I started my vintage home goods and upcycled crafts shop on Etsy approximately eight months ago. I posted about my first five months previously on the blog, but thought that an update might be interesting- especially because I have seen a significant increase in my sales since my initial post. Keep reading to see how I’ve made on Etsy in my first eight months on the platform.
In the past three months I have had increasing success getting sales as I have increased my inventory. I recently discovered the Goodwill Outlet Stores (and wrote a post about them) and have gotten better at identifying which estate sales will likely yield the most items for my shop. When I last posted at the end of June, I had 147 items in my shop. I am now trying to keep about 250 items in my shop and hope to continue to increase that number. Regarding new listings, in the past three months I have posted:
- 57 new listings and 21 renewed listings in July
- 79 new listings and 36 renewed listings in August
- 38 new listings and 19 renewed listings in September (things started getting really busy at work and it has been hard for me to keep up the pace of posting several new listings per day)
I also have at least one item expire almost every day in my shop (see above). If you don’t know, the 20 cent listing price on Etsy allows you to list an item for four months. Once that four month period elapses (and if the item hasn’t sold), it will expire and you have to pay an additional 20 cents to re-list it for another four months. I have decided that I will list the items in my shop three times (e.g. renew them twice) before I contemplate donating them. I have also chosen to lower the list prices on renewed items by a few dollars to see if this increases its attractiveness to buyers. So far I have sold six items that I paid to relist.
I saw a significant increase in my sales from June to July and then again in August. They leveled off a bit in September but as you can see above, so did the number of new items I was adding to my inventory. After my 12 sales in June, I had:
- 18 sales in July for a profit of $622.31
- 32 sales in August for a profit of $886.52
- 31 sales in September for a profit of $1,294.64
So, I have had a total of 126 sold items (from 108 orders) to date. Etsy lists my overall net profit so far as $3,426.56 (this does not include the cost of my inventory, my time, or shipping materials, etc.). But as I mentioned in my previous post, this is only a fraction of the total revenue I brought to Etsy. In my five months on Etsy, I have a total revenue of $4,851.98. So far this year, I have spent $1,184.98 on shipping, $91.15 on Etsy ads and $633.82 on Etsy fees. Have I mentioned how much I hate free shipping?
I attempted to use Etsy ads to boost my shop traffic for about a month in the end of June/beginning of July. Although I saw notable growth in my traffic and sales, none of these sales were due to Etsy ads. I had set a limit of $2 per day which yielded around 6-7 ad clicks per day. However, these clicks were not translating into sales for me. I think that this might be due in part to the large number of items in my shop. Maybe my $2 per day budget simply wasn’t enough. But at the time, I had spent over $60 in ads and my revenue was less than $800, so I wasn’t comfortable increasing my ad spend limit. So, after 30 days I turned the ads off and continued to see an increase in my number of sales and visits (as reported above).
Shipping and Shipping Insurance
As I discussed in my previous post, Etsy encourages sellers to offer free shipping for orders over $35. They do this by offering a slight boost in your search rankings if you offer this “free shipping guarantee.” This the reason why I currently offer free shipping (over $35). However, I feel that this guarantee is somewhat unreasonable for sellers of larger and often breakable items. It is one thing to offer free shipping on t-shirts, jewelry, or paper goods as the average cost of shipping these items is significantly lower than what I pay to ship my vintage home goods.
I would estimate that my average shipping cost per order is around $10. So if someone spends $35 on an order, I loose $10 immediately from my profit to pay for shipping. I think that it would be most appropriate for Etsy to offer at least one other level of “free shipping guarantee” for shops with average shipping over $8 or maybe $10. For shops with these higher average shipping rates, free shipping for orders over $50 or maybe even $75 makes a lot more sense.
Another factor that results in higher average shipping costs for items in my shop is the purchase of shipping insurance. Because I sell awkwardly shaped and often breakable home goods, I purchase shipping insurance on all of my orders (unless the buyer selects to pay for priority mail which includes insurance up to $100). For standard parcel select service, insurance coverage for up to $100 costs 80 cents (and an additional 80 cents for every additional $100 worth of coverage). This has definitely paid off for me as I have spent about $90 on insurance to date and unfortunately have had two items arrive damaged and one item go missing at a post office in Tennessee. Three packages out of 111 isn’t too bad, but having the insurance has definitely saved me money.
Because these items arrived damaged (or not at all), I had to refund those three buyers a total of approximately $150. But because these items were insured, the insurance company (once the file was claimed and approved) sent the total amount of the refund (minus the 80 cents I spent on the insurance) to my PayPal account. So my net profit on Etsy is actually about $150 higher than my Etsy stats suggest because I didn’t actually lose money on these missing and broken items.
Please understand that having items arrive broken isn’t great for business (and can lead to bad reviews) so I try really hard to package all items well and get them to my buyers safely. But it is nice to know I am covered if something does arrive broken. I have all of this information clearly stated in my shop policies and require any buyer requesting a refund to send photos of the damaged item and packaging and to submit an online verification to the insurance company. So far I don’t think that I have had anyone try to ‘scam’ me to get a refund on an item by falsely claiming it was broken or lost, but the use of the third party insurance company offers me some peace of mind if that ever does happen.
In June I first became eligible for the Star Seller Badge. (You are first eligible three months following your first sale.) This badge indicates that you have met three criteria; the first is that you respond to all Etsy messages in under 24 hours. The second is that your reviews average 4.8 (out of five) or higher. And finally, that at least 95% of your orders are shipped on time. I am happy to report that I have earned the star seller badge every month since I was initially eligible.
The Star Seller Badge is supposed to result in an increase in your search ranking in Etsy. As mentioned above, I did see an increase in traffic and sales in July and August. I cannot say what role the Star Seller Badge did or did not have in this increase as I also significantly increased my inventory size during this timeframe.
For the first six months or so I was incredibly excited when anyone favorited an item and overjoyed when someone purchased an item from my shop. In the last few months, I have turned off notifications for someone liking my shop because it was getting out of hand. And I find myself a little less excited when an order comes through (still very happy, just not quite as ecstatic). Now that I average about one sale per day, most nights after work I have to take the time to pack an order (or two or three). And sometimes- because I do work a full-time job- I am tired or not feeling well or having a bad day and don’t feel like doing it.
I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. The truth is that some of these orders take a ton of time to pack- especially the glassware. And depending how I priced the item (and I am working on getting better on this), I may have had to offer free shipping (as discussed above) which significantly cuts into my overall profits. Selling vintage home goods is quite time consuming. For every item in my shop, I must spend time finding/sourcing it, cleaning it, photographing it, writing a detailed description, answering client questions, and- once it sells- packing it and communicating with buyers. This takes a ton of time.
Just to put this into perspective; imagine a set of four vintage lowball glasses I recently sold. After researching sold comps for similar items, I priced them at $45.50. Etsy took $4.67 between processing and transaction fees. I had to eat the cost of shipping which was $8.90 (including insurance of course). I paid about $3.77 for them originally. That means my total net profit before taking into account my time was $28.16. Now consider the time I spend driving to and from the thrift store, shopping for, washing, photographing, creating a listing for, and packing this item. It ends up being a lot of work for a $28.16 profit. So my current focus is on sourcing items that have a higher value so that I stand to make a greater return on my investment of time.
Overall I’m enjoying having my Etsy shop and wish I could commit more time to it. For now, I am in a good spot, but I think I would struggle to manage any further significant increase in sales. I can see how I might burn out after doing this for a few years. I hope that by focusing on higher dollar sales (as opposed to more smaller sales) I can prevent this from happening. Only time will tell. For now, selling on Etsy funds my estate sale shopping addiction which brings me so much joy. If you haven’t already, please visit my Etsy shop at: www.etsy.com/shop/jackandbaxcollection
Have you ever thought about selling vintage or upcycled home goods on Etsy or do you have an Etsy shop? How does your experience compare? Please share your experiences in the comments!
I am so glad you visited us at Jack and Bax. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter (sign up available either on the right sidebar or at the bottom of the page). And please follow me on Instagram and Facebook so that you don’t miss any of our upcoming projects!