I get a lot of messages from my readers asking advice on how I manage to make living from the art I create. It took me a few years to figure out how to turn my passion of doll making into the actual business. And I’m more than willing to share! You’ll find a few articles on my blog where I talk about the business side of being an artist. Maybe it’ll be a starting point to turn your life around.
When Etsy is not enough
Today I’d like to talk about the incredible option the digital age has given us – having your own storefront on the internet. Online stores boomed over the last few years and a lot of us now are doing most of the shopping online. With shoppers numbers growing every day, the sellers appearing rapidly as well. At the end of 2016, Etsy had 1.7 million active sellers and this number is growing every day. It seems that every crafter and their aunt selling something there! While this is great and everyone deserves to make a few dollars from their hobby, creating a standout business on Etsy becoming even harder. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still a huge fan of Etsy! My plush dolls have found a sweet spot in Etsy visitors’ hearts and I’m making a third of my income there every month.
This year I’ve started making articulated porcelain dolls (BJD) and it has got me thinking where I should sell them. After a few days of debating and creating lists of pros and cons, I decided to open my own shop. Here’s why Etsy lost in this debate:
1. I’m driving my own traffic
With my plush dolls, I get a fair amount of organic traffic from Etsy, but porcelain dolls are such a niche product that very few people search for them on Etsy. My fanbase is growing on social media like Facebook or Instagram. When people are interested in purchasing one of my dolls, they click the link I provide on my social media, so why not drive them to my own website? This method completely paid off because I sold my first doll within the first hour it was listed!
2. High-end product doesn’t look professional on Etsy
My porcelain dolls are collector’s item. Usually, the market price for such artworks is anywhere between 600-3000$. I’d feel kinda bad if people paying such significant sums of money would have to buy those from my Etsy shop. We all could agree that shopping is an experience and every detail counts. Imagine if you have some money to spend and you’re in the market for a luxurious piece of jewelry. Most likely you’ll go to “Tiffany” or similar brand but not Etsy.
3. No options to personalize your shop
Branding plays a huge role in selling your items online. Your brand colors, imagery, fonts and even design tells something about your brand. Even though you can add your banner and logo on Etsy for some brands it’s simply not enough. My porcelain dolls are inspired by nature, every image and design detail has some kind of earthy tones and greenery. Etsy’s branding color is bright orange and it just doesn’t look good with my brand.
4. High fees to pay
Etsy has three types of basic fees: listing fee (0.20$), transaction fee (3.5%) and payment processing fee (varies by the country, U.S. 3% + 0.25$). As you can see it’s quite a few fees to pay and if you’re selling high priced items it adds up to the significant amount of money. I’ll compare the fees later in the article, but for example, Wix and Shopify don’t collect any listing or transaction fees, you pay just for processing payments – Paypal or credit card rates.
5. Etsy making constant changes, you don’t really own your shop
If you own an Etsy shop you might already have experienced many occurring changes – good and bad. The worst part is, you don’t have any saying in any of them. If Etsy decides to modify something that would not benefit your business at all, most likely you won’t be able to change their mind. Taking that into account, an online store which you actually own is a good backup plan.
Wix or Shopify?
There’s no one good answer because both of the platforms are very easy to use and have friendly pricing plans. The best part is that you can try both of them for free and see which one you like the most. I have more thorough articles about each of them, so give it a read if you’re interested in Wix or Shopify.
Read the full article about Wix here: Opening your own shop with Wix website builder
What I like the most about Wix is their pricing policy. Their premium plans for E-commerce starts from 17$ a month when paying annually. Also, their professionally designed templates for websites are free as well! This was the biggest selling point for me because a beautiful website is most likely to be used. As you can see there are more plans for blogging or simple website to showcasing your art, but for selling something you’ll need at least eCommerce plan.
A lot of people who are thinking about opening their own online shop are scared of actually building their own website. But there’s nothing to be scared of because when you choose your own template the website is almost ready to go. You just need to insert pictures, add descriptions, prices, etc. And if you want to edit the template, simply drag and drop each element you want to add.
Here are a few pros and cons of using Wix website builder:
- Competetive pricing: pay for the plan each month or annually; credit card/Paypal rates; no additional fees for listing items; no hidden fees from Wix.
- Easy to design and personalize your own website.
- Detailed articles on support base which will help you to get started. Phone support included!
- Tax and shipping calculations
- Accept Paypal and credit cards, Wix ensures the security of the payments!
- Optimized mobile store.
- Sell physical and digital products.
- Wix has a lot of additional apps to help you with marketing and expanding your business
- Add coupons and create sales.
- It might not be the best choice if you have a huge inventory. Even though you can add your items within categories it can get messy if you’re offering thousands of different items.
- If you’re planning to expand and hire staff, Wix doesn’t have an option to add staff accounts to your site.
- There’s no option to add or change HTML code within your site which might be a problem for big and more advanced businesses.
Read the full article about Shopify here: Opening your own online shop with Shopify
Shopify is one of the most popular platforms to create your own online store. And I can see why! They focus on one thing – helping you to create an online shop that is fast, secure, easy to manage and looks good. One of the most exciting things about Shopify is the possibility to integrate your shop with Facebook. Your customers will be able to check out without leaving Facebook! How cool is that?
There are a few more pros and cons in having a Shopify store:
- Easy to set up and change the design of your shop
- You can get a credit card reader for smartphones and accept credit cards when selling your items in craft fairs. All these sales will reflect on your shop statistics!
- Incredible support and user-friendly site tutorials
- Responsive design works really well on mobile
- Sell physical and digital products.
- You can get calculated shipping rates and print discounted USPS shipping labels from Shopify, saving you up to 40% on postage. Great option for those who live in the U.S.
- Add more selling channels and sell even on sites like Pinterest, Buzzfeed, Amazon, Wish, etc.
- It can get pricey for small or developing businesses. Their cheapest pricing plan is 29$ a month.
- Even though they have a lot of gorgeous templates, most of them cost more than 100$.
- You have to purchase your own domain separately, it’s reasonably priced but not free like on Wix.
As you can see it’s not hard to open your own online shop at all! The only question is which one to choose, Wix or Shopify? Try out both before making a final decision! The monthly fee pays off really quickly if you drive traffic to your business. Check out more articles about Wix or Shopify and let me know which one you prefer in the comments!