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.