Why I Decided to Leave Etsy

As you probably know by now, Etsy made waves last week when they announced a plan to hike transaction fees from 3.5% to 5% this July. Like many makers, I was angry to read about this – I love Etsy and have used it for more than a year. In that time, I have believed in what the site stood for, appreciated the convenience of having a shop in a marketplace, and loved the way Etsy has elevated makers into a huge, formidable handmade economy. However, recently, my shop expenses have been piling up, to where I already feel like I am making just a hair more than I am paying Etsy in fees. The more I sell, the more unwieldy my bills have begun to feel. So when I learned those expenses would only continue to grow moving forward... Yeah. It's time to go.

The decision to leave was made with enormous help from makers much smarter and more on top of things than I. In particular, I loved this article by Hanna Lisa Haferkamp about how to figure out exactly how much it costs you to run your Etsy shop (hint: it's probably more than you realize). I was also encouraged by Hanna's blog post about why she made the decision to leave Etsy. The final push for me came from this excellent, information-packed call for Etsy sellers to strike in response to the fee hikes (and, bonus, it is replete with Rent references, which I love). This quote, in particular, struck me:

"The trouble with building a company on the backs of real people is that sudden or arbitrary changes or shifts in values can have serious consequences like whether mortgages and bills get paid, dinner gets made, or communities thrive. According to their own data and surveys Etsy sellers are primarily women. For many sellers their shop is secondary income but for others it is a sole source of income, sometimes employing the entire family as well as outside employees. Our community is full of success stories that Etsy is not responsible for, we are." (via Oh My Handmade)

I've seen more than a few people who believe makers are overreacting to the news that fees will be increasing. I understand that a 1.5% hike doesn't seem that large, but I think it's important to understand that percentage in terms of real dollars and real families. Say you make $2000 monthly through your shop (a fairly realistic estimate for a full-time maker). That 1.5% translates to a loss of $360 yearly. That's more than a few bills lost. For families who depend on that income, it makes a difference.

It's also important to think of this fee hike in terms of Etsy's expectations of their sellers. The fee hike is intended to accommodate increased business and marketing tools housed within Etsy itself. My understanding is that Etsy wants to market itself as a one-stop shop for everything involved in running a business – and as a seller, you have to pay for those services, regardless of whether you need them. The following quote from Abby Glassenberg basically sums up my feelings about those intentions and the condescension inherent in them:

"In my experience, Etsy sellers care very deeply about being business people. To imply that we are very happy to depend on Etsy for all of our business needs and that we don’t realize the vulnerability in that decision is condescension at its utmost. I can’t help but wonder if Etsy sellers were 87% male, rather than 87% female, whether he’d dare to belittle us the same way." (via While She Naps)

So, like many other makers, I have decided to leave Etsy for a few simple reasons:

It is too expensive. It is moving in a direction that feels exploitative rather than supportive of makers. I no longer feel that Etsy's business plan resonates with me and I do not want to support it.

And, to be perfectly honest, I'm moving away from Etsy in large part because I feel like I can. I am well aware that I am lucky in that regard: because of money, time, and audience many sellers are not in the position to start over with an independent site, which makes Etsy's new direction all the more frustrating.

If you are contemplating making a similar move, check out the articles linked above to help you weigh whether it's the right move for you. Also check out this blog post by Woods and Wool to help you compare the available ecommerce platforms and figure out which one would be most profitable for you. And finally, I would encourage pattern designers to look into selling their patterns on Ravelry, Craftsy, and LoveKnitting, all of which are very accessible and easy to sell on and none of which have the same level of fees that Etsy has.

What this means for Bundle

While I figure out the intricacies of ecommerce shipping (and also while I'm between apartments), physical items are going to remain on hiatus for the next month or so. Pins and progress keepers will become available in the shop again in early August. I apologize for any inconvenience, but I want to make sure that everything runs smoothly when I do reopen the shop. In the meantime, all of my patterns are available in my shop and on my Ravelry page.

Of course, moving away from the marketplace Etsy offers comes with risks, and I anticipate reduced sales in the coming months. The timing of this break is a little big rough, I'll be honest. So, if you felt compelled to share this website in any way (Pinterest, sharing blog posts, etc.), that would be hugely appreciated! I'm so appreciative of the handmade community and I can't wait to see what changes come with this move.

I'd love to hear from you guys. Are any of you planning to move away from Etsy? Have you already? What have your experiences been? Or, on the flip side – Are you going to stick with Etsy? What is going into that decision? Leave a comment below – I'd love to hear your thoughts!