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Etsy vs. eBay

At the end of my last post, {Is Etsy Right For You?}, I said that the next post here on Etsypedia would be all about opening your Etsy shop... and that post is coming, I promise!

But first I have another post to help you decide if Etsy is right for you (if you haven't already made that decision)... consider it part II!

I have seen a lot of questions about Etsy versus eBay and I thought it would be helpful to do a comparison post just so you can see how the two compare side-by-side. There are other sites where you can sell your items too, Amazon is another popular one, but eBay and Etsy are the two that I have experience with and the ones I see the most questions about.

You may remember me saying in my {introduction} post that I started selling on eBay in 1998... eBay only just started in 1995! I started selling on Etsy in 2007. I've continued to sell here and there on eBay whenever I've had something that isn't allowed on Etsy but that I know I could make a little money from. For a reminder of what's allowed and what's not allowed, see {here}.

By the way, what you are trying to sell is going to be one of your deciding factors. If you're trying to sell cell phones, new (not vintage) clothing, shoes, etc. then Etsy is not for you... because  you can't sell those items on Etsy for one thing! ;o) eBay or another site like Amazon would be a better fit for you.

If you want to sell vintage, handmade, or supplies then Etsy is a good choice... but you can also sell those things on eBay.

Etsy vs. eBay

Now first, before I get into it... a little disclaimer... what I am writing here is MY understanding of how eBay works. I just gotta say... eBay's rules are COMPLEX you guys, I mean they are just downright HARD to understand sometimes! There are so many "some exclusions may apply" and "learn more here" turns in the maze of what is "eBay rules and regulations"! 

Part I - Price Comparison

So here we go! Here's a comparison table I made.

Insertion Fees
Free for first 20 listings per month
Listings stay active for one month.  You also get 20 additional free listings in the "Collectibles" catagory (Note: Not all categories of collectibles are eligible).

.20 cents per item
Listings stay active for 4 months
Selling Fees
10% for item
10% for shipping
Called Final Value Fee. You pay 10% of the final sale price and another 10% of the shipping fee.

You pay 3.5% of the sale price NOT including shipping.
Paypal Fees
2.9% + .30 cents
You pay 2.9% of the total transaction amount plus .30 cents.

2.9% + .30 cents
You pay 2.9% of the total transaction amount plus .30 cents.
Direct Checkout
Not applicable on eBay

3% + .25 cents
You pay 3% of the total transaction amount plus .25 cents (Note: customers can pay with integrated Paypal and you are ONLY charged the direct checkout fees.

To help illustrate what this table is saying without YOU having to get a calculator, I did a comparison using {eBay's fee calculator} and the fees chart for Etsy that I posted {here}.

I created an imaginary listing of a vintage sheet.

Source: My Etsy shop!

So, let's say our imaginary sheet sold for $15.99 with a shipping charge of $5.95. 

According to eBay's calculator, the total final value fees paid for selling this sheet on eBay would be $2.19. Now add in the Paypal charge which would be .94 cents bringing the total to $3.13.

The total fees for selling the same sheet on Etsy would be $1.67 if you use Direct Checkout or $1.70 if you use Paypal without Direct Checkout.

Just to recap... to sell a sheet for $15.99 with $5.95 shipping cost:

eBay = $3.13
Etsy = $1.67 to $1.70

Here's another example using the same imaginary sheet. This time let's say we sold it for $30.00 plus $5.95 shipping. 

Total fees paid on eBay including Paypal fees would be $4.94.

The total fees paid for selling the same sheet on Etsy would be $2.58 using Direct Checkout or $2.59 using Paypal without Direct Checkout.

Again... to sell a sheet for $30.00 with $5.95 shipping cost:

eBay = $4.94
Etsy = $2.58 to $2.59


Ok, so now that you've seen an example of the differences in fees for selling on eBay vs. Etsy, let's go over some pros and cons.

Part II - The Pros and Cons of Selling on eBay

Again, please remember, these are my opinions. I am trying to make it as unbiased as I can though. There are a lot of people who are very successful on eBay, it works for them... and it worked for my mom and I for a long time too!

So anyway... on to the pros and cons!

The Pros

  • Wider customer base - as of Quarter 2, 2015 eBay has 157 million buyers {source}. Etsy has 21.7 million active buyers.
  • More picture spaces - on eBay you get TWELVE picture slots, on Etsy you only get five. (I'll show you a little trick to cram more pictures into those 5 slots though in another post! ;o)
  • Customization - You can create your own customized store which allows for better branding. You can even purchase pre-made templates for your item listings in your store. My mom and I had a couple we used to use.
Here's an example of one for sale now on eBay by {OmasBakery&FabFinds&Pik-n-Klik}. Here's a picture of what it looks like:

Pretty yah?

The Cons
  • Competition - anyone can sell on eBay and almost anything can be sold as long as it's not illegal. Distributors and big box Manufacturers sell right along with individuals and small businesses like you and I.
  • Higher Fees and fees to have a store - See selling fee comparison above. A basic store on eBay costs $15.95 a month, premium is $49.95, and anchor is $179.95 a month. There are benefits to opening a store as opposed to just listing your items such as 100 free auction style listings each month, final value fees are discounted, and there are reporting, promotion, and marketing features.
  • You can only accept Paypal, Paypal credit, and credit or debit card payments processed through YOUR internet merchant account. Check or money order payments are not allowed.
  • Seller Levels - as a seller on eBay you are evaluated by eBay on the 20th of each month. The 3 rating levels are "Top Rated Seller", "Above Standard", and "Below Standard". As a top rated seller you'll get 20% discount on final value fees but it is difficult to get there and remain there (at least in my experience)! To become a top rated seller you must:
    • Include same-day or 1-day handling and 14-day or longer money-back returns
    • Have at least 100 transactions with US buyers and at least $1,000 in sales with US buyers over a 12 month period
    • Upload tracking information for each transaction
    • Even if you do all these things one negative or neutral feedback from a customer or buyer protection case opened can erase it all. Sometimes customers will leave negative feedback when it is not warranted and there is basically nothing you can do about it. That can happen on Etsy as well but it doesn't have such damaging effects.
  • If you are not rated as a top rated seller your listings are placed at a lower search level... this means that eBay will not show your items as high in the searches as those who are rated as a top rated seller. Top rated sellers' items will be shown to buyers first.
Now that you've read my mostly unbiased comparison of eBay vs. Etsy I'll tell you why my mom and I decided to move the majority of our selling activities to Etsy.

We made the move because it seemed like every time we turned around eBay was raising their fees or we weren't meeting all their standards as sellers. They always side with the buyer and they will TAKE the money out of your Paypal account to refund a buyer who has complained (the buyer does have to return the item but they do not care in what condition it is returned). Both parties (buyer and seller) leave feedback for each other but sellers are not allowed to leave negative feedback. Those were just a few of the issues that I remember having. It was very frustrating to say the least.

As one person stated in the Etsy Forums, "Ebay is not a warm and fuzzy place to sell nor does it have a caring community" and for me that sums it all up! I would rather sell in warm, caring environment :o) 

If you're still undecided or you've had good experiences with eBay already, you can always do both and see which one works best for you! For many people the two seem to complement each other... what you can't sell on Etsy you can on eBay!

I hope you found this post helpful, I'd love it if  you would take a moment and let me know what you thought. I'd also love to hear if you are considering opening an Etsy shop or already have one?


  1. Very informative. I hadn't ever really compared the costs in depth, but i knew that eBay was more expensive and waaaay more annoying to deal with!

  2. I have only used eBay, since 1997. The selling costs have dropped somewhat for me, especially when they started offering free listings a few years ago. Now pretty much every month, I get an offer for more free listings, usually up to 1000. I don't have the time to take advantage of that many but I do try and add more. I am at the Top Seller designation. It took me a long time to get there; now the sales qualifications are lower to achieve Top Seller. I've been tempted to try Etsy, but I wasn't sure how their fees measured up. I like eBay, since after a week, my sales can be done (if I'm taking time off). With Etsy or Amazon, you have to be ready to ship at anytime, right? eBay ID: mwdolls

    1. Hi Monica, thanks for commenting. It sounds like eBay has worked out well for you, that's great :o) I know it works for many people.

      You don't have to be ready to ship at any time on Etsy. You can put your shop on vacation mode for as long as you need. If people stop by when your shop is on vacation they can check a box to have Etsy send them an email when you return so they won't forget to come back!

      I can't comment on Amazon as I have never sold there.

      I looked at your eBay site, cute stuff! Keep in mind that if you decide to give Etsy a shot you'd only be able to list the vintage items you have, supplies, and any handmade things if you do that.