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?
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.
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.
A similar category widget that displays throughout Etsy doesn’t even show art at all!
Above are the products Etsy is highlighting on their front page this month. Unfortunately, no fine art made the cut.
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…
One day you are selling well, a few months later you are not.
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.
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: