When it comes to growing your business online, there are a few approaches you can take as a small craft business. Primarily you will hear of crafters growing using Etsy. Or the other option is creating a website of their own. And each of these paths is just as viable as the other to grow online. But in my opinion, you gain a whole lot more by growing a website you own rather than on Etsy.
Why do I say that? Well, let’s look at my top 5 reasons and see what you think.
Reason #1: You have limited unique reach
When you first start an Etsy store might be the right approach, but you will soon find that the platform can limit your growth. It does so simply by being a mass marketplace. Your products are lumped in with tons of other products.
While you may show up well in the search, you must work extremely hard to get there and to stand out from other products. There are times I have made searches and the results all look the same. I could order from any one of these businesses. Nothing makes them unique or stand out.
Limited unique reach can hinder your efforts to brand your business and make your business forgettable rather than a trusted brand. Having a website keeps your products alone and apart from others. This means you can create a full brand style that makes you more memorable.
Reason #2: It’s harder to get repeat business
Yes, we all have successes. We get the right person who becomes the perfect brand evangelist. But the average customer may like your items but are not to a point of never shopping around yet. And these customers are easily lost in the sea of results common to Etsy.
Instead of coming back and just shopping your product lineup, they may begin at the home page of Etsy and search. Even searches from your Etsy store page can return ‘additional’ results related to other products. This can easily pull traffic from you that could have made you another sale. It also dilutes your brand.
With a private website, you control the additional products, and they are all yours. No one else gets to pay to steal your sales. Your web address also can be easier to get to, and you can customize the buying experience to ways that work best for your ideal customers. And when customers want more, they are more likely to purchase from you rather than finding a new product or brand each time.
Reason #3: It’s hard to get away from Etsy
Etsy does not want you to take sales off their platform. It is against their terms to try and move people off the platform to complete sales, especially custom orders. This makes it extremely difficult to leave or grow your business beyond them. You can get in trouble for simply trying to redirect customers.
You need a way to make the customers your own so you can build that trust factor. Etsy makes its money through listing fees and sales. The system is set up to keep you in and punish you if you try to leave. Step over the line and you could lose your whole store in the blink of an eye.
There is no lock-in with an owned site. No extra terms and conditions that can get your shop shut down by not doing exactly what someone else wants. You can change, more or do anything you want in your own space. Not to say there are not some rules you must follow, like taxes or privacy policies. But it is much better.
Reason #4: Little to no email marketing
When you are on Etsy, you don’t get to create email marketing to contact the customers. In Etsy’s eye, the sales you make are not to your customers. They are customers of Etsy. While you can create sort of your email list, it is hard to do it by hand and risky since these customers did not approve that explicitly.
When you own your website, you can add email funnels to gather a growing newsletter that you can market to. Adding a signup form at checkout can grow your list quickly, and allows you automated means to keep in touch with these customers. The more touchpoints you have the quicker they will be likely to purchase from your store again and again.
It is always easier to sell to happy customers rather than find new ones every time.
Reason #5: SEO and branding
I have touched on branding a bit already. But branding controls every single interaction your customers have with your business. When using Etsy, you are locked into their style. Their designs and checkout processes. There is extraordinarily little customization you can do to make your store your own unique space. Everyone gets the same design tools and looks.
On Etsy, you can work SEO for both on-site and some Google, but your primary goal is traffic that is already on the site. This limits you from customers anywhere in the world to customers of and already on Etsy. Excluding traffic that you help drive using other means, like social media of course.
Having a private shop means you can control everything. You control the looks and every little detail. When you want something changed, you can change it. Want a new color set? You can do it. You are not locked into a single design and stuck looking like everyone else.
You also own all the search engine traffic you receive. By optimizing your site for SEO, you are putting your site out there for anyone to find and shop from. Not everyone thinks of Etsy when they go to search to find a new product.
Often doing research they will end up on Google and other search engines. You need to have a presence that is under your control and gets you found in the results. And it’s just as easy to direct social media to your website, without the worry of losing the sale as the visitors get sidetracked.
Ultimately, running a website can be a lot of work. You don’t get the free traffic that is already flowing through Etsy. But once some work towards growth is put in motion, you can grow fast and build a much stronger brand with a private website. The email marketing gains alone may gather enough business and save enough time to easily justify the time and initial costs of getting a website of your own.
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