Should You Sell On Etsy or Create Your Own Personal Website?
Here are some pros and cons and considerations:
The first is control. With your own website you control it. With Etsy you are a seller and must abide by their rules. You must operate within their parameters and under their guidelines. As policy changes are made you must change your listings. You will have no control of fee increases. This is what drove people from Ebay. They drastically increased their fees and many sellers were not profitable anymore. Along with the fee increases, views went down. Items stopped selling and there were issues with their search features. Many sellers migrated over to Etsy and many probably gave up. It takes a lot of time to get set up somewhere else and build up your business again. Things like this can happen if you are not in complete control of your business.
Domain name. This seems minor but is important. Having a website at yourname.com adds a level of professionalism to your business and also helps with marketing. Your own name will be easier to remember and can be advertised on your business cards and by word of mouth. An Etsy store domain name is more complicated and you would need to email someone a link if you wanted them to take a look at your items.
On your own website you control the design and layout. You can have as many photos as you like, in any size. You can configure the layout to work best for your type of business. You may choose to integrate a blog or videos. You are only limited by your design skills and imagination. Etsy has a nice layout but it is not configurable. It is more of a general layout designed to work with just about any type of business.
There is also a cost difference. You will pay a monthly hosting fee for your personal site and a yearly domain renewal fee. You will pay transaction fees depending on the methods of payments you accept. Etsy has a listing fee per item and each item has to be renewed after a certain number of months. There is also a transaction fee after an item sells.
It is up to you to market your own website. You will need to learn about search engine optimization and may also choose to do paid advertising. Etsy does its own marketing to make people aware of their site and has a large existing audience. You will still need to know about optimization if you plan to rank higher than your competitors and be found in their search. You can also receive traffic from people browsing through categories.
With your own website you can choose to take any form of payment. This could be Paypal, credit cards by phone or online, checks, or money orders. You can decide which will work best. Etsy offers a variety of payment options as well a new system called direct checkout where everything is handled through Etsy.
It will most likely take you longer to set up your personal website vs an Etsy store. You will either be building something from scratch or modifying an existing template. You will need to integrate a blog, set up all the pages, upload photos, and integrate payment methods. Etsy makes it easy to get started very quickly with tutorials and forms for entering your information.
I believe that you do not have to choose one or the other. You can easily have an Etsy store and start developing your own website on the side. I think Etsy is a great way to get started and feel that having your own website is a long term solution to selling your handmade items online.
Good luck with your endeavors