If you’ve been having success selling your products on Etsy, you may want to consider starting your own website too. Etsy is a great platform for quickly and easily getting your goods in front of potential customers, but once you’ve proven the value of your items, it’s probably best to take advantage of what your own site can offer you, like more money.
Why move from Etsy? Gaining control and diversifying
There is no doubt Etsy is a great resource for people selling handmade goods, but as you grow, you may want more control over your business, especially if you count on the income you make from it. Etsy can change their policies, layout, or pricing structure at any time, which is why you should start your own site and become less reliant on them.
Even if things are going swimmingly right now on Etsy, you’ll want to take a lesson from the past. There used to be tons of people who made a living selling on eBay, until eBay made changes that made most of those businesses unprofitable. In addition, Google changes their search results regularly, and many small businesses have gone out of business because they were too dependent on a single traffic source (in this case, Google sending customers to their site) that was out of their control. Don’t make these same mistakes. Make the necessary steps now to ensure the longevity of your business.
Don’t burn the boats
When Alexander the Great landed in his fleet in Persia, he burned the boats to show his troops that there would be no retreat, thus motivating them to fight and win or die. Don’t do this. Don’t abandon your Etsy shop. This doesn’t have to be one or the other, and maintaining your Etsy shop will keep revenue coming in while you work to create your own website and build traffic to it, which will take time.
Website creation and hosting
Depending on your experience and knowledge of website design, you’ll have a few different levels of involvement in the creation of your website. People familiar with HTML, CSS, and CMSs will often want to buy a domain and get hosting with a provider like GoDaddy or Blue Host, and then add a content management system like WordPress. This route gives you a significant amount of control over every aspect of the website—you can customize everything about it, from the design to the shopping experience.
However, if you don’t know what those acronyms mean or don’t want to deal with some of the technical aspects of building out a website to sell your goods, there are some easy options. Shopify and similar services provide you with almost everything you need to start selling online. You just need to add the products. They provide hosting and website themes you choose from, and they handle the checkout process. This is an easy way to get out on your own and lets you focus on making and marketing your product.
Don’t expect traffic to magically appear at your new site. The internet is a big place and you’ll need to do some work to help people find your site.
Transitioning existing customers
By far the easiest way to build traffic to your new site is to take advantage of the customers you’re already getting from Etsy. While you can’t link directly to your site from your Etsy page, inserting coupons or business cards in with orders that direct them to your new site will quickly transition repeat customers to your new site.
Along with that, don’t forget about your current offline fanbase. If you participate in any craft shows or community markets, provide customers and passers-by with a business card, brochure, or coupon with your new website address.
Generating new traffic
You’ll also want to start acquiring new customers, because one of the main reasons to establish a presence away from Etsy is the stability that comes from diversified customer acquisition. You’ll want to make sure that you are getting traffic from all relevant sources—search engines (Google), blogs, partnerships, social media, online and offline contests, and more. To that end, you’ll want to educate yourself about traffic-acquiring techniques like search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), or pay-per-click advertising (PPC), social media marketing, and email marketing.
All of these methods have different advantages and disadvantages, and you’ll want to get involved with each to some degree. Some are more costly than others, while others are slower to produce, but a diversity of traffic sources is going to be the most stable for your business. Your skill set and how much time you can devote to this will determine whether you can manage your own marketing efforts or whether it is worth it to raise funds to get someone to set this up for you.
Growing the business
Once you have successfully made the transition to your own domain, you’ll want to look into different methods of growing and expanding the business. You may consider hiring outside help for marketing, accounting, or other areas, so that you can focus on doing what you do best—creating amazing products.
Mark Cerminaro is the chief revenue officer at RapidAdvance, a leader in alternative financing. Mark has spent his career advising business owners on investments and helping them access the capital they need to grow. Check out RapidAdvance’s funding solutions to help grow your small business.
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