When you’re just starting out wanting to sell the products you make, Etsy is an obvious first choice. It’s low cost, low risk, and it lets you test the waters of the marketplace. Add to that a growing legion of fans and a built in sense of community and there are plenty of reasons to sell your work on Etsy.
But if you’re serious about growing your business, then it’s time to face facts: having an Etsy shop is not a business model.
I mean no disrepect to Etsy. In fact, Etsy has played a role in my success. However, if you’re hoping to develop a full time business from selling products on Etsy, it’s unlikely to happen. An overwhelming majority of the makers on Etsy do not make anything close to a full time income.
If you really want to take your business full time (or to the next level) it’s time to get serious about putting together the multiple revenue streams that make a well-rounded business. An Etsy shop can certainly be a piece of that puzzle, but growth will be challenging if it’s your only sales and marketing strategy.
So what does a growth strategy beyond Etsy look like? Here are some suggestions for building your business beyond Etsy’s virtual walls:
- Don’t use Etsy as a benchmark for pricing. I’ve vented here before about the artificially low prices on Etsy. The problem is compounded when people use Etsy as their only sales strategy and feel like they must keep their prices low to compete. If you want to grow your business, you need to develop realistic pricing that factors in costs, labor, and profit.
- Market beyond Etsy. Even if you still use Etsy as your primary e-commerce site, success on Etsy is a result of getting press and recognition outside of Etsy that directly drives traffic back to your Etsy shop. Build a killer mailing list. Use social media. Most importantly, develop a strategy for targeted outreach to both print and online press.
- Create multiple revenue streams. A successful business is built on income from multiple sources, so that if one source is slow, the entire business doesn’t collapse. Your Etsy shop should be a part of a multi-pronged revenue generating system. This system will most likely include some combination of retail craft shows, wholesale, and possibly your own e-commerce site. Many makers derive a large portion of their income from custom and commission work. Trunk shows, studio sales, opening your own boutique – the possibilities are endless when it comes imagining additional revenue streams. Some makers even augment their production business with skills like teaching, writing, or design consultancy.
As I’ve talked about before, it’s important to match your growth expectations to your lifestyle choices. For many people, an Etsy shop is an opportunity to fit in a business around your schedule. But if you goal is to develop a consistent, full time income, or a revenue generating business, it’s time to move beyond Etsy as the only strategy, and start putting together some of the other pieces of the puzzle.