How I Left Etsy Behind and Built My Customer Base.
I just finished reading the August issue of the HandmadeSeller magazine. I appreciated the article about Etsy vs your own website.
I left Etsy in 2013 due to them closing my shop down with no warning and wanting me to give detailed descriptions and photos on a ring I had made. Now it took me years to learn the skills I needed to make that ring and it was original. I had never seen anything like it anywhere. I refused to share that information with them. There were already stories being shared about artists' work being copied overseas and even in the USA and I didn't want to show anyone else how I made that specific item. So I closed my Etsy shop and walked away. Created my own website.
I started out using GoDaddy and building my site through them and a year ago I switched over to Shopify. I have worked for the past 6 years to drive my traffic to my own site instead of letting a big company do it. I feel like this helps, I have a lot of repeat customers that go straight to my website and don't get distracted by all the other thousands of other pieces of jewelry and cheaper prices that Etsy presents to every customer. I don't have to compete with anyone else's work. My customers see my work only.
I do shop often on Etsy for supplies from people I've been buying from for years. I think Etsy has its place, but it lost my support when it started letting in mass-produced products and shut my shop down with no warning.
I share this story to encourage people to have a backup. Have a stand-alone website that is yours to build up your own customer base. Give them a place to come to, that doesn't show them thousands of other items like yours, or cheaper prices. Keep them focused on why they came to you in the first place, YOUR work.
It does take time and a lot of marketing work but it's been worth it. Start a little at a time, really learn and use your social media to get those customers aware of your site and work. Hand out those business cards everywhere with your site listed on it. Hand them out at every event you do, Leave them on every billboard at coffee shops or even your local library board. I've shared mine everywhere and it's a great inexpensive way to share what you do. After events most people drop cards in their purses, a month later they run across it and look you up. That's worth the cost of a business card. I get mine from Vistaprint and have always loved them. I use a photo of my own work on the front with basic name and website info on it.
I hope this helps some of you. I just wanted to share how moving from Etsy helped me. Don't be afraid of change. It is sometimes the start of an amazing adventure.