To sell on Etsy or not? That is the question many small business owners face. I have been thinking about it a great deal over the past few months. On the one hand, it is easy to get up and running; you don’t have to worry about setting up payment gateways, secure certificates, or any of the other things you need to think about with a website. On the other hand, you are helping Etsy build their SEO, not your SEO. They don’t make it easy to grow your email list or market to customers, and many people have started to see less and less traffic to their shops. I started making a chart to compare the two platforms and thought I’d share it with you. Below are my findings:
SEO: Try to crack Etsy’s algorithm code. Some say having over 100 products in your shop helps with rankings. Some people rely on ads, but this method has mixed reviews. You are helping Etsy build their Google SEO by selling through their platform.
SEO: Try to crack search engine’s algorithms. Good luck! But, there are organic ways such as blogging that can help your rankings. You can also go the paid ad route to help boost search rankings. The plus is you are building your own SEO, not Etsy’s.
LIST BUILDING: It seems that people have found a workaround to collecting email addresses on Etsy, but technically you aren’t supposed to collect email addresses unless someone has purchased from you. And you are only supposed to communicate with your list about Etsy-related communications or for Etsy-facilitated transactions.
LIST BUILDING: I’m a big believer in list building. Your list members are by far warmer leads and more likely to buy than your social media followers. You can capture emails before and after engaging in a sale. Also, there are so many list building tools and plugins that integrate with websites. Websites far surpass Etsy in this domain.
BRAND RECOGNITION: When someone is asked where they purchased something, they are more likely to say, “From Etsy” than from the name of the shop or maker in which they purchased. Etsy does not offer much differentiation when it comes to shop design. On the other hand, it is super easy to set up your shop.
BRAND RECOGNITION: People are more likely to remember you because you have the flexibility to design any look, feel, and functionality you’d like. You can stand out amongst all the other shops out there. However, websites are not an out of the box solution and take longer than an Etsy site to set up.
FEES: Etsy has a $0.20/item listing fee on each product you list in your shop. Each time you make a sale, you have to relist items for the $0.20 fee. They also collect 3.5% of sales (not including shipping fees).
FEES: You will likely need to hire a web developer. In addition, you will need to pay for monthly hosting. My favorite is WP Engine (for WordPress websites only) and is $29/month or if you pay annually it works out to about $24/month.
MAINTENANCE: You can do as little as you want on Etsy. But, you will have to relist products after a sale if you want them to remain in your shop. Etsy also has a handy vacation mode setting so you can “pause” your shop if you need a break or are unable to fulfill orders for a period of time.
MAINTENANCE: There is more of a learning curve here than Etsy. Once you get the hang of it, it is very simple to change content and products as needed. I would also factor in a small budget to have your core website theme and plugins updated about twice a year. Your developer can help you with this.
I think Etsy is a great place to begin when launching a new handmade business. It takes almost no money or design skill to set it up and hit the ground running. However, if you have a business that has a little wind in its sails, I’d highly recommend building a website.
So as I am thinking of all these things, my wheels got turning! Just because you want a website, doesn’t mean you can’t have both an Etsy shop and a website or some combination of the two.
OPTION 1: Run an Etsy shop and an e-commerce website. Double the exposure, but also double the maintenance! However, many people do this and find it manageable. Websites are great because you gain that design and functionality flexibility you don’t have on Etsy, can start a blog, and build your email list. Of course, maintaining either an Etsy shop OR a website are also options. You don’t need to do both.
OPTION 2: Run an Etsy shop and a website, but direct shoppers to Etsy. This is a simple way to have all the great SEO and list building tools a website offers and also utilize Etsy e-commerce platform. From your top navigation, you can link to your Etsy shop. It is a nice way to dip your toes into the website world. And you can always expand and add e-commerce functionality later.
If you are thinking of creating a website personally, I am a big fan of WordPress and here’s why. WordPress is the most flexible solution out there. There are templates galore, and now many of them use Visual Composer which makes it so easy to make changes to your design and copy. WordPress integrates seamlessly with WooCommerce, a free e-commerce plugin. It also integrates with PayPal and other payment gateway systems like Stripe. I also love the ability to add plugins to help make your website function in a certain way. Need help capturing emails? There’s a plugin for that. Need a form builder? There’s a plugin for that. Want to integrate an email server? There’s a plugin for that. There are plugins for almost anything you can dream up! Regarding a hosting service, the best out there is WP Engine. It is built specifically for WordPress and keeps things secure and running quickly and smoothly, too.
There isn’t a right or wrong way to go. Etsy has its time and place for small businesses in particular for those just starting out. They do many things well. However, I find websites a better long-term solution and are going to be what sets you apart from the rest. What have your experiences been?