The Finances of ArtPosted: March 29, 2011
I have had my ‘etsy store’ up a few days now and made a couple of sales, so I think things are going well. ‘Etsy’ was an experiment on my part — I have a big pile of previously published work and on occasion get emails from people asking if I ever sell original art such as some of the stuff that was published in the Goodman DCC line of adventures. Having heard of Etsy, I decided to give it a try.
Etsy is an online shopping cart/storefront service for artists and crafters. Sellers can create an account which will allow them to create a virtual ‘storefront’ with an electronic shopping cart, descriptions of inventory and amounts, prices, etc. Buyers can visit your online shop and ‘buy’ items and your inventory is instantly updated. Etsy then informs me via email that a product has been purchased and I can print out a sales invoice, pack it up, etc. Etsy charges the artist a small fee to list the item and a percentage of the sale price.
The nice thing is the Etsy store seems pretty foolproof from the viewpoint of a seller. Listing items is pretty quick (the first time I used it, I set up an account, created a store and listed 24 items in about 3 hours — and most of that time was spent scanning or finding scans on my hard drive of the work I wanted to sell). The next time I list I expect it will go a lot faster. And listing on Etsy is pretty cheap compared to competitors like Big Cartel (another online service I looked at).
Although Etsy has a search function, I don’t get the sense that many customers interested in my drawings will find their way to my store that way; most Etsy sellers seem to concentrate on jewelry, hand painted t-shirts, knitting and similar crafty stuff. When I attempted to find my way to my own work via Etsy’s search engine, only the most obvious search terms (like my own name) got me there. I doubt many shoppers will just ‘wander in’ and I suspect I will have to bring shoppers to my store by placing links to my store on other sites (like The Acaeum Forum).
I wish Etsy did not force buyers to open an Etsy account before they can shop in my store. I find myself wondering if adding another step (join Etsy) is always in the best interest of the seller and the shopper (although it is obviously in the best interest of Etsy and perhaps helps discourage abuse of the system since visitors can be traced back to an individual account). Big Cartel does not require shoppers to join but charges between 10 and 30 dollars a month for listing between 25 and 300 products (which, frankly, seems kind of expensive for what you get — especially if, like me, you are selling ‘one of a kind’ products rather than a few listings where I will have an inventory of many identical units). The third option, I suppose, is to set up my own store (perhaps using paypal to take care of transactions), but then the functionality and security of the site all become my problem and the time investment in setting up and maintaining the store will be increased.
I’m not ready to quit my day job (wait; I don’t have a day job — but I am supposed to talk to someone about getting some temp work stocking the shelves of a hardware store tonight — ah, the glamorous life of the artist)… and I recently paid about $75 for 60 sheets of drawing paper, 2 bottles of ink, some pencils, brushes and blenders, so obviously to ‘keep selling’ I have to keep creating and to keep creating I have to keep earning… and the mosaics have not been bringing in the hoped for flood of money, but my s.o. has infinite patience and a steady paycheck (and I get benefits through her job so I am OK), so, all things considered, I guess I’m living as close to the ‘dream’ as I ever have.