Weekly Blog and Video Digest 7/22/19: Etsy Struggles – There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch (Or Free Shipping)

Hey guys! It’s Monday again and that means that I, Taylor, am duty bound to update you on all the projects I’m working on, things I’m loving (or struggling with), and…that Etsy exposé I promised you. I know a lot of you are here for just that, so in the interest of not frustrating too many people, I’m going to just start with that exposé.

I’m not sharing this to “get back at” Etsy, nor am I doing it for the views. I’m sharing this information because I truly feel that when an online marketplace like Etsy changes something as drastically as they are doing now, and especially when that affects how honest I can be with my customers…well, that’s the time for shop owners to speak up and let you know what’s going on in the seller world.

For a long time, Etsy has allowed shop owners to choose whether to charge for shipping or offer free shipping. It’s always been true that humans like a free lunch, so people are more drawn to listings that ship for free – but Etsy has been pretty fair about treating sellers and listings equally and letting you, the shoppers, decide whether non-free shipping is a dealbreaker for you.

However, at this point, Etsy has decided that they’re going to REALLY pressure ALL of us to offer free shipping. They’ve been putting up notices all over saying how great this is going to be and how we should all offer free shipping. To incentivize it, they’ve been saying “Coming soon, listings and shops that offer free shipping will rank higher in search results!”

But what does this mean in the inverse? It really just means that if you DON’T offer free shipping, you’re going to take a hit – possibly a serious one – in the algorithm game. Search engine algorithms change all the time, but this could be a really big change, and a difficult one for some shops. It could also make it really difficult for people to find what they’re looking for – if the algorithm is skewed enough, instead of finding the item you actually want, you’ll be led to a bunch of semi-related items that SHIP FREE!!!! but aren’t what you were looking for.

Now, here’s the thing about free shipping: It’s like a free lunch – rarely actually free, and when it is free, it’s usually low quality or has strings attached. Free shipping is just the same.

See, being a seller – on Etsy or anywhere else – does not qualify you for some magical Free Shipping Account at the post office. Nobody pays for our shipping for us. WE are the ones who swipe a card or hand over cash for postage. Yes, large companies like Amazon have enough overhead that they can invest it back into their shipping costs, and offer Prime members free shipping.

But for most small sellers (and that means most sellers on Etsy), the only way to offer “Free Shipping” is to charge for it elsewhere. This usually means lumping the shipping cost back into the item list price. Etsy even has a “tool” on their website where it will AUTOMATICALLY do this for you, going through your whole shop and incorporating shipping costs into list prices, and then slapping a “FREE SHIPPING” sticker on everything.

Great, right?

Not so much.

Personally, when I shop, I like to know how much I’m spending on shipping. I don’t want everything to just say “Free Shipping” but have a weirdly high price. I also want to understand clearly how much of a discount on shipping I may get if I buy more than one item. I just value that kind of transparency.

But Etsy is pretty much disallowing any kind of transparency about shipping costs at this point. Not cool, Etsy.

I guess what bothers me the most is that I feel like I’m being forced to essentially lie to you about shipping. If they can make me say “free shipping,” they can make me say other things. And I don’t play those games. I like to be as open and honest as possible with my customers, and whether you’re someone who’s been following me since day 1 or whether you stumbled across a single item of mine on Etsy, I value your trust above all.

So please know this: I will always be as honest as I can be with you on Etsy, and if you ever have questions, I will be MORE than happy to answer them! Just contact me on Etsy, or here using the contact form on this site. Heck, DM me on Instagram if you want. Questions are always welcome.

But for the foreseeable future, I may have to be less than clear about my “free shipping” on Etsy. I did go ahead and change the shipping profiles to “Free,” but I plan to draft up a little disclaimer to go on each listing to explain the shipping situation.

And Etsy, if you’re reading this: Kick me off your platform if you want, but know that sellers like me will always show up to share the truth with our shoppers. You may silence me, but you will never silence those like me. Ideas are bulletproof and all that.

WITH ALL THAT BEING SAID: I’m going to stop ranting about Etsy now and move on to the video digest, a summary of all the videos I posted on my YouTube channel this week!

July 15, 2019: Mid-July Check-In Card Reading 

In this video I do a card reading with Tarot, oracle, and angel cards to get an idea of what kind of energies we can expect to face for the second half of July, 2019.

July 17, 2019: Millennial Mystic Tarot – FULL Flip & Compare with RWS

This video is a full, high-resolution flip through of the Millennial Mystic Tarot, my self-published, self-illustrated Tarot deck, with a RWS deck beside it for reference.

July 19, 2019: How Planners Changed My Life

This was a fun video to make, and it just sort of explores how planners and paper planning have changed my life (for the better!).

I don’t really have much else to report, and this post is already over 1000 words, so it’s high time I wrap it up. Thank you all for reading along, watching along, and being along on this crazy journey with me. And until next time, I hope that you are having a truly excellent day, and I’ll talk you again very very soon.

Bye!

-Taylor

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