Reselling on Etsy: Is it Worth it?

Here's what we think

Sell on Etsy Guide 2023

Key Points

  • Etsy is a marketplace for vintage and handmade goods

  • Resellers can benefit from its generous search algorithm and community

  • Stick to the vintage category to maximize your profits

2023 is almost, so have you started selling Etsy? Don’t worry, you don’t even need to be talented, skilled, or even capable of making your own handcrafts (although it helps). There’s a wide variety of products that can be listed on Etsy, from handmade pottery and whittled knick-knacks, to vintage clothes and home decor. If you’re a reseller, there’s a ton of profit waiting for you on the platform. A little patience and a good eye is all you need. Let’s get into it.

Why Sell on Etsy?

So we’ve covered a lot of platforms on this blog. From eBay to Amazon to Craigslist, most online marketplaces have a lot of overlap. The differences generally come down to small details like seller’s fees and fulfillment options.

Most of them are pretty hospitable to resellers. As long as what you’re selling is within their seller’s policies, they don’t really care. They make money no matter what.

Etsy is different. They have cultivated a specific niche in the online sales ecosystem by catering to handcrafted goods. This means that items listed on their site must conform to specific guidelines. It also means that they outright forbid reselling in their primary categories.

They want sellers to list items they’ve made themselves, and their reselling policy means that attempting to pass off commercial goods as your own work will have your listings pulled and account closed.

Not ideal for reselling, sure. But there’s more to Etsy than just the handcraft category. There is a sizable market for vintage goods as well, and this is your real opportunity as a reseller.

The great thing about Etsy is that it’s as much of a community as it is a marketplace. Etsy buyers are more likely to browse the marketplace for random products, and its algorithm promotes more eclectic listings.

Think of the average eBay buyer. eBay is an absolutely massive platform with a ton of items; unless a buyer is specifically searching for your item, they probably won’t find it. This means more time spent working on SEO and chasing the most popular items, and losing out on profit from your items just sitting.

The bottom line? Etsy is great for listing your oddest and quirkiest items. Buyers have a higher chance of stumbling across them and buying them off you for more than retail. If you spend lot of time at thrift stores, Etsy can be the perfect place to offload your more eclectic finds.

Let’s take a look at their different categories, and what’s worth selling on Etsy.

Resell Vintage Items on Etsy

As a reseller, the vintage category on Etsy will be your main stomping grounds. Etsy (and many antiquers) define “vintage” as any item that’s 20 years or older. This can be pretty much anything, as long as it doesn’t violate Etsy’s acceptable item guidelines. No porn, no weapons, no drugs; pretty much what you’d expect from any other marketplace.

20 years means that plenty of 2000s eras goods are eligible to listed on Etsy. Considering the recent surge in interest for the decade, this is a great opportunity for resellers to pick up items that are only just now starting to appreciate in value.

So what kind of vintage items are popular on Etsy? Well, clothes are the obvious pick. If you’re a seasoned reseller, you’ll already be well familiar with this kind of flipping. Check out our guide here for a breakdown on reselling clothes, but it’s nothing complicated. Band T-shirts, jackets, jewelry, and denim are some of the most popular vintage clothing items to sell.

But you don’t need to limit yourself to just clothes. The great thing about Etsy is how diverse the marketplace is. Buyers are looking for anything vintage, including home decor, linens, blankets, kitchenware, old electronics, posters, furniture; pretty much anything you can think of.

If you have a habit of collecting distinct items from thrift stores in yard sale, Etsy is the perfect place to start selling them

Resell Craft Supplies on Etsy

Etsy also allows people to resell craft supplies on their site. They define the term broadly, basically anything a craftmaker can use to create their next handmade item. Markers, clay, beads, but also starter versions of items too. Think of blank dolls, or canvases. Basically anything you can think of to be used in the creative process.

Generally speaking, this category will not be a main source of profit for a reseller. Unless your garage is loaded with unused supplies, or you have some sort of insider connection to get products cheap, this category is mostly for craftmakers to trade items between themselves.

There is a possibility to make a profit off of discontinued or otherwise rare items, but that’s on a case-by-case basis. If you can find products like these that people want, Etsy might be the place to list them.

Resell Handmade Items on Etsy

Now here’s the fun part: reading the TOS! Because Etsy strives to maintain a particular niche among online marketplaces, they’re particular about what and who they allow to sell on their platform. They maintain an explicit “no resellers” policy for all items listed in their handmade category.

What this means is that if you list an item as “handmade”, Etsy and Etsy’s users will expect that you, well, made the item by hand. Either you carved it from wood, molded it from clay, folded it from paper, or hammered it out of metal.

The penalty for violating this policy varies, but it’s generally much more severe if you’re trying to pass off someone else’s handmade items as your own. Compared to reselling store-bought goods, taking credit for another’s work will easily get your account suspended.

For the most part, you can expect your listings to get removed if users are flagging them as not-handmade in the handmade category. Do it enough times, and expect your account to get clipped.

What’s ironic about this policy is that Etsy’s handmade category is heavily dominated by established companies. Seriously, just take a look through the front page and take note of how many products are shipping out of or through China and made by sophisticated businesses.

Etsy Front Page Companies

All of this is to say that the handmade category on Etsy is not really a great fit for resellers. The search algorithm can be unpredictable so there’s no guarantee that a product will actually sell, and there’s significant competition between other sellers.

It’s not a market you should dip into unless you’re actually making items by hand. Instead, the true value of Etsy for a reseller comes from its vintage category.

Is it Worth it to Sell on Etsy?

Etsy can be a great supplemental platform for a reseller. It probably shouldn’t be your first stop for listing items, but it’s a good idea to have a storefront set up with some items listed.

If you’re already spending a sizable amount of time hunting for vintage items on your own time, Etsy is perfect for listing the weirder ones. They might not sell that fast or for incredible profits, but it’s a lot better than zero. It’s a low maintenance way to list items and have potential buyers see them with little effort required on your part.

Compared to other established platforms like eBay or Amazon, Etsy has considerable drawbacks for a reseller. For one, they have explicit rules against reselling on their main category, and will not hesitate to take action against your account if you violate that guideline.

Additionally, Etsy’s listing fees are higher compared to these marketplaces. Etsy charges a 20 cent fee per listing you make on the site, and their transaction fee is 6.5%. This is slightly more expensive than eBay, especially if you’re making a significant number of listings for different items.

To put it together, Etsy is an excellent option for resellers, but it shouldn’t be your main focus. Stick to your main storefronts like eBay or StockX for the bulk of your products, and keep Etsy in mind when it comes to your more niche items.

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