How many things do you happen to be good at, personally? Could you describe yourself as a “jack of all trades”, and if so, to what extent? Everything in life is a spectrum. The reality is this: there are only so many things that one person can excel at, and the number of things varies from person to person.
Many sellers are having a knee-jerk response to the recent platform changes. They are leaving Etsy to start their own shops. But we need a dose of reality. For many of us, this isn’t a recipe for success.
Leaving Etsy to start your own standalone website is possible. But you’ll need to figure out how to wear multiple hats – to be several people, with varied skillsets, and easily switch back and forth between them.
Let’s talk about all of the skills required to run your own shop off of Etsy.
I’m mentioning this first, because it’s a big one, and it’s what you’ll encounter first. Shopify probably makes the tech part easiest, but you will still need to figure out how to properly connect everything on the platform, set up your website, set up your shop. If you want to use an option with a low monthly cost like WordPress/Woocommerce, you’ll need more extensive tech skills to get started.
And this tech is constantly changing. You’ll need to continually learn new systems that become necessary to run your business. Nothing is permanent in the age of the internet.
Yes, I know it’s important to have good customer service on Etsy. I’m including it here because it’s even more important for a standalone website. You haven’t yet earned the trust of new buyers who will find you. They will contact you with questions more often than they will on Etsy. They are looking for reassurance that you are a nice person that isn’t out to scam them, but that won’t always be obvious by the tone of their communication. Diplomacy, patience, consideration, giving them the benefit of the doubt. All of these things will be key.
How long can you work with little to no positive feedback? There is positive feedback built right into the Etsy platform when people follow your shop and favorite your items. With your own website, it will be harder to see – although you can try by using those tech skills you hopefully have to set up analytics. Still, from time to time, you’ll feel like you’re sharing your beautiful creations into a void. Can you stay motivated and continue to create in that environment?
How organized are you? Can you make a plan of action that includes multiple facets, and juggle multiple activities without dropping any balls? To run a successful shop on your own website, at bare minimum, you need to be able to manage all of the following: Social media content, an email newsletter, regular new product designs (including product photography, marketing/lifestyle photography, price calculations, copywriting descriptions, creating listings). How often you need to produce each of these things will depend on the specifics of your business. But you will need to stick to a regular schedule on each category so that you don’t become irrelevant in the algorithm-dominated internet.
Marketing should probably have been first, because it is the most important. If you do not possess the ability to market and promote your standalone store, it will die. To be good at marketing, you must understand the world outside your shop, at least within the niche of people you want to reach. What are they currently obsessed with? What will they want to share with their friends?
How can you create content that they like so much that they want to help you spread the word about your business?
All of the above become easier to manage if you have help. Yet, if you have help, you’ll need to wear an additional hat. You’ll need the ability to lead other people. Are you a good leader? If you are, then the people you hire will love working for you and that will help your business grow. If leadership doesn’t come natural to you, it will be harder.
And of course, gaining the ability to hire other people requires wearing all of those hats yourself until you can afford to pay them a fair wage.
Running a shop on Etsy is hard. Running a shop on your own website is even harder. It isn’t impossible. I firmly believe that many or even most of us can do it, if Etsy continues to refuse to listen to us, and the platform continues to degrade.
But it’s absolutely imperative that you understand what you are getting into before you cut the umbilical cord of your Etsy shop.