Last Updated on
Disclaimer: all opinions are my own.
You landed here because you’re a good entrepreneur doing some research before starting an Etsy shop so you can make extra money at home and get your business off the ground.
Etsy was my gateway platform into the e-commerce world, but there are some things I wish I knew before selling on Etsy, and I wanted to share those things with you today.
Etsy is a great platform to start on, but I don’t recommend Etsy being your only e-commerce platform and I’m going to give you the nitty-gritty details of why (and how I almost had to go to court over my Etsy shop…).
I’m also going to give you other places to sell your products so you can maximize your potential profits!
First, let’s talk about some of the pros of starting an Etsy shop.
Pros of Starting an Etsy Shop
While there are reasons you don’t want to rely on Etsy 100%, I do think it’s a great place for newcomers who don’t have a large audience of their own to market to.
Here are some reasons why I think starting an Etsy shop is a great idea.
1. Starting an Etsy Shop is Quick and Easy
When you start an Etsy shop, you don’t need to worry about domains, hosting or hiring a web designer. Everything is already done for you.
This is a screenshot of my Etsy shop, and as you can see, the only items you might need to have custom-designed would be a header image and a logo. You could easily design a header image yourself on Canva, making your Etsy shop free to set up!
I also like the design of Etsy shops. I think they are user-friendly and clean. Etsy has obviously done their research into making sure the layout of their shops is as high-converting as possible.
You can also upgrade your Etsy account to have more features, such as a scrollable banner at the top of your page to showcase different promotions just as EasyPrintablesShop has.
While there are options to customize, it’s nothing like the customization you get by starting your own shop on your own website, but having a shop ready to go in as little as an hour is very appealing, regardless of the customization limitations.
2. You Have Access to a Large Audience
Etsy is a search engine and the people who go to Etsy are looking to buy.
If you are just starting up and don’t have your own audience yet, starting an Etsy shop is a great way to get your products in front of a larger audience to increase your chances of making sales.
When I first started my Etsy shop, I hadn’t built up a large audience on my own, so being able to leverage the shoppers on Etsy helped me make a few sales.
3. You Can Integrate Print on Demand + Dropshipping
Etsy integrates with many dropshipping platforms so you can sell print-on-demand items with your unique designs (think t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.) without needing to carry stock of the items you wish to sell.
Dropshipping is a great method to build a profitable business with no inventory, and Etsy makes it very easy to integrate. Before you choose a dropshipping platform, make sure they are compatible with Etsy.
Here’s a list of dropshipping companies to help you get started (if that’s the route you’d like to go)!
4. Etsy is Established
Etsy is established and is known for being a marketplace full of unique items. Your future potential customers are likely on Etsy looking for the items you sell right now.
That doesn’t mean you won’t need to learn how to market your goods, however. Just like any other online business, starting an Etsy shop will still require you to learn about online marketing.
5. People Trust Etsy
Trust is a major factor in the buying process. If your customers don’t trust your shop, they may not feel comfortable buying from you and handing over their credit card and personal information.
Brand new online shops can often face this drawback as they lack reviews, social proof and authority.
This isn’t much of a problem on Etsy.
On Etsy, buyers can purchase products confidently knowing their personal information will be stored properly. They can also feel comfortable knowing that if the item doesn’t arrive, they’ll be able to contact Etsy and get a refund.
Drawbacks of Starting an Etsy Shop
While the pros I just listed with starting an Etsy shop might make Etsy seem like a dream for beginners, you should also be aware of some of the cons. I wish I knew about these prior to opening up my Etsy shop (it would have saved me a ton of stress).
There are a few reasons why I eventually moved my shop off Etsy and onto my own domain.
1. Your Products Are Shown Beside Your Competition
If a customer walked into your store and picked up a beautiful necklace you spent weeks creating, would you run over to them and say, “if you think that’s nice, you might also like this necklace that you can get from my competition just down the road!” as you show them a photo of your competitor’s products?
But that’s what Etsy does, and that’s what will essentially happen to you if you start an Esty shop.
At the bottom of your Etsy shop, Etsy shows products they think the user will also like.
This means that your competitors may (and likely will) be shown to your potential customers on your own shop page.
Etsy makes money when an item sells, so they want to make sure that when a potential customer is browsing, they have lots of choices to increase the likelihood they will buy.
Etsy doesn’t care what store sells what items, they just want to make sure something sells.
And that means promoting your competitor’s products on your own shop’s page.
2. You Have Less Control
I almost had to go to court over my Lightroom presets. (You’ll want to read this section entirely.)
When I started an Etsy shop, the last thing on my mind was going to court to fight over some silly little Lightroom mobile presets I was selling…but that’s almost what happened. And I wish I knew how prevalent this was on e-commerce marketplaces like Etsy, because after speaking with other Etsy shop owners, I learned my case wasn’t unique.
Here’s what happened: Etsy disabled my listings because a jealous competitor accused me of frivolous copyright (I didn’t copy anything), however, by law, when you are accused of copyright infringement, Etsy (or whichever e-commerce marketplace you’re selling on) has to take down every single listing in order to avoid getting sued themselves.
Here’s the quick and dirty version of what happens when you get accused of copyright infringement:
- Someone reports your account to Etsy and issues a DMCA takedown notice
- Etsy immediately removes the item(s) in question from your shop and notifies you with two options: 1. either admit you’re in the wrong and delete the items from your shop OR 2. counter the DMCA claim. Countering the claim legally opens you up to going to court. Countering is essentially saying, “I’m not backing down because I’m not in the wrong, and if you want to take me to court over it, bring it on.”
- If you go with option 1 and admit you’re infringing on someone’s copyright, you can’t sell those items again. If you go with option 2, Etsy will notify the person that you are countering their claim, and they will have 14 days to take you to court. If they don’t take you to court in 14 days, then everything is over, and your items can be listed for sale again.
I went with option #2 because I wasn’t infringing on anyone’s copyright, however, I then had to still wait 14 days to see if the other party wanted to then go to court. Let me tell you—those two weeks were very stressful! Even though I knew I wasn’t in the wrong, the thought of opening myself up to legal proceedings was not fun.
The situation wasn’t fun. To be fair to Etsy, this isn’t their fault. It’s how the law works, and Etsy was simply following the DMCA process.
Nonetheless, my listings were taken down for two weeks, and my Etsy SEO was severely impacted. (And of course, the other party never came back to proceed with a court order as they were obviously just trying to scare me and hope that I would take down my listings.)
What’s frustrating is how I lost money over this, even though I wasn’t in the wrong.
When my shop finally got approved to sell again, my sales were down. I contacted Etsy support and asked why traffic to my shop had gone down so much. They told me that due to their algorithm, it could take some time for my items to find their place in the search results again. Again, this is out of Etsy’s control, but it was really unfortunate how everything panned out…all because of a jealous competitor.
I also couldn’t help but how often this would happen. I certainly didn’t want to deal with this frequently.
I also wasn’t the only shop owner this happened to. I reached out to many of my other competitors when I noticed their listings seemed gone, and they confirmed they were all hit with the same frivolous copyright infringement from the same sour competitor. And if you search for “fraudulent DMCA notice etsy” you’ll find stories of other people who have gone through the same thing.
Now the big question: Could this have happened on my own website? Absolutely.
DMCA notices happen anywhere, but it’s less likely to happen on your own site. Why? Because it’s easier to fire off a bunch of DMCA notices on e-commerce marketplaces like Etsy. It’s more time-consuming to do that for individual websites.
While it was a bad situation, it was the kick in the pants I needed to move my products over to my own website and stop relying on Etsy and other third-party platforms.
3. Etsy Has High Fees
I sell my products at a lower price point, so Etsy’s fees really hurt my bottom line. When I totaled up my fees, 15% of my revenue went towards paying Etsy’s fees.
Depending on the price point of your products and what you are selling, your fees may vary. Here is a breakdown of Etsy’s fees so you can have an idea of what yours will be.
As my items are priced low, the fees I have to pay account for more, so let’s say you have higher-priced items and you are paying Etsy only 5%. If you sell $1,000 per month on Etsy, you will be paying (at minimum) $600 in Etsy fees annually.
Here’s the thing: You could put that $600 towards building your own e-commerce website. E-commerce website builders like Squarespace and Shopify make it simple to get your own site up and running, without having to hire a designer.
5. You Are Limited to Etsy’s Audience
In the pros, I mentioned that you have access to a large audience, but I didn’t say that their audience is also your audience.
Is your target audience even hanging out on Etsy?
Before you spend time starting an Etsy store, you should do some research to see if your audience even uses Etsy to shop.
6. You Cannot Grow an Email List (Sort of)
Let me preface this section by saying that some email marketing platforms will connect to Etsy so you can collect the emails of your customers (IF they choose to opt-in). But let me explain why that’s not ideal…
If you are just starting out in e-commerce, the last thing you are thinking about is probably growing an email list. But it should be the first thing you think about.
Email marketing is a highly effective and targeted way to promote your products to your audience. In fact, email marketing has a 66% (on average) conversion rate when it comes to making a purchase as a result of seeing a marketing message.
So, what is your email list? Your email list is essentially a group of people who you have direct access to, who are also fans of your brand and your products.
These are people who are either past customers or potential current customers but one thing is for sure: they are people who have the potential to one day make a purchase from you.
Like I mentioned, with Etsy, some email marketing platforms connect with Etsy where you can collect emails (but only from people who purchase from you, and only if they choose to subscribe).
However, there is no streamlined way to collect emails from those who haven’t purchased from you. By streamlined, I mean you can’t add opt-in forms directly to your listings.
Here’s an example of an opt-in form on one of my blogs:
Since you can’t add these to your Etsy listings, you aren’t able to collect opt-ins in an easy manner. Yes, you can hyperlink to an opt-in form, but generally speaking, the conversion rate will decrease since most people aren’t going to click off of Etsy to access your opt-in form. Users like the path to least resistance, which is why linking to an external sign-up page isn’t the best option.
For me personally, once I moved my shop from Etsy over to my own website, my income grew by 2,000% because I was able to do better-targeted ads, use my email list, my products were no longer shown alongside my competition and my website traffic was converting to sales.
Is Etsy Worth It?
Here’s my honest opinion: starting an Etsy shop is great for those who are looking to dip their toes into e-commerce. Had I not started my own Etsy shop, I wouldn’t be where I am today with my products!
Etsy is also a great way to diversify your streams of revenue. There’s nothing wrong with starting with an Etsy shop, seeing how things go, and building out your own e-commerce site in the future. You can even have BOTH Etsy and your own e-commerce site run simulteansouly.
Aside from starting an Etsy shop, I would also look into putting your products on different platforms such as:
But I absolutely recommend thinking of setting up your own e-commerce website where you have full control as well.
If you want to start your own online shop, check out my list of over 65 different digital products to start selling today!
This article may include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Dana Nicole is an award-winning freelance writer for MarTech/SaaS who was rated one of the best SaaS writers by Software World. She specializes in writing engaging content that ranks high in search engines and has been featured in publications like Semrush, ConvertKit, and Hotjar.
Dana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and has over 15 years of experience working alongside national brands in their marketing departments.
When Dana’s not working, you can find her dancing en pointe, cooking up new recipes, and exploring the great outdoors with her two big dogs.