Two Critical Considerations Before Building Your Own Off Etsy Website | Episode 160

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As you know by now, my team and I support and encourage a small handmade business structure that makes use of one marketplace and one autonomous off-Etsy website. 

Specifically, we recommend Etsy as the marketplace and Shopify as the platform for building your independent domain shop.

Whenever I speak about Shopify, inevitably, the question of other platforms comes up

“What about Wix?”
“What about Squarespace?” 

Today I want to answer that fully and in a meaningful way. Not just so you what my answer is but so that you understand why that is my answer.

First, there are two things you need to consider before building an autonomous, off Etsy website at all. 

The first consideration before building your own off Etsy website:  the future of your brand. 

Building your autonomous site is no small undertaking. It can be set up relatively quickly but the commitment is no small thing and neither is the existence of this standalone. It means a lot to have this eCommerce store, which is of course, why we want you to have it to begin with! It’s important! It’s a big deal!

But that is exactly why making the best decision early on is crucial. You don’t want to have a commitment and then have to undo it later. You don’t want to go to make a big important decision, put in all the work to build it out, and then find out it doesn’t do what you want or need it to do.

You want to consider the business you are building, not JUST the business you currently have. 

Right now, you might make 30 sales a month, but if your goal is to make 130 sales a month and have different offers, more inventory, more specialized listings or options on your site, THAT is what you want to build for. When you look at specs for platforms and capabilities, you want to make sure that the platform can support what you want to be doing in the future, not just what you do now.

You might not be thinking about payment plans today but if you would ever want to offer it, find out now if it’s something your platform contender supports. 

Try to think even more broadly here – look at other brand sites and see what layouts and functions they have and make a list of functions and features you want and like even if you think they don’t apply to you today.

The platform you build on should support these things so you can grow into it. Your site needs to grow with you. You do not want to find out in 1-2 years that the platform you chose early on no longer supports your business. It is a hassle to move and rebuild. And if your business is at a point where that would be necessary or ideal, then you certainly do not want that interruption.

The second consideration before building your own off Etsy website: you have to do your own marketing 100%

That sounds scary and intimidating but I think it is a good thing.

Is it hard? Yes. Sometimes it is.

Is it consistent? Not usually. No matter how consistent YOU are, the results will fluctuate.

Might it need things you wouldn’t do for Etsy, like run paid ads? Yes. But that’s okay because it’s NOT Etsy. That’s precisely why we want you to have it. Don’t let the fact that you have to market the website and direct your own traffic to it stop you.

It will NEVER be Etsy – Etsy has a different purpose. Together, Etsy and your own website, give you the best of both worlds. 

Now with those two things in mind, you can make a better decision about where to build your autonomous site.

We always suggest Shopify as the platform for building your own off Etsy website. Lots of reasons for that, not the least of which is that it can support the business you want to have. I know that without knowing specifically what kind of business or what size of business you want to have because that is what Shopify was built to do. 

I know it can support GROWTH because we have seen it in our own community, where people start and grow on Shopify, we have seen other big brands use Shopify successfully and we have seen TONS of people move to Shopify BECAUSE of growth, leaving behind other platforms. 

I know it works for people who aren’t ‘techy.’ I

know it’s a great option for people with big catalogs or who have lots of customizations and options.

We just know it works across the board.

Shopify was built to support eCommerce and solve eCommerce problems. Shopify can support product upselling, email marketing, shipping labels, integrations, and incredible customization! 

Making the investment in your own off Etsy website

This consideration will reach to budget as well. It’s important to be realistic with your budget but Shopify is about one dollar a day, I believe your business is worthy of that investment NOW, no matter what. Even before you’ve built it up and grown, if you want to be in business for several years, the value you invest in for ease of use and timed saved with Shopify is ENORMOUS and worth starting now. 

This is the sort of investment that will serve you year after year, unlike some of the other platforms where you might need to ditch later on. When you start AND grow somewhere that can support the business you’re building, your investment sticks with you. 

Even if the other option you are considering is free, your time is an investment and the interruption we spoke about earlier is something you definitely want to avoid.

With the knowledge in mind that you’ll have to put work into marketing this site, you want this site to be AS CONVERTABLE and easily customizable as possible. You want to be able to make necessary changes, easily.

I cannot tell you how many times we have consulted with a maker in business who was using a service or template on their standalone site who just learned about something they could be doing or implementing to increase conversion rate and then find out their platform doesn’t support it. You want to be able to add or subtract things to support a better environment for conversion, quickly without worrying you’ll break the rest of your site, without having to always get expert help.

Imagine you’re working really hard to get traffic to your site, possibly using affiliates or influencers, maybe even ads … the place you are sending that hard-earned traffic to needs to be as good as it can be!! It needs to keep people on the page, browsing products, getting questions answered, adding things to the cart, checking out, etc. All of that is going to be your responsibility now — on Etsy, Etsy has taken care of layout and check out — on your site, you have more freedom, but you also have to make the decisions yourself. (this is another reason we encourage Etsy optimization first — you’ll learn so much that you can bring over to your own build — what you love on Etsy and want to retain, what you wish you had but can’t… etc)

While many of the website builders these days are intuitive, many of them are restrictive and limited in ability – again, even if you don’t need every ability right now – you want to be ABLE to pull that lever if and when you are ready to. Options are key here. 

For us the best choice and our suggestion – the only answer as far as I see it – is Shopify. I will add one caveat: if you are very skilled in web development you might like WordPress but I would NOT ever suggest WordPress-based eCommerce to the average handmade business owner. There is no centralized support for WordPress and it does require more techy know-how than most people want to exert or learn, it is also much more fragile.

For more information on why we love Shopify, you can visit our blog at merriweathercouncilblog.com and search Shopify, or check the selected links in the show notes! 

Just remember, while I will sing the praises of Shopify forever and we have a lot of evidence it is the best choice for most small business owners long term, what I actually care about is that you make the best decision for you with accurate information. I’ve provided accurate information here today, if it leads you to a choice other than the one I’m suggesting, then I think that is still a win!

This episode is not sponsored by Shopify but if you want to give Shopify a go we do have a partner link you can use to start a free trial. You can also access our boosted start guide which will lead you through some of the initial hurdles you’ll come up against when setting up your Shopify so you can bypass them quickly and get to the good part.

Free Masterclass | The 4 Part Process to Unlocking the Unique Power of Etsy

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hello + welcome

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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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