Etsy Strike

The SST Etsy shop will be on strike from the 11th to the 18th

 TLDR, since etsy has gone public they’ve been making decisions that the vast majority of sellers argue are harmful to them and after bragging about a record high profits turned around and said they’d be increasing seller fees so many shops are temporarily shutting down from the 11th to the 18th.

My Etsy is already a ‘skeleton etsy’ and isn’t my main platform to sell things (this website is – welcome!). All that’s on my etsy is generic made-to-order items with super limited customization and it was actually setup the Etsy after my website was up and running for a while just to see if it generated more random sales. Also fun tidbit, but everything on my Etsy is more expensive to compensate for the significantly higher fees (and the website offers significantly more models and customization than Etsy).

More information on the strike can be found here: https://twitter.com/Kittygorian/status/1512112423322460179

SOME MORE BACKSTORY

I’m certainly not saying that Etsy doesn’t have value – it is very good for ‘free’ eyeballs on your work and it’s easier to setup than most other platforms (and I’ve tried a lot of them). And I’m happy to deal with the fees associated with those free eyes. 

My problem (and the problem for a lot of other shop owners I’ve talked to) is the policies, and somewhat arbitrary seeming enforcement on those policies, that Etsy has been enacting over the last few years since going public. To name a few, there’s…

  • The star seller program, which many argue creates an unrealistic standard for a shop to live up to. Between having to answer 95% of message within 24 hours (so no weekends basically), penalizing shops for any rating under 5 stars (a single non 5-star rating out of 25 ratings, even if it’s a 4-star, means you’re not eligible for the program at that time. And most smaller shops would probably be lucky to get 25 reviews in the first place) and requiring shipping with tracking to guarantee orders were shipped on time (meaning people who sell things like stickers in envelopes are almost guaranteed to not qualify, which happened to my other shop). (Personal note – I’m more interesting in providing good service rather than meeting star seller status, but the idea that people might not see the star seller badge and then think I’m somehow not reputable because the program isn’t super clear does freak me out sometimes).
  • The HUGE number of resellers selling mass-produced items on the platform that’s supposed to be for handmade items. Many sellers find it hard to get their stuff seen in the sea of mass-produced items. As a shopper I find it really hard to actually FIND hand made items sometimes. 
  • Etsy can remove listings (or shut down entire shops) for whatever reason they want and there can be little to no recourse for sellers. In some instances, I’ve heard of it taking days to hear back from customer service when they inquired about the product removal and/or tried to provide proof their listings were taken down in error. Days. Etsy is some people’s main, if not only, source of income. The fact that a shop can be shut down because an Etsy-bot flags some mystery key words somewhere and that shop may never go up again is terrifying. (Also as a note to sellers, if you make more than 500/month on Etsy it’s cheaper to make your own website on something like Woo or Shopify and you can guarantee it won’t get shut down).
  • The off-site advertising that you can’t opt out of after you make over a certain threshold. If someone buys anything from an offsite add, Etsy will take 12-15% of your sales. One of the things I sell in my other shop is 3d printed dice, which costs about $200 for a customer to order. From that, I pay $120 to have them printed and about $20-25 in Etsy fees. Taking 12% of that means I’m making about $20 on a $200 item, which is kind of insane. And I literally cannot turn that option off, even though I desperately want to. 

On top of all of that, the fee increase just seems like a slap in the face considering it was pitched in the same paragraph as their announcement they’d made record high profits. To be honest, if (and this is my personal take on things) I felt like Etsy actually cared at all about me as a seller, or listened to the huge outcry of sellers speaking out against things like star-seller, etc. I wouldn’t care about the fee raise. At all. To be honest, it still probably won’t affect me personally much if at all. But coupled with the other policies mentioned above, it just feels like it’s another convenient cash grab that’s squeezing the sellers who are supposed to be the backbone of the platform unnecessarily when the existing fees are clearly still making them money. I’ve not quite reached the point where I’ll shut down my Etsy entirely, but I’m getting close. And many other shops are as well. 

Unfortunately for many sellers (myself not really included anymore, but I used to be in this boat), it may not be feasible to leave since Etsy has all but cornered the market for handmade items. Setting up a separate website is certainly possible, but it has more of a learning curve and not everyone has the time to deal with that upfront, so they’re ‘forced’ to exist on Etsy because there are no Etsy-alternatives.

And so… the strike. 

Basically sellers are just trying to express their malcontent in a more tangible way before leaving the platform entirely. And it’s a platform that – as I said before – definitely has it’s benefits. I’ve been on Etsy since I was in highschool. I like the idea of Etsy. But at some point it just won’t be worth it anymore and I’ll cut and run for good, as many sellers have already done or are already working on doing. 

And I’m certainly not saying people not closing up shop for the week are bad people – they may not have heard about the strike or it might just not be financially realistic to shut down their shops for that long. It’s a judgement call that each shop has to make for themselves. 

What I’m asking is that as a buyer, you consider…

  1. Purchasing directly from a seller’s non-etsy store (any time, not just during the strike. It’ll often be cheaper for you anyway)
  2. Buying things from Etsy before the strike starts if you can (or after).

If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for coming to my Ted Talk and for your understanding while my Etsy is shut down!

Alison of Something Squishy Toys