Wednesday, January 6, 2010

An Etsy Shop – Viable Moneymaker or Frustrating Time Waster?

Many retirees could use supplemental income and the Internet provides a variety of opportunities to make some extra money. One such opportunity is Etsy. With an Etsy shop, you can sell all types of handcrafted items, crafting supplies and anything vintage, which is defined as an item at least 20 years old. (Wait a minute - are you kidding me? In that case, everything I own except my car is vintage!)

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about an Etsy shop for a few years and finally took the plunge. I won’t go into the frustrating and yet-to-be-resolved saga of my Etsy registration nightmare. Suffice to say I’ve got a shop! Now we’ll see if Wilderness Crafter actually produces any sales. (Cool banner, huh?)

What I like about Etsy is that it’s focused on my kind of stuff – quality unique handmade items and craft supplies. And beings I’ve been accumulating for years, a lot of my supplies fall under the vintage category, as well! I’m on a quest to divest myself of excess, however, and this may be just the place to pass along my vast array of crafting and sewing and crocheting items that have been piling up over the past few decades.

I have a few reservations about Etsy. First, in order to buy from an Etsy shop, you have to be a registered user. With my experience trying to register, I’m not sure requiring buyers to register is a good idea. Second, I wonder how many buyers are also sellers? Is the Etsy community just one big group of people buying from each other? And third, does anyone really make any money over time? What kind of traffic does Etsy really generate? How many sellers close up shop after a short time?

On the other hand, it costs nothing to open a shop and is an inexpensive place to sell. The system, when it’s working, leads you through the item posting process step by step. Uploading photos is easy and the shop is nicely formatted. It costs just $.20 per item to post for 4 months. If the item hasn’t sold in that period of time, it expires and must be renewed, costing another $.20 for another 4 month. If a sale is made, Etsy gets a percentage – less than 4% - can’t remember exactly. So there are two big pluses from an economic standpoint – free to join, inexpensive to sell.

Etsy also has a wealth of how-to information on all aspects of the Etsy experience. If I live to be 150, I probably won’t have time to read it all! But there’s really valuable information on SEO and how to promote your shop and maximize sales. All for free. So there’s another HUGE plus.

At this point, I’ll wait and see how it goes. I want to get as many items posted as possible over the next few weeks and then watch what happens at Wilderness Crafter. At just $.20 per item for a 4 month trial, I can afford to experiment. And who knows? Maybe I’ll be wildly successful on Etsy! Either way, I'll report back in late April or early May.

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