A Serious Etsy Review For Artists
Unfortunately I need to discuss this topic of why artists should say no to Etsy. There are reasons why we should not be selling art on Etsy for long term growth.
If you are new to marketing your artwork please read to make an educated choice.
Your artistic creation should not be trapped behind those walls. Your artistic value may hold more than they can give you.
This becomes more critical as the world is changing due to geopolitical and health changes within society.
Learning more about how to make money with art is critical to expand your reach and influence.
Problems With Etsy Artists Must Contend With
Problems with Etsy stem from not only their platform for artists, but also the type of sellers they attract. Generally speaking the things offered there have little value in art and are makers of products.
Technologically Etsy is weak and offers very little control to a seller. I will expand on this further soon.
Etsy may be beneficial for you to learn the basics of listing an item, but little beyond that.
You lose a certain amount of control when using third parties for selling. Pay attention to how they define rules for matters like an art return policy.
Know up front I have no personal issue or problem with Etsy as a company. Rather this is about your brand as an artisan, your artistic value, and not being left in the masses.
Below I will drive into some of the basic technical problems you will find. These issues are very fundamental issues you should know. It is for these reasons, and more, that many artists fail to make a living.
What Etsy Marketing Suggests Doing With Social Media Is Dangerous
When marketing with Etsy, they tell you to begin using social media and point people to your shop. That seems logical right?
Get people to see your shop and you build your views thus increasing the chance of selling wood artwork. This is one of the bad habits of marketing art.
Imagine for a moment that you rent an apartment. You give everyone your address so friends and family can come visit you.
Then one day you either outgrow your apartment and must move, or you get kicked out of the apartment. In the real world this is no problem for you simply move and give everyone your new address.
In the world of technology this can be a death blow. It takes one click from some admin to decide months and years of your work disappearing.
The efort you put into promoting your social media pointing to Etsy is now gone. This is no small matter and is near impossible to recalibrate.
This reality has been a problem for many people as noted on tamebay.com with Ebay and Etsy sellers being shut down.
What is worse is when Etsy begins to dictate your business policy without protecting its sellers. This was the story of Harpers Handmade Co. These stories are worth reading.
With social media and the internet, it takes more than giving people your new address. There will be thousands of posts scattered across multiple platforms which you cannot go back and change.
They may have gotten rid of you, yet every one of your social media posts still points to their brand. They win, you lose.
How A 301 Redirect To Protects Your Artwork
Imagine you had an online art gallery. Let’s pretend for a moment you decided that it needed to move to a new location or brand name. How would you do this?
When you move your art gallery to a new site from your old one a 301 redirect is used. This is the same as giving your new apartment address to your friends and family.
In the online world things are a little more complex. It takes time for new sites to be established. Nevertheless you do not lose all of your old work in social media or other locations.
This redirect will point them all to the new location. In turn with time your prominence will continue built off of the old location.
So…. what happens when Etsy shuts down your shop? One of two things will take place.
At first it may go to a “shop closed” page if that closure was recent. Yet this will only last for so long.
Ultimately they will use a 301 redirect to point everyone that tries to visit your shop back to their homepage. To think you gave them so much to only get the boot and not even a thank you in return.
With this we need to understand what Etsy does, and does not support with this address change.
What Does Etsy Support In 301 Redirects?
You can redirect from your blog or website to Etsy. In other words any marketing that you perform they will allow you to send to their website.
Yet due to some changes that happen from time to time I have heard of users that have difficulty performing this task.
Apparently at different times they have updated various systems and it has redirected customers to the Etsy home page rather than to an individuals shop.
That is just adding insult to injury if you ask me… What if you get booted from Etsy or decide to leave?
What Etsy Does Not Support In 301 Redirect
There is no way you can go into a closed shop and at a higher level 301 redirect back to your website. Typically a 301 redirect happens in code behind the scenes.
If Etsy were a car the 301 needs to be placed in its engine. You are allowed to borrow the car, and drive it, park it, or show it off. Yet you are not allowed to mess with the internal mechanics.
It is a place within the Etsy engine that you cannot reach. This is normally done within the htaccess file of a website.
You will not have access to this file and they will not give you access to it.
Mechanical Problems With Etsy SEO Under the Hood
In an article with Jami King she describes SEO with Etsy as being a complicated thing. To be serious, with Etsy their system is horrific and over emphasized on the wrong things.
For example they suggest very careful selection of tags. When it concerns Etsy internal search it is important. Yet did you know Google no longer uses tags for ranking?
Thats right, in Google these tags are antiquated. They are not going to help you there.
Etsy also informs you to give very detailed descriptions of an item. Nothing is wrong with this in its own right. Yet it doesn’t help you be found.
The Etsy internal search is geared on two paths. First its designed to make money from paid marketing. Secondly it pushes older and higher rated shops.
It does not matter how well you describe anything. They may tell you it is to help you in Google, but it will not. There is an entire science behind ranking in Google that one little Etsy page cannot compete for.
What Your Etsy Page Is Missing To Be Seen On Google
I will try to explain this as simply as I can with a ridiculous example. Lets pretend for a moment that the first cars ever made ran on steam engines. Then one day the world switched over to diesel.
Once the world stopped supporting steam engines your car would have a life span. Once it is broken it cannot be repaired.
Lets say that the world advanced once again from diesel to all gasoline. If diesel was no longer supported, you could not get fuel at the gas station to keep your vehicle on the road.
While this sounds nuts, it is exactly what has happened to Etsy. A little shop page with items cannot obtain any page rank.
Subdomains cannot obtain domain rank period, so be very cautious with their “website” platform.
They also focus on meta descriptions. Okay… this might have some minor relevance for some things. Generally speaking this too is obsolete.
An update to the Google algorithm between June to August of 2021 stated that Google itself will determine, and even rewrite snippets. Meta descriptions were often used for SEO and creating snippets.
Today Google places focus to the on page content, H tags, and internal linking of “content bubbles”. Each year they have even begun to downgrade the weight of links coming in from outside sources.
If you are on Etsy, some of these things I am talking about you may have never heard of. You certainly will not read about any of this in their “how to market with Etsy” help pages.
Unfortunately you will see Marmalead adds begging for your money on keyword and tag research. This too is a joke, compare them to Ahref’s.
In my opinion, Etsy is a gimmick. At best it is training wheels for what you will do later as your overall platform matures.
Etsy SEO Tools Fall Short In Search Engines
I will give a link here to an article entitled “Artistic Life“. It will be worth your time. Scroll down to the section entitled “art market breakdown by numbers”.
Those numbers are “head keywords” for the art market. The second batch of numbers are for generic items you can find at Walmart. What is my point?
The search online for artwork can be quite limited. Those numbers encompass Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others. Why remain within an antiquated system like Etsy?
It is hard enough to compete on the big platforms without having your hands tied behind your back.
Allow me to give you Etsy’s greatest problem for you. To get attention to your shop requires you control parts of the “engine” you cannot reach.
Things like: unique url paths, internal page linking, content building under the same domain, you have no domain thus zero authority, no page authority, restrictive branding and external linking, no internal content bridge for commercial keywords to non commercial concepts.
I said earlier this keyword or tag system is outdated in Google but everyone still harps on it. Why?
If 10 keywords fill a title Google still knows little about it. Rather it creates far more confusion. What is worse is that it is called keyword stuffing and pages get blocked or banned for that practice.
If you did this for a website it would not take long for your GSC to inform you that you have a content red flag. Immediate attention would be needed before it could impact you negatively.
As I studied the Etsy platform I seriously have a hard time discovering much that is good to say about it.
How Artists Get Left Out In Etsy
Independent artists typically know very little about the technological world. This has caused them to put up with many issues that otherwise they would not under other circumstances.
I have heard of some individuals having their shop closed 5 or 6 times to be forced to start over. It is really sad.
Years ago Etsy was a brilliant idea. The others that came after them likewise have tried a similar footprint. Unfortunately each fail in this original mission or vision to represent artists or genuine “makers”.
There is a reason for it and it is driven by economics.
They need to show returns even when you do not. When new they can achieve a massive intake of people.
This looks great up front as each tries to sell their artwork or products. They might even be a little picky about who they accept.
Yet that will change.
At some point their returns become marginalized. Ultimately they desire their profits should increase.
The reality of our art world is that art is not a major commodity. Home decor is not either. So a choice must be made.
They choose the easier path by opening the doors to more people with lesser products. Today you can find every imaginable part and piece shipped from China.
Some of these pieces have been bought then put together by some third party and is called handmade. A prime example of this can be found in the controversy surrounding Alicia Shaffer.
There is an entire industry of suppliers built around this concept. They attempt to sell you their products for you to use in your work.
If you want 500 generic cutting boards, no problem. They sell it there, you buy, then modify, and once again it is placed for sale on the same platform.
It has become like Alibaba, not a place for the art community. It reminds me of a flea market.
How Etsy Harms The Artist And Maker Community
In the early days you could just compete against others in the art community. The genuine and serious makers or craftsmen were there as well.
Yet now you must compete against corporate brands all the low cost garbage in addition to being locked inside of an outdated SEO platform.
It is like being stranded on an island. In many ways it reminds me of the tv series LOST when all Jack wanted to do was to get off the island.
Internally you are competing in an unfair environment because you are forced to do so.
No matter how hard you fight, you have both hands tied behind your back. No SEO effort will let you break free from an internal flawed system so you begin to spend money on advertising.
Their system must have its own engine which it uses to support itself. Their internal database and search system is built around supporting that infrastructure alone and nothing else.
This is the sandbox you are stuck within. Meanwhile the efforts you need to make for outside sources such as Google become limited.
That limitation is caused by the scope of the sandbox as you can do no more than it allows you.
Breaking Free from Etsy
The earlier you break free the better off you are. The less time you invest inside of web or social marketing pointing to someone other than you is less wasted.
It is imperative to cultivate your own brand, your name, and your artistic creativity leading to you alone. The flexibility you gain in return will only further your work and where it can be seen.
Get involved with authentic people within the art community despite its complications. At least here you can find support structures that will allow you to build something real.
While Etsy claims to be able to give you a window to the world I cannot help but call it a trap. Once you are too deep getting out and establishing yourself will only be doubly painful.