News / Changes at Etsy

A FERAL FUTURE

Right now it seems everything is up in the air and situations change every day.  My online shop is open, and I wanted to let you know about some adjustments I’ll put in place in the coming weeks. My independent online shop, feralstrumpet.co.uk will remain open and orders will go out once a week.

Many of you know about the recent changes at Etsy, the latest of a series that have put pressure on small makers selling on the site.  These have come as the share holders of Etsy stock have demanded deeper profits for themselves. The increase in fees are about to be implemented at a time when all small businesses are struggling to survive.

Etsy’s latest change involves mandatory ad payments “for the lifetime of my shop.” The cost will be steep, and combined with all the other fees and the Value Added Tax charged on these fees, it will amount to at least 25% of each sale that comes through an ad. This will be on top of the free shipping to the USA that Etsy has demanded sellers worldwide must provide if we are to appear in the highly competitive search algorithm on Etsy.

I work with many other small makers and suppliers, trying to keep my sourcing accountable. They are hurting too, and some may go out of business altogether. Right now I’m trying to figure out how best to weather these challenges.

As a customer, I know none of this is your problem. I want to make and source beautiful things that tell a story, and this should be a joy for you to shop on my site. I want people to feel a connection with me as the maker and know that they are supporting a micro business.

Etsy was once a genuine community of makers. In its rush to please share holders, Etsy management has forgotten who built the site and gave the brand its integrity. Etsy wasn’t always like this; it was not always a public company. I have been selling on the site for nine years, but have been a customer since its inception. I was dreaming about what I would do for my ten year Etsy shop anniversary next March, something I fear will not happen. This is not because of the chaos of COVID-19 but Etsy’s corporate greed, which makes it more heartbreaking. For almost a decade I have been connected with customers and other makers and many have become dear friends. In many ways I and sellers like me have been instrumental in building the trust in the Etsy brand, and now we are treated as expendable. There has been so much outcry about this and always Etsy’s answer is the same dismissive, cut and paste response. When Etsy sent out a bulletin saying how they were supporting makers during these challenging times, its number one offer was the “promise to roll out offsite ads”— something many sellers, perhaps the majority, do not want.

I plan to put my Etsy shop in “holiday (vacation) mode” for the foreseeable future.  I hold out hope that maybe things will change again at Etsy, making it a good place for small makers like myself.  In the meantime, please stick with me through these changes by continuing to come to feralstrumpet.co.uk, my independent shop, even if it is just to browse and look at pretty things. Beauty is useful. As I am always working to make this site the best it can be, I will be unveiling a new and improved shopping experience there very soon! I would love to know the kind of work you like to seeing from me. Let’s go into this new future together.

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CELEBRATING ETSY’S 13TH ANNIVERSARY

Next week, Etsy is celebrating 13 years of supporting handmade businesses by hosting a site-wide sale, and I’m participating by offering 15% off my entire shop from June 18th-22nd. No coupon is necessary. (Custom orders and made to order designs are not included in the sale).

(Good old days– this was my first Etsy banner. Maybe some of you remember it!)

I’ve had a handmade shop on Etsy for over 8 years of their 13 year history, and before that I was an Etsy customer. Back then, things were small– crafters and artisans offered a few of their wares and there was definitely a feeling of unique, experimental sharing. Many of the shops I visited were like me– making things on their kitchen tables, photographing them with a dinky point-and-shoot camera.

(One of my first product photos, before I figured out how to use a camera. I still make & sell these Zombie Gnome earrings in my shop!)

As Etsy grew, many businesses, like mine, grew with the site, and the decision-makers at Etsy seemed to be makers themselves, or  at least understood the unique dilemmas makers face when running a business– Etsy supported us and we blossomed. Many of us were able to support ourselves by selling our work; a truly marvellous thing. I met other shop owners who remain friends to this day and we continue to support each other in myriad ways.  There was a community of sellers sharing knowledge in Etsy Teams, and we celebrated each other’s work by making Treasuries– visual collections of selected pieces that would sometimes be featured on the front page, leading to great exposure for everyone, and a constant source of inspiration and friendship.

(The Chartres Labyrinth Necklace is featured in this Solstice Meditation Treasury from 2011. I still offer this necklace design in my shop!)

Of course nothing stays the same. The CEO of Etsy changed, and those of us who made a modest living had to hang on for dear life– despite Etsy’s “Quit Your Day Job” blog posts, those of us who had done just that knew that it harder for us succeed. Etsy had opened to doors to resellers and drop-shipping, and suddenly we had to compete with people who were not making their goods at all but buying them from the 3rd world, often from sweat shops employing child labour.

(The Folk Reveries Team on Etsy was my favourite.)

Etsy has had a crisis of identity: the front page is no longer curated by Etsy members via the Treasuries. Also since Etsy has gone public on the stock market it must now answer to share holders rather than makers, and this has changed everything.

(That time I modelled as Gunpower Gertie for Catrianna of Deep Midnight Perfume Oils on Etsy!  This is an outtake).

I have learned a great deal on this rollercoaster ride with Etsy, but these are the biggest lessons:

  • If you want to survive as a handmade business, create your own website, apart from Etsy. (Mine is at http://www.feralstrumpet.co.uk)
  • Be ready to spend at least half your productive hours creating a business. This involves trying to anticipate Etsy’s continued changes as you think on your feet.
  • Lastly, loyal customers are like gold, and if you have read this far, I know you are one of them. Every day I am filled with gratitude for the customers who continue to return to my shop, year after year. Without you, I wouldn’t be here!
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