Interesting article. Seems like this could have come out years ago, though- there have been viewpoints like this for a looooong time. My personal thoughts after the break- I’ve had an Etsy shop since 2005- one of the first 10, 000 users, I think. I certainly have not been able to support myself on it- but never expected to.
I’ve had some issues with Etsy in the past, mainly regarding the lack of communication with support and the fact that they’ve lost sight of who their customers really are- the sellers, not the people who buy stuff. The sellers are the only ones who send any fees their way- we pay for listing, for renewing, and when we sell something- the buyers (those of them who are not also sellers) don’t have any Etsy-related fees that I’m aware of. Still, the sellers are the ones who get left out in the cold- it’s impossible to find our items with non-functioning searches, we get pushed aside by resellers and by the lucky few favorite sellers.
Also intriguing is the muting- I remember reading about “the Etsy Five”, a group of sellers who were muted- and have heard of other sellers who’ve been muted for no other reason than some admin decided they didn’t like them or what they had to say. The basis of any good site is feedback- we’re giving it to you, and you mute us, ignore our pleas, and still expect us to stick around and constantly feed you 20 cent renewals just to keep our items in the top spots.
It’s been few and far between for my Etsy sales, but I admit I have not been keeping my shop updated. I never renew items just to have them show up on the front page again. I renew when things expire, and I’ve been lax about putting up my new items. I mainly use my Etsy shop as a way to sell online to those people I meet in person, at shows and exhibits, or who might not make up their mind at a show- “you can get it online, later, if it’s still available.” The listing and selling fees seem pretty reasonable, as far as commissions go. It’s been a perfect way for me to have an online store without having to set up my own- and using it just as that, it’s been great.
If you’re thinking of opening a shop, just keep all this in mind- I would recommend using it as a store, linking to it from your site, and telling people about your personal site (not necessarily Etsy as a whole.) Promote yourself, and use the store as a your way in to internet selling! Don’t expect people to find you as soon as you open up shop- millions of items are posted, reposted and reposted- you’ll be buried instantly. But if you do decide to start a shop, best of luck!