What: Sell crafts, art and hand-made goods

Expected pay: variable

Husl$core: $$$

Commissions & Fees: 20 cent listing fee, plus 6.5% +  25 cent, transaction and payment processing fees (for U.S. sales/sellers; fees vary in other countries)

Where: Nationwide

Requirements: Be age 18 or age 13, with parental permission.

Review: Etsy is one of the oldest and most widely used sites to sell crafts, art and hand-made items, which is both a benefit and a detriment. It’s helpful, of course, because they have a community of shoppers to view and, possibly, buy your goods. It’s a problem because it also means that there are a lot sellers competing for page views and there’s no guarantee that you are going to make a single sale. You can pay extra to advertise, but there are no guarantees there either. That said, the site charges just 20 cents per listing, so you can list 5 items for sale for just $1. If you sell anything, additional fees will kick in — a 3.5% transaction fee; a 3% plus 25 cent payment processing fee; plus shipping.

The biggest complaints that sellers have is that Etsy sometimes boots people off the platform without warning or appeal. When it does so, it can also hold buyer payments for up to 6 months. (This is spelled out in the terms and conditions.) This is particularly painful if the seller has orders outstanding that need to be filled while their pay is being held. While this is a legitimate issue, it appears to hamper only a small fraction of the site’s sellers. Etsy was ranked as the second-best sales site by eCommerceBytes, and the site sellers were most likely to recommend to a friend. That said, when sellers have a problem, Etsy’s customer service appears to be lacking.

Other sites to consider: Ruby Lane, for crafts, antiques, art and collectibles; Society6 or RedBubble, which are print-on-demand services that print your art on t-shirts and coffee cups; and, of course, Craig’s List, where you can sell almost anything. 

What their sellers say: (from ConsumerAffairs.com)

“Today Etsy sent me an e-mail stating that My Etsy shop of over ten years is being suspended because they believe I am not making my items I sell. Further they are freezing $158.00 in my account for 180 days in-case they get any requests for refunds from orders. Understand that this home based business accounts for a significant amount of my retirement earnings. I do indeed have always made my leather products by hand and consider each order a custom made product which includes the customers name and customer stamps they want included. I don’t know how much more hand made one can get! Of course I requested both a phone call from them and a reply to my email as to WHY! After reading all the other similar problems with etsy on this site, I do not believe to expect a reply. THEY JUST PUT THIS OLD GUY OUT OF BUSINESS. Anyone want to start a class action lawsuit against Etsy? HOW CAN THEY HOLD MY MONEY I EARNED FOR 180 DAYS?”

“I had a shop on Etsy for over 12 years with stellar reviews. My husband joined Etsy 6 months ago. Etsy sent him an email notifying him that he was violating copyright for listing a sign with a movie. Although there are literally 23,000 other items with the logo, and although he removed it, a week later he was shut down. My complaint is that my shop was also shut down even though I was never notified and my shop is independent of my husband’s. I have separate bank account, credit card, etc. The only thing in common was we had the isp because we are on the same server. I sent Etsy countless emails to explain and sent proof that my account was separate but all I got was boilerplate messages that appeared computer generated. I requested a phone call and an appeal. 5 days later, I got an email that said decision was final and now I am suspended forever. No one at Etsy will hear you so thousands of good people are getting banned for life for no reason. I have never been so unfairly treated in my 57 years. Etsy treats sellers like chattel.”

“They said I was selling things that were not allowed. I disputed account being closed and they refused to let me sell again. That is not the huge issue. The issue is them saying they are holding my funds for 180 days which is seriously messed up! I had real products I was selling and am now out of my merchandise and my money and there is little I can do about it. I cannot believe any company would do this to people but then after reading everyone else’s opinion I can believe it. This is one messed up company and I will not be buying from there to help them out in any way.”

“Came across this review site searching for something else, and was surprised to see the multiple negative reviews about Etsy. Etsy isn’t perfect–nothing is–but they’re protective of both buyers and sellers, which I appreciate. I’ve been a seller on Etsy for two years, and have made several purchases through Etsy stores. In my experience, Etsy is courteous and has many benefits over some other large online shop platforms. Their fees are reasonable. If you use Etsy Direct, your purchases and sales are all protected. The fees include, at no extra charge, a professional accounting system for your records and tax purposes. You can print professional packing slips and receipts for all orders. You can use Etsy shipping labels, which provides your customers with a discount over retail shipping, tracking, and the option to purchase shipping insurance with each purchase. You can promote with sales and coupons and in several other ways. Several negative reviews I read cannot be true, or are outright deceptive. If the seller’s description of the product or shipping time was inaccurate, Etsy would side with the buyer. Some international buyers try to coerce shops into marking a purchase as a “gift” so they will not have to pay customs duties. Then if the seller doesn’t do that, they will leave a low review because they didn’t help them cheat. Some buyers try to get a product for free, because they can get away with that on other platforms. If they can prove their claim, they will get a refund. If not, they won’t, and that is as it should be. The protection needs to be on both sides of the transaction. That is why I appreciate Etsy’s policies. I notice a lot of the negative reviews are trying to tell people to buy and sell on Amazon instead. Makes me wonder how many of them are paid trolls.

“Where do I begin? Etsy is sold as a crafter/dealer centric “community ” where sellers of handmade and vintage goods meet with like-minded buyers. They provide a “forum” for questions and discussions about the Etsy experience but that is where their customer service ends. People with valid grievances are kicked off the forum right and left (I myself am banned for pointing out several fallacies). Now I’m faced with a review extortion by a buyer who has had 4 items for 5 weeks, wants money off and wants to keep the items! If I don’t comply Etsy will allow her to whack me with a bad review for each item. There is no preemptive action I can take short of allowing this buyer to rip me off by refunding her and allowing her to keep 400.00 worth of my merchandise. Merchandise she says is defective… But wants to keep. The review process is skewed anyway. Buyers have to wait 19 days to leave a review and even a deliriously happy customer will have moved on by then. But… Etsy also allows buyers to EDIT their reviews for 100 days. So you’re basically held in limbo for 100 days after making a sale. This is frankly intolerable. Stay away from Etsy. It’s a money funnel right into their pockets. Not yours.”

From Reseller Ratings:

“If you’re thinking about selling on Etsy please be aware that, if you email with a question or concern (have to email because there’s no phone number) and if you’re lucky enough to get any reply in the following week or two, Etsy will send you an obviously canned and entirely unrelated response. If you write again they’ll repeat themselves and tell you that they won’t be responding again. If you complain in the community forum they will “muzzle” your account so your not allowed post messages. And if you express any further concern they will invent a reason to close your shop entirely, and keep any funds that were in your shop account. The internet it loaded with sellers and former sellers who have had similar experiences with this site. “

From SiteJabber:

“In retrospect – if you want to have buyers take advantage of you – get something for nothing and then YOU pay high postage and other fees with very little real ETSY traffic – go ahead and open one of these shops. My sincere advice is take your money and dreams to another platform – Amazon, shopify and rubylane are more professional outfilts that value sellers just as much as their customers. I am soo angry with their absolutely obtuse dispute resolution…I can’t put the words online. I am sorry I started there and invested so much time and effort. Amazon is actively recruiting ‘hand made sellers’ and ETSY will soon realize the hard way that hand made sellers will move to other platforms when WE are not satisfied with their customer service. DONT SET UP A SHOP ON ETSY.”

From the Better Business Bureau:

“Etsy customer service is AWFUL! They are holding my funds in my account and every time I email and get a call back, they lie about the disbursement date. I even have emails where the rep emailed me back one date and then another rep has said something else. I’ve heard 3 different dates vs what’s listed on my account. When you ask to speak to someone in management, they act as if they have to “find” somebody or escalate it to someone else on their customer service team when it’s not what you asked for. I will be so glad when they release my funds so I can pay them their fees and close out my account and I will never sell on that platform again..Ever. This is not my first time selling and my funds are being held well over 3 days and my customers have paid for a product and also have paid for their shipping. I have over 40 orders and I simply cannot afford to foot the shipping bill on my own, this is why the customer paid. When I got to print the labels, I get the message you are over your threshold and need to pay this amount. The question I asked the first rep was HOW CAN I PAY ANYTHING WHEN YOU ALL HAVEN’T EVEN PAID ME OR RELEASED MY FUNDS????????? They couldn’t answer that. In my best opinion, avoid this platform at all costs to sell your products. When i went on ******** to advise my customers for the additional wait on shipping because ETSY is holding funds, then I started to hear horror and warning stories about other people and their experience with Etsy or them just shutting down your account. I’ve even read where accounts were shut down and people had to fight to get their money that their customers paid. And the sad thing is, as a user of this site, all you can do is put in another of numerous complaints and nothing gets done or corrected with these businesses. And they really don’t care when you tell them you are reporting them to the BBB or Consumer Affairs.”

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