Podcast Episode 19: Etsy vs Shopify: Which platform should you use?Dec 16, 2021
Hey hey guys! Welcome back to the show this week! Golly we are sure making our way swiftly through the month of December, aren’t we?
Do you have all of your holiday shopping done?? Over the past week I’m getting allll the emails from retailers saying, you know, “last day to order for shipping in time for Christmas!”
It’s sure gotten interesting with shipping times--- as the powers that be anticipated. So hopefully you are seeing good turn around times and not having too much trouble getting your Etsy orders out the door. I’m rooting for you! Home stretch, guys! Don’t be shy with the vacation mode lolll! Or at least deactivating products that take extra long to get out the door. 😊
So today we are talking about a topic that I get asked about A LOT. And it’s an excellent question. Many of you want to know if Etsy is better than Shopify (or some other form of ecommerce website that you personally own)—and we are going to tackle that subject in detail today.
Real quick, let’s break down the difference for anyone who might not know--- so--- Etsy is considered a marketplace site. Just like Amazon but with a different clientele. It’s the online version of going to a craft fair and setting up your own stall, and selling your products to the shoppers that come through. It’s not your job to host the fair, or tell people about it, and get visitors to come through and shop. The craft fair provides the space and the shoppers--- you just bring your stuff to sell. It’s easy, pretty quick, lower risk and low barrier to entry for you.
That’s Etsy—you can jump on the site, create your own shop, and Etsy provides the space to sell, takes the payments, and provides the traffic and shoppers who will buy from you--- so long as you:
- Have products people want to buy right now
- Title your products with the same words that shoppers would use to describe it
- Have photos that make your product look inviting
- Price your products fairly for what it is or in comparison to the other shops
- Provide a turn around time that is reasonable
This is the major PRO of using Etsy over your own site. We’ll talk about some cons later—but the plug and play nature of a marketplace is ideal for a small business.
So Etsy is a marketplace site where they send you the traffic….
Shopify—or any site you create your store on as an individual site-- is simply called an ecommerce site.
Shopify is excellent because they provide so much of the basic infrastructure for you to sell online—but you could build ecommerce into other sites like wordpress, or wix, or any site where you pay for the hosting. (Can you tell just from that that it’s a lot more technical than just putting a shop up on Etsy? LOL)
There are tons of benefits to this--- but to have your own site will require more technical skills, more graphic design skills, you will have to build the shop, and you will have to find the shoppers on the internet, get them to come by your shop, compel them to buy, take the payment, and so on. And I would argue—the hardest part is finding the shoppers and getting them to come to your shop. This will mean either you build a social media following, have spectacular SEO, work with influencers, or maybe a combo of all three.
That’s your basic break down of the Etsy vs Shopify.
If you want my basic answer to which is better--- here’s what I think.
When you are brand new, on a smaller budget, don’t know your way around ecommerce, and especially--- don’t know a lot about marketing--- Etsy is 100% the place to start. It’s easy. You can get experience. You will learn SO MUCH!
BUT. If you want a long term business that will grow and that you want to depend on--- you ultimately need to move towards a Shopify site or your own ecommerce store of some kind.
So the bottom line is--- I think BOTH are best—depending on where you’re at on your journey as an entrepreneur. That’s what I think!
Now, for the rest of the podcast today, we’ll talk through some different pros and cons of each.
1) What does Etsy cost vs Shopify?
This is as of December of 2021. These things can and will change so do your research if you’re tuning in at a later date.
It does not cost anything up front to create an Etsy shop. You can build it for free. The way they work is that Etsy costs 20 cents for each listing. So—to put a product up for sale is going to cost 20 cents. That listing will also expire after 4 months and it will cost 20 cents to renew it.
Then, once a sale is made, Etsy will take 5% of that sale as a transaction fee. That’s their cut for providing the marketplace.
There are also payment processing fees which vary by country (or more specifically the location of your bank account). It’s covering the actual cost of running the financial transaction. You’d have something similar in ecommerce called merchant services fees.
If you’re in the United States, the payment processing fees on Etsy are 3% of the total plus 25 cents. It pays the company that creates the money transfer from buyer to seller.
Shopify has different payment plans based on the level of business you want to conduct—but the basic plan will cost you $29/month. They do have a free trial which is nice.
That plan has a transaction fee of 2.9% + 30 cents for each purchase. Those numbers go down if you upgrade to a higher monthly plan.
There are not listing fees for Shopify—however something you should account for is that you may want to add plug-ins to your site and they can cost extra each month.
A plug in is like an add on feature to help your site perform better or get you more sales. For example, you’ll most likely want to have a plug-in for building an email list. You might add one that creates a pop-up message on your site, there are all kinds of bells and whistles and some of them will cost extra.
I wouldn’t begin to suggest that Shopify nickels and dimes you—I don’t think they do at all. It’s actually amazing that they provide a space where you can integrate other services into the site they provide where you can make your store exactly what you want it to be.
So in summary--- in the beginning, Shopify is going to cost you more—in up front investment, in time launching it—and then you still have the challenge of getting shoppers to your site.
Etsy is easier and cheaper for that initial entry point.
But as you grow--- Shopify will be far more cost effective.
Etsy Fees: https://help.etsy.com/hc/en-us/articles/360035902374-Etsy-Fee-Basics?segment=selling
Shopify Fees: https://www.shopify.com/pricing
2) Which one is easier to set up?
A LOT of my ecourse students and podcast listeners I talk to are at least a bit intimidated by the tech aspect of setting up a store. And that’s an important consideration for you as you compare Etsy and your own site like Shopify.
I will say--- Shopify has to be the EASIEST ecommerce platform I’ve ever seen if you want a stand along site. They make it SO much easier than Wordpress, or building a site from scratch. I do think the average person who finds Etsy easy to set up could build a Shopify site on their own.
BUT the bottom line is you will be dealing with a lot more graphic design, app integrations, URL setup, and just general tech than an Etsy shop requires.
If that feels overwhelming or you know you’ll really need to hire someone to take that step, then Etsy would for sure be an easier place to get started.
3) Vacation mode: do you want or need flexibility?
Another consideration is whether or not you want to run your business part time or full time or seasonally? What kind of flexibility does your life require? What would happen if you wanted to take a family vacation or needed time off for illness?
Etsy has a Vacation Mode feature so that you can put your shop “on vacation” when you want or need a break, everything stays exactly in place. It’s literally the flip of a switch. This is a benefit of being a part of a marketplace.
If you want to learn more about Vacation Mode and how it affects your shop—you can check out my Podcast episode 3 for the full run down. A lot of people think it hurts your shop and so I wanted to clear the air about that for you. The episode is linked down in the shownotes for you to grab if you’re curious.
When you run your own site, taking breaks isn’t a straightforward. Certainly, you’ll have more flexibility once you can hire help—but for most of us, at least in the beginning, we are soloprenuers and we wear allllll the hats!
Shopify, in contrast, doesn’t have a vacation setting. There are some work arounds--- you can change your website to a password protected site—so no one can visit unless they have the password. But I have to wonder how that might affect a shopper’s feeling about trying again in the future?
Shopify also has a “pause store” feature however it’s not available to all sellers. And you literally have to change your membership status with Shopify – so it’s definitely not the flip of a switch that Etsy is.
Just something to think about! You’ve gotta take your whole life panoramic into consideration with this!
4) Do you know how to market your products from ground zero?
Ok if you’re multi-tasking, now is for sure the time to come back to me! Hahaha! This is by far the NUMBER 1 most important thing to consider if you’re just getting started.
When I first started my sign shop--- I had a growing blog (probably 20k pageviews a month) with a targeting audience that would love my signs. And so I actually started my sign shop on my WordPress blog. I hired a web developer to enhance my site and add the WooCommerce framework so I could accept sales and have a shopping cart.
I had a Facebook page with over 20k people and other social media sites with followers too.
I thought I was set. I thought I had all the ingredients to successfully sell my signs and I could hit the ground running.
But guess what happened?
Absolutely CRICKETS. I maybe made 3 sales in 3 months.
And the reason was that I didn’t know how to market. I had some decent traffic and followers but they actually weren’t the right ones. They were visiting my site from Pinterest to read about parenting or marriage or spiritual growth. They didn’t even click over to the sign shop.
So what did I do? I launched an Etsy shop. And slowly started making more and more sales. I studied my butt off to master my listings and my keywords. And within 12 months I was making a full-time income on Etsy.
The major question you need to ask yourself is--- do I know EXACTLY how to market these products without a marketplace? Do I have an engaged audience on social media or know SEO like a BOSS or have a great email list I can leverage or know how to work with influencers to market to their audiences?
OR—am I very ok to go super slow, learn as I go, and I’ll get there when I get there.
If you don’t know exactly what you’re doing with marketing (or have plenty of time and patience to figure it out)—then Etsy is 100% the best place to start. Learn some stuff. Earn some money as you go.
Just because you start on Etsy doesn’t mean you can’t grow to your own site down the road. Earn as you learn, baby!
5) What do you actually own?
Ok so here is one of the biggest selling points for having your own site like Spotify: YOU OWN IT.
Everyday in the Etsy forums I hear about shops—new and old being shut down by Etsy. It can happen without notice or explanation. The insinuation is that they broke some form of the community rules--- and I get that (obviously we want the rules enforced to protect everyone)--- but I’ve heard plenty of stories of people who have successfully run their shops for years, didn’t change anything, and got shut down out of the blue.
Why? Because Etsy owns the playground and they get to decide the rules. So it does come with a risk involved and my best advice for you—especially as your business starts to grow is: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!
When you have your own hosted website or Shopify store--- it’s yours! Our world has gone a bit wonky—but in theory, no one can shut down your website if you’re not breaking the law or causing harm.
The same goes for an email list. That—you for sure—own.
And in fact--- as soon as you start building your Etsy shop—you should start building your email list. You don’t have to have a website. Go jump on MailChimp—they have a free version—and you can build everything you need right there.
Then you can great a coupon code for shoppers that join your list. Put it in your shop announcement, about section, inside your listing descriptions, you could even buy an easy to remember URL—point it to your email list landing page—and put the URL in your photo gallery to capture even more shoppers!
You just need to nurture that email list with a message 1-4x each month (consistency is more important than how many emails you send!)—and that puppy is yours!
If your Etsy shop gets shut down, you still have your list! You can keep reaching out to them and direct them to your new Shopify site once it’s in place!
6) So---What is the best strategy?
Ultimately, the very best thing you can do is to use both Etsy AND Shopify if you’re trying to build a long-term business.
If this is just a hobby, you will not depend on the income, you want to keep it simple—just stick with Etsy. It will be hassle free and if you get shut down, no big deal.
BUT if you have bigger goals and you’re just getting started with your small business, and you’re new to selling online— here’s what I want you to do:
Start your Etsy shop first. Learn some SEO. Grab my ecourse and sharpen your skills! You’ll learn about photography and how to stand out in the feed. I’ll teach you how to set up your listings, what search terms you should use, and how to compete in your niche. (In fact—grab it now before the price goes up in the New Year! It’s still at the discounted launch rate—so grab it! It’s linked in the shownotes or you can pop over to HowtoSellYourStuff.com and look at the store. It’s called “Listings that Sell.” Get some sales.)
So get yourself launched and start learning. Find out what your best sellers are. As soon as possible, start building an email list with those strategies I talked about earlier in #5. Remember—you can 100% do this without your own website!
Then, once you’re up and established—you’ve got a couple hundred sales or so (you’ll know when the time is right)—start creating your own site. Then you can use your Etsy shop and email list to start driving traffic that way.
And at some point you can decide (so long as Etsy doesn’t decide for you) – does it make sense to keep selling on both? Or is your own site busy enough that it makes more sense to close the Etsy shop. This is what I recommend. It’s a hybrid solution! And it’s your best bet for leveraging the best of both worlds and covering your rear end!
So there you have it! I hope you took away a bunch of ahas and have a lot more clarity on how to structure your business.
Just remember--- ultimately Etsy isn’t your business. Even your website isn’t your business. They’re both tools for executing your business. And you should leverage the advantages of both!
Have a great week and I’ll catch you next time!
Do you have a product to sell but you’re not sure if you should use Etsy or Shopify for your store? Today we’re talking about all the pros and cons of both platforms. Listen in to hear the strategy that I recommend for brand new makers.
**“How to Sell Your Stuff on Etsy” is not affiliated with or endorsed by Etsy.com
STUFF I MENTIONED:
Etsy Fees: https://help.etsy.com/hc/en-us/articles/360035902374-Etsy-Fee-Basics?segment=selling
Shopify Fees: https://www.shopify.com/pricing
Podcast Episode #3: Will using Etsy’s vacation mode hurt my shop? https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/blog/podcast-episode-3-will-using-etsy-s-vacation-mode-hurt-my-shop
LISTINGS THAT SELL eCOURSE: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/offers/Xo52uqVF
FREE ETSY MASTERCLASS: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/masterclass
FREE PDF DOWNLOAD: “4 Strategies I Used to Grow My Etsy Shop from $25 to $6000k/month”: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/site/4-strategies-opt-in
Grab my eCourse “Listings that Sell” and learn how to skyrocket your Etsy business:
Find me on Instagram and TikTok @HowtoSellYourStuff
HOW TO SELL YOUR STUFF WEBSITE: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/
HOW TO SELL YOUR STUFF INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/howtosellyourstuff/
HOW TO SELL YOUR STUFF SHOWNOTES: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/blog/etsy-vs-shopify
Today’s Sponsor is “Perfecting Pinterest” by Sophia Lee. An ecourse that will show you exactly how to use Pinterest to get a ton more views on your Etsy listings: Perfecting Pinterest: https://bysophialee.teachable.com/courses/perfecting-pinterest?affcode=699001_4rutj5q9
*Some of the links above are affiliate links which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. You can see my affiliate disclosure here: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/affiliate-disclosure
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