Teach: How To Start an Etsy Page April 11th, 2012
Starting Your Personal Etsy Page
As an artist and a generally crafty person, I’ve often been told by friends and family that I could be making a lot of money off my projects by selling them. I think a lot of artists and craftspeople run into the issue of having a product to sell, but not having the means to support the overhead required to rent a storefront or a booth at a craft fair or Saturday market (these are usually expensive, and that cuts into your profits considerably.) For the home-grown entrepreneur, the internet seems like a likely place to start when looking for an easy, low-cost way to sell your goods.
Ebay is wonderful for selling your old Ipod or buying a VHS copy of “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” but for the seller who wants a cleaner visual experience for their customers, and a more cohesive sense of a crafting community that their site is a part of, Etsy becomes the clear choice in online craft selling websites.
Setting up an Etsy page is pretty damn easy, too (I know because I’ve done it, and I hate technology and the internet). I’d like to put together a simple, easy-to-follow guide to both the technical aspects of setting up an Etsy page, and also throw in some information from personal experience about making your page attractive and easy to use for potential customers.
1) Set up a customized, easy-to-use Etsy page where you can list art and craft creations to sell to the general public
2) Optimize content of said page to be attractive, communicative, and tailored to your specific product and personality
1) Computer/Internet Connection
2) Digital Camera
3) Your Vast Creativity
Etsy was started in 2005 by a small team of four men. Internet businessplaces for the common person were becoming more mainstream at this time, with sellers like Amazon and Ebay allowing people to list items from the comfort of their own homes, and sell them to anyone in the world, forking over a small part of the proceeds as “rent” to the website itself. Ebay has long been known for it’s “never-know-what-you’re-gonna-get” atmosphere, kind of like an infinite internet flea market, while Amazon began selling books and later branched out into music, electronics, and eventually everything under the sun.
Etsy, however, sprung forward at a time when lots of Americans were starting to get back in touch with their crafty sides–in 2003 Debbie Stoller published “Stitch ‘N Bitch, The Knitter’s Handbook,” which took the grandmotherly craft of knitting and made it hip again, something that cool young kids did while drinking beer and showing each other their tattoos. In 2000 Craftster, an online resource for people who wanted to sew and knit and cross-stitch in unconventional ways, was founded. As more people started making cool handmade things, the demand for cool handmade products increased, and anyone with a sewing machine and some knowledge of craft suddenly had a very valuable skill.
I think Etsy is especially interesting because it’s seen as a sort of empowering reclamation of the traditionally house-wifey crafts–sewing, knitting, scrapbooking–which, in the hands of today’s women, become something completely different. Whereas your grandmother tatted doilies, today’s crafty maven makes a skull that is also a chalkboard, or a highly complex wonder woman costume. The spectrum of saleability seems to have been enormously widened by the advent of Etsy, offering a place with few restrictions as to what is and is not an appropriate craft.
However, questions have been raised about why there are very few male sellers on Etsy- fewer than 4%, according to site statistics. According to the blog doublex, “what Etsy is really peddling isn’t only handicrafts, but also the feminist promise that you can have a family and create hip arts and crafts from home during flexible, reasonable hours while still having a respectable, fulfilling, and remunerative career.” (Mosle, 2009) This “feminist myth” has been called out as simple fantasy–in reality, people are not making a fortune off Etsy, if they’re even making any money at all. The argument against Etsy seems to be that serious artisans would not relegate their craft to a website that is sort of the “weekend warrior” of art and craft sales, but should either be making a full time job of their craft in the real world, or should just give up an get a “real job.”
I think, though, that Etsy provides an important and needed space for artisans to sell their crafts and for people to have the opportunity to buy things made by another set of human hands, especially if there is no local artist’s market or craft fair available to them in their area.