So, I've been around Etsy long enough to see all the "big" questions brought up, argued ad nauseam and fade away completely unresolved only to be revisited again & again & again. Etsy was the very first forum I ever participated in, so this was an entirely new experience for me. Nearly two years later with the return of the Alchemy feature, a new round has begun.
Rather that join in the fray there, I've decided to express my opinions here. The first subject I'd like to wax poetic about is: Artistic integrity or art for arts sake vs. creating for customers. When I first began tatting, I was only making simple objects like bookmarks and small doilies. As I got better I began making things I'd like to wear and when I started selling my work, that was what I was making. Some very well meaning sellers suggested that I start making things in colors because "people on etsy like color", so I did & I sold some things, but I wasn't really happy with a lot the pieces. Eventually I gave up trying to please people and now I only make pieces that I would wear, if I didn't have a 1 year old pulling at my jewelry that is.
Why do I bring all this up? Well it got me thinking about how we decide what we're gonna make next. I used to run to the forums and ask for advice, hoping that people would just tell what to make & then proceed to purchase whatever they had asked for. I imagine that is why people like alchemy so much. Why make things that may never sell, when you can make something with a ready made customer. I'll tell you why, it's kind of boring & doesn't give you the chance to really grow as an artist or artisan. I'm not saying that alchemy is bad, in fact I quite enjoy it, but when people spend all their time trolling the listings, they're just stressing themselves out when they could be making something they love to make.
Sorry if I started rambling on, it's my way. The bottom line here is, who really makes what they love & who spends a little too much time worrying about what people will like & buy?
I think you've got to find a happy medium or your days crafting for cash are fraught with frustration and are likely to end sooner rather than later. I'm really happy for those sellers that have found a niche that allows them to make lots o' money making things they love, but that's not the path for everyone. Maybe your craft should just stay your hobby & isn't a small business after all. I don't really believe that I can make a living with my tatting, but it keeps me sane and happy. That's why I only make what I like to make, do you?