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.
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.