Art Fair Insiders

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Next Podcast: Etsy? Is it a Fit for Your Art?


Part II: Using Social Media to Sell Art/Etsy

Etsy is an e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items and craft supplies founded in 2005. It is a global online marketplace, where people come together to make, sell, buy, and collect unique items and supports independent creators. Will it work for you?

Successful Etsy sellers share their information to help you decide whether or not Etsy is the place for you. 

David Klenk is a custom furniture maker who has increased visits to his Etsy page by linking it to my product photo pins on Pinterest. He has not done a craft show or trade show since 2016. My first online sale was in 2006. I sell between $40,000 and $70,000 per year online.

Jackie Kaufman selling on Etsy since 2008 has two shops, a long established jewelry business and a newer shop with prints. She  successfully uses her social media posts on both Facebook and Instagram to bring customers to her Etsy Shops to be able to sell worldwide."

I realize there are lots of pros and cons about Etsy and I want to know about them. We really would like to hear from you also about your Etsy experiences. Will you leave a comment or question below or call in to the show, starting at 1:30? 800-243-1338

As always, you can listen to this podcast right here:

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Comment by Connie Mettler on June 5, 2020 at 12:14pm

Smart girl, Sonja. There are so many ways to find buyers for our art ... why not make a plan and figure out how to take advantage of these resources? Etsy may not be for all ... but it works for a bunch of people. The podcast makes that point over and over again ... worth a listen. I am proud of our guests who were so forthcoming and helpful. 

Comment by Sonja Jones on June 4, 2020 at 8:00pm

I wasn't able to join the podcast, but I've had an Etsy shop since 2015.  I'm a watercolor and acrylic artist, and I offer both originals and prints off my Etsy site, as well as custom commissioned paintings.  My sales had been increasing every year, save this one; but I did about $ 2500 in Etsy sales last year.  Most of my sales are of commissioned portraits of pets with their owners.  I also sell a large number of wildlife prints, though.  I found Etsy very easy to set up and use, and I really don't put a lot of effort into it.  I don't advertise it, other than having the shop website on my business card that I hand out at shows.  Etsy does not charge much to list individual items (I think it's like .20 cents for a three month listing), but they do take about 10
% commission on a sold item.  However, they handle receiving payment from the customer, provide some free promotions, offer seller tips and support, offer discounted shipping rates, and have an easy platform to list on.  My average sale is for $ 90.00, although I have items ranging from $ 15 - $ 300. For me, it's a no brainer - I'll take whatever sales it generates.

Comment by Kate McKeough on June 4, 2020 at 2:38pm

Great podcast; lots of new info.  To help clarify my statement about looking at other people's sites - not for ideas on work but, on similar type work (i.e. paintings of flowers, magnets, crystal suncatchers, etc.), it helped me to see what tags the 'successful' Etsy sellers were using in their titles.  For example, I saw that they were using not just a simple couple of words, but pretty much a string of words explaining the work being marketed.  Helped me to understand the technical side of Etsy.  As one of the callers mentioned, used to be tags were one word, now they can be a string of words.  While I've figured out that I need to cross-'market', I figure it doesn't hurt to use Etsy for as many sales I can either, and that means learning how to get a good position on the search engine.

Another thing that may help people who, like me, resisted collecting email addresses but collected physical addresses & 'snail' mailed postcards, I just ordered some Vistaprint postcards announcing my updated website and new etsy shop (which BTW I link to the specific items on my website listed for sale on Etsy).  Kicking myself for not collecting their email addresses, but hoping the new cards will correct that oversight.  Lots to learn!

Comment by Connie Mettler on June 4, 2020 at 2:15pm

I hope everyone listened to the podcast ... so much helpful information that kind of flies in opposition to the comments above. Jackie Kaufman has been working it for a long time and has an amazing following sent there from her Instagram account. David Klenk used Etsy ad program that sends his info out, plus pushes buyers there from Pinterest, ... both working smarter, not harder and learning new things every day.

Comment by Steve Germaine on June 4, 2020 at 1:15pm

Hi Connie, 

I have had an Etsy shop since 2014 and I have continually struggled to decide whether it's worth it. I happen to be a wood turner; most of what I sell on Etsy are utilitarian bowls (yarn, salad, popcorn etc). Over the years my sales have fluctuated quite a bit. I now focus on seasonal sales, especially the period Labor Day through Christmas. Targeting other holidays (valentine's day, mother's/father's day etc) can bump sales as well. 

I'd say that Etsy is not easy to "learn". There is posting your ads, setting up billing, shipping, sales and marketing-- lots to get your head around, and all buried in a not-very-intuitive and many-layered menu system.

***Etsy takes a higher commission than commonly believed*** with several types of hidden fees. Still, it's below 10% in my experience. 

I believe that the shops that do really well have very professional looking photography, with models and props to display their items. I agree with other comments that Etsy needs a lot of constant attention- if you happen to make a LOT of one or few things (i.e. make production runs) it may be a good way to fly. If you specialize in One-offs, you will spend a lot of time editing advertisements. 

I hope this is helpful, 


Comment by Jami and Fred Wise on June 4, 2020 at 12:47pm
Hi - I’ve had an Etsy shop since 2017 but only really started selling there at the beginning of this year. I have been pleased about my progress so far though I’m not quite breaking even. (I started my my business in earnest in the fall of 2018 but had an interruption with cancer treatment.) I sell prints, original art, and other items printed with my designs - cards, mugs, and magnets. My profit margin on mugs, cards, and magnets is very small but it’s not feasible to raise my prices and remain competitive. I do make a profit on the prints and originals but they don’t sell as well.

Sales this year so far have been a little over $3,000 and I’ve had over 300 orders. I promote via Instagram and Facebook. Obviously I would like those orders to increase but I really need to sell more the prints or find other, more profitable items. Can’t go to shows until my health improves, but ultimately I’d like to be mostly online. What did you do starting out to grow sales? How do you get people to move to more expensive items? Is it advisable to have a shop that offers so many different types of items, and if not, how the heck do you go about splitting your shop into two? Many thanks!

Jami Moss Wise
Comment by Kate McKeough on June 4, 2020 at 12:31pm

Hi Connie.  Have to admit, since I haven't been actively on Etsy for that long, I still have a lot to learn & more questions than answers.  I'd be somewhat shy about joining the conversation on the phone.  Maybe another time when I have more to contribute?  Thanks for all these podcasts; been very informative and helpful!

Comment by John and Cassidy Palmer on June 4, 2020 at 12:19pm


My husband and I primarily sell my graphite illustrations at conventions and shows where we do well, but have had an Etsy account since 2018 for off-season sales. My problem is, we can't seem to drum up enough sales to make the cost and time maintaining the shop worth it. In the last two years we've only had 16 sales, a few of those one buyer who purchased multiple items. All of the reviews we've recieved are positive, and we get quite a few visits, but purchases trickle in just enough to make me hesitant to close the shop.

I'm thinking perhaps one of the reasons is the medium I work in, as most of my sales are from two cutesy digital pieces that I no longer take to shows as they're outside of my normal body of work. I've tried free shipping, I've run sales during show closures this year, and nothing seems to be helping us gain much traction. I'm about ready to just move to a store built into my website, unless there's something I'm missing that will turn this around. Thanks in advance!

~ Cassidy and John Palmer

Comment by Connie Mettler on June 4, 2020 at 12:17pm

Perfect, Kate! That is what we need to know. Thank you. You can call in to join in the show if you'd like or I will add your comment to the discussion. 

Comment by Kate McKeough on June 4, 2020 at 12:02pm

Hi.  I just (in late April) reactivated my Etsy store (first time was in 2011) and have been more successful this time around.  What I learned from the last time and confirmed this time is that in order to be higher up on the listings, you need to be in the site, updating listings & adding new ones almost every day.  Extremely time consuming, but I have made more sales.  In order to increase exposure (& make more sales of course), I'm interested in hearing how Mr. Klenk links product photo pins on Pinterest.  My work is unique compared to 'similar' items on Etsy, but the keywords are the same so there's a lot of competition for position.  What I have found is that others will keep an eye on my listings and use words I've used.  So, I do the same.  I did have one person ask me where I get the hummingbirds I use on my crystal.  I thought that was rude, but unfortunately little can be done about people copy-catting others' artistic creations.  She thought I was rude for not giving her the information. 

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