Etsy is a wonderland of an online shopping destination for all things handmade. But with approximately 200,000 vendors, it can be overwhelming to new shoppers. Fortunately, we’ve scoped out some stellar tips and tricks for you to become an expert at finding one-of-a-kind gems on the site.
So what is Etsy?
For those unfamiliar with this site, you’ve certainly been missing out. So what exactly is it? “Etsy is the online marketplace for buying and selling all things handmade,” explains Adam Brown, who handles marketing for the crafty site. “We connect consumers with independent creators and designers to find the very best in handmade goods, while providing these artists with the technology and information they need to make a living — making things.”On the Etsy.com site, you will find literally thousands of new, handcrafted items: art, jewelry, soaps, candles, paper goods, dolls, cupcakes and candies, glassware, ceramics, clothing, crocheted and knitted goods, quilts, toys, bags and purses and more. With so much to offer, it’s no surprise that Etsy has gotten huge! But while its enormity means that there’s a great quantity of amazing — and unique — goods to choose from, it’s also a lot to get a grip on. That’s why we got some folks who have been around the Etsy block a couple of times to spill their secrets.
“Play around!” suggests Brown. Etsy has tons of sellers and features, so you’ve really got to just dive on in. But where to start? Well, that depends on what you need, says Brown.
If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, Brown suggests looking at the Etsy gift guides or the showcase where sellers tout their top-selling items. There you can see what catches your eye, or perhaps embark on a link-to-link-to-link journey to find the perfect piece.If you’re looking for the newest goods, Brown says to utilize the site feature called Pounce, where you can view recently updated shops waiting for their first sale or shops that just sold their first item — or Time Machine 2, which lets you see recently listed items.And if you’re looking for recommendations from other users, Brown suggests checking out the Treasury, which showcases public collections of items by Etsy members. “[Treasuries are] tiny member curated exhibits of lovely things,” explains Etsy shop owner Nina Gibson.
After you join Etsy (for free), you can add sellers and individual items to your “favorites” list. Add a vendor to your list if the person has a style you like or is really talented — even if they don’t have something you love enough to buy right now, suggests shop owner Laura Arellano-Weddleton. “Keep checking back,” she says. “They might post something really fab.”You can also look at who other people have added to their favorites. “My particular method is to add sellers [I like] to my favorites,” says Brown. “Then I look at their favorites, and then their favorites’ favorites, and so on. People who have a style that you like will tend to have favorites that you like, too.”
The Etsy blog is well worth checking out and often spotlights wonderful talent.Another alert tool to try is Twitter. “If you follow other Etsians, a lot of times they twitter about the great finds they’ve come across,” suggests Arellano-Weddleton. “If you find a store you really like, and you follow their Twitter, it’s likely they’ll help you find other stores that are similar and amazing.”
The purchase process
Etsy’s checkout procedure is a little clunky, but improvements are said to be in the works. Right now, you have to complete transactions from each vendor separately (most often via Paypal account). With the current interface, the process isn’t as bad as it sounds — it just gets a little repetitive if you’re buying from multiple sellers. Still, don’t let that dissuade you from checking out the goodies on the site, which are guaranteed to be more unique than anything you’ll find in a mall chain shop or department store! (Many vendors also accept custom orders, so you can create the perfect ring or pillow cover or stained glass piece for youself or someone else.)As a bonus, you’re helping support artisans from across the world make a living by selling their handmade wares.
On this page are just a few of the many gorgeous Etsy offerings — just to introduce you to a little of what’s out there:
- Abstract painting by Sharon Cummings of terracegallery
- Penny for your thoughts ring, from Nina Gibson Designs
- Burlap shopper, from Planet K
- Recycled t-shirt flower pin, from Marang97
- Green swirl keychain from DownToTheWireDesigns
- Whimsical house painting by Janet Nelson of aplanetnamedjanet