Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How to make money on Etsy

Maybe you knit or throw pottery. Or make jewelry out of Phillips screw heads. Or crochet hamster huts (that makes three of you). Maybe all you ever wanted was to sell your handiwork and never work for anyone else, ever.
You may have heard that all you have to do is open your own shop on Etsy.com, the online marketplace that aims to provide artists with the technology they need to “make a living, making things.” You simply upload product shots, tack on prices, write cute captions, then wait for those millions of members to start placing orders.
It sounds perfect. And easy. But it’s not. More than 250,000 shops sell roughly 3.7 million items (and counting), with untold numbers of merchants making only a handful of sales, if that many. Though Etsy provides would-be sellers with myriad tips and tools for success, it’s tough to stand out in the crowd.
Etsy’s Brooklyn roots go way back to 2005, when the site—conceived by artist and carpenter Rob Kalin and built by Kalin, Chris Maguire and Haim Schoppik—got its start in Fort Greene. Currently headquartered downtown, it will soon move to Dumbo.
Today, it attracts members from all over the U.S. and 150 other countries, and according to Etsy’s Adam Brown, the top-selling categories tend to be jewelry, art, accessories, clothing and crafting supplies for DIY-ers.
One of Brooklyn’s most successful Etsians, Tracie Howarth, sells jewelry-making supplies to other artists. Since joining Etsy in 2006, she’s generated over 24,000 supply sales throughepochbeads.etsy.com and over 7,600 through thatsmycharm.etsy.com, and markets her unique designs on athd.etsy.com.
She lists over 600 items across the three Etsy shops and employs three staff—two to help at her booth on weekends in the Artists & Fleas market in Williamsburg and one in her Williamsburg studio to help with Etsy inventory and fulfillment. When asked if she sells full time, Howarth says, “I sell overtime.” She estimates that she grosses about $130,000, mostly from selling supplies, though due to significant expenses, nets $35,000. It’s enough to keep her in business for herself, the other passion that drives her.

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