Expand your market to sites such as Etsy and eBay

Selling through Shapeways is becoming more fruitful as time goes on. With the media attention and the virtually constant website upgrades sometimes all you have to do is put up some nice photos of a creation to get sales flowing. However, there are many benefits to expanding your Shapeways products to other online markets. 3D printed creations are pretty new to online shopping venues, and there certainly is an appeal to be one of the first few to sell these sorts of things. It’s like being on the ship that discovered the 3D printed Americas.

Here is a “treasury” I compiled of 3D printed creations that are currently on Etsy.com (I did shamelessly include one of mine on there ;) , and no, it’s not the home printed moustache hair clip):

The biggest benefit to expanding sales to other websites is of course increasing the number of people who your creation is exposed to, therefore increasing the number of sales you have. Etsy.com and eBay.com are what I’m going to mention but of course there are others out there. Both these websites have a certain amount of recognition and trust associated with buying from them. If you (the seller) are a good seller, then it’s likely your ratings will reflect that, and people will be more at ease buying from you.

Etsy and eBay (and also PayPal) do take a small percentage, so you may want to increase your markup on those sites. More than anything you’re paying them for their help in marketing your product by being popular websites. You don’t necessarily have to have any items in stock, but I always suggest taking photos of the actual object if you can. You also would be mailing the piece out yourself, since at the moment Shapeways doesn’t have a way to drop ship without including the paper that would pretty much tell the customer how much you made off of the sale. I always take my time in line at the post office into account when figuring out a markup price and/or shipping and handling.

Among the more creative benefits is that you get a lot more freedom to add interesting aspects to your pieces and to have pieces come fully assembled or fully painted by first receiving the piece from Shapeways before you send it out again. I’ve personally taken the opportunity in order to add some Swarovski crystals to some of my stainless steel pieces, sterling silver earring hooks to earrings, faux leather cords for necklaces and I also offer eight colors in WSF in my Etsy listings since I dye them myself.

If you’re willing to put the effort in it can pay off!


  1. Dizingof

    Hey Christina

    Could you shed some light on how much traffic your pages get at etsy? (can you tell?)
    And how are the sales ratio? :)


    1. Christina Westbrook

      Hey there,

      One nice thing about Etsy is that it tells you how many times your listing has been viewed, and I believe it doesn’t count it if one person looks at a listing twice. Could you be more specific what you mean by sales ratio? As in how many of what I put online sell?

      For example, I put up a listing for my Steampunk Gear Verizon version case just over a week ago and the page says I’ve gotten 239 views and 8 hearts (which means 8 people saved the item in their favorites).

      ~ Christina

  2. Erica Schwartz

    I sell both 3d printed and laser cut jewelry on etsy: designerica.etsy.com

    I started doing it in earnest around June. I do about 10 sales per month in an average month. In December i sold close to $800 in merchandise on etsy. I could probably do better if I were a better photographer… i’m working on it.

    I say this because I also sell my stuff at a design collective in Brooklyn, NY (USA). I do more business there than I do on etsy, though I also have available there than i do on etsy. In Dec. I sold $1800+.

    1. Christina Westbrook

      I do love your designs! I think your honeycomb bracelet photo is lovely. It really is hard to find the time to take good photos though. I’m curious, do you make a living off of your 3D sales?

      ~ Christina

    2. erica schwartz

      I wish! The goal is to eventually make a living off my designs, but, no, the time has not yet come. I do freelance watch and jewelry design to make a living. my educational background is in Industrial Design so there’s no shortage of companies who can use my skills. My 3d printed and laser cut jewelry is, at this point, paying for itself, but i’m not raking in extra dough to support myself. i’m working on some wholesale deals that will help, and I think I could probably give up most of the freelance if I started doing fairs, but i’d rather sell wholesale than spend my life sitting outside trying to sell stuff to snobby new yorkers.

  3. Glenn Slingsby

    Oh, you missed all my stuff! http://www.etsy.com/shop/Lensman

    I don’t sell a lot on Etsy (enough to keep me using it) and use it primarily to try and attract customers that woudn’t otherwise find Shapeways. I have taken almost all reference to 3D printing out of my Etsy ad’s – it was just too confusing to some people and it smacked of mass manufactured items being sold on a site that is only supposed to offer handmade items…


    1. Erica Schwartz

      I think that the people who care to understand 3d printing are intrigued by the idea, and those who don’t want to bother understanding just don’t care. Given that etsy uses nervous system items on their promotions, i don’t think it smacks of mass production. remember that probably 90% of the people “making” jewelry are buying findings and just assembling them anyway. you’re doing as much if not more original creating when you use a 3d printer or laser cutter.

      you can track etsy views & hearts for your own shop (or anyone else’s etsy shop- you don’t need a pw to access the info) at craftcult.com

    2. Christina Westbrook

      Sorry I missed your stuff! I was searching for 3D printed pieces with a few different searches and didn’t see yours.

      I agree with Erica, 3D really can be a selling point in itself, I at least include a short mention of it. I say my pieces are made to order, which I believe allays fears of mass production.

      Before I started selling on Etsy I had the same concern regarding pieces not quite being “handmade.” I triple checked their rules, and it’s really a matter of the designer selling their own pieces, however they’re made, as long as they’re not mass manufactured. They allow 2D prints as tshirts, artist prints, etc. that are all made using machines that usually receive computer input, so why not 3D prints?

      I’ve seen mass manufactured bamboo iPhone cases on Etsy, with the only thing making it a designer piece is a laser etching. I agree with Erica again about the quote, unquote “making” of handmade jewelry mainly being from mass manufactured components.

      Is what we do any less creative than stringing together beads made in India, with jump rings and clasps made in China and string from the US?

      Not to knock on those who make beaded jewelry, it’s one of my occasional hobbies, and I incorporate beads into my pieces, but I’m sure most beaders would agree that what we do is creative.

    3. Glenn Slingsby

      Ha, yes, you probably missed mine because I took the 3D printing references out! Not to worry. And I absolutely agree with everyone’s comments about their definition of “handmade” which is why I continue to sell there.

      $800 in one month is impressive, Erica – I’m nowhere near that and I hope that people don’t think they can jump right in and start making that kind of money. I have no doubt it has taken you a while to reach that kind of level?


  4. Erica Schwartz

    well, i think as of this past June I had 2 ponoko laser cut items in my etsy shop and 0 sales. I put up a bunch of stuff in June and I’ve seen (generally) slowly increasing sales since then. Though I only have jewelry available at my etsy shop, I have made and sold other things in my store, mostly laser cut stuff in bamboo. I can tell you this much: the more things you have for sale, the more you’ll sell. It’s not just because you’re more likely to have something any one person likes, it’s also because people feel more comfortable buying from a store that looks successful and has a variety of items available.

    I also spend money and time advertising and relisting on etsy and I’ve done a little advertising elsewhere. I have a good amount of stuff available in my etsy shop (take a look) and I mark up enough to leave room for wholesaling. Plus don’t forget 800 was december. it’s not like i sell that much every month. And a few of the sales were people I know personally.

    In addition, I distribute photo postcards that have my etsy site & contact info on them, as well as business cards. I print notecards myself that i fill out by hand and send with every etsy sale. I’ve had a handful of repeat customers and a few custom requests via etsy. Thus far I’ve had one return- from a woman whose gold ring turned white the first time she got it wet.

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