[125] Can I have a successful handmade business without Etsy?

Sometimes, it feels like everyone is on Etsy.

But… can you have a successful handmade business if you aren’t?

I discuss this very question in this week’s episode.

I outline the pros and cons of Etsy, and do the same for having your own, independent, online store.

Reminder! Set Up Shop Registration closes this Sunday 5pm AEST, and class starts Monday! Are you joining us?



Download or listen to this episode.


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Quotes and highlights from this episode:

  • Why use Etsy? It is the premier online handmade marketplace, has a massive handmade product search engine, provides buyers with a sense of transaction secruity and will drive customers and revenue to you.
  • If you have no experience with web design and management, start on Etsy. It makes setting things up simple.
  • Etsy is a great learning space where to work on your photos, tags, captions and stock.
  • However, “if you are serious about growing a part-time or fulltime business you should set up your own shop.”
  • If you are doing large portions of marketing drive your business back to your own shop rather than Etsy.
  • “The power of using Etsy is they should be driving the traffic for you – that’s the point!”
  • Etsy is just one of many online marketplaces. Don’t forget Zibbet, Made It, DaWanda, and Not on the High Street.
  • If you are in the growth phase of your business- get your work on to as many of these platforms as you can manage to drive business to your store.
  • If you have a huge product range, pick a small sample of work and place that on a wider range of places.
  • Building your own site allows for more control of look and feel and creates a sense of professionalism.
  • Setting up a shop without Etsy is possible but does require more work.
  • Focus upon social media, building a mailing list, selling wholesale and at markets to help build your audience.




Hi Jess! Just wanted to comment on your characterization of Shopify as a “middle ground” between Etsy & having your own website. Going by a super strict definition of “independent website,” I suppose it’s technically true that Shopify isn’t one, since the site is hosted on their servers – but all of the same benefits still apply. Customization potential is nearly infinite, and unlike a marketplace, Shopify has no interest in shutting down anyone’s shop (unless you’re actually doing something illegal, and any web host could shut you down then, too). Unless you’re literally running your own servers in the basement, someone else is always going to own a little piece of your online presence.

If you take a peek at the website source code for some of the most successful handmade (and many non-handmade) businesses, you’ll find that the majority of them use Shopify – so building a website with Shopify should absolutely be seen as an ideal end goal, not a stepping stone to something better. If Etsy is the premiere handmade marketplace, Shopify is the premiere tool for building an ecommerce website. Personally, I built my standalone site using WordPress and had it for several years before I realized that Shopify is better in just about way. Until something even better comes along, it’s what I’ll continue to use and recommend to everyone. : )

What say you?

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