8 Signs You’re Ready To Leave Etsy (And How To Do It)
When artists, crafters, and designers begin selling their wares online, they often arrive at the same place: Etsy.
Etsy is a great place for hobbyists to test the waters and see if their products have a following. Newbie sellers can find their voices, decipher the complexities of shipping, and begin to build a customer base.
Etsy shops are easy to set up. You don’t have to have one ounce of technical ability to get started, and payment processing is done for you. Web design, security, and hosting are handled by someone else. You just have to make quality products, list them with excellent images and product descriptions, handle customer service, and fulfill your orders.
It’s a crafter’s dream.
However, many Etsy sellers become disillusioned as their shops grow and they get closer to Etsy’s “Quit Your Day Job” ideal.
They realize that with so many sellers in one place, it’s difficult to establish themselves as a full-fledged business. Their work is getting lost in the flurry of new product listings from other sellers, and those seller fees are starting to add up. At this point, many begin to consider making the switch from Etsy to traditional online stores, and with good reason.
Perhaps you’re reaching this point too, but you aren’t exactly sure you’re ready for the switch. In that case, it might help to examine why other merchants have decided to ditch Etsy and go their own way.
Here are a few signs that you’re ready for something new:
Table of Contents
- 1. You’re Ready to Dedicate Most of Your Time to Your Store
- 2. You Have a Niche, and You Understand the Market
- 3. You’re Ready to Build Your Brand
- 4. You’re Ready to Figure Out SEO
- 5. You Want to Sell a Few Non-Handmade Items
- 6. You’re Sick of Paying Seller Fees
- 7. You’re Tired of being Surrounded by the Competition
- 8. You are So Over the Threat of Cancellation
- Are you Ready for the Switch?
- Ready, Set, Quit!
1. You’re Ready to Dedicate Most of Your Time to Your Store
If you’re seriously considering leaving Etsy to establish your own site, you should be at least okay with the idea of becoming a full-time seller.
Running your own site requires time. You’ll have to manage your site’s content and make sure that your checkout page is secure and meets PCI standards. Add all this on top of your usual order processing, shipping, and actual manufacturing, and you may have your hands full!
If dedicating the bulk of your time to your business seems inspiring, rather than discouraging, you’re probably ready to leave Etsy and move on to greener pastures.
2. You Have a Niche, and You Understand the Market
This is crucial: In order to compete with marketplaces, you must have a niche. You have to find your target audience and market specifically to that group of customers.
Identify your customer group, and keep your buyers in mind as you develop your new site. Try Entrepreneur’s article on defining your niche.
3. You’re Ready to Build Your Brand
One of the best ways to encourage repeat business is to establish a brand. You want customers to connect to your company and to your story. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to develop a sense of identity on Etsy. There is very limited space in your “About” section for you to establish a brand.
The sad truth is that most Etsy buyers pay very little attention to the shop from which they purchase an item. (I honestly can’t remember the name of even a single Etsy business I’ve frequented.) As a marketplace, Etsy has a much stronger identity than any of the actual shops it hosts.
When you have your own site you will truly be able to make your shop your own. You can fill it with content that’s relevant entirely to your products and design it to look the way you envision. Designing your own site may take some work, but it’s well worth the effort. What’s more, web design is no longer just for trained developers. Due to the rise of simple eCommerce solutions and drag-and-drop website builders, anyone can create a compelling, attractive site. (Don’t believe me? Check out my article on the Top 3 Shopping Carts for Beginners.)
4. You’re Ready to Figure Out SEO
When you leave Etsy, one of your biggest challenges will be generating a healthy flow of traffic. On a marketplace, you don’t need to seek out web traffic. Customers just come to you.
However, on the world wide web, visitors aren’t as easy to come by. You’ll have to optimize your site for search engines: write metadata, use longtail keywords, and write custom URLs for every product. This can by time-consuming and frustrating, as search engine standards are constantly changing.
But if you’re ready to figure out SEO, there are resources available to help you learn. And fortunately, some eCommerce platforms make SEO easier to implement with built-in tools.
Want more information? Check out these 10 Website Builder SEO Tips or read this guide to creating and maintaining an online presence for your business.
5. You Want to Sell a Few Non-Handmade Items
Etsy does not permit the selling of any non-handmade items. This makes sense. Etsy is, after all, a platform for crafters, and it wants to distinguish itself from Amazon and eBay.
However, Etsy’s stringent rules on the subject of “what is handmade” have been stifling for some sellers. If you include a manufactured piece in one of your handmade creations (say a purchased clock face in your handwoven watch), you could be subject to suspension or even cancellation of your site.
If you want to sell manufactured items to make more sales without having to craft everything yourself, you may be ready to create your own site. Perhaps you saw a few bracelets on Aliexpress that would go perfectly with your hand-dyed scarves, and you want to make those available to your customers too. If you move away from Etsy, you can sell those items and increase your revenue without fear of repercussions.
6. You’re Sick of Paying Seller Fees
As I’m sure you know, Etsy charges $0.20 on each product listing and a 3.5% + $0.25 transaction fee on each sale. (You can find Etsy’s complete breakdown of fees here.)
Those fees certainly aren’t terrible (just take a look at Amazon’s complex FBA fees!), though they certainly are irritating. If you’re tired of paying $20/month just to keep 400 products on your Etsy store, then you might consider putting that $20/month toward a subscription on an eCommerce platform.
You might be able to find a lower transaction rate as well, depending on the payment gateway you choose.
If you are totally baffled by payment gateways and merchant accounts, I recommend you take a look at our guide to merchant accounts (at the bottom of this page).
7. You’re Tired of being Surrounded by the Competition
This is the number one problem with marketplaces. While it’s easy for customers to find your products, it’s just as easy for them to hop from your Etsy shop to someone else’s.
Your products are constantly being compared to the rest of Etsy, and sadly, lower prices often win out, regardless of product quality.
By building your own site, you’ll differentiate yourself from the competition and make it less likely that customers will look elsewhere.
8. You are So Over the Threat of Cancellation
Etsy is an infamously fickle marketplace. I’ve read all too many stories of sellers whose shops were canceled for the smallest reasons.
You have to keep in mind that Etsy is a company in its own right, and any shop that exists within the marketplace is under its authority. If Etsy decides your products don’t meet its standards, your site will be shut down, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Now, this is not a typical problem. Obviously, more sellers run Etsy shops than are banned from the marketplace; however, it is a possibility.
So if you’re sick of renting a space on Etsy (and living in constant fear of eviction), get your own place. Create your own online store and try it out on your own.
Are you Ready for the Switch?
Are you ready to begin your own site? Are you raring to get started? If so, my first bit of advice is this: Wait.
Don’t abandon ship before your liferaft is fully inflated. Before you leave Etsy, you want to make sure that your new site is ready for customers and that you will be able to easily direct customers there.
A slow transfer is better than a hasty one.
Before you even begin building a new site, I recommend that you go out and buy a domain name. You can easily purchase one from GoDaddy. (Note: Go ahead and buy a domain name from GoDaddy, but don’t use their website builder or store builder software. They’re both terrible.)
After you buy your domain name, you should redirect that URL toward your Etsy shop. You can then promote your new URL while maintaining Etsy traffic.
Later, you can establish your own shop using the new URL and keep your previous customers. You can read more about setting up an URL for your Etsy shop in this Etsy forum thread.
Once you have your domain name, it’s time to pick an eCommerce platform. And again, I implore you: Wait.
Choosing the right eCommerce software is crucial to your store’s success. Before you subscribe to any platform, you should ensure that the vendor you select provides the features you need.
Your first step should be to write down a list of features that you absolutely need to have in your eCommerce platform. That list might include unlimited products, automatic shipping calculation tools, an integration with Quickbooks accounting, or a drag-and-drop website designer, etc. Then, look into a variety of platforms until you find one that offers all the features you’re looking for.
When you’ve verified that the platform you’re considering has those features, test it out! Most eCommerce platforms offer free 15-day trials. Take the software through its paces. Make sure it can handle your products and product images. Try your hand at the design editor, and create a few mock discounts. You want to be totally sure that the eCommerce platform you commit to will meet your store’s needs before you commit to anything.
Hopefully, you aren’t feeling too overwhelmed by the task. If you are, not to worry, I’ve done some of the research for you! Here are three eCommerce platforms I recommend to Etsy graduates:
Two of Etsy’s biggest selling points are its ease of use and its community of artists. Big Cartel speaks to both those things.
Big Cartel is a cloud-based solution, meaning that all of your store information is hosted on Big Cartel’s servers and is secured by them–you won’t have to worry about website security or maintenance. (In fact, all of the platforms I’m including in this short list are cloud-based solutions.)
This shopping cart caters primarily to artists and offers clean web design that’s easy to implement, even if you don’t know any code.
The biggest issue with Big Cartel is that you can only list up to 300 products on your website. For more information, you can read our full review of Big Cartel here.
Selz is a simple online store that plugs into any site you establish. You don’t need to understand code to get started. Everything can be done using the site’s admin and easy web designer.
Selz is especially good for merchants who sell digital files, whether those are printable PDFs, eBooks, or mp3s.
The biggest downfall to Selz is its simplicity. If you plan on expanding your store significantly, Selz is probably not the best way to go. To read more about Selz, click here.
Shopify is one of the most commonly used beginner platforms. In fact, you’ve probably already heard of it.
This cart is easy to use and is more easily scalable than the other two options I’ve presented above. It includes a lot more features than either of the two options above, like a more complex discount engine and a wider variety of web design options.
Those features, however, come at a slightly higher price. The basic Shopify plan costs $29/month, though I think the investment is worth it. Take a look at our review of Shopify here.
Ready, Set, Quit!
Now that you’re armed with a domain name, a list of features, and a few good eCommerce platforms, I feel confident encouraging you in your new business venture.
Start your own store, set up your products, create your promotions, and get selling! And, when you’re comfortable, break up with Etsy.
You don’t need them anyway.
Want more information about running your own store? Check out these helpful articles: