MissMarlaBee of MarlaBeeDesigns recently created a blog that sums up completely how I feel about Etsy and the problem of selling handmade goods in a mass marketplace. Selling handmade can already be difficult; I price my items in such a way that I am covering my materials and fees, and not the time and effort I put into the item. Seriously!
Say I make a leaf mask. I spend about $6 for the materials. I spend a good 6-8 hours on a mask, doing the designing, gluing, sewing, attaching, perfecting, what have you. Add a couple hours for setting up an area for pictures, taking pictures, editing pictures, uploading and listing pictures, and sharing that listing on social media. If I paid myself minimum wage, in my area $8.50, I would have to charge $68-$85 for that mask. Currently, the artificial leaf masks in my shop are $15.
I price things in a way that I could afford to buy them if it were myself shopping for them. I've been told many times to raise my prices, and over the years with the quality of work going up as I get more experienced at it, I have raised it a few dollars. But I feel painfully aware that with the marketplace issue going on with Etsy right now, raising prices even a few dollars more to reflect the hard work I put into them will almost automatically drive buyers away from my shop, because Etsy is pushing hard for mass-market factory-made items to join its marketplace. I can't compete with the prices of factory goods. And Etsy has a reputation for being a handmade marketplace, and there is no required obvious sign on an individual listing to let a customer know that the item they are thinking of purchasing is not handmade. Yes, a customer who has a vested interest in only purchasing handmade items can do the research into the seller, but many impulse shoppers will not. Impulse and casual shoppers will search for an item, refine the search by price, and possibly never even see my item since it the search will be flooded with cheaper items.
Let me just link MarlaBee's blog and include an excerpt, since she says beautifully what is on my mind when it comes to this issue.
"This would include any and all mass produced items. This way nobody is left out, nobody is offended, all the small businesses win, and Etsy still gets to make their money.
"BUT the thing with Etsy, as usual, is always deceit. Etsy still wants comsumers to go there under the belief that they are buying items that are handmade and unique. The
real reason Etsy won’t disclose right out in the open that not every
seller is going to be making items by their own hand, is that they don’t
want to lose their roots in the handmade buyers and they
don’t want to lose the money making mass producing sellers by forcing
them to disclose what they do in an immediately noticeable place.
Yes, Etsy has said that those particular sellers would need to disclose how their items are made on their about page, but how many people actually read a shop’s about page before purchasing something on a whim?
"The biggest issue concerning sellers with this, however, is that Etsy is practically inviting designers with established brands and factories into the market place. (Think Martha Stewart, Vera Wang, Dulce and Gabbana etc.)
"Now, we all think it is great that Etsy is allowing the small businesses to expand, as in the past, they have closed shops for getting “too large”, but doing so is very hard and expensive.
Unless a small seller has a financial backer, a rich family member, an
amazing side job, a Kickstarter that goes viral, or some super duper
awesome credit, the chances of Etsy’s small sellers expanding is pretty
"The biggest problem is that relevancy
for who shows up in search terms on Etsy is based on how many items are
listed in a shop and how many times the items are bought.
If everything is lumped together as “handmade”, the
seller who makes one of a kind items and can only produce and upload ≤ 6
to 10 pieces a day is going to be completely slammed away by the seller
who has outside workers producing, relisting, and uploading 100+ items a