Etsy is a great way to start a business, but it doesn’t have to be your endpoint. If you’ve mastered tagging posts, have product photography down, and always provide great customer service, you’re ready to start thinking about how to grow your Etsy business past Etsy.
Expanding past Etsy can be scary and filled with unknowns, kind of like going from school to your first job. In the warm, safe arms of Etsy, all the rules are laid out for you, and some business ownership burdens are taken care of. But, just like entering the world of adulthood, growing your Etsy business past Etsy can be fun, exciting, and filled with a lot more freedom.
The best part is, you don’t have to stop or slow your existing Etsy business while you expand. By carving out a few hours a week in addition to what you normally spend on your business, you’ll be able to test the waters and see if you enjoy growing past what Etsy has to offer.
1) Your Own Website
The easiest and most straightforward way to grow your Etsy business past Etsy is to open your own online shop. Having a store that you have complete control over has many advantages which all center around having freedom from Etsy policies and fees.
The only fees you’ll have to pay for are credit card transactions and website hosting, both of which are much less than Etsy fees. Additionally, you don’t have to follow any Etsy policies, and no one can report your store and get it shut down. You can also remove any negative reviews you receive.
Obviously, there are downsides to operating your own store outside of an Etsy domain. The biggest con is that Etsy has a huge flow of traffic. Unless you have a significant social media following, it’ll be hard to match that traffic on your own.
However, it’s still worth setting up your own shop just in case Etsy bans your store. Ultimately no Etsy shop owner has any power over being shut down, whether it’s for valid reasons or not. If your shop does get shut down, you don’t want to lose all your posts and reviews. By hosting your own website, you’ll have built yourself insurance in case anything ever goes wrong with Etsy.
There are a bunch of options for where to host your independent website, but be careful about using Pattern, Etsy’s independent website program. Even though your Pattern site is hosted on a domain you own, it’s still connected to your shop. If that gets banned, so will your Pattern site.
2) Selling At Local Retailers
Although it can seem daunting, selling your product at local retailers is a great way to expand your business. Etsy has risen in popularity over the past decade because there is a demand for unique, handcrafted items. Although you may be used to selling digitally, there has been a similar rise in demand for those unique items in the physical retail space.
While large big-box stores are struggling, mom-and-pop stores are actually going through a bit of a retail renaissance. You can sell your product to local retailers in a few simple steps.
- Collect a sample of your products. Stores want to see you have a line of products, not just an item or two, so bring 10-20 SKUs.
- Research your local retailers. These shops should be locally owned, and have a focus on quality, uniqueness, and if possible, prioritize local artists.
- Find out the best way to show shop owners your products. If they don’t say how they prefer to take new product pitches on their websites, call into the store and ask. Just know that shop owners are very busy and commonly unresponsive. If no one responds to your emails or calls you back, keep trying. Showing up at the store is a double-edged sword. It’s often the best way to get noticed, but some shop owners don’t like when people come in unannounced.
Although it can take a bit of effort, getting your products into physical retail has huge advantages. Your products will be seen by tons of people in your local community, and you’ll learn how to sell your product in real life.
3) Find A Website For Wholesaling
Another option for growing your Etsy business past Etsy is to start wholesale selling online. By going to wholesaling websites, you’ll be able to open your products up to tons of other brick and mortar and online stores. While some people do sell wholesale on Etsy, you can expand your reach greatly by also making profiles on other sites.
Your product type will determine which wholesale websites you should invest your time in, but whatever category you’re in, there are a ton of options. Here at Abound, we accept all the categories found on Etsy, including jewelry, makeup, apparel, and home decor.
4) Art And Farmers’ Markets
For a smallish entry fee, you can join your local farmers’ markets. Setting up a booth, table, or station in a local market will give you a chance to sell your goods as well as learn valuable information about your business.
If you’ve only operated an Etsy store, you don’t know how people react to your products in person. By seeing which products they gravitate towards, which ones they pick up and feel, and which ones they buy, you can learn about your business and make edits to your online store. Listening to the questions and comments they have may give you ideas for the future.
5) Open Your Own Brick And Mortar Store
If your Etsy business is thriving and you’re really ready to take the plunge, you can always open up a brick and mortar store. This is obviously a huge commitment, so you’ll want to make sure you’re ready: financially, emotionally, and time commitment wise.
If you’re considering opening your own retail store, spend a ton of time educating yourself about the process. Since you’ll be spending so much money and time on this project, it’s worth hiring experts to help you learn the most common pitfalls to avoid.
Even though it can seem overwhelming and daunting to grow your Etsy business past Etsy, it can also be exciting and very rewarding. Just getting to this point means you already have an Etsy business that’s thriving, which is something to be really proud of. No matter which direction you choose, just use the same hard work and thought process that got you this far!