One of the oldest and most traditional ways to work from home is to make and sell handmade crafts. In the past, crafters would sell their wares at craft fairs, flea markets, consignment stores and more recently, on eBay or their own websites. Unfortunately after the fees and travel expenses involved in these markets crafters would end up with minimal profits. Fortunately, there is now a new virtual venue, Etsy.com, where crafters can sell their homemade goods.
Etsy.com is called a “marketplace as unique as the goods themselves.” Crafters of all kinds now have access to the world through this virtual marketplace. Etsy.com is just over a year old and already has somewhere in the range of 75,000 registered members. This doesn’t include the thousands that come to Etsy.com to browse through items listed by over 16,000 sellers.
Etsy.com is not an auction-based site. Instead, each seller sets the price that they feel is fair for their homemade items. The fees on Etsy.com are incredibly affordable compared to other similar virtual shopping sites. Sellers pay a $0.10 listing fee per item and a 3% commission per sale. Each listing can be left posted for as long as six months. Each seller also receives a complimentary “shop” where they can list all of their items.
The creators of Etsy.com have also built in many unique and fun ways to browse through all of the items listed on the site. Shoppers can sort by color, by most recently listed and, of course, using the standard categories as well. This unique way of browsing the items is a great way to hook shoppers and keep them on the site.
There is a great sense of community between the sellers on Etsy.com. The founders have created a mentoring program that pairs up new sellers with an experienced user. This allows those who are new to the site to have a way to interact with sellers who are experiencing success on Etsy.com and to have a simple way to have their questions answered. This not only creates a camaraderie between merchants, but also alleviates that sense of “virtual insecurity” that one feels when using a new website. Instead of leaving new users to fend for themselves they have established a fabulous way to plug them in and make them feel connected to the community.
During an interview on the Inside the Net podcast (twit.tv), the creators of Etsy.com stated that they even though they have only been in business slightly over a year, they already have people making a living using Etsy.com. They stated that they knew of a number of people that had been able to quit their day jobs and stay home and sell on Etsy full-time. They mentioned the story of one woman who had quit her job and was now living out her dream of living in Europe. She makes her living selling her homemade items on Etsy.com and no longer has to live each day in the rat race of corporate America. Dreams do come true.
Etsy.com is a valuable tool for handmade craft sellers because you’re not in competition with cheap mass-produced items. What is considered “handmade?” From the Etsy.com FAQ, “You can sell anything that is handmade or, a bit more loosely put, hand-assembled or hand-altered. For example, screen-printed shirts are OK. A custom-built computer is OK, as long as you’re making the case and not buying prefab. Furniture is OK as long as it’s nothing mass-produced (yes, you can use power tools to build it). If human hands put some love into the object, odds are you can sell it on Etsy. Please note: we do allow some non-handmade items in the Supplies & Vintage categories.” (http://www.etsy.com/faq.php)
What may be the most unique part of Etsy.com is that they seem to truly care about the success of their craft sellers. They have gone out of their way to help their merchants to achieve success in making sales. They have incorporated numerous unique ways of browsing the shopping categories and they keep fees minimal and offer complimentary virtual stores to each seller. Crafters now have a better chance than ever before of making a living making and selling their homemade goods from the comfort of their own home.
Stop by Etsy.com today and shop, set up a shop, or both. With the holidays rapidly approaching, this can be a great start to the season.