etsy-3

Could Etsy Be Your Downfall? Part 3

Insight from Etsy’s top sellers

In our last couple posts we covered the 3 reasons Etsy could be your business’s downfall and the metrics behind what Etsy’s top sellers are doing. In our last post we looked at the quantitative metrics; this post focuses on the qualitative feedback from Etsy’s top sellers.

We reached out to 33 of Etsy’s most successful shop owners, and nine owners responded to our questions. All of these shops are top performers on Etsy, and have seen a lot of success selling there. All nine owners started selling online through Etsy and have a lot of good things to say about their experience. They also all still sell through their Etsy shop.

The nine shops we’re featuring are  :

Something else they all have in common : all nine decided to launch their own ecommerce site and grow their business independent of Etsy.

Their stories are different – some launched their own site within a couple years of starting on Etsy, while others waited up to nine years. Three of the sellers currently sell more through Etsy than their own site.

And they all recommend Etsy shop owners should also sell through a separate ecommerce site.

In the next few paragraphs we will cover why they started their own site, the pros and cons of this decision and their advice to other Etsy shop owners.

Q : Why did you start your own eCommerce site?

The main reason our sellers invested in their own site are Etsy’s limited selling options. Roxie, the owner of Frostbeard Studio, says they “wanted to offer more options than Etsy allowed, like a monthly subscription and also to incorporate it with our website, blog, newsletter etc.” Frostbeard sells candles on Etsy, but now also offers monthly sub boxes and gift cards through their site.

33% of the sellers we spoke to also said that Etsy’s technological and cultural changes were the catalysts to launch their own site. Leslie, the owner of madebycleo, had a “growing sense of uncertainty” about experimental changes Etsy was making. “They were doing a lot of new things with the search algorithms that dramatically affected the ‘discoverability’ of shops. This uncertainty made a lot of Etsy stores want to abandon ship. While we weren’t about to do the same, we knew we needed to diversify our sales to minimize the risks of such volatility.”

The owners also cited mounting fees, competition on Etsy and limited marketing opportunities as reasons they decided to go ecomm.

And now that they’ve been running their sites for a while, our owners have experienced significant pros of being ecommerce shopkeepers.

Q : What are the pros of having your own site?

We asked our sellers what the major pros of having their own site are. The major pros : more control over the design of the site and functionality.

8/9
Visual
Design

7/9
More Functionality

4/9
Lower
Fees

2/9
Better
Marketing

1/9
More
Professional

1/9
Better
SEO

And, of course, a major pro is revenue. Colette, the owner of the Etsy shop mycomputerismycanvas, says after they started their own site their “revenue for 2017 was 28% above 2016 – I attribute that growth to a much smoother customer experience , a very mobile friendly checkout and an overall better presentation of my products [on my eccommerce site].”

We also talked about the cons and challenges of running your own website.

Q : What are the cons of having your own site?

3/9
Difficult to
Drive Traffic

2/9
Maintenance
Time & Cost

1/9
Difficult to
Build & Launch

However, 56% of our shop owners said they experienced no cons to having their own site. When asked what cons they have experienced Colette (mycomputerismycanvas) said “Not a single one. My only regret is I didn’t do it sooner.” Leslie (madebycleo) said, “To be honest, it’s hard to come up with an instant & obvious answer for the ‘con’ side of having our own e-commerce site. The amount of freedom and control (and how far you can take things with that advantage) is so incredibly liberating and powerful that it overrides basically all other concerns.”

By now you’re probably seeing a trend – these successful shop owners all are stoked they started their own site. But should all Etsy shop owners follow suite?

Q : Should other Etsy shop owners start their own ecommerce site?

44% of our sellers emphatically say “yes”! Kathleen, founder of Smiling Tree Toys, said “If your goal is to strengthen your brand and grow your business, then yes we feel having your own ecommerce site is a must.” Tony, owner of TaylorCrafts Engraved, has a more ominous reason: “I would recommend any seller have their own site. Etsy can decide at any time if you violated some policy or procedure and shut you down entirely for whatever reason they decide.”

The remaining 56% of our sellers think Etsy shop owners should wait until they hit a certain size before investing in their own site. Colette (mycomputerismycanvas) values “Etsy for small and starting businesses; it’s a very affordable place to start and a great place to test drive your market viability and begin building a customer base.” Leslie (madebycleo) was even more specific with her suggestion, “I would recommend that any Etsy shop should consider setting up a separate e- commerce site after the first year or after the first 500-1000 sales.”

And we agree – Etsy is great for testing viability for new businesses. But when should Etsy sellers make the leap?

Q : When should Etsy shops start eComm?

Two of our shop owners said “ASAP”, but the remaining seven said owners should have momentum before going off on their own.

Colette also makes a very pragmatic point – “There is a point where Etsy stops being perfect – for every business the timing it’s different, but for me as soon as maintaining the monthly costs of an independent website for set a set monthly fee was MUCH cheaper than continuing to pay Etsy listing and commission fees. In November of 2016, my Etsy fees were more than my mortgage – it was a real wake up call. Had I done that volume under my current setup – I would have saved well over $2k in fees that month alone. Once I crossed that threshold, it was obvious it was time to step outside of Etsy.”

Ready to start selling on your own website? Yes!

Tell us a bit more about your company.

mm
Sophia Williams
sophia@andsonsdesign.com

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

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