My personal thoughts on Etsy and how it effects entrepreneurs

Let's face it. I have a love/hate relationship with Etsy. Going back in my blog, you would find instances of lavish praise upon the website, alongside fierce critique. Truth is, I have an underlying contempt for the internet in general, the way it has tried to entirely replace our face-to-face communications, and move all of our interactions and progress into a limitless void. If something were to happen to the internet, many people's life's work would go up in smoke. My blog would be gone and I'd have no proof of what I've written here. To me, that's a scary prospect!

So, I bring that cautious attitude toward Etsy, trying to keep it at an arm's length, not wrapping up my income within it- because after all, we rely on each other- locally, despite the illusion of a global market. (Or at least we ought to rely local). I haven't done much with my Etsy account and instead focus my attentions on Alpenglow Apparel and building a real life social network with like-minded Missoulians.

Here are some things I love about Etsy:

It makes owning a small business attainable even with an extremely limited budget. You needn't save to put on huge advertising campaigns to reach your community, you don't need to know anything about business. All one needs is a basic sense of responsibility and to be computer literate.

Etsy has given artists a real place on the internet and is devoted to the business education of its members. There are great resources on their website! It really is a game changer for the artist community.

Here are some things I can't stand about Etsy:

Many never "grow out of" Etsy and form real brick-and-mortar businesses that America needs right now. It allows these business owners to go under the radar and never fully participate in their local economies. Etsy can steal our sense of legitimacy, making it easy to disregard what we're doing by not taking it seriously. In this way it can hurt our confidence and make us afraid of leaving its cushy environment.

I am concerned that many who make money off of Etsy do not have the business sense to get a business license and pay taxes on their income. This strips money from communities and puts those individuals in a dangerous legal position. That being said... it is very profitable for the individual, and for them- that's great.

What do you think? Maybe I'm way off base with my criticisms of the site? Or maybe you agree. Regardless, I will continue to highlight Esty on my blog and show how it has transformed local women's lives, because it's certainly worth talking about!



  1. Very thought provoking article.

    What I like about selling online vs. a brick and mortar shop is that as a professional artisan I am not left at the mercy of the local economy. One can bring in income globally and then spend it within their local community. Also, so many of the Missoula online sellers can be found at our wonderful local craft shows.

    Most new stores will fail in their first few years for a variety of reasons. Most of the time due to not enough capital. Rent, phones, insurance...can be so expensive. Whereas online you have less investment to make to start up. I think the internet in general has been a wonderful tool for artist and artisans.

    In 2012 PayPal will report to the IRS your transactions and issue you a 1099-k. If you live in the city limits and you are not licensed you are breaking the law. Turbo Tax really makes it easy, so if someone out there is intimated about business tax, don't be.

  2. Wow! Great info and insight, espcially about Paypal, thank you so much!


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Content by Laura Gabriele