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Creative entrepreneurs: a look at Etsy’s Australian seller community

Jan 14, 2016

by Helen Souness

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Image above: Things By Bea

For many, the word entrepreneur conjures up images of sneaker clad, hoodie wearing guys trying to crack into Silicon Valley with a new app or a suited gent talking venture capital and seed funding. But the creative entrepreneurs in Etsy’s community – 1.5 million sellers around Australia and the world – bring a different (and exciting) vision to the term. For many of them – of you – entrepreneurship means sewing cushion covers at the dining table on weekends, turning the spare room into a makeshift ceramic studio and dropping customer orders at the post office during workday lunch breaks.

The Etsy seller community represents an emerging face of entrepreneurship and we’re excited to share with you a new report, based on data from a survey of more than 700 Australian sellers and ongoing interactions with our community, that reveals a population of micro-business owners who are different from other small businesses in many ways, but together offer the promise of a more people-centered approach to life, business, and the broader economy.

Though similar reports have been released in the past looking at the Etsy seller community globally and in the US, this is the first time we’ve been able to share insights about the Australian seller community – makers, designers and curators around the country who pursue their passions, work for themselves, and define success on their own terms.

The report, Building an Etsy Economy- The New Face of Entrepreneurship, highlights that Australian Etsy sellers are true business people (predominantly women), and the income they earn on Etsy matters to their lives and to the broader economy.

Read on for report highlights or download the full report here.

Etsy democratises access to entrepreneurship.

Australian Etsy sellers are predominantly female—94% are women and they are more than twice as likely to be young adults (under age 35) as other Australian business owners. Many are parents with children at home and 27% have weekly household income under $800. Nearly half (49%) of all sellers had never sold their goods until they sold them on Etsy. By making it easy to buy and sell goods, Etsy makes entrepreneurship lower-risk and accessible for many people who might not otherwise have started a business.

Etsy sellers run businesses in their own right.

Two-thirds (66%) of Etsy sellers consider their shop to be a business, and 26% focus on their creative businesses as their sole occupation. This business mindset is also reflected in Etsy sellers’ aspirations—93% want to grow their sales in the future.

Etsy sellers are self-reliant.

Most Etsy sellers manage every part of their business themselves. The vast majority of sellers work alone from home, and most handmade sellers are self-taught. Of the 71% who required capital to start their businesses, 91% relied on their own personal savings, and less than 1% obtained a loan.

Income from their creative businesses matters.

For 26% of Australian Etsy sellers, their creative business—both on and off Etsy—is their sole occupation. For the rest, their creative business supplements other jobs, contributing an average of 14% to total household income overall. This money makes a difference—38% use this income for necessary household expenses.

But so does personal fulfilment.

While income plays an important role for Etsy sellers here in Australia, factors such as creativity and personal fulfillment are primary motivators. While fifty-four per cent of sellers said supplemental income was a motivator for starting their Etsy shop, 85% cited creativity as a key factor. A third said they started a creative business to fulfill a personal dream while 7 in 10 wanted to do something they enjoy.

Etsy sellers personify a new paradigm for business.

Etsy sellers have ambitions to grow their businesses, yet they want to do so in a way that supports their personal values. Personal fulfilment and enjoyment is key – almost two-thirds say doing something they enjoy is more important than making money. They also want their business to have a positive impact on the world—more than 70% of Australian sellers agree that growing their businesses sustainably and responsibly is important to them.

Implications for public policy.

Although Etsy sellers differ from traditional entrepreneurs in many ways, they are emblematic of larger shifts in the economy towards self-employment and micro-business. Most are businesses of one, and face very different challenges from even a five-or ten- person enterprise. We encourage government and regulatory agencies to look at policies that support sellers’ efforts to start and grow their creative businesses and enable the broader maker economy to thrive.

The Etsy Admin team here in Australia has been thrilled to see the local seller community flourish and we’re excited to continue to support the growth of creative entrepreneurs around the country.

18 comments

  • stonecoldfox87

    Juniper from SheFoxInvitations said 3 years ago

    How exciting! Great article.

  • wolfgangandrose

    Rose Miller from WolfgangAndRoseArt said 3 years ago

    Fantastic!! Go Etsy, I am so proud to be an Etsy seller!

  • JessesMess

    Jess from JessesMess said 3 years ago

    What a great article (and so interesting to know myself up is sort of the etsy norm!)

  • DanBadRobot

    Dan Michael from DailyBikers said 3 years ago

    Great article Helen! Another minority I (proudly!) belong to. :)

  • macramecrochet

    Katie Laing from Indigoskyecrochet said 3 years ago

    Great article thankyou!

  • Senkki

    Senkki Furniture from Senkki said 3 years ago

    Thank you for the article! xx

  • melissawhitworth3

    Melissa Whitworth from awhittycreator said 3 years ago

    loved the read. nice to see etsy is growing and along with it the greater community of self employed people in the world. I work full time and create in spare time. most definitely for the love of it. but I have business plan in action and I will make this my sole business in years to come. keep up the great work etsy and those involved.

  • bronzwing72

    Bronwyn Rayner from RainbowCrowCreations said 3 years ago

    Very helpful article , many thanks .

  • nicembra

    Nic Embra from OnePlacePlanner said 3 years ago

    An interesting read, thankyou!

  • collectingfeathers

    Nick from collectingfeathers said 3 years ago

    Good to hear this info. Often I feel isolated with my Etsy shop, but it is good to see that I share so many of the goals that others here in Oz do.

  • eloria2601

    Clare from Claracrystal said 3 years ago

    Thank you for the report and all the other info available. I am very new to Etsy and need all the help I can get and there's plenty here. I do take it seriously and hope to make my little area a success.

  • DeepSilence

    Sonja Bikić from DeepSilence said 3 years ago

    Great article .

  • amycheree87

    Amy Williams from KooeePapercraft said 3 years ago

    Great article! It's great seeing the insights of our local community!

  • suefreer65

    Sue Freer from SuesUpcyclednVintage said 3 years ago

    Very interesting. Small business is the way of the future IMHO. Having been retrenched 3 years ago, etsy is now my full time work. I had never heard of etsy 2 years ago! Absolutely loving it! Don't make anywhere enough money to live on, but I'm working on it.

  • PaperCloudSky

    Annmarie Scott from PaperCloudSky said 3 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this information - inspiration a plenty!

  • MadeInNorthMelbourne

    MadeInNorthMelbourne from MadeInNorthMelbourne said 3 years ago

    Really glad you shared all the stats - thanks

  • quiltyminx

    Christiane Klinner from HeimdallrFreyja said 3 years ago

    Thank you for this insightful article, Helen. I've just opened my first Etsy shop yesterday and am excited to find a lively Australian Etsy community! Wonderful!

  • helensouness Admin

    Helen Souness said 3 years ago

    Welcome Christiane! And thanks everyone, we are really glad you liked the article. The Etsy community story has reached lots of new people with this report too. It has gotten a heap of coverage across Australia, everything from Artshub to Sydney Morning Herald and the AFR. So great to get inspiring Etsy seller stories told out in the wider world. See the links below for more and thanks so much for your feedback! Artshub: http://visual.artshub.com.au/news-article/news/visual-arts/madeleine-dore/women-dominate-online-art-sales-250333 Sydney Morning Herald: http://www.smh.com.au/small-business/entrepreneur/meet-the-etsy-makers-20160112-gm4ez0.html) The AFR: http://www.afr.com/leadership/entrepreneur/profiles/etsys-six-rules-for-successful-selling-20160118-gm88cp

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