Starting To Sell Your Own Designs on Etsy…

Photo by George Milton on

Etsy under a Review…

(Disclaimer: In this article I transfer my own opinion/experience on marketplaces. Each designer can be different therefore have a different experience. Please take this article as an impression and not a de facto guide).

Starting out in the design marketplace can be hard. Unfortunately nowadays artistic work is highly underrated, so commissions are coming down, as more and more digital artists appear. I won’t be lying considering my expertise in the industry. One of the reasons that I turned to marketplaces instead of the land-based customer industry was the freedom of creating my own designs, finding my own voice of expression and having the liberty to create and publish. I never regretted it. It’s a hard place out there (with so many copy cats and competitions), but it’s a great rewarding journey. And the experience is endless…

Lesson Number One: Before all be legitimate, be yourself. Respect all designers who work hard and invest money in tutorials, lessons, advertisement. This is their effort and time and their own agony. Copy cats have no place in this industry and there are damaging the efforts of genuine designers as a whole. So please report all copycats and refrain from copying. You can make your own version for a quote, your own design of an animal, you can… You don’t need to copy anyone.

And after this small disclaimer which I owned to my dear colleagues and to myself (who have spend many years reporting listings)…let’s get down to business…


This was the first marketplace I entered as many of the other marketplaces hadn’t been created yet or were still under development. Etsy for me was difficult to generate an income. It took me six months before reaching 100 listings and start generating money from my SVG Files. But I learned a lot, as it was my first contact with the digital online industry: Things like watching trends and preparing before their time designs. One of the first mistakes that I made was selling summer designs on August. The next year I had learned that my summer designs had to be prepared at least during the spring season. (This is valid for all marketplaces but I have to recognize that Etsy was my main tutor).

Income it generates: Truth to be told it’s a mediocrity. It won’t fix your life but it can preserve it.

Etsy ads: Good for the start but I had to cut it as it produced more expenses than income. It was a hard decision because I was relying on Etsy Ads for the first two years, but later on, I learned I can live without them. If you are new, yes spend some money on advertising, you need it, but as you create your own audience, you will see that more and more customers are coming from other social media such as Facebook, pin and you no longer need to pay ads to Etsy. Again, take it with a grain of salt, but over the years you will make your existence known more than Etsy can.

Major Drawback: It’s a marketplace that sells everything. And this can be confusing. Mainly for the customers. If you are selling digital art, there is no way you won’t come across customers who after purchasing will declare to you that they wish a refund because they thought this was a physical product like a sign or t-shirt. And you as a designer will be mad. Because you don’t know what’s the truth. Are they taking advantage of the system? Etsy on its own declares that digital listings are not refundable but this doesn’t stop a client from opening a case against you. And you as a designer obviously you will prefer to refund than consuming your time over a misunderstanding.

The problem starts with the platform because since it prohibits refunds at digital items, it should also have the corresponding mechanisms to block that.

Etsy support and feedback:

Yes forget that, Etsy supports itself, even if you get a 1 star review as a designer over a spam client and you report it because you know your work and you had like 10 happy clients verifying your work, Etsy won’t support you. Will not remove the bad review, because since their name is not included they don’t care. It’s not their reputation on line. You are and they don’t want to be stuck in the middle. So you are alone to that.

Is it worth it:

Yes it is, despite the drawbacks, if you have a very solid and constant presence, if you are not copying anyone and you are crystal clear with your clients and have taken under consideration that at support issues you are alone, you can make a sustainable income from this platform. But you need to create a lot and be constant in keeping your listings renewed.

Our next stop will be Creative Market…

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