We’ve been hearing for some time now that the middle class is shrinking in the U.S. and that our representatives in government want to focus on creating good-paying jobs. But by focusing only on traditional full-time employment, they are neglecting the steadily growing community of micro-business entrepreneurs — like Etsy sellers — right in their backyard. Etsy sellers are a serious economic force, often overlooked or misunderstood, whose work is not captured by traditional metrics. We’re reminded just how powerful of a force Etsy sellers are every time we speak with a seller whose partner lost their job in the recession and relied on that extra income to pay the bills or a seller whose 9-5 job was leaving them feeling unfulfilled and constrained.
But those stories were largely anecdotal, and we wanted to measure the reality — and diversity — of Etsy sellers’ economic impact. With the help of the independent research firm, GfK, Custom Research, LLC, we conducted an anonymous online survey of 5,500 active U.S. sellers on topics including sources of start-up capital, motivation for starting a creative business, and how income from Etsy shops is used.
Here’s what we found:
- Etsy sellers don’t identify as hobbyists; 74% consider their Etsy shops businesses, and 91% aspire to grow their sales in the future.
- Etsy sellers are 88% women, 97% run their businesses from home, and they’re geographically dispersed around the US.
- Income earned on Etsy makes a real difference in people’s lives — it is used for household expenses, discretionary spending, savings and more.
- Etsy sellers are characteristic of a larger shift to flexible work; 18% sell goods full-time, and only 26% have other full-time traditional jobs.
- Etsy shops are a new kind of “start-up” that aren’t run by stereotypical Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who want to quickly grow as big as possible; Etsy sellers are independent, self-sufficient and want to stay that way.
You can download the full report here. We’ll be using our findings to urge policymakers to acknowledge the economic power of micro-businesses and to adapt public policies to support and promote them.