Etsy is still the largest marketplace for handmade items, crafts, artwork and collectibles more than 20 years old. It, like eBay, has its own devoted fans that, with the right keywords, can help sell your items without your having to market them. It also has its own built-in community that allows for peer-to-peer selling and trading opportunities just like the message boards and other online communities we’ll be discussing soon.
The disadvantages are similar to eBay. Etsy charges fees and requires sellers to adhere to certain polices and restrictions. Just as Etsy has its fans, it also has its haters who would never buy from the site no matter the seller. Etsy does give sellers their own storefront and url free of charge and provides more opportunities for branding than either eBay or Amazon, though their customization options are limited. They also offer less selling tools than the other two platforms.
On the negative side, Etsy has a censorship problem where any criticism of the platform or other sellers, even if it relates to a policy violation, is immediately silenced in the forums under their “no calling out” policy. They are also notorious for looking the other way when it comes to upholding their own Terms of Service, something which their community suppression only exacerbates. Their refusal to police their own site can spell frustration when artists with legitimately handmade items are forced to compete with design thieves, resellers and mass produced items that shouldn’t be on the platform to begin with. Recent feedback changes and a redefinition of what “handmade” means have also rankled sellers.
Can you still thrive on the platform? Of course! But it’s a frustration to consider.
One unique advantage Etsy has over Amazon and eBay is their community. Etsy gives sellers tools like teams that let you connect with like minded artists for shared projects and collections where other sellers can highlight your items, giving you a free extra marketing push. There is a greater collaborative spirit on Etsy then I’ve seen on any other marketplace and that additional support might make all the difference.