Many entrepreneurs with handmade products start by setting up an Etsy store. It’s is a great way to test the waters for your product, but you need your own website to truly master online retail. I spoke to several online retailers who use both Etsy and their own sites about how they benefit from using both.
One of the big attractions to Etsy is that it’s easy to set up and use. There are plenty of online tutorials to get you started. While the site does charge fees ($0.20 to list an item for 4 months, and 3.5% on each sale) it offers you access to return shoppers searching for independently produced products.
“I’ve had customers tell me they prefer to buy from my Etsy store as they feel it supports the indie arts community more. Additionally some bloggers and perfume critics who review my perfumes highlight my Etsy store more than my website stating they prefer to focus on the small Indie perfumers,” says Charna of Providence Perfume Co.
This can be both a plus and a minus, says Brianne of Vintage Child Modern.
“If I sell a dress on my Etsy and the customer loves it, they will return to Etsy to purchase again the next time they are in the market for a similar piece. But this opens the door for the buyer to choose from another seller. This works both ways. I may pick up a customer who had previously purchased from another seller, but finds me upon returning to Etsy.”
Etsy is a literal ocean of beautiful items, so one of the keys to maximizing your efforts is using SEO to help shoppers find you. Ensure your product titles and descriptions include keywords, and that you tag your items correctly for searches.
While Etsy is great, it does have some features that make selling difficult. The biggest are the sheer quantity of new items available every hour, pushing your newly posted items further down search lists, and the cookie cutter feel of the interface.
You own URL lets you branch out and create your own space on the internet. If you’re not web savvy you can use an e-commerce building site or hire a designer.
Having your own website will cost money, likely more than your Etsy fees, but it’s key to showcasing your products. Your own online store under your unique URL tells your customers that you are dedicated to your business.
“I believe that some of my [website] customers have come from Etsy. Sometimes people are interested in learning more about a designer and a personal site where you can get updates and tips can definitely help,” says Kim of IScream Design, and her Etsy site.
A website allows you to connect with your customers through your blog and mailing list. By collecting email addresses through your website you’re building a core group of customers you can reach out to with news, sales and specials to keep them coming back to visit (and shop!).
You should use both Etsy and your own URL to reach as many potential new customers as possible. One of the best ideas I heard was to use each site to target different types of clients.
“I created my personal website to be an online portfolio where gallery owners can peruse my work. My Etsy shop targets more the general art lover who wants somethings quirky for their walls. Having both sites has allowed me to cater to all of my clients as well as spread out my products and price ranges on a broader spectrum,” says Megan of Studio MME.
I’d love to hear how you use both your Etsy store and your own site to maximize you exposure to new customers.