Hi everybody! March is Women History month and I could not think of a more appropriate time than now to talk to fellow women entrepreneurs about business. Woot! Woot!
This is for anyone that’s been juggling the idea of starting their own business, not sure where or how to start selling online and for those that need to know that you’re not alone out here!
I’ve been wanting to make a post about the pros and cons of Etsy. But then I realized that that would not be giving my readers all sides of the coin. So I expanded my subject and reached out to some really awesome ladies to share in their own words, what they love about their own platforms: Etsy or a website!
So who do we have on the panel? Let me introduce everyone! Each of these talented ladies have either (or both) an Etsy shop or a website dedicate to the goods that they sell. Their years of experience and business knowledge is vast!
I asked each of these ladies the same series of questions and got lots of different answers! Check it out below:
What do you sell?
Handbags and handbag patterns
Pdf sewing patterns for women snd girls
Handmade earrings, scruchies, ascots/neckerchief
PDF Sewing Patterns
Handmade clothing and accessories
Personalized baby bibs, onesies and toddler t-shirts
1. You can add other content such as a blog all on the same platform
2. You have the option of a free or paid account – No listing fees
3. You own and control your own content
1. You have access to customers all over the world
2. There are forums that help answer seller questions and to promote your product
3. You receive tips on how to improve your shop
– platform independance
– search engine optimization
– you can be google searches
– less monthy fees
That I have freedom of asthetic and can have [a] blog all in same place as shopping.
I love Esty because they basically take all the hard work out for you. It’s really quick option instead of trying to use an SSL on your “.com” website. I just link my Etsy to my blog website and it’s been an easier and hassle free process. It’s also already a marketplace, so people don’t have to “know” you to find you. It’s easier to add tags and utilize SEO than on your own website platform. There is already traffic happening on the site that you just have to piggy-back off the momentum rather than trying to create it all on your own from the ground up.
User friendly, already established, built-in advertising options
List the cons of using your platform:
Depending on the platform you use the extra website work can be worth contacting a developer, which is pricey. Site maintenance is another skill entirely and takes time to learn.
Having to direct people there-harder to find on google.
Honestly, I’ve been really impressed with Etsy and using them just as a hobby. I would say the extra fees that you have to factor in when pricing items on Etsy can make the cost of your items increase. The inability to design what your shop looks like. Everyone’s looks the same so it makes it more of a challenge to brand yourself.
Online advertising and web design can be costly if you’re not familiar with designing yourself.
A con of using ETSY is that you’re limited on how you can brand your shop. It’s important as a seller to set yourself apart from your competition and it’s hard when you’re trapped in the same branding, design space as everyone else.
The only con that I can honestly mention as far as my personal site – is the expense of my platform. It’s definitely reasonable and worth it. Especially with all that’s offered. I don’t mind a monthly fee for using the platform.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Driving consistent traffic to my site
Site maintenance. Upgrades and development
Only 2% of my traffic comes from searching on google the rest come as a direct result of social media – Pinterest or instagram so if I’m not posting my traffic drops greatly.
So this is more of a hobby rather than actual source of income so I find it hard to make time to put into optimizing the SEO. Deciding on price for my items. I’m always afraid of overcharging. PICTURES. I’m terrible at this & have read so many blogs, but still struggle.
Keeping new content on my sites and social media platforms.
Getting the right website look is important to me and I have had to learn [a] code to be able to achieve that on my own.
My biggest challenge is being noticed on ETSY and setting myself apart from the numerous creative minds that are selling like products. There are months that will go by when I don’t get any sales so typically I will use that as motivation to create new items with specific search words so that I can gain more traffic to my page.
My biggest challenge is having to accept that, in order to grow my business online – there will be fees attached.
Mastering SEO (it’s a work in progress) 🙂
What has been your greatest accomplishment on your platform?
My greatest accomplishment so far is gaining subscribers. Over the last few months more and more people have subscribed to my newsletter and downloaded some of my free products.
I always received higher traffic on my website and sales were generally higher because no extra fees are associated with each sale.
Recently I’ve had orders where women say they were searching for baby purses on google and have found my site and were able to give a gift for baby showers or their own children. I’m just so thankful I can make memorable moments with products I have handcrafted.
I don’t have that many sales in my shop, but when I started selling to people that I didn’t know, it was like “YES, people do like my stuff!!” It wasn’t just family and friends anymore. My first month of the blog felt like it was going a little slow, but then I changed the way I posted it to IG and the times I was posting and I gained about 100 readers more per blog! Then I had people start reaching out that they used my tutorials and some patterns I suggested and it was crazy to think that I, Courtney Shaw, this noob of a sewer sometimes, was actually able to help someone else. It was so awesome!
On IG I have definitely grown in subscribers and followers. I have been more active over the past few months. I have received more custom order request from new clients due to my regular IG activity.
I like that I’m able to use free patterns on my website as a way to gain subscribers. The free pattern is very visible on my front page and it has gained me quite a bit of subscribers for my newsletter.
My biggest accomplishment has been having more people favoring my listings. That alone means that my shop is appearing more often in search results and while it may not result in a sale that’s still a stepping stone to get my shop to attract more buyers.
My greatest accomplishment in having my website platform is that it’s strategic – it has helped me find my strongest and weakest points as far as selling, knowing how to sell and marketing. My subscribers have grown tremendously because of it and I attract customers that I wouldn’t typically be able to reach; thanks to SEO.
I have been reached out to by some subscription box groups and small business owners. They have been interested in wholesale opportunities, which is awesome, but it has also made me look at my item pricing. That process has made me look at the handmade process from start to finish, and it has made me value my work and time more appropriately. A few large/bulk orders have been successfully fulfilled for wholesale and it makes me happy to think that those items are going out into the world to make people smile!
Do you have any fees that come with using your platform? (ie: domain fees, Etsy fees, security fees). If so, how much are they?
1. Yearly hosting and domain fees. Fees depend on the products that you choose, for example Bluehost fees (billed annually) include:
a. Domain Name Registration $15.99
b. Domain Privacy Protection $14.88
c. SiteLock Security $32.04
d. Hosting: starting at $3.95 per month billed annually
2. Ecwid has a free plan and paid plans start at $15 up to $99 a month
Etsy: 1. $0.20 per listing and the listing can automatically renew at $0.20 after each of the items sells 2. 5% transaction fees
Domain fees yearly, hosting fees yearly, extra security fees. About $200 per year or more.
I have yearly domain fees, and monthly hosting, security and various plugin fees.
I have a flat monthly fee for my basic plan. And merchant fees which takes a percentage to transfer funds to my bank.
What sort of advice can you offer to someone who is weighing the options of Etsy versus their own website?
Well, I think Etsy is a great starting off point for anyone selling handmade goods or digital products. It has everything you need to build a business with ease. Traffic, advertising, Sales tracking, taxes. No site maintenance (your site won’t go down unless Etsy does). You just need an eye for good clear product photography. The fees can get HIGH depending on your sales traffic but you can build them into your prices so it can work great!
I think a lot of it depends on what you want your end goal to be. Having your own website takes a lot of work & research. There are so many codes that you have to create yourself or have someone else create it for you. Fortunately for me, my husband knows how to program and can assist me whenever I run into issues. It’s a lot of up front time and energy. But if you want a platform that has everything on one site (blog, shop, etc.), that’s a great way to go! You can brand it exactly the way you want to and create something that is specifically tailored to what your company/brand is doing. You have the ability to create something that no else has.
Esty is a fast and easy way to start selling right away! All you have to do is learn how to list your items well and upload them. The downside is that it is harder to brand yourself on their platform. You’re also having to compete with other sellers and people are not necessarily going onto Etsy for you specifically like they would your own site. However, it is harder to promote yourself on your own site because you don’t have thousands of people searching for an item you might be selling on a internet marketplace.
It depends how much work you want to put in but I will always prefer a website over etsy. When I first started my business, I had made a lot of sales and realized how much money I was paying in Etsy fees. That made me explore options for my own website and I’m really happy with it overall. I would try to find a good hosting company that is willing to help you anytime. If your site goes down, you need to be able to fix it as soon as possible. A great customer service team can make or break your experience with that.
List some ways that you advertise your website or Etsy store.
Pinterest – Instagram – Facebook every blue moon…I have had mommy influencers endorse my bags.
I use IG primarily and my blog! I also go to a lot of craft shows and have some booths with business cards for my Etsy shop. A lot of my sales are local, so many people will get on my Esty and tell me what they want and I make it without using the platform.
I mostly advertise on IG, Facebook, and Twitter. Because my craft is sewing, I wear my makes in public often. I make sure when I get compliments on my looks to give them my business card or tell them how to find me online and social media. Most of my customers also share and tag me wearing my products.
I have a facebook group and instagram account that I use to advertise my website but I would rather get people on my newsletter list so I’m able to serve them better.
I advertise everywhere, via all Social Media Platforms, YouTube, word of mouth, Google Business, Email, Newsletters, Direct Mailing, Craft Fairs – the list goes on.