Shop Etsy

Marketing With Etsy

Jun 19, 2007

by Vanessa Bertozzi handmade and vintage goods

Yesterday we attended the Licensing International convention in New York. Held at the cavernous Javits Convention Center, the event threw up flashy temporary displays by the world’s most popular brands—and perchance, tomorrow’s most famous brands. Basically, it was like being in the womb of pop culture — this is where all the stuff you find at the mall and see on tv incubates before it’s borne out into the world.

Like aliens from another dimension, the giant mascots of Lysol, Clifford the Big Red Dog and Dora the Explorer were chaperoned around by attendants. We entered enormous, elaborate entryways (to Disney’s area, for instance), only to find that when we came out the exit we hadn’t really interacted with anything. Business people in suits milled about, striking deals. Hello Kitty Sanrio had a special “by appointment only” room where you had to make prior arrangements just to talk to them. There was tons of free swag—our favorite was the laser pointer with the Batman logo projected from it.

Why were we there? We at Etsy wanted to find out what must be done to a “brand” in order to take it to the next level. We know some Etsy sellers have artwork and characters that have been informally licensed by friends and fellow sellers who wish to use their imagery on various products. However, the Licensing International event presented the business-as-usual way of going about it.

We had to wonder if there’s another model—one where products don’t have to be made in China and imagery doesn’t have to be watered down to the point of appealing to the masses. For Etsy artists who want to take it to the next level, what would you want out of this new model? What role would you want to play as the originator of the brand? What role would Etsy play, if any? Right now, networked marketplace allows people to find each other and hash out deals on their own terms.

At Etsy, we’ve mostly been doing grassroots marketing. We send out promos to street teams and we do advertising in publications and local press when Etsy sellers organize events. We work hard to get Etsy covered in newspapers, magazines, blogs and on tv, but on our own terms. Additionally, Etsy members play an integral role in grassroots marketing. Kreations sent us the prototype for an “Etsy awareness ribbon”—an orange beaded ribbon people could wear to show their membership and support. Truly, you guys are the best, most honest to goodness way to get the word out about Etsy!

“Thanks for such a great venue. You make owning your own cottage business possible even with a newborn!”

So how do we bring the Etsy name and individual sellers to more shoppers? We are doing it in such a way as to uphold our mission of being socially and ecologically responsible. Most importantly, we want Etsy to become a household name while keeping the independent artists in control of their own work. Let us know what you think about this important issue!

Note: This was originally posted in the Etsy Garden.


  • raghousenternational

    raghousenternational said 13 years ago

    Definitely a great article. I am still trying to figure out the grassroots marketing It's a lot of work and so much to know, but in the beginning you have to budget and watch every penny while still trying to make you shop as visual as possible...

  • MaddisonHaylie

    MaddisonHaylie said 12 years ago

    Thanks for the great info

  • BebeToby

    BebeToby said 12 years ago

    Wonderful information! Thanks!!

  • gknits

    gknits said 12 years ago

    Great info. Keep doing what you are doing, you have made it possible for us to be creative. As a seller I appreciate all the info. that is available here, it is truly remarkable. Etsy Rocks!

  • Stargazer02

    Stargazer02 said 12 years ago

    thanks for the info!

  • vyphuisdesigns

    vyphuisdesigns said 12 years ago

    Thanks've made it all worthwhile.

  • cintillajewelry

    cintillajewelry said 12 years ago

    Thank you for sharing...great feedback!

  • prettygirlsboutique

    prettygirlsboutique said 12 years ago

    Welcome to your pretty corner.The best items for your little princess.

  • OMDdesign

    OMDdesign said 12 years ago

    One more time -Thanks!

  • Mattamorphis

    Mattamorphis said 12 years ago

    That shop is fantastic.

  • vitaminadesign

    vitaminadesign said 11 years ago

    woow! nice shop

  • Vizaniri

    Vizaniri said 11 years ago

    Thanks. Oh, those business people in suits... Just what I have been trying to avoid lately... Marketing... Baby steps...

  • ShellingSailfish

    ShellingSailfish said 11 years ago

    Thank you!

  • jubileebags

    jubileebags said 11 years ago

    It is a big question, but I think you are on the right track. Keep us posted with your thoughts as they evolve. Individual artisans have a unique challenge but also present a value and a variety to the shopping experience. Etsy folks have the freedom to not use imagery that has been "watered down" to appeal to the masses, it is what we are about. Hopefully we can all find our own niche!

  • MadEtcha

    MadEtcha said 11 years ago

    I've been etching glass for the better part of 12 years now, only occasionally selling stuff at street fairs, I wish I could have been a little more 'online inclined' a few years ago, but etsy has really opened my eyes to the potential of my craft. Getting to be a stay at home mom with my 3 month old and 20 month old daughters is great, but being able to simultaneously continue my artwork is a gift I can't thank etsy enough for sharing. Thank you, etsy!

  • LondonParticulars

    LondonParticulars said 11 years ago

    The branding and growth of etsy has been amazing, seems like the grass roots approach is alive and well!

  • BastosGirlsGreetings

    BastosGirlsGreetings said 11 years ago

    I will be doing an event in a few months and I am the coordinator for Bebot Squad - Street Team. Can anyone tell me how we can request for Etsy Parephernelia to promote at my event? Thanks.

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