Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why, ETSY? Why do you forsake us sellers?

As some of you know, I've had an ETSY shop since 2007. Although for me it's a hobby site, rather than a true business, my ETSY shop provides a venue to show my art, share links and widgets to showcase art on Facebook and my websites, and, most importantly, an e-commerce platform to sell my art worldwide.

However, there have been major changes at ETSY, and most likely there are more to come.
ETSY's focus is changing from enabling individuals to sell their handmade and vintage items to creating a new social network, like Facebook. In doing so, they've gutted the functionality that enabled sellers to sell and for their items to be found. 

They've eliminated the popular community forums, regularly feature a small subset of sellers on the front page, removed "shop name" from the search options, broke the search function entirely, subdivided the community and pushed seller interaction into narrowly focused "teams", emphasized building "circles" based on "taste", muted sellers for asking legitimate questions, and enabled mass market resellers to masquerade as artisans of one-of-a-kind handmade items.

As a result, ETSY's changes are making it harder for buyers to find my shop and buy from it.
Success in the new ETSY environment requires a major time commitment to build circles and select favorite items from other shops, build "treasuries" of items from various sellers that are color-coordinated and artfully arranged, and monitor team discussions and off-site blogs and forums to stay current on what's changed and how the changes impact your business.

In essence, to remain visible on ETSY, I need to spend more time chasing my own tail on ETSY than I currently spend actually making art. I'm not willing to go there.

So, current plans are to let my ETSY shop wind down and focus on making art for my next three shows (ConQuesT, SoonerCon, and Archon). I'm also considering ramping up my Zazzle shop to offer more images on more items, and making my originals available for direct sale through my blog.

I'm open to suggestions. Feel free to leave comments.