…building a creative business: etsy

Trying to sell off Etsy? Selling furniture, vintage stuff, handmade crafts, jewelry? It can be tricky. I love the platform for artists selling their wares and it's a beautiful place to browse, but....

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As a furniture-seller I have run into issues when it comes to selling on Etsy. It is a platform for people to browse and want to buy furniture, but before that happens I need to find shipping. I say this in the description of my pieces, but customers do not always read this important clause and it becomes a sticky matter.

In the shipping field I typically type zero dollars. This is not because shipping is free, it is because I am not a company that ships furniture. I am a person with a small business and I use USHIP, which is a bid-driven shipment site. The way it works is that I list a shipment with delivery address, pick up, size of piece and schedule and shippers going that way can bid on the job. These "shippers" can be professionals or people with trucks looking to earn some money. There is a rating system, insurance options and you can track these drivers. It has actually worked really well for me for the past six years.

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(Yes, it is the same site used on the show Shipping Wars.)

What are the Etsy issues I run into?

1. Shipping from East Coast to West Coast is almost triple the cost of the piece. I'm talking minimum bids of $900!!!

2. Shipping bids can be too costly for customers. Some customers do not realize that shipping from an independant seller is not like shipping from Pottery Barn. It is costly. A good price going from state to state is minimum of $200ish. I get excited when I get a bid around this price because it is reasonable. However, there are times that I have to convince the buyer that this is the best we can get. Not fun.

2. Customers purchasing piece BEFORE we figure out shipping. I then have to convo them, let me them know that I can't sell what I can't get to them, issue a refund. Everyone is disappointed.

3. Customers sad & disappointed and rate my shop poorly due to shipping issues.

Because of all this, I list very little on Etsy. Don't get me wrong, I have been very successful selling on Etsy, but it takes patience and work to maintain. I think what buyers and sellers need to remember is that it is not a perfect system. You are not all of a sudden working for Restoration Hardware and have their platform. It is still your small business trying to make a complete sale.

If you can put in the effort and don't mind interacting with people that are not used to this system then it can be a great resource. Just make sure you are aware that it is not always smooth sailing.

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