As someone who is underemployed and always looking for opportunities to make a living doing what I love, I’m always trying to find ways to sell my abilities or products of my creativity. But I think it’s harder than most realize.
People see the things I create all the time and go, “You should start an Etsy!”
It’s a full time job just to keep it afloat and get the views you need to be seen to get found and make sales. And when you also have a part-time day job and a life to live, it’s just not feasible to spend 12 hours a day trying to plug your Etsy store to make a single $35 sale.
Not to mention that Etsy has grown to be huge. It has hundreds of thousands of users. Many of which are taking advantage of the new rules that allow manufacturing to be a part of the handmade process meaning you can order bulk trinkets from China, slap a chain on it to call it a necklace and sell it for 3000% profit and it’s preventing real Etsy sellers from getting business.
But by far the hardest line of competition are hobbyists. These are people who are making their handmade items for fun and not profit. Take hand knit socks for example – something I’ve really been into making a lot of lately. I’ve been cranking out about 1 pair of socks every month since January of this year. I occasionally make another project in there, but most of the time I’m just working on socks. If you take a look on Esty and search for “handknit socks” you’ll find socks for $40, $25, and even as low as $16 for an adult-size sock. The yarn alone for some of my socks is well over $20, and the time I put into them and the skill I’ve honed in making perfect socks? I wouldn’t likely charge less than $100 for a pair of socks. And I’d still only be make a few dollars an hour, only a fraction of minimum wage. If I wanted to pay myself a living wage on socks, they’d be unaffordable to all but the pickiest sock fanatics.
I found one seller who had lovely lace socks for $60-80 but had to have a line on her shop description explaining that she spends 10-16 hours per set of socks and to “please keep that in mind” when considering the price of her socks. But how many people will read that and consider it but still see all the other $20-30 socks for sale and go with those instead?
Maybe ten years ago before Etsy went public, before it had so many scammers, before it was totally overrun by hobbyists just trying to make a buck I could have been successful. But these days it seems all but impossible unless I had a supportive spouse to bankroll me. Seriously, nearly every “success story” I’ve seen come out of Etsy has a spouse that supported them in the early years before they made a profit. I don’t have that. I have me and a part-time job on the weekends to get me started.
Keep that in mind the next time you tell the artist/crafter in your life, “You should start an Etsy!”
P.S. You can still help me make a living any time I post here by donating to my Patreon page! It’ll help keep me afloat and keep you updated on my crafts, life, and general thoughts and struggles.