Is Selling On Etsy Worth It? Learn Why It’s A Bad Idea

Is selling on Etsy worth it?

Etsy is a marketplace for do-it-yourself and handmade goods. Similar to Ebay, Etsy provides an easy way for talented crafters and artists to sell online by way of an Etsy store.

But is selling on Etsy worth it? The truth is that Etsy stores are at a major disadvantage when it comes to selling and marketing goods to the end customer compared to shops that own their own website and domain.

Read on to learn the pros and cons of selling Etsy, how to get started and when to transition to your own online store.

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What Is Etsy?


Etsy is an online marketplace that focuses on handmade or vintage goods. Almost every product sold on Etsy falls under the category of arts & crafts, jewelry and household goods and the platform is best known for its unique selection of handcrafted items, vintage goods, and craft supplies.

Etsy allows sellers to set up individual online shops to sell their products, and provides a secure platform for transactions, making it a popular choice for small businesses and independent creators.

What Can You Sell On Etsy?

Etsy Products

The main types of items you can sell on Etsy are handmade goods, vintage items and craft supplies.

Anyone can open an Etsy seller account with little or no experience. However, there are many rules for selling on Etsy that must be followed or else you risk getting your account suspended.

Here are the rules for what you are allowed to sell on Etsy.

  • Handmade Goods: All handmade items must be either made or designed by you. Etsy store owners are permitted to sell “produced goods” under certain conditions.

    If you work with anyone who helps you make your goods, you must disclose their name in your listings as well as in your “About” page.

  • Vintage Items: If you sell vintage items, they must be at least 20 years old.
  • Craft Supplies: You are allowed to sell craft supplies as long as the material’s primary purpose is for use in the creation of an item or special occasion.

Here’s a list of prohibited items that can not be sold on Etsy

  • Any medical drug or paraphernalia, alcohol and tobacco are not permitted.
  • Animal products and human remains can not be sold.
  • Any weapon or dangerous item can not be sold including hazardous materials.
  • Any products that promote hatred are not allowed.
  • Any item that is illegal can not be sold.
  • Pornography and mature content is not allowed.
  • Any item that is violent or promotes violence can not be listed.
  • Any product that violates a trademark or intellectual property will result in a suspension.
  • Rentals or services are prohibited.
  • Metaphysical services or items are prohibited.

You are also prohibited from reselling other people’s goods on Etsy where reselling is defined as any item that you were not involved in designing or producing.

How Much Does It Cost To Sell On Etsy?

Etsy Fees

Joining and starting an Etsy store is 100% free. However, Etsy charges a 20 cent listing fee and a 6.5% transaction fee for selling your products. With credit card processing and advertising, Etsy’s fees account for between 9.5-24.5% of your revenue on the platform.

Here’s a summary of Etsy store fees:

  • You pay $.20 to list an item on Etsy. Listings are active for 4 months or until an item sells
  • You get charged a 6.5% transaction fee
  • You pay a 3% + $.25 payment processing fee
  • You may also have to pay a 15% offsite ads fee depending on whether your sale was the result of one of Etsy’s paid ad placements.

There are no monthly fees and Etsy will make automatic deposits into your account when you make a sale.

Who Pays For Shipping On Etsy?

The buyer is responsible for paying for all shipping costs on the Etsy platform. However, the seller is responsible for shipping their sold items to the end customer.

The cheapest way to ship when selling on Etsy is USPS First Class mail or UPS Ground or FedEx Ground depending on the size and weight of the item.

How To Sell On Etsy Step By Step

How To Sell On Etsy

Selling on Etsy requires 9 basic steps as outlined below.

Step 1: Decide What to Sell

Decide what type of products you want to sell. You have the freedom to sell any product that you want as long you meet Etsy’s product guidelines.

To research what products sell the best, consider using Etsy research software such as Everbee.

Step 2: Create an Etsy Account

Go to, click on the “Sell on Etsy” button, and click on “Open Your Etsy Shop”. Then, register for a free account.

You’ll need to provide an email address, full name, and password. Etsy will then ask you a series of questions that will help guide you through the setup process which includes deciding on a language, your country and your shop currency.

Step 3: Name Your Shop

Choose a unique and meaningful shop name. It should reflect your brand and products well. Your shop name cannot be more than 20 characters and shouldn’t have spaces or punctuation.

Step 4: Stock Your Shop

It’s time to list your products. For each product, you need high-quality photos, a clear and detailed title, an in-depth description, a set price, a shipping method, and product category and type.

Also, you must specify the processing time it will take you to prepare an item for shipment.

Step 5: Set Up Payment Method

Select the payment methods you’d like to offer in your shop. Etsy Payments allows sellers to accept multiple forms of payment, like credit and debit cards, Etsy gift cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.

Step 6: Set Up Billing

Enter a valid credit card for any selling fees you may incur. Depending upon your bank and country, you may need to enter your bank details as well.

Step 7: Open Your Shop

Finally, click on “Open Your Shop”. Now, your shop is ready for customers.

Step 8: Market Your Shop

Use social media, blogging, word of mouth, and other marketing strategies to get the word out about your shop. You might also consider utilizing Etsy’s promotional tools, like coupons and sales.

Step 9: Provide Excellent Customer Service

Respond quickly to customer inquiries, ship items on time, and resolve any issues promptly. Positive customer reviews can help attract more customers.

Why Etsy Is Good

Here are the main advantages of selling on Etsy.

  • Etsy stores are free and easy to set up. Creating an Etsy shop takes just a few minutes and is 100% free.
  • Etsy has a large built in audience of buyers that specifically seeks out unique, handmade, and vintage items.
  • Etsy fees are low compared to other marketplaces. Etsy only charge 6.5% in selling fees compared to selling on Amazon and selling on Walmart at 15%.
  • Etsy products show up in Google searches. Etsy’s website has a strong domain authority which helps your products appear in the search engine results.
  • Etsy allows you to sell digital products. Unlike other marketplaces, Etsy gives you the freedom sell downloadables, templates and more.

Why Etsy Is Bad

While selling on Etsy can seem attractive at first, here are the main disadvantages.

  • Etsy stores can not scale easily
  • Etsy store sales are limited to only Etsy customers
  • Etsy stores have less credibility
  • You can not create a brand with an Etsy store
  • You don’t own your customer base
  • You are completely at the mercy of Etsy’s rules and policies

Etsy Stores Can Not Scale

Etsy scale

The bulk of Etsy’s listings are handmade goods and their rules are extremely restrictive.

The problem with having to hand make your own goods for sale is that you can only produce so many products in any given day. Basically, you are limited by your own production facilities.

Let’s say you want to make $100K of profit per year selling a $20 product and your margins are 66%.

This means that you need to sell ($100K * 1/.66) / 20 = 7500 units in a year or 7500 / 365 = 20 units per day.

If you are hand making all of your goods and they each take 1 hour to make, producing 20 units per day by hand is going to be a challenge unless you have your own production facilities in place!

You also have to deal with administrative tasks like bookkeeping, customer service and shipping!

Etsy stores simply can not scale in the limited time that you have because you can not have your goods mass produced.

Your Etsy Store Limits Your Sales To Only Etsy Clients

Etsy Marketshare

In terms of ecommerce market share, Etsy is tiny. Etsy’s current market share is only 0.22%. In 2022, Etsy only generated $2.56 billion dollars in marketplace revenue. By comparison, Amazon made 525 billion dollars!

While Etsy has an installed base that will drive traffic to your listings, the Etsy marketplace is minuscule when compared to Amazon and Google.

When you sell on Etsy, you will only reach other Etsy shoppers.

Etsy Stores Have Less Credibility

Side Hustle

Many people perceive Etsy stores to be unprofessional and run by an individual trying to make a little money on the side.

In other words, most shoppers consider most Etsy stores to be side hustles and not full time endeavors.

After all, if a shop owner is willing to put up a quality website, it means that they are serious about their business.

Having your own online store front also makes a business look legitimate and provides peace of mind when it comes to customer service and satisfaction.

Die hard Etsy shoppers may disagree with me, but the market share numbers do not lie.

You Can Not Create A Brand With An Etsy Store


There is a lot of rampant copying of product descriptions because it’s so easy to do.

The result is that a whole bunch of other product listings will look and sound exactly like yours.

While it’s true that getting plagiarized can still happen if you have your own website, it’s infinitely easier and more likely to happen on Etsy because all of the shops are within the same marketplace.

The other problem is that the format of all Etsy stores look the same and feel the same. Sure, you can customize your store header a little bit but in the end, almost every single Etsy shop looks identical which makes it hard for you to stand out in the crowd of other users.

Another issue is that Etsy’s shopping format makes it very easy for consumers to comparison shop your products with other listings. With heavy comparison shopping, most of the consumer’s attention is on price as opposed to quality.

Here’s a quote from a frustrated Etsy user illustrating how hard it is to make your listing more visible.

As you already know there is a problem getting your items seen on etsy these days. With the batch loading system and the increase in the number of shops.. it makes it difficult to get views.

The scenario goes like this… you list/renew one item and another shop batch loads 30 items right after yours… your item then gets sent to the 3rd page… not a good place to be for views.

This illustrates that as the number of Etsy users continues to grow, you will have a much harder time getting exposure for your goods.

It’s Hard To Get Press With An Etsy Store


To build a brand, it helps to get mentioned by the press. But magazines and catalogs prefer to refer readers to actual stores instead of Etsy.


It’s because it’s difficult to tell readers how to find an individual’s Etsy shop. Instead of a nice concise domain or brand to refer to, they are forced to link to a long Etsy branded URL or tell people to go on Etsy and perform a search.

This is why magazine editors and buyers rarely feature Etsy products. The vast majority of Etsy stores are not considered legitimate brands.

You Don’t Own Your Customer Base


According to Bain and Company, a 5% increase in retention rate can result in 75% more in sales. And repeat purchasers are a key component to the success of any ecommerce store.

Unfortunately, Etsy does not allow you add buyers to an email list or utilize an email marketing provider like Klaviyo. Also, you can not communicate with buyers after a purchase.

As a result, every sale that you make is a one off sale with limited possibilities of a repeat purchase.

Etsy greatly limits your sales potential due to low lifetime order values.

You Are Completely At The Mercy Of Etsy


A similar site to Etsy called Artfire abruptly decided to cancel all of their basic accounts. And what was the result? Many shopowners were unexpectedly kicked off the platform without much warning.

Here’s a quote from one Artfire user who was lucky that he hadn’t invested too much time yet.

Just found out that Artfire is discontinuing all of their basic accounts… really frustrating after spending two days setting up my shop over there to try it out as a second venue. Anyone else know of this? Glad I found out before dedicating yet another day to making more changes I had planned. Heads up everyone!

The truth is that companies like Etsy, Ebay and Artfire don’t really care about you. They care about making money for themselves. So when times are tough, they are going to do whatever it takes to stay profitable.

What are the implications for you? At a moments notice, Etsy could raise their fees dramatically and put you out of business. It doesn’t matter how much work you put into your store.

It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve made in the past. All of your hard work could be flushed down the drain because of factors outside of your control.

Steps To Move From Your Etsy Shop To Your Own eCommerce Store

Here are the steps you can take to move from an Etsy business to your own store.

  • Planning: Decide what eCommerce platform you’re going to use for your store. There are several options available such as Shopify, WooCommerce (if you have a WordPress site), BigCommerce, Magento, etc. Each platform has its own pros and cons, so choose based on your needs and budget.
  • Domain Purchase: Purchase a domain name for your new store if you don’t have one already. This domain should be easy to remember and contain your brand name.
  • Website Design and Setup: Depending on the eCommerce platform you choose, you’ll have to setup your website. This may involve choosing a theme, customizing it to fit your brand, setting up payment and shipping methods, and creating necessary pages like ‘About Us’, ‘Contact’, ‘Terms & Conditions’, ‘Privacy Policy’, etc.
  • Product Migration: Begin migrating your product listings from Etsy to your new eCommerce store. Depending on the number of products, this can be a time-consuming process. Include detailed descriptions, prices, and high-quality images.
  • Inventory Management: Set up an inventory management system. Many eCommerce platforms offer this feature. This will help you keep track of your stock levels and sales.
  • Setting Up Analytics: Incorporate Google Analytics or similar tools into your website. This will help you monitor your site’s performance and understand customer behavior.
  • Test Everything: Before you officially launch, make sure everything works perfectly. Test your shopping cart, checkout process, and customer service contact points.
  • Marketing and SEO: Start marketing your new site through social media, email newsletters, PPC advertising, etc. You can also optimize your new site for search engines. This might involve keyword research and implementation, creating quality content, etc.

Is Selling On Etsy Worth It?

Selling on Etsy is worth it if you want a quick and easy way to list your handmade products online to a large audience of buyers.

But ultimately, you need to ask yourself why you are building up a shop that is controlled by someone else.

Do you want to be in control of your own business and costs?

The only way to do this is start your own ecommerce store. So stop relying on the Etsys, the Ebays and the Artfires. These sites are good for getting your feet wet but will prevent you from ever growing.

I’m not saying that you should abruptly stop using Etsy.

Instead, you should plan on transitioning your Etsy store to a model where you call the shots and are in control of your own destiny.

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About Steve Chou

Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at

His blog,, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times,  Entrepreneur and MSNBC.  

He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.

In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts

To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store,, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.  

Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses. 

140 thoughts on “Is Selling On Etsy Worth It? Learn Why It’s A Bad Idea”

  1. Jennifer Araya says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m a full-time artisan and Etsy seller who has been thinking for many months now about moving away from Etsy as my main platform. My views and sales this past month have been much worse than in the past. That, combined with your article above, has given me the incentive I needed to make the leap to opening my own store. I’ve scheduled a meeting tomorrow with my web developer (who is also, conveniently, my husband), and we’ll get the development of my online store underway. I can’t wait to see all my items beautifully displayed in my own store, not just in Etsy’s impersonal interface.

    1. Emma says:

      Hi, I love the products on Etsy. I am a Wiccan. I find it very difficult to find these products that i found on etsy. If you start off etsy how do i find your products?

      1. Emma says:

        Honestly when i found etsy it was like a dream come true. Everything i try n find for my religion on the net never can send to Australia. I want to know without etsy how do we find this beautiful adornments. Crystals to wands to everything is amazing. I think etsy should do better marketing. I have been searching for this stuff for 20yrs over n I just found etsy! I felt so lucky! There has to be a place you can advertise so us buyers can find your beautiful products.
        Without taking half your earnings.

      2. Melanie the Crone says:

        We are the and sell Wiccan supplies. We have our own website! Visit and take a peek!

  2. Jim Juris says:

    With all due respect I have to disagree with you when it comes to selling on Artfire. I have two Pro studios on Artfire and I am a very strong supporter of Artfire. I also have two websites.

    For those people who have never sold any products online I feel that the best way to start out is to sell on Artfire. Although I started out selling online back in 2002 by creating my own website the time that it takes to get set up creating your own website, optimizing it for the search engines (SEO), researching about shopping carts and installing a shopping cart is much greater than the time that it takes to start selling on Artfire.

    Selling on Artfire is much cheaper too. The current price (until August 15, 2011) to sell on Artfire is only $9.95. As of August 16, 2011 the price will be going up to $11.95.

    Artfire is in my own opinion the best selling venue for handmade, supplies, and vintage.

    Artfire has a low monthly Pro studio fee with no listing fee or final value fee.

    Artfire has terrific customer support and a great forum. Tony, the COO of Artfire is always in the forums posting what Artfire is up to and helping sellers succeed on Artfire. He even made a banner for one of the Artfire sellers.

    Having a forum with sellers that are willing to help other sellers succeed on Artfire is an advantage that you don’t have selling on your own website. Unlike the Etsy forums the Artfire forums are self moderated.

    Some other advantages to selling on Artfire over having your own website is the ease of setting up your Artfire studio. There is no need to know anything about HTML and you don’t need a shopping cart.

    Artfire is in the process of making lots of changes in the very near future which I feel will bring more sellers and buyers to Artfire.

    Aftfire also provides great tools and guides for their sellers.

    Artfire also provides a blog for their Pro sellers.

    Artfire is a very young company. It is only 2 to 3 years old. The amount of improvements that Artfire has made since the company was started is unbelievable.

    1. Steve says:

      The point of the article was not to bash on Artfire or Etsy per se. Both platforms are good for getting your feet wet but are not good in terms of positioning yourself for significant income growth. Artfire is still young and once upon a time both Ebay and Etsy were great places to list products. Let’s wait a few years when Artfire is under pressure to increase revenues and profits and we’ll see what happens. They may well increase prices or make the selling terms less attractive, but for now it’s ridiculously cheap in my opinion. Something will have to change at some point for them to show profit growth.

      My main point is that unless you are investing your time into your own web properties and your own platforms, you are at someone else’s mercy. So hurry up and get your feet wet and then transfer over to something you own and you have control over.

    2. Rei says:

      Artfire promo, much?! ?

  3. Clara says:

    I am an etsy seller too. I agree of what you said here. It’s hard to be seen if you are selling what the others are selling, like Jewelry and painting. However, since day 1 I started my biz, I never depended on etsy to do my marketing for me. I did it myself, I searched my own target customers, I did advertising on magazine and online. It paid off I got a good biz after years of building. However, now I also realized that because of the people i brought to etsy, I got more competitors now in etsy then ever and I have to bring my customers back to my website (still in progress), so that my customers will focus on my store instead of many other new stores from China or other places. To build up a customer base is important. Etsy sellers should not think Etsy will do anything for you because they won’t. They don’t even do anything for the shop who sell electronic books (not written by them, they pdf all the book and sell online). Etsy is all for money grabbing, of course, that’s what ebay and etsy do, that’s how they run the biz. My plan is eventually I am going to leave etsy for good, but now before my own store truly running on its own, it takes time I know, just like my etsy’s store, I will still keep it.

    1. Steve says:

      Good for you! Unfortunately, most Etsy users do not have the same sort of mentality. Based on your comments, I have confidence that you will succeed at whatever you decide to pursue. Good luck!

  4. Richard says:

    Great post Steve! I agree, there are just too many distractions on Etsy. I have had listings there and didn’t even have any views. It is more work to open an online store but it is definitely worth it.

    1. Danny Jewell says:

      They Removed the count from my store so I have no ideal how many views I get ,Things are selling fairly well thou.

  5. Nicole Fende says:

    I just found this website via the BizSugar FB page. While there are many risks and hurdles we can NOT control, the venue through which someone sells their goods or services is not one. By owning your own domain you take away that risk, and create more control. There are extremely cost effective options now to truly own your own site and store. If you are selling any volume at all on Etsy, EBay or whatever you could have bought your own, customized solutions with that money!

    On a more personal note, I love shopping for handmade goods and for unique supplies to feed my own crafting addiction (its a hobby not a business for me). The search option on Etsy is so *awful* I’ve given up shopping there. Unless someone gives me their link I avoid the site. In that case why not give me a link to your own domain?

    1. Steve says:

      @Nicole @Richard
      Thanks. It seems as though many sellers especially on Etsy have been feeling the heat lately which has caused other services like Artfire to proper.

    2. Emma says:

      Thanks Nicole that’s exactly my cause! I want to find these stores n support them.

  6. Patchtique says:

    I agree with Jim Juris. Artfire is a great place to start if you aren’t quite ready for your own website. They are discontinuing the free basic account because too many sellers were setting up shops and then abandoning them. Currently the cost is 9.95/month for unlimited listings, that cost for new members will go up to 11.95/month starting Aug 15. There are no final value fees or commissions charged.

    Also, Artfire will shortly be rolling out their new graphic interface, individual shops will all have prominent banners and avatars, other than the Artfire logo, they will not all “look the same.”

    Etsy jumped on the Facebook bandwagon and is turning into a social network. Artfire remains an affordable selling platform. But, each seller has to determine which venue works best with their own business model.

    1. Steve says:

      No argument there. Artfire, Etsy and Ebay are great places to start but not great places to end up. Enjoy Artfire for as long as they remain affordable, but keep in mind that things will eventually change and the only way to kick butt is to be in charge of your own selling platform.

  7. NaNations says:

    I agree with Jim Juris.

    I have 2 Pro studios on Artfire and would choose Artfire over Etsy any day. Artfire has all the tools and information you need to set up and grow your own business, which makes it an ideal marketplace for newcomers and seasoned sellers alike.

    Your article makes many assumptions about Artfire without any real knowledge of how it works and what it has to offer. Artfire is not like Etsy or Ebay. We don’t get fee’d to death. We don’t have to re-list every time we turn around, our storefronts show our individuality, and we have a great rapport with the Artfire staff and management. New tools and upgrades are rolled out all the time. (Oh and they are well tested first.)

    Come and see what we have to offer and how different we are to Etsy and Ebay. We are Artfire!

    1. Steve says:

      I didn’t mention anything about fees in my post. In fact I actually think Etsy’s fees are somewhat reasonable compared to Ebay. The key point is to take control of your own fate and not put all of your eggs on a platform you do not control.

  8. Drunkenmimes says:

    I beg to differ, in regards to Artfire, with statements like, “these venues do not care about you,” and “will prevent your business from ever growing.” Artfire has a completely different business model than Etsy and offers tools and education to let sellers build their OWN businesses. Having your eggs in more than one basket is wise, and having your own website that crosslinks with an Artfire shop is wise. Each has to figure out what works best for them, and like Jim Juris and Patchtique said, a stand alone website takes a while to grow. Starting with and keeping an Artfire shop is an excellent foundation to build with.

    1. Steve says:

      Your quote “Artfire has a completely different business model than Etsy” clearly illustrates my point. Ultimately, Artfire is a business with an intention to make a profit and as they grow, they will have to consistently demonstrate and increase profits and revenues. They are really inexpensive right now and I believe that will eventually have to change as pressures continue to grow.

      I do like how you’ve summed things up. You need to do what works for you. If Artfire allows you to get something up quickly in the short term, then that’s great. But in the long run, the best way to run your business is by having your own shop and your own website.

  9. Scarlet Leonard says:


    But unless you are going to fully develop the website yourself, you as the business owner don’t have full control of your site. Many of the ‘package’ websites while allowing you your own design are awful when it comes to keeping everything working as intended and paying for a developer is $ $ $.

    I do sell on artfire, even though my husband is a web developer and I could have everything I wanted and the closest to full control I could get even he says Artfire is the better way around.

    Artfire gives me full control over payment options, I don’t have to just take paypal and I can have propay integrated (at a cut price for being an artfire seller) and process credit and debit cards right there on my site, I can even use amazon payments and offer alternative payment methods, unlike etsy or any other venue (who would see me trying to organise an alternative payment for my customers convenience as fee avoidance.)

    Artfire gives me an onsite blog with no third party code injected into my interface (slowing the site down) it’s all fully integrated and that lovely facebook kiosk so I don’t have to think about stock control between facebook and my site (because if I had my own site I bet the developer would tell me to use a third party app for facebook sales and that isn’t going to get more people to my site.)

    Artfire also gives me nice little SEO boosts, and keeps me informed on how to optimise my store, if I left that to a web developer it would cost me a fortune having everything optimised. Or spend months myself researching only to find once I’ve finished researching I have to do it all over again because it’s changed.

    I pay for my domain and point it at artfire, ok if one day the proverbial was to go flying upwards I haven’t lost anything because all my customers have been coming to me from my .com but for as long as artfire keeps listening to their sellers and providing the best service I have ever seen (no not even my husband would provide tech support on the weekend unless something was VERY wrong.) I’m not going anywhere.

    Any web developers out there that want to give me everything artfire offers for $9.95/month? $20/month? didn’t think so.

    1. Steve says:

      Hi Scarlet,
      First off, I just want to say that Artfire is an excellent deal, but right now they are trying to “get you pregnant”. They want you to sign up and base your business off their platform because it’s hard to transition away once you are established. If you stop and do the math, offering unlimited bandwidth, hosting and item listings for only $9.95 a month is not sustainable in the long run.

      As for developing your own website, most of the code is already written for you thanks to open source. I did not know a lick of php programming or website development when I first started. I relied on an open source shopping cart which was free and all I had to pay was $6.95 a month for hosting. There are many talented web designers that sell professional web templates for as low as 15 dollars. As a result, you can get a fully featured and fully functional shopping cart website for very cheap. The best part is that you have full control over everything should you choose to make any changes.

      Once you have your site up, the open source cart supports all of the common used payment options as well. The hard part is not setting up the site, the main hurdle is promoting your business which of course is the hardest part about any business. As for SEO, their advice is mainly about promoting your products through search that are listed on So in fact, you are boosting the rankings for Artfire and not your own domain. Pointing your domain does not help your SEO because your site simply redirects to Artfire(depending on how you set things up)

      So to sum it up. Artfire is great deal right now but I don’t think it will stay that way long term. If you want to have control over your business, you should have your own platform even if takes a bit more up front investment. Stick with Artfire for now but have a plan to have your own setup later.
      If you’re curious about open source shopping carts, you can sign up for my free newsletter and take a quick look.

  10. Trish Cox says:

    I liked where you were going with this and agree up to a point but…

    I have 3 Artfire Studios and my own web design/consulting business. I’ve sold on ebay since 1998, sold on Etsy for 6 months, and when Artfire came along, I knew a good thing when I saw it. I joined December 2008. I ♥ Artfire.

    One of the many great tools and features included in my monthly fee is the ability to put their Rapid Cart on a website (by copying and pasting code) that looks like a sophisticated shopping cart with all my handmade items built right into MY website. Visitors see something and can buy it right then and there. The same applies to the Artfire Kiosk they built to help their sellers succeed. If a potential buyer finds my Studio on Facebook, they don’t have to join Artfire to ask me a question or make the purchase and they don’t have to leave Facebook to do it. We are also taught SEO and other important information in order to succeed, encouraged to use our blogs and how to use social media, link to other venues where we sell, link to our websites, and communicate with our customers however we feel most comfortable, including outside of Artfire. There are so many innovative solutions that they have created for their sellers and the classic barriers to growing an online business that you point out about having an Ebay or Etsy business truly doesn’t apply to Artfire.

    1. Steve says:

      Hi Trish,
      Just a quick comment about Rapid cart which I believe is where you disagree with me. The way rapid cart works is that it opens a completely new webpage that points to whenever someone clicks on the buy link. Sure you can embed this onto any website of your choosing but if you already have a website, you may as well host your own open source shopping cart. Why rely on artfire when you can sell the goods directly on your own site with no redirects?

      The fact that you are redirected to another site leads to a confusing shopping experience. For example, when I used Paypal standard as my only payment platform and users were redirected to another site for payment, I lost a lot of customers during the checkout process. The best way to stream line your operations is keep everything on your own site with no popups or new windows.

      I don’t want to discount the education that Artfire provides. They are certainly doing things the right way and are kicking butt as a result. The amount of loyal users commenting on the post is a direct result of that. But bottom line, at some point you need to start thinking about owning your own web property which is the main point of the article. Relying on a 3rd party platform that controls your product URLs and shopping cart is not ideal for any business which is why you don’t see many small businesses using 3rd party platforms.

  11. Skeptic says:

    There’s not a doubt that etsy “doesn’t care about you,” it’s widely known they openly disdain the majority of sellers and aren’t concerned about seller success.

    I question your statement that etsy sellers use the etsy site because they are “afraid of the technical and marketing challenges” of having their own website. That shows a basic misunderstanding of the concept of crafters banding together to sell. They do this for multiple and layered reasons, the least of which is fear.

    The fact that Etsy has failed as a viable venue for selling handmade does not mean the automatic solution is to have your own website.

    I get that you are about convincing people to have their own websites. Your site success relies on sticking to this point (and this success presumably includes finances). You’re here to market this idea to your readers.

    To lump Artfire in with Etsy shows you didn’t even do cursory research. They just aren’t the same. Yes, Artfire is still young. Yes, they need to make a profit, and I believe they are set up to do so. But to state that means the seller will be out in the cold is quite an assumption. Why does raising of fees automatically put everyone out of business? That’s just scare tactic rhetoric.

    As for your the statement about Artfire “abruptly” “cancel[ing]” basic accounts, that’s hyperbole at best. A little research on your part would have clarified your error there.

    You’re saying in order to “control your own destiny” for online sales you need to have your own website. That you’re “not taking charge” unless you do? That’s pretty simplistic and condescending. Most established crafters have a combo of website and marketplace venue for the very reason of getting themselves out there to be seen and sell. Just because stand alone website worked for you doesn’t mean it’s the right solution for everyone.

    1. Steve says:

      Hello Skeptic
      I’ll just get to the point. Artfire is like Etsy because you aren’t hosting your own goods. The shopping experience is dictated by the platform, not you. Let’s say that you want to change the way your on site search engine behaves. Can you do that on Artfire? Having your own site offers infinite flexibility that you can gradually improve as your business grows. If most established crafters have a combo of website and marketplace venues, why not consolidate the two and have a single website that serves as the website and the market?

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling anyone to ditch Etsy, Artfire or Ebay. Artfire and Etsy should serve as complimentary avenues for your business. But your main focus should be on the property that you own which is your own domain and your own web property.

  12. Kristi Hines says:

    Good info to know – my husband is venturing into selling photographic prints and we were going to look into Etsy as an option. Or not. 🙂

  13. Jim Juris says:

    Steve, Unlike Etsy, the Co Founders of Artfire both have MBAs. They sold millions of dollars of products on Ebay.

    You probably also don’t know that Unlike Etsy Artfire runs a very lean staff. I don’t know the exact number of Artfire employees but it is somewhere between 13 and 18.

    Since Artfire has been in existance they have always treated their sellers well. I don’t see any reason for this to change. That is why I respectfully disagree with you that having your own website is better than selling on Artfire.

    Artfire isn’t greedy, they are very aware of their competition. If Artfire was greedy I would definately agree with you that having your own website would be a better option for sellers in the long term, but Artfire is not greedy.

    I pay $10 per month for one of my websites web hosting. That includes a shopping cart. That web hosting company now charges $20 per month but I am locked in to the $10 per month rate as long as I remain with that web hosting company.

    I was smart enough to lock in a rate of $5.95 for as long as I remain a seller on Artfire for one of my Artfire pro studios last October. I pay $9.95 for my other Pro studio, which is not going up in price on August 16th. That $5.95 rate is better than my $10 web hosting fee.

    I expect Artfire to always be fair to their sellers. Artfire always listens to what their sellers are saying. If Artfire can’t give the sellers what they are asking for then Artifire will tell the sellers why they can’t give them what they requested.

    Another thing about Artfire that I wanted to mention is that unlike Etsy Artfire has NO debt. Etsy has venture capitalists which will some day want their money back.

    Artfire is making changes to their seller pages and also to the entire look of Artfire. These changes should be completed sometime within the next week to two months. Check out Artfire in a couple more months and I think you will see why many sellers love selling on Artfire.

    1. Steve says:

      Hey Jim
      Again, I’m not questioning your decisions or the management at Artfire. It’s just that strange things happen to businesses once they get larger and are more concerned with making money. Artfire is in a good place right now and I hope it continues.

      It’s a bit premature right now to come to any conclusions so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens over time.

  14. Scarlet Leonard says:

    Steve an interesting reply, there’s alot you don’t know about artfire.

    SEO is geared for google getting your products to show up on search, yes while promoting yourself you are promoting artfire

    Firstly I don’t pay $9.95 the majority of people pay $5.95 currently and any one with that price is never going to pay any more. so that’s cheaper than the hosting you are paying for.

    I never mentioned that my domain redirect would help my SEO but it builds brand consistency, if in 5 years something happened to my artfire site that customer that bought something from me 6 years ago can still go to the same place.

    open source is alright if you can’t afford a developer, but you can’t be sure the different snippets of code are going to be compatible, which in turn creates bugs. I’ve done it i’ve seen how ‘free’ code can seriously mess things up and if you don’t know anything about php or asp you can’t fix it. If you seriously want to have your own website the only way to go is through bespoke code direct from the developer.

    But as you said what happens when the venue raises the price? goes under?
    what if your developer does the same, the site running costs may seem reasonable when you commit to it but they will go up, with a developer they can charge whatever they want because you have their code and they are not going to let it go for you to take it anywhere else for a more reasonable support and hosting fee.

    You said that it’s not worth setting up and relying on a venue, I’m only saying that nothing is certain and I have gone with the best decision for my business, bespoke code and the best control I have ever had from a site.

    1. Steve says:

      Your rate was only available for the first 5000 users so consider yourself lucky…Therefore, there probably is no reason for you to transition away, but I’m not talking about you. I’m referring to general users. The 5.95 lifetime plan is done and over with…

      Yes, it’s true about open source. If you choose the wrong platform, you can be in for a world of hurt. However, the ones I recommend are fantastic and have all of the features built in. Sure there could be some bugs but that is a tradeoff that you have with owning your own site. When you host your own cart, you can add any feature you want through plugins. If you pay for a plugin, you in turn get support for the plugin… You don’t need a developer and the control is worth having. There are thousands of people who write plugins for various shopping cart platforms for free.

      A quick example is with the blog platform wordpress. Why don’t any serious bloggers use hosted blogging platforms like blogger? It’s because they own their domain and WordPress is easy to use and extend with plugins.

      No one is questioning your decision. You have a lifetime rate of $5.95 a month and you should stick with it.

    2. Steve says:

      Hi Scarlet

      Forgot to address your SEO point. Most people improve the SEO for their site by pointing backlinks directly to products and product categories…So unless you these links point to your domain, all of your backlinking efforts will be for Artfire. It’s fine to have your domain for branding purposes but it won’t help your SEO for your own domain. Are you spending time building backlinks for your artfire store? You are in essence banking on Artfire for your search engine livelihood. Again, your situation is probably different since you have locked in the flat rate.

      One last point about open source. WordPress is probably the most popular open source platform with over 25 million users and most people who use it don’t know a lick of PHP or html… While there aren’t as many users using open shopping carts, the experience can be similar depending on which cart you choose. You don’t need a developer

  15. Steve says:

    One last note…Just wanted to thank everyone here for contributing to the discussion. I’m loving it!

  16. Nathalie says:


    Your comments about the ArtFire Rapid Cart show that you do not know a thing about it.

    It is not a redirect, it is a very cool remote-checkout piece of technology that they have designed themselves.

    The Rapid Cart offers instant check-out on the spot without redirecting to the AF studio. So, the buyer does not get sent back to ArtFire (unless they wish to see more and in that case they can).

    You can see my 3 different Rapid Carts on my website here (just note – they are currently making some changes to the Rapid Cart to go with the upcoming new look of ArtFire and so this may or may not load for you right now as they will be pulling this code to replace with a brand new code):

    The same thing with the ArtFire Facebook Kiosk. It’s an on-the-spot purchase (with highly secure encryption) transforming your Facebook into its own store where your buyers do not have to leave FB to shop.

    ArtFire is a HYBRID webhost solution, not a simple selling venue like Etsy or Ebay.

    Most people fail to understand this because they are the only company like this on the net at this point.

    Keep an eye on ArtFire over the coming two weeks. You will see a lot of amazing things.


    1. Steve says:

      Hi Nathalie.
      When you click on the “buy” buttton, a pop up window appears that is clearly hosted by Artfire. Sure you haven’t left your original site but the new popup window is clearly Artfire. Rapid cart is just a piece object code that you can embed in your site.

      Admittedly, it’s cool and is a great hybrid solution for people who want to have a cart on their site….but bottom line, it’s not your domain,it’s not your site and it’s a popup window! Everything is hosted on

      1. Steve says:

        Incidently, I believe the piece of rapid cart code you have embedded on your site is using flash which means it won’t work on iphones or ipads.

      2. Steve says:

        One more thing, as long we are having a technical discussion, the fact that Rapid cart utilizes a popup window means that users that have javascript popups blocked using Adblock or other browser plugins will not be able to shop properly.

  17. Steve says:

    So far the discussion has been about price and implementation. Let’s talk about features now. Can Artfire do the following?

    1. Flexible coupons and promotions. Can you do percent discount, fixed discounts, buy 1 get one free., buy 2 get one more item in a specific category free etc?

    2. Can you have tiered pricing for quantity discounts?

    3. Can you have bundled discounts? ie. buy item A B and C and get 10% off?

    4. Can you have private sales for special customers?

    5. Is there an email newsletter management system?

    6. Can you use custom variables with Google Analytics in order to track everything that you want? (ie. Full Analytics integration using custom vars via javascript)

    7. Can you automatically export sales data to quickbooks?

    8. Can you track abandoned shopping carts and automatically send emails to try and recover lost sales?

    9. Can you zoom in on your product pictures?

    10. Can you have separate logins for people who work for you with varying levels of access for when you have a staff?

    11. Can you offer different shipping options? Can you get creative with your shipping methods? Ie. Free shipping if you purchase Item X

    These are just a few things that come to mind…

  18. Evan says:

    The complication is credibility.

    I owned an ebay store once. I tried to set up my own but got almost no sales because ebay was regarded as more credibly, reliable and so on.

    So to set up your own shop/website you need a way to attract a good stream of customers at first – after which the credibility is probably earned and you won’t need to worry about it.

  19. Evan says:

    I have a WordPress blog. With the plugins they have you can do pretty much anything you want on a website. You don’t need to know any code or anything like that. You do need to pay for hosting with someone else though, so you need to shop around for prices (the differences for the same thing can be extraordinary).

  20. JewelryOnTheRocks says:

    Steve, I checked Nathalie’s cart(I haven’t used it yet but that will change) and while there is a pop up window and the url points to ArtFire, there’s nothing else that indicates it’s not part of her website. If I were a shopper “off the street” who didn’t know what ArtFire is, I wouldn’t know I wasn’t using her web cart.

    I totally agree with Evan, credibility is everything. Having the weight of a venue behind me is a big bonus and probably a deciding factor in buyer confidence.

    The real beauty is having two different outlets for your product and marketing to two different demographics. I have a stand alone website that I use as a gallery site for galleries and boutiques, and my ArtFire studio. Galleries and boutiques have a “snob factor” that makes them look down their noses at items on any venue(Ruby Lane may get a bit of respect from this crowd) while the average shopper trusts a venue better. Since my jewelry trends to higher price tags, I find this to be a good solution for someone like me.

  21. Nathalie says:

    Steve asked:

    “So far the discussion has been about price and implementation. Let’s talk about features now. Can Artfire do the following?

    1. Flexible coupons and promotions. Can you do percent discount, fixed discounts, buy 1 get one free., buy 2 get one more item in a specific category free etc?”

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): Yes, ArtFire has a super flexible Coupon & Gift Certificates system.

    Steve asks: 2. Can you have tiered pricing for quantity discounts?

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): Yes, you can set discount codes to kick in only after a certain threshold has been reached (in terms of dollar amount, not in terms of quantity, but basically, it would cover both since the higher the quantity, the higher the total for the invoice and then code would kick in).

    Steve asks: 3. Can you have bundled discounts? ie. buy item A B and C and get 10% off?

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): You can specify discounts to apply to specific studio sections (not your whole studio/shop), so if you want to set up a sale for certain types of items, you can simply set up a sale section and set up a discount that applies to that section only, for example.

    The system is quite versatile, so you can set up many different scenarios. It’s quite impressive.

    Steve asks: 4. Can you have private sales for special customers?

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): Of course you can. You can select to have your discount codes visible to the public or not, so you can simply keep a discount code as invisible, and only your special customers know about it and can use it when they shop with you – without anyone else knowing about it.

    Steve asks: 5. Is there an email newsletter management system?

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): There is not one at this point. Not sure if this is something they will ever do. But even on my own website, I do not have that. I use Mailchimp which is free and quite versatile. No need to reinvent the wheel. I would rather see the ArtFire staff work on things that I cannot find so easily anywhere else.

    Steve asks: 6. Can you use custom variables with Google Analytics in order to track everything that you want? (ie. Full Analytics integration using custom vars via javascript)

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): I am not knowledgeable enough to answer this specifically. ArtFire does have GA access, and we also get internal ArtFire stats and incoming URLs, where you can see keywords used by shoppers to find you and where they came in from, etc.

    Steve asks: 7. Can you automatically export sales data to quickbooks?

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): ArtFire has a Sales Data Exporter which produces a CSV file. You can select a number of things to export, which in turn could be imported into Quickbooks or other accounting software.

    Steve asks: 8. Can you track abandoned shopping carts and automatically send emails to try and recover lost sales?

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): ArtFire has a unique system where shoppers do not have to create an account to buy anything (it’s a very popular option with buyers and they are the only “selling venue” that does not require a user account in order to make a purchase), so this is a little more tricky, and I am not technically able to answer that question.

    ArtFire is launching a brand new shopping cart within the next week or so along with the new site design, etc, and that new cart takes care of non-paying buyers (aka NPBs). I would suggest that you ask that question to ArtFire yourself for this type of more technical aspect. They have info posted on their blog here:

    Steve says: 9. Can you zoom in on your product pictures?

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): We have 10 images per listing, that is more than enough to show close-up views while keeping the page loading time as fast as possible. Zooming in on pictures means loading larger images which in turn take longer to load on a page, and you know very well that Google is all about speed, speed, speed.

    There is nothing we cannot show on 10 images using close up angles, compared to klunky time-consuming loading of large images with zoom capability.

    Steve asks: 10. Can you have separate logins for people who work for you with varying levels of access for when you have a staff?

    ANSWER: Most sellers that I have met online (and I’ve met many) are sole-proprietors and wear all the hats. Sometimes a family member helps or they have one person as “staff”. I don’t see this as a deal breaker whether this kind of access is needed or not.

    That could be something that they can add at some point. I have never seen this request come up in the various online forums I’ve been a party of. You can make the suggestion 🙂

    Steve asks: 11. Can you offer different shipping options? Can you get creative with your shipping methods? Ie. Free shipping if you purchase Item X

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): Yes you can! (isn’t that just peachy! LOL)…. you can create a Free shipping code and set up the minimum amount the order must have in order for the code to kick in, etc. It’s a lovely system, truly.

    These are just a few things that come to mind…

    I hope I have managed to answer you to your satisfaction.


  22. Nathalie says:

    Oh, and to clarify (since I cannot edit my reply above).

    For your last question (11), you can create a free shipping code that applies to one type of item (one category, like all necklaces, or all rings, or all bracelets), or specifically selected items (you pick them and they go on a special list and the free shipping or discount code applies only to those items that have been selected by the seller).

    There is so much you can do with the ArtFire coupon code and gift certificate system, it would BLOW your mind.

    You can limit the use for a period of time (expiry date), you can limit the use to one coupon per person, you can limit the use by a total number of uses (like 200 times and then the coupon is no longer valid, for example)….

    and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    I could never have that much flexibility on my own website – I certainly do not have the coding genius in my brain to set that up…. but the guys at ArtFire are just incredible. I’ve never seen anyone like them before.

    1. Steve says:

      Well answered! All of the features mentioned above come standard with many open source carts. In any case, one thing I’ve learned today is that you Artfire folk are very passionate about your platform. Do you per chance work there?

  23. Jim Juris says:

    Steve, I subscribe to your newsletter. I don’t believe that anyone that posted a comment here on your site works for Artfire. We are all Artfire Mavens and they came here because of my post about this topic in the Maven forum area.

    1. Steve says:

      Hey Jim
      Just wanted to thank you so much for doing this as it has been a fun discussion. Hope I didn’t offend anyone. Artfire seems like a great service and good luck to you all!

  24. Gen says:

    Interesting article. I have shops on both Etsy and Artfire. I have the Artfire $5.95 rate locked in for life and I am NOT a charter artisan. That rate was open to everyone who chose to sign up during that promotion. You have quite a few misconceptions about Artfire.

    I can honestly say that Artfire is an amazing venue, far and above the features offered at Etsy at a much lower price. If you sell high volume/high dollar items, Artfire’s fee structure is unbeatable. They offer much more customization than the look of Etsy.

    The administration is mature, helpful and available and they don’t play favorites unlike Etsy. The difference between Artfire and Etsy employees is night and day. At Etsy, you are subject to the whims of the admin. There is no customer service at all. They treat their sellers like children who have to be “muted” and have been known to shut down shops for no good reasons. I did not post my Etsy or Artfire site because I fear retaliation from Etsy, that speaks volumes.

    That is a good reason to open your own website and not be concerned about what a venue will do. But to lump Artfire and Etsy together is ridiculous. I sell on both, I have successful sales on both, they are nothing alike. And by the way, I do make my living from my art. I don’t have my own website and my income sustains my family of three. It can be done.


  25. Nathalie says:

    LOL…. thanks Steve.

    No, I do not work for ArtFire, but I would be delighted if I could one day. They rock 🙂

    Yes, we are passionate… as much as the ArtFire team is. They do care and they do love what they do. They are serious business people and they are creating this hybrid space where no one has ever gone before.

    You know, when people start selling what they make online, the vast majority does not realize what it takes to do this. Things change quickly online (even truer these days compared to just 5 years ago).

    By the time we create our goods, and wear all the hats (as all micro-entrepreneurs do), there is no way we can keep up on all that is going on when it comes to selling online.

    Having your own website is definitely a great idea, and even if it is used as a hub (at first) to redirect buyers to a person’s various online shops, etc.

    But for setting up and selling online quickly without needing any knowledge what-so-ever, ArtFire is by far the most educational and well thought out hybrid webhost.

    Also, ArtFire has a Design category where sellers who design their own product but they have it manufactured by a factory, can list and sell on ArtFire (Etsy does not allow for that, so as sellers “grow” into a bigger business they need to move – not so on ArtFire).

    Nathalie (ArtFire Mentor for new sellers & Maven)

  26. Jim Juris says:

    My pleasure Steve. Hopefully I have brought you some new newsletter subscribers.

    I have enjoyed reading all the comments.

    I can’t speak for the other Mavens but I don’t believe that you have offended any of them. We are all strong supporters of Artfire.

  27. JewelryOnTheRocks says:

    Nathalie said:

    “No, I do not work for ArtFire, but I would be delighted if I could one day. They rock ”


  28. Roxi says:

    There are a few more reasons why “Etsy Stores Are At A Disadvantage Compared To Online Stores That Own Their Domain” –

    A sampling:

    10 months ago Etsy had a privacy breach with it’s Treasury feature. Shop owners had their real names published without their permission.

    4 1/2 months ago they did it again by making all users (buyers and sellers) names visible along with their purchase history. Apparently, they learned nothing from the fiasco 6 months earlier.

    9 1/2 months ago they published a post by Temple St. Clair, a jewelry designer selling mass produced items, on their blog (The Storque – often referred to as “The Dork) “Declaring Coral to Precious to Wear” at the same time they were accepting fees from shop owners selling coral. They still are. Priceless.

    In all three events, they cancelled, banned and booted shop owners that were outraged enough to speak up about it. Members have become afraid to voice their opinion on the forums as shops are often closed at the whim of admin, presumably between their taking turns videoing each other dancing and playing with plushy toys.

    Speaking of plushy toys. You cannot call Etsy. They have a plushy phone booth photo on their blog. Customer service must be handled through the proper channels. Email. Wait. Email again. Complain in the forum. Get told in said forum that you cannot discuss email with Etsy admin, even if you have never received any. Email again. Wait.

    So Steve, I absolutely agree with the title of your post. Etsy stores are at a disadvantage. ;->

    As for the rest of the title, the closest you will come to having your own domain is having a studio on ArtFire.

    *You can customize the look of your studio
    *Brand your business, not the venue
    *Offer coupons and shipping discounts
    * Link to any other place you sell
    *Install a Facebook kiosk and shopping cart on your own domain
    *Interact with staff
    *Experience community moderated forums where staff does not mute or ban
    *Learn from the Help Guides
    *Have your own Blog
    *Have your items pushed to The Find and Google Shopping
    *No HTML coding experience is required to set up a studio
    *Sell for a flat monthly rate with no final value fees

    …and finally, call customer service if you have a problem. Comparing Etsy and Ebay make more sense than comparing ArtFire and Etsy.

    Now I’m off to check out the rest of your cool site….and I’m a fan of your linens.

    1. Steve says:

      Yes, I had heard about these fiascos being alluded to on the forums but not in so much detail. Perhaps people are deathly afraid of getting banned so there is very little mention about this. And if their customer service continues to be this bad, I’m sure Etsy will eventually go down if things don’t change.

      I also agree with your last statement about Artfire, but services like BigCommerce will handle all of the store backend and front end stuff for you AND allow you to have your own domain and own all of your URLs. However, the service does cost more at 25 a month. Right now Artfire is a great deal but I suspect that that will have to change later.

  29. Nicole Fende says:

    When I subscribed to this discussion I had no idea what to expect! A few disclaimers before I wade back in. I don’t know Steve (in fact it’s my first visit to the site!) I do not make my living by implementing any type of distribution / website / or sales solution. I do not work for any of the sites listed. While I have used EBay and Etsy, I have not used ArtFire (but I’m going to check it out now!) I AM a hobbyist crafter who has friends that make a living selling handcrafted items. I make my living helping solopreneurs and micro businesses understand finances, grow their profits and laugh.

    I agree Etsy has basically turned into EBay with a thin veneer of handcrafted to fool the unsuspecting. That’s why Regretsy is so popular. However Etsy started out with a very different mission, one that appears to be similar to ArtFire. As Steve rightly points out, as company’s grow and their investors look for high returns, companies can lose sight of their original mission and values. I think most posters here would agree that Etsy is a prime example of that.

    Unfortunately unless you own the majority shares of the company in question it can happen to any company. The current owners may want to move on, their investors start demanding more, the current owners need more capital and give up majority stake… I could go on all night. FYI I used to work in Investment Banking so I am familiar with this.

    The message I took away from the original discussion was twofold. First, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I would add even if that basket is your own site. Diversifying sales channels is as important as diversifying a stock portfolio. Second understand the risks you are taking while leveraging the benefits. As a few people commented a site like ArtFire (or even EBay) can provide the initial trust factor a standalone site can’t Great use that while creating trust on your own site. As long as a venue is truly profitable for you, keep using. But be ready in case you have the carpet pulled out from under you.

    1. Steve says:

      @Nicole @Evan
      Evan, you can correct me if I’m wrong but having your own domain lends more credibility to a shop and not the other way around. When I shop at Ebay or Etsy, I never know what to expect. When I shop at a store with a domain, I tend to think that there’s a company of people running the store. Agree about your statement about diversification. Most larger shops have presences on Amazon, and Ebay in addition to their main site. But If I had to choose one egg, I’d choose my own domain.

  30. Sue says:

    Hi, I’m another ArtFire seller…. I have 3 studios there in addition to my own website too. Thankfully, I have a web geek son who hosts my site and could help set it up so it didn’t cost me too much. I am learning to keep my site updated myself, but it is tons easier to list my items to sell in my ArtFire studios. I don’t have to worry about the dependability of the site… There has been very little downtime with ArtFire and we always have prior notice when any maintenance is done and things are usually back up quicker than expected. I have dealt with site outages for my main website that have been very frustrating. With my son deployed in Iraq this year, one outage lasted for days because he was not able to access things to do the fix. While my site was down, My ArtFire studios were up and running and my items were also able to be seen from my Facebook ArtFire Kiosk.

    I have learned SO much about writing my descriptions and whatever else I need to do to get products ranking high on search engines from the tutorials available, and forums with seller workshops where I can get personal guidance and critiques if I want them. Most of my sales have come from off site searches and non registered customers. It has been much easier to get sales through my ArtFire studios than from my own website, so I am now using my own site more to keep information about my teaching and lecturing, and have links to my ArtFire studios for my sales. Just another happy ArtFire seller….

    1. Steve says:

      @Sue @Patchtique
      Your statements are actually what I expected to hear about when I first write this article. The reason those sites are hard to maintain is because you have to manage your server in addition to your site and that is not for everyone. For people who don’t want to do this, I recommend BigCommerce because you own your own domain and your URLS. On site SEO is only 20% of the equation. The other 80% is building backlinks to your site.

      The biggest problem I see with Artfire and Etsy is that all of your URLs point to Artfire and Etsy which means you can never leave without leaving your SEO behind. With Bigcommerce, you can always issue 301 redirects from all of your pages to your new site and transition to a different platform if necessary.

  31. designedbylucinda says:

    Steve, interesting discussion. I used to sell on Etsy, Artfire and Zibbet (all temporarily closed due to fire and death). You are right – – to grow and expand, one should jettison the group-stores sites and set up one’s own. But I think many of us are a bit hesitant to take on the responsibility because we fear we might muck it up (despite your assurances to the contrary).

    Keep encouraging us to break free and fly solo – – Thank you, Steve, for your time and dedication and efforts to get us all making the most profits we can from our online businesses 🙂


    1. Steve says:

      Hi Cindy
      I’m so sorry to hear about your shop and your misfortune. I hope that everything turns out well and that you will be up and running soon enough.

  32. Patchtique says:

    Very interesting discussions. I do understand that having your own website is the only way to completely control your own online presence.

    However, many, if not most of us are more interested in just making our stuff, not worrying about website building. Also, there is the issue of trying to build any kind of SEO presence online when you are brand new. Etsy and eBay are household names and generate huge amounts of built in traffic for newcomers. Artfire provides education that can be used down the road when and if you decide to become completely independent.

    In the meantime, every seller should purchase their own domain name and then forward it to whatever venue they are using. Then at least, if that venue stops working for you, with one click you can forward the domain to another venue.

    I can’t believe how many people I’ve seen complaining that they are changing venues and don’t know what to do with all the business cards they just had printed with the word “Etsy” on them!

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  35. Evan says:

    Hi Steve, my experience was the reverse. Weird, but that’s the way it was.

  36. JewelryOnTheRocks says:

    Steve, there’s a very good chance that what you sell influences whether a stand alone website works better than a venue. For me ArtFire has been hundreds of times more successful in terms of profit than my stand alone website. Oddly, Etsy was the exact reverse. I made a LOT of sales but very little actually ended up in my pocket.

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  40. Jenelle says:

    I thought your article was great, and wow! the discussion to follow. I’m not afraid to admit it- I sell on Etsy. I do so already knowing the disadvantages (many of which you’ve covered) I think another great point to take into consideration is your own branding and image. Many times when someone makes a purchase off of a site like Etsy/Ebay/Artfire and someone later asks “hey where did you get that?” They’ll most likely respond by saying they made a purchase from Etsy. Bummer if it was from your shop, because you just missed out on great/free word of mouth advertisement. I think that hosting your own site in some sense shows buyers your ‘in it to win it’ and no just piddling around but also agree that hosting satellite shops on AF and Etsy can definitely help increase your exposure.

  41. Jim Juris says:

    Hi Steve,

    I just wanted to let you know that all Artfire studios now have a new look and a new shopping cart. If you go to any Artfire studio you will see the new look.

    The new shopping cart eliminates the non paying buyer because the product(s) is/are not removed from the studio until they are paid. I don’t believe that any other selling venue has this.

    Artfire sellers can now accept ProPay, but there is a fee for any seller that wants to offer ProPay as a payment option that will have to be paid by the seller.

  42. Lindsay says:

    I just stumbled on this post, and honestly, haven’t had a chance to wade through all of the comments, but I wanted to add my perspective as a relatively avid consumer on Etsy (I have purchased almost 100 listings in the last 2 years).

    Honestly, I wouldn’t have found any of the shops that I have bought from on Etsy if they were not on Etsy. It is the easiest way to shop for interesting, handcrafted or vintage things… Googling isn’t going to find the things I am looking for and eBay is so ugly and feels more dangerous because it seems to me like the sellers are not as trustworthy (yes, this is just an impression, mainly because the site just looks so 90’s and the listings are usually so much more “slick sales marketing” feeling).

    For some reason Etsy seems more like a community, more focused on presenting the kinds of things I am looking for, easier to communicate with the sellers, seems to have more friendly and approachable sellers, and is easier for me to find them by searching and browsing. But the key is that I *can* find them by going to *a central place* and searching, or browsing the Treasury, or playing with Pounce. How would l find a shop that sells old books turned into cool iPhone chargers, for instance, if I didn’t know I was looking for such a thing without having seen it in someone’s Treasury?

    I am not a shop owner, though I have been considering it, and I’m not aware of all the issues that people seem to be having with Etsy, but as a consumer, I want to say thank you for those shops that have a presence there and have provided me with some awesome stuff… I never would have found you otherwise.

  43. Website Guru says:

    Every business should have a well designed website today in order for them to compete with other online businesses. Driving more people to visit your site will definitely make you earn more money.

  44. Jian says:

    Hi Steve,

    I know Etsy but haven’t heard about artfire, good to see that there is finally some competition in the art/craft seller platform space.

    I agree with you that having your own site is definitely the way to go long-term. But I guess most folks commenting above are focused on selling stuff rather than building software/ecommerce sites, so, naturally they want quick and easy solution to get them off the ground.

    Overall, someone mentioned above that I totally agree with, i.e., diversification is key. Having your own site plus utilizing the different platforms (Amazon, Ebay, etsy, artfire) would be a balanced approach that could get your sales sail through…

  45. Jeremiah Johnson of Best Carry On Luggage says:

    There are advantages and disadvantages to using an established selling platform. I feel that you will do better financially having your own site if you have the resources and ability to advertise your site and drive a suitable amount of targeted traffic to your site. If any of the above is a problem for you I suggest you stick with the already established selling platform or you will fail miserably. Just my opinion, of coarse.

  46. Leanna Richmond says:

    I’ve been selling on etsy for a bit and have found your article really hit home with me and how I feel right now. I just registered my domain name and am searching for a free website shop template to open my own website with, and minimal monthly fees. I’ve found several like merchant moms, shoppe pro and pappashop and like the ease of what they have to offer. I just located another one that seems as though it will upload all my date from etsy into a free webshop template called makerspot. I’m not savy enough to create my own store template setup and have found that some of the hosts that offer free templates to use for set up are still to time consuming and difficult for a TOTAL novice.

    I’m really wanting to get something up and going on my own, I think the ‘handmade’ market is so inundated with sellers and no buyers and it is so important to get more exposure and the reliability of having your own site.

    DOES ANYONE have any advice for me ???

  47. Jim Juris says:

    @Leanna Richmond, my advice would be to not have duplicate content on your own website. If you have the same content on your website as your Etsy shop your website products will probably not show up on Google.

    If you keep your website product listings at least 30% different than your Etsy shop product listings your products will probably show up on Google searches provided that they are optimized for the search engines (SEO).

    I feel that it will be much easier and cheaper to sell on Artfire rather than spending a lot of time and effort trying to optimize your website pages for the search engines, especially if your don’t know anything about SEO.

    If your website is not found within the first two or maybe first three pages of the search engines nobody will ever visit your website unless you spend a lot of time and effort marketing your website.

    If you sign up before August 16th with Artfire you will only pay $9.95 per month. If you sign up on or after August 16th you will have to pay $11.95 per month.

    I believe that you will be given your first month for free when you sign up with Artfire.

    I wish you much success whatever you decide to do selling online.

    1. Steve says:

      There is so much more to search engine optimization than just posting different and unique content. If all it took to rank in search was the right title, meta and content tags then everyone would be on the front page. The fact is that there are only 10 spots on the front page and if you use Artfire you are only building SEO juice for Artfire and not your own shop. Again, Artfire is good for people who just want to sell don’t want to deal with having their own site but it comes at the penalty of control. Who knows if Artfire will ever become like Etsy over time

  48. Jim Juris says:

    Steve, I accidentally emailed you instead of posting here my comment for Leanna Richmond.

    Yes, I understanding what you are saying about SEO. My 2 websites and my Artfire products all rank within the first 12 positions on Google for most keyword search terms.

    I actually disagree with you about only building SEO juice for Artfire rather than your own shop. For example, someone did a search a couple of days ago on Bing for “mining town by steam engine in CO” without using the quotation marks and my Artfire listing for my Colorado Central RR locomotive #71 photo note card came up #1.

    Last month I searched on Google for “frog fishing photo note card”, without using quotes, and my frog fishing photo note card ranked #1. My pack of 4 photo note cards also came up for that same keyword search term and it ranked #3. In addition to those two items showing up in the same search my leaning towering mast photo note card ranked #2. As a bonus, my CameramanJim blog also came up in the same search results and was ranked #4.

    I just searched for “inexpensive website critique for artisans”, without using the quotation marks and two out of 8 of my Artfire product listings ranked #3 and #4 on Google. My website InexpensiveWebsiteCritiques ranked #1 and my Artfire JimJuris2 studio with all of my product listings ranks #2.

    I was only trying to explain to Leanna that she can not just throw up a website and expect it to rank well in the search engines, especially without a lot of knowledge about SEO.

    I am sure that she will find that out soon enough if and when she puts a website online.

    1. Steve says:

      Ah ok. BTW, what I mean by building seo juice for Artfire is that you are building up your SEO for the domain and not your own. As a result, if you were to ever leave Artfire, you wouldn’t be able to take your SEO with you.

      The keyword terms that you are ranking for are extremely long tail keywords. Every site will rank #1 or on the front page for some search or another. However, I doubt that these terms get that many searches per day. While targeting long tail search is a good strategy as well, getting ranked for highly searched keyword terms is what usually leads to higher sales

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  51. Eliza says:

    Good thing I made my own website even if I have an Etsy shop. You were right about “being at the mercy of Etsy, etc.” Earlier last week, I have been getting consistent sales till later last week when they changed the search to “relevancy” as default from “recency.” It did impact my sales and views. They all dropped and flat lined. I am currently in the middle of doing all the suggested tips from the admin. It is their business plan and that’s the way they want to profit and at the same time I agreed with their policies (that it can change anytime they want) from the beginning . That is something I do not experience in having my own website (not unless Paypal will start their own drama). So after I have changed what needed to be changed in my Etsy shop, I am going to focus more on my own website.

    1. rita says:

      It could be changes in the search engine criteria as opposed to something Etsy has done, no?

  52. Scarlet Leonard says:

    I nearly forgot about this discussion.

    It has been a good one, nice healthy debate. (no I’m not in the least bit offended, I love my artfire, plain and simple.)

    Fyi I do have my own domain and you can search scarlet impressions on google, my own site comes first followed by artfire even though my own site is just a landing page it is there. (etsy doesn’t show up for another couple of pages.)

    I just never saw the point in maintaining a full blown e-commerce site on my own when artfire has everything.

    Someone mentioned the products you sell too, for me that certainly is a factor I make lampwork beads, what better place to be than among a community of people that make jewellery.

  53. Jim Juris says:

    According to Google Analytics my visits have increased since the new seller studio look that was launched by Artfire on August 5th.

    As of a couple of days ago, the average number of daily visits has remained above the average number of daily visits before the new studio look.

    I haven’t looked at the statistics in a couple of days.

    In one of my studios I just removed my studio announcement from the item pages and I like the look of the pages without the studio announcement.

    My other studio has featured items and a studio announcement. It is nice to be able to customize the look of your Artfire studio.

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  55. karan says:

    I could identify with the article point about – all the stores look the same on etsy .

    we have developed an online shopping mall software and all the stores can have custom themes , branding

    to create an online marketplace –

  56. TG Bears says:

    I could not agree with you more. I have never had a sale off my Etsy shop, but they happen on my own site. I have complete control there over display and everything else associated with my own shop.

  57. Angie says:

    People on Etsy are too competitive..everyone fights over everything like two dogs fighting over an old shoe!

    It is list something and it gets buried.

    Like your content and your little girl is so the logo;)

    1. Katherine Sevigne says:

      Its true. I had a seller attack me on Etsy and she said I was stealing her design. She was actually stealing designs off of pintrest. Etsy just shut my listing down. I am starting my own website this october. So excited. That seller was an absolute nut case. I am going to put all of her designs on my own website and there wont be a thing she can do about it. Love revenge!!!

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  59. Gloria Sanchez says:

    Love the story, logo. OK I had a successful store on Etsy selling thousands a month, after Etsy suspended my account because some items did not meet the handmade criteria. True some of my headbands I use brooches or anything with bling bling and create a beautiful headband. After they closed down I decided WHO needs Etsy and started my own but it is painfully expensive, yes you get your online store and then what, without SEO your store is just another fish in the ocean.
    SO I am now selling at & new one that I have been waiting for to launch is since it will offer the same as Etsy except I can list even if it not handmade by me!

    1. Steve says:

      HI Gloria,
      That is true, but it’s your ocean and you have full control over your business. You can easily do a better job getting discovered online than Etsy does for you. You just have to know what you are doing.

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  61. Jenny says:

    I don’t know how old this article is, but etsy, once the first of it’s kind and once real darn good, has been bitten by the stupid bug. They have ZERO support what so ever. (I have emails sent to assorted etsy staff that have gone unanswered other than auto responders for well over a year.)

    It’s true they will do what ever they want to. Like it or lump it. But… when they resort to kicking off the very people who bring in traffic, and then fix it so those people can’t even shop? Isn’t that the number one rule in business 101? Keep customers?
    I think they flunked.

    Also I see mentioned about Artfire doing away with the free shops.
    Listen, NOTHING is free. They only did that as a fledgling business to try to bring in some new people. But sooner or later you have to expect that won’t last.
    And why should it? Where can you sell to the entire world no less, for free?
    Besides, part of their reasoning for doing away with that is the sheer number of people who would park a few items then totally ignore the shop. No promoting, no adding anything new. It hurts the entire site to have dead unattended shops like that.

    Now I was slow to up on board over there. My thinking was they charge rent. No motivation at all for me to sell. And I have my own site I pay rent for.
    but… after getting etsys fine boot print engraved in my back side, I took another look at Artfire.
    They DO care.
    They have marketing people who know their stuff and work tirelessly to improve SEO, and give us sellers the best tools. It is in their best interest to make it a good venue to sell. Otherwise their renters would move out.

    And UNlike etsy, our shops can be made to look like our own shops and at the same time keep some uniformity so shoppers don’t feel like they suddenly left. (ebay is notorious for some darn ugly shops.)

    As for the advice here to build your own? (Along with several very UN appreciated pop ups in my face about it.)
    Well…. trust me. you will never get the volume of traffic the big sites like etsy, artfire, ebay etc etc etc can get.
    Sure your the star of your own show. But that’s like a single ant on the beach.
    If your trying to be found, you need to be one ant in a huge ant hill. Yea your one of millions but… much more likely of being seen than as a single little ant all alone.

    Personal sites are good to have. When Artfire gets bit by the stupid bug, (and I have no doubt at some point it may happen. Seems to happen to all good sites.)
    Then I can simply change my own site accordingly. No worries about my business cards either. Visit my site. Where I am currently selling is right there.
    So for that it’s very good to have your own site. But as for selling? I’m convinced the staff at a huge site like Artfire will be much more on top of what google is doing and so forth and keep the site updated accordingly.

    1. Steve says:

      Hi Jenny,
      For the most part, I agree with your comments except for this one.

      Well…. trust me. you will never get the volume of traffic the big sites like etsy, artfire, ebay etc etc etc can get. Sure your the star of your own show. But that’s like a single ant on the beach. If your trying to be found, you need to be one ant in a huge ant hill. Yea your one of millions but… much more likely of being seen than as a single little ant all alone.

      If you know what you are doing, your own online store will be able to get much more traffic that your Etsy or Ebay listings. But if you don’t know what you are doing, then Etsy and Ebay is a good starting point. So as a beginner, Etsy and Ebay are probably good ways to dip your toes into the water but the best long term solution is to own your own shop.

      I would be willing to bet that my tiny little online store gets more traffic than the majority of ebay, etsy stores out there but feel free to prove me wrong. Plus, I’m in full control of my site.

      Are you basing your comments on personal experience?

      1. bera says:

        this is not correct, if you learn some tricks about SEO you can have traffic on your website and personally I’m not very attract by Etsy or A little Market or Ebay, Artfire etc or other marketplace, every shop looks the same, I have some unprofessional feeling about them, personal stores on own website make me feeling about something pro and I can appreciate more the individuality of the designer, this is very important to me.

  62. Jenny says:

    Yes. Personal experience. A lot of it. Do you really want me to spell it out here and put a big long pin in your bubble for all to see?

    I’d guess not. So good luck to you.

    1. connie says:

      I don’t know how old these posts are because I cannot find dates on the blog or posts. My online store sells thousands compared to the 7 or 8 hundred that my ebay store sells. I do have a niche. I started before the jewelry making craze went viral. I have been doing it for 10 years, but my website was a success after a few months.
      If you have a niche product and know your keywords, etc, you can do it!
      As for etsy, I rolled out a few sales 6 or 7 years ago, but that went dry quick, so I vacated.
      I think a lot of it depends on your product and the need or craze for it.

    2. Staci Ann says:

      I think what Steve was trying to say (and I really wish I knew how old this conversation is), is that while it’s true that a site like Etsy gets millions of views per month, that doesn’t mean that YOUR listings or shop are getting all of those views. And so, being part of that “anthill” really doesn’t mean very much. With just a little bit of extra work and a willingness to learn my market, which is what any serious business owner should do, I get tens of thousands of visitors per month. That may not be the millions that Etsy gets, but I would way rather have those thousands of hits of TARGETED traffic, people who have found me because they were actually searching for the things I offer, than the few crumbs that Etsy can throw my way from their millions of hits.

      That doesn’t mean I hate Etsy at all; I do keep a shop there. I just treat it as the business tool that it is, not as my entire business. Etsy owns that shop, not me.

  63. Grace says:

    Hi, I’m a middle school student and I’m about to open an Etsy store. I’ve considered your argument, but I really don’t have enough time to start a website at I can’t exactly quit school. What do you recommend in my situation?

    1. Steve C says:

      Hi Grace,
      I commend you for getting started so early! That’s great! If you want to dip your toes in the water with online selling, then by all means start with Etsy.

    2. Jenny says:

      Your in middle school? So under 18 then right?

      You cannot legally sign up on etsy and sell there or anywhere else. Any sale is a legal contract which you cannot engage in until you turn 18.

      Now if you have an adult running things who is in charge of the money and so on, then fantastic! Be a great learning experience. Be sure you mention this in your profile somewhere.

  64. Shawn says:

    Thanks for this very informative article.I have been toying with the idea of opening an Etsy or similar store but am now seriously considering just doing my own e-commerce site.How do you recommend I approach SEO? I’m not computer literate but do have a modest budget to do this.Any specific recommendations?
    Thanks for your time.

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  66. Lynn says:

    I’ve sold on Etsy, Artfire, and on my own website and I can tell you that anyone starting out on Etsy now, as opposed to those who have been on there for years, will not be getting external traffic to your store but you will on your own website. I think people have to come to a decision about what their longterm goals are for their business and how much their willing to stake for it.

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  69. nandini says:

    i am currently selling digital scrapbooking supplies on etsy. i feel etsy is a good way to get started. i wasnt even sure if i would sell anything when i first started! atleast etsy got eyes on my product without too much effort from my side. all i had to do was constantly create more products.
    now that im more confident, i am planning to start my own website too. honestly steve, you make it sound like i can! 🙂 ive been thinking about it for a while, but now i am gonna jump in! though im not planning to shut my etsy store. i think i will keep both.

  70. Denyce says:

    I dislike Etsy. They close down shops complaining that you are not listing correctly, yet leave other shops on there that are listing the same exact item or item that you can tell are not handmade and or fake items. They pick and choose who they want and or ask you to show them in detail how you are making your item, then still don’t choose you to list there. A big fraud if you ask me. I’d give them a rating of F-

  71. Zach says:

    Etsy is not right for everyone… and building a fully-functional website can be tough too. There’s another option that people tend to forget about – Facebook Stores! There are a bunch of Facebook shop applications that let you build stores right inside of your Facebook business page (check out ShopTab). Sometimes when you’re just getting started it’s easier to sell to the friends/family/fans that you already have.

  72. George says:

    Great article, I found this awhile ago when helping my sister research about setting up a web store. Her needs were really simple, she just wanted an online store to post some products and to be able to accept credit cards. Most of the existing stuff was too expensive or complicated for what she needed. So I built a really simple web app for her to do that. I’m looking for some people to help provide some feedback on the web store software I built. If you’re interested in setting up a free web store, check it out at It’s designed to just provides the basics. Thanks and good luck everyone!

    1. Jim Juris says:

      George, I took a look at your bulavard venue, and from what I saw I think that it is great. I like the simple look of your site. Normally, I don’t like venues that charge a transaction fee. But, since there are not other fees involved to sell there, other than the payment processing fee, and since the fee is only 3%, I am fine with that.

      Do you have a sample store that a potential seller could look at? I would like to see an example of what my store would look like before I signed up.

      If I had something that I wanted to sell I would probably sign up to sell there.

      One thing that may work against you and your site sellers is the spelling of your site domain name. When people ask a person where they sell online, and they say boulevard, and the person that they told goes to visit the site, they will not be able to find your site. Or, they will find something else, because they did not use the correct spelling when they tried to visit your site.

  73. Jonathan Craig says:

    Interesting thoughts — never really considered the disadvantages of Etsy. WooCommerce and other eCommerce platforms seem to be a bit more work, but perhaps they are worth it in the long run.

  74. Andrew says:

    This article is one-sided. It’s coming from someone who’s making money selling their site/products/info on how “easy” it is to start your own online business with your own website.

    I have my own websites and am a qualified web designer. I also have stores on places like Etsy, Zazzle etc. They ALL have their good and bad. SO DOES HAVING YOUR OWN WEBSITE. If you’re a newbie, starting your own website is a HUGE mouthful. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll choke to death with the amount of stuff you have to chew on.

    My take on the BEST method is a combination of ALL of the above. Those times when I face issues with my websites, I am glad my online stores on Etsy/Zazzle make up for the shortfall. I use my websites to drive traffic to those stores as well as other income revenues.

    If you’re doing good on Etsy, stay on Etsy, but NEVER, EVER, EVER put all your eggs in one basket. YOU MUST, MUST, MUST always build other revenue streams.

  75. Jenny says:

    Far back in this thread I posted how etsy got stupid and greedy then I found Artfire.
    Well Artfire got stupid and greedy as well now. Ads suddenly appeared all over everyones listings. 13 to a page no less. And not off to the side where you know they are ads, but in with the descriptions. Want to see my beautiful hand made pen? Click here for some cheap made in china junk. It was horrible!
    Complaints filled their forum board. Then…. ha. We could remove the ads IF we agree on top of our monthly “locked in for life” rate, to pay a commission on sales to!
    The PR person they had already left Artfire. (Here’s your sign.)
    Sales had tanked about the same time he left. Just search google for anything. Does Artfire even show up anymore? I never see it.
    And the CEO flat out ignored everyones posts.
    What part of “locked in for life” did he not understand?

    They start out great. So did etsy. So did ebay. But one by one they ALL get bitten by the stupid and greedy bugs.

    So to anyone reading this, if you want these third party, totally out of your control to do what ever they want when ever they want sites, you ALL should first build your own. It doesn’t have to be much. Three pages.
    1. Briefly, entry pages have to be short and to the point. This is what this site is about.
    2. This is what we offer where you have some pictures and better descriptions.
    (Of course you can build your own store from here.)
    3. Contacts….. and if you like, pepper your site with links to your third party venues.

    This way, when one gets stupid and you either pull out or they boot you out for complaining about the greed too much, simply change the link on your own site to where ever you find next.
    Sure saves on business cards this way if nothing else.

    As for me personally? I’m so totally fed up with the greed, vanishing to nothing support, and being out of control over my own content. Not to mention the countless HOURS listing, promoting, tweeting, pinning just to bring business there only to be treated like an old shoe. Disposable. I’m done with all of them.
    If I EVER come across a new site that seems great, I want a written, hard copy, BINDING contract first. Or forget about it.
    Since non of them do that, forget about it.

  76. Matt says:

    Etsy is good place to start but you should have an own website to grow. Depending on how you plan to expand your business, choose the appropriate tool.

    * Choose free solution like Wix, SimpleSite – adjust their templates to your needs and publish it for free. You should know that free plans are always have some limitations (external links or free subdomains) which sometimes poorly affect on SEO or make your bussiness little unprofessional. When choosing free website pay attention for shop addons pricing. If for some time you’ll need to add shop to your site you’ll have to choose some pay plan.

    * If you have higher requirements, need awesome addons, eye-catching design, you have straight marketing strategy to make shop profitable, you can choose Shopify or Weebly. They are good, no question about it, but remeber awesome tools not make your profits its your work make it.

    * If you need something in the middle like simple website/blog/shop and you’re interested in pay as you grow (pay per item published) you should check out PollyToo Own Site.

    Sometimes start can be difficult and you may notice poor effectiveness of your site, so you should constantly analyze actions of visitors and learn lessons from your marketing efforts. External website also gives you ability to sell through Google Merchant Center.

  77. Stuart Wright says:

    I dont think views have dropped on etsy, I have a lot of items for sale though,it does vary daily however. seems some days traffic is good, other days it feel like its automated somehow…other days its low…

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  79. Savana says:

    Good article!

    These are very helpful points, but I also think it’s important to have the dedication and drive to stick it out. I’ve recently opened up my shop on my own website – I think SEO is where it all happens which unfortunately on etsy – is extremely competitive.

    A lot of sellers that I look up to are doing just fine in sales. Some have been on etsy for 5 years while others have only been on for 2. I do notice that most dated within the year have few sales. I also have noticed on numerous occasions that the more listings you have, the better. Some people have been on etsy for a year with 0 sales because they only have 10-30 items in their shop, whereas I don’t think I have come by a shop yet that has had less than 5 sales with around 100 listings. I imagine the seo is important there, but I’m sure etsy also keeps track on how old your shop is, determination in listing (more listings = more money for them), and how often you list.

  80. Jim Juris says:

    I have not sold anything on either Etsy or Artfire for almost two years. I am doing other things now.

    I would like to make a suggestion for everyone no matter what you sell or where you sell your products. Facebook advertising is what I would like to recommend. I highly recommend Facebook advertising over renewing on a constant basis, not counting when the listing expires.

    You will have to be willing to spend some money on trial and error first with Facebook advertising. Video engagement is probably the best way to go when you run an ad. You should be able to get clicks on your video for less than 5 cents per click. If not, you are doing something wrong.

    Be sure to keep your videos short, which means that they should be only about one minute in length. The longer the video, the greater the drop off rate will be. In other words, there will only be about 9% or so of the people who click on your video watching the video until the very end.

    Test several ads and see which ad works the best.

    You can also run ads for clicks to your website. I would not send people to your Etsy shop only a website. Those clicks will cost you about $2 per click. If you are spending over $3 per click you are probably doing something wrong.

    You can get started for $5, but you probably should try $10 for one day to get started. $20 is probably about the amount you should spend on an ad. If you are not profitable after spending $20 on a Facebook ad you probably should stop the ad.

    This is much better than SEO. I am all for SEO, but Google is all about making money and they want you to spend money on advertising in order for your website to show up on their search results. It use to be that in about one to two weeks of putting up a website you could show up in the Google search results but that is no longer the case. It now could be MONTHS or a YEAR or more for your website to show up in the Google search results.

    With Facebook advertising you will get people seeing your products within hours rather than months or years. The target market (audience) can be narrowed down using Facebook advertising.

    Finding the right audience to target is the key to a successful ad on Facebook. Set your budget at a reasonable level and don’t expect to make a profit with Facebook ad your first try because it probably won’t happen.

    Don’t try to target the entire world, start with a small area. Maybe target one state or one city. For example, if you live in California, you may want to target one of the large cities in that state such as Sacramento or a large city you live in or live near. You can adjust the radius of the area around the city you are targeting.

    Be sure to have some content on your Facebook fan page before you start running any ads. You should have at least four posts on your Facebook page besides the ad.

    Notice that I said Facebook ads and not Google Ads using Adwords.

    1. Chantal says:

      when I’m in need for something I search for it on Google not on social networks, I think most of people do this
      you can do ads on socials, but it’s pretty difficult and random to find right people in the right moment, it’s just too random as practice
      plus a lot of people are superficial and whimsy on socials, you don’t really know why they put like on stuffs and if they change their mind about some pages they liked perhaps years ago
      using SEO on a personal website is not so difficult, really, only you need is a catalogue like Woocommerce, a Seo plugin and a blog section

  81. Chantal says:

    I think it’s very difficult to sell on Etsy..especially some items such as jewelry
    I am graduated in Fashion design and art and I think I take very seriously my jewelry job, but on Etsy there are more than 6 milion of jewelry, also industrial made ones, it is impossible to stand out of the crowd…best contacts I had until today came from my own website, so I don’t think that being on these overcrowded marketplaces is fundamental
    I didn’t find social useful for me, they are pretty accessories but nothing me the most important and professional aspect is having a professional website

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  85. catbee says:

    You forgot to mention that Etsy not only has ‘do it yourself’ and ‘handmade’, BUT also vintage sellers, as well as shops that offer all sorts of craft supply.

  86. sas says:

    While this article makes many good points- it is missing the single most valuable point of using Etsy as a selling platform- TRAFFIC, and cheap traffic- sure you can start your own store website, but the marketing dollars to generate anywhere near the traffic that a moderately successful Etsy shop has is why Etsy does so well. We all know that diversification is essential to longevity in online retailing, but Etsy is IMHO the easiest way to build an online business for artisans. If you can’t make it on Etsy, it’s unlikely you’ll do so elsewhere online without a ton more work/money.

  87. Marie says:

    what you say is true but according to my experience it is really hard or impossible to emerge with an individual shop, in the same way on the marketplaces you are only a drop in the sea
    I have had the opportunity to sell only because I was lucky enough to be selected for a physical shop and my products have been highlighted on a marketplace, but in all other cases, zero sales and zero visits on my shop
    I tried Google ads but I received a lot of spam a no sales
    I do not know about Etsy, but I would like to try it, I saw that even really messy shops have some sales, so I guess that a well curated shop naturally has some chances….
    we’ll see

  88. OpaqueMotives says:

    If people care more about price over quality, they quite frankly I couldn’t give a shit, I don’t want their money. My product is an investment for the future.

  89. Jerry Peres says:

    Thank you for such an informative article. My knowledge of Selling On An Etsy Store Is A Bad Idea has increased.

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  91. Ron says:

    NEVER count on Etsy. We had a shop for years making solid 6 figures.

    We lost everything because all it took was litterally a handful of unhappy customers out of hundreds on top of hundreds. Didn’t matter we had hundreds of 5 star reviews, a 100% satisfaction guaranteed and had amazing customer service.

    Etsy gives ZERO care about it’s sellers. Absolutely none. Their 1% policy is pretty much criminal and unrealistic. Their will always be unhappy people. We had one post a 2 stars reviews because it was a gift and the person loved it but she felt she could have had the item before the due date and could have paid less elsewhere for her custom order. That two star triggered a shop review because we had someone accidentally open and close a case while trying to message us as a thank you.

    Stay away from that place and it’s near mafia customer service.

    We are now rebuilding from scratch as our own webstore.

  92. John Willson says:

    It is true Having a presence in Etsy is fine but along with it having a website of your own is even more effective and helpful to sell your products.
    – Images Enhance

  93. Troy says:

    Anyone who has had to pay thousands of dollars per week on a bricks & mortar retail store understands Etsy is nothing but a good deal and those who haven’t can’t conceptualise how good a deal it is, whine about a lousy couple of percent and are vulnerable to snake oil salesmen who want to take their money with the promise of a miracle cure. Salesmen who use scare tactics like “Etsy could raise their fees DRAMATICALLY in an instant and you can’t do anything about it”. Sure Etsy is going to price themselves out of the market, don’t listen to bull.

    1. Mullanhpy says:

      Amen! What Etsy “can” do at the drop of a hat is the same thing any other web platform can do.

  94. Riyaz says:

    It is easy to start first you need to know some business fundamentally then you can easily do a startup. In your article I learnt a lot things. Thanks

  95. Mullanphy says:

    What an absolute crock. Every negative point made about Etsy is TRUE FOR EVERY OTHER ONLINE MARKET – marketplace . Including Shopify.

    Etsy really is simple for a startup. Their pricing structure is fair and lower than most of their competitors. Etsy spends ETSY’S MONEY advertising shops and products with search engines, including Google.

    It ain’t easy no matter what route you take, though. If you want to make money you have to spend dollars and time no matter what you do.

    But, lordy, what a crock.

  96. Jas says:

    Totally agree with Steve. No matter how good their platform is, be it Etsy, Ebay, Amazon or any others, you are at their mercy. They are in business and gaining profits is their priority no matter what.

    I am with Etsy for a year plus, although it does bring me quite a number of sales, I have never think that it will be in long term. I have my own website and I’m trying to direct customers to that.

  97. RTLashes says:

    I have my own website, but I find that recently sales have been more via Etsy. I do have my own brand, which is new but prominent and have repeat customers from there.

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