Hey guys! If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I sell my printable planners on Etsy. I’ve been on Etsy for almost 3 years now, and I have learned a TON over time about Etsy, how it works, and especially the ups and downs of Etsy seller life. Today I wanted to share my pros + cons of selling on Etsy! Plus, some big changes I’m planning to make over the next year or so.
If you are new to the concept of Etsy, it is basically an online platform where you can sell handmade goods, crafting supplies, or vintage items.
If you are looking to start an Etsy shop, sign up using this link & get 40 FREE listings!
Okay, so we will jump right in!
-Lots of Traffic!
Whereas with your own standalone shop, you have to work your butt off just to get traffic, much less sales, with Etsy, millions and probably billions of people are searching the site for handmade items- they’re on there to buy and they want to buy (maybe) your stuff! Getting traffic to a standalone shop is more difficult, which makes Etsy an excellent starting place if you want to sell your stuff online.
When you have your own shop online, it usually takes a bit of setup. You may need to be pretty computer savvy to get your own shop looking decent & then up & running. Most people would just hire a web designer or developer to do it for them. However, as a small time handmade business, those funds may not be available to you. With Etsy, it’s pretty much click and go, you upload photos, plug in your item description, keywords, price, etc… and then Etsy sets you up with a nice looking listing.
-Lots of Resources
If you google “Etsy Selling Tips” there are SO many resources out there that will tell you exactly what you need to do in order to have a successful Etsy shop. There are even forums on Etsy, and tips from the experts on the Etsy blog. With a little time and effort you can find out what you need to about Etsy and how to make your shop thrive!
Etsy has really created a whole community of sellers- you can create teams to help each other be successful, etc… It helps a lot to have others out there who are doing the same thing you are that you can learn from and collaborate with!
Unfortunately, ya’ll, I’m afraid that this cons list is going to be longer than the “PROS” but don’t worry- I’m going to share my plans to USE Etsy to grow my business and how to also seperate my brand from Etsy (which I recommend you do, too). I’m not saying to close your Etsy shop- NO! Etsy is still a wonderful resource, but what I’m saying is your business may see further long term success if you do these things, too, and of course, you NEVER want to put all of your eggs in one basket.
Over the 3 years I’ve been selling on Etsy, I’ve seen the “Printable Planner” niche EXPLODE. Seriously, ya’ll… I remember a time when there were maybe a handful of sellers doing this, and now if you search there are thousands of thousands or results and so. many. sellers. doing this same thing. It’s crazy, and that’s the Achilles heel of your Etsy business right there- constantly working and tweaking to try and do better and be better than all of your competition. It will drive you insane, just like it has me over the last year and a half. I know my product is great, I know my pricing is on point, etc… but that doesn’t mean that sales won’t dwindle as others come onto Etsy selling similar products at lower prices.
The DREADED word- COPYCATS! Yes, they are abundant on Etsy. I have had other sellers copy and paste my DESCRIPTIONS into their listings (after they recreated my items exactly and listed them online). I mean, there are only so many ways to make a planner, so I don’t get too upset over very similar items coming out, but when you can’t even write your own product descriptions, that’s just low. This is a HUGE issue across every niche on Etsy… and to be honest, there isn’t much at all that can be done about it.
Etsy fees are not astronomical in my opinion, but nevertheless they still cut into your bottom line- and don’t forget, if you take payments via Paypal, they take fees too! Just keep in mind if you are selling on Etsy, you are paying fees- some of which may not be a factor if you have your own standalone shop.
The key to having a business online is BRANDING. With an Etsy store, you can control your banner and your listing photos- but that’s about all of the branding you can do as far as the storefront goes.
-Etsy has TOTAL control
Like it or not, if you are on Etsy’s platform, they have TOTAL control over your business, your livelihood. They can shut down your shop at the drop of a hat with no reason and no warning. I’ve heard of it happening. Talk about scary if this is how you’re putting food on your family’s table! With a standalone shop- you are in control!
After researching for hours upon hours, I’ve learned a very important fact about SEO on Etsy- Your SEO is either going to please Etsy, or it is going to please Google. More often than not, you’re going to want to please Etsy, so you’re not going to get very good results when you are trying to get your items to come up in Google search. With a standalone shop, Google is ALL you have to worry about, and you can make sure your items are coming up in the largest search engine in the world!
-Etsy allows MASS producers
This is especially troubling for those selling tangible items such as jewelry, clothing, etc… because now mass producing companies can join Etsy and sell their items for bottom dollar prices, way undercutting you, and since you are HAND MAKING your items, you can only lower your price so much before it becomes not worth the time and effort put in to sell and make your items. These mass producers are doing just that- mass producing their products in factories- something that true handmade sellers just can’t compete with. I read an article recently about a girl making millions on Etsy- I was so excited to read the article, and really dissapointed to get to the end and read that her “handmade” scarves were made in a factory in India, and the “handmade” part was her adding buttons and other little things to make each scarf unique. She was not hand making her scarves.
-The Etsy algorithm is CONSTANTLY changing. They want new sellers to get a piece of the pie, so those of us who have been working and spilling blood, sweat, and tears over our shops- creating awesome items and getting them to the TOP of Etsy search and building a great brand, can one day be knocked down the list because Etsy has changed the way their search engines are working, and then we have to start from scratch figuring out how to work the site again to put our items back on top. It can be very frustrating.
Okay, so I know, I know.. you are thinking “THIS SUCKS! What do we do??” Well, all I can tell you is what I PLAN to do!
I will never, ever close my Etsy shop as long as it is bringing me sales, right? That just doesn’t make sense, but I do plan to open ANOTHER shop that is hosted right here on WordPress (using Bluehost for hosting + Genesis for my framework + my Restored 316 Designs theme) along with my blog. I’m using the WooCommerce plugin to set everything up, and all in all it is relatively user friendly, especially if you have a blog on WordPress already and you are used to navigating the dashboard. I plan to lower the price of products in my standalone shop- this gives my customers incentive to purchase over here versus on Etsy- I’m not talking by much, but probably whatever amount I’d be paying in fees to Etsy, I’ll deduct from my prices over here starting out. Then, I want to optimize THIS shop for Google SEO- that way I’ll be dominating Etsy search over on Etsy and kicking butt over here with Google. I’ll also start directing potential customers to this shop. That way, they have a one stop shop for my blog + products. They’ll all be here in one neat little package. Also, I plan to start encouraging my ETSY customers to sign up for my email list. This way, they can get exclusive shop discounts, they can be notified when I launch my shop over here, and they can stay updated on the happenings in the blog. Your Email list is KEY! You should ALWAYS be working to build this up so you can stay in contact with your customers. I am currently using Mailchimp. My goal is to leave Etsy running over there- but to focus on promoting THIS shop. One day, in the distant future, maybe I will no longer NEED Etsy to reach my business goals, right??! Wouldn’t that be wonderful.
Okay, so my fellow sellers- do you have anything to add to these lists- pros, cons, and things to do to combat the Etsy troubles?? Share them in the comments!