Etsy as an emerging platform for artists

Umair Haque just asked “Is Etsy the next Google?” due, I think, to Etsy’s ability to build a community of artists & makers alongside (inside?) a community of art-, fashion-, and craft-lovers, and facilitate their conversations (social and financial) without getting in the way too obtrusively.

Etsy, for those who haven’t heard of it yet, is an online marketplace for buying & selling all things handmade – artwork, clothes, crafts. A niche eBay for artists, but with a much more innovative angle on creating and sustaining conversations between buyers and sellers (AKA community-building).

Economically, it’s an aggregation site launched in 2005 connecting 60,000 – 100,000 specialist creators with their niche markets, charging a micro-fee (20 US cents) to list each item for up to 4 months, and taking a 3.5% cut of the sale price.

In their own words:

Our mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers.

I think Etsy should probably open up its platform a bit, but that’s just the developer in me wanting to get my hands dirty with code. It does provide Etsy Mini – widgets for displaying your artwork on external sites (javascript versions for blogs & websites, flash versions for MySpace and other social networking sites).

Etsy could conceivably expand & innovate in a lot of different areas—a context-sensitive ad network for art & crafts sold on Etsy, Etsy-Books as a new outlet for self-publishing, Etsy-music—it’s difficult to predict which direction they’ll take.

I signed up for an Etsy shop yesterday to see how it goes. I think it might be interesting.

Oh yeah, here’s Technorati’s graph showing the rising buzz on blogs about Etsy:

Technorati Chart