Recently one of my subscribers reached out to me and asked me for my honest opinion on a very important subject. Apparently someone told her that she should stop selling on Etsy and that she should focus on setting up her own website instead. This person gave her this advice due to the recent crackdown that Etsy has started to enforce within the past couple of years.
What’s the crackdown? Well, when you are selling on a platform such as Etsy you have to comply with their policies. Etsy requires that your products meet their handmade criteria. You must also not sell products that violate copyright or trademark laws. If you’re caught violating these policies then you risk having your shop shut down by Etsy.
Between the years of 2014 and 2015 a total of 442,849 shops have been closed by the Trust and Safety Team at Etsy. Woah, that’s almost half a million shops! In case you’re wondering where I obtained this information you can view Etsy’s 2014 Transparency Report and their 2015 Transparency Report.
So, does that mean that you should give up selling on Etsy completely and open up your own online store? Not necessarily. Here’s my following thoughts on the subject.
Keep Selling on Etsy
If you’re not violating any of the policies on Etsy, then why worry about your shop being shut down? Don’t let these statistics scare you if you’re doing things by the book. Selling on Etsy is such a wonderful starting point for small businesses. In fact, I would highly recommend starting out on Etsy before opening an online store.
Selling on an established platform such as Etsy will generate a lot more traffic than a standalone website. You also have access to tons of available tools which make it easier to sell and ship your products.
Another major reason why I would suggest sticking with Etsy is because there is such a large audience that already trusts buying on Etsy. Customers are already familiar with the way that Etsy works, making them feel a lot more comfortable buying off of Etsy instead of a private e-commerce website.
So, to sum it up, just make sure that you’re complying with all of the policies on Etsy. Only sell handmade or vintage items, don’t sell items with Disney characters on them, and provide excellent customer service. You shouldn’t have a problem selling on Etsy after you follow those simple rules.
Open Your Own Online Store
As stated earlier, selling on Etsy is an excellent starting point. Not only is it usually a cheaper option, but it’s an excellent way to learn the ins and outs of running a small business.
I believe that once you become comfortable selling on Etsy and you’re up for a new challenge, why not open up your own online store that’s separate from Etsy?
And, don’t worry. You don’t have to sell on one or the other. It’s perfectly acceptable to have a shop on Etsy while you’re selling on your own website. So, why not do both?!
If you’re thinking about opening your own online shop I would highly suggest starting with Shopify. Shopify is an e-commerce system that makes it extremely easy to set up an online store. You can choose your own website layout, easily upload products, blog, etc.
The only downside about selling on Shopify is that you have to pay a monthly fee on top of paying transaction fees, but the basic plan starts out at $29 a month so it’s not too bad.
Once you have your own website established you’re going to have to learn a thing or two about marketing to drive traffic to your website. But, if you’re still selling on Etsy you can promote your website to your customers who are purchasing from you off of Etsy. To do so, create some business cards that include your website information and include the business card in with each of your orders. Don’t message your customers directly through Etsy and refer them to your website, that’s totally against the rules and you could get into trouble.
Leave Etsy When You’re Ready
If you ever get to a point where selling on Etsy no longer benefits your business and you feel comfortable pulling the plug on your Etsy shop, then do it.
Some small businesses eventually establish themselves to the point where they can do without Etsy. But, until then I always believe in selling on both Etsy and your own website. There are just so many benefits in selling on multiple platforms.
Are there any other platforms that you currently sell your items on? I’d love to know! Leave a comment below.