Welcome to the world of ecommerce
If you’re reading this, you’ve likely just turned on your store in the Etsy marketplace (or are about to). Congrats on taking the plunge! Etsy has become a consistent ‘go-to’ for millions of consumers, starting as the internet’s craft fair and maturing into a serious force for online selling.
No question about it, Etsy is attractive for a couple of reasons:
- Like any marketplace, your customer likely already spends time there
- Your startup time is dramatically reduced due to Etsy’s easy setup and simple selling tools
Things are getting harder for small merchants on Etsy (and everywhere else), but we’re not arguing about the value of Etsy’s marketplace. This article will instead help you think through a best-case-scenario system for your Etsy shop. Let’s jump in.
First question: should you only sell on Etsy?
Selling totally on Etsy keeps things clean and simple, and plenty of people operate this way. However, if you’re looking to invest in a well-rounded ecommerce business you could be left wanting more than a pure Etsy play. Even some of Etsy’s most successful shops are feeling the pressures that accompany marketplace sales efforts and are starting to mix it up outside of Etsy’s walls.
The simple reason is that when you sell on a marketplace, you don’t own your customer outright; Etsy owns that customer. “I bought this on Etsy” is more often than not the customer’s thoughts about a purchase, and although your brand does have a presence there, it is totally dwarfed by Etsy’s own brand. Even order confirmations and shipping notices are from Etsy, not from you directly.
So, Etsy brings customers into the marketplace to benefit from attractive operating fees and ownership of that customer (very similar to Amazon). Meanwhile, you’ll benefit from drafting behind their established momentum.
Now, let’s assume that you do want to get a bit more out of your online business.
Secret weapon: Diversify to own your customer
If you’re looking for more margins, a more stable business model, or just want more control you’ll likely want to supplement your Etsy presence with an owned site, like one hosted on Shopify, too.
Every business should strive to have customers come back again and again. As seen in the earlier image of an Etsy order confirmation, this isn’t exactly so easy without your own line of communication with the buyer. Etsy is immediately routing your customer back into the broader marketplace. C’est la vie. Or is it?
Your business does not have to be stuck in that cycle. We recommend that any serious Etsy merchant should launch their own site alongside Etsy to kick things up a notch.
Launching your own site allows you to control everything that happens in your customer experience. Long term you’ll be able to maintain a direct conversation with the end customer, collect their contact information (big shoutout to email marketing), and inspire targeted return traffic and revenue.
The simple solution: Build a site and start a blog
Your product is unique, so build a brand, voice, and perspective to match. This is hard on Etsy alone, but if you have your own site you’ll be able to make much more efficient progress in these areas, all while having greater control over the customer journey.
Let’s acknowledge the fact that most small teams struggle to get early marketing strategies focused and off the ground. There are 1,000,000 places you could spend your marketing time, and just as many places you could spend some extra marketing budget, so knowing where to start is anything but simple.
If your core goal is to keep your audience engaged across your site, social and email with as few moving parts as possible–you should implement strategies that benefit all three areas at once.
A blog is potentially the most valuable asset you’ll create if you keep it consistent. Each minute spent creating a new article is a minute that can be multiplied across all of the channels you’re active on. In other words, every article you write can be distributed everywhere you have a pulse– Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Email, and the list goes on.
And every time you distribute an article, all the traffic it attracts will be brought back directly to your owned site.
Not only does the blog give you fuel for all of today’s many marketing channels, the blog is also an incredible asset when it comes to customer retention.
Blogs help you capture traffic to email subscribers, blogs nurture non-customers into first-time buyers, blogs keep former customers interested by fueling your email marketing, and a blog helps you define a unique voice in the market that helps you stand apart.
When you blog, you’re killing many, many birds with one stone.
Okay. I’m convinced. What would I even blog about?
Yes, you’re going to have to write. It doesn’t have to be painful!
The benefit you already have in selling handmade/small batch products is that you can provide a top to bottom personal experience that most larger brands cannot touch--this is also great fodder for a good story.
In the early days of your blog, it’s totally fine to build a foundation that brings your prospective customer up to speed on you. This not only allows you to write about things that you’re already thinking about all the time, it’s also a simple way to start defining a voice and tone for future blogs. Basically, start easy and go with the flow:
- How you got your start making X
- What is your process
- What is personal story (“Get to know the maker”)
- What inspires your work
These types of articles provide a solid starting point for ‘brand voice’ to sprout from. And it makes your customers feel even better about supporting a small business creative! As you start fleshing out the blog more, you’ll likely start to introduce your product directly into your storytelling.
- Gift guides for X person or occasion
- Gift guides are a great way to feature products while keeping things helpful
- Customer review roundups allow you to highlight market feedback
- Instagram roundups showing your product ‘in the wild’
Once you have your blogs live, pay attention to what people are responding to. Building a full content strategy can be done with pretty basic data (and without years of experience). Matcha has put together a comprehensive guide that allows you to dive in step by step and to start recognizing things that work well. Ready to dive in? Bookmark our guide to ecommerce blogging and our guide to creating the ultimate Shopify blog experience and start a free Matcha trial to kickstart things.
Feature image by Roman Kraft.