3.19.2014

an Etsy seller stuck in the middle

Baby #2 has been in part-time daycare for about a month and a half now (give or take; between a gradual transition and about four full days out for illness, I've had about 10 days to work over the past six or seven weeks). And I ain't gonna lie - business has been slow. February has always been my slowest month, even during my steadiest stretch since officially starting my business in 2010. But with just two clients at the moment and my other shop all but flat-lining, I've been wondering if Etsy is the right venue for a sole proprietor somewhere between "fresh shops" and "featured seller."

Right before I closed my shop in anticipation of baby #2's arrival and the start of my year-long hiatus, there was a fair amount of online chatter about how Etsy as a forum for sellers was changing, with some resell operations abusing its policies, sellers unsatisfied, to say the least, with the company's official response, and others who'd made the leap from mom & pop shop (or just mom, as is often the case) to a level of success that includes things like wholesale accounts, hiring employees, and seeking out manufacturers to produce what are essentially handmade prototypes. You could say they'd outgrown Etsy. In response, I'm sure, Etsy seems to have fully embraced such sellers, establishing Etsy Wholesale, featuring more and more shops that have already enjoyed a fair amount of buzz and exposure, small business owners who've brought on one or more employees, makers who work with manufacturers to fabricate what are essentially handmade prototypes, etc.

And I get it. From a business perspective it makes sense that Etsy would evolve in response to the first wave of sellers who came online in its infancy in 2005-07, let's say, having outgrown the original parameters of the online marketplace. To balance things out, perhaps, Etsy still features "fresh shops" from time to time, has increased posts in its Seller Handbook, even introducing a pitch form for sellers to pitch ideas (or themselves, as it were) for blog consideration. And that's great buzz if you can get it, but what about the sort of mid-level sellers who are using Etsy circa 2007-08 - accidental entrepreneurs, "work at home" moms, and other "micro" business owners who haven't yet made the leap to featured seller status?

Granted, I have a lot of work to do in my main shop to get it back up to speed (I have 40 designs and product listings at the moment, compared to around 100 at the time of baby #2's arrival a little over a year ago). But I can't help but feel a little like Etsy's middle child and I'm honestly not sure what my next move should be. I can't help but wonder if there are other Etsy sellers out there who feel the same way? Stay tuned to follow my journey and perhaps the stories of other "middle child" Etsy sellers!

1 comment:

John Bergman said...

Shortcomings are to be expected in every business, and you seem to recognize this fact. It's good that you found the kinks in the platform that you are using. This is important, asyou can plot strategies to go around it. I'm sure you are taking a look at other options that are available to further boost your online presence.

John Bergman @ Business Coach San Diego