What Etsy Sellers Need to Know

So you sell canvas or giclee prints on Etsy right?  Or maybe you are thinking of doing so or just got started. Well, this post is for you. People fitting this profile come to us all the time with questions since they want to use FinerWorks to process and ship many of their print orders. Usually the questions center around such things as how many of our own customers use Etsy as their Manufacturing Partner and what info can we provide them to be sure they are abiding by Etsy's policies. They also wonder how successful are the current Etsy users  who use us. And, some even ask us if we know what sells best when it comes to artwork.
To address the last question first, this is not something we feel would be appropriate to comment too much on. Etsy's community is made up of artists and craftsman that are passionate about their work but it is also one in which they compete with each other to a certain extant. Plus I don't even know that we have an answer but even if we did, it would not be fair to our existing customers that rely on both Etsy and us to offer our opinions on that. What I will say is the subject matter in art and photography ranges across the board. The very successful sellers are not the type to sit back and wait for results. They go out and get results. Now that, that is out of the way, what about the number of people that use FinerWorks which are Etsy sellers?
At FinerWorks I would estimate at least 10-15% of our customers are regular Etsy sellers. Some place a number of orders every day on either FinerWorks or our sister site EZCanvas. Maybe more but we don't track this so I am just throwing out a rough guess. I also know we get a lot of inquiries from people that are either thinking of setting up a shop with Etsy or just did so. 
Most of the time we can forward Etsy sellers to our Order Fulfillment Guide which address most of their questions. But lately we have been receiving more inquires asking if we have a statement or code of ethics as specified here. This is understandable because Etsy does not want manufacturers being utilized that might engage in child labor or other immoral practices. I can see where there might be some apprehension considering that many big brand names have been in trouble in the past over this when using manufacturers outside the U.S. FinerWorks is based in the U.S. and we produce the products that are ordered in the U.S. so of course we abide by both U.S. Federal and State laws in our production. To help our Etsy sellers, which count on us, we have provided a written Code of Ethics statement that should alleviate any concerns Etsy or anyone else may have and certainly make sure everyone is acting in compliance with Eetsy's own policies. 
So why else is this Code of Ethics necessary and how could it affect your? If you have been following some of the recent controversy surrounding Etsy over the past year or two you may know that they recently allowed "Manufacturing Partners" which means they now allow shop owners to utilize a third party to produce the products that are being sold. Part of the reason was as sellers began to see their popularity grow they also saw their ability to scale up to meet the volume of sales began diminish. The busy mom who made custom beaded necklaces or knit scarfs after the kids went to bed was finding herself up all night just trying to manufacturer the orders at her kitchen table. Many Etsy sellers are put into the position of deciding if they close up shop because they just could not do it all or do they outsource. I think Etsy understood this which is why they now allow you to utilize a third party manufacturer. This only makes sense because they don't want you leaving them. I don't think it is any surprise that there were many Etsy sellers already doing this but at least now it can be done on the up and up.
But even if you do have a manufacturing partner like FinerWorks, you may choose to leave Etsy at some point and go out on your own. Recently a woman selling clothing and who was one of the top sellers in the entire Etsy universe found processing orders became too unwieldy when using the tools Etsy offered. On top of it all other shop owners were complaining she was not abiding by the partner manufacturing guidelines. It eventually became easier and less of a headache to close up her shop and only take orders on her website without Etsy in the mix.
Normally this might not be such a good idea. Lucky for her she was establishing her website and brand at the same time she was building her popularity on Etsy. Through emails to her previous buyers and I assume things like a newsletter she also made it clear to customers that she did have a website and it was an alternative place to order other products not available on Etsy. This allowed her to phase her eCommerce business into something she had full control without a big loss in revenue. Her website sales continued to grow so in very little time she was clearing more revenue and processing orders faster than before she could through Etsy. Plus the money she previously funneled into the promotion of products on Etsy were now used to market her business. I have heard a few similar stories to this. Many of our top Etsy artistss that rely on us also have their own websites to take orders. A few have finally taken off on their own or are about to. But the reason they are able to do this is because they did not wait to setup a website or other venue to sell their products.
Understand that if you are an Etsy seller and new it all, don't expect this to happen overnight. It might even be a few weeks or month before you just get that first sale. Even while Etsy is a market place that tries to bring sellers to you, you have to promote it yourself. Many sites that offer buyer seller connections are going to have more sellers than actual buyers. I suspect that Etsy fits into that as well. But by promoting your art as a business and your Etsy shop too, you are more likely to bring in the sales. Assuming your work is good quality and there is a market for it, everything else simply becomes a numbers game at that point. Generally the more exposure you get, the more buyers. If you are on a shoestring budget when it comes to marketing, this does not mean marketing and promoting is out of reach. It just means you may need to get creative. How you do it is something you need to figure out.
I have met many people say "just show me what works and I will do it". Honestly not even some of the most reputable marketing firms are going to necessarily know what works best in marketing your product. That is why they do things like marketing research first to see what is the best way to reach potential customers. But, whatever you do, don't fall it the trap of only looking for magical formulas from other people on how to do this. Years ago I went down this road and it did not work. I found myself browsing book stores and articles online in trying to find ways to promote my digital artwork as prints. Nothing I found made sense with what I was doing or it simply did not work the way I wanted it too. I had to find my own way and there was not book to tell me the exact formula. Just do not forgest whether you are selling on Etsy, your own website or even at arts and craft shows, you know your products and potential buyers best so you are the best person to know how to market them.
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