By Leah McHenry
Why I Don't Like Etsy & Amazon For Building a Handmade Product Business
I was asked recently,
"Hey Leah, do you have any tips for Etsy users just starting out?"
Here's my answer:
I don't like Etsy for the same reason I don't like Amazon:
1) You can't control the customer experience.
2) The platform is designed to benefit Etsy/Amazon, not you the seller.
3) You could get kicked off or banned at any point, especially if they change the rules and you are unaware (happens all the time).
4) You can't access or download ANY customer information (the worst one IMO!), thus forfeiting your opportunity to market to them a 2nd time, etc.
5) While a potential customer is browsing your products, the platform is advertising your competitor's products - RIGHT ON YOUR LISTING.
6) Ridiculous fees, which lowers your profit margin. Lower margins mean you can't grow your business. More margins = faster growth.
Those were just off the top of my head...
Now having said that, you could make those channels just part of your strategy, but not your main strategy and that might work, but I personally decided to NOT use those platforms when launching my product-based business... at least not at first.
My goal was to completely HONE IN the customer experience. Perfect it. Make it unbeatable.
From the moment they see my ad or a friend tags them on a post, to the moment they land one my shop home page, the checkout experience, the follow-up emails, the 2nd purchase, the customer service, the community of other customers that surround them, creating more excitement, hearing from me - the founder, to the moment of unboxing and sharing that experience online, to seeing the value and entertainment-driven content we send to their email, our blog posts, and social.
I can't even BEGIN to do any of that on Etsy or Amazon or eBay.
The only way to do that is by completely controlling the experience. I do that on Shopify.
There are and will be competitors to Shopify now and in the future, but for now, they are the best e-commerce selling platform, hands-down.
The point is..... why would you ever dilute your efforts on other platforms you can barely do anything with until you're at least in the multi-6 or 7 figures of your business on your OWN platform?
It seems almost premature to even consider it if you haven't honed in your product, your marketing, your customer experience, and your customer retention strategy (repeat purchases).
Will I ever sell on those other sites?
I won't rule it out, but we're still in the early 7-figures of this business and scaling...
I want to be extremely confident our systems and processes are ready for an uptick in production should we ever spread out to additional platforms.
The biggest mistake people make with marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon is they think "if you build it, they will come".
They think merely BEING on the site and posting their products there will bring in sales.
You might get a few sales that trickle in here and there, but if you're trying to grow a REAL business you can grow into the 6, multi-6, or 7-figure range - that's not a predictable or scalable way to do it.
Are there those few people to DO skyrocket to the top there?
Yes, of course - like all things, there's always that small handful of people who defy the odds.
Like Justin Bieber getting discovered on Youtube and getting a huge record deal. He was a unicorn. That was RARE.
Don't expect to get signed like the Biebs just because you posted a video on Youtube.
Likewise, just because you're ON Amazon & Etsy doesn't mean squat.
Besides, I would much rather build a business where when someone asks my customer "Where did you get that?" they don't give the unfortunate answer, "I got it off Etsy."
I would rather them say "I bought it from Mythologie Candles... and LET ME TELL YOU HOW COOL IT WAS!"
So what's the answer then?
Build a real brand on a real platform.
Own your own domain.
No more myshop.etsy.com or whatever their subdomains are.
That is not professional.
Do you want to be viewed as a legit brand?
Do you ever want the possibility of selling your brand for six or seven figures?
Stop trying to build your business on a marketplace.
The way you build a real brand is by building a real audience, building a high-quality email list (you need more than 500 people... aim for 10,000), and sell them products they WANT and BEG you for. Then, sell to them over and over with new releases.
Did this post get your wheels turning?
Let me know in the comments.
Meet Leah: Starving artist to millionaire in 12 months. Overcoming a past of pain, a poverty mindset, and lack of business education, Leah went on to create multiple businesses into the high six and multiple seven figures. Aside from her passion for being a wife, and mother to her five children, she's also a well-known recording artist in the Symphonic Metal genre, lover of freedom, free-market capitalism, and follower of Jesus.