TEE #035 The Dangers of Putting All Your Eggs in One Etsy BasketNov 18, 2023
Read time: 5 minutes
Etsy is an incredible platform that has enabled millions of makers, crafters, and artists to turn their passions into a business. When you first get started on Etsy, it’s easy to become enamoured with the potential to quickly tap into their built-in base of buyers searching for unique handmade goods. Those initial sales and first taste of success can be intoxicating!
However, many sellers realise after that initial honeymoon period that relying solely on Etsy long-term comes with considerable risks. Etsy is not necessarily built for supporting sellers in scaling and sustaining an independent business over the long run. Here’s a deeper look at why you need to think beyond just selling on Etsy as your lone distribution channel:
Lack of Control Over Your Fate
Etsy owns the platform and marketplace. As a seller, you must play by their rules when it comes to fees, policies, search algorithms, and more. Etsy makes changes all the time in order to improve the buyer experience. But those changes can directly impact your shop’s visibility and sales.
For example, if Etsy tweaks its search to favour lower-priced items or shops with faster shipping times, your items may get buried.
Relying entirely on Etsy means accepting the risk that changes out of your control can sink your business. Their interests are not always fully aligned with those of sellers.
The Etsy marketplace has become hyper-competitive. With millions of active sellers, there is no shortage of competition for buyers’ attention. Standing out in a sea of shops requires mastering Etsy SEO, promotions, and differentiating yourself.
As more sellers flock to the platform, it can become harder over time to get found. Buyers have more choices than ever. And with so many sellers to choose from, they can be fickle. A few negative reviews can sink a shop quickly. Maintaining consistent sales and growth solely on Etsy is far from guaranteed.
All e-commerce sees cycles and seasons. Sales ebb and flow throughout the year. For Etsy, the summer holiday months are notoriously slow for many sellers. Without other sales channels, summer can mean weeks or months of an empty income stream.
Diversifying across multiple platforms is a way to counterbalance the slow periods all sellers face. Relying solely on Etsy means fully exposing yourself to their seasonal ups and downs.
While quite rare, Etsy does suspend or shut down seller accounts for policy violations. If you rely entirely on Etsy and wake up to find your shop closed with no warning, you’ll have zero income stream until you resolve the issue (if you even can).
Having all your eggs in one basket means a policy mistake or accusation of infringement can sink your business overnight. It’s a vulnerable position to be in.
Etsy does not provide sellers strong protections from copiers or counterfeits. Your unique handmade goods can and will be copied by other Etsy sellers or even overseas counterfeiters. Selling solely on Etsy provides you with very little recourse or ability to stop this.
Long-Term Strategies For Mitigating Risk
The solution is not to avoid Etsy altogether. But wise Etsy sellers build a long-term strategy that diversifies beyond just this venue. Here are some ways you can distribute your risk:
Create Your Own Online Store
Building your brand on a platform you fully control, like Shopify or Wix, enables you to own the customer experience. You can provide premium branding, craft marketing emails, offer promotions, and more.
Send Etsy traffic to your store. Capture emails. And nurture a direct relationship with buyers that transcends just the Etsy platform.
Get on Amazon Handmade
Many sellers have found success complementing their Etsy sales with Amazon Handmade. The increase in volume can help smooth out seasonal lows on Etsy. And listing your goods across multiple venues makes you less dependent on Etsy traffic.
Focus on Email Marketing
Building an email subscriber list is vital for any business. Email enables you to engage past Etsy buyers with promotions, new product launches, and more. You can sell directly via email or funnel them to your own store.
An email list is an asset you own. With Etsy, you have little direct access to past buyers. Email gives you that direct channel.
Wholesale and Craft Fairs
Etsy attracts mostly individual buyers for single purchases. Tapping into wholesale (selling to boutiques and stores) or doing local craft fairs provides new avenues for scaled growth.
These complement Etsy’s base of individual buyers with larger bulk orders from business buyers. More revenue streams means less risk overall.
Etsy can provide that vital first sales channel to prove your business model. But growing an independent, long-term business there has considerable risks. From changes out of your control to fierce competition, relying solely on Etsy makes you extremely vulnerable.
By diversifying across multiple platforms, channels, and venues, you distribute risk. Combining Etsy with your own store, Amazon, email marketing, wholesale and other options builds resilience into your business.
Don’t look at “exiting Etsy” as the solution. Look at building a diversified model where Etsy becomes just one component of your success, not the sole pillar. With multiple income streams, your business can survive and thrive for the long haul.
Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:
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