Why to Avoid These Coupons in Your Etsy Shop or Handmade Business | Episode 147



If this is your first time joining us for an episode of The Merriweather Council Podcast,  well, you’re diving into the deep end of why you should avoid these coupons in your Etsy shop today.

I’m okay with it if you are!! Just a fair warning: this is one of my soapbox topics, and I get so fired up about this!

Today I am doing an extended rating of the coupon types makers in business tend to offer. I did a short version of this on TikTok, but 60 seconds was not quite long enough for all the many things I want to say. *smirk*

If you are currently offering any of these or more than one of these, please don’t feel bad! You might love these, and that’s entirely fine. If NOTHING else, I genuinely hope everything we do encourages you to build the business YOU want to run. If that includes doing something I’m not a fan of, so be it! I’m a bigger fan of you doing you than anything.

I’d rather you hear this perspective and decide for yourself what’s good than NOT hear it and figure out in a year from now that you actually don’t want to be offering these.

offering discounts and coupons on Etsy

For a long time, like literally since the dawn of man, I’ve been opposed to running frequent promotional sales and discounts.

 I just don’t think it’s effective for a small handmade business to offer discounts and coupons constantly.

I know, for sure, many makers are underpricing, to begin with – and while that is a problem I definitely want to help solve, I know there is a lot of mindset work that also goes into actually charging the correct prices. If you aren’t yet aware of actively setting the most accurate or ideal price for your product, then the least you can do is NOT discount it. (Janet from Paper and Spark and I have a free pricing class you can watch to learn if you need to adjust your prices and how to do it.)

leave the coupons and discounts to the big box stores

We live in a world full of Amazon Prime Days and big box stores that can offer steep discounts.

That’s fine – let them offer their steep discounts. That’s what they do. Small business wasn’t built for that. There are many times we can take cues from big companies, but this isn’t one of those times.

You aren’t Amazon, Target, or Walmart, and you don’t have to play by their rules. Amazon target and Walmart are competing against each other — you are not competing against them. Please remember that.

Small business is different

I believe that most small business owners want to amplify what makes them different and stand out – not offering discounts every week or for every basic thing is one way to do that. Bonus, it also keeps you more solvent and more profitable in your business.

Avoiding Etsy coupons and discounts

Most platforms and services offer sellers the ability to create coupons and run sales – these can be simple or more complex campaigns, but that point is there are many options. Lots of ways to provide discount codes and therefore, lots of opportunities to get swept up in implementing them.

I get it; I love to fiddle with my website and sales funnels and conversion tools, too. But this is not the way. Trust me; I  believe it’s not. So as I talk through these ratings, please keep your consumer self in mind; you KNOW how you behave as a buyer, don’t forget those insights as a business owner!

email opt-in coupon

First, I want to talk about the run-of-the-mill email opt-in coupon. We’ve all opted in for a newsletter just to get that discount code. WE ALL HAVE. And you know what? Sure, maybe that works for getting volume emails on your list; maybe it does, I don’t know. So why should you avoid these coupons in your Etsy shop?

On the surface, it sounds like a good idea. Maybe it is, perhaps it DOES work, but it does more than that: it devalues your work before people have even had the chance to consider paying full price for it, and now, they won’t.

Even if they never use that coupon code – they now know they don’t have to pay full price. And where there is one coupon, there are usually more coming. So it devalues the work Now AND, in some ways, delays a purchase because now people know you’ll discount, so why pay full price for anything ever?

I also want you to consider that you’ve likely put a lot of effort into getting people to your links; if someone has gotten to your link, after all that work, WHY on earth would you want to give them the most effortless way NOT to pay full price?

I just don’t get the logic – for small handmade business owners, leave this one out. I think it does more harm long term than it does short term good. If someone’s first order is discounted, they are less likely to pay full price in the future. I give it a 3/10.

cart abandon coupon

Next, let’s talk about the cart abandon coupon. I am a big fan of a cart abandon email –  a soft reminder about things added to a cart and left there. I think that’s a sold idea. I’ve done it myself. So why should you avoid these coupons in your Etsy shop?

The thing we want people to do is to add items to their cart at full price. And it’s very common for people to collect things in their cart and buy them later – I do it! So again, remember your consumer self. When we send abandon cart coupons, all it does is train people to wait for coupons.

In both of these cases, we are making conversions at a discount ONLY – do you want to cultivate a customer base full of people who will only buy with a discount code? Probably not.

Your ideal customers do not need coupons and sales to buy from you. I think we can all agree, that is not a quality of an ideal customer. There is nothing wrong with having people in your audience who will only buy at a discount – but we don’t want to go out of our way to nurture those people or to nurture an audience that is MAJORITY those people.

You can get into dangerous territory by offering too many coupons. Instead, think about your business – in its ideal form, long term.

Alright, let’s keep it moving!

Favorite listing coupon

My least favorite. This one is at the bottom of the list. So not cool with this. Literally what? Why?

Rewarding people for the most basic behavior AND leading with a discount? No.  Most of us don’t like it when people send us messages and ask for discounts for no reason — so stop giving discounts for no reason.

We have to behave in accordance with the way we want people to treat us. Set the example. UGH anyway, -20/10

This one, SIGH.  I don’t know who’s idea this was—the Immediate second-order coupon. That is the one that triggers upon purchase. You just placed an order at full price; you don’t even have it yet but can reorder it at a discount? So weird to me. It doesn’t give me a good vibe. I give it a 1/10.

there are better ways to market your creations

There are SO MANY incredible, powerful and effective, authentic ways to market your products to people who will happily pay full price. (We can teach them to you in The Council!) But, unfortunately, when the energy shifts to coupons and sales, the impact isn’t as positive.

One of the things we LOVE to do in the council is brainstorm creative alternatives to coupons – there ARE other ways to get opt-ins and sales and run effective promotions. There are! I PROMISE YOU.

 I also have found that constantly selling at a discount doesn’t do much for your overall business confidence. It feels good to make sales for sure. Still, it’s better to be profitable and sustainable, so please, if you are offering any enduring coupons, consider the impact in terms of profit especially!

There is a time and a place for coupons and promotional sales. So focus on that big picture.

Focus on understanding the experience and implications that your actions create for customers NOW AND into the future.

Remember: it’s okay and normal to have loyal customers who purchase at a discount only, but you don’t want to cultivate an entire audience of people like that. You want ideal customers, and a trait of everyone’s ideal customer is that they willingly and happily pay full price and do not need a discount to convert. I hope this has helped you understand why you should avoid these coupons in your Etsy shop.

Again, if you are offering any of these, don’t feel bad; just consider the things I’ve mentioned here and see how you feel! No wrong choices, just outcomes of those choices.

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*This post is written and published by The Merriweather Council. The Merriweather Council is not affiliated with Etsy Inc. Etsy is a trademark of Etsy Inc. We write about Etsy, from our own experiences, not for Etsy.


hello + welcome

Oh, hi! Welcome to The Merriweather Council. I’m Danielle and I am a maker in business and mentor to other makers in business. I teach you how to turn your crafty tendencies into profits!

Oh, I’m also really into crafts, boy bands + iced coffee. Email me anytime to say hello or send cute Backstreet Boy videos or dog pictures .. or whatever! danielle (at) merriweathercouncil.com Thanks for stopping by.

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