Etsy started out in 2005 as a handmade marketplace. It has grown tremendously in the last 10 years and it has become well known for all sorts of custom/made to order items.
The exponential growth over the last few years means that lots of great options are available for shoppers, however it also means that the market may have become saturated with low quality shops with little experience looking to make some money at the experience of a trusting shopper.
This article will focus on the very popular trend – ordering special occasion invitations from Etsy.
Please keep in mind that Etsy is just a marketplace/platform where a shopper can find things from thousands of shops worldwide. This means that you are not actually ordering invitations from Etsy, but rather from an Etsy shop/vendor.
Etsy got it’s reputation for a great place to order invitations due to its established original invitation shops. Those shops opened between 2005 and 2009. The invitation designers from those shops took great pride in the work they provided their customers and still do. However, starting around 2010 hundreds of “new “invitation shops began to open on a daily basis. In an effort to gain customers and compete against the established reputable shops, many began to sell invitation designs at an extremely low price. “Cheap” invitation shops have taken over the Etsy search landscape. While established and reputable designers charge on average between $15 and $25 for an exclusive personalized invitation design, these “cheap” invitation shops are selling invitation designs in the range of $5 to $10 each.
When you factor in a graphic designer’s time, Etsy seller fees, PayPal fees, and listing and relisting fees, a shop selling a design for $5 to $10 is not making a profit – not even a minimal one. Most do experience high order volume and live off the “cash flow” due to the large order volume but the gross receipts and expenses subtracted do not equal a profit. There is no genuine interest other than to rack up enormous quantities of sales and live off the cash flow.
Unfortunately, many customers want something at a very low price but the ages old saying still remains true – you usually get what you pay for. If a vendor is selling a design for $10 or less be sure to look at the tips listed further below. A red flag is a newer inexperienced shop desperate for sales willing to “give away” their designs and work by selling at an unbelievably low price.
Concerns over some of these types of shops:
•LACK OF GRAPHIC DESIGN EXPERIENCE
Many of these shop vendors have NO graphic design experience
•INAPPROPRIATE DESIGN SOFTWARE
Some are using unprofessional software – such as web-based applications or even Microsoft Publisher (these will never create a high quality graphic design product
•DO NOT INCLUDE BLEED MARGINS
Many do NOT have any idea about working with “bleed margins”. If your invitation design file does NOT include a professional bleed margin, you will be in for a big disappointment when you print the invitations – there is an unavoidable automatic thin crop which takes place at print time. If the file does not have the bleed margin, critical parts of the design and/or words/text may be cropped off at print time.
• LOW RESOLUTION Print Files = Blurry/Pixelated/Fuzzy Invitations. Because of inexperience of just lack of graphic design training, you may receive a file in low resolution which may look great on your computer screen or smart phone (all computer images are low resolution so they load fast) – but will NOT print out crisp and clear and may not even print at the correct size.
TIPS FOR AVOIDING DISAPPOINTMENTS
If a vendor is selling a design for $10 or less be sure to look at the following factors shown below before placing an order.
1 – Look at the Date the Shop Opened
How long has the shop been in business on Etsy? (verify the years)
2 – Look at the Number of Sales They Have Had and notice if they have been active in the last year (the more sales they have had over the course of multiple years – chances are you are in good hands)
3 – Look at the Shop Reviews
While every vendor is entitled to have some negative reviews just because of the fact that not every customer can be pleased, look at the overall average number of Stars
Anything 4 to 5 Stars – Probability is that you will be in good hands. Anything below 4 Stars – Keep shopping – you will be better off in the long run.
The BEST picture of a shop owner’s reputation is created by looking at all 3 factors Combined. The Shop Owners who have been Multiple Years on Etsy – especially over 5 years PLUS significant number of Sales PLUS a Great Feedback Average – You should feel comfortable doing business with them.
This is all public information posted on the home page of every Etsy shop.
Finally, what about printed invitations?
If you order printed invitations from an Etsy vendor – be sure to review all of the above BEFORE placing an order. Many unreputable invitation vendors on Etsy will print on cheap card stock at home using their home printer which can never be compared to Professionally Printed Invitations. Quality is of utmost important to me and to must customers and so I personally, would never purchase invitations being printed at home by a seller. If a seller is willing to print 10 or less invitations for you, you can be sure they are printing them on their home printer. Professional quality printing requires extensive setup and thus there are minimums of at least 20 invitations required in most instances.