Breaking up with Etsy

Everything changes. Facebook keeps changing how you see fan pages and now there are accusations it has changed their algorithm. Have you noticed on Facebook the same information keeps coming up? Well, that because the mathematical equation has changed. It has changed (in my opinion) because Facebook is now a publicly traded company. Since that is the case, money became a major motivator because  stock holders care about profits. How do you increase profits? Make people pay to show up in your timeline! Notice all the sponsored ads?

Etsy has gotten into the change game as well. Etsy has changed their browse categories. If you aren’t familiar with Etsy, Etsy was founded in 2005 as a marketplace for handmade, vintage, and supplies. The categories used to include things such as art, ceramics and pottery, jewelry, etc. Last month things changed. Etsy changed browsing to more vague terms such as men, women, kids, etc. I understand that platforms change and am not adverse to change, but my Etsy store views went from 1,200 (Oct 2011) to 241 (Oct 2012). Ouch. I began talking with other artists on Etsy and Twitter about their Etsy stores. A lot of artist’s stats were down, but said they would stick it out through the holidays.

This got me thinking. We don’t operate in a vacuum. When one website’s algorithm changes, changes will abound everywhere. I headed over the Etsy Forums, which is like an online message board for etsy buyers and sellers. I found a board posting about the new browsing and what a challenge it was for sellers to be seen.

I had enough. I typed that “Etsy didn’t care about the “handmade” sellers, because they made enough money off of vintage sellers.  Lately, Etsy looks like a bad estate sale.  The only way to get Etsy to change isn’t by signing an arbitrary petition, but by hitting them where it counts-their pocketbooks.  We as sellers either need to close our shops en masse or not pay our bills.” I went on to say “that I have spoken with artists who aren’t happy with the changes, but have decided to wait it out until after the holidays. That is what Etsy wants. Etsy knows that if they initiated changes right before the holidays, artists wouldn’t leave the site because they want the holiday revenue. By the time January comes around, Etsy’s hope is that artists will have cooled down and decided not to close their shops. That is what I call a calculated gamble. Etsy is becoming like Facebook, soon the only way one will be found is if they pay for the exposure.”

I felt good. I had had my say, but the next day when I went back to check any follow up comments I found that my comment was deleted! I couldn’t believe it. I contacted the original author of the post and she told me she didn’t delete my message, which led me to believe it was indeed Etsy.

Now I understand businesses need to change and grow, but why delete my comment? That was the last straw for me. Etsy was founded on a great idea, but they have gone astray. There is buy/sell (buy someone else’s work and sell it as your own), copycats galore, and just wait until Etsy goes public. I’ll keep the items I listed on Etsy up until they expire and I will keep my storefront up to direct people to my website, but my selling platform will be my Big Cartel store.

This is me as a kid. I was grumpy. This is how I felt when Etsy deleted my comment. Is anyone else having problems with Etsy?

12 Responses to Breaking up with Etsy

  1. Cheryl November 12, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    Brava!!

    When I did a comparative analysis from last year to this, I didn’t see much of a difference. I’m not entirely sure what that means yet, because I think I’ve changed a bit in a) how much I list, b) how I list items. That said, I’ve noticed over the past 4-6 weeks a MARKED decline in the number of views work receives.

    You touch on some excellent points regarding the business strategy that ultimately changes the client experience to drive more “revenue-based” activity: (paying for ads, etc). The future is starting to look bleak for the seller – that much is undeniable.

    Thanks again for this post.

  2. kyle November 12, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    Heidi,
    I agree with your feelings and words here…In the last year admittedly I had neglected my etsy shop…sales were elsewhere, my work was in transition…but I came back in the Fall as I always do because my sales are good at this time. Well, even early in October I felt something was different…I began listing items and the view hits were VERY slow in coming, I thought this was from my shop neglect but it just got worse. My views are VERY slow even having listed over 40 items for the Fall.
    Its hard to find “ceramics and pottery” and when I search through in “art”, I am still not seeing it, unless you count “vessels”.

    Like you, I see the handwriting on the wall and understand that gone are the days of old etsy when it had more of a feeling of craft based- community and of being a viable outlet for quality handmade work. “Vintage” is HUGE there now and “pay to play” is in effect. Like Facebook, I believe etsy is pushing for us all to pay for the views…pay to direct people to our shops when it used to do that for free. Now should I pay 7 dollars a week to direct traffic my way? I don’t know…7 bucks compared to a gallery taking 50% is still a good deal but it is not what I signed up on etsy for either…like predicted, I will muddle through the holidays on my etsy but after that…hmmmmm…I will be exploring other avenues.

  3. Deanne November 12, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    I was psyched yesterday when Etsy Finds showed up in my inbox with the subject “Blizzard Conditions” and even more so when I opened it and saw “ornaments” and “snowflakes” as two of the categories because I recently opened a second Etsy shop that sells ONLY snowflake items and right now only snowflake ornaments! Imagine my disappointment when I searched through at least 4 pages of both categories without seeing even ONE of my items. I don’t thing a shop could use the words ‘ornament’ or ‘snowflake’ more than I do. I don’t rely on Etsy for marketing and try to drive traffic to my shop via other avenues, but I thought this particular Etsy Finds was tailor made for my shop and was super surprised that my shop was MIA from the first pages. So, I feel your frustration after having built a following! Wishing you tons of success on Big Cartel and elsewhere. Your pottery is fabulous!

  4. Susan McHenry November 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    Heidi, Thank you for writing about this. I didn’t really understand what changing their search engine features meant. I am now reconsidering whether I want to leave my work there too. I have never sold anything through Etsy, but I do like the community of other potters I’ve met there. Again, thanks for explaining all this. It’s really upsetting, what happened to you.

  5. Mariann R. November 12, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    I thank you for posting this. This certainly enlightens a future seller.
    Thanks again 🙂

  6. admin November 12, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

    I want to thank everyone for weighing in today. I didn’t intend to start anything, but talk about my own experience. I do realize that Etsy still works for a lot of people. I also want to report that I found my comment on another thread. I posted my original comment here. Then I couldn’t find it and now it shows up here. I know this because I documented the whole ordeal here. Plus, my friend Amanda, posted my blog post here,on Etsy. Before I could respond, the thread was shut down. All-in-all it’s weird.

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