If you are a creative entrepreneur looking to see if selling on Etsy is worth it, we give an in-depth review of the Etsy platform from a seller perspective in this article. We evaluated Etsy seller reviews together with our own experience with the platform to see if selling on Etsy is worth it.
When to Use Etsy
- Small-scale vendors or creative entrepreneurs just starting to sell: Etsy has little to no upfront costs, quick setup, and, most importantly, a vast audience. The traffic from Etsy’s marketplace alone is enough, especially if you are new to the business and just starting. With this setup, you can rely on its popularity instead of marketing your own brand.
When to Choose an Alternative
- If you want a full-blown ecommerce website that can grow with your business, Shopify is what you need. It is a platform that is ideal for new businesses but has room for growth and scalability. Shopify also allows you to build a full website on its platform.
- If you are an artist or creative looking to sell custom or limited edition products, Big Cartel was made with artists in mind. Its stylish templates are developed for showcasing aesthetically pleasing product photos.
- If you are a seller who wants to use an automated fulfillment service but wants the marketplace reach of Etsy, consider Amazon Handmade. Amazon Handmade is the part of retail giant Amazon dedicated to crafts and handmade products. Amazon is the most visited online marketplace—averaging 2 billion monthly visits—in the US. If you are looking to tap into Amazon’s buyer reach, apply as a seller for Amazon Handmade.
Overview—How Etsy Works
Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade sellers and creative entrepreneurs. It has seller guidelines which clearly state what type of products you can and cannot sell. From those guidelines, you can see an extensive list of prohibited items for selling and learn that you can only sell handmade products, vintage items, and craft supplies. You can learn more about the bestselling items on Etsy to see if your products are a good fit.
To get started on selling on Etsy, you need to create an account, set up shop preferences, create product listings, apply for Etsy Payments (its exclusive payment provider), and customize your shop sections. You can follow our more detailed guide on how to sell on Etsy and set up an Etsy shop.
Before you get started on selling though, I recommend you get acquainted with the various fees associated with selling on Etsy. You can technically sell on Etsy for free but there are fees involved in listing products and sales payments—all of which we discuss in the next section.
Etsy Fees & Pricing Plans
Our Quick Take: Even under Etsy’s Free plan there are plenty of fees involved from listing products, processing payments, to shipping and platform commissions. Don’t get started blindly—know (and calculate) how much of these fees will eat into your profits.
There are different fees and pricing plans you need to know if you want to start selling on Etsy. We itemize its pricing plans and various fees below.
Etsy Pricing Plans
- Free ($0): Etsy has a forever-free plan that allows you to sell on its marketplace right away. You have a landing page for your online shop where you can customize your store banner, include an About Me section, and list your products.
- Etsy Plus ($10): Under this plan, you have access to a more comprehensive set of tools to customize and promote your Etsy shop. You get credits for listings, a 50% discount on a custom web address, restock requests, shop customizations, and discounts on custom packaging and promotional material like boxes, business cards, and signage.
- Etsy Pattern ($15/month): Etsy Pattern is an optional add-on. Under this plan, you can create a fully customized Etsy website, designed and branded to your liking. However, you will not be included in search results from the Etsy marketplace if you subscribe to this plan.
As we have mentioned, creating an Etsy shop is technically free but you need to pay various fees to be able to create product listings and sell your products.
Here are the Etsy fees you need to be familiar with:
- Listing Fees: 20 cents per listing
- Transaction Fees: 6.5% of the total item price, including shipping, gift wrapping, and additional personalization costs
- Etsy Payments Processing Fees: 3% plus 25 cents
- In-person Selling Fees: 20 cents per product (synced or unsynced) plus applicable Square processing fees
- Currency Conversion Fee: 2.5% of item price
To learn more about Etsy’s fees and calculate your potential fees, read our ultimate guide to Etsy seller fees.
Etsy Seller Reviews—What Users Say in Etsy Reviews
Our Quick Take: Third-party review sites are hammered with unpleasant Etsy seller reviews for the past 12 months, with most complaints centering around its exorbitant fees, lack of customer support, and unclear seller policies. I suggest reading through them to help you decide if Etsy is the right selling platform for you.
When I looked at third-party review sites to research on feedback from real Etsy sellers, I saw a majority of bad seller reviews, as evidenced by its aggregated scores in the sites I list below. Most of the positive feedback I read was about a buyer’s experience with Etsy, not as an Etsy seller.
That being said, Etsy still boasts of 5.9 million active Etsy sellers as of the first quarter of 2023, and the number still says something about the level of trust most handmade sellers have with the platform.
At the time of publication, Etsy reviews for sellers earned the following scores from user review sites:
- Site Jabber: 3.27 out of 5 based on more than 2,400 reviews
- Reviews.io: 2.3 out of 5 based on nearly 530 reviews
- Trust Pilot: 1.6 out of 5 based on more than 11,200 reviews
- Consumer Affairs: 1.1 out of 5 based on 145 reviews
- Reseller Ratings: 1 out of 5 stars based on nearly 200 reviews
When reading through Etsy seller reviews, I noticed these common complaints:
- Inconsistent enforcement of their rules and policies
- Incredibly disappointing customer support—severely lacking, if not absent at all
- Excessive fees
During my evaluation, I didn’t notice any consistently positive feedback among recent Etsy seller reviews.
Marketplace & Marketing Tools
Our Quick Take: Other than the potential for exposure to Etsy’s nearly 90 million active buyers, you pretty much are limited to Etsy’s minimal marketing features. You can’t create a subscriber list or send post-purchase or abandoned cart emails.
Etsy’s biggest advantage as a marketplace is the potential exposure you get as an Etsy seller with its existing audience of 89.9 million active buyers (as of the first quarter of 2023). Note, though, that Etsy also has over 5.2 million active sellers (as of Etsy’s 2020 Global Census). Ensuring that your products stand out from the competition is the challenge. Read our tips for selling on Etsy to stand out from the competition.
Etsy provides a basic marketing tool kit to help promote your shop. You can create discounts and coupons, run Etsy and Offside Ads (for promotion within the Etsy search engine and Google ads), and offer discounted postage labels. You also have access to the Sell on Etsy mobile app so that you can manage sales and the store on the go.
When you upgrade to Etsy Plus for $10/month, you get advertising credits, more store customization options, discounts on marketing materials, email alerts for customers when an item is restocked, and a store domain name through Hover.
However, Etsy’s ecommerce tools are limited and not fit for a scaling business even with an upgrade. Inventory tracking is absent in Etsy’s store management tools, so you need to track inventory independently.
Ease of Use
Our Quick Take: Etsy’s setup is quick and easy. But customer support is severely lacking, if not absent. Consider this if you are the type who needs more personalized support as an online merchant.
Setting up an Etsy shop was a breeze for me. Since I just needed to upload a banner and add information in the About Me section, I can technically start selling as soon as I finish creating a product listing and publish my Etsy shop. The setup can take under an hour, but will greatly depend on the number of products you want to sell.
When I was building a demo store, I spent more time creating product listings than styling my store.
What I found to be a potential frustration for Etsy sellers is the inability to bulk upload products. You can’t bulk upload new listings, but you can copy listings to save time. This can be a problem for businesses that have large inventories.
Applying for Etsy Payments took a bit of time since I needed to verify my identification and bank accounts, so I needed to wait. However, the process went smoothly as there were clear instructions on how to get approved.
Etsy has a comprehensive help center and active seller community forum. Whatever I want to find out, such as tips on listing products or placing ads, I can easily find answers in its help section.
What Etsy lacks is access to live chat or phone support. You can schedule a phone call with Etsy’s support staff or send an email if you have any concerns, but the turnaround time is usually within 24 hours. I wasn’t able to contact its support team during my evaluation but most user reviews I have read don’t speak kindly about Etsy’s customer service.
Our Quick Take: Go with Etsy if you need help putting your products in front of an audience right away or if you want to get your feet wet and test the market first. But if you already have a following (whether in social media or somewhere else), it is better to go with an ecommerce platform like Shopify—you will have access to more robust marketing tools and features for scaling as your business grows.
Its huge audience of active buyers alone is a great help especially if you are just starting out as an online merchant or if you are not that confident yet to invest in a full blown store. You don’t have to worry about anything much and start selling for free—there is zero to little overhead costs to get you started.
However, Etsy is not for the entrepreneur who wants creative control of their branding and selling platform since your shop is still very much part of Etsy’s marketplace. You also will find its marketing tools limiting if you have outgrown Etsy’s marketplace and would like to venture outside the handmade market.
Methodology—How We Evaluated Etsy
To help you decide if Etsy is the selling platform for you, I built a demo store on Etsy and evaluated it using the following criteria: price, ease of use, store builder and design tools, inventory management, and sales tools. Together with Meaghan Brophy, we then added our own expert opinion based on years of experience testing different ecommerce platforms. We also heavily considered real feedback from Etsy sellers and those that have used the platform.
The evaluation criteria include:
- Pricing and Payment Integrations: I considered the price point of each base plan that offers a complete online store, what plan options are available as your business grows, and payment processing options, including fees, flexibility, and one-click checkout options.
- Sales and Product Features: I looked at what kind of product assortments Etsy can accommodate, tools for in-store and mobile, integrated social media, and marketplace selling, and marketing tools. I also consolidated shipping options.
- Ease of Use: Because online stores operate 24/7, I made note if Etsy offers 24/7 customer support and provides multiple customer touchpoints, such as phone, email, and chat.
- Expert Score: Here, I considered overall value, quality of features, popularity, customer satisfaction, and ease of use. Together with Meaghan Brophy, we also factored in our own experience working with the platform and feedback from real-world users that use the system.
Meet the Experts
The following retail and ecommerce experts contributed to this article:
Meaghan Brophy is a resident retail and ecommerce expert at Fit Small Business with over 10 years of retail experience and 7 years of experience delivering actionable content to independent retailers. She has spent the last 4+ years at Fit Small Business testing retail and ecommerce software.
Agatha Aviso is Fit Small Business’ resident ecommerce software expert. She has spent years testing and evaluating different platforms and building online stores.
Etsy Seller Review FAQs
Is it worth it to be an Etsy seller?
Yes, it is worth being an Etsy seller. You don’t need a big investment to get started in selling on its platform as it provides a free plan that lets you build an Etsy shop within its marketplace.
Can I trust Etsy as a seller?
Yes, you can. Etsy is a safe, well-known, and trusted marketplace with more than 5 million active sellers based on its first quarter census of 2023. Etsy also has protections in place for sellers like secure payment methods and buyer reviews.
Etsy has been around since 2005, and it has grown to be the No. 1 marketplace for selling handmade goods. It has evolved to have nearly 90 million returning and active buyers, making it an ideal place for creatives to start selling their products in.
It also has drawbacks, as with any other platforms. Etsy’s seller reviews heavily focus on its fees, but numbers don’t lie. Even with all the negative feedback lately, Etsy still has more than 5 million active sellers and its marketplace is thriving with quality products and glowing buyer reviews.
We recommend trying Etsy to see if it’s an ideal fit for your business. You don’t stand to lose that much since you can get started for free.