Is selling on Etsy a good idea?

Soapmaking Forum

Help Support Soapmaking Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.
Joined
Jan 6, 2020
Messages
968
Reaction score
1,280
Location
Louisiana, USA
I have a website but it literally sells absolutely nothing. For at least a year. The people that follow me and buy from me are all local even though I talk about my business everywhere all the time and even share it with people. They all buy from me directly at market. But I want to expand. Impossible to do that if they don't buy online. I know Etsy takes about 10% of your sales as their fees but selling with a 10% loss vs not selling....

What do you think? Would it be a good idea to go with Etsy?
 
It wouldn’t hurt to try, but make sure you have great photos, good SEO and branding.
I have done well in Etsy lately, not with soaps though; but another venture, without good branding initially. I have been learning a lot from Starla Moore in YT (she is an Etsy coach).
There are more fees than what you mentioned though.
There is a 15% offsite ad fee when a sale is made through offsite ads. As far as I know there is now way to opt out of those. They reduce the offsite ads percentage to 12% once you have made 10k in sales. Then there is a transaction fee of 6.5% on the item Value and shipping. Also there is a payment processing fee of about 3% Plus the listing fee of 20 cents. You just need to make sure you build them into your price.
 
Good point really. I have a website and it costs me circa $700 per annum. If I were to move to ETSY, there's a $700 saving off the bat, which I'm sure would offset the Etsy fees/percentages etc. Advantages are that people will seek out a product on Etsy so you are assured of more traffic - but then I guess they will also find other soap sellers too, so may not buy your particular product unless they know it already. It offers more payment options than my particular website does so that could work in my favour. Currently the only people that buy from my website are those that follow my social media- and when they see a product they like they will click through to the website to buy it.
 
Yes, they will find a lot of other soap sellers. I do not sell soap, I am a hobbyist. But, I do shop on Etsy and I think it could be easy to get lost.

When I go into a booth at a market, I am glad to find out that they have an Etsy that I can browse through at home. However, I haven't yet purchased anything afterward.
 
It wouldn’t hurt to try, but make sure you have great photos, good SEO and branding.
I have done well in Etsy lately, not with soaps though; but another venture, without good branding initially. I have been learning a lot from Starla Moore in YT (she is an Etsy coach).
There are more fees than what you mentioned though.
There is a 15% offsite ad fee when a sale is made through offsite ads. As far as I know there is now way to opt out of those. They reduce the offsite ads percentage to 12% once you have made 10k in sales. Then there is a transaction fee of 6.5% on the item Value and shipping. Also there is a payment processing fee of about 3% Plus the listing fee of 20 cents. You just need to make sure you build them into your price.
So am I understanding that Etsy's fees are 10% as MelissaG said PLUS 15% for an offsite ad sale PLUS the 6.5% PLUS 3% PLUS 20 cents? That's more than 1/3 (if it's both the 10 and 15 and not an either/or). How much would you have to sell to make it worth it? (not that I'm considering it, just curious)
 
Wow, I had no idea they take such a huge cut. That's about a quarter of your price including shipping?

I don't know how it does for attracting shoppers, but isn't Square trying to build a craft marketplace too? And not charging for their mini sites?
It wouldn’t hurt to try, but make sure you have great photos, good SEO and branding.
I have done well in Etsy lately, not with soaps though; but another venture, without good branding initially. I have been learning a lot from Starla Moore in YT (she is an Etsy coach).
There are more fees than what you mentioned though.
There is a 15% offsite ad fee when a sale is made through offsite ads. As far as I know there is now way to opt out of those. They reduce the offsite ads percentage to 12% once you have made 10k in sales. Then there is a transaction fee of 6.5% on the item Value and shipping. Also there is a payment processing fee of about 3% Plus the listing fee of 20 cents. You just need to make sure you build them into your price.
 
I'm unsure about Etsy. Every time I go there to do product research, I end up being dazzled by something I wasn't originally looking for. I also won't buy from someone who has no reviews. Period. Too much sketchiness going on there.

I also find TONS of what I consider underpriced products. I hate that so many flash-in-the-pan sellers just dump their products at unrealistic prices. Being in that arena just lowers the price standard for the buyer. Unless you have a single item or short line of products that really stand out — like there is absolutely nothing else like it on Etsy — it might be an exercise in frustration. But take my advice with a spoon of salt because I'm a curmudgeon. :p

What I would suggest is creating some kind of friends and family program from your site only. Say perhaps: Person at my stall, buy X bars at my table today, and get XX% off your online purchase (make it a meaty discount, something hard to refuse), PLUS send your friend/family member to my site and they get the same XX% off, PLUS a free bag o'ends (or free shipping, or free tester scrub or something), PLUS for every 5 friends who purchase YOU get a FREE bar of soap! or whatever merch.

If you have a regular crowd of buyers who love your product, use them to build your online buyer pool. Give them a reason so juicy they can't NOT go to your website.

Look at Kohls. I literally tell myself not to shop there because I get wrapped up in all the deals, 30% off already low prices, PLUS bucks, PLUS extra discounts if I shop in a time frame. It's impossible to run into that store and only shop once.

I'm not saying deep cut your prices. What I am saying is get creative with incentives. Maybe create a line that is ONLY available on your site.

Maybe give them "Silver Dollars" in person so that they can spend on your site. But tie in a way that if they refer people and THEY buy then the friends get something special, the person who sent the friends gets something special... everyone gets something.

Make them feel like Kohls, like it would be ridiculous — it would literally be like losing money — to NOT shop at your site.

And then, always make sure you're thanking them for supporting small biz. By sending your friends and family to shop at my site not only gets you perks, and them perks, but you're supporting a small biz, the backbone of America, AND you're getting a good product AND sticking it to Evil Big Chem. Right then and there a bald eagle swoops in and grasps a bar of your soap in its talons and everyone waves flags, and there's a tear of pride in a small child's eye.

Ok, I get carried away... :p But seriously, never miss an opportunity to share your story, because people like you ARE the backbone of America. This country was built on big dreams and small businesses, and that is something to be VERY proud of. YOU have a story, why you started your company, even if it doesn't seem like a big deal to you, its a story worth telling.
 
Last edited:
I have an Etsy store, which is pretty barren at the moment, but I do make an occasional sale on it. I need to get some new listings up after I do about a million other things that are on my mind. Customers pay shipping costs unless you have free shipping, so that’s not an automatic cost to you. There are a zillion soap sellers on Etsy, so it is hard to stand out. But, the only upfront cost to you is your time to set up the listings.
I haven’t found the vendor support to be that great. There are a lot of community forums but some of the participants are mean and grouchy. Unlike this group.
 
@Carly B
No, no there is no 10% fee per se.

Here are the standard fees:
-Listing fee: 20 cents per item, lasts 4 months or until item sold, whichever comes first
- transaction fee 6.5%
- processing fee 3.5% plus 0.25 cents per transaction (this is like the fee you would pay to square or PayPal to process credit cards)
Additionally, if your sale came from an ad someone was shown while browsing the web (not Etsy), then they will charge the 15% fee.

Edited to add that as long as your sales are under 10k, you can opt out of offsite ads.

About 40% of my sales come from offsite ads though, so I kept them on. The fees were a shock to me, but so were the first sales. I think when you find the right niche for you, things get better. I stumped on mine, and I am thankful to God I did.

The way Starla Moore compared Etsy vs having your own store was this: having your own website is like having a shop in the middle of nowhere and putting signs everywhere to lead and bring people there (marketing). Being on Etsy is like renting a booth at a mall, where there is already people shopping but also other sellers (competitors).
She does suggest that once you have a established Etsy store, you should also have your own.
 
Last edited:
@paradisi
Yes, it is a big chunk if the sale comes from the general web. About 40% of my sales come from offsite ads.

Shipping cost is up to you. If you want to offer free shipping you can build it on your price or charge for it separately. They do suggest you offer free shipping as their data says buyers tend to shop more from stores that offer it, but a lot of stores do not offer it and do well.

I do have a square free site. I hardly ever sell anything there unless the sale is driven from my YT channel. Though truth be told I don’t have that many items listed. The free site doesn’t allow for customer reviews so I think it is a deterrent for people buying, but I don’t see it as a market place necessarily.
 
And then, always make sure you're thanking them for supporting small biz. By sending your friends and family to shop at my site not only gets you perks, and them perks, but you're supporting a small biz, the backbone of America, AND you're getting a good product AND sticking it to Evil Big Chem. Right then and there a bald eagle swoops in and grasps a bar of your soap in its talons and everyone waves flags, and there's a tear of pride in a small child's eye.
😍 😂 🤪😂😍:D:D
 
I considered selling on Etsy, but decided it wouldn't work for me for a complex list of reasons. One of those reasons is all the fees & the way "master of the house" started playing in the back of my mind the last time I read the terms. I've gone with ko-fi.com for right now. Someday I might move to Patreon or my own website, but ko-fi is mostly free & has some great features.
 
The upfront costs for selling on Etsy are fairly neglible, it's when you have a sale that they get you. And that transaction fee is on the total sale, not just the sale of the item. Altogether, the fees can be around 20% of your sale.

And then there is the issue of competition. I've tried shopping on Esty...I usually just leave without buying anything because it can be overwhelming. I just searched for 'soap': 609,530 with Ads. Those are folks who have paid extra to be at the top of the search. I then selected 'bar soap'...181,544 with Ads.

Having a website isn't what it used to be. Once upon a time it was a big time marketing tool and if you didn't have a website, you were squat. Now days it's all social media...Facebook, Twitter, InstaGram, SnapChat, Tumbler, Reddit, YouTube, TikTok, Pintrest...whatever. You'll spend more time keeping up with all of that crap than you will making soap.
 
Having a website isn't what it used to be. Once upon a time it was a big time marketing tool and if you didn't have a website, you were squat. Now days it's all social media...Facebook, Twitter, InstaGram, SnapChat, Tumbler, Reddit, YouTube, TikTok, Pintrest...whatever. You'll spend more time keeping up with all of that crap than you will making soap.
That's one reason that I am not thinking about selling. I have never participated in any social media (I don't count this forum as social media, but if it is, this is the only social media in which I participate) and have never had any interest in doing so. Not even MySpace back in the day. I'm sure I would be doomed to failure no matter how wonderful my soap might be, because nowadays, it seems it's all about social media. Eh.
 
I have a website but it literally sells absolutely nothing. For at least a year. The people that follow me and buy from me are all local even though I talk about my business everywhere all the time and even share it with people. They all buy from me directly at market.
IME, (In My Experience) this is typical. The only reason for having an online site is to provide acccess for your customers to buy during the off-season. Sad, but true.

But I want to expand. Impossible to do that if they don't buy online. I know Etsy takes about 10% of your sales as their fees but selling with a 10% loss vs not selling....
I reseached this idea for a wholesale customer. It's been a while. If I recall correctly, updating your current site with a new product or fragrance or an artical of interest on a weekly basis would draw others to the site.

There is a place to list "key search words" that also also attract new customers. Think like a customer.. What words would you search to find what you want? Then, if you don't already have one, write a Mission Statement that uses those words to describe what you provide.

I'm sure there must be something on line that would advise how best to "sell online" and attract people to your site. Here's one. There are a lot more!


What do you think? Would it be a good idea to go with Etsy?
Nope.
 
@paradisi
Yes, it is a big chunk if the sale comes from the general web. About 40% of my sales come from offsite ads.

Shipping cost is up to you. If you want to offer free shipping you can build it on your price or charge for it separately. They do suggest you offer free shipping as their data says buyers tend to shop more from stores that offer it, but a lot of stores do not offer it and do well.

I do have a square free site. I hardly ever sell anything there unless the sale is driven from my YT channel. Though truth be told I don’t have that many items listed. The free site doesn’t allow for customer reviews so I think it is a deterrent for people buying, but I don’t see it as a market place necessarily.
Just pure curiosity, what is the other business you have going? Maybe you don’t want to say.
 
@Vicki C I don't mind saying at all! I am decorating Bibles for special occasions, people buy them mostly for weddings and quinceaneras. A commemorative bible presentation is part of most Christian Latin wedding ceremonies, along with other items. I am thinking of renaming it, but if you want to check it out you can see it here.
I have had the store for over 10 years and never sold a thing, so it was dormant for a long time after the listings expired (I was trying to sell jewelry and greeting cards before, I had even listed soaps there). I should clarify I knew very little about SEO, or branding then. What was surprising for me was that I only listed the bibles because I had extra materials leftover from decorating a bible for my brother's wedding last summer. When I got the first sale, I had quite forgotten I had listed it, because it happened after a couple of months (That is usually how long it takes for the algorithm to figure out who to show your listings to, based on your SEO and listing performance). And as more sales came in, I was even more surprised, here I had been trying to sell soaps and posting in instagram, YT and other social media (albeit in the wrong formats or approach at times) for a couple of years, and this other venture sprouts out without me even having a social media page for it, or a website, nada/nothing! I have since created an instagram page for it, but I have not been active in it lately.
I will say this, because this new venture was not a hobby as making soaps was or making jewelry was, I find myself making smarter decisions about the business side of it.
I do recommend you check out Starla's group on FB, if you are in FB, it is called Handmade Alpha Facebook community. There is not as much negativity there because she educates her audience on what to expect from Etsy. But I agree with you, all of the other groups are so negative, people complaining all the time about Etsy. I have had a negative experience with Etsy when they closed my account due to expiration of the card on file, it took a while, but it was resolved eventually.
 
As the Gecko mentioned you will have to spend a lot of time on Social Media promoting your business. Even several years ago with our expensive website which was professionally designed my daughter spend every day promoting it, and it was a lot of work. This is back when sample boxes were big with YouTube testers and we did a lot of sample boxes. Granted my daughter did make good money and supported her family for a few years but then DIY became popular and selling became increasingly harder so sell retired.

I continued to sell at farmer and holiday craft fairs only but it is hard work and it was for retirement supplement money only not a living. It was also a good way to get out among people and my husband and I did the markets together and we did not just sell B&B products. My hubby sold golf art he made and I sold crochet hats and shawls doing 4-5 markets per week. Some days we did 2 markets a morning and night market.

Selling is a lot of work.
 
As the Gecko mentioned you will have to spend a lot of time on Social Media promoting your business. Even several years ago with our expensive website which was professionally designed my daughter spend every day promoting it, and it was a lot of work. This is back when sample boxes were big with YouTube testers and we did a lot of sample boxes. Granted my daughter did make good money and supported her family for a few years but then DIY became popular and selling became increasingly harder so sell retired.

I continued to sell at farmer and holiday craft fairs only but it is hard work and it was for retirement supplement money only not a living. It was also a good way to get out among people and my husband and I did the markets together and we did not just sell B&B products. My hubby sold golf art he made and I sold crochet hats and shawls doing 4-5 markets per week. Some days we did 2 markets a morning and night market.

Selling is a lot of work.
That is a lot of markets! I am not living off of my soap. Luckily. But I wouldn’t mind making more money.
@Vicki C I don't mind saying at all! I am decorating Bibles for special occasions, people buy them mostly for weddings and quinceaneras. A commemorative bible presentation is part of most Christian Latin wedding ceremonies, along with other items. I am thinking of renaming it, but if you want to check it out you can see it here.
I have had the store for over 10 years and never sold a thing, so it was dormant for a long time after the listings expired (I was trying to sell jewelry and greeting cards before, I had even listed soaps there). I should clarify I knew very little about SEO, or branding then. What was surprising for me was that I only listed the bibles because I had extra materials leftover from decorating a bible for my brother's wedding last summer. When I got the first sale, I had quite forgotten I had listed it, because it happened after a couple of months (That is usually how long it takes for the algorithm to figure out who to show your listings to, based on your SEO and listing performance). And as more sales came in, I was even more surprised, here I had been trying to sell soaps and posting in instagram, YT and other social media (albeit in the wrong formats or approach at times) for a couple of years, and this other venture sprouts out without me even having a social media page for it, or a website, nada/nothing! I have since created an instagram page for it, but I have not been active in it lately.
I will say this, because this new venture was not a hobby as making soaps was or making jewelry was, I find myself making smarter decisions about the business side of it.
I do recommend you check out Starla's group on FB, if you are in FB, it is called Handmade Alpha Facebook community. There is not as much negativity there because she educates her audience on what to expect from Etsy. But I agree with you, all of the other groups are so negative, people complaining all the time about Etsy. I have had a negative experience with Etsy when they closed my account due to expiration of the card on file, it took a while, but it was resolved eventually.
Oh, thanks for all this! I had to Google SEO just now.

I’m going to check out Starla. And your bibles. I am sure they are beautiful just like your soap.
 
Back
Top