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What Happens When You Speak Up As An Artist? Etsy Free Shipping Policy

So, this post is not going to be my usual feel good post, because there’s just a little something I want to get off my chest. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all “Rage Against The Machine” here, but I’ve got something to say.

If you follow us on YouTube, you know that last week just about every video we posted had to do with our feelings about the new move by Etsy to coerce their sellers into providing “free shipping” and roll the lost shipping cost into the item prices. Which means we lie to our collectors, which neither Klee nor I were prepared to do.

Also, this whole policy change came with a clusterfudge of other problems as well, such as inflation of price means some buyers will pay multiple hidden shipping when they didn’t need to and shops with unpredictable shipping rates would have to price themselves out of the market. Plus, items that are fragile and hand made would be problematic to estimate shipping in the first place.

Klee and I also discovered that it’s illegal to deceive customers this way, taxes would now be charged on shipping cost, and international buyers would pay inflated price plus shipping… plus more, we lay it all out in the videos.

What was interesting about this whole thing was the response we received.

Most people that responded were in the same boat, as sellers, in facing this dilemma. Like Andy King who said “We just spent the day jacking up our prices, but like Rafi we sell paintings…so we added the cost to ship to California (which is the most expensive shipping for us typically). It’s ridiculous, because now etsy has the same stuff priced radically higher than we have it on other sites…extremely frustrating, because we even though we sell less on etsy than elsewhere, we’ve really enjoyed the platform and the fact that it’s always felt very supportive.”

Some hadn’t joined Etsy but agreed with our point of view. Like Missy B. who said “I am so glad I never did an Etsy shop. Many have suggested I do it but I would not. I watched enough videos on how to have a successful shop to know it just wasn’t for me. Now I know it is really not for me! Good for you standing firm.”

Some said our country was going to crap and went a little overboard in the comments. I’m guessing they were a little more upset than usual.

Expressions Series By Rafi Perez
Expressions Series By Rafi Perez

One person said I was whining about corporate change. She said “It sounds to me like Etsy is trying to separate the wheat from the chaff, it sounds like you don’t understand how business works. If you are selling enough art on Etsy, then this policy change should not bother you. “Rolling shipping into the selling price” is not new. It is a marketing strategy using psychology. And it works. Please do some business research before you publish videos trashing the hand that feeds you.”

To which I responded “I’m not sure you would be qualified to give me business lessons, especially because Etsy is not the hand that feeds me, they are merely one of many platforms to sell on. If anything, makers are the hand that feed Etsy. I’ve been in business for most of my life, and if you are selling cheap crap, then rolling in prices would be the way to go to trick people into purchasing by saying something is free when it’s not. You can justify it however you want, you’ll get no judgment from me, but don’t be offensive simply because you are trying to justify your point. You don’t know me, nor do you know my experience. So go on with your happy self.”

People are just different with different opinions, some will agree with you passionately, others will disagree passionately, most won’t care, and others just ignore you.

Art Chair By Rafi Perez

I was surprised to find that with the thousands of responses I received from Etsy sellers, forums of people who are upset, and plethora of videos discussing this issue, that none of the news outlets are talking about this. In fact the only real media you find is Forbes and other large outlets briefly mentioning that people are upset, followed by a plethora of quotes from the Etsy CEO talking about how great this move is for Etsy.

Etsy itself hasn’t made any kind of follow up statement… but then again they’re not facing any pressure from the mainstream media.

Small creative business be damned.

Rafi Working In Studio

So, how do I feel in all this?

Eh, I’ve moved on. Looking towards the future of my business, which does not involve Etsy. Not because I’m up in arms or looking for a fight, but because we no longer make good business partners. End of story.

I think what was most interesting about all of this is the way some people perceive Etsy sellers. Although we are small businesses with profit margins, overhead, costs, labor, business taxes, and everything else that it takes to run a business… there are some people viewing us as mentally unstable protesters, just using any means possible to bring down the government.

It’s just so interesting sometimes, to see how people react to what they believe is going on, without actually looking into it. Reading some of the comments, I was like “Did you even watch the video??”

Either way, we got so many amazing and supportive responses from so many people around the world, that it makes up for the idiots who think I’m a radical or something.

The truth is we are always going to be facing some challenges in our creative business, and how we handle it is up to us. Whether or not people perceive me as a victim, someone who is standing up and moving on, or some troublemaker, is none of my concern. Only I know what is good for my business, and honestly whether or not someone stays with Etsy or they go is none of my concern. They ultimately know what’s best for their business, and I support their decisions.

Personally, I will not advertise free shipping and not actually provide free shipping, it may not seem like a big deal and really it isn’t, but I will not compromise my ethics in order to make an extra buck. I will also not support a company who is willing to force their partners into doing such things at the expense of said partners. It also makes me sick every time I see an advertising from Etsy offering free shipping to people knowing that that person is paying inflated pricing… just not willing to do it.

All I know is that I’m looking forward, getting excited about my new chapter and new e-commerce ventures, and having fun… that’s all that matters.

If you want to watch the videos that started this adventure go to

10 thoughts on “What Happens When You Speak Up As An Artist? Etsy Free Shipping Policy

  1. What I’m doing with my Etsy/Pattern shop. I’m going through my 600 or so pieces and making the pattern-only pieces into draft etsy listings. Deleting the pattern-only listing. Getting that done. Disconnecting my .com from pattern, and discontinuing it. I did roll the shipping into my products, BUT, and this is a huge but for me, they are all set to manual renewal so they can expire as they reach the end of their time. If they sell in the meantime, fine. If not, they expire and eventually, my Etsy shop will be no more. In the meantime, I will not be shelling out $$$ to Etsy to list or renew anything. My upcoming bill due in a couple of days will be the last time I will have to pay them a darn thing. I’ve done the research, and I’m moving to Shopify. It’s got what I want in a fully-hosted storefront, as I’m not that up-to-date on website development. My knowledge is about 20 years out-of-date. Otherwise, I’d probably go with OpenCart or WooCommerce. Either way, I’ll be able to showcase my products (both handmade and POD) on multiple platforms this way without a lot of extra effort, I’ll have control of my site and what I do with it, and can go forward with my webstore on Shopify like I had intended to do via Etsy and Pattern.

    Because honestly, when one of, if not the, biggest seller of charms on Etsy (Bohemian Findiings) bails to their own site basically as soon as this announcement came out, it tells me it’s time for my little shop to bail, too, before things go any further south with Etsy.

    Don’t get me wrong. Etsy has been good to me, but ever since they went public with the stock IPO, my sales have gone downhill, my views and conversion have plummeted, and I’m actually selling more locally at the farmer’s market than I am online, when it used to be the other way round. That tells me something is wrong and it’s time for that way of selling to go bye bye.

    So, Etsy, it’s been real, it’s been fun, it’s been real fun, but I predict by year’s end or shortly after, I won’t have a stocked Etsy shop any more but will have a lot of stock in the Shopify version thereof, and doing like I should have been doing all this time on Etsy. Good luck to everyone who stays, goes, or does whatever. I wish everyone the best of business!

    1. Great move!

  2. A big thank you for speaking out. This hits hard as we realize Etsy’s commitment to social responsibility…conducting a business ethically…is a complete farce. Hiding behind Safe Harbor, binding sellers and buyers to arbitration (see Ekin vs Amazon case, aka history repeats itself when we are quieted)…. I won’t adopt this illegal and deceptive practice and I won’t go quietly. I know how I want to treat my customers and we all now know how Etsy wants to treat theirs.

    1. Well said Mike! Thank you!

  3. I am proud to (sort of) know you, Rafi. How sad it is that jacking up prices, lying and deceiving, and selling out to make a buck have become perfectly normal in this day and age. Not only that, but some people get mad if you don’t sink to their level! I applaud your integrity and at the same time I am disappointed that your point of view is not common. Your inner light shines through on every youtube video you post. You and Klee are truly the kind of spirits that make our world a place worth living in. So yes, I guess Etsy really DID separate the wheat from the chaff. Those with integrity weren’t willing to jump on board.

    1. Awww 🥰 thank you!

  4. Thank you for posting your videos and blogs on this Etsy “free shipping” matter! What’s funny is.. after watching Etsy’s “free shipping” policy rollout video.. your video was recommended on YouTube. So, Etsy has to deal with your bad publicity on this matter even more so. I hope many many more Etsy sellers see your videos!! Thanks for explaining all the problems that this Etsy policy impacts, because it hits a lot of shops like mine heavily!!!

    I was going to suggest that Etsy just integrate their shipping calculator application into listing prices for us.. and just call it “free shipping”! But, you so clearly pointed out that Etsy does not want the legal ramifications on this.. so they put it on us!!! Wow!!

    Now, I as an Etsy Shop, I have to either overcharge west coast customers or undercharge east coast customers for shipping. In a competitive market where our products/art are already being ripped off by other sellers, and having to lower prices to stay competitive.. how will shops survive? Many won’t!

    Finally, thanks for raising the point that it is time for change. I have been an Etsy seller for over 5 years and always knew it was only a matter of time that Etsy would squeeze us with added policy’s, fees, and business practices that would impact my shop and income. Time to stop giving money to Etsy.. and time to run my own business.. independent of shared marketplaces!

    1. Yes indeed! Time to move on ❤️

  5. Other example–Ebay has tried several approaches to ‘change policy’ to their benefit and coerce sellers to do things THE EBAY WAY(because, THEY say so—‘thanks mom’) ,I just ignore them and keep putzing along. No FREE SHIPPING, no TOP SELLER STATUS(the quick way to an ulcer…and less money). I just want to pay my bills doing what I love and have skill in. Not trying to be #1 Top of the Heap. People still buy from me, and they like my work. As far as my shipping gripe…”STOP STOMPING ON THE PACKAGES USPS and UPS”…SHEESH!!!(Yes they had shoe prints on them) Oh, and FED EX—“DELIVER TO THE CORRECT ADDRESS please”. THNX

    1. lol!! Yeah oh shipping companies…

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