As you all know, Colinton Australia made it possible for me to offer you all a really good deal on their Light Fingering yarn, which I decided to sell in kits on Etsy. If you haven’t already checked out my shop, I hope you will, but in the meantime, I wanted to share my research on the various platforms out there that help artisans sell their work.
I did alot of research prior to deciding on Etsy, and I thought I’d share what I found out. I hope this will be helpful and save alot of time for any of you who are wanting to sell your work online but not sure where to start. I researched four platforms – Etsy, Amazon Handmade, Kitterly, and Zulily. I also researched a few others, but they were specific to the UK, so I am only including the international ones here. Obviously, Etsy won out, but I will try to give you all an objective breakdown of each with pros and cons.
I was really excited about this, but quickly decided against it when I researched it. The major pro is that your market would be Amazon’s market, which as we all know, is about as big as you can get. The major con to selling with them is that they charge $40 per month, which is a huge fee compared to everyone else. When you’re just starting out and getting a feel for things, this is alot of money to take out of your profits, or to spend up front when you really have no idea how the market will respond to your product. I also saw complaints that Amazon can force you to lower your prices or otherwise control your shop, which seems out of place to me when dealing with creative people who usually have a style and vision for their product and image. Their definition of handmade is also a bit contrived – the complaint I read the most is that Martha Stewart Inc. (and other big brands) are included in Amazon Handmade. All in all, I really couldn’t find a good reason to deal with Amazon other than the fact their market is so huge and it’s a popular place to shop.
This site was founded by a former LA yarn shop owner and a marketing executive. It is a beautifully curated site with excellent photography and is there for the sole purpose of tempting knitters into their next project. The one major downside from the designer/vendor side is that you have to contact them and get approved. It is up to them to decide if they want to work with you or feature your pattern on their site, and the process takes a few months. If you have your product in hand and just want to start connecting with customers, this is not the place for you. The other thing that frustrated me is that there are no details on the site as to what kind of profits you would receive. My conclusion is that this site is excellent for marketing yourself because if they decide to work with you, you will get good promotion with your target audience, but it’s pretty much out of your hands once you contact them.
Zulily has a customer base of 5 million and offers a large number of brands. This is not just for knitting or crafts, but includes fashion and lifestyle. Your brand would receive excellent promotion and from what I’m reading, they do have a marketing team that works to actively promote the companies they work with. The major con, from my perspective, is that they vet everyone they work with, so again, you would need to contact them and take the month or two needed to go through the process. Their site mentions that commissions can be up to 10%, which means that you would need to sell alot of volume to really make money off of your products. These are also week-long sales or promotions, so if you want to have a permanent shop somewhere, Zulily is not your place.
I had my hesitations about Etsy because I’d heard alot of complaints. People don’t agree with how they define the term “handmade” and didn’t like it when they opened up the market to China. And to be honest, I still do find Etsy a bit overwhelming. However, after doing all my research, I think it is still the best place to open up shop. They give you an open, honest breakdown of their fees, which are much, much lower than anyone else’s. Their interface is very easy to use when setting up your shop, and you have complete control over your product and image. Etsy has gotten huge, but it is still the most supportive of the craft/handmade market. Unfortunately, it is very hard for craftspeople to make a living when we pretty much have to compete with Walmart and all the mass-produced cheap goods. Etsy was founded to help artisans sell their work, and my conclusion after comparing it to the other platforms out there is that it is still the most proactive about following that mission.
Let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree with my conclusions, or if you know of any other sites that work with craftspeople. I’d love to hear your input, and feel free to let me know what you think of my shop too! And if you’re just figuring everything out, I hope this post helps save you time and money!