Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
I would imagine that most of us sell through more than just art & craft shows. Galleries, our personal online website, etsy...etc.
Has anyone had any experience with selling on Amazon Handmade? Howsa bout Etsy?
I just started and Etsy store and am in the process of setting up an Amazon store.
What have your personal experiences been if you have used either of these? What about any others?
Greg, I had an Etsy shop for a few years. I had some success on it but it started to wain. I decided to start my own website. The reason is basically 2-fold---for me.
One, sales were dwindling and I felt I had nothing to lose by starting my own site. Fees were going to be basically the same for my situation. I chose a host that allowed me to import my Etsy listings so I did not have to start from scratch. I did have to do a little editing, but it was not bad compared to starting with nothing.
Two ... I learned this from a small business coach. When someone goes on Etsy to buy from someone like you or me, someone will ask them where they got their new "xyz". What does the purchaser respond with? "I got it on Etsy." Quite often I think they hardly, if at all, realize they are buying from individual business people there. I think somehow they think it's all one business w/little departments or something. Kind of like going to the local mall. Your friend asks where you got your new sweater, etc. You say "the mall." I think in the instance of the mall a person is more inclined to remember the individual store. In the case of Etsy, customers are searching site-wide for whatever they are looking for and it's harder in their mind to distinguish one individual seller from another.
I am not saying I won't go back to Etsy. I have not yet deleted my shop but put it on indefinite vacation.
Recently I had a rash of sales through FB Marketplace. It may seem like small change to some but I had about $200 in sales in 2 days, from one customer. I could see it was going to eat into a lot of my stock for upcoming shows so I took down quite a bit ... stuff that I need to fill my booths. When my shows are over about mid-April I'll go back to posting on FB Marketplace and to my personal shop. I am trying, still, to build a name at home. Now it's for my painted pieces. It sometimes seems never-ending in building a loyal following.
Personally I had looked briefly at Handmade on Amazon and did not like some of the terms. Like having to take returns. My personal policy is that I'll take return if I sent the wrong item. If they just change their mind, no. If something is broken in transit, they can send me photos to document. If it's genuinely damaged and does not appear to be fraud, I'll tell them to chunk the broken item. If it's one of a kind, they get a refund. If I can make another one, as in the case of coasters, they get it replaced. I just did not want to have my arm twisted into taking returns simple because of buyers remorse.
Thank you for the invaluable info Cindy. I have had my personal website for quite a few years. It does generate sales...but primarily from repeat customers and some new sales generated from handing out cards at every show. I also have my work in a gallery in new orleans and it also produces some sales. (nice to get that surprise check each month)...
My primary interest in Etsy and Amazon is hopefully generating greater exposure through markets I would most likely not reach through the methods I have used and still use. I feel as if it goes back to the "Don't put all your eggs in one basket" mindset.
I have no idea what results I will have over time by using Etsy and Amazon...but there is only one way to find out...and that is to just do it.
In regards to Etsy, I signed up over a year and a half ago but never posted anything on it and it just sat dormant. Since I recently started reading more and learning more about tags, keywords and e-marketing I decided it was time to use it. I did make a sale after 4 days of posting to it.
I just signed up with Amazon today..a lot to do..but I will do it systematically and see what happens. Part of the journey of learny.
I have been on etsy for some years.
I started there because I have no other internet presence and I wanted to learn about selling online. It has been a good experience for me in that I have learned a lot.
I agree with Cindy in that it is good to have your own website, which I do not.
You never know what the future holds, and it is good to have another site to fall back on if necessary.
I suggest spending some time in the etsy forums looking up whatever you need to know.
The forums are huge and people are quite helpful.
I only have small pottery pieces online, primarily functional. No artwork.
I have had some good sales in reaching people who would have never seen me at shows.
I had a few nice orders where people found me on etsy, I also had a piece go on a national tv show some years ago, through my etsy shop.
I have always had a hard time keeping up with my shop, and over the show months it is usually empty. This does not help because it drops me back in the search.
I suggest trying to keep your shop full as much as possible so that you stay up in the searches.
Etsy is much larger now, and there are still shops that sell a LOT, and shops that don't.
Currently mine is being neglected, with plans to redo it eventually.
If you want to know anything in particular, please ask.
>>You never know what the future holds, and it is good to have another site to fall back on if necessary.
In regards to this statement from Judy, I most certainly agree. I have read of others on Etsy who had no violations based on TOS and yet their shop was shut down. Often when they try to find out why, there is little or no reply from Etsy.
When on Etsy or other similar platforms you are at their mercy. In some ways it's a little worse than renting a brick and mortar or having product in a gallery. In the case of renting physical space, if you shut out in a way that violates your contract, you have the recourse of court, even if it's small claims court.
I have never read of anyone who was shut down in this situation who got their shop reopened. And once you are shut down, you are not allowed to reopen, even under a new name. They look at the ISP you are building your shop from, email addresses, etc. It is very difficult to get around them in this case.
Again, Cindy, you are correct.
And now I am learning about all of this, also.
I currently have an attorney, so I cannot discuss.
I believe it would be ok for me to post this:
It is very easy to have someone get your shop closed down. Not the same as having your own website. If -anyone- another shop, another business, whoever, files an accusation about your shop to etsy, etsy has a procedure will they may eventually be closing your shop. It is completely up to you, the accused, to fight it, and you may not get much cooperation in doing so.
If you have your own website, I don't believe that you could or would be targeted this way.
Cindy, I am not sure what TOS is. Also why Etsy would want to shut down a shop if someone follows their guidelines and has their own original artwork.
One thing I do realize is that there are some very deceiptful people this world...and nothing would surprise me
TOS = terms of service, basically, Etsy's rules that you have to follow for listing stuff on their site.
Thanks Judy...putting together and maintaining an Etsy shop definitely takes a lot of work as I have been learning. I find this good because it also helps me to improve my personal website in ways I have discovered. Creating tags and more detailed product descriptions for Etsy is one thing that I used to also update my personal website.
At shows I always communicate with people and tell them about how I design and create my work and give as much detailed info that hopefully lets them see the enthusiasm I have and how it can be a benefit for them to own it. I am trying now to put this description and enthusiasm into words for Etsy and Amazon... because when online I cannot look into their eyes and have a conversation.
I am just beginning to look into the different groups and forums they have and searching to the right ones that apply to what i do
I would love to explain things better, because I feel that others need to know and realize that even if you are doing nothing wrong, there is a way to get you kicked off these sites.
Say you sell handmade pink watermelon candy and you use those words in your description. You have been selling your candy for 10 years. Another larger business begins to sell pink watermelon earrings. Just one of their many items. They find your shop, and they don't like-? maybe that you come up in the search when you put in pink and watermelon- who knows?- So they want you off- so they file a complaint. The website that you are on doesn't want any trouble so it's up to you to clear things up. You are to work it out with the complaining party. You do what you are told-repeatedly try to contact the complaining party, and get no response. You are sort of stuck. The hosting website does not get involved, but you need to clear things with them, before there is another allegation against you.
Judy gives a good example of what often happens when sellers are shut down. It is not always a big company that gets the small guy shut down. Sometimes it's a seller who is insecure, has an ax to grind, or just wants all their (perceived) competition shut down. So they make an accusation of copyright or trademark infringement. Probably for the vast majority of sellers it's difficult to prove the first date something was posted online, whether it's Etsy or anywhere else. In these situations, the accused seller is guilty until proven innocent and proving otherwise is very difficult, unfortunately.
This is why I started my website a year ago. In the event that something like this happened, I wanted to have a place already set up. Fortunately for me, I have not had any accusations, nor been shut down on a whim at Etsy. However, my shop at Etsy has been on vacation mode for quite a while because I wanted to focus on directing traffic there and building it up to be one stop shop for everything I am doing .... selling, blogging, upcoming events, etc.
Having a shop on etsy or your own website are probably not much different in the need to continually refresh everything. That may not be the same for everyone, but that seems to be where I put much of my time. Especially shooting new photos. A good photo will help to get found in search.
Also etsy changes things every so often and you need to keep with that.
I worked at it for awhile and got several of my listings to show up within the first few pages of searches. If I don't continually work on it, my items fall back in search. There is a lot of info on this on the etsy forums- about getting found.
Although I have sold online, I sell more at the shows.
I agree completely. I photograph all my work constantly and have kept organized photos of everything I create going back about 8 years. I have a section of my office set up for photo taking and what makes it convenient is being able to always leave it set up. I don't know what results I will have with Etsy and Amazon Handmade over time...but I do know that I have to give it my best effort...otherwise I will regret not even trying and not knowing