Should you have a unique online storefront or are you better off on Etsy?
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about this question. Over the summer I was interviewed by a reporter for Wired magazine about the future of Etsy and the company’s efforts to retain veteran sellers. The article was recently published and if you missed it, it’s a good read.
I’m not mentioned in the article, but it was well worth my time to speak with its author, Rob Walker, while he was beginning his research. He was learning about Etsy and during our conversation I began to reflect on my own Etsy shop in some new ways.
I signed up for Etsy on July 3, 2005, less than a month after it was founded. At that time Etsy was still in beta, listings were free, and there were a few thousand users. Why did I jump on board so quickly? Because at that moment, and for years afterwards, actually, Etsy solved a huge problem for me.
Technical computer skills and programming are well beyond my capabilities and graphic design is not my forte. That’s s where professionals who are adept in brand identity design come in. Although it was technically possible to set up a shopping cart on my own site and use that as my online storefront during those years, the task was overwhelming to me. Etsy made it easy. With very little time investment and almost no financial risk at stake, I could have an online shop and start to sell my stuffed animals. It was an exciting time.
My shop and Etsy itself are over 7 years old now and the online landscape has changed drastically. There are now dozens of sites that allow you to quickly and cheaply create online shops, no technical expertise required (Big Cartel and Goodsie are two that immediately come to mind as big hitters in the handmade community). And Etsy has grown. Okay, that’s a serious understatement. Etsy is now enormous.
The vastness of Etsy brings with it a lot of positives.
- average shoppers feel comfortable on Etsy; it’s not foreign or scary to shop online there
- the traffic numbers to the site are astoundingly huge
- Etsy makes it easy peasy to do business with them – buying is easy, listing is easy, communication between buyers and sellers is easy, tracking your stats is easy (and paying Etsy is easy!)
But here’s the catch. Your shop looks and feels like everyone else’s. You can create a custom banner and write a nice about page, but in truth all Etsy shops look alike. Web designers in St Helens can make an amazing, unique, customized website for your business.
Let me tell you about a recent incident that I think will help you to see why this bothers me. The baby and I were over at a neighbor’s house the other day for a playdate. This neighbor knows I sew stuffed animals and she showed me a really cute plush monster she’d recently gotten for her daughter. When I admired it she said, “I bought it on Etsy!”.
To me, this statement says it all.
She bought handmade (hooray!). She knew where to go to find something handmade online (Etsy!). She felt comfortable making a financial transaction with a handmade seller because the transaction was being handled by a trusted well-known company (Hooray!).
But, boo, too. The maker of this cute monster didn’t stand out in my neighbor’s mind. It wasn’t, “I bought this monster from a woman in North Carolina named Jennifer who makes all these wonderful, imaginative monsters, large and small, and some of them have big pocket mouths and they’re made from recycled fabric and she taught herself to sew in her 40’s!” Nope.
In fact I’d venture to say that my neighbor didn’t just buy the monster ON Etsy, she bought the monster FROM Etsy.
And here’s how it happens. If you’re looking for a fun gift for your baby daughter and you hop on Etsy and search for “monster plush” you see this:
And when you see this, what do you do? You scan down the screen for colors, shapes, and faces that catch your eye, you compare prices, you click on a few of the 6,814 monsters that look promising and look at the customer feedback, and then you weigh your options and pick one.
As a maker of monsters what does having your monster come up in this search do for your business? Well, If your monster was chosen, it made you a sale. If the buyer loved your product, who knows she could become a repeat buyer.
But how does it potentially degrade your business? Here’s how: your monster is one in a million. Your unique identity is subsumed by Etsy’s uniformity.
Although I know this to be true, I still don’t have my own online storefront so I can’t compare very well what happens if you have both an Etsy shop and your own shop. At some point I may take this leap, but for now in order to get a broader perspective on this issue I reached out to another handmade business owner who has already taken this step.
I spoke with Jahje who has a handmade business called Baby Jives. Jahje makes beautiful, ethereal mobiles for baby’s rooms. She has both an Etsy shop and her own online storefront (which was designed by Eleanor Grosch, by the way!). Here is how both shops look side by side:
And here is what Jahje told me:
I haven’t left Etsy yet and probably won’t for a while, but I started my storefront because I wanted to have more control over my own products and brand.
I was finding that my company name, Baby Jives, was one of the most searched for terms that people used to land in my Etsy shop and I was also doing craft shows where I felt like I was giving out my cards to folks who would then get pulled into the whole of Etsy after I had done the hard work of making the connection.
So I decided to set up my own site with e-commerce (previously it had just redirected people to my Etsy shop to purchase items).
When Jahje said that customers would take her card, look her shop up online and then get pulled into “the whole of Etsy”, diminishing her hard work of relationship building, this issue really hit home for me.
The wonderful thing about buying handmade is the relationship you have with the maker of the item. But I think there is a way in which having a shop on Etsy can erode that one-on-one interaction, even while it creates a space for that interaction to happen with frequency and ease.
I know there is more to this and I want to hear your thoughts. What has been your experience as buyer of handmade when it comes to brand identity and loyalty for the handmade businesses you patronize on Etsy versus on independent online shops? Is there a different gut feeling when you buy from each?
And as a seller, are you sticking with Etsy? Leaving? Maintaining two shops, or more? Why?
Such a great article and certainly a lot to think about.
I think everything that you mention about folks ‘buying FROM Etsy’ is true. But here’s my view: if you weren’t on Etsy, they would have never found you to begin with.
I view selling on Etsy sort of like a form of advertising. People want handmade. They go to Etsy. They might buy my stuff.
But… it’s the follow-up that matters! They may not remember me. But, if I have lovely packaging, or invite them to join my newsletter (or something else that fosters interaction), then I might have gained a customer. And that’s fabulous!
So, for me, it’s worth it… it’s a way of finding new folks, even if not all of them acknowledge my brand.
Wendi Gratz says
This is a great post – and I’m eager to see what other people think. I started out with an Etsy shop and added a Big Cartel shop. I had a few reasons I added the Big Cartel shop.
1. I have a LOT more control over the overall shop experience. There are a lot of really nice templates to choose from and I can really customize the look of my shop. And it only has MY logo on it – not Etsy’s right at the top.
2. My patterns all include links to videos teaching people the skills they’ll need to make the project. I wanted to be able to link back to my blog where all those videos live, so people could get a taste of what those videos look like. Linking out is not allowed on Etsy.
3. The $0.20 listing fees were killing me. It’s not as big a deal if you sell more expensive items, but when you sell $5 patterns it’s an EXTRA 4% on top of the cut already taken by Etsy and Paypal. My business got to a point where the money I was spending in listing fees was way more than enough to set up a flat rate shop on Big Cartel.
4. I was driving all the traffic to Etsy. They were providing very little.
I still keep an Etsy shop (like Stacey, I think of it as advertising) but I’m not sure it’s worth it. I’ll be looking at the numbers in January to decide whether to continue next year.
On the flip side – Etsy’s interface is terrific. They’ve made a lot of improvements and it’s very easy to list new items, look at stats, track sales, etc. Big Cartel has one HUGE drawback that I never saw mentioned anywhere when I was choosing an Etsy alternative. They have NO sales reporting. That’s right – NONE. Want to know what your bestselling pattern was last month? Too bad. You can look up total $ sales, etc. on Paypal but there is ZERO itemized sales reporting within Big Cartel. I would not have chosen them had I realized this, but I never thought to ask specifically because WHAT KIND OF COMMERCE SITE DOESN’T HAVE SALES REPORTING? I didn’t realize until I had already made the huge investment of setting everything up, uploading product photos, etc. Something else to assess in January.
Kate S. says
I have shops on etsy and meylah where I sell PDF sewing patterns (in a really low key way – im not doing a lot to promote either other than linking from my blog). I do link to both from my blog and emphasize that meylah offers automatic downloads but nearly all my sales are on etsy – may be that folks are finding through Google or etsy search though.
As a consumer of lots of DIY supplies/patterns and some items (mostly things like jewelry that I don’t make myself), I use my etsy favorites to keep track of my favorite shops and feel like its easier to forget about shops I liked when they have an independent storefront. When I’m shopping for fabric, I’ll search on etsy and see if any of my preferred sellers are offering it – I’m less likely to go search a variety of separate shops. And I’m on etsy enough that seeing items pop up in “new items from your favorite sellers” sometimes piques my interest and makes me pop over to check it out. I also direct my husband to look at my etsy favorites (items more than shops) for gift ideas. So I do think there are more benefits to being on etsy than just showing up in search and people being comfortable shopping there, and I know that some of the shops I have bought from have made a strong brand impression on me. That being said, I’m sure different people’s shopping styles are different, and some types of consumers may be more or less likely to shop the way I do. In any case having both options never hurts! But I also think its a good idea to always have a link to your etsy shop even from an independently hosted site, in case people feel more comfortable shopping there or want to favorite you there to come back later.
jess @ fushmush says
I’m a buyer, not a seller.
I find it really difficult to find stuff to buy on Etsy. I subscribe to their newsletter and sometimes favourite stuff from that. But usually I come to Etsy through a blog or a link from someone else. To me, Etsy is just a way of buying the item.
I have my own Big Cartel shop where I stock my entire range, but I’m also on Etsy and Made It (the Aus version) with a limited range.
I treat them more as a platform for new customers to find me. When I send out orders, they all have postcards/business cards directing customer to my main big cartel shop.
I think Etsy is useful as an advertising medium, and for people who don’t know your brand to maybe find you, but in a sea of millions of listings, you’re never going to stand out.
Florence H. says
I shop etsy quite a bit and have for a number of years. I search carefully, read comments and reviews and tend to stick with sellers I’ve delt with.
I’ve never had a bad experience thogh I only buy there.
I do try to find a sellers website and buy that way as well knowing that etsy takes their cut.
And as I’m about to become a g’ma your site is totally on my radar!!
I just moved from Etsy to Shopify. I’m still keeping my Etsy shop open simply because 1) it’s where I started and 2) it’s useful for advertising. But far and away, my energy (and best yarn) is going into the new shop.
(ahem… both shops are empty at the moment because I’m headed to a HUGE show next week, but they’ll be full again after that)
I chose to move away from Etsy for every reason you listed above: I couldn’t fully brand it, it didn’t integrate with my website (in fact, it jarred with it), and it had soooo many trapdoors to take my hard-earned customers to other shops. I think Etsy is really missing a trick to not offer a premium service that existing Etsy users could buy into which addresses these issues. Instead, when sellers ‘outgrow’ the standard Etsy set-up, they end up leaving.
Like Wendi, I started by building a shop on BigCartel and realised at the very last minute that it had no sales data export function. I tell you, I sat with my mouth hanging open in shock over that for at least two whole days! Then I went out and found another selling solution. I chose Shopify because their shops are beautifully customisable and their back-end is so user friendly, and their customer support is flipping fan-tas-tic! It’s a little more expensive than I wanted to go, but it’s well worth it.
And now my shop looks like it’s mine, and really serves MY business instead of someone else’s.
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences here. Your ideas are so valuable! I think you are right on when it comes to Etsy and a premium service for veteran sellers would be very smart. I hope they are thinking along those lines.
I was really surprised when Wendi pointed out that Big Cartel offers no sales data. To me, that’s really inexcusable. But now they have big competition. I wonder if they’ll change.
I’d like to hear from someone with a Goodsie shop who could tell us why they went with that provider (over Shopify, for instance).
Thanks again for sharing here.
Congratulations to you, and I think you are very wise to shop Etsy carefully. There are so many sellers and the level of professionalism certainly varies widely.
You hit on a major issue here. It is impossible to stand out on Etsy now, unless you are selected as a feature seller or are written up in one of their newsletters.
Etsy as advertising, something Stacey mentioned, too, is a good way to look at it.
So foor you, Jess, Etsy is like eBay in a way. It’s just an online platform that allows you to purchase handmade goods that you are interested in.
I feel like the search function on Etsy still leaves a lot to be desired. When I want to find something specific there I open a new browser window and do a Google search for “(whatever I’m looking for) Etsy” and find it that way.
Melissa Crowe says
When I opened my etsy shop in 2008, I felt like etsy was doing a lot of work for me, driving shoppers to my shop by featuring me on the front page and in the gift guides with pretty consistent frequency. Then the gift guides were gone and the front page taken over by member curators, and my sales suffered a lot. In order to make the same money, I suddenly had to do a lot more work, the kind of work I imagine I’d be doing if I had my own individual storefront. I guess I started on etsy b/c I wanted to benefit from their traffic, but I now really feel that I’m driving most of the business to my shop myself, via FB and my blog–and I could do this for any shopfront. Something to think about.
The fact that Etsy doesn’t offer instant downloads for PDFs is a serious drawback in my book. I created a Craftsy shop for just that purpose. I still email every one of my Craftsy customers after they purchase a pattern and invite them by name to join my Facebook page.
The ability to track favorites is another way that Etsy makes their user interface so easy and friendly. It’s a great tool.
My Etsy fees were $73 last month. I feel your pain, Wendi. And the fact that you have useful content to offer to support your products, yet can’t link back to it via Etsy, is certainly a drawback.
Thank you so much for pointing out this flaw in Big Cartel. No sales reporting is inexcusable. I hope that they are feeling the competition and making some big changes.
The follow-up is the key component that I missed for years. Years and years. I invite every single customer in a personal email, using their first name, to join my Facebook page. I interact with them there every single day, showing off what they’ve made, pointing them to useful resources and inspiration. Each first time customer can be just a first time customer, or they can become a loyal fan. To convert them, you need to work hard at developing that relationship off of Etsy.
Good points, Melissa. I still think the traffic numbers on Etsy can't be beat, especially for introducing new customers to my work who may have never seen it before. But after that, all of the work falls on you as a business owner to retain those customers. And it is a lot of work. I have a shop on Craftsy as well and right now I get half as many sales there, even though that site is specialized for people in search of sewing classes, workshops, and patterns. Etsy has the masses, for better and for worse.
Thank you Abby for putting together such a wonderful article on this topic. I am really happy to be part of it and reading all the thoughtful responses has me wanting to add one other thing. One of the other reasons that I love Etsy is the community that it has made me part of.
Over the past 2 years that I have been on Etsy I have “met” numerous sellers via teams and email interactions that I now consider friends. If I was just maintaining my own site I might never have met many of these sellers. I rarely do craft shows since I am balancing 2 young kids at home so Etsy is my online community and for that I am very thankful. I do think that Stephanie has a great idea though about a premium service for sellers where you could have a more independent Etsy shop. I would love to see how Etsy might develop something like that in the future.
I would love to sell my jewelry full-time, but that goal is about 5 years away. I’m starting on Etsy and learning a LOT! I want to be on my own site eventually, though. That way I’ll have complete oversight on what’s going on. 🙂
And like Stacey said, once they buy, even on Etsy, you can follow up and guide them to whatever platform you prefer or change to in the future – great!
Caroline B says
That certainly gave me a lot of food for thought. I do think that if you are selling ‘mainstream’ items on Etsy then the chances of making sales become slimmer – I have jewellery in my Etsy shop and have only ever sold about 5 pieces in the years I’ve been with Etsy. However, the more unusual items do get looked at and bought, plus I have secured many commissions (two very lucrative & long-term)through people seeing my work on Etsy.
I stay with Etsy because of the ease of use – I’m very busy with both the art & crafts plus a day job, so it takes most of the effort out for me. It’s also a good way of reaching an international market – I don’t think I would be selling so much to the USA without it.
I don’t find the fees too terrible and I think you have to allow for them in your prices – but I realise if you are selling lower priced items such as patterns, it’s not advantageous to start raising the price too high, the competition is fierce.
I do think you have to have some alternative way of showing people your wares – I keep a regularly up-dated blog with pictures of WIPS and completed commissions, as well as a website, both of which have brought me good sales too. I think it comes down to a bit of juggling and finding the combination that suits your particular business.
As to buying on Etsy, I do return to favourite sellers regularly for fabrics, supplies etc. and have several times had my interest piqued by new items shown or items chosen by people in my circle. I’ve also commissioned pieces from seeing something on the front page.
I am finding the front page rather ‘blah’ these days though – it does seem if your product is not in neutral colours and photographed with a pure white background, you don’t stand a chance of getting featured, ever!!
Such great points. I have an Etsy store (since 2006) and have my own website in order to have more control. There was a time more sales were made on Etsy than my stand-alone website but that has now changed in the last 2-3 years. I am yet to figure out why!?
Picked up lots of great ideas from this topic and from all your comments. Thanks!
Thanks for the article!
Here’s what I think.
From “I make stuff everyone else could make” – I agree – Etsy is not the best option.
But from – “I make stuff that stands out and can be instantly recognized that it’s my stuff” – I see nothing wrong with Etsy. You can easily stand out with your own pictures/style.
I think every handmade artist should focus on making his/her product unique and recognizable.
Starr White says
What a fantastic article! I will soon be ready to start selling my handmades (fingers crossed) and have been trying to decide the best way to go about it. Thank you so much for the article and thanks to everyone who gave such great feedback. This will help me make my decision when the time comes. Thank you!!
A great way to compromise is to switch to Storenvy.com – it is FREE to use, you can have unlimited listings, you can totally customize your storefront AND you can domain host there – so you get the benefit of being in a market place e-commerce site but to your customers you drive there, you are self hosted at yourname(dot)com. 🙂 You can build your brand while reaping the benefits of a multi-user website (22K stores and growing!).
Storenvy also has “Markets” which are little virtual shopping districts – they have a handmade one, eco-friendly, small business, music – a total of I think 18 markets, and you can join your shop into three of these markets to increase exposure for your shop.
I am an avid Storenvy user – I LOVE the site and use it personally. For those who want to Switch to Storenvy from Etsy, there is an importer to move your products over:
I think sites like Etsy are useful when you’re just starting out, to try this online selling lark. But as soon as you think that you’re serious about it, you need your own place. And that place is the one you need to put most of your marketing effort into. People can stumble upon your shop on Etsy, but that is less likely with your own site. Atleast to start with.
The main reason you need your own place is exactly that it is yours. Providing you follow the laws in your country, you can do whatever you want. Make the site look just the way you want, add the features you want etc. You don’t have to follow anybody else’s rules and you wont have somebody else’s logo plastered all over your shop!
As successful as Etsy is, it may not be around forever. Or they may kick you off. Or they may change their business model in way that doesn’t fit with your shop or that you don’t agree with. If that happens and you haven’t put the work into your own site.. how are your customers going to find you? And do you really want your main shop/source of income be dependent of someone else being in business or their whims?
I sell embroidery patterns, on Etsy and on my own site. Whenever I get an order through Etsy, I email the patterns to that customer, making sure to have plenty of links back to my own site and shop. In fact, I don’t even mention ‘Etsy’ in my emails because I want the customer to associate my name and shop with the patterns, not with Etsy. And Etsy provides very little traffic in themselves – most of the traffic on Etsy comes from the effort of the sellers. Which seems a bit unfair..
Of course, I hope that those customers will become repeat customers on my own site, not via Etsy. Obviously, some customers don’t care about who designed the pattern they’ve just bought; it’s just a cute pattern they bought on/from Etsy. But hopefully the majority will want to check out who’s behind the designs. For me Etsy is just another tool. Another way to get my work seen by more people. People who might not have come across it otherwise.
The shop on my own site has a lot more features on the back-end, it’s a lot easier to keep track of things and the fact that people can download their pattern and ebook purchases directly is really important. The customers can get the files almost instantly and not have to wait for me to email them. And of course it saves me a lot of time too, time I can use to work on more designs.
I use a program/widget called Ecwid to run my shop (you can see it here: http://shop.polkaandbloom.com/). You can install it on pretty much any page/website that will allow you to add HTML code and then you run it from your account on the Ecwid site. It is really easy to use for doing basic things, even if you don’t know a lot about code and stuff. And it is very powerful too if you like tinkering with code and such.
Regardless of whether you want to set up your own site from the start, alongside using Etsy, you should always buy the domain name of your shop/brand as soon as you can. It does cost a little bit every year, but that is well worth it. Imagine if someone has bought the domain with your name by the time you get round to buying it!
It’s really important to make sure that you’re as much in control of every aspect of your own business as possible. 🙂
This is some fantastic advice, Carina. Thank you so much! You've made me start to put some serious thought into creating my own storefront.
This is a great option, Cody. And the fact that it's free and includes a community is really attractive. Thank you!
Apol Massebieau says
Hi, Abby. As most everybody here has said, Etsy is really cool when you’re starting out, but now that I’ve been at it a few years the lack of control a shopkeeper has over her Etsy shop bothers me very much. There are the very extreme examples of valid shops being closed, just like that, never to be reopened again, such as happened to an artist I know. They’re rare, but when they occur, they make you realize that what you have truly is an Etsy shop – and as it is their property Etsy has final say on what happens to it.
Thought I would chime in here and offer my experience with Goodsie. I too have been on Etsy almost as long as you and use to sell plush and now just my digital paper crafts and patterns. I created my own stand alone site with Goodsie.com and have been making sales there consistently every day or so since I opened it last year. http://www.myfantastictoys.com/ I also continue to make sales on Etsy even though I point all my traffic to my own site. I will most likely never leave Etsy because I see no reason to at this time.
There are few reasons I wanted my own site which have pretty much been mentioned already.
1. Design a website to reflect the brand I’ve been creating over the past six years.
2. Wanted a professional site to send potential clients for whatever reason.. wholesale, licensing, gallery exhibits, craft shows. In my opinion Etsy is not the place to send people concerning business.
3. I felt people are easily distracted by all the other lovely crap on Etsy and can easily get lost within a few clicks. Why in the world would I send someone to Etsy when I can send them to my own shop.
4. Sell my digital goods instantly. Although Craftsy is free you can’t brand your shop there. Goodsie is your best value compared to others who offer this service.
I spent quite a bit of time developing everything for the website hosted at Goodsie. Most of it was on the graphics but having some html knowledge is extremely helpful. I’ve seen quite a few bad websites created at Goodsie, Big Cartel and Supa Dupa. Having some sort of design aesthetic is important for a shop to be successful. Am I drowning in sales? Not really. But combined with my Etsy shop I do all right. Although I never use it because I’m not a stats freak, Goodsie has sales reporting. I highly recommend Goodsie especially if you sell digital goods. It may not work for everyone but I love the site I have at Goodsie.
One thing I always hate hearing is, “You have to generate your own traffic to your site!” Like I get a TON of traffic on Etsy. I actually get more traffic to my website through very little promotion… mainly through my blog which I have built up for the past few years. However I could certainly do so much more to promote my shop.
btw I don’t know if you know about http://crafthub.me/. They deliver your digital goods instantly from your Etsy shop. So yea no more emailing your PDFs to your Etsy customers if you use this service.
Just took a look in your Etsy shop and didn’t realize you don’t sell your plush anymore. I guess we’ve taken very similar paths in favor of selling patterns instead of making them. 🙂
Thank you so much for your comment and for filling us in on Goodsie. I really like their interface and it's great that you can get sales reporting there, unlike at BigCartel. Having digital items delivered automatically is terrific. I checked out CraftHub. I like it, but of course you have to pay a monthly fee. You predict about how many digital files will sell in a month and pay accordingly. For now, I'm going to stick to hand delivering my Etsy files, but this might be an option down the line. Thanks again, Tim!
I just opened my shop in Sept. I choose to go with Storenvy instead of Etsy. I applaud Etsy on beign well known but what I dont care for is the shops do look the same & the listing fees. If you can afford them great, but I cant. I understand their has to be a bottom line for business. Some days I think “ill start listing on Etsy because its so big” but the listing fee kills it.
I love Storenvy because its all totally FREE,no listing fees! The only feeI pay is $2.99a month to enable discunts which I dont mind at all, I can make all the discount codes I want for a small fee & they have been working for my shop. I can easily track countries,items,bestsellers,unique vistors,orders & so much more. Even my most viewed items are listed. I love the community & any slight tech issues they handle. Ive really enjoyed storenvy & I recommend to anyone looking to start a shop. You can custom ur shop & easy listing as well.
Thank you for your perspective on Storenvy. It certainly seems to have a devoted following of sellers! I think it's a great platform to consider when signing up for your own online storefront.
Stacy Altiery - InkSpot Workshop says
I’ve been an Etsy seller since 2008 and got my own website 3 years ago. I’m currently in version 1o2 of my site as I’m doing a facelift.
Why? you ask? Because as much as I wish I could say I’m getting more traffic on my own site vs Etsy, it’s not the case. In fact my numbers on Etsy are growing as fast as Etsy changes their many ways for customers to search.
Part of the reason I’m redoing my own site is to implement better SEO and shopping stragegies for my customers.
I never knew Etsy would grow the way it has and if I had to be honest… I would tell new people they really only need Etsy and not to worry too much about having their own storefront. It would have save me thousands of dollars.
Instead put your time and efforts into social media. You can even have your Etsy shop linked to your shop’s FB page so people can shop right on FB. Even blogging seems to be a waste of time since people have short attention spans and read your posts on FB vs blogs anymore it seems.
That’s just my two cents worth:)
This perspective is really valuable. Thank you so much for sharing. Etsy does have tremendous traffic and that is worth a whole lot. Blogging about your product is tricky and that's a topic that I want to delve into further.
I think it is important to do both. I have had an etsy shop since 2007 and for most of the time on etsy have had a very tiny bit of sales. Recently I have been getting enough sales to afford to try and develop a website.
While I tried before doing this on a shoestring budget, the lack of traffic almost always made me drop the website. I would like to be able to brand my work more and keep more of the money I make, and since higher end prices(wedding dresses) make the percent you pay etsy enormous, I need to grow some alternatives for the future.
Right now I’m working on setting up a website for a permanent location, a hub for my business, where I can link to all my blogs and have news. I plan to link to Tictail, a free shopping cart as the shop page. I’d love to use tictail alone, but they are new and still in beta, and I don’t know how to create an entire site with it. At the moment Tictail works great and takes Paypal and Klarna, but I hope more payment choices are coming. https://tictail.com/ Btw, tictail has great seo. Ecwid is great too, but you have to pay a fee for better seo.
I plan to keep my etsy shops, while creating a site where I can have the bulk of my inventory. I have enjoyed etsy and am grateful for it. I want to grow a bit bigger base for my business with a website too.
Thank you for these suggestions from a maker of high-priced items. Etsy fees do certainly add up and I often end up paying 4-5 times more than the monthly fee charged by ecommerce hosting sites like Goodsie. To me the question is whether it's worth it to pay for both, and to take the time to maintain both. It's more work, and more money, but it also may mean more professionalism and better brand development.
Captain Crafty says
It’s been weeks but I kept thinking about this topic, and then I saw this post from an artist who was wrongly accused of forgery and Etsy took actions without open dialog from the artist, she had to get legal representation to get Etsy to review the accusations.
Though it is not entirely related to the pro’s and cons you were directly discussing in this post it is potentially a major CON for Etsy users and comes back to the notion that etsy store fronts require much work for the crafter but in the end you can find yourself have little control or loyalty when issues do arise.
Lea Lattie says
I have a storefront with an optimization package and I have complete control over my storefront. However my storefront is young and I am always looking for ways to get new customers. I was thinking of Etsy as a way to do that and these comments have given me a lot to think about.
Lea Lattie / Earth Maiden
It can be very difficult to drive traffic to a storefront all on your own. Etsy has it's faults, but it is certainly a great way to get people to see what you have to offer. Maybe set up an Etsy shop for a few months and see what you think? It certainly isn't a huge financial investment and it's very easy to set up. Good luck to you!
I’ve bought via Etsy. And re-bought from the same sellers. Because I like their style, their products, their art, the personal contact I’ve had with them. I keep an eye on their shops and Etsy makes that easy for me. But the bags I got via Etsy still came very specifically from JennJohn and Ninú, and the art above my dining table I bought from Rob Foote. Not Etsy.
I also use the search function when I’m looking for a specific product. And quite often, when doing a search I’ve done before, I find myself clicking on the same items by the same sellers.
Of course you can also buy vintage on Etsy, or items that by their nature don’t have that distinct signature from their artists. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I believe true artists and the crafter-next-door can exist side by side on Etsy.
If you have a distinct style, and offer quality, I have no doubt you will stand out. Even on Etsy.
So don’t feel bad for using Etsy. It serves a purpose, and that purpose is not the same for all sellers and all buyers.
I think you are right in saying that the purpose of Etsy is not the same for all sellers. There’s a huge range of sellers on the site, and a huge range of buyers, too. In my mind, though, nothing beats the traffic that Etsy brings in. From there it’s up to individual sellers to shine.
So now what do you do with the recent policy changes on Etsy?
Many artisans are mad/frustrated/irritated and feel cheated and it looks as tho there will be (if it hasn’t already begun) a H U G E exodus from Etsy by the artist’ who’ve been loyal to Etsy tho it is not being reciprocated
Abby Glassenberg says
I wrote pretty extensively about Etsy’s new policies in this post here: http://abbyglassenber.wpengine.com/2013/10/etsy-redefines-handmade-authorship-responsibility-and-transparency.html
I also recorded a podcast interview with Etsy about their new policies and how they will effect handmade businesses here: http://abbyglassenber.wpengine.com/2013/10/podcast-etsy-redefines-handmade-with-vanessa-bertozzi-program-manager-at-etsy.html
I hope that helps!
Mark C. says
Etsy is a horrific means to market products. But a good venue to sale products.
You have no control over branding, everything is plain Jane vanilla. Thus It’s a lousy place to market and build a brand.
But Etsy has Google Juice and will appear higher ranked than most any small business website. So it’s a good place to sale products since it will rank higher.
I have my own branded website and it is very tough cracking through. Etsy has Google resources and dominates. I loathe Etsy, but may be forced for financial purposes to get an Etsy store.
Denise M says
I know this is an old thread, but hopefully you will still get my reply.
I have been on Etsy since Feb 2014 selling quilting fabric and at that time I was sharing my sister’s Etsy shop. She started selling collectible glass wares in 2013. To make an extremely long story short, we parted ways and I took over her shop supplying Japanese fabrics, kits, and quilting books. My market is quilters. But I do sell to many needlecraft enthusiasts. But I feel that on Etsy I am not reaching my target market enough, so I am going with a full eCommerce website. There are loads of ‘crafters’ on Etsy, but not a significantly large number of quilters. I have a few things that I specialize in: using Japanese Indigo fabrics with traditional quilt patterns and supplying Japanese Taupe fabrics, which are very popular and extremely hard to find.
Thank you for your blog, your ebooks, and your newletter. I have been remiss in really getting into your works until now. I guess I am getting very serious about being successful with my online business and not just poking it now and again!
Best Regards and Happy Stitching!
Good luck to you, Denny! You might at some point find Craft Industry Alliance to be useful as a community as well.