Hi Crafties! I don't intend for this blog to rag on the mega platform, Etsy. Those are a dime-a-dozen and I don't want to stir up negativity. Instead, today I want to reflect on my experiences and the things that I've seen as of late. More importantly, I want to stress all the more that it is generally 1000 times better to support your favorite shops on their own websites where applicable. I'll touch more on that later on.
I loved your shop! Why'd you leave?!
Well friends, the craft business is not a stable one... at least not in my camp. After my pattern shop had been displaced so many times, I'd finally found a home on Etsy in June of 2018. I was a fledgling designer back then and had just determined that I was going to turn my crochet & knitting into my own gig.
I found that Etsy was the best place to start out and I gained a lot of experience in promoting over the years from my time there.
I didn't really start generating income until 2020 where I made about $136 before fees. I'm all game for slow growth so, I took it in stride and went into the next year with a bright outlook. In February, I finally scraped the capital together to launch this website that took me all of 4 years to build. It was a proud moment and I had high hopes being freshly monetized on my channel and steady growth. In my mind, that meant that I'd be able to translate all of my fans over to my website. I ran ads for my Etsy store simultaneously but by the end of the year, I ended up at nearly 20% under the poverty line when I did my taxes.
Every attempt at bolstering either platform seemed to be a bust and then came the straw that broke the camel's back. Last year was wildly stressful for many reasons, my mom passed, new responsibilities were laid at my feet, and to cap it all off I fell and busted up my face in September. After that, more than anything, I needed to bring in extra income as I began to discover I'd need nearly $5k to get a dental implant to fix the tooth in the front of my mouth. By the end of the year, I'd made $95 from Etsy and I was on the verge of tears when I did my taxes this year.
Ultimately, I decided that my website needed to be my main focus. After all the blood, sweat, and saving I did to launch it, I almost lost it this past January and that didn't sit right with me. So I closed shop and left an automated message to direct people this way.
To be honest, it's been a lot less stressful in a way because the way I saw it, I had nothing to lose by closing down my shop there. It was bittersweet, yes, but necessary in the long run. Now, things are still horrifyingly slow to be completely transparent. 😅 I've found myself pivoting like mad, trying to find a palatable way to change things for the better here. And through community polling and late night prayer sessions, I do believe I've come up with a few ideas that are TBA.
Well that sucks. People are never going to buy your designs now.
That, my Crafty friend, is an interesting view. Not going to lie, I though about it A LOT before I hit the button. Sure, I only made $95 in a year but at least I made that, right? And that is true. While I am grateful that I've had the chance to make anything at all over the last few years, is it so bad that as a microbusiness, that I expect to grow? I don't think that's unreasonable.
Shockingly, a lot of people do! And that was a revelation in itself. Basically when I put out Channel Chat 110 (which is still relevant, nothing has changed) in all sincerity, basically, I got the swell advice of ✨getting a job✨. I had to laugh in the moment because I do work a job while I'm in school and running Infiniti Crafting Co. There have been a few people to come through and
support the content though and for that, I am extremely grateful! Especially in a time where ends are hard to meet. I get it.
Somehow, being in touch with reality doesn't take away the burning questions. ' I've been at this for 5 years and can't consistently buy groceries or afford an emergency. Do I suck that bad?' ' Are my designs just that generic?' 'Do people just not take me seriously because I'm so nice on the internet?' I don't have a freaking clue to this day and in the storm of all this self doubt, I said "screw it" and determined I had nothing to lose.
If this is the bad part of the storm before the sun comes out, I'm going to take a huge risk and stop working for the exposure machine, so to speak. In my mind, I see my website thriving and brand recognition going through the roof, which are two things that would not happen if I remained in the shadow of Etsy. I see fellow small shops now that only run their business through Etsy for one reason or the other, and that's fine. Websites are expensive too. But I image its difficult to build branding in such a large marketplace.
What broke my heart the other day was logging onto IG to see that a fellow shop owner was forced to reopen her shop. Now don't get me wrong, if you've found success there, you're blessed. There's also nothing wrong with wanting to put more into yourself and unfortunately, this lady experienced what a lot of shop owners, YouTubers, and the like tend to. That is, her analytics and sales tanked
as soon as she determined that she would run her business independently from the platform. She seemed so conflicted and heartbroken and again, I understand.
A lot of times as the business owner, you get to a point where you believe you've build a strong community or following that will help to uplift you wherever you go. That is not always the case. In the end, there are consumers that are... for whatever reason, attached to a platform and will only buy from there, even if presented with a better way to be supportive. Even if it includes being given discounts (oh yes, I've tried that too).
The Moral Of The Story
I am not discontent with my decision to leave the platform. I've developed a little short form series to explain my 'why's' more in depth. I'll need to sift through them and get them punched out there in the future.
Ultimately, I wanted to put more effort into a platform that I built myself. One that won't withhold my funding or suddenly shut down my shop. I need a platform that doesn't demote my listings based on how often I post. And most of all, I need a platform that will allow me to build brand recognition and trust with a community, my community.
I believe that as fiber artists, we spend enough time feeding the machine by trying to keep pace with trends and algorithms. And in my life, that's just not sustainable. I like to design when I am inspired and list new products when I feel sure of them. Sadly, Etsy is no longer the place for that. I'm a small shop so I can't afford to offer free shipping all that often or discounts everytime the clock turns.
My goals are for the long term and as I continue to build Infiniti Crafting Co. I have to make moves that benefit that end. I don't see my own exodus as a net negative at all, and I wish anyone who continues to use the marketplace a many great successes.
Sure, I still use Etsy to find new makers to support but I'll always go to their individual websites if they have one. Now, instead of being robbed of fees left and right, I can devote whatever revenue to upkeeping this website and developing new content for all of you!
Thank you so much for supporting my creative dreams these last few years. And here's to hoping I'll be around for a many more.