In the beginning, I listed my items for sale on generic marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplace and Kjiji. The process was not enjoyable. There are Ads on these platforms that ask, "Do you have old stuff laying around your home taking up space? List it today!” And I'd think...well, that's not really what I'm doing here. I would sometimes see my listings on the same page as a pile of broken hardware or mouldy old furniture and think, “this isn't right, no wonder I'm getting low-ball offers.”
While these platforms are difficult to use as an artist due to the haggling aspect, that is one of their main advantages. Thrifting generally comes hand in hand with haggling. It would almost be silly to shop on those marketplaces without trying to negotiate. We should use these marketplaces to buy our inventory, but not to sell our beautifully finished & handmade pieces.
I thought to myself - If free marketplaces aren't going to work, then I should find a place that specializes in selling beautiful, unique items. Consignment shops were the first place that came to mind. You can expect consignment shops to take a high commission (50-75% of the sale price) while discounting your items as they see fit. In our area, we have also found that consignment shops charge a 25% fee when you want to pull your items from them. As an artist trying to make a profit off my work, I don't love that idea, even though I understand it from a business perspective.
Being a furniture artist, my last option was Etsy. For weeks, I read articles & blogs, listened to podcasts, and watched endless YouTube videos to get to know Etsy fees and how it all worked. It took a lot of digging and math to figure out that they charge approximately 24-27% commission per sale (after adding up all of their fees).
Don't get me wrong - if you are selling small home decor items and you know how to ship them, Etsy isn't too confusing. Despite that, the fees may be too high especially when selling smaller home decor pieces. The website has become quite oversaturated with products, meaning that you will probably end up spending extra Ad money to be found or seen through the madness.
Now if you are a furniture artist interested in offering shipping with Etsy, that is where things get a bit more confusing.
Etsy shipping is configured by the artist. The majority of people do not know how to generate an instant shipping quote, let alone for an item weighing up to 120 pounds or more. Esty’s shipping partner U-SHIP has proven to help artists with their large shipments. However, as of now, U-SHIP's "In Home Delivery" services are exclusively available within the Continental USA. Unfortunately, this means that live shipping rates cannot be automatically generated for orders outside of the USA. Consequently, customers residing outside of the USA might experience significant delays, as they may need to wait for months to receive a shipping quote and estimated arrival date.
This shipping approach places the responsibility of arranging the shipment and handling any potential delays, damaged orders, or other issues squarely on the artist's shoulders. It's worth noting that U-SHIP's services are limited outside the USA, and their trucks are operated by independent contractors, which has raised concerns among both artists and consumers alike.
As a result, this situation can turn out to be far more stressful and overwhelming for artists and customers than originally anticipated.
With the rise of Amazon and their Prime Delivery offering 1–2-day shipping, consumers are now expecting either free shipping services, insanely fast ship times, and delivery rates & times displayed at checkout. Providing these services at checkout is key to maximizing customer satisfaction, but most artists do not have the resources to configure that on their own.
We discuss the possibility of "free shipping" on items that would benefit from it with our artists. The artist can choose whether or not to accept this option.