Have you ever worked for a company which started off small and friendly and grew to become a large well known institution, and in the process lost touch with its roots?
In such circumstances the workers who helped to make a company great can be forgotten in the headlong pursuit of market dominance.
Rather strangely, this scenario does not always disappear when you become self-employed…
Yes, you are your own boss… and that can be both good and bad. Certainly it’s great to be independent and to make all the decisions…
On the flip side however, you do have to do everything yourself, as there is no one to delegate to.
Thus you have to become decision maker, strategist and salesman, the fulfiller of your product or service, as well as needing to be adept at basic accountancy to ensure everything ticks over and you stay solvent.
As a self-employed individual, there have been many times that I have mentally fired myself, usually for gross incompetence, only to come grovelling back a few hours later to re-hire myself all over again, as there is no one else to do the work.
At times it can feel as though you are working full-time for someone else, especially if you become indispensable to your clients, or even if your suppliers become indispensable to you.
Take eBay for example: a great company in many respects, but there is no doubt that as it’s grown, it has become less responsive to the needs of its individual small customers.
Many claim its rules and regulations have become unwieldy, and its fees too steep.
Similar to those working for large inflexible companies, many small traders stay with eBay because it helps to bring home the bacon, and there often seems very little alternative.
Whether working full-time for an employer, or as a self-employed individual, it really doesn’t do any harm to check out alternative companies.
So ultimately, whether you decide to stay or leave, you are empowered by the knowledge that you do have a choice in the matter.
Here I compare and contrast two alternatives to eBay: Etsy and Folksy
- Etsy is a vibrant community of 30 million buyers, providing a marketplace for crafters, artists and collectors
- Everything on Etsy must be hand-made or a craft supply. Additionally they will allow the sale of vintage items (at least 20 years old)
- Judging by comments on comparative forums, more ‘buyers’ favour Etsy over Folksy. This gives Etsy the edge in terms of buyer traffic and overall sales
- Reportedly, there is easier navigation on Etsy, compared to Folksy, with the ability for the buyer to save whilst browsing
- Reasonable fees – certainly more reasonable than those of eBay… Only $0.20 to list an item, with each listing lasting 120 days. This is suitable for sellers with just a few items to sell. There is a 3.5% transaction fee on the final sale price.
- Although there is now a British version of Etsy, this is historically an American-orientated site
- Re-selling items the seller was not involved in creating, e.g. re-packaging commercial items, is not allowed in their ‘handmade’ category
- Non-handmade items in their ‘vintage’ category have their own specific listing guidelines
- Etsy are VERY strict on their listing guidelines. Avoidance or non-compliance with their terms and conditions has resulted in some sellers being banned from the site. Therefore it’s advisable to be thoroughly cognisant with their T&Cs before commencing trading.
- Folksy was launched in the UK in 2008 with a handmade and craft focus, promoting the work of UK designers and makers
- Over 15,000 people now sell on Folksy
- There is a tangible British feel (rather than American) to the site. They only support sellers who live and work in the UK
- Great for buying and selling handmade gifts and craft supplies
- Reasonable fees – again, certainly more reasonable than those of eBay… Only £0.15 + VAT to list an item, with each listing lasting 120 days. This is suitable for sellers with just a few items to sell. Alternatively you can pay £45 per annum (Inc. VAT) for a Folksy Plus account, entitling you to unlimited free listings. More suitable for a regular trader. A 6% + VAT commission is charged on all sales.
- Folksy will not sell vintage items
- They only support sellers who live and work in the UK. (This is really only a ‘con’ if you are a potential seller living outside the UK.)
- Their search facilities and overall navigation is reported to be more confusing than on Etsy
- They are not yet as big as Etsy, with less traffic. Judging by some of the comments on their seller forums, their sellers do less well compared to Etsy. That having been said, many sellers are happy to have a foot in both camps, with a presence on both to increase their overall exposure.
Next week, I will round off this topic with a few more eBay alternatives which are well worth taking a look at.
Have a great week.