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The Etsy Strike and Why it Matters

Ocean waves in the background against large boulders in the foreground; a rainbow from the ocean to the upper right hand corner. Text reads: Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.

The above photo is from the Etsy Strike landing page.

I'm participating in the Etsy strike that is running from April 11-18, 2022; I want to share some of my thoughts with you, as I believe this is much bigger than just an Etsy policy change.

I've been selling knitting and crochet patterns on Etsy for 10 years. I also used to sell handmade items there: yarn I dyed and knitted and crocheted items I've made. During that space of time, I have watched Etsy go from a small website that promoted the work of hand makers and vintage sellers to a large marketplace full of re-sellers that squash the visibility of genuine hand-makers.

But, I'm not just here to talk about Etsy. If you'd like to learn more about the strike, please check out the Etsy Strike Official Site

Let's talk about the type of environment in which a 1.5% raise in fees can be catastrophic to a business.

I've written about knitting and crochet pattern pricing before and won't bore you with a re-hash.

Currently my pattern pricing works as follows:

Old patterns that need to be revamped (no technical errors - just old formatting, etc): $4.99

Single Size Accessories: $5.99

Multi-Size Accessories (usually 3-4 sizes): $6.99

Accessories sized from Baby-Adult: $7.99

Garments: $9.99

Let's take, for example, my most recently published pattern: Ice Cream for Breakfast

Ruth holds a shawl that is half lace, half garter stitch

Costs (All in USD):

Yarn: $122

Tech Editing: $90

Hours to Knit: MANY (this is the second sample).

So, ignoring my time put into the shawl, let's say my costs for this are $212.

In my pricing scheme, this shawl is $6.99.

PayPal takes 3.49% + $0.49. ($0.73 total)

Ravelry takes 3.5% unless you sell over $1,500/month, which I definitely do not, so that's $0.25.

Etsy Takes 5% and will be upping it to 6.5% on April 11, 2022. ($0.35 and $0.45 respectively), as well as $0.20 every time you list an item.

So, if I sell on Ravelry, I make $6.01 per shawl pattern sold.

If I sell on Etsy, I make $5.71 (old price) or $5.61 (new price) per shawl sold.

At those rates, I would have to sell 36 copies on Ravelry or 38 copies on Etsy just to break even on my costs for producing the pattern. That doesn't include paying myself for my time, the creation of charts, or anything else.

This pattern is a flop. I've sold 6 copies. It's ok, some patterns are like that (to be honest, most are at this point). But I want you to understand that that's 6 patterns WITH introductory sale discounts, so this pattern has me in the hole well over $100 USD.

Would having a higher price make up for the fact that this pattern is a flop? No. I'm not that naive. Some patterns sell well and others don't. However, let's take a trip to fantasy-land and imagine that the shawl was priced at $15.

If priced at $15, here would be my take home per site:

PayPal Fee: $1.01

Ravelry Fees: $0.53

Etsy Fees: $0.98

Ravelry Take Home: $13.46

Etsy Take Home: $13.01

At those rates I'd have to sell 16 or 17 copies to break even.

If I sold my patterns at $15, I'd be told I'm not being financially accessible and that I'm excluding those who can't afford to pay this price for my patterns. I'd also be told that the industry standard is much lower and that I'm overpricing.

Designers get told all the time that anything over $5/pattern is highway robbery and that even that is considered high.

Neon lights say "and breathe" on a background of foliage.


What's the solution? I don't really have one. I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all solution that people can implement and everything will be fixed. Even if the Etsy strike is successful, that doesn't change the woefully inadequate pricing structure in the fiber arts community.

Do I go back to labeling myself a hobbyist after 10+ years of working to be a professional in this field?

I don't know. I know I can not please everyone; I know my business is not profitable; I know that I have acquired these skills that seem to be unprofitable except for my own enjoyment (which is not something to be undervalued or ignored).

Lots of designers are in my shoes, though, so I ask you for grace.

Some of us will give up design.

Some of us will attempt to branch out into teaching, editing, dyeing, etc.

Some of us will raise prices, market harder, work with third party companies, and find other ways to offset costs.

Thank you for reading, thank you for those of you who have stuck with me.

I'm going to be honest - I'm not looking for solutions or opinions about pricing.

I have a lot of potential changes to make and have been carefully considering them for months now.

I'm talking them over with trusted friends, but do not take business advice from strangers.

I ask for outside feedback a lot; this is not one of those posts.

You're welcome to disagree with me, but please respect that I'm not looking for instruction.

I hope this helps clarify for you where I'm at and why I'm participating in the Etsy Strike.

Thank you for your time, I hope you enjoy your yarn today!

<3 Ruth