Since July 18, 2009 I have offered a wide array of my ceramic work for sale through the online handcrafter’s marketplace known as Etsy.
But, now it’s kaput, done-ski, o.v.e.r. My Shop is still there, with a few remnant listings, but no need to check it out – it’s on Vacation – indefinitely – until I can take a stick and kill it.
It’s been a pretty fair run: 89 sales to some nice people, 99% of them living east of the Mississippi River, where I hardly ever go. (About one sale a month.) A nice fat PayPal account, for a time. 370 Shop Admirers.
It Was a Lot of Work
I dug in: studied the articles, went to a workshop, read How-to-Etsy blogs and compared philosophies with other Etsy sellers I know. Interesting.
I drooled over each “Quit Your Day Job” story, even though making and selling ceramic art IS my day job. Go figure.
I shifted my presentation, switched out and re-listed my offerings, changed up my pricing, adjusted my shipping policies. Pretty much a bunch of make-work.
I joined a clutch of Etsy Teams: Ceramics, Locals, “Ugly,” even the ACGA team. Why again, exactly?
My work was featured in scads of Treasuries (curated collections with a theme – anything from practical to sublime.) So?
I dutifully mentioned my Shop’s news on social media: Listings, Treasury features, even the sales. Felt Cheesy.
I studied my Etsy Stats, looking for sources I could develop. I monetized, promoted, experimented with Listing Ads and Shopping Engine Ads. Nuthin.
Sales WERE better when I worked harder at it, for about the first 3-4 years, and then even THAT seemed to dry up and drift off.
This article, “How Etsy Alienated Its Crafters and Lost Its Soul,” does a lot of explaining why it might not be due to me or my work so much. It also delightfully calls the Quit Your Day Job come-on “a manic pixie fever dream.”
It’s Not Been All Bad.
Because of my Etsy Shop experiences, I:
Have pride in my work as utterly unique and worthy of quality showcases.
Take great narrative photographs of my work.
Write sparkling descriptive copy.
Price with integrity.
Ship ceramics safely, securely and in the least expensive way.
Understand those Stats. And that reminds me…
A Stats Story: Last Summer I noticed I had 82 views in my Shop that day. EIGHTY-TWO?!?!? What? A big day for me was 25 views. Etsy Stats tells you the source of traffic, which I saw was mainly from a Membership Forum of the Rusty Bunch, a Chapter of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America. A member had found one of my ceramic conetop beer cans on Etsy and linked it to the Forum for all to see. I wish he had been kinder in his comments though. He was basically sharing my art as an oddity and was not at all appreciative of my rough artistic interpretation. I think he said something along the lines of he could do the same with a Sharpie! He needed my help. I immediately joined the BCCA, got on the forum and kindly explained myself and my work in the thread. I ended by saying we both enjoyed the same thing, just in different ways, because a beer can collector’s holy grail is perfection and, well, mine is not. The fun part? Having him wonder “outloud” how I saw his posting in just a few hours’ time? I told him, “Two Words: Etsy Stats.” It was satisfying.
And, it’s over. I have been thinking about it for nearly a year. The Shop has been in Vacation Mode half that time. It was a relief when I knew for certain-sure. And it still is. I am updating my website/blog (this one right here) and the new version coming soon will eventually have my own e-commerce shop. I will take everything I have learned and lean-in on my own turf on my own terms.
–Liz Crain, who has dreamed of evolving her day job and sees that this is how it’s done, pixie-free.