Does My Etsy Business Need a Website?

In this video I’m going to be answering the question Does My Etsy Business Need A Website? 

This is one of the most common questions I get asked. Even though it’s difficult for me to be 100% objective because I make websites for a living. I still appreciate the question and identify with your uncertainty.

I was in the same place in 1999 when the small business I co-founded was debating this very topic. There were two of us running the business and neither of us had a clue whether having a website would be worth the time or cost. 

Sure we’d heard it was a great way to represent the company and our services 24/7. But would it really make a difference or be a good way to represent the business? Would it increase the likelihood that someone would do business with us? Would it be a good investment in the long term success of the business? 

We had no idea and the people we were asking didn’t seem to know either. The website design agencies at the time were very expensive. The process seemed like a lengthy one but we both felt that we should do it. That we should take that shot because most of our competition didn’t have a website at the time. Having one would definitely make us stand out. 

But we decided to do it on our own. Because hiring someone just financially was not an option at the time. We found a great deal on hosting and domain registration and built our own website. From the moment the website was launched I knew we had made the right decision.

First of all, our business was so reliant on word of mouth referrals it was kind of scary. Because it took a lot for people to reach out to us. They needed to be brave enough to make that call knowing they were probably gonna get a sales pitch. Even if somebody had referred them to us, it sometimes was too big of a hurdle.

But with the website, it made it so much easier for people to get the information they needed. The basic information about what we offered and how we did business risk-free. They didn’t have to take that chance of making a good call and feel like they were going to get sold to. 

Not that that was even our approach during those phone calls. But they didn’t know that. They assumed that it was going to be a risk. 

When they went to the website, they found out what we did, how we did it. What made us unique, and realized that we were a good fit for them. They reached out at that point to confirm it. To confirm that we were a good choice for them. To explain their specific situation. To find out the details about how things worked. Again, the details that were crucial for them to make a choice. 

But they already were halfway down the road, so to speak, in knowing that we were potentially a very good fit for them. Alternatively, people who were not a good fit for our business moved on without contacting us. 

Immediately you might be like, well crap I don’t want people not to contact me. I mean we need to find out if they’re a good fit. But in the end, it actually saved everybody so much time. It was so much more pleasant for everyone.

So we didn’t like getting calls from people who weren’t a good fit and we had to say, Hey listen we don’t think we’re a good fit for you. That’s never a pleasant conversation. Same for them. They don’t want to waste their time calling and explaining their whole situation. Then finding out that something wasn’t going to work with doing business with us.

The efficiency factor skyrocketed. We were getting calls from people who were a much better fit. Already knew enough about us. The phone calls were a bunch shorter. We weren’t getting as many calls as we were before, where we had to say we’re not a good fit for you.

When someone became a new customer they always mentioned that the website was a key factor in their decision to contact us. They were impressed with how professional it was. How it made them feel confident that we were professional and someone they wanted to do business with. It continued to be a major player in our marketing and sales strategy from that point on. 

So fast forward to 2020 and the more things change the more they stay the same. I 100% know that the world and the internet has changed a lot since 1999. You might be thinking, Hey Alisha that’s great! I’m glad it all worked out for you but I’m in a bit of a pickle here. I need to know what’s going to work for me and my business and my situation in  2020. 

I understand that you have a vast amount of options to choose from. So on some level, it will make the decision easier because you have so many options to create a website. I mean, I had maybe two options, back in the day, of how we could build a website. 

But at the same time having all those options creates a lot of overwhelm. I understand that it’s even more difficult to filter all of those options down into even a shortlist of what you might be considering if you want to build a website. Or even deciding whether you want to build a website. Now a business is expected to be online in some way to be considered legitimate.

Back in 1999, you were a standout if you had a website. A lot of people were still doing business in a very traditional way. But now if people can’t find you online, even a Facebook page. Or a business listing of some kind or on a map somewhere. You don’t exist, your business isn’t real. It’s definitely not considered legitimate if you’re not somewhere online.

If you already have an Etsy shop, of course, you’ve passed that hurdle by now, and you understand it does a very good job of representing your business online. But it can get lost amongst those millions and millions of Etsy sellers. 

So deciding how to build on that legitimacy that Etsy already has provided for you, can be really difficult. I understand that. But if you want complete control over how your business is represented online. I do think that a website is the best choice for that.

But a website is not for someone who doesn’t have a proof of concept. You need to continue to use Etsy, and other relatively free options, to do more low-risk market research. If you don’t have a lot of sales and you don’t have a lot of money to invest, websites are not a good idea.

If you’re just getting started with your online sales and you feel like you’re still, I’m trying to understand how all of the pieces work together. You’re not even at the mastery level. You’re still trying to figure out what things have to happen in order for your customers to be happy. A website’s probably not a good fit for you right now.

If you’re not comfortable learning new technology and you feel like you’re already overwhelmed with a lot of the aspects of just fulfilling the orders. Or answering questions or understanding how you can optimize your Etsy shop. Stick with that until you feel very confident in what you’ve built on Etsy.

If you don’t want to or you don’t have the time to run all aspects of an online business. I would say stick with Etsy longer. Feel like you’re building up that foundation more so that you can gradually understand all aspects of an online business. Be able to decipher which ones you want to take on personally and which ones you’re going to delegate. If any of these speak to you a website is probably not for you right now. 

If you didn’t identify with those and you’re someone who has robust sales and you know you have a strong customer base and brand. It might be a good time for a website. If you have money to invest in creating a professional website. One that’s going to impress your customers or potential customers. 

It might be worth considering now. If you’ve been selling online long enough that you’re comfortable with how it works. You know you gotta learn new technology. You know that that’s a good investment in the success of your business. You like having control over all aspects of your business. 

You feel confident that you understand all of the pieces that run the machine of your business and how Etsy plays into that machine. What you need in addition to Etsy to continue to build that momentum of your business. A website is probably a good fit for you right now. 

Really if just deep down inside you feel like you’re ready to take your business to the next level. You’re kind of just frustrated enough with using somebody else’s platform. That you feel ready to use a website to take your business to the next level. I would say you’re a good fit for deciding what kind of website you want to build.

I also want to point out that I think you can create a powerful online presence with both. I would never suggest to anyone to let go of their Etsy shop completely. Until their website is up and running and consistently outselling their Etsy shop. 

So if you have an Etsy shop now. You’re doing really well and you feel like after you’ve considered some of the things I mentioned in this video. You might be ready for a website. Hold on to that Etsy shop and don’t let that slide or don’t shut it down. 

You want to keep all of that moving and creating momentum that will feed into the website experience. Then help you build up the website and fine-tune that website. So that they are both being used to help you create an even more powerful online presence for your business. 

I hope this video has helped you understand how you can build on your Etsy foundation to future proof your brand and sell on your own terms. If you want more information about how you can build a website or some alternatives for building a website, please take a look at my other posts for more information.

Thank you for reading until the end and have a wonderful day! 🙂