Local creators find international audiences on Etsy

Newfoundland entrepreneurs use website to show off products to markets as far away as  Australia and South Korea.

Etsy shop owner Alex Wilkie holds up an enamel pin that says "Yes By."
Alex Wilkie is a local Etsy entrepreneur. His Etsy shop Pin2It sells enamel pins like this Yes By pin and other art. Allan Bradbury/Kicker

Allan Bradbury
Kicker

Despite the difficulties of getting products to their customers, crafters are finding success with “eBay for crafters.”

Founded in 2005, Etsy has over 60 million items for sale according to the website and 2.3 million active sellers – “people buying or selling from nearly every country in the world.”

Many local Etsy sellers find their main income at local markets, but Etsy allows them to reach a global market.

Etsy charges approximately 27 cents (varies because of exchange rate) and then a five per cent commission per item. Each item gets a four-month listing. But local sellers say that it’s a small price to pay for access to the global marketplace.

Alex Wilkie sells enamel pins and other art and patches on his Etsy shop called Pin2It.

“I definitely feel that it’s worth it because it gives you access to a larger market,” said Wilkie.

While access to the larger market is great for sellers, shipping from Newfoundland and Labrador remains a challenge.

“I’d say the number one challenge on Etsy is just being found”

Terri Chaffey runs litloft on Etsy. She sells jewelry and accessories.

“We’re one of the few provinces that doesn’t have a discount shipper available to it,” said Chaffey.

To save shipping costs, Chaffey keeps the items she sells on Etsy small so she can use the cheaper envelope format.

Getting started can also be difficult.

Meghan Fahey, Etsy St. John’s team lead, says getting found is the biggest hurdle.

“There is a saturation of a lot of products,” said Fahey. “If you sell something really original, really cool, you might have a harder chance actually of getting found. But it also sets you apart so once you start making those sales you can kind of go from there.”

Etsy has created local communities throughout the world which organize markets for members to sell their wares locally. Etsy St. John’s is hosting a Selling on Etsy Workshop on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Quidi Vidi Village Plantation.  The workshop will teach techniques to those who are new to Etsy or those who have been on the platform and want to improve their sales.

Fahey says improving search engine optimization is key. Optimization means using the right terms and tags on a page so Google and other search engines can lead people to a particular shop. Search engines and tagging are some of the topics which will be covered at the workshop in addition to how to take better product photos.

More information about the event can be found on the Facebook page Etsy St. John’s Region.

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