How I Lost Etsy (And Gained Planning)

Teeny tiny cuteness.
A lot of you know that on August 7, 2011, I gave birth to the most amazing thing ever: my son Pike. You can hold your applause until the end of the post, but check that picture out! He deserves it. Anyway, if you want the whole story, it's here, but not only did I give birth the most amazing kiddo ever, I gave birth to him via emergency c-section seven weeks early. Why does this matter? Read on, and all shall be revealed.
Obviously the early birth meant a lot of new financial burdens. I'm thrilled to say that friends and family rallied with supplies and food and even PayPal donations to help us get through things that first couple of really rough months. I kept right on working on my shop, shipping out orders and trying to keep things normal for customers because I needed them more than ever. Then, one morning in November while I was feeding Pike, I noticed something weird: when I logged into Etsy, I didn't see my shop. Thinking surely it was one of Etsy's famous glitches and things would be well soon, I tried my other account. And my other account. Nothing. I can't remember if it was a notice I found in my messages or something I got via email that finally cleared up what had happened for me. The truth is that night is a blur of pain and disappointment and lots and lots of crying. If you haven't experienced it for yourself, being a sleep deprived new mom is hard enough without finding out that your secondary source of income has suddenly disappeared because of "copyright violation." The real joy? The piece that was supposedly violating copyright, um, it didn't. Not any copyright. Not at all. And yet I was clearly told by Etsy's legal time that I could not appeal the decision and was not welcome back. Ever. 

Etsy likes these so much they still feature them even though they won't sell them. #winning

After selling on their site since 2007 and even having my work prominently featured on their own blogs, I was banned. Please note: that feature is still up on their site, so my work is STILL essentially being promoted by the place that shut me down. Right?!

Now here's where it gets weird: I don't hate them. I hate how things were left and the fact that I lost that income and that venue of promotion and sales. But if someone asks? I still recommend Etsy as a starting place. The community there can be fantastic. The users (a lot of them, anyway) are some of the nicest people I've ever met. Seriously. Plus, you get traffic. Financially, selling there is good for you. Here's where I made my mistake: all my eggs were in the Etsy basket. I didn't have a stand alone site. I hadn't been using Etsy to build traffic to MY page where people would always know where to find everything. If I had, I'd be in a different place now. I wouldn't have had to redo the literally hundreds of hours I'd spent on product descriptions and keywording (yes, I'm a genius and had NO back up of all of that when Etsy pulled it down and wouldn't let me have access to it anymore). I wouldn't have been left in the lurch with a newborn baby and no real time or energy to rebuild four years of work.

What I've learned is to prepare for the worst. I now sell at - my own domain, my own playground. Frankly it's fantastic, and I love it. My husband helps me with technical stuff I don't know how to handle, and I can do what I want. I can play. It's aaaallll me! I back up all of my product information to a database that I store on Google Drive AND back up to a secondary harddrive just in case. I just wish I hadn't missed the years of opportunity to build my own audience. I'm still working on it now. It's happening slowly but surely. 

This whole thing was inspired by a conversation with Cody from LuAndEd and Erin from Southern Twisted since I realized there was a lot about not just my end with Etsy but what I'd learned from it that I'd never shared.

TL;DR: Protect yourself. Back up your information, store your pictures safely, and never assume anything is permanent. Your best weapon for success is you, so make sure you're supporting yourself.