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.
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;
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+.
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.
I was recently in contact with Cynthia Boris from IndieMade and this is what she told me about this simple to use website builder;
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
Etsy connect currently comes with the more premium services, but in my opinion, this is where this service really maximises it’s potential.
Here are some website examples, so you can see how customisable templates might work for you - https://www.indiemade.com/examples.
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.
If you are looking for other platforms to start with then check out - https://www.myindielifeblog.net/blog/etsy-alternatives
If you want to understand the importance of inventory management then check out - https://www.myindielifeblog.net/blog/inventory-management