Etsy Resources, Part 1: Alchemy and the Forums

From NeenaCreates

We all know that Etsy is the place to buy and sell handmade goods, vintage finds and craft supplies, but as a seller, do you take advantage of the various resources that Etsy offers?

There are a myriad of resources and to cover them will require several posts.  As such, we’ll focus on 2 areas today: alchemy and the forums.


Alchemy is a great place to find buyers commissioning work something they need or for you to request custom work if you don’t know a seller that makes what you’re looking for.

–>The pros:

  • As a buyer, you can put your information out to the whole community instead of contacting several different sellers
  • As a buyer, you can have different sellers bid on your request allowing you to see the range of prices and products they are able to offer
  • As a buyer, you don’t need to accept any offers if nothing appeals to you
  • As a seller, you can peruse the different requests and bid on them and perhaps capture a sale and a new customer
  • As a seller, you can sign up for the alchemy feed (I don’t believe there is an email alert yet for this feature)
  • Both parties can agree/disagree/alter the terms so that it works for both sides

–>The cons:

  • Sometimes the things people request are for ridiculously low prices – know that you can still bid with your higher price; if they see that no one can meet that low, low price, they’ll soon learn that they’re request is not reasonable
  • As a buyer requesting a custom item, you’ll only get the eyes of those sellers that check alchemy often or have an alchemy feed that they check on

Says Wendy of ArtisticallyStitched, “I LOVE alchemy ~ it is a great way to find things that might be hard to find on Etsy!! I have used alchemy a bunch when I couldn’t find the “just perfect” item that I was looking for.  You put in a request & it seems like seconds later you have a bunch of people willing to help, so it works out great for both people.”

From ArtisticallyStitched

I recently did my first alchemy request as a buyer looking for plain eco-friendly journals that I could embellish with my artwork.  I have to say that I found the experience to be positive overall and of the 5 bids, have purchased from 2 vendors that I had not seen when doing a regular Etsy search.  Furthermore, they were able to tailor to my exact specifications.

If you want to learn more about how the process of alchemy works, click here.


Surely, you’ve been to the forums, located here.  If not, then what a wealth of information you are missing!  The forums are broken up into several sections:

  • Admin Announcements – here you can find out what’s coming down the pike such as new checkout procedures, new site layouts, and any maintenance/troubleshooting issues they are working on.  I make it a point to check this area out at least once a week so I can know what to anticipate on upcoming changes.
  • Site Help – here  you can ask questions about any issues you are having specific to the site and your shop; I’ll peruse these a couple times a week to just see what’s going on and to get some valuable tips on how to handle future hiccups that are typical with running an online business
  • Business Topics – as not only a shop owner, but as one of the business tips co-editors, I find this spot extremely valuable!  Before I opened my shop, I spent every day for 5 months in this area to learn the ins/outs of everything from shipping to taxes to how to set up my shop/profile/policies.  Spending time in this particular forum gave me the confidence and skill set to open up my shop and I’ve had very few problems as a result.  I always say, “don’t reinvent the wheel!”  Learn from the mistakes of others as well as the best practices from the pros.  This is also a great place to pose questions when a weird scenario comes up and you’re not sure how to handle.  People love giving their two cents and it helps to hear different perspectives as well as real-world experience that others have had with similar situations
  • International – feel like an outsider and want to connect with others in your area outside of the U.S.?  This is a great place to meet others in your area, network, and build a community
  • Ideas – here is a spot for you to voice any areas that you’d like to see Etsy improve upon; I honestly haven’t used this area but am hopeful that Etsy Admins set it up as a place for you to voice any changes or ideas you’d like to see implemented.  As the saying goes, “Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”
  • Bugs – this is where you can report any glitches to the site and get the attention of the administrators; oftentimes Admins will post directly in this area or will respond directly to posts so others can see how it’s being resolved
  • CPSIA – this is the area where those who work with products for kids 12 and under can discuss the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act here; not meant to be a replacement for legal advice, but a great resource nonetheless
  • Critiques – if you have a new shop, new item or maybe slow sales and want some objective feedback from another seller or buyer, here’s the place to go.  You can get their perspective and usually people are helpful here.  This is also a place where you can ask about the quality of your pictures, to see if your descriptions read well to others and to get a “price check” on your items
  • Techniques & Materials – oftentimes sellers are secretive about where they source their materials, but here is the place where folks are happy to share resources or to point you in the direction of vendors and suppliers; this is also a spot to discuss the merits of using certain materials as opposed to others and people will sometimes share tutorials here as well
  • Team & Events – this is where you can connect with your teams, with events in your area or find teams/events to become part of
  • Promotions – if you’re having a sale, an event at your shop or something else you’re looking to promote, here’s the spot; keep in mind that lots of people are looking to promote so your info may get lost quickly!
  • Etc. – this is the spot to post general items that perhaps don’t fit into the other forums; topics can be related to anything on or off Etsy, even if you feel like discussing the latest results on your favorite reality show!  Kind of a free-for-all

“Although it can be hard to pick your way through it…I love that I can find some great information on the Forums,” says Penelope of NeenaCreates.

From NeenaCreates

Some things to keep in mind while in the forums:

  • while most people are generally very helpful, there are some “negative nellies” lurking in there, so pay them no mind and keep moving on
  • be sure that if you post something out there that you come back and visit your own post and thank people for taking the time to write and offer feedback/suggestions
  • before you post a question, do a search on it first; just about every topic has been covered multiple times and you’ll save yourself some time and that of others by seeing if your question has been answered in another post
  • while commenting on others posts can give you some publicity/make people aware of you and encourage them to click on your shop, be mindful what you say as anyone can read it; if you come off snarky, then potential buyers may be put off by that
  • know that spending time in the forums, while incredible valuable, can be a major time-suck, so if you find yourself spending more time in the forums than working on your business, then you may need to set yourself some time limits!

From ArtisticallyStitched

What else do you like/dislike about Alchemy and the Forums?  Please share with the rest of the group.  Next time my turn is up to post, I’ll continue this topic with Etsy emails and Pounce – two additional Etsy resources.

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