When I first decided to dive into selling handmade goods, I turned to no other place but Etsy. I posted my first pair of earrings for sale at a boyfriend's suggestion and it was a snowball from there. My last year of college I challenged myself to make 10 sales before Christmas - I wasn't a successful seller really - and met my goal. Then with Zach's encouragement I opened up my design shop selling blog designs. With the invention of the instant download I was hooked. We then opened up our vintage shop, 516Vintage (we've since shuttered the doors, but who knows...we may open up again). Between those two things though I switched my handmade things to an ecommernce platform called Storenvy. This switch had it's pros and cons, you can read that here. You can also read a slightly dated Storenvy Rundown here.
But once I finally decided I really wanted to open up a shop again.....with out a doubt I chose to go back to Etsy. Now, you may say that it costs too much to run an etsy shop, that you're going to be up against those who sell mass produced items from China...but I say the ease of use, recognition, and necessary evil of seller fees are great considering one has to do very little in the grand scheme of things to promote a shop. Here are the pros, for me, for sticking with Etsy for my ecommerce needs:
They do the advertising for you - If you didn't know not only does Etsy promote through various targeted ads on websites, but they also have a crazy cool email marketing strategy, and even get their name in print. I've seen adz for Etsy in various magazines in various doctors offices and waiting rooms. This targeted marketing and promotion means that Etsy has made a name for itself. Etsy has become the go to place to search for independent artists and creators. Meaning it is a great market place for you - the artist or creator - to be a part of. Millions of people all over the world are constantly searching Etsy for billions of keywords hourly (these stats are totally made up, but they make sense). If you're a part of the largest market place you'll be a part of something big.
They do the ecommerce for you - Do you really want to be responsible for building & maintaining an ecommerce site? Yes, you can add ecommerce to your Wordpress blog (Blogger platform forever!) but do you really want to deal with that? Do you really want to be responsible for security certificates? Do you really want to deal with a design? Do you really want to figure out how to make your stand alone site mobile friendly? Do you have all these resources? If you do, wonderful! But for the average hobby seller all this seems crazy. Of course you could go with a place like Storenvy or Tictail for ecommerce, but when you have the biggest name in indie commerce behind you......why would you bother? Everything is integrated from fees to shipping to instant downloads to revenue to stats to payments to label printing. Storenvy has at least a majority of those things done through 3rd party websites.
Simplicity & ease of use - All those things above leads me to this point: Etsy is easy to understand for the novice seller. You don't have to manage security certificates on Etsy because they do the eccommerce for you. You don't have to figure out a mobile design because Etsy does it for you. You can get to the creating, making, and listing with out having to worry about the crazy stuff. Etsy is a great place to learn what works, what doesn't, what pays, and what you need to charge to make what you need to make. If you end up being a big shot and going into your own website, great. But Etsy is easy to use, easy to understand, and easy to build from with out having to worry about who's credit card might get stollen. The fees are a necessary evil of running a shop where you don't have to deal with the things mentioned above. Listing is easy, tracking is easy, hosting a shop is just plain easy.
You'll be among creators like you - I would say the majority of buyers on Etsy are looking for a creator like you. Etsy is a leading name (in my opinion) in handmade sellers. Buyers navigate Etsy to find something unique and made by an independent creator. People want to support those doing things their own way. Yes, you're also in the boat with mass produced resale from China but you're also among creators that like to create. You can find tons of Etsy communities on Facebook as well to really reinforce the handmade community.
So, if you're down for starting your own etsy shop....go ahead and get started here.
Do you love Etsy? Is there another all inclusive ecommerce site that I need to know about?