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Etsy vs Website: Which is Better?

“I want to sell online, which is better: Etsy, or my own website?”

This is a question that pops up frequently in a number of Facebook groups I’m part of, so I’ve been meaning to address it for a while now. Because the thing is: They’re not two different options of the same thing.

Etsy is a Marketplace

Think of it as a giant makers market.

A beautiful indoor market filled with people

You just show up with your stuff, and everything else you need is there for you.

They give you a space, a table, a chair. They even handle all the payments for you!

Obviously, they’re providing all the infrastructure, so there’s a small stall fee (depending on how much space you need), and they take a cut of your sales to cover the cost of processing your sales, drawing in customers, keeping them happy, etc.

However, Etsy is a HUGE market! While there are a ridiculous number of people coming to this market (over 90 million a year), there’s also a heap of other stalls (over 7 million) [source]. So while you don’t have to bring people in the doors yourself, there’s probably a few thousand stalls selling pretty similar products to you. It can be a challenge to stand out, and have folks purchase from you vs one of the other similar stalls – especially if you’re new, and sellers who’ve been there longer have a more established reputation.

Your Website is a Stand-alone Store

But in an out-of-the-way location.

The interior of a retails store, with clothing, plants, and various vintage items

You have So MUCH SPACE! And you have complete control over it!

You have space for as many products as you can make, you can completely control how it’s set up, make it look however you want, set all your own terms – you’re not under the power of market management, you’re totally in charge!

But you have monthly rent. You have to pay for all your own infrastructure (payment processing, security, upkeep, etc). It was completely bare when you moved in, so you’ve got to fit it out and set it up before you can even let people in the door – which takes time and money!

… And you have to get people in the door. There’s no-one walking in already looking for what you sell. There’s not even anyone walking past! But when they do come in, you have 100% of their attention, at least for as long as they choose to stick around. If they don’t find your shop a welcoming place to be, they’ll just walk straight out again.

… So is Etsy or a Website better?

Obviously, there are a whole bunch of pros and cons to both. And how those are weighted is going to be different from person-to-person.

Maybe you have a day job and don’t want the responsibility of managing a literal shop. Or you have a family and aren’t sure your business can cover the cost of a store as well. Or you just really hate marketing and want your customers to come to you. Or you want to test the waters before making a big commitment like opening your own store – you just wanna make a few things and see if there’s interest, or if you even want to commit to running a business. Etsy might be the way to go!

That said, maybe you have a bunch of experience in retail fit-out (or building websites) already! You have a solid customer-base that you know will travel to you (or you’re confident in your ability to create one). Maybe you crave the independence of your own space and your own business. You’ve got a whole bunch of products that just feel too limited if you try to fit them into a market stall. Maybe your own website is the right choice for you!

The Other Option…

Is that a lot of folks have both!

Maybe you take just your best-selling stuff to the markets (Etsy). You network, and use it as a way to build a customer base. You might bump your prices a little to cover their extra fees, or you might look at it as an advertising cost. And when they ask “where’s your website?”, you can point them there! The next time they want something from you, they already know who you are and can come straight to you. (Maybe you even include a card with your Etsy orders offering a discount from their first order on their website?)

Etsy vs Website

I’m sorry if you were looking for an easy answer, an “X is better, because Y”, but there’s very rarely one option that’s better for everyone in all situations – that’s why so many options exist!

But hopefully you’ve got a little more understanding of the pros and cons of the different options now, and maybe a little bit more idea which is better for you and your business: Etsy, or your own website.

And if you are looking at building a website, but are feeling a little overwhelmed by it, I’m here for you! That’s my favourite part, and I’d love to help you out – whether that’s providing some advice and instruction to help you do it yourself, or you’d like someone to do it for you, I’m happy to adapt to your needs and requirements.

Thinking about setting up your own website? Here are My Favourite Website Platforms

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