Are you sick and tired of Etsy and its algorithm changes that mess with your shop and forced policies that you can’t opt-out of, and you just want to be more in control of your shop’s outcome, like more traffic and sales?
In this post, I’m going to help you decide if you’re really ready to quit Etsy.
Hi! My name is Mei and I help makers, artists and designers make a living selling their handmade products online. Are you really ready to quit Etsy? I have a few question prompts in this video that you can ask yourself, to figure this out.
Before we dive in, I want to preface this video with the thought that I don’t think you necessarily have to quit Etsy altogether.
My strategy is to focus on my own website and Etsy is just there to make passive income, in the sense that I’m not doing active marketing and directing traffic to my Etsy shop.
I’ve spent the initial time upfront to make sure my Etsy listings are optimized for my keywords. Then it’s literally set up and forget about it.
You can do the same if you’re ready for it.
1. Are You Ready to Do Your Own Marketing?
The first question to ask yourself is, are you willing and ready to do your own marketing and or to invest in learning how to do marketing right?
If you’ve watched my other video about the pros and cons of Etsy versus being on your own site, you’ll hear me talk about how Etsy success is simple and it’s primarily based around search engine optimization and keeping up with search trends.
You don’t have to worry about social media, or getting press mentions or blogging or having an email list or doing paid ads.
When you’re on your own site, you have to start doing all of those things, which means, more of your time will need to be spent on doing marketing and less time on making your products.
You might hate the sound of that, but maybe you’ll be more open to it knowing that when you do your marketing right, you’ll get more sales.
Something to consider is if marketing is new to you and it sounds like a foreign language, you might actually start to enjoy it once you’ve learned how it all works.
This was what happened to me.
I started out completely as a maker and knowing nothing about business or marketing. It wasn’t until a few years into my business that I found a new passion for the marketing side of things.
It can be a lot of fun.
It’s like a game to me and I keep playing because I want to win.
I learned this recently, but did you know that passion can be developed?
I think it’s normal, but we often have that expectation that passion is just within us and we just like certain things.
I’m here to tell you, because it’s happened to me, that you can create new passions that you love from doing the thing more and getting practice for it.
2. Do You Have the Time?
The second question is, do you even have time to do all of that extra, new marketing, that you probably didn’t have to worry about before?
Whatever you did to make sales on Etsy is no longer enough to help you make sales on your own site. You have to do more, and take a holistic approach to get traffic and sales.
My recipe is doing outreach consistently, having sign up forms to collect email addresses from my traffic, then selling to that traffic via my autoresponder in my email service provider. Then I layer that on with Facebook ads to boost my results.
Personally, I have a lot of systems and automations in place to make it so that I don’t really have to do any active work to promote my shop that’s on Shopify and you can do the same thing too. You just need to know how.
P.S. I do have a course called A Sale A Day Business System that teaches you how to do that.
This is how I can run 5 different businesses at the same time because everything’s so automated.
In the beginning, it will definitely be a lot of work setting everything up, and if you’re trying to do it all yourself by trial and error, it’s going to take a lot longer to get set up and making regular sales on your own site.
I’m talking about months if not years before you get there.
It’s not impossible, but I don’t want to give you false hope because that’s when you get frustrated and give up.
So, you have to ask yourself if you’re in the right stage in your life where you can do this?
If you want to turn your business into a full-time living, and you have an existing day job, then something to think about is going part-time at your day job. Or if you don’t have a day job then find one that’s part-time so that you aren’t cutting out your income completely and you’re gaining back some of your time that you can use to build up your own shop.
This is what I did in the beginning.
After I graduated from college, no one would hire me. You could say it’s a good thing I had trouble finding work because here I am today, right?
Back then I decided to take my business full time and I got a part-time job working as a web designer for a local video effects company back in Minneapolis. I worked for them for almost two years and I quit when my business started gaining momentum and I couldn’t split my time anymore.
The point I want to make is, it will take you time to get there so figure out some plan to support that journey if you need to.
Now I feel like I’ve spent too much time drilling in how long it takes, you might start to feel discouraged. Like, what is this all even for?!
It’s been 9 years since I went full time in my business and I’ve helped my husband quit his corporate job so he can pursue his own dreams of developing video games and playing music.
We moved to Los Angeles so I can pursue my childhood dream of becoming an actor. We live in a beautiful house that I love so much and we have time and freedom to do what we want with our day.
We can outsource things we don’t enjoy doing and across all the businesses we run, we’re making just shy of $1,000,000 a year.
Overall the quality of our lives is definitely at a whole different level than it was 10 years ago. I say all of this to share with you that if you invest in your business, in the long run it will pay you back multiple times over.
We essentially broke through that income ceiling and we have so much more opportunities because of this lifestyle and career choice I made over 10 years ago.
It’s a long game, don’t play it if you need a financial solution or plan that solves a need for right now. This isn’t going to be the answer for you.
3. Do You Have the Budget to Spend on Promoting Your Shop?
Many people are thinking about jumping the Etsy ship because it’s getting crazy expensive, but consider that running a business, in general, is an expensive thing.
Gone are the days where you can expect to start a business and make sales for no investment on your part.
It takes money to make money.
If you’re on your own site, you need a budget to spend on marketing, apps, software and education to help you run the business and make those sales.
Just being on your own site with Shopify will cost you $29 dollars per month. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
So don’t think that getting off Etsy is going to save you money or be cheaper.
Yes, Etsy is becoming more expensive to sell on and that’s just natural because there’s so much competition on Etsy and outside of Etsy, that they now have to pay more and work harder to get traffic to you.
But Etsy took care of a lot of things for you:
- you didn’t need extra apps to run your business
- you didn’t have to pay for hosting
- you didn't have to pay for a custom branded email address like [email protected] because all customer service happens within Etsy convos and direct messages.
I would argue to say that it’ll be about the same costs but it depends on how much sales volume you’re selling. At a certain point when you become large enough, selling on your own site with Shopify will actually be cheaper than Etsy.
4. Do You Have a Strong, Cohesive Product Line and Memorable Brand?
There are a lot of shops on Etsy that just make products that are for trending search terms.
I’ve seen shops that sell t-shirts, crafting supplies, jewelry and blankets, all in one, and they still make a lot of sales.
That’s because inherently, Etsy is a search based platform. People aren’t shopping from you because of your brand. They’re shopping from you because you happen to have a great product that matches what they’re searching for at that point in time.
That’s a valid strategy, but that business model won’t be very effective when you’re on your own site.
On your own site, having a brand and a beautiful product line is more important for long term success and longevity than just making whatever is trending right now.
Creating products that are on-trend is definitely something you want to consider, but it’s not your entire business model.
If you don’t have a brand that can standalone yet where you don’t have to rely on making trendy products for keyword searches, then I recommend doing some cleaning up, curating your product line, and investing in branding before you get on your own site.
5. Do You Crave Having More Control Over Your Own Business?
Maybe you’re done not having a say in what or when Etsy changes things up or when they introduce new policies.
If you’ve been on Etsy for a while, you know that these policy and algorithm changes do affect your business.
I’ve heard so many Etsy sellers who were happy making lots of sales on Etsy for years and then suddenly one algorithm change and their sales just dry up. That’s terrible if you’re relying on your business to sustain yourself and your family.
If you’re done with that roller coaster and you’re ready and able to take a more proactive stance for your business, then maybe it’s the right time for you to branch out to your own site.
Just don’t forget, that having more control means having more work to do because now more things are available to you and you have more responsibility.
With Etsy, you never had to worry about your website design because, well, you couldn’t change any of it. But on your own site, you can change your site design to whatever you want it to be.
If you do it right, this can make a huge difference in your business.
6. Are You Ready to Break Away from the Competition and Pave Your Own Path?
Yes, there’s a lot of direct competition on Etsy and it’s almost always a pricing war to the bottom for who can sell their stuff at the lowest prices.
Getting on your own site is going to help with this problem tremendously, but carving your own path is also not an easy thing to do.
I highly recommend that you take the time to learn how to do marketing and learn about ecommerce and conversion rate optimization and outreach.
We talk about all of that on my YouTube channel, so if you haven’t yet, be sure to subscribe.
7. Have You Outgrown Etsy and You're Ready to Level Up?
If you’re already doing well on Etsy, you can actually do a lot better on your own site, if you know the right steps to transition and how to drive traffic to your new site.
The fact that you’re already successful and have made sales on Etsy means your product is validated, it’s in demand and people want it.
If you feel like it’s time to become your own independent, standalone site that has the power to amplify your current success, then do it.
So much of your decision goes back to the underlying concept that Etsy makes things easy for you, and because of that advantage, they are charging appropriately for their service.
It will be a lot harder initially to get off and start your own site, but if you can see it as the long term decision that it is, and you’re willing to pull up your sleeves and do the good work it takes to get there, then I think you’re ready.