Etsy vs. eBay — My Etsy Store is Open For Business!

by Katy on November 15, 2013 · 20 comments

I have sold through eBay here and there through the years, and even had my own eBay store back in the day. (BTW, the “day” was 2005-6, so it’s been awhile.) And unlike many others, I think eBay has been good to me, as their worldwide customer base has allowed me to find buyers who were more than happy to bid up my thrifted finds.

But I just kept hearing about how much sellers prefer Etsy over eBay, so I decided to give it a try.

Having sold hundreds of items on eBay over the years, I was not intimidated by the process of putting together a listing, as what could be more complicated than eBay in 2005?! My only concern was being able to take professional enough photos using my iPhone, which is currently my only camera. (I dropped my digital camera this summer and have been happily making do ever since.)

Continuing on with my make it do mindset, I put together a completely functional photo studio using the back of a outgrown Transformers movie poster and bits of tape. I set it all up on the front porch to take advantage of the waning afternoon light. Here, see for yourself:

Etsy studio

Soccer cleats? Check. Watering can? Check. Table previously featured on the blog? Check.

Here’s how that photo turned out:

Dansk pot

I’ve noticed that a lot of Etsy sellers photograph their wares attractively styled, but I prefer a plain white background, as it’s easier to keep a consistent look. Plus, my goal was to photograph as many things as possible before I lost the light. So no fussy styling for me! Vanessa from Thriftcore often photographs her Etsy items with extra fun doo-dads, which is kind of fun, plus gives her smaller items a more substantial look.

I only got a chance to put six listings together before the laptop was appropriated by my son, who had homework to do.  (Homework trumps Etsy!) But my plan is to bust out another dozen or so listings today.

How does Etsy compare to eBay?

Etsy is only for selling handmade goods, supplies for handmade goods and vintage (20+ years old) items.

eBay is for selling almost everything else. (No weapons, explosive stuff, etc.)

Etsy charges 20¢ per 30-day period for a listing, and 3.5% when it sells.

eBay charges mostly nothing to list an item, but then charges an average of 12% when it sells.

Etsy has you set the price, no auctions.

eBay allows you to choose either an auction or fixed price. The auction option is great for items that have the potential to be bid up up nice and high. I once bought an armload of Sasha dolls for $4-$5 apiece, and quickly sold them on eBay for between $199 and $1000 apiece. I would never thought the one doll would sell for a thousand dollars, so it was better to have sold her through an auction. And let’s not dismiss that eBay has a much larger customer base, so your items have the potential to be bid up very high.

I may be wrong, but Etsy doesn’t seem to have a function to calculate postage based on weight the way that eBay does, so I may have overpriced my shipping as a result.

I recently put together two listings on eBay. One was for a fat stack of Atomic Ranch magazines, and the other was for a small antique alabaster bust. Although the bust sold for $96.75, and I think I paid $8 for her, I most likely would have done better listing her on Etsy and asking $150. However, the magazines would not have been eligible to be sold on Etsy, so I made the right choice to get them listed on eBay. (I sold for them for $63.05, after picking them up for a quarter apiece at the Title Wave used library book store.)

I still need to prettify my Etsy store, as well as write up a better store description, but for now it’s open for business.

I have written it before and I will continue to write it forever, but waiting to do something perfectly before you just do it is a very bad policy. Get over your hesitancy and just get going with life! (Unless it’s brain surgery, then please, do become an expert before you do that.) Is my Etsy store the cutest store with the most adorable photos, listing hundreds of items? Absolutely not! But it is open for business, and until I make my awesome thrifted finds available for purchase, no one can ever buy them.

Click HERE to visit my Etsy shop, which I am calling “NonConsumerAdvocate.” (Hey, gotta make it easy to find!)

Do you sell through eBay or Etsy? Please share your opinions in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan November 15, 2013 at 11:09 am

I have only just started selling through ebay, but plan to try Etsy soon as well. I am curious to see what others prefer for selling…


Katy November 15, 2013 at 11:43 am

I think the two pronged approach is probably best, but time will tell.



Megan November 15, 2013 at 11:57 am

What is your method for understanding/finding out what things are worth? We recently inherited all of my late father in law’s collections (600 model car kits, 200 die cast cars, 800 vinyl records and tons of ceramic/resin figurines, original Nintendo games… among a ton of other things). I am completely out of my depth and range of knowledge. Any suggestions for how I can figure out what’s junk and what isn’t? Simply to make room, we sold all the car kits to collectors and I am well aware that we undersold many of them at just $5-10 apiece. It is what it is, but going forward I’d like spend a little more time to get better prices.


Kim November 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Katy, Thanks so much for this encouragement! I’ve been selling on Amazon for 17 months but I keep saying I have to open an Etsy store for the vintage textiles and home goods that find there way home with me. The photography has been one of the things that has held me back. I can so this!


Sloan November 15, 2013 at 1:27 pm

I have never sold through either, but I have bought from Etsy before and haven’t had any problems. (I would recommend, however, that you stop posting how much you spend on a piece that you re-sell. From working retail, I hate knowing how much people mark things up. And yes, I feel a little hypocritical reading a blog about non-consumerism while working in a retail store. But I love what I do and it pays the bills.)


Katy November 15, 2013 at 2:06 pm

I probably should stop writing about how much I pay for my finds, but I probably won’t.




Jane November 18, 2013 at 10:11 am

NOOOO!!! Don’t stop posting what you pay. It keeps me motivated to continue looking for my own finds to resell. I love knowing how much you can make.


Jenny November 15, 2013 at 5:27 pm

I used to have that pot! And now it’s vintage. Ugh.


Carolyn November 15, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Any advice on where to sell my PDF worksheets for busy families? I am a professional organizer and am looking for an alternative to having my own shopping cart on my website.


Diane November 16, 2013 at 5:25 am

Recently I have been selling my hand sewn and hand quilted baby quilts on ebay. I tried etsy in the past, but had little success. However, knowing now the difference in your actual proceeds from each site, I may try etsy again. Now is a good time with holiday shopping,

Thanks for the timely tips!


vicki November 16, 2013 at 6:11 am

The fee for selling on Etsy is 20¢ for a 4 month listing not 30 days which is a great deal. I used to sell a lot on Ebay for years but prefer Etsy now. Ebay got too big and they started promoting more of the new stuff rather than vintage. Also they seem to prefer you do buy it now listings. My sales really dropped and I switched over. I was having a majority of my items ending with no bids and I used to do a couple a thousand a month in sales. I like the smaller Etsy community. I will do ebay for an occasional thing I don’t know the value on.


Trish November 16, 2013 at 7:50 am

How do you handle the paperwork Etsy requires for reporting your taxable income from sales on Etsy?


Van November 16, 2013 at 8:15 am

Aw, thanks for the shout-out. My first listings were fast and dirty too, I kept photographing daily and continue to evolve my style. Now it’s more artfully staged and taking forever, oye ;p

I’ve learned Etsy can be a numbers game, more listings mean more eyes on your shop and more avenues for people to reach it. I love Etsy because it’s a creative marketplace that forces me to improve branding and photo composition, and right now I only sell vintage items so I do well with it. Etsy is not for everyone, if you really just want to turn around items fast and not worry about branding yourself or making things pretty eBay is the way to go. I’m going to try eBay soon and see how it goes, I do have a pile of comic books, actions figures, Japanese things and nerd stuff that I can’t sell on Etsy.

I thought some more about it and I think that’s the biggest deciding factor on whether you should sell on Etsy versus eBay. If you want a shop to brand a pretty shop, go with Etsy, if you want to sell items fast go with eBay. Etsy can be a slow sell.


Katy November 16, 2013 at 12:37 pm

“Fast and dirty?” You make Etsy sound like a lot of fun! 😉

I am curious how things will go with my shop, although I’ve already gotten couple of questions from potential buyers. I am not looking to expand my “brand,” as that’s already firmly set. I am looking for another revenue stream.

I figured the pre-holiday time was a perfect time to dip my toe in the water.



Diane C November 16, 2013 at 11:17 am

Hooray for you!


Wendy Hoechstetter November 17, 2013 at 4:22 am

Boy, you’re quick! I just opened an Etsy store myself a couple of months ago, but haven’t gotten the photography sorted out yet for various reasons. I also hadn’t realized at the time that I couldn’t sell the things I had planned to sell there, but I know they also won’t sell for enough on eBay, so I’m working on plan B.

Thanks for the comparisons between Etsy and eBay. I’ve been debating between the two and have also concluded that some things will be better on one or the other. It seems like more things go at what could be considered a wholesale price on eBay than on Etsy, although there is certainly plenty that is definitely priced at or well above any reasonable retail price. That makes eBay, IMO, a good place to find many kinds of things to resell, but not as good a place to resell them on. I’ve seen very little in the way of finished goods on Etsy that I think is priced well enough to consider buying for resale, although it’s good for jewelry and craft supplies.

The whole postage issue terrifies me, frankly. I think I’ll just mark most things up enough to cover the actual costs and set the postage to free now that I’ve learned what some rates are through the post office and UPS, but I’m mostly dealing with jewelry items at the moment, which are small enough to make that workable. I don’t know what I’ll do about larger items like decorative objects and furniture, though. I haven’t been able to find a weight calculator on Etsy, either, and I think it’s a huge lack. I’ve noticed some listings that just seem to have already calculated the cost to ship the item to the other side of the country, or all the way around the world, thereby listing the *most* it’s likely to be, and then tell prospective buyers to contact the seller for an actual quote.

Megan, there are a lot of ways to figure out what something is worth, and unfortunately, all of them take some substantial work. One is to just keep trolling listings on places like eBay and Etsy until you get an idea of what similar things are actually selling for. On eBay, you can search specifically for things that have already sold, which is really helpful, and also look at what prices people have set on similar items that are currently available for sale. Add some items of the sort you are interested in to your watch list on eBay, and you’ll then be able to automatically see what they actually sell for.

Do the same in local stores and on other related websites. Comb auction catalogues for expected sale prices, then follow up after the sale to see what the items actually went for. Many types of antiques and collectibles also have price guides available, although I don’t know how accurate they are since by definition any such guide is already relatively old by the time it can be compiled and published. They’d be a place to start, though, and at least give you an indication of what one sort of item is worth relative to another of a similar type – like one model year might be more valuable than another of the exact same item. And sometimes, you just have to take a stab in the dark.


Katy November 17, 2013 at 11:33 am

I think the best way to see how much something is worth is to go to “Completed Listings” on eBay. This will show you how much certain items actually sold for. You can ask a zillion dollars for something all day long, but whether it sold for that amount is the true value.



Donna Drevdahl November 19, 2013 at 9:31 am

I sell on both. My Etsy store is use only for my handmade cross stitch – TheGardenStitcher. I have been on Etsy for a little over a year and am finally developing a following. I have had success on both sites but would love to shift more of my sales to Etsy as they have lower costs and buyers seem to appreciate quality hand made.


Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal) November 23, 2013 at 9:43 am

My husband has dabbled on eBay, and I’ve thought about an Etsy shop, so it’s good to know the pros and cons!

Also, you can take some great photos with an iPhone. I thought these tips from (another) Stephanie at Noshtopia were really helpful (they’re actually about food, but I think most would still apply):

And congrats on your new shop!


Melissa December 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Ebay is a lot different now than it used to be. I used to list everything at 99¢ and get many bids. Now there’s apparently many more sellers than there are buyers, I’m lucky to get 1 bid for my item. So I’ve had to start listing closer to the price I want, and I put a BIN price, hoping someone will just go for it and not want to wait.

It is free to list up to 50 auctions a month, but they take final value fee, and a fee on your shipping charges, plus Paypal fee, plus shipping costs an arm and a leg anymore. It’s such a pain to try and figure out if the larger audience is worth it, or if it’s better to just stick with selling more local (Craigslist, or Facebook Yard/Garage Sale or Antique Groups).

I tried Etsy for a few things and also didn’t do too well. I think I sold 3 items in several months.

I just have discovered another selling sight called that seems to be a mix between Etsy and Ebay.
I was searching for GI Joe action figures and came across one still in the package for $17.99 + $4.00 s/h. I checked at ebay and Amazon and they were listed for $75+. I also picked up 5 Hallmark Christmas tree ornaments for $15 with free shipping.
I haven’t actually checked into selling there yet, so can’t say as to that.


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