Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mind Your Own Business

Swimmy the Fish swims into deep water...
Remember "Swimmy"? Don't worry. No one else does either.
When I saw the title of a recent "I hate Etsy and here's why" themed blog post, I was so offended I almost didn't read any further. What's more, when the author was called out in the comments on the use of the particularly inappropriate word in her title, she vehemently defended her choice, siting semantics as her only defense...not that anyone should be surprised about that. (I'm choosing not to link to it out of respect to anyone who has endured violent trauma, but if you're curious, a Google search will help you find it quite easily)

I went ahead and read through the article hoping to see some sort of vital insight or new point of view to justify the use of such a shocking title. But unfortunately it just came off to me like sour grapes from a citizen of the privileged masses that seem to think that just because they spend time on something, they are somehow deserving of their every selfish desire to come to fruition.

"What about ME? What about MY shop? MY business?" That's pretty much all I hear from the people who are taking the time to complain about these things. Oh sure, some couch it between catch phrases like, "save our community" and "handmade is better" and "corporate greed", to make them seem like they have some altruistic intent. And that does get them followers. Good for them.

But when these same voices are asked, "So if you're quitting Etsy, where will you go?" and they respond with, "I haven't found another site that can touch Etsy's reach so I have to stay." Really? Hm. No. You don't have to do anything. Why not say, "I'm working hard to improve and grow my business every day so I can be less dependent on platforms I can't control." Why not, indeed.

While I agree that the low priced import sellers have increased the atmosphere of bargain shopping on Etsy, all of that really started with hobbyist sellers who are "just trying to make money for supplies" without a care for making a true profit or growing a business. There was a lot of complaining about that in the early days too. But eventually those sellers get tired of working so hard for nothing or they figure out how to run a business and make the move toward having a profitable shop. Lessons learned.

But does any of it truly matter? I find that most new Etsy customers simply don't care all that much about where their stuff is coming from. Sure, they should care. It would be nice if they did care. But they just don't. The bargain shoppers buy the cheap stuff and the quality shoppers buy based on reviews, photography, and listing copy. In the end, everyone (including myself), does a bit of both.

Change is hard, but the last time sellers were promised a "handmade marketplace" was just before the returned founder got canned for the second time in 2011. Like I said in a previous post: Etsy jumped the handmade shark years ago, and anyone who thinks they'll somehow wake up one day to see the error of their ways and go back to their founding ethics is living in a fantasy world. It just ain't gon' happen.

In the meantime, the truly successful Etsy seller is out there just doing their thing, promoting their business, using Etsy like the business tool it is, diversifying their online presence, building their following, and paying attention to what's going on but ultimately choosing not participate in the hype. You know, like a real business owner that takes responsibility for their own decisions and finds it distasteful to credit or blame another business for the rise and fall of their success.

We can scream and fight and argue and disagree and blame and point fingers all we like. But to what end? Businesses have to grow. Investors must be paid. And Handmade just isn't an inherently scalable business model. Yes, yes, it can be done, but only by the most determined of the bunch...and they're not getting involved in the debate. While we may not like it, they simply don't have the time because they're busy doing what is best for their business. Just like Etsy.

Just like you?

Huge thanks to the ever-awesome Betsy Greer for asking the questions that prompted me to share my honest truth today. Be sure to check out her excellent post "Why Etsy Owes You Nothing" and find out what the McRib is doing in a post about Etsy... <3


  1. That's true. It all is entirely dependent upon the seller, and how they would navigate the various avenues and market platforms on the internet. Etsy is effective, but it's just one site. The seller should learn to build presence using other available means, and optimize them as much as possible. That being said, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the matter. Cheers!

    Ann Boone @ Apex Business Team

    1. Very much agreed, Anne! Thank you for your insight and kind comments!


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