5 Reasons NOT to Sell on Etsy

Posted by Brenda Lowe on

Four years ago, I decided to open my first Etsy shop.  So excited and hopeful for great success, I waited eagerly for my first sale.  Two weeks later, cha-ching!  My first sale!!  I was ecstatic.  I couldn't wait to sell more and more.  When I first started out, I was selling vinyl monograms I made with my vinyl cutting machine.  As I grew, I began to incorporate handmade items I made with reclaimed wood - signs, trays, lantern sconces, and more.  Fast forward 4 years and Etsy had become my full time gig.  Now a single mom, I depended solely on my income from Etsy to pay my bills and put food on the table for my son and me.  Things seemed to be going great.  Or so I thought.

Then one day in April, I get an email from Etsy.  Here's what it said:

Hi there,

This is Clark from Etsy’s Marketplace Integrity team. I’m getting in touch to let you know that Etsy has removed one or more items from your shop in accordance with our Seller Policy.

Etsy is a unique marketplace intended for buying and selling handmade goods, vintage collectibles, and crafting supplies. Etsy may remove listings if they do not qualify for sale in any of our selling categories or if they violate our Prohibited Items Policy.

After reviewing your shop, we have found it necessary to remove one or more non-qualifying listings for:
  • Commercial and/or resale items listed as Handmade. All items that you list in our Handmade category must be made or designed by you, the seller. Reselling is not allowed in this category. You can read more about this here: https://www.etsy.com/help/article/4522
As a one-time courtesy, we've refunded you the listing fees associated with the removed item(s). To see your deactivated listings, visit Your shop > Quick links > Listings Manager and click "Inactive."

You can also use this link to directly view your inactive listings: http://www.etsy.com/your/listings/inactive
The items we've removed in this circumstance may only be an example of items that are in violation of our policies. As the seller, it's your responsibility to review your remaining and future listings to ensure that they qualify for sale on Etsy. If you continue to list non-qualifying items, then it may result in the suspension of your selling privileges.

Additionally, since these items are not in compliance with our policies, we ask that you delete the production partner profile you’ve created related to these items and refrain from listing additional items that they produce.
To edit your production partner profiles, you can follow these steps:
  1. Click this link: https://www.etsy.com/your/shops/me/production-partners
  2. Click the X on the right side of the business’s name.
  3. Click "Delete" in the profile overlay.
Thank you for your attention to this. For any questions about Etsy's selling policies, please reach out to us at integrity@etsy.com.
All the best,
Etsy Marketplace Integrity

First of all, am I not a human being?  Can you not address me by my name? Secondly, I don't purchase and resell anything on my shop.  Everything is handmade or has handmade, personalized or customized components, like the majority of the shops on Etsy.  I responded back quickly defending my position and asked for an explanation.  I never heard back.  Nothing.

Needless to say, I was SHOCKED and SCARED.  I thought, surely this is a mistake. What are they even talking about?  What policies am I breaking?  What did I do? What am I going to do?  How do I fix this?  Are they going to shut me down next? Why are they going after me?

This was the day I realized I'd really screwed up.  I had put all my eggs in one basket...the Etsy basket.  And now that basket was basically squashed.  I went into survival mode, aka panic mode.  I had to fix this and quick.  This is my livelihood.  My sole source of income.  I immediately put all my attention on setting up my own personal website with all my products.  It took the good part of a week to get it done, but I did.  Thank you Shopify.  I was up and running within a few days, and my listings were even feeding over to Amazon and eBay.  I started getting sales pretty quickly and soon was nearly doubling my income from Etsy.  The more time went by the more I got to thinking that things mAy be okay with Etsy.

Then, this past Tuesday, May 16, I get this email:


This is Etsy's Marketplace Integrity team. Our records indicate that we've previously contacted you about violations of Etsy's selling policies in your shop. Because we're continuing to see these policy violations, your selling privileges have been suspended.

Upon review of your shop, we found that you are still listing items which do not qualify for sale here. This is in direct contradiction to the email we sent you in the past. As we explained, Etsy is a marketplace with specific policies about what can be sold, and we take these policies very seriously. All items for sale must fit into one of our three main categories - Handmade, Vintage, and Craft Supplies. You can read more about Etsy's marketplace criteria here: https://www.etsy.com/legal/sellers/?ref=list#allowed

We want you to have a successful shop on Etsy. However, if you are unable or unwilling to comply with our policies, we may have to suspend your selling privileges permanently.

If you are interested in regaining your selling privileges, I ask that you do the following:

•  Review all of your listings and remove any that don't meet Etsy's policies. Your items can be found in your inactive listings.
• Write back to me confirming that you understand our policies and intend to abide by them in the future.

You will still have access to your account and items while your account is suspended. Please note, however, that while your account is suspended, you will be unable to access the Sell on Etsy app or mobile-optimized browser view.

To edit or remove listings from your Etsy shop, please take the following steps:

1. Sign in with your Etsy account from your desktop or laptop computer.
2. Follow this link to your inactive listings: http://www.etsy.com/your/listings/inactive
3. Click the dropdown gear button on the bottom right-hand corner of a listing that needs to be edited or removed. (At this time, there isn't an option to bulk edit or delete your listings. You will need to repeat this action for each listing in question.)
4. Click "Edit" or "Delete" on the dropdown menu

Should your shop be reinstated after this confirmation. This will be your final opportunity to comply with Etsy's selling policies. Further policy violations will result in the permanent termination of your account privileges.

Please do not open up additional Etsy accounts for buying or selling while we work with you on this. They will be closed immediately and without notice. Please be aware, you remain obligated to fulfill any open orders by shipping the items or issuing a full refund.

Let me know if you have any questions about this.


Etsy Marketplace Integrity

Again, this email didn't even have my name on it, or the name of my shop.  It was a canned, generic email with no specifics.  Except to say that my shop was suspended. I panicked again...what am I going to do now?  They actually shut me down.  I can't sell ANYTHING on Etsy now.  And my website is still brand new.   

I reached out to Etsy every way I could find...I called customer service numerous times, emailed Etsy Marketplace Integrity...numerous times.  Although I was able to talk to customer service, they couldn't see my account nor could they tell me why my account was suspended.  They just kept telling me they'd forward my notes on to the right department and someone would be in touch within 24-48 hours.  But not by phone...by email.  I called every day hoping I'd get a quicker response, but no.  Three days went by.  Nothing.  I finally awoke to an email this morning.  I was infuriated when I saw that it was the same email, word for word, that I had already received from them.  I had specifically requested they give me examples of the listings they were referring to that went against Etsy policies.  I got nothing.  No explanation.  I quickly emailed back asking again for specific listings they were referring to.  I sited several shops on Etsy that sell the very same items or types of items that I sell and asked why they could buy I couldn't.  And now I wait.  Again. 

While I'm waiting, I decided to write a post about this experience so that no one else has to go through this nightmare.  I'm learning quickly that there are several reasons NOT to sell on Etsy and I want to share them with you.  I may come up with even more, but these are at the top of my list at the moment.

Etsy controls your business - you don't.

As much as I promote having my own business and treat it like it's my own, it isn't. Etsy owns it 100%.  And that's a scary realization.  I'm really promoting Etsy.  After all, when someone purchased from my shop and was asked where they got it, chances are that customer said they got it on Etsy, not on PlushBrentwood.

Etsy can shut your shop down for no good reason.

Just like that.  No warning.  No reason.  And no personal explanation.  Just BAM. You're shut down and there's not a lot you can do about it.  I'm living this nightmare as I write.

When Etsy suspends your account, you can't talk to a real live person to find out why.

It's true.  You can talk to customer service, but they are useless in this process.  They can't tell you why you were shut down, which listings break the rules.  In fact, I had one guy tell me to take down a bracket I had on my shop.  So I did.  But then he said he wasn't sure if that was the reason I was shut down.  I asked to speak to the integrity department and he said I can't.  They don't have phone support.  They only email.  Really?  My career is literally in their hands and they don't have the courtesy to even talk to me about it over the phone?

They're policies are subjective - not the same for everyone.

Talking to customer service, I get one answer.  I get an email with a different answer. There is no continuity in the answers you get.  Therefore, their policies are completely subjective.  The one guy didn't understand what was wrong with my lantern sconce. But the email I got said it broke the rules.  What the heck?

They don't care about their sellers - they only care about making money for Etsy.

This I already knew.  After all, they are a business and they're in this for the money. Part of me thinks, "why do they care what I sell?  They're making money every time I hear a cha-ching."  But to have no personal support available to its sellers is absolutely unacceptable.  Even an email with my name and shop name would go a long way.  They just don't care.

So while I wait for hopefully a solid explanation, I'm frantically marketing and trying to get business to my website.  It's insane.  This should not be.

I write all of this to say to you: Don't do what I did.  Don't rely on one source of income.  Diversify.  Distribute your eggs to several baskets!  Don't let someone or some other company control your business.  It's wrong and it's not worth the pain and agony I'm going through right now.



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