What Is Etsy?

Buy and sell handmade goods via this service

A woman making jewellery sitting at a table

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Etsy is an online marketplace focused on unique or vintage products that are difficult to find anywhere else. Think hand crafted rather than factory built items. A place where small businesses can thrive, and individuals can find a special gift, Etsy is a website worth checking out. Providing you know how to use it. 

How Etsy Works

Etsy is a cross between eBay and a craft fair. Primarily craft goods, users can browse for everything from unique pieces of art, to clothing, jewelry, or even children's toys. Unlike other e-commerce websites, users can feel more connected to the sellers through the social networking features of Etsy. 

A screenshot of the Etsy website homepage

Etsy doesn't store or make the goods itself. Instead, it's a middle man, offering a place for you to buy items from individual sellers.

It's possible to learn about Etsy sellers through their profiles, as well as read reviews of their products. It's all part of making Etsy feel more communal and sociable than a typical online marketplace. 

Other than that, browsing or making a purchase is much like any other retail website. 

How to Join Etsy

When making a purchase, it's not essential to sign up to Etsy. It's possible to just add an item to your shopping basket and pay without signing up. This is ideal if you just want to make one purchase.

It's worth joining, though. By creating an account, you can add sellers to your Favorite Seller list, leave reviews for products, and message sellers privately for more information. 

If you want to sell products on Etsy, you need to set up an account and open an Etsy shop front.

What Can You Buy and Sell on Etsy?

Etsy divides up its products according to some key categories:

  • Jewelry & Accessories: Including necklaces, earrings, bracelets, as well as bags and purses. 
  • Clothing & Shoes: Such as dresses, t-shirts, tops, and jackets, as well as shoes. 
  • Home & Living: Items like cushions, vases, rugs, bedding, plus bath products, and pet supplies.
  • Wedding & Party: From party supplies to corsages, wedding decorations, and personalized gifts.
  • Toys & Entertainment: Toys of all sorts, plus gadgets, books, musical instruments, and other fun crafts. 
  • Art & Collectibles: Prints, photography, paintings, and other forms of artwork, as well as figurines. 
  • Craft Supplies & Tools: Anything used to make your own unique items or products. 
  • Vintage: Pre-owned items over 20 years in age. 

All items must be handmade, vintage, or a craft supply. Vintage items must be at least 20 years old to be eligible to be sold on Etsy. There are also restrictions on items that violate intellectual property policies, and reselling isn't allowed either.

Why Buy From Etsy?

Etsy shops are a fantastic place to find items you just don't see anywhere else. 

A screenshot of an Etsy product - a Guinea Pig in a box sticker set

If you're keen to express yourself through your unique possessions, Etsy is the website for you. It has tons of original merchandise that will make your home look different from anyone else's. It's also great for finding random bits and pieces you might not have realized you needed until now. 

If you want to buy a special present for a special someone, Etsy has greetings cards hand drawn by some talented artists, as well as plenty of gift ideas that are hard to find in malls or other retail outlets. 

Buying unique gifts sounds expensive, but oftentimes these products cost less than you'd expect.

Etsy is also great for finding vintage items without having to head to antique or craft fairs. If you like collecting memorabilia, it's a far more welcoming place to browse than eBay. 

Why Sell on Etsy?

Selling on Etsy is a great idea if you're keen to advertise your artistic products. An Etsy store takes minutes to sign up for and is a great way to show off your wares to the world, rather than being restricted to local community based markets.

Unlike eBay, Etsy offers a far more personal place where you can sell the items you make. It's possible to write a personal profile about yourself and your business ethos so your customers feel more involved in the process. That's enhanced by the ability to exchange messages, ensuring both you and the buyer are happy. 

Etsy Fees

Etsy seller fees are inexpensive, too. For $0.20 per item, each listing is active for four months or until they sell. Once the item sells, you pay a 5 percent transaction fee as well as 3 percent + $0.25 payment processing fee.

A Plus package is also available for $10 per month. It adds extra customization options for your shop, provides you with 15 listing credits for free, and also tells your customers when items are back in stock.