As a home / DIY blogger, one of the best ways to monetize your blog is to create a product or service to sell. The key to building up a successful income as a blogger is to diversify, and by selling your own stuff you are not only in total control, but the sky is the limit in terms of income generation.
If you are thinking of creating a product line (physical or digital products), have you thought about starting out on Etsy? I don’t want to discourage you from selling your products on your own blog (if you are setup with that functionality, then go for it!), but Etsy might just be the right place for getting that new element of your biz off the ground.
I first opened up shop on Etsy in 2012. I tried out different things – from starting with knitted booties, to paintings, to art prints.
There has been a lot of trial and error, honing in on my niche, and figuring out what works for me. I now sell prints, mugs, pillows, and pouches directly on Etsy, wholesale through Etsy, wholesale locally, and sell in person at craft shows. My little experimentation selling knitted booties on Etsy totally turned into something way bigger than I imagined, and it has been a big contributor to my income (you can check out my shop here).
I still haven’t started selling my stuff on my own blog, largely because I haven’t felt the need to yet!
Here are some of the biggest advantages to selling on Etsy and why you should consider starting over there:
1 / It’s Easy to Setup
Registering an account on Etsy and then opening up your shop is crazy easy. Of course there is a lot of thought that needs to go into creating an amazing shop: the name, branding, photography, listing descriptions, policies, etc. but the actual nuts and bolts of getting a shop page up is so simple. Here is a link to Etsy’s “Seller’s Handbook” where you can find the answers to just about every question.
If you were to build your own e-commerce site, you would need to buy a domain name, get a website host, design and create an entire website, setup payment methods, etc – a pretty major under-taking, particularly if you are just looking to test the waters with a creative business. Even if you already have your blog all setup, the ability to setup e-commerce on it isn’t always easy or straight-forward if you have an expansive product line. The fact that Etsy has all of that handled and you just need to walk through a few quick steps to get your shop up and running within minutes it’s pretty darn dreamy.
2 / The Payment Processing is Organized & Reasonable
Etsy already has payment processing all setup within its’ system. This is gold, since figuring out what payment processor to use and how to implement it properly on your own website can be confusing and more tech-y than most people are comfortable with on their own.
The breakdown of fees with Etsy is this: You pay $0.20USD to list an item and then a 3.5% transaction fee of the item’s cost once it has sold. So if you were selling a $20 item, the 3.5% cost would be 70 cents on top of the 20 cents you’ve already paid to list it — so 90 cents total in fees. You would take home $19.10. Here is the section on the Etsy website where they chat about fees and payment policies.
Those are definitely reasonable rates overall. If you were to be hosting your own e-commerce store, you wouldn’t have the $0.20 listing fee, but you would still need to pay for payment processing, the cost of website hosting, domain name purchase, etc.
3 / It Has Built-in Traffic
Although it does have competitors, Etsy has made a name for itself worldwide and subsequently sees huge traffic. According to this website, in December of 2015 Etsy had over 92 million visitors that month alone. Crazytown, right?!
Now, why WOULDN’T you want to be able to tap into that existing traffic base with your own shop?! Yes, it means that it comes with a whole lot of competition (I can guarantee that there is someone selling something similar to you on Etsy), but being able to drum up the visits to your own e-commerce site would be super time and energy intensive.
If you are smart about the look of your shop, how you write up your listings, your keywords, and use SEO (search engine optimization), you’ll be able to be found on Etsy. The more work you put into it, the better you’re going to do… but being able to start somewhere that already has that level of traffic coming through the virtual “door” is such a huge plus.
[this “jeans, tee shirt, top knot” mug is my go-to gift for girlfriends!]
4 / There is a Level of Trust and Credibility
Because Etsy is such a brand in and of itself, there is a certain level of trust that a potential buyer has when they are shopping on Etsy. If you have your own e-commerce store out there and haven’t built up a reputation yet, you might just look super random and not trustworthy to a possible customer.
Buying through Etsy where there are policies and procedures in place, lets a buyer know that it’s a safe bet and they can trust that the item will actually be delivered to their door (and if it isn’t, there are avenues they can take to make formal complaints).
Another way Etsy helps you build trust around your brand is simply by giving you a legit shop website. If you already sell locally at craft shows or in boutiques, having an Etsy shop can be that extra vehicle to expand your marketing potential. If you want to hand out business cards to potential customers or sell wholesale locally, being able to send them to an actual shop website instead of just having an email address looks way more profesh. It adds a certain level of biz credibility when you have your own website, you know?
5 / There is a Community
Sure, Etsy is huge and it means there are a zillion sellers on there, but it also comes with a great community. The Etsy staff are good at providing valuable newsletters and helpful information on the site, and there are seller teams that you can join. Teams may be geographically based or by genre of product, but either way they are a great way of forming a community of like-minded folks. There are also lots of facebook groups out there for Etsy sellers, again helping to form that community.
It’s important as a solopreneur that you have other biz friends to bounce ideas off of, get advice from, share success, and commiserate on frustrations with. Being an Etsy seller is kind of like automatically having an entry ticket to all of those groups out there.
6 / A Testing Ground
You might just be playing around with the idea of starting up an online shop, not sure if the product(s) you have in mind would actually sell, or maybe just want to keep it as a very low-cost hobby business. Whatever the case – Etsy is the perfect place to test the waters. The only start up cost is that 20 cent listing fee. It doesn’t get much cheaper than that! For example, listing 20 items would cost you $4 and it would be the perfect opportunity to see what sells.
Having said all of that, there are some cons to setting up your shop on Etsy:
- You are limited to Etsy’s overall aesthetic and look. Sure you can brand your shop with your header and photography, but you can’t create a fully customized shop page. In my opinion, this is fine in the beginning and might always be for many sellers, but if you want something really on brand and custom then you will likely want to open your shop’s own website at some point down the road.
- Etsy has certain policies and procedures set in place that you are bound to. I have never found anything to be much of a barrier, but there might be elements that irk you. You are also always at the mercy of any changes they make.
- You can’t easily collect email addresses from customers. This drives me crazy. I would love the option of having buyers opt-in to my newsletter upon purchase or have a very obvious “sign up!” button somewhere in my shop, but this isn’t possible with Etsy.
- There is a lot of competition. It’s hard to stand out in a sea of designers and crafters, so you really need to be on your A-game in terms of marketing your products beautifully, getting your name out there, and understanding how to get your listings high up in the search. You would need to do all of this if you set up your own e-commerce site too, but all that to say that you can’t just throw up a listing and expect it to sell like wildfire without working at it.
Despite those items though, in my opinion Etsy is where it’s at for getting started with an online shop. Especially as a busy blogger who wants to create their own line but doesn’t want the headache of figuring out how to transition their blog into an e-commerce site.
If you sign up through this link, you can get your 40 first listings FREE! And full disclosure – I get 40 free too. So it’s a win-win all around!
Any of you already using Etsy? Ever thought about opening up a shop and need the kick in the butt to actually DO IT? Have any etsy-related questions? Hit me up and I’ll do my best to answer!
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