A Practical Guide to Becoming a Phoenix Rising from the Ashes
Expect the unexpected, and be prepared. For Etsy sellers everywhere, here are some tips for the good, the bad and ugly truths about preparing for the end of selling on Etsy. You may think it isn’t possible that your shop could be closed by the Esty police, but it happens. Just like “other” unpleasant, smelly, stinky, dirty, rotten things, happen. It happened to me, and it can happen to you.
Always Be Prepared, a Motto
So, do these four things and keep them in your back pocket, just in case. It is time consuming and sellers already spend hours upon hours developing their brand, (especially when Etsy expects to do your own marketing) but do these things anyway. You can thank me later.
- Keep a file of all of your reviews. If Etsy decides to close your store for any reason, they own your content and reviews. You will not have access to them. Once you find another selling platform, these reviews will come in handy to establish who you really are as a legit seller, and overall good person, dedicated to the happiness of each and every customer.
- Keep a file of your photographs and item descriptions. For me, and most Etsy sellers, a lot of time, research, documentation and detail goes into creating a single listing. Researching and writing descriptions is time consuming and very difficult to replicate once they vanish under Etsy’s ownership. Your content DOES NOT belong to you. Always remember that.
- Set up a parallel account using a website domain name other than Etsy, (not Pattern, an Etsy owned site). If Etsy closes your shop you have an immediate back up platform to rebuild your business. You can keep the site unpublished until needed. I used my Google Business platform, vintagebyjolie to duplicate every Etsy listing. However, it’s attached to an Etsy link so this data is only useful to create a new website or to list your items on another selling platform. Handy, but creating a separate website would be an optimal back up plan.
- Learn when to cut bait. If the time invested in managing your shop is taking over your life, and return on your investment is a financial abyss, move on. CEO, Josh Silverman does not care about sellers. Per Forbes: “We need to do what our sellers need, not want,” Silverman says. “To serve the sellers, you need to obsess over the buyer experience.” Until there is significant change in leadership, sellers are in a losing game.
Because, I Was Kind of Great
Too many great reviews to fit here, but here’s one example of over a hundred reviews that I saved, once I learned that Etsy could and would retain ownership if I fell out of favor with the Etsy store police.
Ground Zero Is Not An Option
I know, it takes a LOT of time. But consider this, if Etsy closed your shop today, what would you do? You no longer have access to all of your hard work. I think I had about 800+ listings, each one different, each one unique. Starting from Ground Zero could have been an impossible task. But there is always a logical method to to reassess your business, and regroup in the face of Etsy’s totalitarian rule.
Life Was Good
As an example of my inventory and some really unusual and wonderful items in my former shop, these one of a kind vintage Polynesian Ceremonial cups were purchased by a very satisfied customer in Texas. They sold for $2,000. Etsy took a very generous commission on this sale. Although most of my sold items were not in this price range, a few were, with no issues. Life was good, everyone was happy.
Until It Wasn’t
A few months later, Etsy closed my shop (see the overview under “Closing Shop”), not once but twice because of Etsy’s passive aggressive buyer resolution style.
Cha, Cha, Changes …
I used rule #4 to capture and liquidate my inventory. With so many unique and crazy good vintage items and clothing I had in my shop, I first separated my best of the best which are temporarily listed on an alternative selling site. I liquidated the rest of my inventory through MaxSold, an online auction site divided into geographical areas in the US and Canada. In 7 days, every single item was sold and picked up on site. All neat and tidy. Genius.
At What Cost?
The same item(s) on Etsy could be hanging out in my shop for weeks, months, or longer losing revenue everyday. Combine that with the requirement to respond to customers immediately anytime of the day or night, expense of packaging and packing, free shipping and insurance to customers, 30% in Etsy fees, not including the sometimes surprise non optional marketing fees, it all adds up to a pretty hefty cut to your profit margin. I once paid Etsy about $100 for one of these ads.
And, if you have a no return policy, under the recently adopted Protection Program Program it is meaningless. After some bad experiences and unwarranted returns, I instituted a no return policy. It DID NOT matter. Read that again.
When Fun Is Not Part of the Equation
I guess, I would have stuck around anyway, because I love the joy of the hunt and the thrill of a sale. It was Etsy’s attitude and lack of humanism and respect for the seller that was the last straw, the “Keeping Commerce Human” motto is laughable, when boiler plate responses are the norm. Sellers are not honored as an integral component of the Etsy experience. Baffling. It is jarring and a deal breaker.
Closing my shop in response to my inquires relating to buyers who are exploiting the Buyer Protection Program, and not honoring my store policies is just plain bad business, and insulting. See Rule #4.
Here’s what: The first time Etsy closed my shop without warning it was over a package sent to England.
- The buyer asked me to track a package showing delivery to British customs, which I was not able to access from the states.
- The customer did not respond to customs to have her package delivered.
- The package was returned to me, arriving a few months later.
- Shipping costs the first time around was an estimate before item was packaged and weighed. I lost money on shipping but I let it go.
- I prepared the package for shipping again and let the buyer (Chasti) know what had happened and what the actual shipping cost was.
- Following this, Chasti started two “Help With An Order” threads with over 200 messages, night and day for 3 weeks straight.
- I asked for help from Etsy. I was told to work it out with the buyer myself. Naively thinking a logical conclusion would be made – the buyer would pay the actual return shipping costs.
- I was told to refund the purchase including shipping.
- The funds were not on my Etsy account card at that moment, and a second was on file for any outstanding amounts due.
- Instead of charging the second card, Etsy shut down my shop with no warning. I had additional shipments to prepare, but could not use the Etsy shipping option.
- One incident, after 2 years. My Star Seller status was eliminated, the algorithm activity dropped, false stats were posted. i.e.: response time, on time shipping, etc.
Twice is Two Times Too Many
The second time Etsy closed my shop, was the last time. Maybe someday, I’ll share the ridiculousness of that selling adventure as well, but enough. Having fun selling the most wonderful things you will ever find is over on this platform. It is not fun. It is not fair, and it is not feasible.
Changing The Soul of Etsy Forever
Here’s my last thought of the day on the subject: From the Etsy Geeks blog: ” … Alienating sellers creates repercussions. In 2008, the eBay seller strike drove thousands of new sellers to the Etsy platform. …
… The COVID-19 pandemic is most responsible for 2020 to 2022 Etsy profits. Not the arrival of Etsy CEO Josh Silverman in 2017. His first 2 years saw good but not great returns. The real explosion was pandemic-generated. And that’s why ‘new’ Etsy is being forced to expand. It wants to keep this trend going, fueling new moves through fee increases. And changing the soul of Etsy forever.
However, Etsy Strike points a very direct finger at Silverman for Etsy over commercialization. …”
Changing the soul of Etsy forever … I’ll leave that right there.
Yours truly, Jolie
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