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02 September 2014

5 ways Etsy has changed the small business landscape

This week I went to the RSA to find out more about Benedict Dellot’s research document about how Etsy and online craft marketplaces are changing the nature of business.

In case you don’t know, Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade goods and vintage items. Its strength is that it gives designers a cheap, quick and respectable store front for their goods, and shares them with a global audience. To give you an idea, in 2013, Etsy sellers sold nearly 1.35 billion dollars of goods and it has 36 million members in total. We’ve been in talks with the Etsy team recently about how we can work together.

So what came out of the report?  Here are the top five findings that grabbed my attention. 

1. Women are leading the way
I knew it would be high, but a whopping 90% of Etsy sellers are female. While the average self-employed person is male, middle-aged and relatively asset-rich, the typical person selling on Etsy is female, young and without significant amounts of capital to their name.

2. Low risk and low start-up costs
Starting an Etsy shop requires little financial outlay. 47% of sellers said they were able to rely on their own savings to get the business off the ground and 40% required no funding whatsoever.

3. Part-time business: the new 5-9ers
The Etsy model is very flexible; you can run your own Etsy shop and work in full-time employment (hence the new 5-9ers), or be a stay-at-home mum. Half of Etsy shop owners spend less than 10 hours a week on their Shop and more than a fifth have a full-time day job in addition to their Etsy venture. 

4. Boosting your household income
For the majority of sellers who work part-time on Etsy, their shops make a modest but meaningful contribution to their earnings. More than half have shops that add upwards of 5% to family income, which equates to £1,150 a year for the typical household.

5. It’s as much about the creative process and camaraderie as the cash
Etsy shop owners derive equal (if not greater) satisfaction from the very act of selling. A number of participants spoke of a feeling of ‘validation’ whenever they sold an item and how their shops gave them a sense of purpose that was absent in their day job.

Obviously to a large extent the shop sellers are competing with each other. However, what surprised me was that 47% said that they recommend the products of other sellers to their buyers, while 37% said they will source materials and supplies from other shops on the site. 37% say that emotional support from other sellers is important to them.

You can find out more about selling with Etsy through their Seller Handbook and Etsy School. You can also apply for opportunities to showcase your work, like their art exhibition for London Art Month. Etsy is offering British Library users an introductory offer of 20 free listings for all new Etsy shops. Enter the code: BRITISHLIBRARYFREEat www.etsy.com/promotion.

 

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