Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Selling on Etsy, E-Bay & Amazon

I decided to figure out for myself the pros and cons of selling on Etsy & Ebay, who both use Paypal to send and receive your money, & on Amazon who has their own system.  This took quite a bit of time, so thought I'd share it with you as well.

So, Etsy first. This is a worldwide selling site, primarily for handcrafted art & art supplies. It takes A LOT of work initially, not to set up the site, which is very user friendly, but to get people TO your site by making contacts & TAGGING your items correctly. This means when you list an item, it immediately goes up on Google, & those who are looking for say, flower supplies, will see you're selling them. They click on the link & it takes them right to your item.You have to sign up to buy & sell on Etsy which costs nothing, including signing up for Paypal. Once you're there, you can then key in 'flower supplies' again into the search engine & all flower supplies come up, usually the most recently listed first. You can also streamline your search to red flowers, stamen's, or just about anything to do with flowers that you want.

I've been selling on Etsy for about three months now & it's definitely paying off; I average at least a few sales every other day or so now, PLUS I've made some great friends & gotten a lot of selling support. I am in full control of my shop; flipping things around, editing prices, making deals or trades with other artists, PLUS my item stays up until it sells or I take it down.

My sales cost me about 3.5% & Paypal takes about the same, so it comes to around 7% on fees. It costs only 20 cents to list an item & Etsy only figures their fees on the sale itself, so shipping is not included. Paypal on the other hand takes their share from the whole amount. So if I sell an item for $90 + 10 for shipping, on Etsy, I'd net about 93.00. Your money goes right in to your Paypal account & can be used for shipping or withdrawn immediately.

E-Bay on the other hand probably reaches more people & also puts your item in to a specific category. It costs about $1.25 to list an item & you can choose to sell for a three, five, or seven day auction. If it doesn't sell, you then go back, pay $1.25 again, reduce the price & see if it sells, which it may or may not do. You can usually tell pretty soon if the item is going to sell on by how many are 'watching' it. Then at the end of the sale they start bidding against each other & drive the price up. That's why you have a 'Starting Bid' & 'Buy Now' option. If they really want it, they'll just pay the buy now amount instead of losing the auction.

Rare & Collectible items definitely sell the best on E-bay. I've sold a vintage Beatles lunchbox for $200, tiny Disney characters for $175 & just sold a plastic, (Bakelite), belt buckle & two buttons for $84. I figure out how much items will ship for & E-Bay takes 12%. So, the same $100 item would net me $88.00. E-Bay/Paypal won't pay you until you have shipped the item, so you box it up & pay up front for the shipping. If you're a new seller, they also might put a hold on your payment until it arrives to the buyer, & then you get paid.

Amazon is HUGE, sells worldwide & is largely used for selling books, while other items are sold as well. It too is free to sign up for buying & selling & they do their own bookkeeping. As a new seller last November, there was a lot of trial & error & not a lot of support when trying to figure out what to charge & what is truly worth selling to make a profit. I learned quite soon to not sell any book for less then $10 & to only mail lightweight books overseas. Some are willing to sell books for a $1 to get their positive feedback & selling numbers up. My goal was to keep my positive feedback at 100% & to sell fewer books, because when I go to buy a book, I look for the 100% positive seller myself & not at how many sales they've had.

It is also important to know that Amazon sets their own shipping rates allowance. They allow $3.99 for standard shipping which is great if the shipping only costs $3.99! Media rates are lower, but before I knew what I was doing I sent a book to Italy that I had sold for $20. Guess what? It cost $18.00 to send it! On the other hand, I have sold books for a decent price in the states & it only cost $2.50 to send, so I saved $1.50. On a $100 sale plus the shipping credit, you start out with 103.99 for standard shipping. Amazon take 15% off the top as their commission for selling the book, then $1.35 to 'close' the sale, so the net equals about $87.00.

So, there it is. Pros & Cons for all & about a $7.00 difference between Etsy & Amazon / E-Bay. If you know what you're doing, all three are worthwhile options, depending on what you want to sell!


  1. Very Helpful info.

    My facebook.


  2. Thanks, this was a great help.

  3. That was the most comprehensive, easy to understand, helpful comparison I've found. Thanks so much for posting this!