Why Etsy Users Should Also Start Their Own Website

Why Etsy Users Should Also Start Their Own Website

Don’t get me wrong. Etsy is a fantastic place to get your feet wet with online selling. But when it comes to growing and expanding the sales of your products, relying solely on Etsy as your main sales channel will drastically stunt the growth of your business. Here’s why…

You Have No Control On Etsy

As a company with investors and pressures to grow, Etsy does not necessarily have the same goals as an individual seller. For example, if Etsy decides that they need to boost profits, they can raise their transaction fees at any time and drastically reduce your margins.

If Etsy wants to, they can make arbitrary design changes without warning that may or may not reduce the visibility of your online shop. In fact, every change that they make can have a negative impact on your sales and the worst part is that it’s completely arbitrary and could happen at any time. You have absolutely no control over what they decide to do and your sales could disappear at a moments notice!

The best way to future proof your business is by creating something that you do own and have full control over which is creating your own website.

Plan Your Transition And Start Thinking About Your Website Now

So does that mean you should drop Etsy right away and start your own online store? Absolutely not! If you are making a decent number of sales on Etsy already, then by all means you should keep listing your products there. However in the background, you should begin working on your own website.

If creating your own shopping cart website sounds daunting and expensive at first, don’t be discouraged. In fact, you can start your own online store for as little as 5 bucks a month. The reason that it’s so cheap is because there are many open source shopping carts out on the market that are completely free. You simply have to find a webhost, install the shopping cart and you are ready to go.

Once your online store is up and running, you can then begin the process of drawing your customers away from Etsy and having them shop at your store directly.

Funneling Customers To Your Shop

The easiest way to lure customers away from Etsy to shop at your own online store is to offer incentives. First off, I would price the goods for your own shop at prices that are slightly below your Etsy store prices. Then, every time you ship an order to one of your Etsy customers, you should insert a business card or a coupon encouraging them to bypass your Etsy shop to buy from your store directly.

Because it will be cheaper and more convenient to shop at your own online store, repeat customers will naturally gravitate away from Etsy and pay you directly. Not only does this save you from having to pay Etsy’s transaction fees but you will slowly begin amassing an army of loyal customers.

Another good way to take advantage of Etsy’s marketplace is by including the URL of your online store within your product listings. While it’s strictly prohibited from linking directly to your site from Etsy, you should be able to insert your website address or your store name in a subtle manner to draw additional traffic to your shop.

Is This Really Doable?

The sooner that you come to realize how important it is to own your website, the sooner that you can take action and begin. In case you have any doubts on whether this strategy is doable, I thought that I’d share with you my own personal ecommerce story.

Once upon a time, I used to sell a wide selection of handkerchiefs for women on Ebay and I made a pretty good side income in doing so. But one day, Ebay decided to drastically increase their selling fees to about 12-15%. All of sudden, my profit margins became razor thin so I was pretty much forced to transition away from Ebay and start my own website.

Taking advantage of cheap webhosting and free open source software, I started my online store Bumblebee Linens in 2007. Using the same methods described above along with some search engine optimization, I managed to grow the traffic to my online store and made a six figure profit within my first year of business!

Beyond that first year, my store has been growing in the double and triple digits. And since then, I’ve expanded my product line from selling just handkerchiefs to selling linen napkins specifically catering to the wedding industry.

By having my own website, I have a huge advantage over the other sellers on Ebay. For one thing, I have full control over the look and feel of my product pages. And the best part is that my products aren’t being compared to thousands of other similar looking product listings. Once I have a customer on my site, I also have the ability to upsell and cross sell additional products as well!

Overall, my profits are higher because I don’t have to pay any transaction fees. While I kept up my online store and my Ebay shop for quite some time, eventually I closed my Ebay operation because the profit margins were so much better on my own website. Plus, it made sense to focus my energies where I had control of my own destiny. After all, no one could shut me down, switch layouts or raise prices because I owned my own shop.

Conclusion

So if you are making a decent income from your Etsy shop, it’s probably a good time to think about diversifying your sales channels and starting your own website. As with any business, getting traffic to your website takes time. But the sooner you begin, the sooner you can take charge, own your business and stop relying on marketplaces like Etsy.

{Featured image via Compete Pulse}

Written by Steve Chou

Steve runs MyWifeQuitHerJob.com where he writes about building wealth and entrepreneurship. He also runs a course where he teaches others how to create a profitable online store.

28 Responses to Why Etsy Users Should Also Start Their Own Website

  1. This is a great post, thank you. Just this week I made the decision to take my business to the next level. So I purchased my own domain name and signed up with a web hosting service. I am making the steps to start building my business on my own site and slowly back away from Etsy. Thanks again!

  2. I am most interested in generating sales online. I have opened my own website and have bean posting my artwork. I questioned whether or not to lower my prices as compared to what I am asking on Etsy, you have answered my question. It will benefit me to lower the prices slightly on my own website.
    Thank you.
    Lee Thomson

  3. Is there a third party store site that will allow me to post my items on Etsy and my site at the same time? Making two posts seems like a challenge.

      • Ann is right.

        Not only that, IndieMade can link your site to your Etsy shop so that inventory is kept in synch when items sell… no need to drop Etsy entirely.

        (Full disclosure: I work at IndieMade. And love it! but you should know I am not an impartial observer; I think IndieMade is great.)

    • If you are a wordpress user, there are 2 different plug ins available that allow you to automatically draw your etsy shops content into your website. Unfortunately they both cost, $30-$40.

    • I have a Business account with Weebly. Having almost 600 items to transfer from Etsy to My Own Website- took only a few minutes. Weebly allows you to import all active listings items from you Etsy Shop.

  4. Thanks so much for the post… great information. I love your site and it works so quickly and efficiently.
    My struggle has been trying to find good web hosting that is affordable and reliable. I don’t know what shopping cart software to use either.
    Between eBay and Etsy, I make just enough to break even and pay for hosting. I have been using godaddy’s quick shopping cart which is a little bit expensive but Google doesn’t like it because it is slow, and I’ve tried open source shopping carts that give me errors with google for duplicate meta content.
    I love making my dog clothes, I want to spend my time sewing and creating not working on a website.

    • In terms of hosting, HostGator and Laughing Squid are great options. Laughing Squid is the one I use and it’s only $6 a month. In terms of shopping carts, Ecwid, BigCartel, and Shopify are some great options.

  5. Hey great article – it’s sooo important for anyone selling their products online to really have ownership of their turf. Etsy has its merits in terms of finding new customers, but quite possiblity that where the relationship could/should end – any repeat customers should cross over into ‘your fan’ territory rather than be an Etsy customer. You be able to connect with them on a deeper level and really grow that relationship. Depending on your business you can use something like bigcartel for an online store, or even if you just want to direct customers to your blog and offer just a few products to your readers you can use selz.com to add buy now buttons and widgets to your blog.

  6. I have been a seller on Etsy since the beginning and for the last 2 years I have seen the implementation of a dictatorship like system, the coming of Chinese resellers with mass produced junk, muzzling of complaining sellers by repressive measures like banning from the forum and shops arbitrarily taken down.
    Favoritism is rampant as well and if your are not part of the “privileged cast of sellers” you will suddenly and helplessly see your livelihood and years of hard work go down the drain with 60% or more of your monthly income disappear. Etsy manipulates your store visibility and control what you sell to the dollar. YES, THEY CAN AND THEY DO!!!
    The new search engine is an enigma. The admin’s favorite sellers are mysteriously and ALWAYS more relevant than the others in the search results, establishing an obvious dominance and by the same token enjoy the advantage of a free promoting tool while most sellers become invisible, no matter the “relevancy”, quality and number of items in their stores. A bias search engine with an agenda?
    These same privileged/favorite sellers can also infringe copyright laws with impunity and Etsy turns its head the other way.
    Customer service/support is inexistent and limited to email but if and when you are lucky enough to be granted an answer to your inquiry, it is a condescending and/or mean one.
    Recently Etsy has removed the dual feedback system and implemented a one way and arbitrary star review, leaving sellers at the mercy of dishonest buyers.
    The last five months Etsy has multiplied its testings on thousands of unsuspecting stores and many sellers have seen their income slashed to nothing while the “privileged cast”, under the Etsy protectorate, is enjoying an exponential multiplication of their sales.
    For the past 2 years and particularly for the past months Etsy has taken away the livelihood of many, ruined families and destroyed lives without even a flutter of hesitation.
    Etsy has become a heartless entity devoid of compassion and moral ethics. It has fallen to the level of the big corporations where bribery, corruption and repression are prevalent.
    Wouldn’t it be time for a class action lawsuit?

    • Yes, the recent changes Etsy has made have not helped sellers at all. However, I’m still holding my breath to see how Etsy Wholesale turns out. I’m in beta testing of it right now and unlike Etsy, it’s juried. Here’s hoping.

      • Well, I think we now can see how the wholesale is workig out. It’s obviously allowed on Etsy and also Sellers are now allowed to use outside Manufacturers! It’s obviously Hurting a lot of Sellers,who can not compete with these prices. Sellers have expressed many Complaints. Many Complaints in the forums-But, Now!Should they bring up this discussion in the forums-and mention Certain Countries who Wholesale -They are Muted from the Forums? Yes, Muted!!!. I was one of them, and I didn’t even mention a specific country. If they mention it more than once they loose forum privlidges all together. Right now, we are waiting on the New Page Look where Etsy is testing to take away all Our Lovely Banners, and Shop announcements. Wow! My Shop looked like a Newspaper Classified Ad wih no Personal Touch to it at all. Thankfully after 2 weeks My Banner showed up and someone else got to be in the Test. It’s Still in the Test Mode for several months, and we have no Say at all. I went into my Shop one day to list a new item, and BINGO! my Shop Banner and announcement were gone. No Warnning at all. It;s like—–Take it or leave it!!!

  7. I thank you for this article. I just had lunch with my husband (business attorney) and told him my future plans of opening my own shop website which he very much supports. I’ve saved this article for him to read because he told me almost the exact same things as you are advising….almost word for word!

    I understand feeling bitter about etsy and the feeling of ‘lack of control’, believe me.
    However, because so many people’s livelihoods are wrapped up into etsy I would truly hate to see that site fail. But the smart sellers are the one’s who will make their way to their own websites…..it’s truly the smartest way to conduct business, IMHO.
    But to each their own, I understand some who aren’t savvy with a computer feeling daunted by it or thinking it would take too much time.
    Whenever I feel that way I remember how long it took me to get my etsy shop up and running smoothly.
    As others have said, it’s not too hard to find the help online to open up your own website……that’s my goal for the new year.
    Best of luck to everyone who makes that leap!!

    • Hi Gail,
      Don’t forget that you can always have an Etsy shop AND your own website. Just don’t send people on your website to your Etsy shop or they may get lost in the world of Etsy.

    • Best of Luck to you too. I opened up My Own Website-and Own Domain 6weeks ago. At the beginning I struggled to figure things out. Sometimes Full Days. I never gave up, because having your own Website is a must. My Etsy Shop will stay till my website starts getting more sales.

  8. I agree completely about Etsy! I have watched while my sales become nearly extinct, while others seem to soar. I am tired of being upset about it and I am going to follow your advice today! I cannot wait for the new venture.
    Thank you!

  9. Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I find
    It really useful & it hhelped me out a lot. I hope to give
    something back and help othes like you aided me.

  10. I was on Etsy for a while with not much luck. I felt like all I was doing was liking other peoples items so that I could get out there. If you start your own website like I did 4 months ago you control what’s being done. There are so many reasons to have your own website. You can send out beautiful emails through Mail Chimp, your can advertise on FB, Google Adwords let’s you get your stuff to show up in google feed. There are a ton of reasons to go on your own.

    I won’t lie it’s a ton of work though. Etsy is a ton of work also but they take care of alot of things that you don’t think about. You have to do your homework and respond to people like me who are knee deep in the process and having a lot of fun doing it. I happen to sell a very Unique one of a kind item because of that I am constantly updating my website. If you have any questions feel free to ask. Hope I help you out.

  11. Switching from Etsy to shopify was one of the best decisions I’ve made. My new site at The Anniversary Co is doing about 4 times as much business as I was ever doing on Etsy. It’s more work, but in the end it pays off.

  12. I have a shop on Etsy, and also have items on Ebay , and I have a page on my Facebook page for my items. I make handmade items for your home, pillows, place mats, pillow covers, table runners, baby items- baby quilts and blankets, diaper bags, children’s – adult purses, and more. I have been thinking about starting my own web site, but I have no idea even where to begin. I am not very smart when it comes to computers. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated

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