ETSY IS WHERE WE STARTED
For the record, this blog is not to “bash” Etsy. It’s meant to explain why we moved away from it and why we’re more successful than ever before. When we we first started our handmade business, we sought out Etsy just like many others. The reason? Well, it was the most well known e-commerce platform available for those wanting to sell and purchase handmade items. It seemed like everyone was doing it.
To be honest, it was a great place to start our business. It was user friendly and it taught us a lot about the importance of good product photos, item descriptions, and more. If it wasn’t for Etsy, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Etsy was the perfect test bed for us to see if we could even sell our handmade products online in the first place.
We opened up shop in September 2018 and by June 2019—we made the decision to shut down our Etsy shop and here are a few reasons why:
5 REASONS WE LEFT ETSY
we found our niche
This was crucial for us and for any successful handmade seller. We talk about this in our blog, 10 Tips to Start Your Handmade Business. It meant we finally found our target audience and we knew how to specifically market to them through our social media platforms. For us, we started with handmade crochet products and then moved towards handmade crochet hooks and crochet patterns. Overtime we learned people weren’t buying our handmade crochet products anymore because we weren’t selling to the customer who wanted the crochet product–we were selling to the crocheter trying to make products for their customers.
Oversaturation of Sellers
Etsy is oversaturated with small shop owners. As awesome as it is to see so many people striving to have success in selling their handmade products, it made it extremely difficult to be seen and we were being compared to by so many other shops–even with our own niche. What this meant to use was that people were naturally going to compare our products and prices to someone else on Etsy who may be selling themselves short in terms of cost. After talking to a friend who had a Masters degree in entrepreneurship, he recommended that if we didn’t want to be incorrectly compared by so many other shops, then we should build our own website through our own domain. Naturally, we researched into it and we chose to use WordPress with WooCommerce and Amazon Web Services as our web host. Best decision ever!
Inability to “Brand” Ourselves
Etsy limits you on showcasing your shop’s personality. The only thing you really have to use to display your items are products photos, descriptions, shop profile photo, and shop banner. It’s hard to showcase your “brand” with the colors, fonts, etc. when you only have so much wiggle room. When you move to your own domain, you can offer so much more! We were able to put out a lot of information about our shop, policies, blogs, and more. It made it more personal. We can also take the opportunity to outsource links effectively and efficiently for Pinterest, YouTube, blogs, and more. So if you want to stand out from others, move away from a marketplace that has structure and create a domain for yourself though sites such as WordPress or Shopify.
Etsy makes you pay seller fees. We fully understand why they make you pay seller fees, but that can make a huge inconvenience for you! For every listing, it costs: $0.20 (per listing) + 3.25% interest + $0.25 transaction fee. We were losing quite a bit of our earnings! For the amount of items we sell and the cost of our items—it was better to use those fees towards monthly fees of owning our own domain and having the decision to decide how we want to do things.
Etsy uses algorithms that keep your items on the featured listings. They recommend that you follow their Seller’s Handbook to be successful and some of that information is valuable, such as having good product photos and product descriptions. On the other hand, they roll out features like “free shipping” and now every shop feels obligated to offer free shipping and change their pricing to meet this newly perceived expectation. In 2018, we were concerned about this roll out. You know what we learned? Offering free shipping doesn’t matter and we honestly thought it would impact us when we moved away from it on our own domain website. We actually learned that most people like the option to pay for whatever shipping method they prefer. So that’s just an example of how an algorithm can work against you.
SO WHAT HAPPENED AFTER WE LEFT ETSY?
Well, a variety of things happened once we created our own domain we saw the following:
- People started to recognize our brand and it was not associated with Etsy in conversation..
- Increased traffic/customers
- We were able to offer more products and features to our website
- Increased our social media following
- Collaborated with other creative makers
- We had freedom to do what we wanted
- It created the ability to drive passive income through our website via marketing tools.
Overall, we’re extremely happy with our decision and we hope that other makers consider taking the opportunity to move away from Etsy when they’re ready to showcase their own creative work in way that could potentially grow their business.
When I was a kid, I learned my hobby was crafting. I never had a specific craft, but my parents allowed me to dabble into a variety of crafts. I played with beads and really got into jewelry making with wires, but then I was introduced to crocheting when I was 8 years old in 1998.
Like many crocheters, I learned to crochet by a family member, my grandma! I learned to dabble into this craft and worked through a wonky scarf where stitches were inconsistent and my edges were wonky. However, I still practiced! As a military family, we lived far away from where the rest of our extended family members lived. So after I learned while visiting my grandma, my mom had to help me learn. My mom bought me books (because YouTube didn’t exist!) and tried to help me figure out the stitches.
I really enjoyed crocheting as a kid, but as I got into high school, I was made fun of for having a craft that was meant for “grandmas”. Naturally, it made me self-conscious and I put my hook and yarn down and didn’t touch them again until I was about 20 years old in 2010. That was because I noticed on social media people were crocheting toys and that’s when I learned about Amigurimi. So, I got right back at it and made my first Amigurumi and it was a cute little ballerina bunny from the book Amigurumi by Lan-anh Bui. It wasn’t the greatest, but it really made me love to crochet again.
Craft is Therapy
Unfortunately, I was going through my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree for Exercise Physiology and working full time with the Air Force and I couldn’t put a lot of love and attention to crochet. By 2014, I went through a traumatic experience and fell into depression after an abusive relationship that ended in divorce. During this time, it was important for me to “find myself” again.
I lived in a small town of Enid, Oklahoma while stationed at Vance Air Force Base and was lucky enough to have a Hobby Lobby 5 minutes away from my home. One day I drove myself there and picked up a bunch of yarn on their 30% off sale and ended up spending every day vigorously working through a blanket. I was literally “hooked”.
Crocheting eventually became my therapy. I learned it was very calming and relaxing and it was perfect for me after everything I had been through.
when your ideas become reality
After getting back into crochet, Paul came into my life. I started to post my projects on social media after moving to Alamogordo, New Mexico. Each time I posted a project, friends and family told me I should start selling my products. I honestly never thought to sell my projects, but Paul convinced me to look into Etsy.
So, I opened up an Etsy and I decided to start a business Instagram in 2017 for CroChic Styles® and found Love Crafts and loved the modern crochet patterns I could find and discovered Paintbox Yarns–which was perfect for me because I love having a variety of solid shade options. I was starting to create tons of projects and I loved being able to access different brands in one spot, especially since the town had nothing to offer!
THE HUSBAND AND WIFE crochet TEAM
I became busy working full time and crocheting while at home. Paul began to realize he needed a hobby. Right around this time, I purchased a name brand hook and became frustrated that I could only crochet with it for about 10 minutes due to my hand cramping.
Paul at the time was interested in wood working and I told him he should make crochet hooks and that people would actually like them. He then started to learn how to make a crochet hook for me and let’s just say it wasn’t very…functional. He eventually got good at it and I asked the famous question–“Can you make this sparkly?”
That’s when Paul looked into resin and that’s when the CroChic full resin ergonomic crochet hook was born! When we realized we had a niche and had a unique hook, we left Etsy and pursued our own website to sell our products.
It was the best decision we ever made and we love that our hobbies work so well together. We can still spend quality time together and still enjoy our hobbies and share the love of crochet with others! It has been an amazing journey and so much fun. We hope one day this can grow into a stand alone shop that isn’t inside of our garage–boy would that be a dream come true!