Sunday, 14 February 2010

My Etsy dilemma!

It's Valentine's day and I think my love affair with Etsy is well and truly over.

My discontent has been brewing for a few months and last week I closed my jewellery shop there, leaving my only presence on Etsy my 'elinart' shop. This week I have had two customers ask for jewellery and when they found out the price, they declined. For me this is the nub of my Etsy dilemma....success is starting to come my way, new galleries and boutiques are regularly approaching me for sales and exhibitions. I want to move up a gear and achieve decent prices! But I'm asking myself, "How far can I go on Etsy?"

Sadly, long-term it's got no potential for craftspeople with ambition and the desire to build a real reputation. There is excellent quality work there but it's in a small minority. I think this is one of the main factors in my decision. I thought of the type of customer I want to buy my work. What if they saw my work in the context of Etsy? It just doesn't add up.

If I want to get into more prestigious galleries and attract customers who want couture jewellery, it's a positive step for me to make my product more exclusive. Last week, my jewellery, which I put my heart and soul into, was sandwiched between a 'vintage' crochet thong and a 'hello kitty' cuff. It just doesn't add up anymore.


Mr X Stitch said...

Stay true to your ambition Elin - you're better than etsy. :)

Illusio said...

I think the issues and concerns you highlight in your blog are being felt by many artists and artisans at the moment.

Good luck with all your new ventures, I wish you the best.


Ginga Squid said...

I totally get you! I think Etsy can be a useful stepping stone and their newsletter has some good tips for getting noticed as a small business. But yes - someone described it to me as an Online Fleamarket.
I still have a shop on there (as well as my website), but generally zero sales as my stuff is too expensive.
For you boutique galleries are most defo the way forward! Your work is amazing.

April Mawhinney said...

I completely understand this situation and i think this is a good decision which will defintiely grow you business. Chin up girl! x

melampyrum said...

I completely agree with you though I had the lucky chance to find you on etsy... I believe this is not the right time to sell there, it's becoming too "popular". This means a lot of people come upon your work, but few of them can afford it at the moment. Etsy is a good choice if you're willing to delegate legal/commercial/promoting issues, but if you're a professional artist better go with your own site. If I'm allowed to say it I personally find your elinart prices very affordable, while your jewelry is so precise and fine I wouldn't cheapen it in any case! What about bigcartel?
Good luck with your carrier, you're very talented :)

ELINtm said...

Thank you all for your supportive comments! Much appreciated :))

Mr X Stitch...thank you, yes, it totally makes sense to keep challenging myself! I think Etsy is good for those who see business as a great adventure, for me it's ideas and improving technically.

Illusio, I agree with you on the Etsy misery! ;) I'm grateful I do have other avenues to explore.

Thank you Ginga! It was actually looking at your website that helped me make the leap! I thought "That's great, I need to do that!" so I've been working like crazy on my site :)

Thanks April! I agree, time to test out some new markets!

melampyrum, that's a good summation of the Etsy problem. I agree about prices too, I can't moan about it and then do the same! Thanks for the tip about Bigcartel, I think it's definitely got real potential if linked to my website :)

Carolynn said...

I am looking at your blog right now because I saw your work featured on etsy's front page 12:40 am central standard time US. on 2/16. Beautiful pieces you make.
I get what you're saying about being wedged between a hello kitty thong and a hair scrunchie etc. however online visibility is key and it can't hurt to have too much of it. Really. Your work stands out and above the crap. Just wanted to let you know I bookmarked your blog because I saw you there, I'm sure I'm not the only one that noticed the piece.
All the best in creativity and beyond.

artistudios said...

I totaly understand your dilemma.
I saw your work firstly on Etsy too. Yes, there are to many bad and cheap pieces, but your amazing work stands above that.
I have my shop there for couple of months and I can see now that Etsy is not very good choice for us that don't make any kind of serial production. Inspiration takes a lot of time to mature and be worked into one’s own original creation. I think it is more important to spent a time on CREATING than on PROMOTING (renewing, making treasuries, visiting forums, etc. that you have to do on Etsy)
Etsy is a very good experience on the begining - you can learn a lot about promoting and be involve in the community.
Dear Elin, whatever you choose, your unique pieces of artwork will take you far from the average :)

Marianne said...

Your work really stands out as unique and beautifully crafted. And as an etsy artist I find it is not my business who loves my work and if I end up between hello kitty and a thong. I have to stay true to me though and I have had people write to me via Etsy ask me if I would discount my prices by 25% if they bought 3 items. I was kind of considering it for a day until I did a local show in my home town that weekend and sold just about everything for full price. Yay!
And then I was featured in the Storque and my high end items all sold. What a boost! I think you have a lot of fans and I'm glad I found you through Etsy. My advice ~ don't discount yourself (in you mind) and don't discount your prices. Love, Marianne

oovesna said...

I like your embroidery work very much. I found it on etsy. I think it's very importent the place where you sell or exhibit art products. If you put the most precious piece beside crap it looses value. I have an experience of selling paintings on the street, no matter how good they are, you can not sell them for a price they are worth it. I think you don't go in the concept of etsy.

Hardly waiting to see your new stuff!

ELINtm said...

Thank you Carolynn! I was lucky to be on the front page and it did draw lots of views....but no sales, as per usual. There are plenty of lookers but not many takers! ;)

Words of wisdom from Marica! I agree creating something not suited to serial production being a disadvantage but also about Etsy being a good place to learn. I feel I've grown a great deal but frankly it's boring if the sales and feedback are minimal.

I agree Marianne! My best day was when I was featured in the Storque. I was also in quite a few Gift Guides which helped, but my feeling is things are changing, more emphasis on vintage and a 'younger' market ( by that I mean bunnies etc.)

Thank you oovesna, I've been looking into 'positioning', a marketing term, which talks about just the 'street market' situation you describe. I think the idea that any publicity is good publicity only works for some kinds of products/creations.

Carolynn said...

I know, what is up with all the vintage???

I too stopped listing on etsy because I rarely sold anything (photographs) but I also didn't play the re-listing game or building treasuries etc. I could have tried harder...or I could have taken holga-like images of birds, cherry blossoms, ferris wheels and lone trees. Portraits of Indians were not such hot sellers.

You are one to watch, so I'll keep checking in with your blog and admiring your work. I am a penniless embroidery artist by trade, so I'm afraid I can't offer much in the way of sales at this time. Hopefully that will change someday!
Again I wish you the very best in creativity and beyond!

anastasia said...

makes sense to me. i've always thought of etsy as a great starting off point; to see weather you had a viable craft that people would be interested in.

your pieces are incredible and quite exquisite, you'll do very well in the gallery world!

kateuk said...

Very interesting to read what you say about etsy.I know I should get my work together and sell it,I've been thinking possibly through etsy - work like yours made me think it might be a good place to start but then I look at more shops on etsy and the vast,vast majority of stuff there is just terrible, with prices that reflect that. Your work is wonderful ( currently saving up for some), it is head and shoulders above most etsy stuff. Etsy may be a good place to get seen at first, but I think you are right, it isn't a long term solution. I do hope you continue the blog- very inspiring, gets me back to my drawing board! Love the fluffy moulds.

SallyF said...

Glad someone is saying this out loud, many others are feeling it. That said, maybe you could list your jewellery stockists on your blog and include links to any who are selling your work online. It would be good to still offer the option, I know I keep looking thinking I might treat myself one day when the time's right and I'm in that frame of mind and things...

ELINtm said...

Thank you all for your supportive comments on this issue. I'm surprised how many people have similar feelings. I think since I opened up my Big cartel shop, I realised I was clinging to Etsy through fear and deep reluctance to do promotion and marketing.

I've come to terms with the fact, I now HAVE TO do marketing. Ugh! I hate the idea but it's just the reality of self-employed life.

My sales are now saving for little ads here and there! :)

*olala* design said...

Dear Elin,

I miss you a lot on Etsy! I was wondering why there was nothing listed in your shop anymore as it is in my "favorites" and I used to look at your beautiful pieces very often, and sometimes put them in my Treasuries (but it's not me who featured you with a crochet thong and a "Hello Kitty" cuff!!!).

I totally understand your decision as many aspects of Etsy are very frustrating and discouraging but I must say that I am glad Etsy gave me the opportunity to discover such a wonderful artist as you...

I wish you all the best and I'll now follow your blog to keep in touch : )

Guerilla Embroidery said...

I have to agree with your decision here - it is one I have been toying with for a while, especially now my business has expanded from selling 'products' into workshops and artwork. I found it quite hard to sell at the prices before, my new work would demand so much more. I had limited success on Etsy (I know I probably didn't put in as much as was needed), but to hear the same thing from someone who was obviously doing so well, it would seem I am on the right line!