In preparation for the upcoming blog posts that I have planned on women and handmade business, I wanted to share a few thoughts on one of the big questions/comments that I receive from people interested specifically in running their shops primarily online, like I do.
Why did you choose Etsy for your handmade business?
One of the big decisions you have to make when starting your online shop is where you’ll offer your goods for sale. This decision affects how you run your business (your system of listing, selling, packaging, shipping, and communicating with your customers), and how your customers have access to your goods. It also has an affect on how you run your marketing, but we’ll be going over that later.
Though Etsy blazed an online trail for handmade business sellers online, today there are a number of different options for setting up shop on the web. Lots of handmade business owners have great success with Big Cartel and Shopify. In fact, I love this post by Maggie of Gussy Sews discussing why she is a Big Cartel user vs Etsy. For me it only served to reconfirm my reasons for starting on Etsy and staying there, but it’s important to do what fits your business best! Cassie Box of Paper Issues recently moved her business to shopify and is loving it, so there are merits to all of the options available.
Now, on to “tacks of brass”, as one of my favorite movies so aptly puts it!
My reasons for choosing Etsy have changed over the years – because my business has changed, and I’ve changed. Mostly, I’ve become a bit more confident, and gained lots of knowledge and experience along the way.
I’m going to share a secret with you, that you may not even suspect. When I was first setting up my business, I was scared.
Yep. I was. I had been out of the workforce for several years raising our very young sons at the time. I sort of started back into things by working one day a week at a local scrapbooking store, but found that the scheduling just didn’t fit with our life. I needed something that was much more flexible. I wanted something that allowed me to use the skills that I have in a creative way.
So, when I first chose Etsy, it was because it was easy. And time tested and proven, and not a big investment. Now that I have a bit of experience, a bit of an audience, and a bit of press, do I stay? My answer is yes. Here’s why:
1. Web Traffic – The two previously mentioned businesses above are very successful. And part of the reason that they’re able to move their businesses away from a site like etsy, is that they generate their own traffic. Their blogs are a big part of their business, and people check in daily for postings. This is something that I’m looking forward to building this year, but I’m not there, yet. When I checked my statistics for traffic in my etsy shop, I found that a cast majority of my traffic comes through etsy. There are some things that I participate in there that increase my traffic through the site, as well.
2. Exposure – This is sort of linked to reason number one, but in a different way than you might think. Because Etsy is an established site, magazine editors, businesses, and other professionals look to the site for quality handmade sellers. I’ve had numerous opportunities arise for press, and even the opportunity to write for one of my favorite handmade magazines, Mollie Makes that came through these professionals finding my shop on etsy and contacting me through the site. I will be sharing some of the keys I’ve found to catching the eye of the press in my upcoming post regarding marketing & press for your handmade business.
3. The System – The site has grown and changed even in the time that I’ve been an active seller, since July of 2011. Etsy continues to listen to the sellers on the site and tweak and change things to meet our needs. When they introduced mailing label purchase directly through the site, that kind of sealed the deal for me! The circle was complete. The process is simple: list an item, item sells, print invoice/receipt (you can choose to print through the site, but I have my own), print shipping label, package item, drop off at the post office.
4. Community – Etsy is built around coming together as a community of people with similar goals to support each other. They have an active way to get to know each other and help each other reach common goals. I personally haven’t gotten to know people in a chatty, fun way, but more of a business partnership. I’ve participated in teams just for the promotion of each other’s shops and items with a quite a bit of success, and I love knowing that I’m working together to help others out, too!
5. Pay per Listing/Sale (edited to add)- this is a huge advantage when you’re first setting up shop. Unlike the other selling platforms, you don’t pay a set fee per month. This is perfect when you’re small and just starting out. It gives you the freedom to experiment and try out products on an individual basis, then expand as you see fit. This system does become a bit of a weight when you’ve grown and expanded past the point of having just a few dozen listing and sales and are up into the hundreds per month. I still maintain that the exposure I receive in return for my listings are well worth the fees, though!
I hope this post can offer a bit of insight for you if you’re looking to establish an online handmade business this year! Look for my post on a practical guide to setting up shop next week – complete with lots of tips specifically related to Etsy, when my first Women and Handmade Business post launches!