9 Reasons Why You Need Your Own Website

Apr 13, 2016 | Online Shop

A question that I hear quite often in the handmade world is: “Do I need my own website? or is Etsy enough?”

Here is my honest answer: the only reason you shouldn’t have your own website is if you are only doing this as a hobby. Either that or barely getting started, and not being 100% sure you want to turn your handmade skills into a full-time business.

If you mean business, then yes, you absolutely need your own website. Don’t panic, this doesn’t mean it has to be a full-blown e-commerce store from the get-go, or at all. But you need a place to call home for your brand and biz on the internet.

Branding

Yes, you can have a banner on Etsy and a profile picture and kinda try to make it look like your own shop. Only… just kinda. It doesn’t compare to what you could do with your own website. Etsy is Etsy, it looks like Etsy no matter what your shop banner is, and all the Etsy shops look exactly the same. Branding is about differentiating yourself from the crowd, telling your story. Unfortunately, it is not a possibility on Etsy.

Real life example:
– “That’s a really nice wallet! Where did you get it from?
– I got it off Etsy!”
—> The name of your shop was not remembered by your customer, isn’t passed along to his/her friends and ultimately you are only an “etsy seller” and your products “etsy products”. This makes it very, very hard for people to remember who you are and how to effectively find you. What are the chances that this person is gonna go on Etsy, type in “wallet” and scroll through ALL the search results pages until they find you? Quite slim I’d say. Fair chance he/she could even end up finding a wallet on another Etsy shop while browsing away… Which would suck.

Professionalism

Etsy is renowned for handmade products. It’s like google for everything handmade. Which is also why it is so genius and a great way to start selling your craft. And there are definitely some big, professional shops on Etsy. But mostly, it’s also a lot of hobby-oriented shops and the vibe isn’t always highly professional.

Having your own website instantly says you are not just mucking around and will help your potential customers take you more seriously.

Autonomy / Control

Etsy can ultimately make whatever change they want to your store without needing your consent. And that’s fine because that’s the deal. You are renting a space on their marketplace. They make selling your handmade products easy and put your store in front of all their visitors. But it comes at a price and it is that you don’t own that space. They can change their fees, their SEO algorithm, or even close your shop without notice. Having your own website guarantees that whatever happens on Etsy, your business do not entirely depend on it. It gives you autonomy and control over your business strategy, profit and growth.

Fees

Having your own site can save you TONS of money. I could get into this topic for hours and compare all the different pricing from Etsy and the competition (WordPress, Shopify, Bigcartel, etc.) but to keep this article {reasonably} short I am going to give you the short version:

For each sale, Etsy charges you:
—> a transaction fee (3% of the item price)
+
—> a payment processing fee (at around 3%, depending on the payment getaway you pick: Etsy checkout or Paypal)

Put simply, that’s a double fee on each sale. Ouch.

For more info or to go over your numbers and include these fees in your pricing, check out this tool: https://salecalc.com/etsy ,it’s a really handy cost/pricing calculator for Etsy.

Email Marketing

This has to be one of the most important points. The majority of your customers should be repeat customers. And for that to happen you have to find a way to make them come back to your store and buy again.

There’s different things you can do to achieve this result but by far the most important is having a mailing list. Email marketing is the number 1 thing you should focus on. Building a mailing list should be every sellers’ priority when starting an online shop.

Unfortunately, Etsy won’t let you grab your customers email addresses. So once the transaction is over you can only really hope they will come back to your store by themselves and buy again. You don’t really have a way to create a relationship with them.

On your own site, you can:

– start building a mailing list with your customers, or with visitors that are interested in your brand and might buy from you in the future;
– build a relationship with your customers and followers and turn them into fans ;
– promote your sales, new collections, special discounts;
– offer incentives to gain customers (“20% off first purchase”, etc.);
– bring people back to your store when they abandoned their cart before finishing the checkout ;
– and much more.

Email marketing is SO important that even by itself, it should justify getting your own website.

Standing out of the crowd

Etsy is awesome because it showcases your products to all the Etsy visitors that you otherwise might not have been able to reach out to. BUT in doing that, it also showcases all of your competition stores to them, and for some products the competition is just insaaaaaane. So many different stores selling almost exactly the same thing!

That point comes back to the issue of branding. Etsy doesn’t help you in trying to tell your story and being reminded by your customers and shop visitors. I am so sorry to have to say that again but if you don’t have your own site on the side, you are considered by most as an “etsy shop” only.
And you’re not the only fish in the sea.

Blog

A blog helps your search rankings.
A blog brings traffic to your site.
A blog helps you engage with your customers and followers.

Now aren’t these 3 things crucial in running a successful shop? Mmmh. Seems like they are to me 😉 So yes, you need a blog. It’s as simple as that.

I know a lot of makers don’t think it’s necessary because they’re selling physical products and so “what the hell am I going to talk about?”. But truth is there is plenty of things you can talk about in a blog even if you’re not selling services.

Lifestyle, recipes, travels, DIY tips, behind the scenes, staff pics, lookbooks, etc… here are a few retail blogs for your inspiration:

http://blog.trendaddictions.com/
http://www.bulkherbstore.com/blog/
http://blog.urbanoutfitters.com/
http://www.potterandrest.co.uk/blogs/news
http://www.spelldesigns.com/blog/
http://truegoods.com/blogs/the-goods

Media Kit / Press Kit

On your own site, you have the possibility to have a page dedicated to a media kit, also called a press kit.

A media kit is made specifically for publishers and is a must-have to start working on your PR. It is a great tool to help the media understand your brand story and allow them access to photos that they can use in talking up your products in the press.

In other words, if you ever want to get noticed by online or offline magazines and blogs, then a media kit is non-negotiable.

Growth

This last point encompasses everything we just talked about. If you want to grow your handmade shop into a full-time business and make a living off it, then you are 100%, no doubt about it, for sure, going to need:

– consistent, effective branding (HERE’S WHY) and a professional image to stand out from the crowd and be remembered ;
– autonomy and control over your business strategy;
– fees to be as low as possible;
– a way to turn your customers into returning visitors and fans (aka a mailing list /email marketing);
– a way to promote your products, your sales, and your special offers (again, that’s email marketing);
– a media kit;
– and a blog.

All these things are really hard to manage with Etsy. Some are actually not even an option – and there are the most important ones (email marketing for example).

Don’t get me wrong, Etsy has a lot of advantages when you are only getting started. I am not anti-Etsy at all. In fact I love Etsy and would encourage you to have that door open at all time.

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