Let me start by saying, I love Etsy. Etsy is where I built my handmade business and I’m grateful for that. However, one big thing that I’ve learned is that it is extremely important to have your own website for your handmade business.
Let me tell you why.
what I learned from selling on Etsy
Back in 2011, after I had already been designing crochet patterns and knitting patterns, and selling my handmade items for some time, I decided to open an Etsy shop. And that was a FANTASTIC decision!
I set up my shop, filled it with all of my designs that I already had, and continued to design more.
I also added finished handmade items and found a great demand for them.
Back then Etsy was easier, and if you did things even half right you could easily get your products in front of your potential customers.
It was great! I had it down pat. My listings were showing up on page 1 (and on and on) for just about every keyword I used. My shop, my brand, and my following continued to steadily grow for two years. And then…
etsy changed their algorithm.
It was literally like a switch got flipped. The rug got pulled out from under us. The virtual lights pretty much went out. Literally overnight…
For a while, I think we all just kind of sat there freaking out. We didn’t know what to do — we, meaning us Etsy sellers. Everything we knew about running our Etsy shops was irrelevant, to an extent.
When I was finished freaking out, I started to tweak my listings, my titles, my tags, my descriptions — I pretty much played around with every important Etsy aspect, trying to make things right again.
Finally, things started to make a turn for the better. But, I was now spending double, maybe triple, the amount of time on my shop compared to before. I had to if I wanted to figure out the how the search results worked on Etsy.
I continued to work hard with my shop for quite some time, accepting that Etsy search might never be the way it used to be, and I was “satisfied.” Until…
etsy changed their algorithm…again.
I can’t say for sure how many times this has happened since then. But, it is safe to say that changing the way “search” works is a permanent item on Etsy’s to-do list.
Shortly after the first algorithm change, I knew I had to do something to protect my business.
And, I realized that I was breaking one of the main rules of business. I had all of my eggs in one basket!
The logical answer — I needed my own website.
I started on a platform called Indiemade and it was great. I was with them for about two years and it was just right for my business at the time. It’s perfect for a first-time business or website owner, and it’s another super easy way to set up a shop. But, because my business was growing, I found that I needed more options and a more robust platform for my website.
I began researching again and looked into all of them before making my choice. For many reasons, I decided to go with Shopify.
why it’s important to have your own website
Let’s start with the glaringly obvious reason that I’ve just finished telling you about. If you sell on Etsy or any similar platform, you will almost certainly encounter issues like algorithm changes. And they can be a business killer!
Instead of being at the mercy of a BIG company that can change their search algorithm anytime they want, you can have a website of your own where you won’t have to worry about that — EVER. You will be in charge of your business.
the style can match your business
If you’re familiar with the term “branding,” then you know that it’s an important part of your business.
It’s your business’ style, vibe, and look.
Most branding consists of certain colors, fonts, logos, and other visual aspects. And they all match your business.
When you have your own website on the Shopify platform, you get to decide on all of those things yourself. Your website will match your business!
it’s a place of your own
When I say it will be a place of your own, I mean that you won’t have to rely on any other business to stay in business. If Etsy went under tomorrow, there’d be over a million people who would lose their businesses (on Etsy). And, if that’s the only place that they had their business, they’d be without one.
Your own website would also be a place to bring your customers, where they’d be seeing your products.
When they arrive on your website they won’t be bombarded with a hundred “you might also like this” products from other business owners!
That is actually one of my biggest pet peeves with Etsy and other selling platforms. I have my shop there, I work hard to make sure my customers can find it, and I work hard to bring them there. Then, when my potential customers are finally there and ready to shop, Etsy shows them 15 other things that they could buy instead…from other shops. Nobody likes to have their potential customers coaxed away from them.
That would never happen if you have your own website. :)
it’s super easy and cost-effective
When I first made my own website for my shop, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. And how inexpensive.
After you make your Shopify account, go to Online Store > Domains. You’ll have options to use a domain name that you already own, or you can purchase one right from the Shopify page.
Once you have that, the incredible Shopify customer service team can help you link it to your Shopify website, if you’re unsure how to do it yourself.
With Shopify, you only need a domain name. There’s no need to purchase a hosting plan because Shopify provides all of your hosting for you!
Once I signed up with Shopify, I chose a free Shopify theme for my store and started to add my products.
There’s an “import products” option that allows you to literally copy everything from your Etsy shop into your new Shopify website. Talk about lightning fast set up! But, if you prefer, you can also add your products one by one. It’s totally up to you.
That’s all there is to it! I think I had my website set up in less than an hour after signing up with Shopify.
I was also surprised at how inexpensive it is to have a website with Shopify! The monthly costs for my website is a tiny fraction of what I pay to Etsy each month, and the results for my business are far, far better.
I’m not exaggerating, at all, when I say that setting up my own website was the best business decision I’ve made!
make the best decision for your business
My website that I made with Shopify has helped me grow my business more than I could have ever imagined. I honestly wish that I would’ve made my own website right at the beginning when I opened my Etsy shop because it would’ve probably saved me a lot of grief and worry due to the ups and downs of the Etsy platform.
If you already have an Etsy shop, I urge you to consider making a website of your own to keep your business safe. Don’t keep all of your eggs in one basket.
If you are only at the beginning part of starting a business and you’ve thought about an Etsy shop, but don’t have one yet, then consider doing both at the same time. It makes choosing a business name and domain name much easier because you can make sure that what you want is available and they can match.
Give the free 14-day trial a go and you’ll see how easy and awesome it is to have a place for your business.
I’ll also be adding more posts to my blog with little tips and tricks to having your own website, so check back or sign up for my email list for Handmade Business.
If you ever have any questions along the way, about having a Shopify website, please feel free to ask me!