Watch Those Dos and Don'ts or Get Muted on Etsy
Different companies have different ways to deal with spam, we all know that, but some go to such great lengths that they keep their regular customers or visitors from being able to function properly through their system as it is setup. After getting muted on Etsy for trying to ask a few shop owners a business question for a yahoo group we run I wanted to look into Etsy a little more and find out just what they do and how they operate.
Who is Etsy and What do They Sell
Some of you may not be to familiar with Etsy since it deals in "hand mades", as their website says, Your Place to Buy and Sell all Things Handmade. While their tagline doesn't always ring true to the products posted for sale on their site, they do have a very large network of handmade items for sale.
Etsy is a cross between Facebook and eBay where you can sell on a shop type setup with many of the social networking aspects setup on the site. Founded in 2005:
We are a community and a company. Click the image to the right for a view of the community, and see below for who works at Etsy Inc.
Etsy is an online marketplace for buying & selling all things handmade. Our mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers.
Our vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice: Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade.
A quick search through their products and you will see a wide range of handmade items, but recently they have allowed the supplies that go into making those products to be sold on their website. Anything from beads, silver, and raw materials that are used to craft and create handmade products.
The Etsy Do's and Don'ts
As with all selling and social sites, Etsy has a large, did I say large, very large list of do's and don'ts. At least it is all on one page and you don't have to hunt around for it like you do on some other big sales channel sites. The list includes what you should and shouldn't do in the areas of:
- General Site Usage
- Member Accounts
- Reporting Items (Flagging)
From my count, just about a 4,000 word document that does take some studying BEFORE you decide to do anything in the way of business on their site. It apparently is very important to read and understand these rules as a newbie so you don't get caught up in their net of "don'ts" and get yourself banned before you get going.
One example in the selling category, is you can't be a reseller. This technically means that you have to be the one who actually made the goods offered for sale. I am not sure how that works with suppliers of the raw materials that are now being sold? One of my clients has a store and sells a few items here and there, and they only sell raw materials.
Don't Get Yourself Muted on Etsy, You Can't Communicate
Being new to Etsy, and a business owner, I wanted to ask some other shop owners a few questions about their shop, and a group we run that was directly related to the group in question. In fact, each shop owner I looked at (there was 5 in total) came from blog reviews of their Etsy shop.
We all understand the fine line you sometimes walk sometimes when you reach out and contact someone you have never talked to before. Today, it seems EVERYTHING is labeled as spam, regardless of your intentions. None of us like to deal with spam, or worse, the spammer themselves, but sometimes the overly aggressiveness some social sites use to deal with spam prevents real and normal conversations.
I tried to contact 5 different shop owners and was immediately "muted" on Etsy. This apparently is not an uncommon thing as you look through the forums. It mostly ranges from people that sent to many messages in a short period of time to one lady who was sending "thank you notices" to her customers and quickly found herself muted.
In all fairness, it is in their do's and don'ts as:
Your ability to send Conversations may be temporarily revoked if you are suspected of spamming other users. Sending spam Conversations also may trigger Etsy's Auto-Muter, which will disable you from sending new messages. You must contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be unmuted. Using Convos to threaten or harass other members will result in the termination of your Etsy account.
What ever happened to the word verification box or something? That is pretty standard now and it seems to work well? Well, I contacted the support email requesting to be unmuted, we will see if I am banned for life or if I get my tongue back at some point. Either way, very aggressive spam controls going on over at Etsy. Not sure to question it or praise it.
What Does it Cost to Sell on Etsy
As with almost all ecommerce channels, it does cost something to setup a store and sell. While the store doesn't cost anything, the fees are there as usually. The fees involved with seller are basically setup like other channels, it costs you $.20 for each listing and you pay 3.5% of each completed sale. You have to pay your fees twice a month (the 1st and the 15th) and if you are selling outside the U.S. you will have to content with the currency conversion they use. Probably not a bad thing with the dollar right now.
Conversations and Sales Rates
The big question I have as with any sales channel... can I sell anything? To me this is still an unanswered question and I would like to hear from other shop owners to see how their sales are going, in general terms. If you have a shop, please let me know how it is going sales wise, although you might not want to use the contact system through Etsy and get yourself muted. Just leave a comment here, that would be great.
I am working with a test store setup through one of my clients and although we don't have many products listed, we have generated a few sales. Not much revenue to write home about but a few good sales. The buzz around Etsy is quite interesting. We do have several niche markets we are involved with that are in the craft area and Etsy comes up everywhere among readers, visitors, and buyers. That part is encouraging as a shop owner.
Conclusion on Etsy
What has your experience been with Etsy? Is it a sales channel you might try in the future or is it some place you buy different handmades from? They certainly seem to be generating a lot of traffic and buzz so it will be interesting to see where the folks at Etsy take their service.
Perhaps some day I won't be muted and I will be able to talk to you, until then, if you send me a message over at Etsy I will be sure to read it, but don't expect a response.