Etsy vs. Website: Small Business Edition
There's a good chance that you clicked on this blog post because you either already have an Etsy shop and you’ve been thinking about making the switch over to a website or perhaps you are just starting out and trying to decide between Etsy and your own website. Either way, this blog will hopefully give you some insight on what they both entail.
Now I would love to say, "go ahead and hire us for your website needs and let’s get this project started!" However, even as a web designer, there’s a lot about Etsy that can be beneficial to you as a small business owner, especially if you are first starting out (hence the need for an entire blog post).
We have talked to several Etsy shop owners, and the common denominator seems to be that the fees on Etsy are ridiculously high. Because Etsy does allow you to essentially set-up and establish your own shop on their platform for free, (and because nothing in life is really free) they end up taking a high percentage of your sales to make up for it.
For a frame of reference, here's a list of Etsy fees (as of January 2021):
*note these numbers can change in time, please view Etsy's website for the latest and most up to date statistics*
Transaction fee: 5% of the product price.
Shipping transaction fee: 5% of shipping costs.
Payment processing fee: 3% + $0.25 of total (including shipping)
Listing fee: $0.20 (listings expire after four months)
Total Fees: 8% (of the total cost of product and shipping) +$0.45.
Subscription fee: $120/annually.
SEO on Etsy is similar to how SEO works on a search engine like Google; therefore, your keywords should be relevant to what your ideal customer is typing into the search bar. This means that having a fun and creative title for an original handmade piece, isn’t always the best idea as having a title that does accurately describe or at least contain keywords, to increase chances of being found in search results. It’s important to note that Etsy tailors its search results for each individual user to match their past behaviors. This means that SEO on Etsy is just as vital as it is on a website if you want to genuinely improve your chances of being found organically.
Difficult to establish brand recognition:
When you have a shop on Etsy, it’s easy to get lumped into the phrase of being “an Etsy shop owner” rather than your own individual brand or business that you’ve worked so hard to establish. But because Etsy is a major platform that provides trust and easy access for consumers, many consumers don’t go on Etsy in search of one particular brand or business. Instead, they search through countless different shops, and the chances of that person remembering the name of where they purchased the product, are not high. Most times when asked, “where did you get that _____?” the reply is typically, “oh, I got it on Etsy!” Rather than stating the actual brand or business name, which consequently doesn’t help improve or establish your brand recognition.
Difficult to increase reach:
When you are on Etsy’s platform, this means you have limited ways of expanding your reach organically. Whereas, for example, when you have your own website, you can setup a blog and talk about different topics such as tips and tricks, share information or the ingredients in your products or even your overall creative process. By implementing a blog onto your site, this will help to increase the use of keywords. And the more that you implement and use keywords throughout your website, the more that your website becomes enriched in the eyes of a search engine like Google. However, again, on Etsy, this is limited.
Etsy is credible:
The greatest thing about Etsy, especially if you are brand new to the game and have no idea where to start, is that Etsy already has strong brand awareness and has established their own recognition in over 80 different countries. Therefore, consumers who browse through Etsy will more than likely already trust you because of the fact that you have been approved by Etsy to set-up shop on their platform.
Customers trust Etsy:
Again, because Etsy is already established, customers trust the platform. Therefore, when you first set-up your shop, you won’t necessarily need to worry about having testimonials, reviews or social proof as people already trust making a purchase through Etsy.
No cost/fees to setup a shop:
There are no web hosting, domain or web design fees associated with setting up your shop on Etsy. Which can be very beneficial as a new business owner on a budget. Essentially anyone can set-up a shop on Etsy without needing to pay fees and this is because Etsy takes a hefty cut on the items sold in your shop.
Super simple to setup a shop:
You don’t have to be a web designer or even hire a web design team to setup your Etsy shop. It’s super simple and user-friendly for all.
Unlike Etsy, there are fees associated with first establishing a new website. For example, there are various fees associated with which platform you choose to host your website on (Wix, Squarespace, GoDaddy, WordPress, Shopify, etc.), such as the set-up fees to choose a premium plan, domain and email fees. Not to mention if you have no idea what you’re doing when it comes to building a website, you might have to hire a web design & development team -- hint, hint ;)
This means that there is also time associated with this process. And as a small business owner, it's understood that time is of the essence. Unlike Etsy, where you can essentially have your shop set-up within the same day, building an entire website typically takes a bit longer than that.
In addition to this, if you are not a web designer or simply don’t have the time for it yourself, then you might also want to consider outsourcing a team to manage and maintain your website anytime it requires an update.
Good things take time:
Finally, if you’re brand new to business, and in the beginning phase, having your own website may be a bit difficult to build credibility and strong brand awareness or recognition. This is simply because of the fact that you are new, and therefore this means that you will have to do more marketing on your own or pay for advertisements in order to start to increase awareness and build brand recognition.
**Also, keep in mind, good SEO doesn't happen overnight.**
If your goal is to establish a strong brand and build a successful business that people will remember, it’s difficult (not impossible) to do this on Etsy. This is because, while yes, Etsy is wonderful and can be seen as a great option for new small business and shop owners, it’s also a busy platform with lots of competition and little-to-no brand awareness for said shop owners. (Not to mention, the platform itself is messy, meaning, each page is overcrowded and it's easy to get overwhelmed by all of the content and shops to choose from).
Websites help build a strong brand:
When you have and own your own website, there are countless opportunities to do things to help establish your brand. For example, implementing your brand colors, logo, typography, content, photographs, and videos. In addition, you can also include a space for an ‘About’ section so that people can learn a little bit more about you and your brand. Which also helps to build trust -- always remember, people buy from people they trust.
You have the peace-of-mind of knowing that you own your own website and that you can't lose control over your shop (think if Etsy were to shut down one day). This also means that you have control over your own email list, blog, and newsletter. You can do things to help to build up your email list and in turn create connections, build relationships and overall trust with your customers.
Blogs + Newsletters:
As mentioned earlier, blogs help to organically increase traffic to your site as you are able to use a blog to implement and utilize keywords in order to enrich your website in the eyes of search engines (SEO). In addition, you can use a newsletter to do things like share the behind-the-scenes of your business or offer exclusive content, discounts, and specials for returning customers. In this way, you can continue to build trust with your community.
(Way) less fees:
Finally, and most importantly, you end up paying way less in fees when you own your own website. We previously discussed how you will have to pay initial set-up fees in order to get started with a website, however, these numbers don't even come close to how much you would be paying in total Etsy fees overall.
Check out our website services and our carefully curated portfolio of past projects for ideas on how we can help you to begin building your online presence today!
Chief Creative Officer