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        Review: Etsy helps sell your crafts. Just don’t count on customer service

        Shown are bowls from Susan Weiner Ceramics being sold on Etsy.
        Shown are bowls from Susan Weiner Ceramics being sold on Etsy.
        (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

        What: Etsy is one of the oldest and best-established sites to sell art, crafts and hand-made items.

        Expected pay: variable

        Husl$core: $$$$ (scale of 5)

        Commissions & fees: 20-cent listing fee, plus 5% commission


        Where: Nationwide

        Requirements: Age 18, or age 13 with parental permission

        Etsy’s position as the predominant site to sell art, crafts and handmade clothing, furniture, handbags, jewelry and notions is both a benefit and a detriment to sellers.

        It’s helpful because you have a large community of shoppers to view and, possibly, buy your goods. It’s a problem because it also means that there are plenty of other sellers competing for your potential customers.


        Here you are essentially running your own business — determining what to make, how to make it and how to price your wares. As any small business owner can attest, running your own show is hard work and it comes with few guarantees.

        That said, Etsy can make your marketing far easier and the site’s fees are reasonable. Etsy charges just 20 cents per listing — five listings for $1. If you sell anything, you’ll pay a 5% transaction fee, too. If you use the site’s payment processing, there’s another fee. You can also pay extra to have Etsy provide shipping labels and on-site advertising. But all the fees are well in line with other reseller sites.

        The main complaint that sellers have is that Etsy sometimes boots people off the platform without warning or appeal. When it does so, it can hold buyer payments for up to six months. This is particularly painful if the seller has orders outstanding that need to be filled while their pay is being held.

        To be sure, this legitimate issue appears to hamper only a small fraction of the site’s sellers. But when sellers have a problem, Etsy’s customer service is missing in action.


        Other sites to consider: Ruby Lane, for crafts, antiques, art and collectibles; Society6 or RedBubble, which are print-on-demand services that print your art on T-shirts and coffee cups; and, of course, Craig’s List and EBay where you can sell almost anything.

        What sellers say:

        From Reddit:

        “I make 6 figures on Etsy, selling items for 10-20 bucks a pop.”


        “My items are not expensive - but if someone orders a lot, it definitely adds up quickly. I think the key is to start small. I see a lot of shop owners get over-excited and spend too much on overhead to start with. Creating items is hit and miss. A full-time shop is a commitment for sure. Some weeks I probably work a lot more than 40 hours, but I really love what I do and so it doesn’t feel like work to me. I have the freedom of working from my own office, but I also face the stress of fluctuating market.”

        “My items are cheap. I sell cards for $5 a piece. This month I have 74 orders. It doesn’t take long for me to fulfill one order. So even if it’s not a full-time job, I still pay myself $20 an hour. With more expensive items, you just spend more on supplies and production time.”

        From ConsumerAffairs.com:

        “Today Etsy sent me an e-mail stating that My Etsy shop of over 10 years is being suspended because they believe I am not making items I sell. Further they are freezing $158.00 in my account for 180 days in case they get any requests for refunds from orders.”


        From Reseller Ratings:

        “If you email with a question or concern, Etsy will send you an obviously canned and entirely unrelated response. Write again and they’ll repeat themselves and tell you that they won’t be responding again. Complain in the community forum and they will ‘muzzle’ your account so you’re not allowed to post messages. Express any further concern they will invent a reason to close your shop entirely.”

        Kathy Kristof is the editor of SideHusl.com, an independent site that reviews hundreds of money-making opportunities in the gig economy.

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