10+ years of selling on Etsy. What has changed?

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After ten plus years I can safely say i am a seasoned Etsy seller, and I don’t have to be shy to admit I know a thing or two about selling on Etsy. I’ve been through a lot of Etsy changes. Went through my personal life changes as well. My shop has been on a short hiatus twice. First when I had a baby, and then when we relocated back from New York to the Netherlands.

I know how this works. Today I’m sharing some things i’ve learned as a long time Etsy seller.

Let’s go for a short bit of history and present. What has changed in the last ten plus years on Etsy, and what is still the same.

Ten plus years of selling on Etsy. What has changed and what not

Things that have changed in the last decade on Etsy

The amount of sellers.

When i started selling on Etsy in 2007, there were nearly 450,000 registered sellers. Currently there are 1.9 million. Admittedly, not all of those are active sellers, but there is  a way bigger pool of sellers and items then before. A lot of niches are really saturated now.

Product titles.

I started on Etsy as a maker, selling my handmade crafts. I used to be able to just call an item “needle felted cupcake cutie“. And it would sell. Even with blurry pics. Now you probably wouldn’t even end up in the search results. Etsy limits the search results to 250 pages. The remaining items just fall off a cliff in the unknown. Then again, who would ever use that title as a search term? SEO was not yet a thing to worry about.

Handmade was handmade.

It was the pre-AliExpress era. Handmade had to be just that. Handmade. By you. Now it’s Etsy legal not just to work with a team, but completely outsource your manufacturing. Many categories are now flooded with Chinese mass produced items.

The importance of social media.

In 2007 Facebook didn’t even have a news feed when you logged in, so there definitely was no Facebook advertising to figure out. Twitter had just turned one year old. And Pinterest and Instagram didn’t even exist. Etsy had the Treasuries, user curated lists of items. That was where you wanted to be featured in.

Shareholders.

This is a biggie. I started on Etsy during the Rob Kalin period. The original Etsy founder. There were ideologies about what the site should be, and a strong sense of community. But overtime CEO’s came and went. Etsy went public. What once was a community of makers, is now a corporation with shareholders who want as much profit on the bottom line as possible. This means some changes are clearly made to benefit just that. Cha-ching for Etsy.

'This human to human relationship of this person who is making it, and selling it to the person who is buying it, is at the core of what Etsy is.' - Rob Kalin in 2009. What has changed in the past decade on #Etsy? Click To Tweet

This list of Etsy changes is by no means complete. And not every change is a bad thing. Hello, Guest Checkout! There were many changes to the listing format, and of course the search algorithms. Etsy Studio and Etsy Manufacturing came, and are already announced to be terminated. There are Etsy buyer and seller apps. You can basically run your shop from your phone now. But way back, I went to the Etsy labs, where every Monday, you could go to the Etsy offices in Brooklyn for craft nights with other makers. No app can give you that experience.
And who still remembers the Storque? Regretsy? Custom order through Alchemy? The Virtual Labs? Etsy Mini?
Etsy-selling-changes

What hasn’t changed on Etsy

The Etsy forums

are always filled with posts about sudden slow downs, or complete halt of sales. And new sellers asking how long it takes to get their first sale. Changes or tests done at a certain time are always causing a mass exodus of sellers. Or so is said on the forums.

Vintage still feels like an Etsy afterthought.

As a vintage seller this one hurts. My dear Etsy, why? Vintage loves Etsy. Etsy claims to love vintage. But why are vintage shops so many times forgotten in promotions and newsletters? At this time it has been a month since Etsy added anything to their Vintage Treasures board on Pinterest. I can not believe that there was nothing vintage pin worthy available on Etsy in the past month.

Etsy generates traffic.

When I started, I relied completely on Etsy generated traffic. It really felt like you had a store in a busy shopping mall. Even though it now feels like a tiny shop in a huge discount shopping mall, a large chunk of my traffic still is Etsy generated. I so love all the worldwide customers that find my shop because of Etsy. But I do not rely on it anymore. 

Good products still sell.

At least that is what I like to think. But I also believe that hard work pays off, and being a successful Etsy seller calls for just that. Hard work.

Overall, Etsy has been great for me. And I am not surprised that things have changed. A decade has past. I remember when I started, it felt super weird to call the 1980’s vintage, but fast forward to now and I’m like yes, of course it’s vintage.
I don’t expect Etsy to stand still and stay the same. It’s a for profit company that can make their decisions on how to run and grow. Some changes i might not like, some i cheer for. Some i don’t understand. But Etsy is still here, and i still have my shop. I feel very nostalgic right now.

To reminisce, a flashback video from 2009 about what Etsy is. Let Rob Kalin explain it, and hear from some sellers in the early days.

Do you buy or sell on Etsy? Leave a comment, feel free to share how long you’ve been on Etsy. What are the changes that impacted you?

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