here.

Some sellers take longer to set up shop for a variety of reasons. To make the process as quick as possible, here are my best tips for setting up your Etsy store quickly:

  • Have your tax information and identification handy. You’ll need a driver’s license or passport number and your business tax information to get verified by Etsy.

  • Organize your photography. You’ll need a product photo to create your first listing as you open.

  • Don’t panic if your shop gets suspended. Etsy is taking more and more precautions to get scammers off the platform. If your shop gets suspended you’ll have a chance to appeal it. This process is quick for most sellers.

Cost

Etsy has the lowest fees out of any platform with a comparable amount of traffic. Fees include listing fees, transaction fees, and a payment processing fee. These typically total up to around 10% of each sale.

Optional fees include advertising. Etsy ads are always optional and are shown when buyers are searching on the platform. The offsite ads fee is required for sellers making over $10,000 annually but will generally make up a small portion of your sales. Read more about offsite ads here.

The Etsy buyer pool

The real magic of Etsy comes from its 95 million annual buyers. While sellers frequently complain about fees, the reality is that you can’t find a cheaper platform with that much traffic. That includes having your own website which is often difficult to market and bring buyers to.

Getting found in Etsy search results can bring in hundreds or thousands of sales a year which makes having a successful Etsy shop fairly simple.

Buyers on Etsy are also different than buyers on other highly trafficked websites because they are mostly looking for unique and personalized items. Unlike Amazon where many buyers are using price as the most important factor for a purchase, Etsy customers are known for valuing quality and are also willing to wait longer for products to be shipped. While this obviously isn’t the case for every single person shopping on the platform, overall handmade sellers will find higher quality buyers on Etsy.

Advertising options

The variety of advertising options on Etsy makes getting in front of new buyers easier.

Options are generally limited to social media or Google ads when you are trying to get traffic to your own website. Amazon ads can get expensive very quickly.

Etsy, however, offers two advertising options that are relatively low priced. Onsite ads can be started with as little as $1/day. Offsite ads have a higher fee of 12-15%, but you’re only charged for them when you make a sale, making them relatively risk-free.

Marketing efforts are optional

If you’re someone who hates social media and marketing for your business, Etsy is a great choice. You can focus on SEO optimization and full product lines to get organic traffic from the platform and limit your social media channels to an occasional post that lets buyers who Google you know they can trust you.

Cons

There are, of course, cons to selling on Etsy, just like any other platform. Let’s chat about those next.

Competition

With a platform that brings in so many buyers, you’re going to have more competition than you would if you were selling on your own website. Etsy is easier to set up compared to Amazon or Amazon Handmade, which means many people just starting their businesses start by opening an Etsy shop.

Unfortunately, there’s no platform out there without competition if you’re looking for a marketplace that can bring you some built-in traffic. So competition is something you’ll need to plan for no matter what platform you sell on.

Scammers

With the rise in popularity of Etsy, there are an increasing number of scams for both sellers and buyers. But again, it’s hard to get away from that on any large platform. Here are my best tips for protecting yourself as a seller:

  • Use Two Factor Authentication to prevent hackers from accessing your account.

  • Remember Etsy will never message you and send you off the platform. Don’t click on links sent to you in Etsy convos

  • Messages that are legitimately from Etsy will appear in the “From Etsy” section of your messages folders

Limited customization

If you want to distinguish your shop through branding, Etsy and similar marketplaces limit you

You aren’t able to change the formatting of how your listing page or shop homepage is displayed. You’re not able to offer upsells at checkout or add an email list opt-in.

If you want to personalize every step of the buying process, you will want to start your own website on WordPress or Shopify.

More fees per sale

There are a variety of fees on Etsy as mentioned earlier in this article. This can make your bookkeeping feel a little more complicated. It also means that as you make more and more sales, your fees can add up quickly.

Your Etsy shop can still be cheaper than having your own website that charges you monthly whether you’re making sales or not.

Onsite ads limited

Your ability to customize your ad spend on Etsy is very limited compared to a platform like Amazon. You’re not able to target certain keywords or edit your bid for each click you get through Etsy ads.

Email marketing

Starting an email list is harder on Etsy compared to your own website because buyers don’t have an easy way to opt into your email system. There are still ways to grow your email list though! So don’t count out this marketing strategy if you’re an Etsy seller.

Mass produced items

With the growth of Etsy, new sellers are popping up constantly with mass produced goods competing aginst your handmade and vintage items. While this isn’t allowed by Etsy, it is hard for them to monitor this constantly so you’ll want to work on standing out against sellers who are producing items at a much cheaper cost.

Myths

We went through a lot of pros and cons of selling on Etsy. But I know there are some myths you’ve heard from other Etsy sellers that we need to talk about too.

Etsy is constantly making changes

Etsy rarely makes changes to its search algorithm. Here’s why: They want their buyers to have a good experience on the website. So changing the search algorithm all the time and creating unpredictable search results for buyers hurts their revenue.

The Etsy search algorithm changes at most, once every few years and the changes are generally small as to not upset the entire algorithm.

Other changes are made on Etsy maybe 1-2 times a year. In 2023, after months of testing, Etsy changed the aspect ratio of the thumbnail images that buyers see on the platform. They gave sellers 3+ months notice before these changes took effect.

So yes, Etsy as a marketplace makes changes sometimes. It’s not that often and most are relatively minor. As a business owner, you need to be flexible to see consistent revenue growth.

Etsy fees are too high to be profitable

As mentioned earlier, fees total around 10% per sale on Etsy. If you aren’t profitable on Etsy with those fees, your products aren’t priced appropriately.

You can also compare Etsy fees to a platform like Amazon where fees can easily reach 30% or higher for sellers using Amazon FBA.

Generating traffic is hard

The easiest way to get traffic on Etsy is through your Search Engine Optimization. This process includes keyword research, listing formatting, and having full product lines to saturate the target keywords in your shop.

Etsy SEO is a fairly formulaic process. Click here to sign up for my free masterclass where I teach you more about Etsy SEO and getting found organically on the platform.

Focusing on SEO helps take the pressure off of generating your own traffic from social media marketing which can be difficult and time consuming.

Conclusion: Pros and Cons of Selling on Etsy

For most makers, starting an Etsy shop, despite the cons of the platform, is a great way to expand your business and reach new customers. Getting online sales can be hard unless you’re great at marketing and Etsy is one of the easiest ways to start an online store to sell your handmade goods, vintage items, and craft supplies. So don’t let the cons of the platform stop you from selling on Etsy.

The Etsy community is diverse which leads to a large amount of buyers on the platform searching for just about anything you could imagine.

Your biggest challenge is going to be standing out from the competition. You can do that by perfecting your SEO, filling your product lines, taking professional looking product photos, keeping shipping costs low, and trying to ship orders as quickly as possible.

Want to learn more about selling on Etsy? I help makers selling physical products or digital downloads get more sales in my Etsy membership. Learn more about the process for getting more sales and how you can join the Seller Collective in my free masterclass.

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About Author:
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Sarah Waggoner is a full time Etsy Seller with over $700,000 in sales. She helps handmade and digital sellers get daily sales on Etsy without all the complications.

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