How Etsy Gambles with Your Livelihood: 5 Ways to Protect Yourself

As an Etsy seller, I know you’ve put a lot of work, pride and creative energy into the shop you’ve built. We may not always like their policies or changes, but they are a business first and foremost, and they operate like one. Make sure you do the same! Here are a couple of potential dangers to remember when selling on the Etsy marketplace, and five ways to protect yourself.

How Etsy Gambles | marketyourcreativity.com

Etsy can close your shop at anytime, without warning.

My Etsy shop (Energy Shop Jewelry) has generated a second income for my family since 2010, and I’ve always been careful to honor Etsy’s terms of use (though I’m admittedly no expert). In 2012, my shop was suspended without warning.

This is how it happened: About one week before my shop was deactivated, Etsy’s integrity department sent me a questionnaire which included 3 parts and about 15 questions. The person who wrote it thanked me for my time and for being part of the community. The email went on to explain that they had reason to believe I wasn’t complying with their rules. It was made clear that I needed to defend myself, but they did not state any specific accusations.

At the Energy Shop, my jewelry is handmade by me in my home, and at the time, I had one person working for the shop who did my shipping and handling from their home. I thought I was complying with all of the rules on Etsy, so I was very confident in filling out and returning the integrity report. They required receipts for my supplies, pictures of my workspace, and photos of myself and the person who works with me. I had the entire questionnaire filled out and returned practically upon receipt. The day after I returned the investigative report, I received a reply that thanked me for my response. Case closed, or so I thought.

One week later and without notice, Etsy deactivated the Energy Shop. The email stated:

“Unfortunately, your shop does not appear to qualify for the Etsy marketplace. We are a venue for independent artists to sell their own handmade goods as well as Vintage items and Craft Supplies.

As your items do not appear to meet the criteria to sell on Etsy, your shop has been deactivated.”

And that was that. I’m not going to lie, I actually wept. I had invested two years of dedicated work and tens of thousands of dollars. All of that vanished in an instant, and my site was replaced with this message on Etsy.com:

Uh oh! A stitch has gone awry.

I replied to the suspension email as calmly as I could, begging for them to tell me what had happened. I still had no idea what I had done wrong! I frantically started searching for a phone number that I could call; I wanted to square things away as fast as possible. I found a corporate listing for Etsy’s Brooklyn office through an internet search, but it went straight to voicemail stating that they don’t respond to phone calls.

Stunned, I was forced to sit down, wait for their reply, and let sink in what had happened. To be honest, I felt betrayed! Not only had I built this successful shop on Etsy, I had brought hundreds of customers to the community. I’ve paid thousands of dollars in fees. I have ruthlessly promoted the site and the promise of success to its sellers on my blog. And with a single click of the mouse, they erased me.

Etsy gambles | www.marketyourcreativity.com

 

Through an excruciatingly vague back-and-forth, I was able to get my shop reinstated after about 24 hours downtime. It was a wake-up call for me. I thought I owned my small business, but by having my only presence on Etsy, it turns out that I don’t. Etsy owns the shops they host, and they reserve the right to manage them however they choose.

Here’s how to protect yourself:

Buy your own domain name. I can’t control what Etsy does with my shop, but I can control the traffic I send there. I own the domain name energyshopjewelry.com and that’s what I print on my Instagram images, business cards and other promotional materials. It’s the link I’ve left  in all of my articles and newsletters for the last few years, so I ensure my traffic moves with me.

If you’re using a .etsy address, go buy your own url right now. If you ever move your business, your customers will still be able to find you (versus the dreaded “uh oh! A stitch has gone awry” message).

Keep a copy of your testimonials. If you were to move from Etsy right now, how much credibility would you lose? When my site was down, I had nothing to prove that I have repeatedly exceeded the expectations of thousands of customers. In fact, I had very little to prove my business even existed! You have worked hard to build your business’ brand, so be sure to keep a hard copy of your testimonials on backup.

Backup your photographs. I have an external hard drive to keep my images and copywriting on file. That represents hundreds of hours of my time, and when my Etsy shop vanished, so did all of that hard work!

I still sell on Etsy, and I’m now running it by myself again from my US-based home. Etsy sent me an email just recently asking me to again explain my operation and list my employees. I quickly replied, explaining that I don’t have any employees (I haven’t hired any help since that first incident). Weeks went by, and I assumed they’d recorded my reply … until I received the same request from them as if I hadn’t replied at all.

That takes me to my next point,

Etsy can be careless with its seller’s fate.

Etsy is not only careless with its seller’s accounts, it’s also quite reckless at times.

Etsy shop gambles | marketyourcreativity.comWhen The New York Times interviewed Chad Dickerson on Etsy policies, he was candid in his response. He spoke in a tone I’m sure he would never use to address the Etsy community, and I found it quite difficult to digest.

When The New York Times asked Mr. Dickerson, “Do you see your employees as hackers?” He answered,

“Absolutely. The internals of the company really embody the hacker spirit. The empowerment of the company is really on the edges. For example, we have 100 engineers, and any single engineer can deploy code to the live site at any time. It happens about 30 times a day.”

To this Nick Bilton (the interviewer) replied,

“Wait, anyone can upload code? At anytime? Has this ever gone awry?”

Mr. Dickerson replied:

“Of course! We do blameless postmortems about it all the time– which is incredibly important. We believe that if you have a blameless process, you actually get to the root of the problem quicker and people don’t feel like they have to hide information. We don’t enjoy making mistakes, but we give an award to the person who makes the most spectacle mistake.”

How free they are with the website that hosts part of my family’s livelihood. Funny, Mr. Dickerson has never mentioned this (and with such a humorous spirit to boot!) in the Etsy forums.

Here’s How to Protect Yourself:

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about Etsy’s business policies except to remember that Etsy is a business, and they’re looking out for number one. 

I consider Etsy a starter home for a budding creative business, and I suggest you do too. It’s not the end-all, be-all of selling online, and it’s a common disillusion that your business will take off the minute you open shop on Etsy. For me, it’s been like a gateway drug to the world of creative entrepreneurship. It’s a brand- and reputation-builder. It’s made as a place for creatives to build, but it’s very possible to outgrow its 26-pages of rules that are ever-evolving, but limiting (and sometimes vague) all the same.

With Etsy now allowing manufactured products, it’s only getting more and more difficult to navigate the crowded website. Going forward you’ll want to:

Build your own network. I’m a big believer in industry networks and what they’re going to mean for our future. Etsy is still somewhat of a gatekeeper in a new era that doesn’t need gatekeepers! Never let them be an excuse as to what’s holding your business back. Work around them by combining your efforts with other talented leaders in your field.

Next year, that’s my business’ focus and I strongly suggest you consider teaming up with others as well. My motto is: combine your individual lights to become a beacon for success and shine brighter than ever before.

Focus your marketing efforts on what’s working. It’s not Etsy ads or search, I can tell you that. For 2015, look to visual platforms, such as Pinterest and Instagram. It’s where makers are finding the most success right now.

With those warnings in mind, I wish you the best of luck in wherever your creative endeavors take you,

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71 comments

  • You answered some big questions I have been having about Etsy. Thank you for confirming what my gut has been screaming. Etsy has failed many artists and creative individuals for over a year now. My web site is much more active and I have made a considerable amount more on my site. My etsy shop was something I could rely on to back up my site. Now I waste time there and the fees eat up any profit. I hope you elaborate more to your followers about setting up there own sites. Weebly is fabulous. You always have great insight. Thank you!

    • Thanks, Laurie! Weebly sounds great, and I also love working on Squarespace. I’d be happy to generate a list of the alternatives to Etsy for those who choose to avoid it altogether.

        • Hi Laurie, I would love to have your alternative listing to Etsy. I was getting ready to list on Etsy, but I my be changing my mind. It has been looking pretty junky from what I have seen.
          Thank you for the great article. Looking forward to your emails.

      • This article was great, Lisa! Thanks for sharing your experiences and perspective. One of my goals for 2015 is to start building my email list and take personal control of my biz. I eventually want to establish my own e-commerce website in addition to Etsy, and I’d love to hear more about your thoughts on Squarespace!

        • Thanks, Anna~ the email list is definitely the way to go! I’m putting together a whole package on email list building here soon. Hopefully it will help! Thanks for your comment.

  • Laurie, I have been talking about this for a long time with fellow Etsy Team members. I’m the opposite of most; my website is about five years OLDER than Etsy and it has always been my main venue. To be honest I stay at Etsy for the social aspect. My shop has been open since 2007 and I have just over 100 sales there. I can sell that much in a busy month on my site.

    Most Etsy sellers I know will NEVER open their own sites up. They think its “too hard”. I’m very involved with my Teams and know this for a fact. It IS unfortunate, because not trying REALLY makes it hard to succeed.

    Your advice is spot – on. Good luck convincing anyone to take the first step. I have tried over and over.

    WAKE UP! This is the best advice an Etsy seller can get. The answer isn’t a bigger basket. The answer is a second basket.

    • Hey Bob,
      I think the best anyone can do is share their wisdom and if someone connects with that thought and acts upon it helping them in this maze of creative venues then I say it well done. I agree you can never get any further with anything you are doing unless you try. You might fall down and get dirty but so what. Get up dust yourself off and try again. No one says you fall down now lay there right?

      And Lisa thanks for the connection to the free seminar…signed up.

  • Thank you so much for the article Lisa! I am dumbfounded that the CEO could be so cavalier about the fact that they are toying around with people’s livelihoods…it is depressing to say the least. I do have my own domain but don’t have my items up, but now I know it’s important to get going on that. And thanks so much for the tip about saving my feedback…hadn’t even occurred to me. Again, THANK YOU.

    • Hello, Annette! I found his cavalier shocking (and quite frankly, insulting) as well. Again, I know he’d never address the Etsy community in such a manner … did he assume Etsy sellers wouldn’t see it because of the publication? And what’s that say about they way Etsy CEOs really feel about the average seller?

      If I were to read between the lines, I’d say they don’t take us for very savvy business people. Thank you for adding!

      • Most coders have a sense of humor when it comes to uploading changes to live. They have to! Coding large sites is a work of art and you never know if some little tweak is going to interfere with something else on the website. Most large websites have more bugs/issues than people realize.

        Perhaps that wsn’t the best venue to express that opinion, but it reflect a healthy attitude to coding. 🙂

  • Thanks, Lisa! Informative article!

    I’ve had my own website since I first heard your story several years ago. I love having a “home” to go to. IndieMade is my website builder, and they have a plug-in for my Etsy shop so shoppers can view those selections if they choose. Since I’ve built such a following on Etsy, that’s where I’ll stay for now. My pendants and the customization I offer seem to fit in with Etsy (again ~ for now).

    However, I wouldn’t hesitate to leave Etsy if the s*@t hits the fan.

    I’m worried that visitors on Etsy are beginning to think of me not as an artist, entrepreneur, small business owner but as a hobbist OR part of a big manufacturer. The definitions of those seems to be blurring on Etsy. I’m not sure that visitors to Etsy shops can really tell the difference. At least 4 customers during this season’s craft and holiday shows mentioned that they do not shop on Etsy and will never shop on Etsy. They were very definite ! Now, I wish I had pressed further to find out why.

    I totally agree with you that expanding your networking is the way to go. And I love meeting others! They always add something special to my life! I’ve also taken your prior advice to me to heart ~ to expand my different avenues of revenue. I’m looking to add more to that in 2015.

    Laurie ~ I love your website! So beautiful!

    • I love your add here, Pam, and I too would LOVE to hear why those customers refuse to shop Etsy. That would be useful information to us all!

      Etsy has become like Ebay in that your customers are more likely to say, “I got this from Etsy” than “I got this from WiReD Boutique.” I think that comes with the territory now, but that’s what site hosts do for us. When I learn a new recipe from a pin, I don’t name the blog where I found it, I tell everyone, “I got it on Pinterest!” Simply because people know what that means.

      The real challenge for our future is going to be to distinguish ourselves as MORE than that to our customers -OR- let go of our attachment to “brand recognition” so that we can rise as a movement rather than as individual makers. It’s going to be very interesting to see how this evolves!

  • I’ve had my Etsy shop for almost five years and I never even thought about the loss of my pages and pages of good feedback :/

    Downloaded and saved now!

  • I got my start on Etsy and this summer bought my own domain and created a WordPress website. I am shocked at how easily he stated his employees can be hackers and doesn’t appear to be that concerned. Wow! Really makes you think about the “behind the scenes” of big business. Thanks for the insight!

  • The longer I am on Etsy the less I like it. The biggest issue I have right now is all the stuff that is made in China and is being sold as handmade. I guess I really need to put more time into my ZIbbet and Artfire shops and point my traffic in that direction. Thanks for the wake up call! I will be sharing this on Twitter with my followers several times this coming week.

  • Wow! His attitude and lack of care for the shop owners is truly disturbing. Unfortunately you’re not the first person I’ve heard the story of the sudden, unexplained shop closing from. I was surprised and disappointed when I first started hearing about them, but decided etsy wouldn’t be my only source of customers. For the most part I only sell my patterns and not finished product, so I made sure I had multiple sites that sell my patterns. I also have a domain and will be getting all my patterns listed there in 2015.

    • Hi Kristine, selling digital is a dream in comparison to physical products and the inventory! It’s nice that you’re established on several sites with your patterns; good for business. Thanks for adding!

  • Hey Lisa, Your article was great! I wish I had time to read all the conversations back and forth and get everyone else feedback. I feel like this opens the door for a lot of opportunity for growth because it forces us as entrepreneurs to start working together to create the natural networks that can’t be taken away with any one site. I’m going to follow you further and pass your information on to my audience as well. Will be starting a brand new blog and a few things involving etsy this year so this advice is great to keep in mind.

    Would love to chat with you further sometime. Have a wonderful holiday!
    Dani

  • This seems to be so “today”. It’s a pitiful statement of what morals and values have become for so many. I do have a website and it has been up for a little over a year. I’m just building my Etsy site. To be truthful I haven’t gotten much traffic to my website or purchases. The only purchase that was bought from my site actually came from Facebook. It’s disappointing to say the least. Unfortunately I’m inexperienced in selling on line and not sure what to do to get things moving. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Hi Debbie,
      Thanks for sharing your experience. The email list is the #1 asset in marketing, so to get a shop off the ground, it should always be the first priority. That shift in perspective – from sales to list-building- really helped me in the beginning. You can search my blog with the term, “build an email list” for a ton of articles and advice to get you started. Best of luck to you!

  • Thanks for your insight’s Lisa. I’m super excited about 2015, because I’ve committed to getting a full fledged e-commerce site of my very own. I’ve done well on Etsy, but for still unknown reasons, in October and November my sales were cut in half quite suddenly. I realized that I don’t have much control over what is going on there, and it motivated me to put some of my goals on the path to action.

    I am a little nervous, Etsy brings a lot of built in traffic. I know I’m going to have to learn a new skill set to drive those kinds of numbers to my own tiny corner of the web. But I’ve seen it done – an Etsy seller that I admired when I first started 4 years ago, has built her own website and is no longer even selling on Etsy. She’s doing great! I’m ready to move onward too!

    • I love your add, Amie. Thanks very much for sharing your experience and new direction. I’ve heard a lot of people share the same frustrations about changes Etsy’s made this year.

      I also think it’s possible to keep shop in two places. I know someone (Pam – in the comments above) who loves Indiemade because it has an Etsy importer and can track inventory in both places. Regardless, using Etsy as a tool – as Danielle Spurge so eloquently stated in her post here: http://www.merriweathercouncilblog.com/2014/12/on-etsy-the-2014-experience-part-2/ is a much better approach than relying on it for traffic.

      I appreciate your comment, and thanks again for adding!

  • Lisa,

    I can’t thank you enough for posting this article. I has been a love hate realtionship with wanting to start an Etsy account. I have but have not promoted it. I have focused my energies on my own website, Instagram and Pinterest. Working on now building a strong email base. Once, they started allowing manufactoring to come into play, I lost a lot of respect for them. I know it’s all about business, but like one of my mentors in business used to tell me “take care of your customers and the money will take care of it’s self” I think they have done a huge diservice to their customers. Thanks for posting this!!

    Merry Christmas,
    Julie

    • Julie, thank you! I’m going to be talking a lot about how Instagram and Pinterest are changing the game for creative business owners in 2015 – and your approach is a perfect example.

      Before these visual platforms were such a part of our online marketing, we had to try really hard to BE SEEN. You could use Facebook or Twitter, but it was a one-off post and what you desperately needed was for people to click back to your storefront to check everything out.

      Now, all you need is them to follow a board (or Instagram profile), and you can display your whole collection at a casual pace. It’s where we should all be investing right now, because with our own Instagram – Pinterest following, we won’t need Etsy – or anyone else for that matter.

      Great add, thank you so much!

  • I was going to make 2015 my year to get my doll clothes on line. Up until now I have been selling them by word of mouth, email mailing list and I tried listing on an established web site.. This year I was going to start reading up on Etsy but after reading this article I really don’t want to be associated with an unfriendly business with tons of rules. What other sites are already established? I really don’t want to have my own web site at this time as I am not familiar with developing web sites. What do you recommend? I have saved your emails so I am going to go back and read each one again. Thank you.

    • Hi Betty,
      I’m going to put together a list of alternatives, and I have a few in mind, but I’d like to do more research before doling out advice. I also wouldn’t rule out Etsy entirely based on the sour experience of others.

      If you read between the lines of my story, the reason I was so devastated is because I trusted + loved Etsy with complete vulnerability … and obviously, that made me vulnerable to their whims. That was a bad business decision on my part; I entered the game naive to the rules.

      You’re doing your research, and that’s admirable. Etsy is a great tool, if you use it wisely! Thanks very much for your add here, and I wish you the best!

  • This has to be the best post I have read from you. I think it’s always a good idea to be set up with a shopping cart on your own. I have had a few issues with etsy this past year that were not so fun. They seem to no like the truth to be told to them and I got shushed for it. Sensor ship is out of hand, so the social aspect of Etsy has also changed.
    I have built my own website and work from that since about 2 years ago. I’m still building traffic and hope to really get it pumped up this year. I look forward to your next post and the ways to drive traffic to your own site. It’s a lot of work I know but the rewards are awesome as you are not hammered with the fee’s. 3.9% may not seem like a lot but it does add up when you are selling.
    I use Ecwid as a shopping cart and love it!!

    • Thanks, Lynda! It’s strange to say, because of course I don’t have direct evidence or proof, but I also feel like Etsy does not want feedback or honest feelings from their sellers.

      This year, they kept A/B testing my storefront, and it was awful. They removed all of my branding (that I paid to have designed, by the way) and moved around whatever they liked. I felt powerless as they created this hideous arrangement in my name. I stopped promotions because I didn’t want my customers to come in and see it!

      It was very much like owning a physical boutique and having someone come in, throw everything on the floor and rearrange in the most unattractive way possible.

      In what other business =the world over- would that be okay? Just give me one example! I feel like we’re meant to be seen as their collection and not heard as individuals, and when you look at it from a different perspective, it’s incredibly arrogant + disrespectful on their end.

      Oh, your comment has me fired up in a whole new way 🙂

  • Thank you for objectively sharing this very hurtful expirience. ( I passed it on through fb and Twitter)I so agree with you and do not placed all my eggs into the Etsy basket. I actually DO sell better from my website, though I am changing download providers and until all is worked out Etsy is my primary store at the moment. Also, my stats reveal that people sign up that day they buy my patterns with Etsy, which indicates to me that they would not be on Etsy otherwise. I wonder how many customers would NOT sign up with Etsy wanting to buy product?
    Thank you for the insight to back up pictures and files. Will do that right now.
    Though I appreciate Etsy and their outstanding help and knowledge about online sales, I do not feel comfortable in that marketplace setting because it actually IS like subcontracting. One is profiled at all times and more and more “weird” art pops up, who sell art such as mutilated dolls, cut off body parts, grotesque paintings and photographs. I found those when I searched for the placement of my baby doll pattern. No customer, who is looking for something nice and pleasant such as a babydoll, would want to have ads like that popup. And yes it is STILL paid ads for these things, even after I explained the situation. And the team for these people still exists, which leads me to believe my input has fallen on deaf Etsysears. Don’t need to look at it, but here is what I am talking abouthttps://www.etsy.com/people/cheryldelise75/teams?ref=pr_teams_more
    Thank you, Lisa, for taking a stand and I hope and pray your business will prosper because of your integrity.

    • Hi Beate, I love the way you put it in terms of subcontracting. – YES! That’s exactly what it really is: we sign a contract to perform the obligations of another’s contract. #Brilliant! Thank you.

  • It frightens me to read how easily & blithely Etsy will shut down actual handmade shops with no recourse for the sellers . And yet the thousands of Chinese shops selling mass produced goods continue to prosper on Etsy & never get shut down no matter how often they are reported to Etsy’s so called “handmade integrity team.” It’s baffling.

    • Thanks, Allie. It is indeed baffling + frustrating, and I think we’re all feeling trapped at the same time. The question’s becoming: what can we collectively do about it?

      Appreciate the comment.

    • My thought is that Etsy allows the Chinese, etc. sweatshops to stay because they are selling SOOOOO much product, and that contributes to Etsy’s bottom line. If Etsy really is planning to do an IPO this year, as many sellers expect, the bottom line will be extremely important. We can only hope that Etsy comes to its senses afterwards …

  • This sort of scares me about Etsy. I hope to grow a following on their and than transfer my shop to something like shopify or big cartel. I just need to grow my following enough to get out on my own. 🙂

  • I’m in the same boat at some others it seems. Out of the blue, Etsy emailed me and said they’ve kicked me out of Etsy. They took down all my listings, removed my ability from commenting on the Etsy forums too. No reason given, just said don’t come back. This was my first time on Etsy and I was finally getting sales and recognition of our handmade items.

    I wrote them several times for several days telling them to give me a reason or let me prove to them they are actual handmade items. They finally wrote saying I can give them detailed step by step’s of how I make my items along with a list of materials and tools used. I did so and again no response until I emailed them several more times. They said they now want my name & date on a peice of paper and take a photo of that with every step in my process of making my items.

    UGH! Why do this if I have no orders for these items? Is Etsy going to buy an item from me so I can make them it and take all the pics? lol

    • Shelley, I don’t know what you make, but is it so expensive and/or time-consuming that you can’t make ONE to document the process for Etsy? I’m surprised they didn’t tell you to put your name and the date on the first pics you submitted because, from what I hear, that is requested of everyone who needs to prove their work is really handmade.

  • Lisa, this is an incredible article and confirms a lot of what I’ve felt/worried about during my first year of owning a shop. Seriously, while reading I kept saying “Yes, exactly!” to myself 🙂 Feels good to know those farther along on the journey feel the same way.

    My big goal for 2015 is to launch my own website by the end of the year and growing my network is one of the points in my plan. Thank you so much for your insight and I will be sharing this with fellow shop owners!

  • You wrote: “Funny, Mr. Dickerson has never mentioned this (and with such a humorous spirit to boot!) in the Etsy forums.”

    When I commented on a similar quote from Mr. Dickerson regarding blameless post mortems and rewarding the most spectacular of them (including a link to the quote in Etsy’s Code as Craft blog ) in an Etsy forums post, my post was deleted! So this definitely seems to be something they’re trying to keep under wraps … while they carry on about “transparency” which we all know is b.s.

  • A very very very important piece of information is:

    “Collect your customers’ email addresses”

    Because if Etsy shuts down your shop for whatever reason, you still have a way to reach out to past customers and let them know about the move and keep them informed where and how you are going to operate moving forward.

    Great article!

  • Thanks Lisa for the great article! It was very enlightening ! I would really like to hear what you have to say about using Pinterest. I use as a file for so many things. I will be watching for your very informative article.

  • My etsy shop has done alright, but I have been told (through shop critiques, no less!) from other sellers that Etsy is no place for people like me who make entirely handmade art (my love is sculpting), and that I wouldn’t find many buyers charging what I should be charging on Etsy, which is chock full of Chinese factory items and “bead and stringers”.
    (I was told my prices were too low, and I agreed, the reason I asked to be critiqued by my peers about pricing)
    I was flattered to hear that my peers thought that much of my work, but confused about the next step, since I now had to shop around for a new online venue for my art. I am looking forward to your etsy alternative list, and I am happy to have found this site. The Etsy forums are so censored, this blog is a breath of fresh air. Thank you!

  • This post describes one of the reasons we (SigalfJewelry and her significant other) developed Backtsy (www.backtsy.com).
    Backtsy is an automatic backup service for Etsy shops. so you will always have access to recent versions of your shop
    You can read a few additional reasons why we think backing up your Etsy shop is a must: http://bit.ly/192U6Ya

  • Good information! I was on etsy for a few years and at first it was fairly easy to get moderate traffic, but as they changed things it was hard to keep up. I have a full time job, so it wasn’t an option to devote a super ton of time to the website. I still technically have a presence there, but I’ve moved on to other venues.

  • Wow! Thank you so much for this article. I have read and reread this article.

    As a newer seller there is so much to learn. This morning I registered my domain name and will be working towards the other suggestions you have in the days to come. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  • GREAT information!!!

    Question though about Squarespace: they use stripe as a processor for payments and I’ve heard some not so great things about them (stripe). I have a store on Storenvy and many of the ladies on my facebook page complain about customers ordering merchandise and then filing a claim of fraudulent purchase with Stipe.
    Stripe in turn takes the customers side and the store is out of money and product. Have you heard anything or experienced this before?

    • I have used Stripe + absolutely loved the experience. The same types of refund scams happen on Paypal – it’s rare, but it happens, and I don’t really have a payment processor to recommend that doesn’t offer buyer protection (though I know it does get taken advantage of from time to time).

  • Thank you so much for this informative article! My daughter recently left Etsy & opened her own website, and I am getting ready to do the same. We are both so disappointed that Etsy now allows so much junk on there. When I started seeing porn, I guess they call it ‘mature content’, I decided I didn’t want my business associated with it! After reading this article I have escalated the process of moving to my website. I just hope I can get my customers to come with me & I can find a way to drive traffic there. I am on Instagram & am working on a Pinterest page as well. *fingers crossed* this will work out for me!

  • Hi Lisa,
    I have been working in e-commerce for year for major retailers, and I never really thought about having my own site as back up for Etsy. Thanks for providing us with this useful information! I hope your shop continues to thrive. 🙂

  • Hi Lisa,

    I found your planner by accident on Amazon and I have been thinking about alternate means of income since I am trying to be a full time actor. While waiting for gigs? I want to use my other artistic talent to sell artwork. I didn’t realize your planner was for small business only that what you wrote on your front cover caught my eye. I can’t wait to learn more.

  • Lisa,

    I started my Etsy shop in July, 2015. Etsy shut it down the week of Black Friday.

    Reason? They had proof that we were the same as another company, which they shut down for lack of delivery of products. After numerous phone calls and emails, I thought I had proved to them that we were not connected or associated with this other ‘bad’ company.

    They reopened my shop for about one week and suspended it again. This is during the Christmas rush! Paid a lot of money for promotions, sales, etc, and I was shut down.

    Reason: They had “proof” that we were the same company as the ‘bad’ company. Asked what proof they had, but they wouldn’t tell me. Was VERY arrogant telling me that they made up their minds, and that was it. They would not change their minds, and for me to go away. They didn’t want to discuss it further.

    I had 100% positive feedback, 5 stars, glowing reviews, etc.

    I filed a complaint with the NY BBB and the NY State Attorney General. I offered proof that I was a completely separate company, complete with business license. Didn’t matter to Etsy!

    Found many other examples that made me realize that I didn’t want to do business with a company that treats people like that. Their stock has been falling rapidly since they went public. Gee, I wonder why? They clearly don’t know how to run a business.

    http://www.ecommercebytes.com/C/blog/blog.pl?/pl/2013/4/1366895179.html
    https://www.yahoo.com/makers/exclusiveetsys-richest-seller-explains-why-127615604095.html
    https://itsaboutprinciple.wordpress.com/
    http://etsy.pissedconsumer.com/
    http://investorplace.com/2015/05/etsy-stock/#.Vo9_YuKVvrE

    Fed up. I left and opened a new store on Storenvy 2 weeks ago. Haven’t had any sales yet, but have read a lot of good things about Storenvy.

  • These are some scary truths that as an Etsy Shop owner we must keep in mind. It’s sad that I’m saying “Etsy Shop Owner” and I don’t even feel as such! This year I took a large step for my business I purchased a domain and I’m slowly trying to send my traffic towards my blog & plan on adding a shopping platform such as a Storenvy, just because I’m afraid of something like that happening to me. Plus I’m just done of the etsy.com after my shop name!

    Thank you for this great but scary reminder !

    Kenia
    http://www.diligentclusters.com

  • Wow. I’ve had my shop on Etsy for 6+ years. I do love it mostly because it’s a super great way to get your feet wet, but your article has got me thinking – especially the part of having more than one avenue for shoppers. If Etsy decided to close my shop (which they have threatened to do, also, without explanation until I tearfully demanded one via email) I would be *screwed*.

    Thank you for the eye-opener! Onto building a shop page on my blog! New project! 😉

  • So true Lisa, As much as I love ETSY I also see at as a gateway drug )))) It’s incredibly simple to start, develop brand and grow there and the main reason is traffic and audience that is already there. But you need, no, you MUST start thinking outside ETSY as soon as you start growing a bit,
    What bothers me though, ETSY have so many “counterfeit” stores that do not comply with their rules and it’s still honest makers who I see getting in trouble with shop suspensions and such.

  • Wow — thanks for this, definitely have opened my eyes as well. On such a big website, you assume you have some kind of anonymity and freedom as a creator and seller (especially, as some said, when a ton of shops are blatantly violating the rules). But it’s pretty clear that this feeling is a bit of a hoax after your story. I’ve started an external website for my products but I do draw a lot of traffic from Etsy. Lately, I’ve been using some tools like Best Auto Renew to maintain my shop while I’m creating. It’s saving me a ton of time. Technically, I’d still be an individual creator in that case but am using an automation tool to maintain things. Still, even participating in forums and discussions to talk about Etsy marketing strategies and so on makes me nervous!

  • What a great article! Thanks for this. It is true etsy shuts down shops whimsically. I was a seller with etsy with two steady shops. One day I find both my shops suspended. In reply to my repeated mails, I got an automate reply that my shops did not meet their criteria! They were fine since last one and half years. I never got any further correspondence nor did I get a refund of my listing fees. I now sell with itshandicraft.com which is a relatively new platform. But I am very happy here and would recommend it to everyone.

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