Etsy vs. Indiemade: Why you need to move on and how to do it simply

Anyone who has had an Etsy shop since the beginning, back in 2005 will have witnessed many changes over the years, just like on eBay, Amazon and other ecommerce websites. As the other’s grew their reach much more quickly, Etsy remained true to its roots by only allowing handmade products on their site and as such became a mecca for any budding artist who wanted to carve out a career doing what they loved. In fact, I started my own Etsy shop back in 2007 with my business Sara’s Texture Crafts.

In 2015 Chad Dickerson the then newly appointed CEO had a much bigger plan for Etsy’s long-term growth and in taking the company public also made a major change to the terms and conditions of the Etsy site, allowing sellers to grow their staff, manufacture goods with third parties and dropship with outside logistic solutions. The change was designed to help those smaller businesses who were now reaching their next step to still remain on Etsy, but meet the increasing demand for their designs and create an option for wholesale. What has happened since, I believe has damaged the integrity of the vision of Etsy that he intended to maintain and is putting artists off.

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What I’m hearing from Etsy shop owners about the state of Etsy

One of the biggest complaints Etsy shop owners make is two-fold; firstly, they feel the market has become saturated with mass-produced products and secondly Etsy’s control over an artist’s shop and customer service is starting to feel tyrannical (check out articles like - You thought eBay is unfair to sellers? It’s got nothing on Etsy - Anna Tims The Guardian September, 2017)

 

Why I believe you need your own website as well as an Etsy shop in 2019

Moving on from your business on Etsy can be scary, particularly if you already have an established customer base. You feel like leaving Etsy altogether will close you down over night.

But it need not be like that!

Moving beyond Etsy could and should mean an increased revenue opportunity.

When I started Sara’s Texture Crafts in mid-2006 I had never heard of Etsy, so I started my craft business on eBay. I did that for two reasons; firstly, I wasn’t sure my business could become a career and secondly, I had no idea how to build my own ecommerce website. I was in a position just like many of you have been.

With the success of my first year behind me I knew that to grow and sustain my business I needed to move beyond eBay to my own ecommerce website, or eBay alternatives. So just like those looking for Etsy alternatives now I really had two problems; firstly, my market had become saturated and secondly, my customers were not my own… I couldn’t market to them, I couldn’t upsell to them and I couldn’t care for them in what I thought was the best version of my customer service… eBay’s ‘rules’ had become dictatorial.

In the years following, I had explored more selling platforms from; Amazon to Etsy and after passage of time I quickly realised the same issues are true in every situation. So, I ploughed more effort into my own website and used these selling platforms to filter through repeat customers to my own website. This allowed me to truly answer my problems and take back the control I needed for my brand and my customers (and my finances where fees were concerned!) Beyond measure this was my best approach to my online business.

 

Introducing IndieMade as a simple ecommerce website builder for artists

There are two things I think are important when starting out with your own website and an opportunity I believe I missed the first time around;

  1. You need a simple ecommerce website builder – one you can learn the ropes with and focus on creating the perfect landing page for your customers to arrive at+.

  2. You need an option that still allows you to list on Etsy and manage both inventory systems under one-roof – back in the day this wasn’t an option for me, because multi-channel retailing wasn’t really a ‘thing’. It is however very useful, because it allows you to manage and forecast your stock, income and sales easily over several sites.

 
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I was recently in contact with Cynthia Boris from IndieMade and this is what she told me about this simple to use website builder;

 
IndieMade was started around ten years ago by an artist who was looking for another way to sell her handmade goods. She was selling at craft fairs but wanted to reach a wider audience and IndieMade was born.

From the beginning, IndieMade has always been about helping artisans by relieving them of the issues that come with designing and running your own website from scratch. Our websites come with a choice of themes that can be set up in less time than it takes you to order, get and drink a cup of coffee. From there, you can embellish your site to make it truly unique but you don’t have to. We think artists should spend their time doing what they do best – creating art! 

A big feature of IndieMade is our Etsy Connect system. Most of our store owners have or had an Etsy store. They like the traffic it brings but they don’t like sharing their profits or giving up elements of their own brand. We designed Etsy Connect so you can run both an Etsy store and an IndieMade store at the same time, building up your own business until you’re ready to let Etsy go. Basically, it’s a syncing system that keeps your inventory balanced across both platforms. Sell something on Etsy? It’s automatically removed from your IndieMade store. Listing new items? Connect pushes your new items from IndieMade to Etsy.
 
The biggest benefit to having an IndieMade store is that you get to keep more of your profits. We charge a single, monthly fee based on the number of items you have listed. No commissions. You can sell $10 a day or $100 a day and the monthly fee remains the same. Since the fee is based on your inventory, you don’t have to pay more until you have a bigger inventory.

What really sets us apart from other web hosts is our customer service. We’re a small company and we handle each customer service request in-house and usually within 24 hours. We’re always available to answer questions and help tweak a site so it better represents each customer’s brand. Because really, being able to build your own brand is key to growing your business.
 
Right now we have several jewelry designers and bead makers who have been with us since the beginning and have grown tremendously. We also have fine artists, woodworkers, yarn makers, soap makers, mixed media artists and designers of children’s toys. And we’re not just for the handmade seller. Because our websites are so easy to set up and maintain, we’re also home to a variety of small business, authors and musicians.

IndieMade is a great choice for any artisan or entrepreneur who has always wanted their own ecommerce site but was overwhelmed by the cost and hassle of building a site from scratch. We’re a great way to dip your toe into the pool and get started.
— Cynthia Boris from IndieMade
 

I’ve included the current pricing structure, which if you are reading this beyond 2019 you may wish to visit this IndieMade page for more details - https://www.indiemade.com/pricing  

 
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Etsy connect currently comes with the more premium services, but in my opinion, this is where this service really maximises it’s potential.

 
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Here are some website examples, so you can see how customisable templates might work for you - https://www.indiemade.com/examples.

 

Takeaways

Starting out with an Etsy shop (or any other selling platform) is fine, but certainly long-term this is not the sole answer for your online craft business – you need a website! My advice is to start simply, with something you can build up as you grow in understanding of ecommerce, something that helps you manage your inventory and something that will ultimately expand your reach.

 

Resources

Thank you for watching! I hope that was helpful?

If you have any questions or comments, please pop them in the comment section below.