This morning, I woke up to this post in my Google reader. I was extremely intrigued, so I went and read the entire article here. If you care at all about Etsy, I would suggest reading it. I agree with RifferRaff, that there are some interesting points brought up in the article, but am very upset with it’s inflammatory tone. I would like to share my thoughts on the article:
For buyers, it’s an easy way to purchase beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces. And for Etsy investors, who get a cut of every transaction, it’s a user-generated (read: low investment, potentially high revenue) business that still projects a green, anti-corporate image.
Why is Sara faulting the people behind Etsy for making money? Are they bad people for wanting to make money off of their brilliant idea? I understand that later she is trying to show that it is hard to make a real living on Etsy, and so maybe she is trying to set up that inequality, but I don’t think anyone should be penalized for being successful. Especially when I believe they have made so much of what I do possible for a very low price. There is no other venue where the startup investment is so low and the per transaction fee is so low. You may site BigCartel for their monthly fee and no add ons. But, you cannot deny the power that Etsy has in getting people to come to your shop. Everyone knows about it. It’s like having a shop in a mall. Pleople are already going to be there, you just have to get them to your store.
The article goes on to say that the percentage of men that hold shops on Etsy is less than the percentage of men who are nurses.
I think for many women the site holds out the hope of successfully combining meaningful work with motherhood in a way that more high-powered careers in the law, business, or sciences seldom allow. In other words, what Etsy is really peddling isn’t only handicrafts, but also the feminist promise that you can have a family and create hip arts and crafts from home during flexible, reasonable hours while still having a respectable, fulfilling, and remunerative career. The problem is that on Etsy, as in much of life, the promise is a fantasy. There’s little evidence that most sellers on the site make much money. This, I suspect, explains the absence of men. They are immune to the allure of this fantasy. They have evaluated the site on purely economic terms and found it wanting.
Sara goes on to say that it is nearly impossible to make a living on Etsy. This is the part that makes me the most angry with her. First of all, is there nothing more important than the almighty dollar? Have we not learned in the past few years that there are more important and fulfilling things to do with our time than make and spend money? I would be and am insulted to know that anyone thought I made stationery for the money. I make stationery because I love it and it brings me a joy that was missing in my life and I am willing to give up going shopping or to the movies to make this happen. My husband would also be insulted to hear that just because he is a man, he is a teacher for the money. He loves to work with and teach children and that is more important than the amount of money in his bank account.
There’s nothing wrong, of course, with women choosing to work part-time or for less than they could earn in other professions. But like those flyers you sometimes see tacked up on lampposts, or late-night television ads, Etsy actively fosters the delusion that any woman with pluck and ingenuity can earn a viable living without leaving her home. Etsy has a business model that’s akin to the lottery’s. It preys on the hopes and dreams of working moms and other women, while delivering genuine financial success to only the very, very few.
Secondly, where is her comparison between people that start businesses on Etsy and anywhere else? It is hard to start and maintain a successful business and it takes a certian person to make that work. I understand that she is saying that Etsy makes you believe that anyone can do it and that may be incorrect, but I have and will continue to recommend Etsy to anyone that asks for a couple of reasons. Because of the low start up investment, you can start your business or hobby on the side. But just like any other business, the more time you put towards it, the more it will flourish. Like I said before, Etsy has built in promotions. And lastly, the forums and the one on one customer interaction to are able to have provide the ability for relationships to form.
She also goes on to say that the competition within Etsy drives down prices of items, but that is merely a force of the economic system and I’m not exactly sure how she thinks that Etsy could make that any different.
In the end, I do think that Sara made some very valid points and said some truths about Etsy, but I do not think that anyone can sum up the Etsy community in an article. She tries to use statistics, but the most important part of Etsy are the people and try as they might, people are never just a statistic. Any thoughts?