Every business owner who uses Etsy should also build their own branded domain eCommerce shop. Full stop. That is one of the VERY FEW must-do things that universally applies.
I say things like that a lot, in a variety of ways. I believe it is my thesis statement on business.
Recently, I shared both of those sentiments on Instagram and TikTok. Some people were entirely on board with it, and others asked me to explain it more. So if you were one of those people who asked me to explain it more, this episode is for you!
Side Hustle or full time gig
As you know, the Merriweather Council provides educational resources and support to makers who want to turn their crafty tendencies into profits. We strive to support sellers as they work toward their unique goals and grow into their vision and mission. Those goals, dreams, and missions are different for everyone, and we hope to empower sellers to make decisions that bring them closer to those unique goals they have for themselves no matter how audacious, and bold they may seem or how modest they are.
Some people genuinely do want to sell On Etsy as a side hustle. They don’t want to be full-time business owners, that’s entirely fine. We love Etsy. We think it’s an incredible tool, and we believe that its very existence has paved the way for so many sellers whether they utilize the platform or not. Etsy’s influence cannot be overstated; they are a massive player in the handmade community.
No matter what level of income you use Etsy for, though, you should treat it as a business. Charge appropriately, provide customer service, create a branded domain etc. It’s your choice if you want to do business only on Etsy or not – but if you DO see yourself as a full-time business owner, it is important to grow beyond Etsy and having your own branded domain shop in addition to Etsy is one of the very few apply-to-all things you must do.
When we talk about growing a business that sustains for the long term and helps you build your legacy, we fully believe you need more than just an Etsy shop. That’s where a branded domain steps in.
You probably wouldn’t think of running a business only through Instagram solely. You could probably see all sorts of issues with that. I do see Instagram as being a much more volatile platform than Etsy. Also, it is free, which inherently makes it less reliable. When you are selling on Etsy, you are paying something, so these aren’t very comparable in terms of how they operate as platforms. However, the concept is the same: you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. Both of these are tools you use to grow something more significant.
instagram is a tool
Using Instagram as a tool to drive traffic and engage people in your brand makes sense. That’s what you want to do. To be clear: you would NOT want to just accumulate a million followers on Instagram who have no other purpose or way to connect with you outside of Instagram. All the same, is true for Etsy. Bonus, you can also sell to them a little more streamlined there.
Using Instagram for the sake of amassing lots of followers on Instagram is fine and dandy if you want people to see photos you took or watch videos you make and you do not care about the stability of your brand presence or if you are not a business owner with a brand at all.
Give instagram a purpose
For business owners, though, the approach to Instagram has to be different from your average person. It’s not enough to grow a following on Instagram if you want to build a sustainable business. The Instagram audience needs to have a purpose. If you’re going to build a brand and business, Instagram should be helping you reach your goals surrounding that — it shouldn’t be your goal. Same with Etsy. It’s incredible that Etsy can do two things at once for you: generate sales and help accelerate your brand’s visibility. But that momentum should come back to your business as a whole, not just your Etsy shop.
Etsy and Instagram are powerful tools when used properly.
For handmade business owners, we think Etsy is MORE powerful than Instagram.
How will you use Etsy
If you are only after a side hustle gig that you don’t see yourself maintaining long term, then maybe selling only on Etsy is sufficient for you! And that’s great. You can learn how to use Etsy well and max that out. But if you want to build a stable and long term business, you’ll want to use Etsy to help build that – not be that.
Be proactive on platforms like Etsy
You can replace Etsy/ Instagram with anything — TikTok, for example — how many times has TikTok been on the chopping block in 2020? Some people do not have audiences outside of TikTok. Some people were scrambling to get their TikTok audience off of TikTok due to the impending doom. With a branded domain you don’t have to worry about these things happening.
Behave that way from now: if you don’t own it, use it to your advantage as best you can so that all the time you spend there is for something bigger that benefits you long term — so that if and when the day comes that your Etsy, Instagram/ TikTok isn’t a thing anymore, either by your own choice, government mandate, or whatever the case may be, your experience there was a PART of your business, not your entire ‘business’ gone in a flash.
Having an Etsy shop as part of your business is a brilliant move. Having a branded domain shop as part of your business is an essential move.
Of course, the question you’ll have next is: how do I build that, and how do I market it and get people to shop there?
Great question; I’m so glad you asked it.
First, I will remind you that we always recommend Shopify as the website host and builder!
Next, I will invite you to check out the bonus episode of The Merriweather Council podcast all about conversion rate. This is a special episode that you have to request access to so click here to do that now!