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Nobody Asked Me: Small Business Thoughts

Etsy blows.

Scratch that.

Etsy fuckin' blows.

Much better.

That's the post.

I resisted opening an Etsy storefront for a while because I've heard the horror stories from other small creators about how difficult it is to work on the platform. I joined for the same reason so many others do: Audience.

As much as it may burn my toast, Etsy is a trusted platform. Buying from Etsy is easy; you don't have to worry about your money and any issues that might come up are simply and swiftly resolved.

So, yeah, its great as a consumer. But now that I've gotten a look behind the emerald curtain, I can tell you: Etsy is horse shit for creators.

I'll begin with a caveat. There is a good reason why I've titled this "Nobody Asked Me", nobody did. I'm not expecting anyone to take my opinion as the word of god (I wouldn't trust a god's word anyway). This is me, bitching. That's about the whole of it.

Let's start at the beginning.

I opened my Etsy storefront at 10:30p on the 2nd of Feb. When I logged in to begin creating listings on 3rd at around 8:30a, my account had been suspended. Reader, I was livid.

There was no possible way I'd broken any rules or violated guidelines. There weren't even products listed. It was a name and an icon and that was it.

It's incredibly difficult for creators to reach Etsy Support. I mean, it's hidden. When you have questions, you're sent to a FAQ and most of the answers offered there amount to "just wait."

It took me two days to even locate where I could appeal my suspension.

I wrote a detailed complaint, included screenshots and the like and sent it in. I got an automated response that said it will likely take a week for someone to respond to me. That's laughable considering the standards Etsy expects from small business owners responding to customers.

I was never contacted by anyone at Etsy. I receive no message or acknowledgment that my complaint has been seen.

Seven days pass and on the morning of the eighth, my store is magically un-suspended. Again, no explanation.

And then I went to create listings.

Etsy is damn near criminal with it's fees. It's hard to not see them as exploitative.

What it costs to list a product makes profit margins so so slim that its quite nearly not worth the time.

I'll break it down.

The Listing Fee:

No matter how much stock you list for an item, every time it selles, Etsy charges a "renewal" fee. Meaning they are charging you just to take the stock number from "10" to "9"

And this is for Every Single Goddamn Product. So if you have a stock of 20 and you sell all 20, you're paying that fee 20 times.

The Transaction Fee:

When money changes hands, Etsy takes 5%. It sounds small, but its a lot. Especially when your products are rarely over $20.

The Shipping Transaction Fee:

Etsy does not simply take the money that a customer has paid in shipping and automatically apply it to shipping labels. No, the creator receives the order total and then must *buy* shipping labels from Etsy as dictated by the customer.

I mean, its an extra step, but it sounds fine, right? Fuck no. Etsy charges you for using your customer's money to buy their shipping label. Meaning that Etsy has once again eaten into your profit for the simple act of filling an order.

The Payment Processing Fee:

"Oh, you thought the Transaction Fee was all? Dead wrong, dumb fuck. We're going to charge you to give that money to you."

If your customer is international, Etsy is also going to charge you to exchange currency.

And the kicker with all this? Etsy will not send you the money from the order until something like three days after you've listed it as shipped. So, if a customer places and order for 200$, you are actually paying all of the fees on that purchase upfront. Someone buys something, you pay.

Someone, please for fucks sake explain to me how that makes a single bit of sense.

So if Etsy is such a piece of shit, why sell on it at all?

Once again, it comes to audience.

Even with Etsy's overcrowded marketplace, you've got a larger audience when people are searching for the specific thing you sell.

As far a driving traffic goes, at least for Belligerently Bookish specifically, all of my customers come directly from social media or recommendations. (An aside here to say that all of you who have recommended me to your friends are confirmed saints in the church of BB)

If someone searches "fantasy maps" on google, I'm nowhere near the first page of results.

Etsy makes your business find-able. And that's all the good it does. Just that.

If I could, my Etsy shop would be completely blank with a message that simply said "Hey, come on over to my website. We've got good vibes and I don't get slammed with a baseball bat when you order."

I don't think that would go well though.

And I myself used to shop on Etsy all the time. Not so much anymore. If I find someone I like on the platform, I check to see if they've got a website or if they're on a different platform. Chances are, they're out there. I feel a little better knowing that they're actually going to see profit from it.

End rant.

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