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The Self Taught Artist Podcast is BACK! Painters, Creatives, Artists, and Aspiring Artists — It’s time for Season 2 of the Self Taught Artist podcast and I’m so glad you’re here with me. On today’s podcast episode we are talking all about the Etsy fee increase that just went into effect this month. It has been all over the news lately, and it has a lot of artists wondering: Should I sell on Etsy or start my own online store? There are lots of considerations when deciding what you want to do and it has a lot to do with the maturity of your art business and the size of your audience.
If you decide you are ready to create your own online store to sell your art, I suggest www.bigcartel.com on the podcast as a great online store option for artists and creators. If you need a way to get discounted shipping labels for your art business, I suggest www.pirateship.com. These are two great sites that help you to replace Etsy if you so choose.
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I’ll be back next week with another new episode. This season on the Self Taught Artist Podcast you can expect more art tips and tricks, breakdowns of useful painting techniques, and, of course, lots of information on selling your art and starting an art business out of your creative hobby.
Hello, and welcome back to the Self Taught Artist Podcast. It has been a while but we are back at it with season two. I have so many exciting episodes planned for you. And I cannot wait to dive in to a ton of great topics in this new season of the podcast.
First, I want to start off with a Review of the Week. Now, for all of you out there, if you’re enjoying the podcast, if you could do a few things for me, if you could rate the podcast, leave a review of the podcast, especially on Apple Podcasts and on Spotify. And subscribe. Hit the subscribe button because you never know when I’m going to come out with a new episode and it might be something that you need to hear. It may make all the difference in your art. So please go ahead and rate, review, and subscribe. It really makes a huge difference for me. And these reviews that you leave me and all the nice messages you send. They really encouraged me to come back to the podcast, do another season. Life gets busy, but it really was your messages that made all the difference. So thank you. Alright. Our Review of the Week this week is from BenBob on Apple Podcasts. And BenBob said “A fantastic podcast. The episodes are well organized and Lauren Kristine does a great job of presenting info that’s genuinely useful to self taught artists, both the details of a technique and the big picture of nurturing a career highly recommend.” Thank you so much, BenBob, I appreciate that so much. I really do try and make this practical, inspiring and helpful, as much as I can and pass along any knowledge that I have to all of you.
So that leads me to starting today’s episode. It’s a very topical theme that you may have heard about recently, and that is Etsy increasing their prices. For those of you that don’t know, the Etsy fee structure for artists is pretty complicated. In general, you have to pay a listing fee for every item you list on Etsy, that is 20 cents a listing. And that only lasts for a couple months. So you have to pay that multiple times a year to keep a listing fresh and updated and available in your shop. That’s not changing, that’s staying at 20 cents.
Etsy also charges credit card processing fees of 3% plus 25 cents US dollars. That is here in the US. All of this is here in the US because I live in the US. And that is staying the same, you’re going to have that credit card processing fees no matter where you go and where your shop is. So that’s pretty much industry standard. They do the work of you know, getting the money from the credit card to your bank account, so it’s unavoidable.
The big Etsy fee increase is what they call their transaction fee. And that has historically been 5% of your sale price. But they’ve increased it now to 6.5%. So that’s a pretty big increase. And it does start to feel annoying. Like you’re being nickeled and dimed, because it’s not like we’ve seen any huge improvements out of Etsy recently to justify this increase. But, you know, that’s, that’s what they’re saying. They’re saying they’re going to make things better, but I haven’t seen it yet. So it is a hard pill to swallow. It does start to feel like nickel and diming, because you have the 6.5% plus a 20 cent listing fee plus 3% plus another 25 cents, when all things are said and done for that transaction fee listing fee and credit card processing fee.
So now you know why you’ve been hearing about this in the news lately. There was recently a very large strike of many Etsy shopkeepers. This happened earlier in April 2022. And I do think it caught the attention of the media and it caught the attention of Etsy executives but, you know, they are continuing with this fee increase. So it raised awareness but the fees are here and they’re here to stay.
So what are we going to do about it? How does it change our thinking? Is Etsy still worth it? Those are Some of the questions I want to explore today. Let’s see. So, Etsy brings buyers, that is what’s great about Etsy. And they want to get paid for that they want to get paid for bringing buyers to you the independent artist. They claim that this price increase is going to help them to bring more buyers to Etsy, do more advertising, bring more people to the platform and make it a better place to have a shop have an online shop on Etsy. We will see if that is the case. They also say that they’re going to make improvements to the platform. But I get it, it’s annoying.
The one obvious option when you have a price increase being passed along by your suppliers is to pass it along to your buyers. Now, I do think you should go ahead now if you are selling on Etsy, go ahead and increase all your prices across the board by 2% to make up for the jump. And I think that’s one way of just passing it on to your buyers. I would tell you if you depend on Etsy to bring you traffic and bring new buyers, then there’s really not much you can do about it, Etsy kind of has you in a chokehold right now. So that’s the easiest option is just to pass along the price increase to your buyers. Increase prices and make sure you’re really baking in the entirety of those fees. So add 2% if you already were baking in the 5% transaction fee, the credit card fees, the listing fee into your pricing. But if you haven’t actually looked at your pricing and your profit margins in a while, this is a good time to do that. Go ahead and look at if you sell your current item for what it’s listed at. Find out what that actually means in terms of dollars in your pocket. There are some calculators online, you can use that will do this, or just create a simple spreadsheet in Excel. And see, okay, if I sell this painting for $50, how much of that is actually coming into my pocket? Once I’ve paid for shipping, paid for all these fees, and the fee increase? So that’s the first place to start. Start there. Pass along prices to your buyers if you want to stay on Etsy. That’s the easiest way.
However, the question I really want to explore here is: is the price increase worth it? Should you keep selling on Etsy? And for me, this comes to one very simple question. Should you stay with Etsy or not? It really is as simple as this: Does your traffic come from Etsy? Are they buyers you’ve never met before you’ve never had any contact with before and they are brought to you 100% by Etsy, or are you the one who’s driving the traffic to your online store? Some people do that through social media or through friends and family or somehow spreading the word and telling people go to my Etsy store by saying: here’s the address, here’s what I’m called on Etsy. Go buy my product here.
Okay, so that’s the real question: Are you driving your own traffic? Or is Etsy bringing you Etsy traffic, people that you’ve never met/they’re just they’re cold to you/they’re strangers, and they completely discovered you on Etsy 100%? That’s the question, because if Etsy is bringing you buyers, stay with Etsy. Just increase your prices a little bit! That’s very simple. They get millions of shoppers on their website who go to etsy.com or log on to the Etsy app simply because they’re looking for handmade goods.
Etsy does provide a service to you and they should get paid for it. It’s discovery. You are reaching more people, more buyers than you could on your own through Etsy through optimizing your listings and making sure you’re getting the most Etsy eyeballs on your art. Etsy is good for that. I have sold on Etsy. And the majority of my Etsy buyers have all been strangers, cold traffic people coming from the Etsy audience. They saw my art when they searched a keyword that I had optimized my listing for and they said that’s what I want to buy and they bought it. So Etsy absolutely should get paid for that because I never would have been able to sell to that person in Arizona, without Etsy’s service and I’m happy to pay for that.
However, it’s a very steep price to pay all those fees to Etsy, if you are the one who’s bringing your own buyers and if you are the one who is driving traffic to your Etsy store. So that is the question. Look, I mean, Etsy makes it super easy to get started, you can have a basic online store set up and running in an afternoon. Okay, that is great. That is level one Etsy: that’s providing a place where you can send people to buy your art. That’s level one.
There’s a whole other world of advanced Etsy, where you are optimizing your listings to get the most eyeballs, and you are making sure you’re getting the best photos. And you are taking time to think about the algorithms and how you’re going to get the attention of buyers both from the algorithm and from the search engine optimization work you do, but then also from photos and, and just visually how you bring people to click on your items and click on your store. Okay, that’s the advanced Etsy work that you have to do if you’re going to survive on Etsy. If you’re going to thrive on Etsy, you have to be doing your part in order to bring Etsy’s buyers to you and attract them to your listing out of all the competition. Because there are millions of listings out there, there’s a ton. And so that’s the challenge of Etsy is you can’t just stick up one photo on one listing and Etsy is going to do its thing. You have to also do some work there.
If you want to learn more about Etsy search engine optimization, learning more tips and tricks that I’ve used there in the past successfully, I would tell you to go back in the archives and listen to episode number 18. That talks all about Etsy SEO. SEO is search engine optimization. So go and check that out when you have a minute if you’re serious about going all in on Etsy and making sure that that’s a channel to bring you new buyers you’ve never met before.
Let’s say you’re on the other side of the equation. Now let’s say you are bringing your own buyers, you are driving your own traffic to your online store, your Etsy store, right now. If you’re doing that, this is a good time to reevaluate whether you want to stay on Etsy or not. Okay, most commonly, the people I see that drive their own buyers are doing this with social media, or their own personal social media pages. They may have a big following of people who follow them on social media. And maybe they have a dedicated art page with 1000s of followers. And that’s how they find buyers and invite them to come buy their art. If you’re doing that, I’m talking about you now. If you have a lot of friends and family that buy your art and you are sending them to Etsy to do it on there, again, I’m talking to you. You the people who bring your own buyers to your online store. If that’s you, then I would not want to pay Etsy more fees: the 6.5% fee plus a payment processing fee, plus the listing fee for that sale. I don’t think you’re getting 6.5% of value out of Etsy if you are bringing your own buyer.
If you are driving your own traffic, then I think you could find a lower price/a lower fee option online that lets you keep a bigger percentage of your of your sales price and have a bigger profit. So let’s see a couple different ways to do that. You don’t have to completely shutter your Etsy store. You could decide you want to have an Etsy store for still maintaining a way to get Etsy eyeballs from their audience on your art. Okay, you can keep that. But then you could also set up your own online store that you drive your traffic to (however that is your driving traffic). This Etsy fee increase could be the push you’ve needed in order to set up your own online store.
It sounds complicated, it sounds really difficult. I know you’re probably like “Where do I start? There are a lot of options.” It’s not as hard as it may seem or it may sound, there are some really great options for artists. I know some artists who’ve been very happy using Wix. I have personally used their website creator before and I do think it’s pretty simple. However, my big recommendation today is a site called Big Cartel. That’s www.bigcartel.com. (I am not paid to say this, they do not have an affiliate program or anything.) They are an independent company that is highly specialized on artists and creators who want to create their own online shop. That’s all they do.
Wix and Squarespace and the rest of the big guys are a one size fits all web development / Web Store / web site creator. Big Cartel, however, specializes in exactly what you need. So I do think that is a great option if you’re new to this, and you just want something simple, they have templates, they’re ready to go. Very easy. And they also do a lot of the things that I like Etsy for i that, you know, Etsy, they handle all the sales tax calculations for me; well so does Big Cartel. And in addition, Big Cartel will let you use your own custom domain if you want to, which is big, because it’s easier to tell people and it sounds more professional. So like, for me, I have WWW.LaurenKristineart.com, that’s my own personal domain. So you could have your own custom domain and send people exactly to that.
Big Cartel has different payment options so you can accept credit cards, you can sell in person (in addition to online), depending on what your business looks like. They’re just made for creators and artists, so I think it’s very simple. Also, their payment in terms of what you pay Big Cartel is very simple. You try it for free with up to five products. Then, they push you to their general plan, which I do recommend for everyone, because it gives you more photos per listing, and that’s $10 a month. That’s it, there’s no listing fee additions per item, that kind of thing, this $10 a month gets you up to 50 products listed in there. And you will have to pay credit card fees on top of that, but you’re going to have to do that anywhere. I wouldn’t even worry about credit card fees at all, like just erase them from your mind because you’re going to pay them no matter what. So you know, forget about those. But Big Cartel just makes it a lot simpler, where you’re paying that $10 a month, and you get your own online store.
For shipping, I have been using a website called pirateship.com, which works amazing here in the US. I can’t remember if I’ve talked about it on the podcast before or not. But I love Pirate Ship! You can use it whether you’re selling something and you’re shipping art to someone that bought your art, you can use it to ship Christmas gifts at Christmas, whatever you need to do. You can ship it through pirate ship, and I love that you can print the label at home. You skip the counter at USPS and you just walk right up, drop it off. It’s paid for, it’s easy. Love pirate ship. And the other thing that they do is they provide a discount on every single label just like Etsy does. So Etsy offers savings when you buy prepaid shipping labels through Etsy. They do that because they are a big buyer so they get a discount from the shippers and USPS that offer them an advantaged rate because they are such a big customer. Well, Pirate Ship does the exact same thing and they also pass those savings on to you. So you’re gonna get the same price on Etsy shipping or pirate ship shipping but you don’t pay pirate ship anything. So it’s very simple. Make an account WWW.pirateship.com It’s great no matter what you’re shipping. It can be one-off, there’s no volume requirements. Great site.
So between Big Cartel and the $10 a month have to have your own online store and pirateship.com, pretty much you can replace most of the value that Etsy provides in terms of the actual nuts and bolts of the online experience and the selling experience and shipping it. The only difference is traffic. That’s that’s the big difference. If you’re going to have a store on Big Cartel, which that just means like a store on the internet, you know, www.your art store.com, then you have to drive your own traffic, okay, and that that’s true whether you use Wix, WordPress, Big Cartel, whatever you do. If you go to have your own online store, you have to drive your traffic to it. As I said, you can have both: you can have an Etsy store and an online store. Drive any traffic that you generate/any buyers that you find to your own online store, like at big cartel, because then you’re gonna keep more of the profits. And you won’t have to pay Etsy that annoying 6.5% because you’re just paying big cartel a flat fee of $10 a month. Easy.
I do have to stress this again: that you really should only do your own shop if you drive your own traffic and buyers. I know I sound like a broken record. But just to give you a metaphor here, and how to think about it. Think about it like a mall. Okay, a shopping mall. If you have a store in Etsy, it is like having a store in the shopping mall. There are constantly people walking around in the mall. There are visitors that come to town and they decide I want to go to the local mall, there are people who need something at one store, and they just end up walking around the mall, seeing what else is there/ going window shopping. The mall brings people to your storefront. People are walking by all day and they see what’s in the window of your shop as they walk by. Or if they’re looking in the mall directory, your shop would be listed there. And they can decide to enter your shop and look around and buy if they’re interested and they see something that interests them.
Depending on how much effort you put into your listings and photos and search engine optimization, you know, that determines how many Etsy visitors enter your store. Just as if you were a shop in the mall, depending on how much effort you put into your window dressings and bringing people into your shop. Same thing! That’s going to determine how many of these mall visitors wander into your store and maybe buy something. Okay, so having that Etsy store is like having the store in the mall, there’s always going to be be people walking around who could potentially make a purchase, even though they didn’t wake up and say I’m gonna go to your art store.com They said I’m gonna go to the mall today. And then I’m gonna see what happens.
If you have a Big Cartel store, or a WIX store, or a WordPress store, however you do it — If you have your own online store, your store is like being inside the back of a van parked in the parking lot at the mall with the doors all closed. No one walking in the parking lot is going to come knock on your van window and ask if they can come inside and see what’s inside the van. They’re not going to do that unless they know you. Unless they’ve met you and you’ve invited them to come to your store. Then if that’s not true, then your van is just one of 1000s of cars parked at the mall. And nobody knows what exists inside of it. Unless you’re telling them! If you’ve told 100 people or 1000 followers on Instagram exactly what parking spot at the mall that you’re going to be in, what time you’re going to be there, what you’re going to be selling, well then, of course, you could have people come visit your van in the mall parking lot! And you can make sales as many sales as you want! But the buyers have to know where to find you.
So that’s just like your own online store in the big vast world of the internet. Okay, no one’s going to type in www.LaurenKristineart.com by accident. It means they’ve either listened to this podcast, they’ve been to my my instagram or they know me personally if they are going to that online store. And that’s where I drive my buyers if I know them, or I’ve had a touch point with them and they say “oh, I want to look your art, I might want to buy something.” That’s where I send them. I send them to my online store. But I also have an Etsy out there and I list stuff on it and every now and then I get a sale. And that’s how I do it. I have both. They serve different purposes.
So that’s just one way to think about it, and decide if you want to stay on Etsy, if you want to pay the price increase. You know, that is one option. And in some ways, it’s still very worth it. I’m still on Etsy, I have no intentions of leaving Etsy because it does bring me a few extra sales than I would have made otherwise. But for my own traffic, there’s no way I’m directing them to do it on Etsy, I’m either doing that direct between us if they’re a friend, or I’m driving them to an online store that I have, personally for my art, where I’m not paying that 6.5%.
So there’s a time and a place for both is what I’m trying to say. You just have to figure out where you fit in terms of this equation, and that’s really going to have to do with the maturity of your art business. If you’ve been doing this for a long time and you have followers, you have people who collect your art, love your art, and know about your art, then it’s probably time to set up your own online store. But if you’re new, just starting out, and you want to put your art out there in the world, then Etsy is still a great place to get started. And I wouldn’t listen too much to the percentages and the news and the shopkeepers getting really mad. We all are just trying to make it and find buyers and do what we can. So Etsy is still a great tool for that.
As a reminder, you can get your first Etsy listings free. I have a code for 40 free listings if you are a new Etsy seller or you want to open an Etsy store, so I’m going to put that in the show notes. So click that. I’m not paid by Etsy to promote them. But if you use that link, I’m gonna get a few free listings myself. So you know it saves you some money, it saves me some money. Why not? But that’s really all my thoughts on the Etsy price increase and the question of whether you should open your own store or you should keep using Etsy.
I’d be curious to hear your thoughts and see what you’re thinking about the price increase. So feel free to shoot me an email at LaurenKristine email@example.com . That’s a great way to do it. As always, if you would rate, review, and subscribe the podcast, it would mean a ton to me. It would help more self taught artists to find the podcast and it would encourage me to keep going and keep making more episodes. I’m so happy to be back with Season Two of the podcast. So stay tuned. The next episode will be live in just a few days. So stay tuned this season for a lot of great new content. As always, thank you my loyal listeners. Happy Creating, my friends! Til next time!
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