The internet changes fast and online sales venues change with it. Six months is forever in internet time, so five years away from the game means I have to start all over again.
As I get the older customs touched up and the newer customs finished off, it’s time to start looking at marketplaces for the model horses. I’m still not looking to start selling anything until next year for tax reasons, but it never hurts to get things in place beforehand.
I’m still focused on selling online since the brick-and-mortar stores charge higher fees and have lower browse traffic. The models I paint have a very limited market and I need to make sure as many people get a chance to see them as possible.
Why I’m Not Using eBay Auctions
Fees, fees, fees… and non-hobby buyers that are looking for a bargain and not artwork.
When I was running my old customizing business I used eBay as my primary selling outlet. The business model offered security for the buyers and built-in auction tracking/handling tools for me. The fees weren’t as bad then as they are now and it worked out quite nicely.
At the time there wasn’t much of an alternative other than selling direct, but the marketplace has changed significantly in the last five years. From YouTube videos to Facebook business pages, there are a lot more opportunities to reach my target market and I plan on trying all of them.
Well, okay, maybe not YouTube…
The Etsy Shopper
The most important difference between Etsy and eBay is that eBay is an auction format and Etsy is fixed price. Thus the average buyer on Etsy and eBay are worlds apart: eBay attracts the bargain shopper and the collectors while Etsy attracts folks looking for artwork/hand-crafted goods, supplies, and vintage items.
Since my own target market includes folks looking for horse art and a small portion of the model horse hobby (non-LSQ collectors) I’m more interested in Etsy’s eyeballs than eBay’s. I want people who are willing to pay a nice chunk of money for a small plastic horse, something that isn’t going to make sense to the average surfer on eBay.
However the chance of catching the attention of those random eyeballs seems to be much lower on Etsy, at least per the hearsay on various boards. This shouldn’t be as much of a problem for me since I’m used to outside marketing, but it will be interesting to see if the rumors are true.
Unlike eBay with its progressive fee systems and plethora of à la carte choices, Etsy has a very simple billing structure.
It costs $0.20 to list an Etsy item regardless of price (listings run for four months) plus 3.5% of the sale price, not including shipping. Unlike eBay, there is no fee for running a shop.
In contrast, an eBay auction is $0.55 for a seven-day $10 listing and 8.75% for items sold under $25 (including shipping!). If you want to list fixed-price items, you have to open an eBay shop which is $15.95 a month. Once you have the shop, listings are $0.20 each for thirty days with a final sale fee of 12.0%. Owch.
Possible Etsy Downsides
Moving to Etsy will put a nice dent in the cost of selling a custom Stablemate, but it may also lower the sales price. Without the Thrill of the Bid to run up prices, it will be interesting to see if this helps or hurts sales in the long run.
There’s also the lower volume of surf-by’s to consider, but I’m not convinced that the traffic I’m going to lose was traffic that was ever going to bid in the first place…