Before I do the big reveal of the city we chose I should keep my promises and discuss having your own shop versus utilizing a platform like an Etsy. There are a ton of Pro’s & Con’s that might be better for me to go over to better illustrate my thoughts. My first pro for having your own shop is to be able to have a dedicated url, ie. besottedbrand.com rather than besottedbrand.etsy.com. For traditional branding purposes it looks much better to have a dedicated url. Now the cons (or the price you pay for that dedicated url). I knew when I launched Besotted Brand that I wanted to have a dedicated url and design my site the way I envisioned it. I didn’t have a huge budget for the site but I knew that I might have a better chance of getting a price that I could afford if I worked with someone that would be willing to code and allow me to design. Be prepared if you go this route to get clipped emails back. I contacted a fairly popular web development company and emailed that I would be willing to design but needed coding, they wrote back and asked my budget I told them and they told me to go somewhere else. Ouch. I eventually found a great coder, super professional and when I told him my budget he told me what he could do it for and we met in the middle. Now for the cons of that dedicated url besides the initial investment, you need to think fast on your feet of how the heck are people going to find your shop in the sea of other shops out there on the interwebs? Now that you are out thousands of dollars and have no budget for PR you need to figure out a plan for exposure. I being the genius that I am did not have a formal marketing plan in place (I do not suggest this). I find promoting myself extraordinarily difficult. What I did have prior to launch was a mailing list, it was a list that I had up for a few years. I sent an email to that list letting them know that I had launched. It had a pretty even across the board response about 50% were thrilled and shopped shortly thereafter and the other 50% forgot they signed up for the list and reported me as spam thus I got banned from my email campaign carrier. Ouch. I don’t like getting too many emails from companies so I am not a huge fan of the email campaign. I do send one out about once a quarter and I try to make it worth the recipients while. There was no Pinterest or Instagram when I launched but those are great ways to get your brand noticed, as are places like Facebook. I read that’s how the wildly popular Mae Mae Paperie got her start by networking via Facebook and contacting fellow alumni about her newly launched company.
Now let’s get into Etsy shall we? With Etsy you could pretty much have your shop up and running in an afternoon, hooray! That’s a huge pro in my book. The other pro is having the potential to have millions of eyes on your brand each day without ever lifting a marketing finger! The flipside/con of that is those millions of potential consumers also have millions of competing brands in your same category to eyeball as well. You are going to have to work extra, extra hard to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Your photos will need to be first rate, as will your copy and once you get a sale you are going to have to jump through hoops to make sure that customer is thoroughly satisfied so you don’t receive any negative feedback which can adversely effect your shop status. Another thing I need to address are the fees. When I answer emails about Etsy people are always irritated by the fees. That is indeed a pro for running your own site–no fees (but remember the bigger upfront cost). The way I look at it for a new business is 0% of 0 is zero. Meaning, if you don’t make a sale at all you have a big fat goose egg of nothing, but if you do and you have to pay a small fee it is worth it in my humble estimation. More eyes on your brand may mean more potential sales, you will have to decide what that is worth to you. Or do you have to decide? I eventually opened an Etsy shop as well because potential clients were asking me if I had one. I asked why and was told that they would feel safer buying from a place like Etsy. I ship a lot of international orders so I can see where having a big corporation like Etsy behind a shop would feel a bit more safe. I gladly pay my fees and consider it the price of running my business. One last con for Etsy and it’s super unfortunate–there is a proliferation of copy cat shops and under cutting on pricing. My advice? Ignore them. What? Don’t allow the negative to takeover what you created. If you priced your items accordingly + fairly than trying to meet the price of your lower priced copy cat is going to negatively impact your business model. Don’t get into sacrificing your quality because you are now trying to compete with a company that is copying you. Another sound piece of advice? Get some press, getting your brand in print will hopefully ensure that clients will want the original rather than a lower quality, lower priced counterfeit. In summary, they both have their pro’s & con’s, you will need to weigh both and find out what will work best for your current situation.
If you have anything you would like to add to this conversation please do so. And if you have any other questions I didn’t answer above let me know!
P.S. If you are wanting a huge does of ‘get yourself on the right track and follow your dreams’, this girl will be sure to administer it.
Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to the country with her handsome husband and two pups and will be re-locating back to the city in the very near future.