When I first started selling my crafts online, I was recently unemployed and extremely cautious about how I was spending my money. Even though I had a technical background and could easily create a website, I was hesitant because of the expenses involved.
Because of this, I considered whether it was necessary for me to get my own website to sell crafts online or if it would be more cost-effective to stick to selling on a platform like Etsy, eBay, or Amazon.
This article will explain my findings to help you decide if you need your own website to sell crafts online.
The Short Answer
So, do you need a website to sell crafts online? The short answer is no, but it is preferable.
There are many online platforms and marketplaces that allow you to open a store, list your products, and start selling without having the advanced knowledge of creating, launching, and maintaining your own website.
If you looked into selling crafts online, you likely have heard of platforms such as Etsy or Shopify, which allow you to create your own store and list your items for sale. There are also many other websites dedicated to selling arts, crafts, and other handmade items that you could consider using instead of your own website.
Although, just because there are many affordable and popular online selling platforms available does not mean you should dismiss the idea of having your own website. Having your own website, especially in addition to these other selling platforms, can have a lot of benefits.
Why You Should Consider Using Your Own Website to Sell Crafts Online
There are many reasons why you should consider using your own website to sell crafts, instead of relying on other platforms. While platforms such as Etsy, Amazon, etc. are quick and often easy to use, a website has some great benefits such as:
- More control over your store
- No rules imposed by other platforms
- No listing fees or commissions on your sales
- Increased customization
- Flexibility in the products/services you sell
The biggest difference between using an online marketplace and having your own website to sell crafts is the amount of control you have. While it may be easier to gain new customers when you start selling on a popular online marketplace, you won’t have full ownership of your store. If the platform you are selling on decided to close your account/store, you may find that your income has disappeared overnight! This has been known to happen to stores on Etsy, for example, but occurs on all online selling platforms. If you have your own website, you are in control of when you want to close down your store.
You must also consider the rules you must follow when selling on an online marketplace. Since you’re using someone else’s website to sell your products, you must follow their rules. You may find some of these rules to be too restrictive for the type of store you have. When you have your own website, you can set your own rules, such as a return policy or how you will handle disputes.
Some online marketplaces also charge a monthly fee, commission, or other types of fees. While the amount may seem minimal at first, they can slowly accumulate as you gain more sales and a larger customer base. The marketplace may also decide to change their fees occasionally without asking your permission. This can suddenly make your store unprofitable if you aren’t prepared! If the platform you are selling on decides to raise their fees, it will be difficult for you to start over on a new platform if the fees are too expensive for you to handle. To get an idea of how much it costs to sell on the popular marketplace “Etsy”, read our article.
Another interesting point to keep in mind is how you want to personalize your store. While marketplaces may allow some customization of your store’s appearance, your store will generally look and feel like many other stores on the site. When you build your own website, you have full control of how you want it to look. You can display any information you want and change the appearance whenever you feel like it. The appearance of your product pages and the rest of your shop will be truly unique!
Another fantastic advantage to having your own website to sell crafts online is the flexibility of what you are selling. You will be able to sell much more than physical products if you choose to do so. You can launch a course teaching your craft, create a membership community around your products, create tutorials, place ads, promote products related to your craft, and much more! The possibilities are endless when you have your own website.
But I can’t afford a website now!
By interacting with various people from around the world who are launching an online businesses, I learned that money is relative. What may be affordable for some may not be for others.
During my adventures doing online business, I have talked to many people from all around the world. I’ve learned that money is relative, and what may be affordable for some people may not be for others.
While opening a store on Etsy is relatively free, the average total cost of starting a new website is about $80-100 per year for your domain name and hosting. This does not include the cost of having someone build and maintain your website if you cannot do it yourself.
With Etsy, you’ll be paying a nominal fee for each listing, as well as some other percentage-based fees. If you have your own website, you can list as many products as you want without worrying about paying a fee.
If you don’t have that kind of money at the time, start your Etsy store, make a few sales, and reinvest the money you make into starting your own website. Even better, look around your house for things you don’t use anymore and just sell them. It may seem like 100$ is a lot at first but it’s the smallest possible investment you can make with one of the largest potential returns.
Ultimately, if you can’t afford to spend the money on a website right now, you can work your way toward that goal. Start your Etsy store, make some sales, then re-invest the money into starting your own website.
You can also find other ways to make quick cash, such as selling items around your house that you don’t use anymore. Although $100 might seem like a lot when you’re first starting out, the potential returns on your investment make it worth the risk.
Can I have both a website AND another selling platform?
Many people who sell on marketplaces such as Etsy have made a transition to selling on their own websites. The downside is that it can be difficult to get traction on your own website if it isn’t ranking on Google or if something is not set up properly. However, by slowly building a name for yourself and using a memorable domain name, people will start to find your store easily.
So, yes, you can have both a website and a store on another marketplace at the same time, but eventually, you will likely want to end up switching to relying on your own website, rather than having two online shops.
If you do have two or more online stores at once, always make sure your brand names remain consistent across each platform. You want people to immediately identify you across these various platforms. You can’t be Melinda’s Basket Weaving on one site and Melinda’s Crafts on the other.
Keep in mind that it takes a while to build a customer following. Depending on the quality of your products, the amount of marketing and promotions you do, the quality of your products’ pictures, and more, it can take from a few weeks to years before you are able to make a living out of your own store.
However, nothing stops you from remaining solely on Etsy if you choose to do so. Some people have been highly successful there making a full-time living from selling on that platform.
Things to Keep in Mind
While owning your own website provides you with much more flexibility, opening a store on marketplaces like Etsy can be better for a beginner. Learning to buy a domain name, link it to your hosting, install an SSL, set up WordPress, and other functions related to starting your own website will have a longer learning curve if you have no technological background.
However, having control over your store is something to keep in mind. A lot of people have reported their stores being closed down, with or without justification. Even though their stores might have been restored if it was by mistake, this could still result in a temporary loss of income.
One of the most common pieces I give to new online business owners is to diversify their income streams. Yes, you can make money selling on Etsy or eBay but having your own website is also very important.
Personally, I prefer to be on as many platforms as I can manage. The key is to keep it manageable, so don’t overdo it. It takes a while to truly learn how every online marketplace works, so it can be time-consuming.
Still unsure about what to do? Just get started somewhere!
Although these questions are important, there are many other things to consider when starting an online shop. Sometimes, you will not know the answers to these questions until you try. The more you delay starting your shop, the more potential income you could be missing out on.
Take a step in some direction, whether it is on Etsy, Shopify, or your own website. You have many different options regardless of your experience, budget, or number of products. No matter how much you learn through reading or watching video tutorials, there are certain things that you can only learn by taking action and doing it. If you’re not comfortable with launching your own website, start with an easier platform such as Etsy while you learn about how to transition to your own website in the future. Don’t let the difficulty stand in the way of your success. It’s likely not as hard as you imagine!
So what are you waiting for? Create your brand, prepare your products, set your prices, get your store set up, and start making money!