Hello. I'm a digital marketer and freelancer in the creative and cultural sectors, currently working at the British Library. I like blogging about digital stuff, social media, museums, art, entrepreneurship, design and creativity.

5 Ways Etsy is changing the small business landscape

5 Ways Etsy is changing the small business landscape

I recently went to the RSA to find out more about Benedict Dellot’s research document about Etsy and how online craft marketplaces are changing the nature of business.

Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade goods and vintage items. Its strength is that it gives designers a cheap, quick and respectable store front for their goods, and shares them with a global audience. In 2013, Etsy sellers sold nearly 1.35 billion dollars of goods and it has 36 million members worldwide (which is larger than the population of Canada).

So what came out of the report?  Here are the top five findings.

1. Women are leading the way
A whopping 90% of Etsy sellers are female. While the average self-employed person is male, middle-aged and relatively asset-rich, the typical person selling on Etsy is female, young and without significant amounts of capital to their name.

2. Low risk and low start-up costs
Starting an Etsy shop requires little financial outlay. 47% of sellers said they were able to rely on their own savings to get the business off the ground and 40% required no funding whatsoever.

3. Part-time business: the new 5-9ers
The Etsy model is very flexible; you can run your own Etsy shop and work in full-time employment (hence the new 5-9ers), or be a stay-at-home mum. Half of Etsy shop owners spend less than ten hours per week on their shop and more than a fifth have a full-time day job on top of their Etsy venture. 

4. Boosting your household income
For the majority of sellers who work part-time on Etsy, their shops make a modest but meaningful contribution to their earnings. More than half have shops that add upwards of 5% to family income, which equates to £1,150 a year for the typical household.

5. It’s as much about the creative process and camaraderie as the cash
Etsy shop owners derive equal (if not greater) satisfaction from the very act of making and selling. Participants spoke of a feeling of ‘validation’ whenever they sold an item and how their shops give them a sense of purpose that was absent in their day job.

To a large extent the shop sellers are competing with each other. However, 47% said they would recommend the products of other sellers to their buyers, while 37% said they will source materials and supplies from other shops on the site. 37% say that emotional support from other sellers is important to them.

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