Getting started on Etsy – or not

I’ve been thinking about starting an Etsy shop for a long time. I like photography, and enough people have told me I take good pictures that I began to think it was worth a shot trying to sell them. Enter Etsy, that nirvana of crafts, that vortex of creativity that could very easily suck my bank account dry with its fabulous necklaces and glam dresses and quirky vintage finds.

For someone with basically no business skills, actually starting the shop has been incredibly intimidating. There are user fees and content restrictions and shipping policies and taxes and all kinds of scary-sounding things I should really have laid out before I try to complete a transaction. I halfheartedly filled out a couple options with things that sounded impressive and decided to wait to talk to someone who actually had an Etsy shop, or at least knew a little more about the market economy.

Enter Brie and my fiance.

Brie has been selling necklaces and knitted doo-dads for a while now, and since Brie is the kind of person who makes lists of her lists (and embosses and patinas them while she’s at it), I figured she could help me figure some of this stuff out.

“Well,” she wrote to me on Facebook, “have you gotten your business license yet?”

At which point the memory of my last attempt to be entrepreneurial flew in and planted itself in the middle of my sunny path to Etsy success like the Black Knight from Monty Python.


I would very much like to open a bookstore someday. I don’t particularly care where – small beach town, big city, wherever – but I had a name for it and everything. This name is so awesome and top-secret that I’m not even going to tell you what it is, because I might still open a bookstore someday. (tread softly for you tread on my dreeeeams.) A few years ago, I even tried to apply for a trademark for the name, but then I found out that the process costs about $300.

So I put that on hold for a while.

~*end flashback*~

Now I have no idea how much an Oregon business license and/or permit costs, or what I need, or where I can get it, and Kevin heard all about this when he picked me up from work.

“I can understand them doing this to the people who actually make a living from it, but I’m going to make, like fifty bucks a year from this. Maybe. It’s a hobby.” I may have ranted a little. “Why do I have to get a license? I don’t think my little photography shop is going to cause that big of a drain on the Oregon economy.”

Kevin just grinned and said nothing.

“What? You don’t agree with me, do you.”

“No, I actually agree. I do.”

“Because usually when you disagree with me, you just don’t say anything.”

“No, I just didn’t want to tell you that you’re actually a closet fiscal conservative.”

“Oh. Well, that’s okay.”

Kevin and I disagree on a great many political issues, which is one of the reasons he started a political blog, rather than put up with both my uninformed opinions and my…well, my opinions. They are different. And he’s better at debating than I am. And I didn’t entirely mind hearing that I’m a fiscal conservative – there are much worse things to be – but it didn’t help me with the fact that I have to cowboy up and apply for a license.

I’ve been working for an environmental agency for about four months now, so I have the various other agencies figured out. I know who has jurisdiction over what. I know where to go for a fishing license. I know who to talk to if I detect a weird odor out and about. But the business and economic agencies are still just a big scary blur of rules and forms and possible fines.

So if any Oregon-based Etsy-ers are out there, I welcome your suggestions!


One thought on “Getting started on Etsy – or not

  1. I have the same problem. I don’t know weather I should start an etsy site and sell or not. I’m very crafty. I was thinking of doing something along the lines of scrap book cards and other hand crafted stuff. It’s just really hard to know if someone will buy what you have to make.

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