The Beautiful Mix of Business and Art



A few days ago I wrote a post that departed from my normal tone. I was a little gruff; a little direct. Maybe even a little condescending. None of those are what I want to be and I thought about deleting my post before too many people saw it!

This quote from that article will give you an idea of the tone:

“Getting a Sale on Etsy Is Like Winning the Lottery”
No, it isn’t. It’s one sale and you should expect it to happen pretty darn quickly. If it doesn’t then you need to go into the bathroom and look in the mirror and have a talk with your staff.

That post is all business and not wrong. Not entirely.

Here’s where it fails: It neglects to talk about the deep non-business connection you have with your Etsy shop. It forgets that your reasons for doing this go far beyond earning some cash.

In short, I forgot I was talking to an artist. A creator. Someone who gets as much joy from the love of making (if not more) than she does from the cha-ching at sale time.

It’s Not All About The Money — Not Even Close

Less than 6 hours after I wrote that bit of greed-laden, heartless, soulless business advice, I was providentially shown the glaring error of my ways.

12 Bones Asheville
12 Bones = Happy

Kim and I were on a little husband/wife trip to the stunning, tree-covered mountains of North Carolina to celebrate her birthday. We visited Asheville, ate some amazing BBQ at 12 Bones, and then went to the River Arts District.

The River Arts District is sort of like a little “real life” model of Etsy. Building after colorful building is filled with “working artists studios” where you can not only buy the art, but you can meet the artist and, if the stars are aligned and your timing is right, you can watch the creation process happening before your very eyes.

It’s fun. It’s inspiring. And it is a real reminder that it’s not just about the money.

There are successful artists who will sell you a photograph for a few hundred bucks or a painting for a few thousand. But if you look closer you’ll find that everyone is represented. We found one area that had the work of a budding mixed-media artist, we presumed a teen, who had wonderful work on display priced at just a few dollars.

Jonas Gerard - Asheville River Arts District
Shown above is Jonas Gerard whose gallery was our favorite. Photo:

The most impressive thing is that no matter what, whether making $500 an hour or dreaming of making $5, the absolute passion for the art was clearly evident in every artist and every piece of work on display.

The focus on the art was so great at times that sometimes even the customers browsing through were somewhat of an annoyance!

The creation was the main pursuit. The money was secondary; an afterthought.

Etsy Mixes Business and Art

If you’re looking to be a starving artist then my writing probably won’t really be your favorite because, for the most part, I’m talking about how to make money.

I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was about 14 years old when I sold my first house painting job. Before that I cut lawns. I’ve always loved it and the excitement I have about the opportunities online is so huge I hardly sleep at night.

So that’s what I write about here.


But I’ll try to never again sinfully forget that Etsy isn’t eBay. It’s not about selling just to sell. It’s not about marketing for marketing’s sake and accounting as a cure to boredom. Etsy is a place to share your creations and your exciting vintage finds with the world.

It’s a magical and wonderful and inspiring place where you can mix your greatest love with your need to earn a living. You can create and you can sell.

It’s awesome and I hope I can always be helpful on the business side. I’ll leave the whole artsy fartsy thing to my wife, Kim@EverythingEtsy (blog) (pinterest) (facebook), who didn’t need to see a physical Arts District to be reminded… because it’s just who she is.

Me, I’m about the opportunity of it all. It’s just so huge.


  1. Miranda says

    Money is nice but I have a day job for that. My Etsy creations are for my personal happiness, and maybe they will make someone else happy too = sale! Thanks for this post, you hit the nail on the head.

  2. Doshie Witcher says

    I use my Etsy shop as my creative outlet for what I do. I have had my own business for more than 20 years, but my Etsy shop lets me show my ideas and visions instead of the visions of the particular decorator that I’m sewing for at the moment. I haven’t found anything that can match the feeling I get when my customer likes what I created. Yes, I love that I get paid, but for me it’s the journey of turning a piece of fabric into a work of art for my customer’s window that makes me the happiest!

  3. says

    Oh – please don’t feel bad about that other post. Yes, Etsy is a creative outlet for me, and I’m happy making a little money doing what I love. My problem is that I pay so little attention to the money part of it, I wind up working my fingers to the bone for too little. If I’m going to work for free, I could be making things for my family and friends instead, you know? Artists need a reminder to pay attention to the money, and price our items and conduct our business in a way that values our time and our creativity. Thanks for ALL your posts!

  4. says

    Hi Tim:
    I have learned the hard way that money is not everything. My last full time job has proven that to me! However it also has showed me the way out and it brought me to Etsy… I don’t make much money on my shop but it makes me so happy to be free and creative! And above all I don’t have an a* as a boss that do not understand creativity and the art of making things!
    One day I want to be successful and I am working on that! What I mean is I want to live from/for my art, love my work and get pay for it! It will come in the right time!
    Thank you for another great post!

  5. says

    Great post! Especially the last line. The opportunity to have my own business and take care of the things that are important to me, not shareholders or a boss, is indeed huge. Certainly could not have done it without Etsy or at least not as soon as it happened.

  6. says

    I think you can have both worlds…why not? I love the creative side, and I love the entrepreneurial side with it like conjoined twins. The two sides together could not be more satisfying, and I wouldn’t really know how to separate them. They seem to live and breathe off of each other. At least for me!:)

  7. says

    I was checking out your blog because I was trying to decided whether to join your Etsy team since I already belong to several teams. After reading this post – I’m convinced! I had an eBay store years ago and had to shut it down due to family obligations. A friend suggested Etsy and I love it! But then I tried to reopen an eBay store and it just wasn’t the same and now I know why! Your post says it all! Thank you.

  8. says

    I was checking out your blog because I was trying to decide whether to join your Etsypreneur Etsy team since I already belong to several teams. After reading this post – I’m convinced! I had an eBay store several years ago and had to shut it down due to family obligations. A friend suggested Etsy about a year ago and I love it! But then a few months ago I tried to reopen an eBay store and it just wasn’t the same… and now I know why! Your post says it all! Thank you.

  9. says

    I think both posts are right on the “Money” so to speak. I love love love what I create, but I also need to at least break even with what I make and sell. I am trying to sell my creations to others who will love them asw much as I do… But to do that I need to think dollars and cents and not go BROKE creating them! If I kept every costume I create I would have no space to live (tried it once) ETSY gives me space to live, create, and network with others as well as pay a few stray bills or buy my 4 kids something cool!!! BTW read your book and it is VERY helpful.. To those trying to make a business on ETSY there are several very great books out there,…check them out.
    Ms.Z — The House of Zuehl