I've been asked many times why I choose to sell thermofax screens and other products through Etsy rather then my personal website.
Sometimes its curiosity and other times there's an edge to the question, like having a shop on Etsy isn't a real business, it implies hobby. The question has come up so often in fact that I decided a blog post about it was in order.
There are many reasons why I choose to sell through Etsy but I whittled it them down to my top ten favorites. Here they are:
(1) Why should I reinvent the wheel?
Etsy has taken al the work out of setting up a professional easy to navigate place of business. Many people operate their livelihood through their shops. Don't let the cute name fool you, its a serious force to be reckoned with.
(2) Instant Advertising
Simply put - Etsy has a wide reach. People gravitate toward it when they think of handmade items or supplies for creating their own projects. I couldn't buy that kind of publicity. Well, I could but I'd have to borrow a millionaire's credit card to do it.
They've branded themselves as the one stop shop for the handmade enthusiast. I choose to capitalize on that by being one of their shops.
(3) It's a bargain.
Compared to other online selling venues, the fees to operate on Etsy are an incredible bargain. Sure, I could add a shopping cart to my personal website but that costs thousands of dollars. Yes, you read that right - thousands. I priced it out, it was scary.
(4) Peace of Mind
Many people feel safer buying from someone they don't know if there is a 3rd party involved. Knowing that Big Sister Etsy (I always think of the site as a girl for some reason) is there to make sure they don't get cheated goes a long way with some customers.
And security for me too, as a seller. I've got recourse if there's an issue with an order, someone watching my back. Its a good feeling all around on both sides.
I rarely buy anything these days without looking online for customer feedback. Etsy provides this too. Customers can see if I can be trusted and if my products are good. That's another form of advertising that can be checked off the list.
(6) Where are they all coming from?
You can connect your site to Google Analytics to track where your customers are finding you from. This is a handy dandy tool if you are advertising on an external website. Helps you decide if the expense is worth it.
(7) Bookkeeping simplified
I can download my sales reports from each month. It has tons of information and can be opened in an excel spreadsheet. This cuts down on my bookkeeping activities drastically.
(8) Its all covered.
Etsy has tons of support options. Help with selling questions, teams, forums, communities, blogs. If you're looking to build relationships with other sellers, you've got endless options.
(9) Sales tax
This is a newer feature and I love it. I can tell Etsy when to collect sales tax based on the state. This means I'm not waving paypal invoices around at people asking them to pay more, which is a pain and kind of obnoxious. So that's another item I don't have to pay attention to, its covered.
Who doesn't love coupons?! This is also a new feature but its constantly developing. Its awesome for promotions and it really streamlines the operation of the shop.
There are more - widgets for advertising the shop on your blog or website, workshops for learning and really just the general vibe of the site. And for the record - I have no affiliation with them. I don't work for them, I just dig them.
Is it perfect? Of course not, nothing is. But when I decided to sell online, I spent a lot of time looking at my options and Etsy turned out to be the best choice.
I've been surprised when I meet resistance about it, and have even been told that it dilutes my professionalism. I disagree whole heartedly.
Since I opened my shop in July 2010, I've had over 600 sales. Granted, I work my butt off promoting it but I intentionally chose Etsy because I knew that being part of their community would help with my advertising plans. Simply put - I get sales simply from being part of it.
The question has been posed to me about whether or not I worry about standing out when there are so many sellers on there. The simple answer is: no, not at all.
Here's the thing - if I decided to sell through my personal website, I'd be competing with millions of other websites for top role call in google searches. I'd have to advertise and promote just the same. Doesn't seem much different to me.
Either way, it comes down to how I promote my product. Just because I open a shop doesn't mean customers will flock to it. Would be nice but its not realistic. I can expect a few sales but long term continued success? Nope. That's all up to me.
I blog and facebook and educate and write and make connections with other artists. And that's how I build my business, that's how you build any business.
Etsy simply takes a whole bunch of the work of maintaining the website and shopping carts and bookkeeping out of the equation. Leaves me all the more time to concentrate on my product and being creative.
In fact, I plan to open a second shop shortly with my artwork for sale. Will it get swallowed by the thousands of other artists selling on Etsy?
In. A. Heartbeat.
So I'll work on promoting that too and strive to make it what I want to be.
If you're thinking about taking the plunge to sell online, consider Etsy. Think of it as a partner: they give you a space to sell your greatness and you work your magic to introduce everyone to it.
Its a pretty nifty combo. :)