I decided to give Etsy, the lovable ‘handmade’ marketplace website, a try. I was always hesitant in the past, because of the listing fees, but comic pal and Etsy shop runner Sara Sowles (Killustration Studios) told me at the MSU Comics Forum to think of the listing fee as my table fee for a show.

Good advice, that. I didn’t worry about the 20 cents per item listing fee, nor the 3.5% cut Etsy takes from each sale, and I got to work. I began snapping photos of my watercolor cartoons and quickly opened up my own Etsy shop.

watercolor cartoon

One of my watercolor cartoons for sale.

Etsy Shop Name Game

I didn’t get cute with my shop name, and just stuck with DanielJHogan, because branding and SEO. Ugh, I need a shower. Really, it made the most sense (and maybe CENTS?¹), because it’s just an extension of my own websites (including the humbly named danieljhogan.com).

Etsy Shop Nuts and Bolts

While setting up an Etsy shop is easy, it does take time—if you want it to look nice at least. Filling out all the information—and I’m not complaining—is a bit tedious, but I understand why. I am thankful for the customizing options, and if that means a bit more work, it’s a fair trade.

Wares All Around

So far, I have several of my 4” x 6” watercolor cartoons in my Etsy shop—and one 2.5” x 3.5” mini-cartoon. The widget below, an Etsy feature I love (similar to the one now in my sidebar), shows what items I’m selling so far (and readers in the future, sorry if it looks different).

Etsy Fine Print

Each item you list on Etsy costs 20 cents. Not a lot on its own, but it can quickly add up. Etsy also takes 3.5% of each sale, which isn’t a big deal—3.5% isn’t much more than my using a Square credit card reader at a show.

What I do like is, you aren’t charged the instant you list an item on Etsy, but billed at the end of a cycle. Also, each listing lasts four months. I think, and I need to confirm this, you have to re-list the item after four months (pay the 20 cents again).

Again, like Sara said, if you look at this like a table fee for a show, it’s still a good deal. I’ve paid table fees ranging from $50 to $100–a few bucks every few months ain’t so bad–and you are paying for access to a pretty big market place.

Etsy Bonus: Vacation Mode

A reason I hesitated in the past to put a lot of items online was, I worried I would forget about them and head to shows, sell one of the listed items, get home and see someone bought it online too.

Etsy has a solution for such a potential problem: Vacation Mode.

Vacation Mode hides your items while you are away, so no one can see or buy them. This means I could list my entire stock of 4” x 6” watercolor cartoons and hide them on the eve of my next appearance, without fear of double-selling. Then, if I sell any items at a show, I remove them from the shop before turning off the mode (yes, I would eat that 20 cents, but OH WELL).

Update: After writing this I saw Storenvy lets you ‘hide’ items too, without deleting them. Wish I had figured that out about six months ago.

Why Etsy?

I’m always experimenting with ways to sell my art, be it online or in person. Society6 is handy for print-on-demand items, like shirts and mugs, but I don’t make much per sale (the trade off being, I don’t pay to stock items up front). I still like Storenvy, and continue to have items there, but after nearly a year (and not many sales)² I wanted to try something else.

But here’s the big reason I wanted to try Etsy: name recognition and number of users. I hear friends talking about looking for stuff on Etsy or what they just bought on Etsy—I don’t ever hear them mention Storenvy or Society6³. It’s where the people are, and I’m giving it a shot.

If I don’t have any sales after four months, well, then I’m out $2.00 and an afternoon of work. Big deal.

¹ And now another shower.

² That’s on me. I haven’t offered very much when it comes to items. Storenvy is a great site, if you put the time and effort in, which I honestly have not.

³ And I’m not leaving these sites—both are great, I’m just branching out.

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Daniel J. Hogan is a geeky cartoonist and writer living in Michigan. Daniel is available for freelance writing and cartooning commissions (Contact Daniel). This post contains affiliate links, unless it doesn't.

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