After my recent articles about slings and carriers and shopping car covers (a series about handmade alternatives to common baby products), we had several messages from readers who have experienced confusion or frustration when shopping on Etsy. I hate to hear that, because Etsy is one of my favorite places to shop, online or otherwise. Hopefully, a few tips can help make Etsy more user-friendly for moms who are seeking handmade or vintage goods!
What Is Etsy?
veryKiki'sonesie for $13
The first step to using Etsy with ease is understanding what Etsy is. Etsy is not a store, it's a marketplace. Like Amazon or Ebay, when you buy something from Etsy you are actually buying it from an individual seller. Basically, Etsy is like a mall, each seller is a store. All this means is that, while you can add purchases from multiple shops to your cart, you will pay for each one separately to their respective sellers. Once you set up an account, which is explained on the Etsy site here, you are ready to buy buy buy!
Handling Payments on Etsy
Payment through Etsy seems to be where most people get tripped up. Etsy explains the basic process, from adding to your cart, to committing to buy, to completing payment, here. The easiest way to pay each seller is through PayPal. Although some sellers on Etsy will accept other forms of payment, PayPal is the most universal and simplest method accepted. Making a PayPal account is fairly easy, your personal information and bank account/debit or credit card information is all you need.
Bear Booties by Pretty Little
Besides the logistics of becoming an Etsy member and figuring out the ins and outs of paying individual sellers, some people have concerns over the transactions with sellers themselves. I can tell you that I personally I have had only good or GREAT experiences with sellers. However, as with anything, you'll find some bad apples. My best advice is buy from sellers who are rated highly, similarly to the way sellers are rated on Ebay. On the front page of each shop you will find a link showing the amount of feedback received and the percentage of the feedback that is positive. If you click the link, you will see a detailed count of positive, negative and neutral reviews from buyers, and you can read the comments of those who chose to leave them. I highly recommend reading these before buying. To avoid confusion or misunderstandings, read the policies of each individual shop before committing to a purchase. If you receive a product and aren't satisfied, contact the seller with your issue directly. If you feel the seller has breached the contract of the purchase or has acted with some other kind of misconduct, you can contact Etsy directly.
How To Find The Good Stuff
Minky Blanket by Snugababy for $36
Throughout this post I've included some pictures and links to baby items I have purchased from Etsy in the past. But in addition to the actual logistics of Etsy, other readers and Ms. S herself have asked the very reasonable question 'But how do I actually find a good shop with good products and good reviews?' Great question. The sheer number of shops can be overwhelming. Here are my best tips:
- The Etsy blog is constantly being update with featured sellers, gift guides and seasonal posts with references to successful sellers. Use this resource readily!
- If you have spent some time on Etsy and have a list of favorite shops and items, you will also be show a tab with 'Suggested Shops' when you click on 'Favorites' at the top of the window. These are based on your tastes and tendencies, and can yield great results.
- Browse! Browse and browse. Sometimes time is of the essence, but half the fun of a market is wandering through the stalls. Use tools provided in the 'Buy' category like 'Pounce', which shows shops who have recently had a sale, or 'Showcase', where sellers show off their featured items.
If you are looking for some inspiration, I'm happy to share links to get your Etsy career started. Looking for knit booties, felted play food, funky graphic onesies and tot tees, whimsical tutus, adorable knit beanies, wall decals for a nursery, gorgeous nature inspired toys, or eco-shoes for toddlers? Happy hunting!
The bottom line is to remember that Etsy is your friend! Once you've gone through the initial steps of setting up your account, sorting out PayPal, and completing your first purchase, you'll receive the fruits of your labor in your mailbox. Suddenly you'll be lost in the abyss, searching by category, color, geographic location. Another Etsy addict is born.
Contributing author Lane is an intentionally unemployed social worker who is currently growing a human, following her husband's dream, trying to stay relevant, and practicing her mothering skills on two rescued dogs, Enid and Falcor. Check out her fabulous blog, the Overseas Trapeze.