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Etsy Vs Own Website Part 2: The Inside Story of Our Marketing Journey

As promised, here is the second part of my 'Etsy vs Website' series on marketing. If you missed the "Etsy vs Own Website" first part, you can find it here.

Graphical comparison of Etsy and a personal website,
Etsy vs Website

Marketing on Etsy can be challenging due to some hidden factors that could change your perspective on it. I closely monitored our sales and made an interesting and somewhat scandalous discovery. There are several reasons why I'm not happy with Etsy, marketing is just one of them. I gradually learned everything from my own experience, but while researching data for this post I came across several similar blog posts and I noticed that many people discuss these facts in general terms. To provide some context for my conclusions, I will share my business data with you.

First, let’s talk about the two main types of advertising on Etsy in nutshell: Etsy Offsite Ads and Etsy Onsite Ads.

Etsy Offsite Ads - paid on sale.

- display your products outside of Etsy on platforms like Google as well as social media sites like Instagram, Facebook etc.

- If your shop has generated over $10,000 in revenue within the last 365 days, these ads are mandatory! and you’ll pay a fee of 12% on each sale.

- If your revenue is under $10,000, you will pay a fee of 15% on each sale, but you can choose to turn off these ads.

- When a customer clicks on an ad and makes a purchase from your shop within 30 days, you’ll pay the Offsite Ad fee on each eligible order!

Etsy Onsite Ads - paid on ad click.

- appear on search and browsing pages across Etsy.

- You set a daily budget for advertising and

- each time a buyer clicks on your ad, a portion of your budget is used. Once your budget is spent for the day, Etsy stops showing your ads until the next day so you don’t go over budget.

- You can turn these ads on and off at any time.

I started selling the PAC-PEN on Etsy in 2019, but it didn’t gain popularity until September 2020. I have been utilizing Etsy’s advertising options since 2019, including both onsite ads at a daily rate of £1 and offsite ads as soon as they became available.

In February 2021, we launched our website and heared about competitors the very first time.

Both my website and my Etsy links were available on my social media accounts until 2022.

In February 2021, I notified all of my Etsy customers about the launch of our website. From its inception, the website became our main platform and I used various methods to drive traffic from Etsy to the website.

Selection - On Etsy, we offered 150 of our most popular cutters in sets, while on my website customers could choose from 350 individual cutters. I am confident that this was a major factor in why people chose to make purchases on the website instead of Etsy.

Price - Additionally, our fees were lower on the website, allowing us to sell the same products at a cheaper price.

Custom order - I also offered custom orders exclusively on the website and did not accept any custom orders on Etsy.

Sales / Discount / Promotion - I offered regular sales, discounts, and promotions on the website while only offering free postage for orders of a certain value on Etsy. As a token of appreciation for their business, I provided Etsy customers with a ‘thank you’ coupon code that could be redeemed on my website.

And now look at photo of my Etsy shop ad report from 2021.

Photo of an Etsy ad performance report, showing data on views, clicks, and sales from 2021.
Etsy Ad Report 2021

Since February 2021, I have been working hard to transition away from Etsy, plus others began producing similar products. Despite this, we still had our best year on Etsy. Interestingly, I was able to drive the 35% of the traffic despite I had only 2000 followers on Instagram and very few on other platforms. Despite my best efforts, my social media posts remain inconsistent and as of June 2023, I have only managed to gain 4800 followers since October 2020. However, I value quality over quantity and would rather have ten genuine followers than 100k fake ones. So, this is not a complaint, but rather an admission that I struggle with social media. It’s no secret that I dislike it, even though our business relies on it. I'm not good in social media, at all!

In 2022, I made the decision to remove all references to my Etsy shop from my social media accounts for various reasons. However, I continued to use both Etsy’s onsite ads with a daily budget of £1 and offsite ads (as I was required to do) without making any changes. The only difference was that I stopped promoting my Etsy shop and removed it from my own social media links.

Photo of an Etsy ad performance report, showing data on views, clicks, and sales from 2022.
Etsy Ad Report 2022.

Can you see the difference in sales compared to the previous year? Or the visit in the busiest period, between September and December in each year?

While some may attribute the changes in my business to global or economic factors, I believe that the data from last month tells a different story. My Etsy shop has seen a significant reduction in activity and I no longer check it on a daily basis. It now generates only a few hundred pounds in revenue monthly. The only change I made was to list the micro alphabet few week ago, on May 25th, which resulted in a noticeable difference in sales from April to May.

Photo of an Etsy sales report from April 2023
Etsy Sales - April 2023

Photo of an Etsy sales report from May 2023
Etsy Sales - May 2023.

To me, this is a clear evidence that it is my efforts (and yours!) that bring in customers, not Etsy. Your shares on Facebook have also helped to attract new customers who may have searched for the PAC-PEN and clicked on the first advertisement they saw, which was likely an Etsy ad. As a result of being unable to opt out of the program, I was charged a 12% fee on the total cost of each sale.

Another interesting fact: I don't buy postage label via Etsy, so the fees you can see in April and May are excluding! postage.

Etsy is clever in retaining its ‘big’ sellers by making offsite ads mandatory for those with $10,000 or more in revenue within the last 365 days. These sellers generate high traffic to Etsy with their hard work. If you are able to generate that much revenue on Etsy, it means that you are already doing 90% of the work.

The success of your business depends on the quality of your product and your customer service. If your listing fails to persuade potential buyers, then it won’t matter how many people see it - none of them will make a purchase. No amount of advertising can make up for poor product quality or customer service. This is especially true for genuine handmade businesses, as opposed to those that Etsy now defines as ‘handmade'. Those can make 10k easily with mess products.

In conclusion, while Etsy’s advertising options may seem attractive, it is ultimately the sellers who do the heavy lifting when it comes to promoting their products. By creating high-quality listings and products, sellers attract customers to their shops. However, they must also pay Etsy for the privilege of using its advertising services. In the end, it seems that Etsy’s advertising works best for Etsy itself, while sellers must rely on their own efforts to truly succeed.

It is important for sellers to carefully consider their marketing strategies and determine whether the costs of advertising on Etsy are worth the potential benefits.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I appreciate your interest and would love to hear your thoughts about Etsy marketing. If you’re interested in learning more about why I prefer to use my website instead of Etsy, please let me know in the comments section below, because I still have some thought to share.

Once again, thank you for being here and I look forward to hearing from you.

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