is etsy worth it?

Is Etsy Worth It?

Our thoughts on popular marketplace Etsy – why it can be a difficult place to generate consistent sales for fine artists and photographers, and how it has gotten worse over time.

Etsy is one of the best-known online marketplaces for handmade goods, and consequently many artists end up trying to sell on it at one point or another.

And by the end of this post, with some back-up from real fine artists and photographers, we’ll ask the million dollar question: Is Etsy worth it?

What it Means to Sell in Someone Else’s Online Gallery

Whether it is Etsy, Fine Art America, Saatchi Art, it is important to remember that these websites are simply large online art galleries. Etsy is slightly different in that it doesn’t solely focus on art. In fact, art is fairly deemphasized.

Let’s take a look at the Etsy homepage, starting at the top.

selling art on etsy

In the header, you’ll notice Art is listed all the way in the sixth category, and it’s bundled with “Collectibles”.

Not the best screen real estate.

selling art prints on etsy

A similar category widget that displays throughout Etsy doesn’t even show art at all!

is etsy good for art

Above are the products Etsy is highlighting on their front page this month. Unfortunately, no fine art made the cut.

is etsy worth it

Altogether, the home page of Etsy speaks clearly to how they envision their company – a marketplace for crafts.

It’s tough enough to sell your art when a marketplace is working FOR you – bringing in art buyers, boosting your visibility.

In this case, you’re fighting against a system that is designed to minimize your art.

With that said, plenty of artists DO have success on Etsy! Or, did, until recently…

Why It’s So Hard to Get Consistent Sales

One day you are selling well, a few months later you are not.

etsy not working

It all comes down to algorithm changes.

With Etsy, they changed their algorithm to give away less and less free traffic and instead make you pay for it.

By doing so, their revenues skyrocketed. But at the same time, thousands of artists who were selling decently well began selling little or nothing.

With gallery sites like Fine Art America, they build and optimize their own algorithm to give best sellers the most attention. When your sales, clicks, etc. cool off, your images will get demoted. Which means, you could be selling well now but not tomorrow.

So…Is Etsy worth it?


If you were one of the first to sell on Etsy, you probably enjoyed a year or two of opportunity that others didn’t. It didn’t last, but it was definitely good while it lasted. The same goes with Fine Art America or Saatchi Art.

If you are making sales on these platforms right now, that is fantastic and you absolutely should continue doing so and milk it for all its worth, while it lasts.

However, the bottom line is you have no control over any of these websites and how they decide to run their business. So if you spend time to build your business only on their platform, it is very risky.

One of the most critical risks involved is that Etsy will steal your traffic should you decide to sell your art elsewhere in the future.

Overall, it is a much safer long term to put your efforts into something that is built to last, like your own online art gallery.

When your run your own gallery, you minimize risk and maximize your control – two factors that we feel are essential to online success as a fine artist.

But don’t just take it from us, this very question was recently asked on our private Facebook community for our customers. Here’s how they responded:

etsy worth it

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Is Your Art Business Ready for New Opportunities? | Artsy Shark says

[…] And as the owners of those sites make decisions and take new directions, it may not serve you. Sellers on Etsy, for example, often found that when manufactured goods were allowed on the site, they saw their […]

We Believe Artists Should Make the Most Money from their Artwork says

[…] art galleries, the art publishers, and more recently the print-on-demand online art marketplaces (like Etsy), who have been raking in the cash and playing the situation to their advantage. This is evidenced […]

10 Things Art Marketplaces Don't Want You to Know says

[…] process takes years and leaves many fine artists scratching their head and wondering, is Etsy even worth it? Fine Art America? […]

A $3,700 Art Sale Placed on an iPad? A New Era of Selling Art Has Arrived says

[…] You no longer need the permission of gate-keepers to sell your art, nor do you need to settle for the raw deal of selling on marketplaces like Etsy.  […]

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