Friday, October 25, 2013

I'm Homeless--Virtually By Karen McGovern

Sorry, this is going to be a bit of a serious post, but I'll throw in some photos of pretty jewelry, art and stuff to make it bearable...
If you follow me on Facebook or on my blog, you know that recently I made the decision to close my Etsy shop until further notice.  I've been an Etsy seller for over seven years.  I'm sure you have seen the news, it's all over the Internet, how Etsy has gone from a handmade market place to a source for mass produced goods, mixed with handmade.  Why does this drive me so crazy?  Why is it reason enough to close my shop? 
I'm working on a LIMITED number of new leather cuffs to offer on Facebook.
Well, I did it for several reasons.  For one, Etsy rocketed to fame on a platform of selling truly handmade goods.  It was a welcoming community supporting artists creating everything from stunning works of museum quality artwork to crochet toaster covers (which are FREAKING AWESOME AS WELL).  It was, and still is, an affordable venue for artists to sell online.  But then, it changed.  Over the years re-sellers crept in, marketing mass produced works as handmade.  Artists have been totally ripped off by "clone" shops that lift photos of work and offer the goods under another name.  Mass produced "tchotchkes" were (and still are) making the front page of Etsy offered as handmade.  Artists struggling to get noticed and make a sale were being out-competed by these re-sellers offering imported goods for pennies, compared to original artwork offered at reasonable prices.  Small artists who don't have a huge following, like me and hundreds more, simply cannot compete with this and SHOULDN'T HAVE TO on a site built upon the sales produced by original artists creating handmade work. 
THIS IS POLYMER CLAY!  Breathtaking vessel by
Emily Squire Levin
When this all started coming to a head, shop owners innundated Etsy with letters of complaint and calls to shut down the fraudulant shops.  Etsy responded by hiring a new CEO who has notified all Etsy sellers that re-selling mass produced goods would now be allowed on the site, you just have to "note the origin of the work".  CRAP ON TOAST.  Pardon my French...In my opinion this is betrayal, period.
So, I closed my shop until further notice, and this decision has directly impacted me financially.  But, I simply can't roll over and take it.  This is just how I feel and I certainly don't fault any other Etsy seller out there.  I'm thrilled that artists I personally know and support have healthy, successful Etsy shops, and STRONGLY encourage everyone to continue to support handmade shops and independent artists wherever you find them.  This is my decision alone and it really sucks.
Did you know I also make weird assemblage creations?
This is my Beetle God in a burned shadowbox.
So, I am virtually homeless--or shop-less, I guess.  I have set up an independent e-commerce page on my website (with Shopify--give it a look...) that allows sales directly, and hope that this will somehow be noticed in the churning sea of the Internet.  Without a big name and storefront like Etsy, I doubt I will be able to do a fraction of the sales I had previously.  Sigh...
I also make these three-dimensional figures I call "Butterfly Keepers".
Real butterfly wings in laminate and stuff....
There are new storefronts supporting handmade popping up out there, and I am tracking as many as I can to see if they can compete with Etsy and support handmade like Etsy once did.  I've tried Artfire, Copious, StorEnvy, Big Cartel and most recently Goodsmiths.  I have yet to make a sale anywhere other than Facebook, which is turning out to be a great selling platform--and fun too!  It eliminates the "middle man". I can direclty interact with my friends and clients, offer "Facebook specials", and have actually sold a bit.  I hope this means I'll be able to sell some work this holiday season...cross your fingers, toes, whatever body parts you can for me!
For the holidays I'll also be offering custom made pendants featuring old family photos.
This pendant is mine, featuring a photo of my Grandfather holding my Dad. 
Copper, silver, optic lens, gears and more....EMAIL ME FOR DETAILS!
I mean it when I say that I support handmade art and independent artists.  It's a commitment I take very seriously, and felt I needed to reflect that in my shop as well.  I applaud all you working artists out there that continue to amaze me with your works.  I wish us all a prolific and profitable future so we can continue to do what we love.
If you know of new handmade storefronts, please let us know!!!  See you on the Internet....


stacilouise said...

You brave girl! I applaud you for standing up for what you believe in. Let me know if I can help promote your new shop in anyway possible!

Alice said...

I have been wanting to open an etsy shop for a while now but not after I read about all these changes. I know I would get lost in the sea of all the sellers and re-sellers. I don't have much of a following. Thanks for sharing your story. Hopefully one day there will be another etsy-like place for us makers that is true to their customers. Best of luck to you!

Erika said...

I know someone on etsy who also opened a shop on zibbet after all the etsy crap. But I don't think she's made a sale there yet. There's also indiemade.

Skylar Bre'z said...

Good for you. I'm an Etsy seller also, looking for a new home. I'm going to ride out Etsy for the holidays, but not list any new items. The market gets so flooded during the holidays, it's not worth the expense. And I have holiday shows that make up the bulk of my business.
But come January, I'm hoping all of us true handmade artists can band together, in a new home. We built Etsy. We can build some place else.

BluMoon said...

I totally agree with you I stopped putting stuff in my Etsy shop long ago, I have my own web site but I only get people who want to sell me things, I am also looking for a decent venue to sell from!

Gale said...

I'm sorry you're going to have to go on a Long March to find another venue, and that it's going to be harder and harder for the rest of us to find truly handmade stuff. Good luck to you!

Artisan Beads Plus said...

I am with you 100%. I am working on my own store and will shut down on Etsy once I have it up and running. It frustrates me to no end that this is happening! It's all about money! I think what they will eventually find is that they will not have what they once had and that is too bad.

Ann Schroeder said...

I hope you find a wonderful new internet home. As a buyer, I like the interfaces of Indiemade and Big Cartel. I find Artfire quite busy and less attractive.

One thing I miss on sites other than etsy is being able to see the artists' sold items. Even if their listed items aren't speaking to me, if I see things I like in their sold items, I will favorite the store to make sure I check out updates later.

Shel said...

My hat's off to you for going with your gut and standing your ground. Although I do still have my etsy shop, my finished jewelry sells better on FB as well. But for now, until I find something I'm more comfortable with and confident in, I'm keeping the 'presence' on etsy. It is interesting to hear what other artists have tried and what's worked and what hasn't and why. So, thank you for being upfront and honest with all of us and for sharing your 'home-less' situation - I think chatting about these things helps all of us in the long run.

Cathie Carroll said...

I never did well on Etsy and finally gave up. I'm having a little more success on my own with Square Market. They don't charge me unless I sell something and then it's just the same amount they charge for a card swipe.

Good luck!

Kitty said...

I agree with all of you. I was on Etsy for 6 years selling my lampwork. I did well and found wonderful customers for who I will be eternally grateful.

I now have my own website for jewelry/craft supplies. It is extremely important to me to continue to support the art community so I resell gorgeous work by Gaea Cannaday, Barbara Bechtel, Shibori Girl and Trinket Foundry right now. Others to come in the future! I love handmade.

I started reselling on Etsy last year because sitting at my torch was becoming hard with health issues. I think there are lots of ways to continue to thrive online without Etsy:

1. Know SEO and meta tags. Very important!
2. If you can't financially or don't want to open your own webstore, sell to a reseller like me.
3. Advertise advertise advertise. is a great resource. It has helped my new store have great traffic and sales. There are also lots of companies (but be careful) that will help with SEO ratings. Find an honest company.
4. Take out ad space on each other's blogs through project wonderful or similar.
5. Blog about each other. If I blog about you and you blog about another artist we tag each other and help our SEO ratings. Just like the wonderful artists on Love My Art Jewelry do for one another. It also helps other artists with such great information.
6. Do not copy another's work. That doesn't help anyone. Take inspiration, find your own voice.
7. Search for the perfect web designer. I love mine. (no I am not getting paid for plugs) :)

The old idea that artists aren't business savvy enough doesn't have to be true. There is tons of help out there. I google every question I have! It is slow but so rewarding.


Karen McGovern said...

Thanks so much for all the encouraging words and suggestions! Kitty, I will definately check out the sites and links you suggest. Thanks, everbody!

Dzign by Jamie said...

The Etsy changes are very discouraging, but not surprising, sadly.

My new favorite venue is , check it out!

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