Why That ‘Kerching’ Makes My Heart Sing: My Honest Experience As An Etsy Seller

I would say that one of my most asked questions from other small business owners is regarding my experience with Etsy and I have to say it has been an entirely positive one. Now I am sure you will all roll your eyes at me when I say that but it’s true. Sure, there are plenty of things that I don’t like about it but then again there are plenty of things I don’t like about a lot of things, like why people rave about Oreo’s or why ‘living’ costs so much.

I have been on Etsy for over two years now and I would be the first to admit that I don’t use it to the greatest effect nor do I truly understand it all. Maybe we aren’t supposed to? I will also admit that if someone asked me to update all my listings now I would probably scream and I am sure I am not alone in that. Etsy, much like Instagram and its algorithms, is a game. If you don’t play it right you just won’t be seen.

So how do you win at Etsy? Good question and one that I am still figuring out all the answers to all these years later. Apparently it’s all to do with tags. If you use the exact right word you are in with a chance of your listing being seen. Perfect. Easy. No problem. Except it isn’t just to do with using the right tags. These tags have to match up with the words you have used in your description and listing title. Not only that but you also have to rely on customers being super specific in the search bar in order to find your listing in amongst the millions of others on the biggest global handmade shopping site.

You can see the problem. You can also see why I resort to taking an alcoholic drink to my office with me.

Luckily for me and for many other sellers out there, Etsy isn’t where the success has come from. Social media is where it’s at. If you make it on social media then you can direct your followers over to Etsy and that is where it all starts to tick. However that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried hard to play the game of Etsy right. I have spent many an hour (or six) changing my tags and the listing titles not to mention signed up to websites that are committed to pointing out your every Etsy flaw. Has it helped? Perhaps. That is the many mysteries of Etsy. You can never tell if you are winning or not.

Games aside, there are so many reasons why I like it. For one it is the biggest global handmade shopping site out there and an amazing platform for small businesses like mine. The seller’s page is clear and easy to order from and now that they have upped the number of photos you can add to each listing, there is more choice and flexibility too. Their seller’s app is also fantastic and again it is straightforward to use. I also like that they support their sellers as well as their customers, always ensuring that it is a secure way to buy and sell. As I said at the beginning of this post, I really don’t have a bad word to say about them because my experience with the site has always been a positive one, despite the hoop jumping.

Now here is the main bugbear amongst sellers who use Etsy- fees. Yes it all comes down to money. Etsy charges a $0.20 fee on all listings added to your shop plus a 3.5% transaction fee on all sales made. You are also charged $0.20 for renewing each listing that expires and these need to be renewed every four months. Now these numbers don’t sound great but imagine you have fifty listings or more in your shop and imagine you sell at least five listings a day, or even a week. It soon starts to add up and this is where sellers begin to grumble. Now I like a grumble as much as the next person but I try not to when it comes to Etsy fees. Why? Because they are entitled to charge sellers and they always make these fees clear and easy to keep track of. After all, ask yourself, would you have got that sale if it wasn’t for Etsy? Would that sale have been as secure and easy to negotiate if it wasn’t for Etsy? Would you have been seen as a serious business and a trusted seller if it wasn’t for Etsy? The answer to these questions might not all be no but it is definitely worth considering. You also have to consider that no matter where or how you sell, there will be charges involved. Take Paypal for example. They charge sellers when they receive money from customers as do many (if not all) other money transfer companies. The same goes for other online selling sites or website providers. There is always a cost and if you choose to up ship and leave Etsy based on their fees, chances are that these fees will catch up with you in the future with someone else.

The main concern amongst sellers when it comes to fees is how high they are, how much their monthly bill comes to and how much of their profit this is eating into. I give the same speech to every seller who comes to me with this issue- you wouldn’t be getting charged high fees if you weren’t making big money. That’s it. There’s nothing more to it than that. That is the only reason you are being charged a lot of money from Etsy, unless of course you decide to list hundreds of products and didn’t sell a single item but that would be madness. Now call me naïve or narrow-minded but I genuinely stand by that argument. I am 100% sympathetic to sellers who struggle with big bills from Etsy and I am sure one day it will come back to bite me on the behind, particularly as I try to standardise my sales to my shop this year, but I always try to see it in a positive light. Rather than viewing it as a negative thing, try and see the positives. You have made a big number of sales. That’s fantastic! Etsy is taking money that is rightfully theirs for giving you a platform and a means to sell your items in a secure way.

So here’s to the stress of trying to understand such a complex array of tags and SEO rules that cause sellers like myself to pull our hair out. Here’s to the dancers who celebrate every sale and here’s to the dreamers who think of a future without extortionate fees.

P.S: I also love that Kerching sound.

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