Author Topic: I want to sell my art (maybe) on Etsy. What should I know?  (Read 3351 times)

Britan

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I want to sell my art (maybe) on Etsy. What should I know?
« on: September 23, 2015, 01:20:51 PM »
Hoping to get some feedback from other artists, Etsy sellers or otherwise.

I would like to start a side hustle selling some of my artwork as prints. Etsy strikes me as the first place Id think about, but I'd welcome thoughts in pros/cons of Etsy and possible other forums.

I'm not (even close to) FI. Ideally I'm not thinking I'll make bank from this but I'd like to not lose money.

Have any of you sold artwork on Etsy? Have you found that platform to be worth your while? Any tax/marketing/time/legal/printing considerations I should be aware of?

expatartist

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Re: I want to sell my art (maybe) on Etsy. What should I know?
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2015, 06:40:22 PM »
Hi - from a fellow artist who hasn't sold or bought on Etsy but occasionally browses it - what kind of art do you do? Some artists/illustrators go for Etsy, others for DeviantArt, you could do both. These sites tend to be for illustration (both) or crafts (Etsy), not, er, 'contemporary art'.

Probably won't make bank but it should be straightforward to turn a profit if you do 2D art on paper/canvas, providing you've got good social media skills.

tardis

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Re: I want to sell my art (maybe) on Etsy. What should I know?
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2015, 07:30:45 PM »
I'm familiar with selling through etsy, but not art so I'm not sure how much use I can be.  Setting up a shop requires a paypal account and is really quite easy, but will take a bit of time making sure policies, shipping and so forth are correct.  They charge $0.40 per listing for 4 months, and paypal takes a small percentage of income as their fee.  You also have to be sure you can ship whatever you sell for a reasonable amount.  It helps to have as many items as possible (it kind of gains critical mass) in an etsy shop, preferably at a few price points and with staggered renewal dates so a broader range of search criteria will bring you up.  The more targeted or unique you can be, the better as well.  Can you make cards, tags, or other items for weddings or other occasions?  At a certain point it can get pretty elaborate and if this is a side thing you should probably figure out what your limits are beforehand.  Oh, and learn how to take really great photos of your stuff (the print itself- not just the jpg file), and make sure the thumbnail is eye catching- #1 key and probably the most time consuming set-up part.

In regards to prints, I know of several people who sell through Society6, but I'm not familiar with it myself.

I have the feeling in regards to art, that these places will tend to be more like a sale point to which you will have to provide advertising (whether online or real world) to drive customers.  Deviantart, Tumblr, a blog and so forth are all online options, but do your own research and find places that are most relevant to your type of work.

This may be an aside in some ways, but if you're level quality is high enough, I would also look into getting into a gallery or store when possible.  There are often places which will make an effort to find local unique work.  Yes they take a big cut, however they can provide a higher end setting which makes your work look even better, and can often get clientele who have deeper pockets and are already looking for what you do.  It's also a lot less work day to day.  YMMV

Tris Prior

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Re: I want to sell my art (maybe) on Etsy. What should I know?
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2015, 09:01:52 PM »
I've sold on Etsy for 6 years. Jewelry, though, not prints. The past year has been pretty tough saleswise... unfortunately, with jewelry, I'm competing with cheap factory-made goods (which isn't allowed on Etsy, but a lot of it sneaks through anyway as the Etsy moderators can't be everywhere at once to remove that stuff as quickly as it pops up). And also competing with other crafters who don't care about making a profit and therefore price their work so that it just covers the cost of materials (sometimes even lower than that so they're actually losing their shirts on this). I imagine both of those problems are less of an issue for art prints, though.

I feel like with each year there are more and more people joining Etsy since the barrier to entry is relatively low. So, it gets really hard to be seen amid the herd of other artists who make the same things you make.... unless you are constantly promoting yourself on social media, through advertising, through mailing lists, etc.

If you're going to make decent money there you'll be spending most of your time on promotion and marketing, not on actually creating art. And if you're poor at shouting publicly about why people should buy your art instead of the other guy's (which I am), then you might not see the return on investment that you are hoping for.

I wouldn't bother with the ads that you can buy directly from Etsy, though, to feature your products. Some people swear by them but I tried them a couple of times and that's the number one thing that really jacked up my selling fees. Didn't really help sales either.

Regarding taxes - you're supposed to collect sales tax on Etsy so you'll need a state tax ID number (fairly easy to get, from your state's website. Here in IL it was free, though registering my business name, which has to be done first, cost money). And then you report the income on your tax return the same way you'd report any freelance or 1099 income that doesn't have taxes coming out of it. Like any business you can write off your business expenses that you incur.

I could go on at length about my experiences there since I've been on so long but I don't want to write a novel so let me know what specific questions you have and I'm happy to help!

You might look into Amazon Handmade too - they're only doing certain product categories right now and honestly I am not certain if visual art is one of them. They are not live yet but those of us who have been accepted have been able to start setting up shop. It was a fairly extensive application where they asked lots of questions to verify that we do make our products ourselves - I guess to weed out the resellers who are overrunning Etsy. They take a bigger cut of your sales - I believe 20% - but there's no monthly fee for the first year. I figure I'm going to see how it goes for a year and then pull out once the fee kicks in, if my sales aren't enough to support it. Since Amazon has such a huge reach (while I still run into people who have no idea what Etsy is), I am pretty excited to see what happens with this.

MissStache

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Re: I want to sell my art (maybe) on Etsy. What should I know?
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2015, 08:07:03 AM »
Another veteran Etsy seller here.  I've been selling for about 4 years, but the last 18 months or so it has really taken off for me.  There are many months where I make more from Etsy than I do from my regular job.  It's been really wonderful for me, and is helping me reach my financial goals in a big way, but it hasn't been easy. 

I sell in Jewelry, too (Hi Tris Prior!), but I sell in a very particular market that doesn't have a lot of competition (yet...it's growing!), so my outlook and experience will likely be very different from yours. 

Here are a few things I'd recommend:

1.  Take spectacular pictures.  Really, this is the #1 thing you can do as a good thumbnail picture is the thing that will make people click on your ad.  Make sure to take a picture of it hanging on a wall or something so that people can get a good sense of the scale of the image.

2.  Research a lot about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is related to the keywords you use in your titles, tags, and descriptions.  There are whole books on this, and it is pretty complex, so don't be discouraged if it seems confusing at first.

3.  Figure out your shipping costs.  This can really bite you if you mess this up.  There is nothing worse than charging someone $10 for shipping then realizing it is going to cost $50.  I can imagine there are very unique issues when shipping large items like artwork, so think long and hard about how you can do it safely and how much it will cost.  It is probably worth it to package up a few items and taking them to the post office to have them price out how much they will cost.  I am lucky that I can ship the vast majority of my items flat-rate, but for a while I was selling larger/bulkier items and it was challenging.  Keep in mind that it may be cheaper to ship a large item UPS or FedEx.  One thing that is very important to keep in mind is that YOU are responsible for getting the item to the customer safely and securely.  So many Etsy sellers seem to think that once the item goes to the shipper it is out of their hands, but that isn't true.  Make sure you are packing carefully!

4.  Just do it!  Seriously, it cost practically nothing to open a shop, so go ahead and get started.  Don't feel like you have to be 100% ready- you'll learn as you go. 

You know, there have been a lot of little threads popping up here and there about Etsy, but I wonder if we would benefit from a larger Etsy-themed thread where we can keep the discussions together and share ideas.  Would that interest anyone?

Retired To Win

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Re: I want to sell my art (maybe) on Etsy. What should I know?
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2015, 08:38:15 AM »
Check out fineartamerica.com.  Might just be the ticket for you.

tardis

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Re: I want to sell my art (maybe) on Etsy. What should I know?
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2015, 02:32:57 PM »
I would definitely be interested in an Etsy thread.  I make jewellery as well but sell mainly through a gallery, and many people have asked if I sell through etsy or online.  I've had to say no as constant moving+keeping a stock of items does not go well together, but I would definitely be interested in in giving it a go once I settle down a bit.  Would you be willing to send a link via pm to your shop Miss Stache?  I'd love to see your work and how you've set things up.

The low Canadian dollar has definitely helped the sale of the product I do currently sell on etsy however.  There was a bit of a bubble in the market which burst about a year ago, so when I came back to selling I was worried I would do poorly, but instead I've done better than ever.

Tris Prior

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Re: I want to sell my art (maybe) on Etsy. What should I know?
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2015, 05:59:26 PM »
I'd be up for an Etsy thread. MissStache, I'd love to talk specifically jewelry sales with you. What kind of jewelry do you make? I am a chainmailler and I think part of my issue is that more and more people are learning chainmaille, and charging less and less for their work. And, I admit that I've not been taking my own advice lately; I've spent almost no time on promo lately because I've had a number of big craft fairs over the past couple of months and have been focusing on that. (At this very moment I am procrastinating on packing up for an out of town show that I'm traveling to tomorrow! haha.)

And, MissStache makes a good point - I think a lot of us would-be online art/craft sellers fall into the trap of making art, making art, making yet more art.... and procrastinating the bit where you actually photograph it and send it out into the world for people to see and buy. Your Etsy shop doesn't need to be perfect before you start listing stuff in it. Get the important stuff nailed down like shipping and policies, and you can always tweak the rest later.


MissStache

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Re: I want to sell my art (maybe) on Etsy. What should I know?
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2015, 08:00:12 AM »
OK guys!  Just got back from a 5 day vacation and work is crazy now, but I WILL start an Etsy thread soon and will let y'all know :)

MissStache

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