Commentary on the Etsy Strike

I have an opinion. I don’t usually like to offer my opinion but this conversation is overwhelming my Facebook and Instagram feed. I’ve debated on commenting about the Etsy strike happening right now and decided it might be helpful for my customers to see how it affects me. For more information on the strike: https://etsystrike.org/

The main issues seem to be high cost of fees, poor “star seller” program, lack of support/customer service for sellers, and the problem of this “handmade” website being filled with mass-production items (like you’d find on Wish or Alibaba).

I’m sure you can all see that my Etsy shop is not on holiday. However, if you’ve followed me for awhile you’ll know that Etsy is not my favorite platform 😕

I don’t like that Etsy claims to be for handmade sellers but allows resellers of mass-produced cheap items. I am extremely frustrated at their lack of support (there is no phone number or specialized help section for sellers). And I despise this “star seller” program that is run by AI, leaves no room for dispute, and hurts good sellers.

Personal Problems with Etsy

For example, this month Etsy’s platform glitched on one of my listings. Suddenly it was a physical product that needed shipping even though I only sell PDFs. I also have auto-renew set on all my listings so that when one person buys a PDF I don’t have to manually add that listing again before someone else can buy the PDF; this listing deactivated itself after being sold as a physical product which was what alerted me to the problem. The PDF also was no longer attached to this listing.

It took me forever to find out how I could contact Etsy about this problem. I think I ended up contacting the wrong place a few times before someone finally agreed that they could try.

It took 45 minutes for me to even get them to understand what the problem was. They just kept telling me that I’ve got to enter the tracking information now and ship the product and that, in the future, I should click the box that says this item is a digital product (duh, I’ve only listed and sold how many products? I know how to check that box. This listing in particular has already been sold digitally a few times).

Then when I thought they understood the problem they asked me to try changing the listing to a digital download and suggested I upload the PDF file to see if it was working. I did. Then they said they don’t see any problems on their end, yes this is a digital product, could I send them a screenshot of the listing I’m having problems with. *cue internal screaming*

We ended up getting cut off when I accidentally closed my chat browser to try and take a screenshot of the sale and since I had absolutely no idea how I even got in contact with them in the first place that was pretty much the end of it.

I emailed the customer directly and sent them their PDF. Then I realized I hadn’t solved the shipping problem. I don’t have any tracking information (which you can only get when you purchase a tracking label through Etsy). If I don’t add tracking information I will lose my star seller status. I tried refunding the item that was a problem (I figured I’d rather take the $5 cut and give them a free pattern versus lose my star status which allows me to be seen in searches).

Turns out, refunding that item did not remove the required shipping stuff. So, now I’m out $5 and I’m going to lose my star seller status. At least my customer didn’t seem upset that only part of her order was received on Etsy and part was emailed to her. Plus, she got a $5 discount.

Etsy would not be a “star seller” in my books.

Fees Problem

I am going to compare fees on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/ca/legal/fees/) to fees on Ravelry (https://www.ravelry.com/groups/ravelry-shopkeepers) because those are the two main places I sell my patterns. PayPal also has fees (https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/ua/legalhub-full) that affect my business.

Take note, my numbers are affected by my volume of sales and my Canadian home base (online fees can be higher or lower depending on where you live). A lot of the fees are listed in USD on the official pages and our current exchange rate is 1 CAD = 0.79 USD (which means I pay $0.25 CAD for a $0.20 USD fee).

In my first year of selling patterns I was extremely surprised to learn (while doing up my taxes and final numbers, etc) that Etsy was taking 50% of my sales. Ravelry took 7%; Ravelry’s number was slightly higher than the 3.5% they advertise because I chose to try out some paid advertising on there. Since Etsy forces you into paying for advertising I figured it was fair to include fees and advertising in both numbers. PayPal fees added up to another 8%.

This year 86% of my sales came from Ravelry. Only 12% of my sales were on Etsy. I introduced a few patterns as direct purchases on my website and posted a handful to LoveCrafts and that accounts for the other 2% of my sales this year.

This year, Etsy has only taken 29% and Ravelry took 5%. My PayPal fees (which get charged on Ravelry purchases and direct purchases) amounted to 6% of my total sales volume in those two places.

General breakdown of fees:

Ravelry: No fees if you sell less than $30 USD / month. Transaction fee of 3.5% for the first $1500 USD in sales each month. If you reach $1500 USD (about $1890 CAD) then you only pay 3% on any additional sales that come from the EU. PayPal is the only payment option; PayPal charges 2.9% + $0.30 CAD per transaction.

Esty: listing fee ($0.20 USD / $0.25 CAD), processing fee (3% + $0.25 CAD), transaction fee (6.5%), off-site ads* (15%)

Examples

Selling one $10.50 CAD item on Ravelry:

  • no cost to list the item
  • customer pays $10.50
  • that gets deposited to PayPal where they take 2.9% + $0.30 (total of $0.69), leaving me with $9.81
  • at the end of the month, assuming I’ve sold more than $30 USD and less than $1500 USD, Ravelry charges me 3.5% ($0.37), so I’ve made $9.44 CAD

Selling one $10.50 CAD item on Etsy:

  • list the item for $0.25 CAD
  • customer pays $10.50
  • processing fee: 3% + $0.25 ($0.57)
  • transaction fee: 6.5% ($0.68)
  • Etsy off-site ads*: 15% ($1.58)
  • Leaving me with $7.42 CAD

*Etsy off-site ads are non-optional if you made more than $10,000 USD in the last 365 days (calculated monthly). When they introduced this “feature” I had no idea it was coming, did not know I could opt-out, and even when I learned I could opt-out it was very difficult for me to find that switch. You get charged this fee if the customer has clicked on an ad in the last 30 days.

Etsy on-site ads are non-optional; minimum charge is $1 per day, you may choose to increase that number. I have chosen the minimum, so I pay $30/month for advertising. I have chosen to use ads on Ravelry as well, at a fee of $5 per month.

But wait, there’s more!

Selling ten $1 items on Ravelry to one customer results in the same fees as if I sold just one $10 item (like the example above). On Etsy, it is much better for me to sell higher-priced items.

  • list each item for $0.25 CAD (10 x 0.25 = 2.50)
  • customer pays $10
  • processing fee: 3% + $0.25 ($0.55)
  • transaction fee: 6.5% ($0.65)
  • Etsy off-site ads*: 15% ($1.50)
  • Leaving me with $4.80 CAD

Other issues with Etsy include the inability to download your digital product using their app (you must use a browser) which results in shop sellers getting angry customers and we continually have to be Etsy’s tech support and explain to customers how to get their product.

There is also no ability to update a digital product like Ravelry has.

Etsy also limits how many files you can add to one listing and does not have the same bundle-sale abilities like Ravelry has (which is why many of my cool sales are on Ravelry only).

It does leave a sour taste in your mouth when Etsy declares, “we’ve made record profits so we are going to increase the fees to sellers!” and then claims it is because they offer the sellers so much value when clearly many, many sellers disagree.

My Conclusion

After my big complaint, and my fees breakdown, you may be wondering why I haven’t put my shop on holiday-mode like the other sellers who are part of the #etsystrike movement? Well, I’m not on strike.

I fully support those who are choosing to go on strike. They are doing what they think is best and they are putting their business at risk to do so (going on “holiday-mode” affects your shop’s ability to show in the listings for months afterwards! Another thing that I think is pretty unfair).

I have not chosen holiday mode because as much as I dislike the fees Etsy is taking from me and other sellers, ultimately I have received enough feedback from customers that say they want more than just a Ravelry purchase option. I don’t have the time/resources to set up my own shop on my website just yet so Etsy is that option for my customers. My issues with Etsy affect my business income but, in my opinion, that should not affect how my customers are able to interact with me.

Personally, my family relies heavily on my income and I am not willing to risk the income I do get from Etsy. I have raised my prices there (which felt horrible) and I promote my Ravelry store more than my Etsy shop. Someday I will probably set up my website for direct sales but for now I’m going to let things continue as they are.

Share this content: