Once upon a time... All the best stories start off with ‘Once Upon a Time’. Unfortunately this is not a story. It’s the truth of my experience in the cutthroat, snarky, demoralizing handmade market. It does however have some of the same characters as all the classic fairy tales- the good guy (me), the evil empire (that’s probably everyone except you), the castle (Etsy Towers), and the evil witch (my stepmother- she doesn’t really feature in this tale, but she is evil and she is something that rhymes with witch).
Now when I say having sex for money would’ve been a better business plan, I suppose my only evidence is that prostitution has a built in five year plan. Year 1: Sleep with people for money Year 2: Sleep with more people for money. Year 3: Sleep with people for money, and maybe some animals if that will fetch a higher price. Year 4: You guessed it, sleep with people for money. Year 5: Become a madame.
I entered the fray of self employed business owner with no plan. I figured I’d make some shit and someone out there would want to give me their money for it. It was sort of like the Underpants Gnomes’ three point plan in an episode of South Park. It went something like this:
Collect underpants ? Profit
Yeah, my strategic plan was about as well thought out as that. I would make shit. Then something else would happen. Then I’d be rich beyond my wildest dreams and write letters to all my former employers telling them to stick it where the sun don’t shine. Awesome!
At this point I had to pick a name. KnotWork. Clever right? I thought so until I discovered most every fucker with a crochet shop had knot in the name. You bastards. But this name did mean something to me. I actually enjoy crochet so it’s not work to me. It’s stress relief, a creative release, as close as I’ll ever get to creating something in a universe where molecules are only continuously recycled. So not work is my KnotWork. Stop laughing. I’m being serious for a moment. Whatever.
Venue? Check. Name? Check. Business plan? Still no. Any fucking clue? Nope. Not a single one. But in this day in age any idiot can have a baby, drive a car, and set up shop on Etsy. I’m not saying that you have to be an idiot to have a shop on Etsy. I’m just saying that idiots flock there as often as they flock to DMV job fairs. There are plenty of Etsy shop owners who probably leave their blinker on for miles, and let their kids lick glass in public places.
So I joined the ranks of these idiots. Little did I know I was one of them. I wish someone had told me so I was better prepared. I would’ve made myself a cozy for the bowl I needed to collect all the idiot drool I started to spill. I almost think that Etsy should have a class you have to take before you can list things. It wouldn’t have to be long or that many questions.
I’d suggest: 1) Can you read? 2) Are you sure? 3) Really think about question #2 again. We’ll wait. 4) Read all the rules. 5) Read them again. We’ll wait. 6) Should you break any rules you will be given one get out of jail free card and if you break any rules again you will be banned from Etsy for life. You will be given a scarlet E across your avatar in perpetuity. Good luck!
As you can probably guess I didn’t read a fucking thing. My first shop had my actual full name as the title as I put my typical username in while signing up. I also didn’t realize I had to pay my Etsy bill at the end of each month. I thought each time I listed something the $.20 was deducted out of my banking account.
See folks, even if you aren’t an idiot Etsy makes you one. You are so filled with vigor at the thought of being a shopkeeper you do stupid stuff. You take photos in the dark and expect people to see your items. You don’t list anything in the description except ‘black scarf’ and wonder why no one has bought it. YOU BECOME A FUCKING IDIOT!
Admit it. You were an idiot yourself once. We all were. It’s sort of like those awkward adolescent years. We all had them. Some of us blossomed into the cute cheerleader. Others blossomed into captain of the soccer team. Sure, some still haven’t blossomed and those are the people I’ve called ‘boss’ far too many times to think about. But most of us come out on the other side. And the rest sell on Ebay.
Wait, I can’t just show pics of myself sitting on the toilet wearing one of my hats and expect to sell it?
My first listings were textbook cases of how not to sell things. In fact if failing on Etsy was something anyone wanted to know how to do, I was the expert. I took photos at night with just the flash to light my items. I modeled necklaces even when a rash I had was visible on my neck. My items were priced like a high end boutique even though the photos looked straight out of a low end heroin den. For those who don’t know what a low end heroin den looks like think crack house + whorehouse + extreme makeover home edition just after demolition. Yeah, that was basically my backdrop. Heroin chic was probably my inspiration subconsciously. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
How did I improve, and more importantly how did I even know I needed to improve (besides not selling much of anything)? The Etsy forums of course. If you ever want to find a concentrated font of information on things like ‘how to take better photos’ or ‘lists of free advertising’- or perhaps even more important topics like ‘if bacon were in a cage match with a vagina, which would win’, visit the Etsy forums immediately.
If you want to actually get some work done and not read through a load of absolute bullshit, probably best to stay away. Besides, you can find all your answers here in this load of bullshit.
Opinions are like assholes, Etsy’s got both.
The Etsy forums have tons of good information. I daresay even if you aren’t a shop owner there you’d still find a bunch of helpful tips for running any business. Needless to say there is at least as much if not far, far more scary nonsense happening at any given time. Some days I wonder how many people are posting threads from laptops while sitting in their rubber room. It can be that bizarre.
People rant, people rave. They foam at the mouth (metaphorically I hope). They post questions which are already answered in every single thread already on the first page of any given sub-forum. It’s sort of like a little kids soccer game. You know, where they run around like a bunch of bees around their hive rather than actually strategically playing the game? The Etsy forums are just like that.
Imagine the soccer ball is something that will get you a sale. It could be a piece of information- an answer to your question, a piece of advice, a place to advertise, some bit of superstition like ‘buy something off Etsy and someone will buy something from you! Etsy karma!’ Everyone thinks if they get the ball they’ll score a goal (make a sale). Yet you never quite get close enough to the ball and just when you think you have, you are on the wrong end of the field anyway so you can never score. Plus, you find out later on that you’re actually playing baseball and since you’ve thought you were playing soccer all afternoon you’re completely fucked.
I don’t want to bore you (probably too late). I hope this helps you a bit if you’re a newbie. And if you’re an oldie or even in between the two, I hope you will convo this to any of those who are thinking of signing on to Etsy. Hopefully it’ll eliminate some confusion.
‘How Many Etsians Does It Take to Screw In a Light Bulb?’ The answer is infinity. The question will never be answered. Oh, that doesn’t mean someone can’t answer it. I’ll give it a go here: Three. One to argue that the bulb isn’t handmade. One to criticize the first for being superior about what is and isn’t handmade. And the last to flag the bulb so admin can change it.
But in reality the question will never be answered, because even though I’ve just answered it, someone has just posted it again on the Etsy forum (metaphorically I hope [again]).