Start an Etsy Store: 5 Reason to Open a Shop on Etsy (and 5 Reasons Not To!)
If you’re reading this then chances are you’ve heard about Etsy. You might even be contemplating opening a shop. Etsy is the go-to site for hand-crafted goods. Well sorta. In the past few years, Etsy has grown and adapted their practices. Now besides handmade craftiness, you might also find supplies, vintage and something things that are less than handmade. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not a good thing for handmade shop owners. Let’s go over a few deciding factors on the reasons you should or shouldn’t start an Etsy shop.
Reason #1 to Start an Etsy Shop: You can wake up tomorrow morning and have an Etsy shop.
Ooo. Magic. Okay, maybe it’s not quite that simple. You’d still have to have some products, take pictures of said products and write descriptions. But you’d have to do that on any platform. The benefit of Etsy is that it’s all hosted for you. All you do is plug in a few things like your shop name, a description, and a shop banner and poof! There’s your shop. Etsy makes this process easy enough, and you don’t have to worry about hosting fees or trying to learn coding or other technical skills like you would for your own site. There’s little to no overhead or investment. You just create and go!
Reason #1 Not to: There’s very little customization or branding.
You can only customize and brand your Etsy shop so much. Ultimately, it’s still Etsy. When your customer’s friend says, “Hey, where’d you get that cool necklace?” and your customer replies, “Oh, on Etsy!” that doesn’t do you any good. Not to mention when you are sending customers to your shop it’s like you’re sending them to a department store and hoping they don’t get distracted on the way. Having your own e-commerce site means that you’re sending people to your site. You don’t have to worry that they might decide to buy from someone else while there. You can create the type of experience that you want them to have. And they are more likely to remember who you are.
Reason #2 to Start an Etsy Shop: Marketing experience not (entirely) required.
Unlike your own store, you’re going to have more people stumbling onto your Etsy shop. Now, you can’t make six figures from people happening upon your shop. You will have to do some work in promoting your shop and making sure you’re using the right keywords to attract customers to your product. The positive for Etsy is that your clients are already there, and they want to buy something handmade. You just have to make it easy for them to find you.
Reason #2 Not to: Competition is Fierce.
How will your shop stand out amongst almost 840,000 shops? What special something are you bringing to the table that will stand apart? Sure, it’d be harder to stand out if you’re just a lonely little shop in the middle of the internet, but it’d be easier to amass a following there. You provide stellar content and behind the scenes pictures, funny quotes, and cute drawings or whatever and people will be ready to check out how they can bring a piece of that home. As oppose to an Etsy shop, you can’t provide customers with much else unless they purchase from you. Gone are the days where you could just set up an Etsy shop and wait for customers to notice. You have to do more because there’s just no way to have your voice heard if you’re only doing Etsy.
Reason #3 to Start an Etsy Shop: Etsy brings a level of trust from customers.
Having your shop on Etsy gives buyers reassurance that you won’t screw them over. They can see you have reviews and a certain amount of sales and so can trust that you’re going to deliver. Even if you haven’t sold anything yet and thus have no reviews, customers believe that Etsy will step in if there’s a problem. That trust isn’t built in when you have your own site; you have to earn it.
Reason #3 Not to: You can’t necessarily trust Etsy.
I don’t like the idea that at any point Etsy can shut down your shop. If someone complains about you or flags your shop, then bam, no shop for you! I’m sure Etsy has a step by step process determining if someone is violating their rules and at that point Etsy enforces them. But what happens if Etsy just decides that your shop is more trouble than it’s worth? I hate the idea of losing all my hard work (written descriptions, product photography, etc.) because some company decides they want to go in a different direction and no longer want to host your site. Plus at any point, Etsy could be sold to another company, or their policies could change, and then all that work you invested is just down the drain. And on top of it, you no longer have access to the limited customer data you had so there’s no way to redirect those people towards your new shop located somewhere else.
Reason #4 to Start an Etsy Shop and Not to: Etsy takes a small percentage of your profit, in addition, to charging you a fee for listing.
I know some people would say this is a con, but honestly, the fees Etsy take are so minimal I think it’s more of a wash. Hosting your own site, and providing technical support would probably end up costing you as much as Etsy’s fees if not more. That is unless the products you are selling are extremely high-end. It doesn’t make sense to sell things on Etsy that are worth thousands of dollars. Whereas $3.70 of a $100 item isn’t that big of a deal.
Reason #5 to Start an Etsy Shop: Built in community and support system.
Etsy has been around for awhile now, almost 18 years and, therefore, it has a lot of users. People who have been on Etsy for years and are happy to provide advice and support. Not to mention Etsy itself has customer services reps, social media accounts and a blog that are all there to help the Etsy seller. There’s just tons of resources out there to help you navigate the waters.
Reason #5 Not to: Etsy allows business’ that your solo shop can’t compete with.
Etsy has begun to expand its definition of what makes a handmade business drastically over the years. Unfortunately, that means those running a one-person shop just can’t compete with those that are running a shop with five employees and industrial grade equipment. Those who can afford to use a manufacturer to produce their products are welcome to. Sure they have to get the manufacturer approved by Etsy but what does that mean? And as soon as one is approved in your niche, well let’s just hope that customers value the hard work you put into your product over the lower cost a mass producer can offer. I believe that Etsy is slowly but surely moving away from the handmade marketplace it was founded on and moving towards, “Well just so long as it looks sorta homemade.”
Here’s what I recommend to people who ask me about Etsy. Open a shop. It’s not the world’s perfect place but at the moment, at least for crafterpreneurs, there is no perfect place. Once you have a shop open, make sure you also have your own website. You don’t need to open a shop on your site just yet but go forward with the plan to. Always redirect your followers from social media to your website and then to Etsy. It’s much better just to get started and start earning income. Once you have income, then it’ll be easier to reinvest in into systems that will benefit you more in the long run. Use Etsy for it’s many pros with the plan that one day you will leave it for your own self-hosted shop because of it’s many cons.
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