Why I Choose Not to Sell Digital Design Products on Etsy

by | Jun 3, 2024 | Art Licensing Tips, Artist Journey, Entrepreneurship, How to Sell Your Art Online

In the vast landscape of online marketplaces, Etsy stands as a beacon for creators and artisans looking to showcase their work to the world. With its wide reach and user-friendly interface, it’s no wonder that many digital artists choose to sell their designs on this platform. 

Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

However, despite its popularity, I’ve made the conscious decision not to sell my digital design products on Etsy. I’d much rather recommend Gumroad because they are geared toward the Creator economy and have some fantastic tools.

Here’s why:

1. Oversaturation:

Etsy is a bustling marketplace teeming with countless digital products, from illustrations and patterns to fonts and templates. While this abundance of options may seem beneficial at first glance, it also means that standing out from the crowd can be incredibly challenging. With so many similar products vying for attention, it’s easy for your creations to get lost in the shuffle.

2. Limited Licensing Options:

One of the main drawbacks of selling digital products on Etsy is the lack of options for licensing artwork to customers. Unlike other platforms that offer customizable licensing agreements, Etsy’s terms of service are relatively rigid when it comes to intellectual property rights. This can be a major deterrent for artists who wish to retain control over how their work is used and distributed.

3. Lack of Intellectual Property Protection:

Another significant concern with selling digital products on Etsy is the platform’s limited ability to monitor and protect against intellectual property theft. Despite efforts to enforce copyright policies, Etsy’s decentralized structure makes it challenging to prevent unauthorized use of original artwork. In my own experience, I’ve encountered instances where individuals have unlawfully sold my brush sets on Etsy after obtaining them from free sources such as Adobe Discover. This lack of accountability not only undermines the value of my work but also highlights the inherent risks associated with selling on the platform.

4. Consider Alternative Avenues:

Before diving into selling digital products on Etsy, it’s essential to conduct thorough research and carefully weigh your options. While Etsy may seem like a convenient platform for showcasing your work, it’s crucial to consider whether it aligns with your long-term goals and aspirations as a digital artist. In my experience, I’ve found that there are other avenues for monetizing my creativity, such as selling prints or physical items, that offer greater potential for success. Unlike digital products, which often face stiff competition and pricing pressures, physical goods can command higher prices and provide a more tangible value proposition for customers. Before committing your time and resources to selling on Etsy, take the time to explore alternative avenues that may better suit your needs and objectives.

5. Lack of Artistic Integrity:

Another significant reason I opt not to sell digital design products on Etsy is the proliferation of creators using AI to generate artwork. While AI technology undoubtedly has its merits, the rampant use of automated tools for mass-producing digital designs often results in a dilution of artistic integrity. Many sellers prioritize quantity over quality, churning out generic designs in pursuit of quick profits. As an artist committed to maintaining the authenticity and craftsmanship of my work, I believe in the importance of preserving the human touch in the creative process.

That said, I’m not against the use of AI in artwork. If creators start with original designs and utilize Photoshop’s Generative AI tool to enhance their artwork, I think that’s a valid and innovative approach. However, when AI becomes a substitute for genuine creativity and expression, it undermines the value of handmade, artisanal work. By refraining from selling on platforms like Etsy, where AI-generated artwork is prevalent, I can uphold the values of creativity and originality that are central to my artistic practice.

Ultimately, while Etsy may offer a convenient platform for selling digital design products, it’s not without its drawbacks. As an artist committed to maintaining the integrity and value of my work, I’ve chosen to explore alternative avenues that align more closely with my principles and goals. By prioritizing quality over quantity and fostering meaningful connections with my audience, I believe I can create a more sustainable and fulfilling creative journey.

Other Platforms I recommend Selling on:

Creative Market

Design Bundles

Creative Fabrica