What Does It Mean To Be A “Star Seller” On Etsy?

Etsy — Star Seller Icon (Stylized)The “Photics” shop on Etsy recently received Star Seller status. Basically, it’s a little purple icon to show that a shop is well-run. It’s really good timing, as there’s a 20% off sale at shop during the month of November 2021. Lots of people have been waiting to buy “A Book About Hype” and “Wrapping”, but they want a discount! So, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

Anyway, here’s the story about being a Star Seller on Etsy. Visit Photics.TV to see this article as a video. Last Spring, I was looking for a new home for my digital products. I was searching for an alternative to Apple’s app stores, as their review process is pretty strict.

It’s like when you’re younger and a rich kid invites you over to his house to play. But when you’re there, he says “Don’t touch anything!” In other words, I wasn’t having much fun as a developer on Apple’s app store. There were so many things that just wasn’t permitted.

After looking at many options, I decided to try Etsy.com. Now, admittedly, that seems to be a bit of a mismatch. Isn’t Etsy for suburban housewives that can knit, sew, or make something creative?

Well, if Apple is the snobby rich kid, Etsy is the proper office lady by day, but at night she has a wild side. Have you seen what’s for sale over there? HA HA! WHEW! ☺️

But the point is this — I wasn’t going to have any trouble getting “A Book About Hype” listed on my Etsy shop. And sure enough, it was easy. I really like this site. As web developer, I’m not usually impressed by websites. But with Etsy, they got it right. Everything just worked. It was so intuitive and pleasant.

I’m not kidding. It was as if a huge boulder was lifted off my chest. Etsy was just a good experience.

There were three main reasons why I chose Etsy. The first was the format. As an example, Lulu.com is pretty good for selling on-demand printed books. They also let you sell e-books. However, I was trying to sell a macOS app. That was a no-go on Lulu.com.

That was the problem with my App. It didn’t fit with so many places. But with Etsy, it worked. I could upload up to five separate files. So, I uploaded the App, the ePub, and the Hype templates.

That was the second reason why I chose Etsy. The service is excellent. In particular, they manage the downloads — that’s so nice!

While I’ve had some success with FastSpring.com, which is very good for digital downloads, the biggest problem was managing previous downloads. I was getting lots of customer requests to help retrieve previous downloads. This was very tedious because I didn’t have a good system to manage that. Now, Etsy does that for me.

While there are many e-commerce solutions out there, I couldn’t find one that met my particular set of requirements. This expands on the second reason for choosing Etsy. They manage the digital downloads, they take care of sales tax for me, they have a seller protection policy, and they provide some powerful marketing tools.

While I didn’t interact much with Etsy’s customer service. I didn’t feel like I was on my own. This leads to the third reason I chose Etsy — even though the service is very good, it’s still affordable.

Initially, I was confused with listing fees, but then I did the math — it worked out. Etsy wasn’t that expensive. Basically, the cost is in three parts — a listing fee, a commission, and (if applicable) an advertisement fee.

That last one can be steep. Etsy runs offsite ads to promote products listed on Etsy. If successful, that’s a 15% cut. I haven’t seen it happen with one of my listings though. The website says, “Etsy advertises your items on high-traffic sites including Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Bing to drive new buyers straight to your shop.”

But looking at the activity for my shop — nothing happened.

The website says that I brought 93% of the traffic to my Etsy shop. I suspect this is related to my digital goods, which feels like something of a mismatch on Etsy. When you think of macOS apps, do you think of Etsy?

Well, I do now. It’s been great. It’s certainly not early retirement, but there have been sales.

There is one major problem with Etsy though. There’s a 20 MB cap on digital files. You can have up to five files, for a combined 100 megabytes, but that’s still pretty limiting. This is so unfortunate. For years, people have been asking me to make Widgets available internationally. If not for this cap, Etsy could solve the problem.

The Widgets app is 98.5 MB — and growing! It’s too bad that I can’t upload larger files, or manage App updates through Etsy.

There is something else that’s odd with Etsy. Digital files are treated like physical goods. They have an inventory number. It’s a bit screwy, as digital files should not be limited in that way. It’s a minor issue though, as I just put a ridiculously high inventory number to solve that problem.

Overall, Etsy’s an unexpected hero of digital files. What was even more unexpected was the Star Seller program.

On November 1st, 2021, the “Photics” Etsy shop reached Star Seller status. It’s basically public recognition for shops that are well-run. Apparently, that includes my shop.

The requirements are not too bad, although there is a bit of luck involved. One of the main requirements is a fast response time. If someone contacts you through Etsy, a less than 24-hour response time is expected.

That can be tough to maintain if Etsy is just a side-gig to you. It essentially means no days off to be a “Star Seller”. (You can set an auto message, but I’m not doing that. It’s terrible customer support, which could lead to lower ratings anyway.) Although, I don’t get that many messages, so I was able to keep up with the demand. This seems like a fair requirement though. It’s just good customer support.

Another requirement is meeting your shipping deadlines. Since I only listed digital goods, this wasn’t a problem.

The third requirement, that’s a problem! 95% of the reviews need to be 5-star ratings. That tough! Right now, someone could leave a non-perfect review on one of my listings and knock the shop out of the “Star Seller” program.

There is another requirement. An Etsy shop needs at least 10 orders and $300 in revenue (within 90 days) to qualify. That’s a key number for the Star Seller program, as the shop has to be at least 90 days old, from the first sale, in order to qualify.

The main benefit of being a Star Seller is an increased chance of being feature by Etsy. It’s early yet, but I haven’t noticed a difference. Again, my digital products are a bit of a mismatch for Etsy. Even though I started a holiday sale for the entire month of November 2021, I’m not seeing any special coverage of my shop or my products.

So, if you’re thinking about making money through Etsy, but your shop is not listed as a Star Seller, don’t feel too bad. I think Etsy is trying to maintain a delicate balance. They want to feature shops that have good customer service, but it also looks like they don’t want to discourage people.

While it’s nice to have the purple badge, I’m not sure if it really matters. I think it would have been better if Etsy focused more on improving digital downloads — such as having a larger upload cap, being able to update digital downloads, and getting rid of that silly inventory issue.

I also think Etsy could do a better job of featuring digital downloads too. Lots of people sell apps and digital books. I’m surprised that this isn’t a bigger thing at Etsy, especially since Etsy does such a good job at digital e-commerce.

That’s main message here. If you’re looking for a way to sell digital goods, as a main or side income, don’t prejudge Etsy. I could have dismissed Etsy as a site just for women, but then I would have missed out on powerful e-commerce features.

I was so impressed with Etsy that I’ve been considering the possibilities of making physical objects, such as a wooden board game or something nice for cat lovers. 😻

I don’t know if that will happen, but subscribe to Photics.TV be alerted if it does. If I do start crafting products, it will likely be a series of videos on this channel.