When you start a small business, you have to make about a thousand and one decisions. Logo options, colors, what you should name it, and (many, many) more. If you are a maker, you will likely find yourself asking this question… should I sell my products on Etsy or on my own website? After having done both, I have a few tidbits to share, that might be helpful!
First things first, make sure you are eligible to sell on Etsy. Etsy is a marketplace for handmade items, vintage finds, and craft supplies. If your products fall into one of those categories, then you are in! (If you are questioning, you can find more info here.) After that, weigh the pros and cons of each platform to make your decision.
Pros of Selling on Etsy
One of the biggest reasons to sell on Etsy is the ease of their platform. From opening your shop, to listing items, to shipping orders they’ve got you covered. Even communication with your customers happens through Etsy. Everything you need to run your shop effectively is all in one place. If you have your items photographed, opening up a shop on Etsy could take less than an hour. When it comes to simplicity + ease, Etsy has every competitor beat.
Starting is cheap
Etsy gets a bad rep for it’s high selling fees. Numbers don’t lie: the percentage fee on each sale is higher than most of their competitors, but there is no monthly fee. When you are starting out, this is huge. All it costs to get started on Etsy is 20 cents for the listing fee. You don’t pay any more until your item sells. Financially, you have hardly anything to lose from starting on Etsy!
Built-in Customer Base
Etsy is a pretty well known platform. Because of this, they offer the potential to get your items in front of a lot of customers. If you sell an item that people already go to Etsy to find, (like graphic tees, stickers, kids clothing, jewelry, etc.) then it is just a matter of playing the SEO game. This was, and still is, huge for my shop — we get most of our sales from Etsy directly!
Cons of Selling on Etsy
With the ease and the inexpensiveness of Etsy’s platform, comes limitations. You have very little say in how your shop is laid out, which makes having a branded experience much more difficult. (It is still totally possible! I touch on branding your shop in this post.)
You are at the Mercy of Etsy
This is by far the biggest downside to selling exclusively on Etsy. The Etsy algorithm is ever changing, most the time with no warning. This is obviously frustrating as a seller, especially because this is your income we are talking about! Furthermore, if Etsy decides to audit your shop for any reason, you can be down for up to 2 months. Now, that rarely happens, but it could be detrimental if the audit came at the wrong time and you were relying on the income!
Pros of Selling on your own Website
It’s all YOURS!
The biggest downside to Etsy is the biggest benefit to having your own website. On your own website there are no sudden changes to algorithms or unfair cases or audits! You are the boss and you have the final say when you are selling on your own site!
Brand, brand, brand
Unlike Etsy, on your own website, you get to call all the shots for design. This means you can double down on your brand through your layout, fonts, the copy, your photos… everything. You want the purchasing of your products to be an experience, and that experience can be much more curated on your own site!
Cons of Selling on your own Website
Starting is costly
Unlike Etsy, the start up costs for a website can be pretty high! Depending on who you host with, you could have monthly fees, hosting fees, you may have to pay for a theme, and more. This is why I often recommend starting with Etsy.
Harder to market
Because your website is all yours, the customers are all yours too. But it’s your job to go find them. Without Etsy’s built-in customer base, getting people to your site can be difficult. You will find yourself needing to really double down on marketing your products. Of course, this is doable. Just a little easier on Etsy!
So what do I recommend doing?
Like most things, I think it depends on your business plan. But my overall recommendation is this: if you are just beginning, I would sell on Etsy first, with the goal of adding your own site later on. Because Etsy is cheap and easy to open, you can start selling items while you save up for and build a website. If you are established, I recommend selling on both platforms, but marketing your website. Depending on your niche, Etsy’s customer base could be huge; you wouldn’t want to turn that away! However, because Etsy fees are high and your site is more on brand, I recommend sending everyone from social media to your site. This is what we currently do and we are really happy with it!
That’s all for today folks! If you are selling products (on Etsy or your own site), I would love to hear from you! Give me a shout in the comments and let me know what you are selling! 🙂
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