Which is Better – Your Own Jewelry Website or Etsy?

by Patti Pojer.

Which is Better - Your Own Jewelry Website or Etsy?  - Discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

Please share your opinion on this issue.

Is it better to have your own personalized jewelry website, or a more wide website such as Etsy or Artfire?

Thank you.

Patti Pojer

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  • Hi Patti, here are a couple of thoughts:
    Regardless of whether you have your own website or an Etsy / Artfire shop, you will still need to
    1) work on developing a following of customers, keep in touch with them, and promote your jewelry to them.
    2) Do your search engine optimization (SEO) for your online presence.
    Also, compare the costs of running your own website, vs. the costs of maintaining an Etsy / Artfire shop.

  • Elizabeth Trail says:

    I would say… both! You want to be wherever people are browsing, and a lot of people go to Etsy with just a vague idea of what they want. The design they choose in their search for a “hammered metal bracelet” or “animal jewelry” or “bead necklace” could be yours.

    That said, you ultimately want to drive them to your web site to convert them to loyal private customers.

    I’m just restarting my studio after 10 years away. Back in the day, I kept up a big eBay presence. Why? As above, I wanted those browsers. And I wanted to create an immediate reason for people to buy. So I put a rotating assortment of pieces up for instant purchase at 25% below my web site retail. Not low enough to offend my wholesale accounts but low enough to be a significant reason to grab the piece that week while it was being offered on eBay. When people bought, they got an e-mail with an upsell offer (“Would you like fries, er, a pair of earrings, to go with that pendant?”) And when I shipped, they got a 25% off coupon for their first purchase direct from my web site. The point was to turn them into direct customers.

    I don’t see why some variation on this couldn’t be done on Etsy. Put up a limited assortment, maybe at special prices, and then convert customers to your web site. Plus Etsy is quick and easy to set up, and takes most of the headaches out of order processing. It’s a good way to start..

  • Marianne says:

    Hi Patti: The best choice for you depends in part on where you are in your business. Are you a new maker just starting out or do you have an established clientele? If you are new or relatively new to selling your jewelry, then keeping your expenses low might be a good thing. I’ve never used Artfire, so I can’t comment on that site, but for the money, Etsy offers a lot of bells and whistles that you will pay a lot of money for in developing and maintaining your own website. For a non-jewelry business I own, I have had both my own website as well as sold on two large e-commerce sites. It is very, and I’ll emphasize very, difficult to get search engine ranking for your own website especially if you are selling goods in a competitive market, such as jewelry or books. Our e-commerce sites have always outperformed our own website which we viewed as a gateway to our bricks and mortar store. If you have a good, established client base, then maybe you are ready for your own website. Compare and cost out all the features found on Etsy or Artfire with what you will be charged for your own website and then make a decision. Good luck!

  • Janet says:

    HI Patti,
    I have tried an Etsy shop and my own website (not for jewelry but for my crochet baby items) but regardless it’s about selling stuff online. It’s a lot easier through Etsy.
    Let me tell you why. first of all you it’s easier for people to find your shop, especially if you utilize the title of the item and the description tags correctly for each item you put in your shop. When people come to Etsy, they are looking to buy. If you participate in the teams, they help boost your visibility.

    Owning you own website can be such a hassle. First there’s setting it up and then invariably you get hacked and have to start again. And when all you want to do is create your pieces and sell them, dealing with the website hassles is draining.
    Etsy is so much easier, They have systems in place for advertising, collecting money, and tracking stats.
    Just my opinion but I’ve been on Etsy since 2012 and I have over a thousand sales and I really like the set up there.

  • Dianne says:

    As a client of Etsy for 9 years I can tell you that while it used to be great before they added mass-produced sellers…now? Not so much. Artfire is a wash for most as I have seen on the many forums I belong to. I guess it depends on what you want to do.
    If your goal is to sell wholesale and retail, then I would say your own website. I have been using Artisans Accomplice for many years. They are priced well ($20 a month or $16 a month if you pay yearly) and after they set it up for you, you have complete control of everything after that. It’s even great for computer-hostile folks like myself without all that HTML knowledge. If you have it, so much the better! Lots of options for colors, fonts, designs, etc…They even imported the style of my old blog for me and wrestled my domain name from another webmaster who would not give it to me. The cost for all that was $40…Great reporting too!
    I do have an Etsy shop, but only sell my patterns on there. I wanted to keep my beading patterns separate from my jewelry. In the “Note to Seller” I do have a link to my website.
    The thing about having your own website is that you have to promote, promote, promote! You are the only one who can drive people there. With Etsy, they do a little SEO for you but have you clicked on a link lately for an Etsy shop? If you Google a piece, a listing comes up. But when you click on the link it shows everything from every seller who fits your search criteria, not your shop. Plus, if you don’t “promote” you get lost in the crowd. With your own website they are there with no distractions, looking at only your goods.

  • Anne says:

    Etsy is relatively easy to set up and they do the payment processing for you, which is great. Also, their fees are relatively reasonable. However, jewelry is a highly saturated and competitive market on Etsy, so you probably would want to work on ways to drive traffic to your shop yourself.
    If you choose Etsy, be sure to read the Terms of Use carefully, so that you understand Etsy’s rules.
    They do have very active forums, where you can get lots of advice from other sellers!
    Good luck!

  • Gail says:

    A lot depends on if you are a new seller, and/or if you have found the means to build your followers. If you are brand new to online selling Etsy couldn’t be easier for setting up and getting started. You’ve been given some good advice above. I know of Artfire but have never heard talk from other sellers in regards to having good sales there. As mentioned, jewelry is a totally over-saturated market so it can be a tough go getting going in regards to sales. But it can be done and done quite well. Online sales depend on a lot of things, your product, your selling venue, your marketing and what you yourself do to drive traffic to your store, how active you are in social media platforms, how well you do your SEO and keyword research, how good your photos are, how well you write your descriptions, and working on building an email list. Driving traffic is ongoing no matter what selling venue you choose. I think Etsy is the best for having built-in traffic but you still have to drive them to your store. As makers, I think most of us would rather just create, (I know I would lol) but that is not the reality of successful online sales. The “hope” theory (I hope I sell my work) never really works very well for online sales. If one is a hobbyist that is one thing, but if we are looking to build a successful, self sustaining online business, the “business” end takes a lot of time, patience, and hard work. I know sellers who make over 100k on Etsy and sellers who are struggling to get any sales at all. It all really boils down to what are we willing to put into it, but then I think that is any business. If you want to do it then go for it and don’t let anyone talk you out of it. For even if we fail, fail only means First Attempt In Learning, and No means Next Opportunity. Best of luck to you in whatever platform you choose. 🙂

  • Patti Pojer says:

    Thank you all SO very much for taking the time to answer my question, I truly appreciate all the advice shared.
    I have much to think about…what a wonderful group we have on here.. Now on to planning!

  • Elizabeth says:

    There is a LOT to learn with selling online. Etsy is a great place to start to build your name, branding and a following, something you want to do from the very beginning. There are bloggers that offer advice about selling on Etsy.
    Be wary of falling into buying coaching, which these bloggers work very hard at. However, these are sellers that are currently running their own Etsy businesses that are top sellers. They all offer free tutorials and guides that are valuable to setting up your shop, finding your niche, building a brand, photography, Search Engine Optimization, writing listing Tiitles, Descriptions, and Tags. And, build your following and brand through social media. The Etsy community forums are very active. As one of the above comments mentioned, it is very important to become familiar with Etsy’s Terms of Use. Etsy has an extensive library of Seller Guides. Before you open your shop, read about seller practices, guides for SEO, titles, tags, etc. Look at other shops that are successful at selling what you sell. Look at the quality of the photography, how their Titles are structured, descriptions, what tags they use. Of course, your listings will be different, but study their photography, staging, what has drawn you to the listing. This will give you an idea of what you will need to achieve. Another advantage of Etsy is its shopping cart and shipping discounts.

    Etsy is a good platform to do the groundwork of building your business to where you feel if you want to launch your own website. When you have your own website, All the promotion, SEO, shopping cart, shipping…is on you, depending on who your website host is. Unless you have a background in marketing, there can be a learning curve, but it sure is interesting!

    One thing to remember. Success does not happen overnight. You will hear about saturated marketplaces and categories, but there is only one YOU. Find a niche, what makes what you do really special. Start letting the world know that they need to have it! The sales will follow.

    Elizabeth, Knitter’s Serendipity

  • Karen says:

    Both if you can afford it. Artfire doesn’t have too much going on. Etsy is still is good place to start even though it now lets almost anyone sell there. You can still get wide exposure there.

    Ruby Lane, Zibbet, and Zazzle are similar.

  • Patti Pojer says:

    I have decided to do both…actually Etsy has synced with it ( for pay) a web design called Pattern, here I get to design my page and the beauty ..it syncs with my Etsy shop!!! Like any web site I will need to attract people to my site….I actually have a .com

    Theres is an unbelievable support system here…and it leads to great ideas, thinking.. I am so very grateful!

  • Patti, I’m so glad you asked this question! Lots of great insights and food for thought in this discussion.

  • Kathryn Thuma says:

    I am resuming business again after a two year absence. I did both dropshipping and handcrafted jewelry… eBay for dropshipping & Etsy for my jewelry biz (primarily).
    There is s third platform where I did very well in BOTH venues. It’s called Bonanza. They have a reputation for “hard to find” items, but I sold just about everything there. It’s free to list, and like Etsy, they take a % of your sale.
    You can also choose to increase your sales percentage, and Bonanza will advertise FOR YOU on every major SEO platform, including Google. You control the amount of exposure you want.
    For retail sales, the free account syncs with Amazon’s search on your product page, giving you unfair competition. HOWEVER, with handcrafted items, your listings are UNIQUE…therefore, no co-advertising, and people go there looking for unique items.
    I only chimed in here, because no one else mentioned Bonanza. They have good customer/seller help, and, unlike eBay, they support their sellers.
    I highly recommend Bonanza as a site to use in addition to Etsy and/or your own website. Good luck to you!

  • Barbara says:

    i know a lot aren’t going to like this but I use Etsy and Ebay, I do very well on Ebay because there are way more people buying on the site. I have been on Ebay since 1999 and Etsy 2008. I use to do great on Etsy up to 800.00 a month with out doing a thing to get customers to my shop. Now I’m lucky to make 100.00 a month, and I do a lot of work
    getting my shop out there. It’s very important to have at least 100 items listed, I usually have 300 – 600.00, it’s all in the numbers.
    I did try Artfire and others with no sales at all in 6 months.

  • Patti Pojer says:

    Rena,
    Appreciate you posting for me there is a wealth of knowledge in our community!

  • Arriel says:

    I get sales on Amazon handmade but it’s not for everyone. I like etsy and buy a lot of supplies there. I also have a shop on my own website where I post zazzle items. Everyone is different in what they want to do with their business. It takes time to figure it all out.

  • Elizabeth says:

    For those that have been on Etsy and noticed a huge drop in sales…Over the last ew years, Etsy has been changing its SEO algorithm over to model more like Google. Where we used to be told to stuff our titles with our main keywords as many times as possible, ow the search engine will “penalize” you for it because that is not what it is looking for. The search engines are looking for titles that sound more natural, with the keyword at the beginning of a phrase if possible. You need to have the keywords you used in your description in your tags.

    I had not been following the changes in SEO over the years when I was working on my bridal business. I never really understood what it was all about. I had a unique product though, that got me found, 100% silk bridal veils, so I was doing as much business as I wanted. However, when I opened my stitch marker shop, those practices did not work. I hardly had any sales for almost a year until I took some online Etsy coaching seminars. Once I began actively working on my SEO, (you are never done, because the algorithm will shift again and in a few months I began to see sales come in. So far this year, my views and visits are down but my sales are up 50%. over last year.

    So….now I follow Etsy bloggers, get Etsy updates in my Email and follow Search Engine Journal. I don’t want to be caught behind the norm again!

  • Patti Pojer says:

    Thank you so much for all the advice and perspectives…SEO are important…also I think customers
    like to tailor their search..I was found 25.00 or less and free shipping along with Murano.

    I was lucky as I asked my customer if they would tell me how they found me…and I included an extra gift.
    so much to learn

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