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Could Etsy Be Your Downfall? Part 1

3+ reasons to start selling on your own website

Etsy is great!

Etsy is great for new creative businesses – testing the market and their product’s viability.

Etsy is great for buyers – one site with access to hundreds of creatives, their products and inspiration.

And Etsy is great for …. Etsy!

But if you’re a creativepreneur growing your business with an Etsy storefront you could actually be hurting your business. And if you’re only selling on Etsy, it could be your downfall.

Like I said 👆🏼 Etsy is a great place to get started and test the viability of your product(s). But once you know people are buying what you’re cooking / creating / crafting / etc. it’s time to put together a plan to grow your business long term. And if you’re exclusively selling on Etsy, you better believe that means evaluating the pros and cons of that decision.

You’ve been on Etsy, you know the pros. And you probably know many of the cons. Below are three reasons you should not be exclusively selling on Etsy. The annoying cons are at the bottom, the cons that could take down your #creativebiz are at the top.

#1 Etsy could shut you down today

How could Etsy be your downfall? Because they can shut you down.

In section 7 of Etsy’s Terms of Use it’s stated they “may terminate or suspend your account and your access to the Services at any time, for any reason, and without advance notice.” The terms go onto explain Etsy has no responsibility to the seller – even if closing your shop affects your income or ability to generate revenue.

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screen-shot-2018-02-02-at-11-48-22-pm

The better your business does on Etsy, the more you have to lose. The early stage creativepreneur, testing their product on Etsy, may only lose a few months worth of customer data and orders. But if your Etsy business is taking off and possibly your full time gig, it could mean the revenue you depend on to buy materials and pay your team (including yourself) could be cut off with a single email from Etsy. Here’s what one Etsy shop owner experienced when her shop was suspended.

If your store is terminated or suspended you could also lose access your customers and orders. That’s because your customers are actually Etsy’s customers. There are ways to backup your orders and customer information*, but this really isn’t the point. If your Etsy store is terminated, and you set up shop on your own site or another platform, you still have to migrate your customers. This means telling your customers they can’t access your Etsy store anymore, and need to leave a platform they trust to come shop on your new site. You’re going to lose some buyers.

Whether you’re a full time creativepreneur or have a creative side hustle, if you like your Etsy income then you need to eliminate this single point of failure by accepting orders through an alternative method – we recommend your own ecommerce site.

* Some options we found were Backtsy and Seller Tools. You can also backup manually.

* Some options we found were Backtsy and Seller Tools. You can also backup manually.

#2 If you’re marketing, you’re also marketing for your competition

Etsy puts considerable effort into keeping buyers on their site, but not necessarily in your shop. If a buyer starts to wander, they are immediately given the option to view a similar product and are whisked off to your competitor’s shop. This means if you’re spending time or money getting people to your Etsy shop, you are essentially marketing for your competition and, ultimately, for Etsy.

In past posts we’ve talked about conversion funnels. Marketing efforts to your Etsy store are more like conversion cylinders – you cast a wide net with photos of your work on Instagram or other social sites, which brings buyers to your, store but does not narrow their activity towards conversion. Instead, Etsy distracts them with similar products from your competitors and entices them to explore the over 1.7 million other stores.

#3 Brand expression is limited

According to the Seller’s Handbook you have just a handful of options when it comes to sharing your brand and story with potential customers. Visually, you can add a cover photo, an “icon” and set four feature products. You can also add your story in the “About” section of your shop.

Combined that gives you about 2,500 X 1,500 pixels and 5,000 characters to differentiate you from thousands of competitors that have the same restrictions. And there are a many Etsy shops that do a phenomenal job with this limited space! We just don’t think it’s enough to communicate the soul of your creative business.

etsy-shopvisuals
etsy-shopvisuals

You’re a creative company, yet your storefront looks nearly identical to every other Etsy shop. It’s more than just your brand expression that’s limited, the very structure of your store is dictated by Etsy. This makes sense – they built the platform and designed the store pages, but creativepreneurs still get aggravated by the limited characters, categories and sorting options.

Beware – if you’re a creative, Etsy’s restrictive design may drive you crazy.

Lesser reasons

  1. Etsy charges you to list – having an Etsy shop isn’t free, even if you never make a sale.
  2. Your competition may not share the crafter spirit – a 2013 change to Etsy’s seller policy allows shops to manufacture their products through a third party
  3. Etsy controls search results – you’re at the mercy of Etsy’s algorithm. If it’s working in your favor, great! If not, too bad. A few things that can hurt your Etsy rankings is an incomplete shop profile  as well as location
  4. Shipping is restrictive – because shipping is baked into your Etsy pricing, you simply have less control over your shipping. Not a deal breaker but can be a pain

Like I said at the beginning, Etsy is great. However if Etsy is the only place you’re selling, you may run into problems (see above). We recommend having your own ecommerce site. You can still sell through Etsy, but you 1) mitigate the scary risks you take when Etsy is your only shop and 2) you have so many more creative and business options!

 

Now for the exciting part.
The pros of having your own site are :

 

1. Marketing, marketing and more marketing!

First, you can start narrowing the impact of those Instagram, etc. marketing efforts you’ve been doing and turn that conversion cylinder into a funnel. By directing buyers to your website they won’t get distracted by your Etsy competition and you have more control over their shopping experience.

Second, there are so many more options for outbound marketing. Start a blog, create a following and see them come back. Set up automated emails to follow up with past clients about their experience, offer them coupon codes on new products, just say hi. So many options!

2. You can experiment with your pricing model

With your own ecomm shop, you can totally open up your pricing model(s). Want to see if your customers will buy a subscription to your products? No problem, we’ll spin up a recurring product. Want to sell ad space or premium content? All possible through your own site.

3. Complete creative control over your brand

Fully express your brand in creative, webby ways. Instead of being limited to a cover photo and an About write up, your site can be the experience of your brand. Check out our post about the value of a strong digital brand.

4. Build company credibility

Your own site creates credibility for your company. On Etsy your buyers want your product but are trusting Etsy with their order, contributing credibility to Etsy. You’re the creator, customer support staff and fulfillment center – shouldn’t you get the credit?

Ready to start selling on your own website? Yes!

Tell us a bit more about your company.

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Sophia Williams
sophia@andsonsdesign.com

Sophia is the founder and co-principal of &SONS Creative Development.

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