Should you have your own site or stay on Etsy in this article, I’m going to help you make that decision and today I’m going to share with you the pros and cons of both Etsy versus your own website.
Hi, I help makers, artists, and designers make a living selling their handmade products online. I have both and at shop and my own website. Before I dive in, actually you first have to understand that Etsy and your own site are completely different business models in a way because FC is a marketplace filled with hundreds of thousands of other shops, right? Just like Amazon and eBay, and it’s completely powered by a search engine where people type in stuff that they’re looking to buy like floral tea towels, and then Etsy gives the person a huge list of floral, tea, towel products from all the different shops that have them.
Whereas your own website is a standalone site and if you go with something like Shopify, which I recommend that you do, Shopify is just an eCommerce platform. It’s merely a site builder that makes setting up your own website that people can shop on so much easier.
I think the biggest advantage of having a shop on Etsy is because it is a marketplace site, it has a built-in audience full of people who are already searching for products to buy well. How does Etsy get all of this traffic? Well, part of it is the fees that Etsy takes from sellers, right? They use that to pay for ads and marketing Etsy shops and search listing pages appear really high in Google search and part of that and how it gets its traffic is because hundreds of thousands of shops on Etsy are helping it bring traffic to the platform.
When you promote your Etsy shop, you’re inherently also promoting Etsy as a whole, including other Etsy shops, some of them who you might consider your competitors, but they’re also bringing in traffic of their own and some of them might land on your own shop.
So it’s almost like shared traffic and it can be a double-edged sword. When you’re on your own site, you don’t have the benefit of starting out with your own built-in audience. I see a lot of people complaining that they set up a shop on Shopify but they didn’t get any traffic or sales.
And that’s the mistake going into Shopify is having the expectation that it has that built-in audience. It doesn’t. Shopify is just a website builder that specializes in shops. So if you sell a physical product, Shopify is the best option for you, but it doesn’t have an audience waiting to buy your stuff.
Having said that, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to make sales on Etsy. The primary way of doing well on Etsy is pretty simple relatively, and you’ll see why. You have to understand how their search algorithm works.
Meaning you have to have an understanding of what factors help you get your listings, more visibility, and which such as how new or how recent you renewed your listing. Um, how much engagement you get on your listing.
Are people clicking on your images? What your click-through rate is from when your listing appears in a search and how likely is it that people will click on your product instead of other people’s products? There are many factors and as with any algorithm, there will never be a public list of them because Etsy or anything that uses algorithms like social media, they don’t want people to exploit the algorithm and find loopholes to misuse the algorithm for their advantage in a bad way.
A lot of Etsy success comes from understanding search trends and getting really good at SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, so that means researching what keywords to target and putting them in your titles, descriptions, tags, and so on.
That is it. You know, many successful sellers on Etsy don’t have a large social media following. They don’t have any press mentions, they don’t have a blog or an email list or an active one.
Anyway, and yes, of course, if you looked at some of the top sellers, you will see that many of them have these things, but you have to ask which was cause and effect, which came first that these Etsy shops succeed because they had press mentions or did they have press mentions because they were already doing well and getting a lot of attention.
So generally speaking from the patterns I’ve been seeing and I’ve been selling online for 14 years now as of this recording, successful Etsy sellers don’t have to worry a lot about marketing.
The way to make sales is a pretty straightforward and simple one. And again, I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m just saying it’s simple with your own website, the process to make sales is a lot more complicated.
You can’t just rely on SEO, you have to have a mailing list, you have to do outreach and get press mentions and it definitely helps to have an engaged social media following when it comes to standalone sites.
The pattern I’ve seen over and over again because you know, success leaves clues is successful. Shops have a track record of press mentions and if it wasn’t that it was paid advertising. Some shops do really well with just SEO, but that’s less common, so this is a huge disadvantage with having your own site because you have to worry about a lot more when it comes to marketing it and sending traffic to it.
If you want to make sales and advantage to Etsy is it’s super easy to start with. If you know anyone who’s starting a handmade business, it is the first thing most people would recommend, right? You should cover and there’s validity in that because they do make it easy.
There are no upfront costs that 20 cents per listing and they really hold your hand to help you set everything up. You don’t have to worry about whether or not your shop is loading quickly or if your website works correctly or not.
Your shop is secure. You don’t have to fuss about shop design. All you need to do is fill in the blanks with configuring your shop settings on Etsy. It’s so easy. Etsy is undoubtedly a great place to learn how to sell online if you’ve never done it before.
It’s like if you don’t know how to swim, Etsy is like starting at the kitty pool now. Even though it’s also really easy to set up a Shopify store, it is not nearly as easy as Etsy and with Shopify.
While you don’t have to generally worry about site security, you do have to still consider site speed and design of your site and this is where so many people go wrong, especially if you didn’t take the time to learn what makes a good site design and what makes it bad, and unfortunately it’s all on you.
It’s your responsibility to make sure your site loads quickly, it looks good, and it gives your potential customers a great user experience. You don’t have to worry about that with FC because they’ve already done it for you.
You don’t have to worry about conversion rates as much when you’re on Etsy because the number of factors to consider is far fewer. For example on Etsy, it’s really just about having a good products, getting your photos looking good and that you have a reasonable price with reasonable shipping and a short turnaround time.
That’s really about it. But with your own site you have to do all of that and more you have to consider the checkout process and your site design. And between those two things, a lot can go wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The good news is that when you’re on Shopify, there are a lot of great themes you can use that help make all of this a lot easier for you. And it’s almost like a plug and play and you just have to edit the theme with your brand colors.
But even so, there are a lot of Shopify themes that aren’t good, and I have seen a lot of shops choosing themes that don’t give them a good conversion rate. So if you set up on Shopify, just make sure you use a theme that’s proven to make sales.
So ask around or check for the themes, reviews before you install it. No. At this point, I know I’ve made Etsy sound like such a dream to work with, right? But that’s because I haven’t touched on Etsy cons yet before.
I do be sure to give this video a thumbs up and subscribe so you can grow your handmade business and make more sales. Now, I don’t know if any of these cons are more frustrating than others. I don’t know if there’s a hierarchy, so I would love to hear from you in the comments what your biggest beef is with Etsy.
There’s actually a lot to be upset with. I feel like one of the biggest problems with Etsy is you have almost no control over your shop, which is what balances out the ease of use and having that built an audience, right? If you want those awesome things, you have to play by Etsy rules, so they’re going to enforce all sorts of policies on you that you usually can’t opt-out of.
Any of you can. Your shop will suffer for it recently Etsy wanted to encourage people to offer free shipping for their products, which helps get people to buy on there right? But they made it so that if you can offer free shipping, you’ll get better rankings on the search engine, which makes it very unfair for anyone who doesn’t offer free shipping or who can’t offer free shipping because maybe they make products that are too heavy and they don’t want to add the shipping price to their product price.
And it’s a catch 22 because if you raise your prices to include shipping, you now also can’t compete on price and you’re going to see more expensive than your competition. It’s just this terrible race to the bottom and it’s cutthroat.
And I think it’s just a really negative, unhealthy environment to be in. And most recently, we have all heard of how Etsy is forcing shops that make over $10,000 per year to pay an extra commission on their sales that were generated through Etsy ads that they do on your behalf.
And the worst part of that is you don’t have an in it, you have no option and you’re just required to do that. Not to mention whenever Etsy makes design changes on their site, you can’t say yes or no to that.
You just have to take it and roll with it. When their algorithm changes, your shop will be affected by it. So you know how running a shop feels like a rollercoaster because sales are inconsistent, right? Some days you make lots of sales, other days it’s crickets.
That feeling is definitely amplified when you’re on Etsy because it’s not your own site, it’s not your own platform, and you have no control over where the Etsy ship decides to go. If it sinks, you’re gonna sink with it.
I have heard so many stories of Etsy sellers who used to do really well on Etsy, like making sales consistently only to suffer and not see any sales for months because of these changes. So fundamentally, I believe that Etsy is not a good place for you if you’ve decided that you want to make your business a longterm commitment, almost like a lifestyle choice.
If you just want Etsy to be a hobby business for you and it’s not a big deal. If your sales ebb and flow, then that’s fine. Etsy will serve you well. But for those of us who want to or are relying on our business income to pay for our living expenses and to sustain our livelihood, then do not put all your eggs in the Etsy basket.
So how is it different when you’re on your own site? Well, you can’t control about 98% of your site when you’re on Shopify. You can’t really edit the design of your checkout pages, which is a deliberate choice on Shopify is behalf because they’re the experts and have so much data to know exactly how to design a checkout process that gives you the best conversions and the most sales, right? So they don’t really let you fiddle around too much with that.
It’s for your own good, but for the rest of your site, you can really make it your own. For some of you, you may never care to do that, but I think there is a certain sense of pride we have in the packaging of our products, right? I mean, just because you’ve made a good product doesn’t mean we have to stop at that.
We spend a lot of time getting good packaging for it, designing pretty business cards, and making your site look good to represent your product in the best way. It’s the same thing. Some of us do want that control and to have the ability to change that, and I think that’s one of the keys to making more sales.
It’s like when you go into a nice hotel, you get better service, better food, a beautiful room with comfortable bed sheets and a nice pool and so on. It’s all about the experience versus if you went to a dinky motel, the experience overall will be less good, right? Your Etsy shop will always be the same.
It’s what Etsy gives you and it’s not exactly a high-end five-star hotel experience, but your own site can be polished up or down however you want it. And if you want your site to be a three-star hotel, you can make it so if you want it to be a five-star hotel, you can do that too.
You have a choice. Your own site is better at communicating your brand to the customer than Etsy ever will. 100% of the time. People buy things on Etsy and not remember what the actual shop name was.
If their friends ask them where they bought their pretty necklace or their cool wall art, they’re going to say they got it from Etsy. This doesn’t do your brand any favors, so when you send traffic to your Etsy shop, you are in advertently sending Etsy your traffic.
It’s that shared traffic concept I talked about earlier. You may get about 20% of the traffic you actually send to your Etsy shop, but Etsy and all the other shops on there get the majority, 80% of your traffic, and this is why over time it has all that built-in audience.
You helped them grow, which is in itself, not a bad thing, but you could have gotten 100% of all your own traffic if you had directed them to your own site. One of my pet peeves with Etsy product listings is when you scroll down, Etsy shows you listings from other people’s shops directly on my own listing.
And I get why they do that. Etsy is the number one priority is to make sales and they don’t care if that sale was for your shop or for someone else’s shop. Directing your own traffic to Etsy is like trying to collect water with a leaky bucket.
You’re putting water in it, but so much of it just leaks right out. The competition on Etsy is crazy. Etsy rewards shops and part listings that are already doing well. So there’s a lot of pressure to make sales, not just because you want to make a sale, right? But because you want to get on Etsy, his good side and start ranking better for your targeted keywords, right? So what do people do? They try to make their product listing stand out so people click on them.
But even then that’s no longer enough so then they succumb to a pricing war. If I charge less than other people’s listings, it’s more likely that I will make the sale and later at sea will push my product more.
If you’re thinking that way, I can guarantee you your competitors are also thinking that way, so they start to charge even less and it just goes on and on and it becomes a race to the bottom. I wish I could tell you that people don’t price shop, but on marketplace sites, prices and reviews are two of the biggest factors that people go off of when deciding on which item to buy and if you’re not the lowest price with the best ratings, it’s going to be really hard.
So let’s compare that with your own website. Yes, there will always be competition. No matter where you are on Etsy or Amazon or on your own site or at a craft show. What I want you to pay attention to is the degree of the competition.
The competition on Etsy is in your own shop, but when people come to your site, you can keep them on your site for much longer because you’re not sending them away to go look at other shops or your competitor’s shops.
You can design your site in a way that gets people engaging in sticking around longer. It’s a lot more effort for people to go to a different shop that sells something similar as you if they can even find one to begin with or take.
For instance, someone who found you on Instagram, they loved your work and clicked on your LinkedIn bio to go check out your site. They’re on your site. Your site is essentially a dead end. If they like what they see, they’ll buy something or join your email list or bookmark your site or follow your Instagram, but if they want it to find another shop like you, how are they going to do that? It’s not so easy, right? They have to start a search on Google or maybe go back to Instagram to try to find something similar.
There’s no longterm brand awareness. When you’re on Etsy. You might get some repeat sales on Etsy, but you get to have a lot more with your own site. This goes back to people not knowing your shop name when they buy from you.
To me, this is a huge detriment to building longterm success and growth. You’re always starting from scratch from zero to make those sales. Whereas if you had your own site where you could give it a custom brand and a unique and hopefully positive shopping experience for your customers, they’re going to remember you so much better, which makes it so that word of mouth later is more effective.
People are saying to their friends, not I ever, which only helps Etsy and not you. You’re not getting the proper credit that you’re due on Etsy basically. So while having your own website and might feel like it’s harder and slower to make sales in the beginning, in the long run, you’re going to be the last man or woman standing because every effort you make to promote your shop, 100% of it goes to you.
It’s like building equity, right? You don’t get to build equity when you’re on a rented property, which is what at sea is when it comes down to fees, both ways are expensive. You might say FC has high fees, but honestly, so does selling on your own site, and it’s just generally just expensive and it’s getting more expensive over the years to run a business.
So that’s just part of the process. Now.