Sure, on eBay you can probably find the latest hot items, but available products are pretty much limited to mass-produced retail products. If you’re the kind of person that likes carefully crafted, handmade items that have character and artistic value, then these old auction sites will always fall short.
An amazing website that has been building up steam for the past few years is Etsy. Aibek noted this impressive site in 2006 when Etsy was just a beta site. Wendy also recognized it in her article on 5 legitimate home business opportunities. The truth is, since its inception, Etsy is an eBay alternative that has fast become a phenomenon greater than anything eBay could have managed, because Etsy isn’t just about making money by selling old things – it’s about reusing and recycling and it’s about practical and artistic products you won’t find anywhere else. It’s about living a lifestyle that’s less focused on consumerism and more focused on creativity and pride in craftmanship that harkens back to the days of barter and trade.
Browse Through Amazing Hand-Crafted Goods
Etsy is so much more than just a place to shop or sell items. After digging through this website, I realized that there are so many valuable resources here that it warrants a fresh review. The “geekery” section alone is worth its weight in gold – I plan to spend several hours a day there.
When you first arrive on Etsy, it actually doesn’t look much different than eBay.
There are sections for buying and selling, and of course a list of many different categories down the left side of the screen. The review of Etsy would pretty much end here if this is all the site is about, but it’s not. If you scroll down you’ll discover a section titled “Ways to Shop” that transforms Etsy into an invaluable resource and a great eBay alternative.
Ann recognized the value of being able to shop by color in her article on tools to search for images online by color, so I won’t belabor the point except to say that if you have a favorite color, this is the area to start your shopping. Treasury and Pounce are sections where you can review offerings grouped by specific sellers. However, one of my favorite search features is Shop Local.
On Etsy, you’ll find sellers in almost every community across the world. I found lots of sellers in my local area – these are sellers you could even visit and talk with, as most of them have their own small shops in the area as well. Etsy is truly a global marketplace with sellers in countries like Britain, India and more.
Request Custom Handmade Items
Of course, the coolest section of Etsy is “Alchemy,” where you can place custom order requests in auction format, and the many crafters and artists on the site bid on your custom “project.” It’s a whole unique section of the site that almost stands on its own as sort of a “freelancer” marketplace for crafters.
This section is great for buyers, because if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for elsewhere, this lets you ask all crafters on Etsy whether they are able and willing to create exactly what you want. You place your starting bid (the max you’re willing to pay) and then different sellers can compete by accepting your price or offering lower bids.
There is a good degree of anonymity for bidders, so any crafters that bid on an object can feel safe that the competition won’t know who is bidding – only the lowest bid is displayed next to “Ideal price.” For work-at-home crafters, this area of Etsy represents an excellent opportunity to pick up extra work and extra income.
Sell Your Handmade Goods
Selling your own hand-crafted items on Etsy is just as easy as on eBay – maybe even easier! Goods should focus primarily on things that you’ve built or crafted with your own two hands, but if you think about it – this includes a very wide range of potential products.
The only items not allowed are things that you didn’t actually create yourself (don’t even think about reselling yard sale items!), or illegal and prohibited items. For example, forging and loading bullets for sale is probably not going to fly.
However, handmade items don’t just include your grandmother’s knitted sweaters and mittens – as I mentioned earlier, the “Geekery” section alone has some of the coolest, most creative tech related items I’ve ever seen – like this working desktop clock made from an old 3.5 inch computer floppy disk.
You’ll find a whole wide assortment of awesome items like this on Etsy. Also, if you spend much of your day working at home, creating these works of art, sometimes it can be nice to talk to and collaborate with other creative artists who share your passion. The “Community” section of Etsy is huge – it’s filled with creative people of all types, and certainly many who share your interests.
Have you ever bought or sold anything on Etsy, as an eBay alternative? What are some of the most creative items you’ve found there? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Image credit: Pottery by Thad Zajdowicz
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