This article reveals a few facts about Etsy and how you can make money from the Etsy affiliate program. In addition, it discusses a couple of Etsy’s competitors which include links to more in-depth articles on those companies.
Etsy was launched in 2005 by Robert Kalin, Chris Maguire, Haim Schoppik and Jared Tarbell. The main office is located in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Most sellers are women in their twenties and thirties or professional artists working towards making a full-time income.
The company has had it’s fair share of growing pains but for a certain kind of niche seller, it is certainly a viable option. Like most of these large e-commerce sites, the commissions are relatively low compared to developing affiliate partnerships with other online entities.
What is Etsy?
Etsy is considered an online marketplace that specializes in handmade or vintage items. As such, products sold on Etsy tend to be more unusual, available in smaller quantities, perhaps even unique or custom-made.
Etsy sales totalled over $441 million in 2017 and have grown every year since it’s begun. While Etsy’s sales are a fraction of those enjoyed by Amazon, it has successfully carved out a niche in handcrafted and unusual items which appears to be sustainable.
They have raised their projected revenue for 2018, and shares are at a record high. Etsy is particularly praised for their interface, ease of use, and intuitive search. The site is designed to make every item in the marketplace look attractive and exciting, which appeals to shoppers and drives sales.
What is the Etsy Affiliate Program?
The Etsy affiliate program is managed by Awin, a global affiliate marketing network, but Etsy approves all affiliates explicitly. Applicants have their sites reviewed for:
- Type and quality of their site
- Variety of site content and promoted items
- Quality of site content
- Brand identity
- Alignment with Etsy’s values
Etsy does not want affiliates with sites solely devoted to selling Etsy items, and they also exclude cash-back and price comparison sites.
Etsy sellers can also become affiliates, but cannot earn commission from their own Etsy shop, or from a “closely related” shop (for example, a shop that shares a bank account with the seller’s shop). If you are an affiliate and open an Etsy shop, you must notify Etsy.
As with all affiliate programs, you earn a commission on qualified sales from your affiliate links. The current commission structure is:
- Standard publisher rate: 4%
- User-generated content : 2%
- Cashback/loyalty (for individuals): 2%
In addition to compensation, Etsy affiliates receive:
- Banners for themes and categories of products
- Curated pages to inspire content
- The affiliate newsletter
Etsy has a 30-day cookie window. To sign up as an Etsy affiliate, you first need to sign up with Awin and meet their standards and be accepted into their network. From there, you can apply to Etsy.
Competitors to the Etsy Affiliate Program
Amazon has, of course, a wildly popular affiliate program, with a generous 8% (on most products) commission. In 2017, Amazon launched Amazon Handmade, adding a marketplace for handcrafted items to their site. Amazon Handmade has several distinct differences from Etsy:
Amazon takes handmade seriously. While Etsy has a softer definition of handmade, Amazon only approves artisans who make, alter, or assemble products themselves or through an employee
You can sell in other stores or other Amazon categories. Amazon Handmade is not exclusive, and you can sell in that category if you have another online store or products in a different Amazon category
- You can earn commission on your own products. If you are a seller on Amazon Handmade and promote your items on your website with Amazon Associates links, you can earn up to a 10% commission on those products
- Your products are eligible for Amazon Prime. If you sell on Amazon Handmade and also use Fulfillment by Amazon, your products are suitable for Amazon Prime
- No fees. Amazon doesn’t charge artisans a monthly fee, so you only pay when you sell an item. They take 15% of the purchase price for payment processing and so forth. If you use Fulfillment by Amazon, there will be an associated cost as well. However, these costs are significantly lower than Etsy seller costs
Admittedly, many of these features may be temporary perks as Amazon seeks to grow and expand the Handmade marketplace, but it’s got some substantial benefits.
For an eligible seller, it makes sense to sell on Amazon as well as Etsy, since they are not exclusive, but to promote your Amazon storefront instead of your Etsy storefront to earn a commission.
For a publisher, you would get a more lucrative commission structure, more freedom regarding your website and content, and, since it’s a newer offering, less competition in the niche.
Please read my article about how to sell on Amazon if you are interested in learning more.
If Amazon Handmade is the counter-point to Etsy’s crafty side, eBay is the obvious competitor to Etsy’s old side. The eBay Partner Network has been around for a long time. For a publisher, it represents much additional effort, because of the fast-paced and fluid nature of products sold on eBay, but it offers an incredible 50-70% revenue share depending on product category. Here’s how it works:
- 24-hour cookie window. A person has to complete a “buy it now” transaction on eBay within 24 hours, or place a bid on an auction item within 24 hours and win that item
- You earn a percentage of the revenue, not the sale. Your commission comes from the revenue eBay earns on the sale, not on the sale itself, which is why they use the term “revenue sharing” rather than “commission.” Remember that many items on eBay sell for a meagre price, and therefore a slim profit or no profit at all
- New buyer bonus. If the buyer is new to eBay or has not purchased in the prior 12 months, you get 100% of the revenue from that sale
- $25 cash out. You can get paid by direct deposit or PayPal once a month, provided your earnings reach or exceed $25
- You can earn rewards on your own products. EBay allows you to receive shared revenue on the items you list and sell on the platform
- eBay manages their private affiliate network, so applications are completed directly on the eBay site. They don’t have many publisher guidelines or restrictions. Moreover, eBay has about $60 billion in sales every year
The truth is, being an eBay affiliate might be an excellent choice if it’s closer to your niche than Etsy.
I have written a full post how to set up an eBay business for those you keen to enough to get started.
A Better Way to Earn Money?
Etsy is niche specific and the commissions are controlled. There is no doubt that you can create and even thrive in a business at Etsy, Amazon or eBay. However, there are a couple of drawbacks.
One is as I mentioned, the commissions. You will need to sell more than you may have to somewhere else that offers larger commissions. The second is you will not own the website. The beauty of having ownership over a site is it becomes an asset. You can sell it at any time for thousands of dollars (of course it must be making money).
But no Kidding! I know affiliate marketers who have done just that!
So instead of building a Site through Etsy, why not build your very own website to sell your products on or if you want to sell other peoples products become an Etsy affiliate?
If you are interested please read some of the posts in the My Community section.