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Is there a Level Playing Field at Etsy?

Update:  (9/8/2015) ThreeBirdNest is no longer on Etsy.

I sell Lore Bits Game tokens on Etsy as well as few other different places.  They sell pretty well for hand crafted game tokens.  However, I’d like to talk about Etsy for a bit.

The plain fact is that I’ve sold seven packages of Lore Bits on Etsy.  Pretty dismal outcome over six months.  I’ve sold like 10 spreadsheets for rental expenses and a few other things.  My day job is doing FP&A work for small companies, so I list generic versions of what I create.

I frequent the forums when I get frustrated with the seller experience on Etsy.  I’ve found that I’m not the only person who is frustrated by Etsy.  Here are some of the issues that I and other people have noticed on their selling platform.


Go through the searching list and I see a lot of resellers and sellers of licensed characters.  There are massive quantities of Disney, Power Rangers and other characters products available for sale.

The vintage resellers have always been part of Etsy, so no problem.  They go to garage sales buy vintage items and resell them like ebay used to.  The licensed characters on the vintage goods are okay, because you have freedom of use if you are reselling an item that you bought.

However, type in “disney” and this is what you get. Hundreds of thousands of Disney products.  Even the main section examples seem to be violating Disney licensing agreements.  Original art that featured Disney Name, Art, and names.  Maybe they have that properly licensed.  Maybe not, I’m not an attorney.

Disney Etsy

This is very frustrating when I’m competing on the same platform with my original game tokens.  With all that noise, how are they going to get found?

Obviously sourcing products from large factories.

First, let me say that factories are great at producing mass produced goods.  I’ve worked in a manufacturing company and well understand that we would not be able to ship with out them.  However, when shops have 10 variations on each of over 500 products listed; it doesn’t take a mental giant to figure out that this is no small workshop that is churning out hundreds of baby leg warmers each year.

Etsy has changed their sourcing policies so that an idea has to be conceived by a designer, but can be produced in an approved factory or some mumble jumble like that.

This allows them to have shops that literally close to a million dollars in sales each year on it.  Target would be happy with a product line that generated that much revenue.

What do you think the average shop owner makes each year?  Less than a $100 a year.

Talk about the haves and the have nots!  I love to knit, but there is absolutely no way that I can knit that many leg warmers.  Factories can always compete on price with crafters, that is the main benefit of mass production.

Public Company

What is going to take for Etsy to change?  It’s probably not going to change.  When a company goes public it makes revenue projections to go public and it is under a lot of pressure to meet those numbers with investors and wall street.

I used to do a fair amount of legwork for publicly traded companies; so I’m perfectly aware of how an investor call can go bad and then the stock is traded poorly after that.

Etsy went public this year, they are being sued by a special interest group about the licensing and so and so forth.  So I’m not the only one who is worked up about some of these issues.

I expect to see a trend of moving to brands and licensed companies selling and creating products on etsy.  After all, didn’t we see mainstream companies selling and promoting products on Ebay after it went public?


  • How can a handmade selling platform feature obvious mass produced objects?
  • Is there so much noise that a small maker can’t get featured on etsy?
  • Why do products that sell at a fairly good clip on other selling platforms do poorly on etsy?
  • What will it take to make a level playing field for everyone?
  • Depend less on SEO and keyword stuffing on products?
  • More curation by etsy staff?

I don’t know the answer those questions.  I do know a sure bang way to increase your etsy views.  Post a few comments in the forum sections.  That is just sad.

Manipulating the SEO on Etsy

There are etsy treasuries now that anyone can create.  Those are subject to manipulations by anyone who wants to take the time to create them.  Why else are there people with thousands of random likes.  You don’t even need to actually go the store to add them to the list.  Merely enter a search term and add things to the treasuries from there.

More blantent are the favs or hearts.  You know what I have to do to favorite my own stuff?  Log on to a different etsy account and favorite it.  Even from the same computer and IP address.  *headdesk*  What did etsy staff not know anything about ghost clicks?  What about the click farms of the 1990s?

After I do a few test clicks or favs the views on my products always increase.  Always.  The search engine is influenced by how many clicks a product gets.  The more clicks it gets, the higher it ranks.

Did I mention the clicks are easy to create?

Promoted Listings

Obviously, I found them to be a waste of money.


Why am I still listed there?  I’m not sure why I am.  Maybe because it’s a traditional place to list products?  Maybe I still hold out hope?  I don’t know.

I sure don’t think that Etsy is a platform for small workshops any more.