Is Etsy the best way to start selling your handmade products?

May 2, 2017 | Online Shop

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Should you sell on Etsy or on your own website? I know, right? That’s a question that everyone is asking, and there’s never a right or wrong answer to this problem.

Today, I want to do things a little bit differently and instead of listening the pros and cons of Etsy versus your own website, I want to challenge you to answer 4 questions that I believe are going to help you decide what the best plan of action for your handmade business and your specific situation is.

You can watch the video, or read the post below.

I also have a really cool, free download for you that’s going to help you visualise the process and help you see logically what the next question you should ask yourself is. It’s a decision-tre and you can access it in the free resource library for makers and handmade entrepreneurs, right here!

The big picture

The first question is: What’s the big picture? What’s the 10-year plan? Are you trying to generate a side income? Or do you want to build a handmade empire and turn your shop into a full time job and business?

If you’re doing this as a side project, then starting on Etsy is probably the best solution. Etsy already has traffic, it’s super easy and quick to set up, meaning you can start selling your products really quickly.

If you’re trying to build a long-term, viable business from your handmade skills, I would recommend you move on to question two.

How quickly do you need to get sales?

How quickly do you need to get sales? Do you have another job that pays the bills at the moment or maybe even a little bit of savings and money aside? Or do you need to get the ball rolling and generate sales ASAP?

If you really need to make sales, right here, right now, then I would recommend you start on Etsy, simply because it’s the fastest way to get set up and start selling your products. You can always change your mind and grow beyond Etsy later on, but if money is really something important right now, then starting on Etsy is the quickest road.

If money isn’t a pressing issue and you have a bit more time, then you need to move on to question three.

Budget and Skills

Do you have a budget for getting a professional to help you design your brand and set up your website? If not, do you have, yourself, the skills to do it or are you willing to take some time to learn and do it yourself?

If you don’t have a budget for it and you don’t have any skills or you’re not willing to take some time to learn how to do it, then I would recommend starting on Etsy because Etsy has all of that done for you. You don’t need to set up a website because it’s all hosted by the platform which makes it a great place to start in your situation.

If you do have a budget for it, or if you have the skills to do it yourself and time to learn how to do it, then you need to move on to the fourth and final question.

Marketing and sales

The last question is all about marketing and sales strategy: How comfortable are you with investing time to learn how to get traffic to your store and implement marketing and sales strategies?

Pick a number from zero to ten.

Zero is “No, thank you, I do not want to have to spend so much time doing that, I want to start a business to create products, not to become a marketer.”

Ten is “yes please, I’m excited to learn and experiment with the marketing aspect of my business”.

If your number is between zero and five, I would recommend you start on Etsy. If your number is between five and ten, then it looks like you are ready to open your online store.

Now, just a disclaimer here, opening an Etsy store does not mean that you will not have to make any marketing effort or spend time learning what works. There is work involved, and you will have to spend time doing doing it to really leverage the platform and make sure that the Etsy traffic is actually converting into sales on your store. There is definitely more of a learning curve if you decide to go the online store road and set up a store on your own website, which is why the scale is there.

Should you still look at the pros and cons of Etsy versus your own website? Of course.

But I believe that by answering those four questions, you already understood things that the pros and cons sometimes aren’t showing you.

I really hope this helped you in making the right decision for your handmade business. And don’t forget to claim your FREE access to the resource library for makers and handmade shop owners below.

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Welcome! Want to learn how to build a profitable and successful handmade business and sell your handmade products to the world? You're in the right place! Read more ...
Starting an Handmade Biz
yes please!
Crafting a Kickass Brand
show me how!
Marketing Your Handmade shop
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Building Your Online Shop
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  1. Margaret Bode

    Initially I looked at Etsy as a venue but after hearing a story about how easy it is for them to shut you down whenever they feel they can and after doing some math on their fees (also hidden fees), I felt it was in my best interest to build my own website which gives me all the control and half the fees for payment processing. It’s a much harder route for sure but I’d rather roll up my sleeves and have things my way then to in sense be working for someone else or share my profits in multiple fees.

    Lately I belong to a few entrepreneur group and all I hear about is their shops low visibility and them having listings removed or closed dosed down entirely. I work too hard to go through that stress.

    They only thing I wish there was more support and training/advice for those of us that work off their own site. Everything is usually about that monster Etsy.

    • Deborah Engelmajer

      I agree! A website that you own is much better long term! Are you saying you find looking for help/info on how to build a website (and market it) harder than finding info about Etsy?

      • Margaret Bode

        In a sense yes. I know that most are familiar with WordPress (and that in itself is harder than what I have) and Shopify as alternatives to Etsy but there are other sites out there that allow you to build your own website like Wix (which is what I have) or Go Daddy and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of groups out there that can help you or support you. It would be nice if some of the info out there would better suit all e-commerce site than just Etsy, Shopify, WordPress because there are also people using Wix, GoDaddy and whatever other site is out there that I just haven’t heard about.

        Just little tidbits like what should be on your site, About page, product pages, should you add a page with your policies etc. would have saved me hours of surfing the net looking at other sites to make sure I’m not missing anything important on my site.

        Most of the Handmade Entreprenuer support says it’s for both Etsy and others but most of their info is for Etsy and then they say you can modify the info if you own your own site. Prime example Handmade Seller Magazine. I joined that thinking I would be able to get info and insight but 95% of their magazine/subscription deals with Etsy this and Etsy that. I ended up cancelling my subscription because Etsy doesn’t apply to me (and the more I read comments from their sellers, it never will) and I’ve basically spent a lot of time figuring it out myself and by chance.

        Having your own website that you are responsible for is hard and it’s harder than owning a shop on Etsy but it can be done and I believe you can be just as successful.

        P.S. I will say Deborah, your Makers Biz Summit was probably the first time that I felt all of us were one, whether we sell on Etsy or not, because while Etsy was mentioned (and I did skip the video on building an Etsy shop) by a few of the videos, it wasn’t empathized as the be end and end all of our worlds. We were all included and all given advice on what we can do and what we maybe shouldn’t do to get our products and shops out into the world and get noticed. 🙂

  2. Margo

    Hi Deb,
    I see that you like Etsy. What are your thoughts on Shopify? Is it equal to a basic shop on Etsy price wise (levels of plans $) and as competitive as Etsy?

    • Deborah Engelmajer

      Hi Margo! I don’t like Etsy more than a standalone website. This article is more a meant to be helping you decide whether you are ready to go with a standalone website (e.g: Shopify) or if you should start first on Etsy. I actually think that eventually a website (such as a Shopify one) is necessary to grow a profitable and wildly successful shop, but for some Etsy is a great place to start.

      • Margo

        I say that only bc you spoke about Etsy more than a standalone but now I understand.
        As I read the comment before mine regarding not finding any groups and such online to help website owners I thought of your Summit. (I was going to recommend it to the writer above but she’s already in it!) That covered a lot about Etsy or a website. I started a Shopify and WordPress but shut down Shopify. WordPress needs more attention and it’s free.
        Etsy is so saturated with makers and the competition is tough. But I think it’s a good place to start if you are just starting out as a handmade jewelry maker with little stock and limited time to handle it.
        I just wonder how Etsy can shut a shop down for no reason. There must be a policy somewhere.

  3. JP Croke

    I’ve decided to go with my own site. I love computers and I don’t think I’ll have a problem in learning the marketing skills that I will need. I follow your blog faithfully and I’m trying to implement what you have set out. It is daunting at times but I know I’ll get through it. One step at a time. I’ve built my own site but I have contacted to help me with my branding and logo.
    Thank you for all the help. It keeps me on track.

  4. Carmen

    Thank you for a short but specific breakdown of when to choose one avenue over the other. According to your advice, I think I’m on track to concentrate on my own site! I’ve just been nervous of “skipping” Etsy because it seems that is what everyone else does at first.

    • Deborah Engelmajer

      I am glad this helped Carmen! And the Tizzit community is here to help you if you ever feel stuck 😉

  5. Ayam Woku

    This information is very helpful to me, thank you very much for the


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