Friday, July 20, 2012

My Etsy Store (or: a rant about the way of the craft-shopping world)

A'right readers who have etsy stores - I have to ask you... how well do you do?

This is probably more of a rant than anything and perhaps has no place on this blog - but I really don't get it.

I have put things in my store on and off for well over 2 years and have only made a handful of sales, most of which is my dishcloth pattern booklet (3 patterns). My stats say I have sold 10 items... 9 of which are the pattern, 1 was a scarf.

Is there more to etsy than just listing your stuff? Do you have to drive people to your site? How in the world does a real crafter on etsy get noticed?

I've seen resellers get featured... I see people OBVIOUSLY selling items they bought from a store or are ordering from a store become super sellers on etsy - why? because they can buy a wedding dress in mass quantity for 100 bucks each, post a listing that says they are making them with a price tag well into the 1,000s..... and sell 40 or 50 a month... now, I don't know about you guys, but that screams reseller. I can make wedding dresses - but I'm pretty sure I can't crank them out quite like that.... and it doesn't help that you can find the exact photos on teh interwebz showing that EXACT dress (and sadly, the same exact picture).

What chance do my 5 or 6 items have against that?

I think this is part of my love-hate relationship with the website Regretsy - I love that they feature truly hideous items that make you wonder "what the hell - who wants that?!?!" and its a good source of laughter. But Regretsy also points out that people actually WANT that crap and that resellers are more than just on etsy, they are taking it over.

Regretsy points out that a person who is talented and trying to sell actual hand-crafted items are going down the toilet as far as etsy is concerned. Regretsy points out the way of the world - head to Wal-mart and pick up a scarf for 8 bucks. Head to Pier 1 and pick up a mass produced painting for 50 bucks. Go anywhere but to the crafters and artists who hopefully can give you a better quality item made with higher quality materials - and fill their products with the love and passion they have for whatever the craft is.

But, as I said, I don't think its just etsy. I have been to a couple craft shows and the crafters tend to walk away disappointed while the people with corporate made items do well (scentsy, dove chocolate, coffee people, avon, mary kay, pet products, etc) - people walk to walk up and get something in a box - something that has a ton of wrapping that will get tossed into a landfill for a product that most likely has chemicals in it and never saw the loving hand of any crafter or artist - just metal from the machines of the mass production line.

I don't think I'll ever become independently wealthy from my crafting or art (trust me, it would be nice, but its definitely not expected!) - but I think what crafters and artists are wanting is a general respect and value placed on what each does - to be given a venue that is not overran with resellers or mass production items. Even craft shows are becoming invaded by these items.

Now, I do have something somewhat negative to say about some of the crafters and artists of the world - I understand your time is valuable... truly, I do. And I know how expensive materials can be - but there are several people out there that are truly OVER PRICING (all caps warranted) their items and turning off the general public from hand-crafted items. I have witnessed a grapevine wreath (8$ at Hobby Lobby) covered in silk flowers and glitter poorly glued/applied to said wreath with a price-tag of over $100 dollars. Looking at that item, there is no way it took more than 30 minutes to make and the cost of materials was well under 20$. I have witnessed a person using a skein of Lion Brand Chunky Fast yarn and a size S hook - make a scarf in less than an hour... single crochet only - and try to sell it for 40$. I have seen a person make a ruffle scarf using the new yarns that cost approximately 7$ per skein (depending on brand) - and sell it for 20$ ... and get 2 or 3 scarves per skein.... and they only take 30 minutes max to make.

Over-pricing your items isn't helping anyone. Most shoppers look at the item and go "hell no" and walk away. People get a bad taste in their mouth if that is the first thing they see if they are actually out shopping for hand-crafted items. They see the first booth and think "yowsers - I can get that from Wal-mart for 10$" and won't stop at another booth of similar items.

Crafting and art will never get you rich fast, so trying to do so by thinking "well, its easier to sell 5 items at $20 each rather than really taking my time and pricing things appropriately to time and effort and materials - which will take me longer to make more items and sell at a lower price" -

Now, I know I know I know - time is a critical factor here. I know how long it takes to create things. I know what my time is worth to me - but how many people in this world who have a full time job actually get paid what they feel they are worth? Seriously? I know what I make a year and I can break it down to an hourly wage and I can tell you - no one is going to pay that much for a scarf, let alone what I've seen some people charging for them. As much as I hate to say it folks, expecting someone to pay for a scarf based on the salary of someone working for the Federal Government as a top notch scientist who just found the cure to the common cold and won the Nobel Peace Prize isn't going to get you far. (no, that's not what I do for a living LOL). You are competing with machines and companies that can buy their materials in serious bulk.

WOW... where in the world did this rant come from? eesh.

Perhaps the moral of my story is not to put too much stock in what goes on at Etsy and try to work beyond that - custom orders and making sure I price things appropriate for me and hope someone takes notice over the people who seriously overprice items similar to my own.


Lisa Mills said...

I thought about this post and my response to it quite a few times. I've come up with a couple different things to say but but hadn't gotten around to actually writing them (sorry). In the end three words pretty much sum up all of them...


I enjoyed your thought provoking rant, you should have them more often LOL

Cris said...

 Its just disheartening as a whole... I think there is definite value to buying hand crafted items even if you pay a bit more - but between resellers and manufactured items taking over what used to be crafted-only areas and people deciding to hike up their prices - I don't think that there is a place for people like me (reasonable priced and not in mass quantity). Sad :(

And this is how I get when I re-list my stuff at etsy LOL

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