Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

Hi- I am writing to share with you about what I have been up to with my art business since most of my shows were canceled. I started an etsy shop for the first time and one of the reason I like it is that it is very user friendly and you do not have to put any funds out to start. Also I have a friend who makes beautiful watercolor paintings and crafts but does not like all the computer stuff so I am selling some of her stuff in my store as well. Now instead of sitting in the back of her closet it is listed and people have bought several of her items.

My first sale was a $500.00 painting but by the time the fees, taxes, etc... I made about 400.00. So you really need to consider that with your pricing, plus I like to run specials and send coupons to help customers and hopefully they will become regular clients. I still have a lot to learn and I also would not depend solely on one way to present and sell your art- I plan to do shows when they start again and try to connect with others who like art and make art. Community and personalization are very important especially now with so many people having to social distance.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about my shop- but I am in no way an expert on etsy. My training is more focused on creating fine art, designs and crafts. My shop is I would love to get your feed back. Thank you.

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Comment by Sonja Jones on January 19, 2021 at 5:01pm

I have been using Etsy now for just over five years.  I started out with just pet portraits, hence the shop's name "The Pup Artist".  Business has slowly increased over time, and while a get a lot of commissions, I also sell non-pet related originals and prints now.  It's not a ton of income, but to sell a print or an painting I've already made?  Hey, I'll take it.  Just sold one original and three prints last night.  The prints were ones I already had made up for my art show inventory.  I have been working on over $1000 worth of commission work the last month from someone who found me on Etsy - and he didn't even want a product I was offering, he just saw that I had some scratchboard pieces offered and was looking for a scratchboard artist for his project.  So I was able to work and bill him directly as it didn't actually involve an Etsy product or service I advertised.  Listings are cheap, learning curve isn't steep, so what have you got to lose?

Comment by Connie Mettler on January 19, 2021 at 12:17pm

Good job, Dave. Sounds like a bit of a learning curve, but like anything else, the longer you do it the easier it becomes. I've done a bit of selling on eBay and it worked for me selling extraneous things. There are pros and cons of using Etsy -- but I see that someone with a good business sense can pull it together. Thank you for this comment ... 

Comment by Dave Grabarczyk on January 18, 2021 at 6:57pm

With all of my art shows being cancelled, I was encouraged by my niece to sell my wooden jewelry/valet boxes on Etsy.  She has been selling soap there for years and has been doing pretty well.  I was hesitant as there are a lot of wooden boxes on ETSY for sale.

Each one of my boxes is unique so I had to take up to their ten shot limit to give the customer a good idea of what the item looked like.  That was the most time consuming aspect of creating a listing.  

It took me a little while to become familiar with Etsy's listing procedure, but once I learned some of the quick ins and outs, how to copy items, replace pictures, change a few words, I can list an item much quicker now.

My first listing went on line in October.  I listed a variety of the items that I usually take to the art shows, but not an example of each. I sold my first box by the end of that first week.

I was quite surprised that sales were very good.  For example, I had made @20 valet type boxes in walnut which usually would have carried me through the year for all of my art shows (I usually do @8 shows a year).  I sold out of all of my inventory on these and another different line of boxes in just three months between October till the end of December.  Sales have continued now into January.

Etsy's listing fee is low at only 20 cents per item and you can post as many as ten pictures of your item.  If you want to make changes, you can do that pretty much in real time, type in a change, click save, and it is changed immediately.  I did raise my prices from my art show listing to a higher price to cover the Free Shipping and the Etsy fees. (Maybe that tells me that I'm selling my items too cheaply on the art show circuit as people continued to by them at the much higher price).

On some sales I made a few extra dollars when the shipping was near-by, but lost money on items shipped across country, but for the most part I carried a small profit with the shipping.  I did ship though using UPS and not USPS as the delivery times were quicker and more reliable.

I imagine that sales will be much slower for the rest of the year, so I'm not listing a lot of new items at this time as I want to have them available for the art shows this year because I do like that personal touch meeting the person who is buying my art.

I think that selling on Etsy opens you up to the whole country and beyond for potential buyers.  I received several great reviews which has helped to drive sales upward.  I hope to be able to continue to carry a few items for the rest of the year and to list many more next October for the holiday season.  You can see my boxes on Etsy at" woodencreationsboxes.

Comment by Kate McKeough on January 13, 2021 at 7:31pm

Hi Jason - that's sad, it sounds like a great arrangement except for the timing.  Etsy sends out payments once a week, on Mondays.  I suppose the printer wouldn't want to take the chance on an order being cancelled before payment was received.  Could you give the Buyers a heads-up that each image is individually printed (a limited edition) and therefore delivery of the print would be ready & sent out in X# of days? 

Comment by Jason Grauberger on January 13, 2021 at 6:52pm

Great to see that you've had some success selling with Etsy!
I had a sub-par experience on there, but with a completely different set of circumstances. I do think that it works better as a site for selling one-off unique pieces. In my attempt to sell prints of my work, I had arranged a print on demand supplier who advertised that they had a partnership with Etsy for a streamlined experience. The buyer would make a purchase for a selected print size of one of my images. The order would be sent to the print on demand. Etsy would collect the payment, subtract their fee and send the rest. In reality, Etsy didnt send the printer the payment directly. They sent my the payment which usually took about 3 days to process. Unfortunately the printer wasn't able to start making the print until they received their cut. So it left an odd 3 day gap period when I would have to wait to begin production causing a delay in the buyer receiving the order. 
A question arose, why don't I just pay for the production from my own money while waiting on the payment from Etsy?  While I did just that, I could see that with any serious stream of orders, I would be heading for troubleville quickly. At the time, I didnt have the bankroll to fund the production while waiting on Etsy to process the payments. 
I could work if they would setup the partnership so that the printer could begin production immediately. Without that, ugh. 

Comment by Kate McKeough on January 11, 2021 at 12:54pm

Hi All. I initially joined Etsy in 2011, but left it inactive until 2020. The difference between 2011 and 2020 is amazing. I create unique crystal suncatchers and window chandeliers which I call Sundreams, but because that name wasn’t available when I created my website, I use “sundreamcatchers” in all of my online forums, including Etsy (

Crystal Suncatchers is a very competitive area; there are Thousands of choices on Etsy. This is what I’ve learned: Your title needs to include as many of your keywords as possible. The computer will tell you when you’ve out-used your characters. Pictures are extremely important; Etsy gives you up to 10 spaces per item (as well as video options). I don’t know if it matters (it used to) but when you save your pictures, also use as many keywords as you can in the title. Etsy also makes it easy to post your listings on Facebook, Pinterest and others. The Etsy system is easy to navigate and use.

Charges: Etsy charges .20/per listing at the time you list, and when you sell, the Etsy commission is 5% + Square’s commission (3%); I average it out to about 10% overall when I set a price. Beware, Etsy defaults you to their off-site advertising, and if something sells through that system, the commission is 25% (you can opt out). They encourage free shipping, which puts you higher on the search engine results, but it also means they get 10% of the shipping cost (as opposed to only the Square %).  However, using the Etsy system to print shipping labels provides you with a discounted USPS price and is totally convenient & easy to use (& seems to offset the extra 10% on shipping). The gross receipts tax they charge the Buyer is that Buyer’s State tax, but the Seller covers Square’s % on that tax.

Overall, I’m finding Etsy is a great forum for online sales. I belong to a few others, including my own website, but most sales have come through Etsy. It is a lot of work, taking the pictures and coming up with descriptions, titles, etc., but I think worth the time.  It is hard to take pictures of my Sundreams which show the true beauty & scale of the larger, more expensive pieces, so I primarily list the smaller suncatchers & a couple of the mid-size pieces, list my website in my descriptions, and of course, include my card in the shipping package. I do hope the live shows come back soon, but I plan to continue with online forums as well.

Comment by Shelly Christine Ristow on January 9, 2021 at 12:29pm

Yes I am using Etsy marketing but I am also doing my own in other places.  I am always surprised when I get a sale especially for paintings. It was someone I know who lives out of state, but I never would have imagined that they would have made this purchase.

That was a pleasant surprise. I am not depending on just Etsy for my business, but it has worked out pretty good so far. 

Comment by Connie Mettler on January 9, 2021 at 12:13pm

Shelly, Were you surprised to get this first sale? Do you have any idea on how this customer found you? Was it someone who knew you? Are you marketing off of Etsy?

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