It doesn’t surprise me that it is such a big question mark for so many crafters. There are so many places to sell and many pros and cons to each one. It can be overwhelming, and a lot of times, once you begin to research, you end up with more questions. In this article, I am going to attempt to answer those questions for the most popular options. In an attempt to keep this article as short and thorough as possible, I may not include a platform that you are considering, if that is the case, please send me a message, and I will do my best to help you out. For as many times as this question is asked, there are probably just as many answers. What works for one person may not work for someone else.
These are the platforms we will discuss. The reason for choosing them is they seem to be the ones I hear people ask about the most.
- Social Media (Facebook Groups, Instagram, etc…)
- Own Website (Shopify, WordPress, Wix, etc…)
Social Media can be very tempting to use to sell your items. Chances are, you already have a (or several) social media account(s) and it’s super easy to start selling, just make a post, right?
While this is true, I do not think you should use social media to sell your items. I believe there are many advantages to it, but as an e-commerce platform, I cannot recommend it for several reasons.
Selling primarily through social media can be messy and time-consuming. When I first got started, I used social media alone, and it was less than ideal. I kept track of orders in a notebook and was spending so much time having to go back through messages and posts to get information that I either left out of my notebook or was too messy to read. On top of that, I had so many customers contacting me for custom orders. I would go back and forth for hours sometimes, even days, perfecting designs they wanted. 80% of them NEVER paid—what a waste of time.
The straw that broke the camels back though, was when my then 1-year-old got a hold of my notebook and decided to bathe it in the toilet bowl. It was then that I decided to implement a better system. Don’t get me wrong; social media has its place; however, I think it should be a tool (one of many) in your arsenal. It’s great for increasing brand awareness and recognition. It’s also an AWESOME, not to mention a FREE solution for driving traffic.
The traffic and exposure you will get from customers that are looking for the types of things you make is unparalleled. Etsy has over 25 million shoppers. A lot of them know and love Esty. Many of Etsy’s shoppers will go there first when looking for an item because it’s a marketplace, and they KNOW they will find what they are looking for easier than a smaller one seller website.
You’ll also gain experience. Many of my shop policies came from when I was an Etsy seller. So many scenarios that I never even considered came up, and I had to make policies on the fly. Etsy customers will provide you with valuable feedback and challenge you! Going forward, you will be able to deal with customers and different situations that pop up and with ease.
These TWO reasons alone are enough for you to justify using Etsy, even if it is not your primary platform (and it shouldn’t be).
Fees: It costs $0.20 to publish a listing to the marketplace. A listing lasts for four months or until the item is sold. Once an item sells, there is a 5% transaction fee on the sale price (including the shipping price you set). If you accept payments through Etsy Payments, they also collect a 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee. An item that sells on Etsy for $25 will cost you $2.45, which honestly is a small price to pay for the potential traffic and exposure. However, the small amounts add up, FAST. Here is a breakdown of my sales/fees for one of my Etsy shops.
Etsy push for free shipping: In the past year or so, Etsy has begun a big push for sellers to offer free shipping. They rank shops that offer free shipping higher than shops that do not. In my opinion, this goes in the con category. Most sellers on Etsy have already increased their prices to cover the fees that Etsy charges, now Etsy is asking them to increase the prices more to include free shipping. For some sellers, this is no big deal, but for others, this is not economical, nor does it make financial sense. I don’t think your rankings on Etsy should drop if you don’t offer free shipping.
Copyright Trolls: Many people have nothing better to do but peruse Etsy and find things to report for copyright infringement. People who filed for a copyright on Tuesday Morning and by Tuesday evening they are reporting left and right for copyright that hasn’t been reviewed or approved. Then there are the Karen’s of the world that have no idea anything about copyright, nor do they own any, but they come across a shirt that you made that has the same saying as someone else’s tumbler. Mind you, the design is entirely different, but the saying is the same. It’s also a generic phrase like “sunshine and rainbows.” Now they report you not even realizing that no copyright infringement has occurred. In my experience, Etsy doesn’t investigate copyright infringement. They automatically deactivate your listing and give you the chance to appeal or change and reactivate the listing. They also ding your ‘record,’ and after so many dings, they will close your shop permanently, even if the accusations were unfounded.
No Control: At the end of the day, Etsy is a big company, and they can do what they want with your shop. If they’re going to close down your shop, they can and will. If Etsy sells to the highest bidder, you have no say, so; If Etsy goes bankrupt and shuts down, your customer base goes with it. I know several shop owners who have had their shops shut down (myself included) over false copyright infringement allegations. Let me tell you something, Etsy DOES NOT CARE! You are just one seller in a sea of 2.5 million sellers.
Your Own Website
This should be your ultimate goal. You have almost total control over your website. Etsy can’t shut it down, and it is the most economical option (this is especially true if you use WordPress). You should be using social media to drive traffic to your website. You should be using Etsy to drive traffic to your site. You should also be using Google my Business and Yelp and every other resource you can think of to drive traffic to YOUR website!! Your website should be your focus. If you don’t have one, buy a domain even if you use it as a redirect back to Facebook for now. It’s better than not having it. You don’t want to pick a business name and go to buy a domain and find it is not available. In future articles, we will talk about setting up your website, but for now, buy that domain!
COMING SOON: An in-depth article that breaks down different website platforms. We will take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of Shopify, big commerce, WordPress, and more!