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Hey there and welcome back! In today’s video I’m answering a question I get all the time – should you start your shop on Etsy or Shopify?

Click play below to find out which one’s the best fit for you and your blossoming business!

Shopify vs Etsy: Where to Start Your Business in 2020

If we haven’t met yet, I’m Michelle and I’m the chief maker at The Graceful Goose. I sell on both Etsy and Shopify and in today’s video, I’m going to walk you through a handful of things I’ve learned selling between both platforms to make it easier for you to make the decision about whether to start your shop on Etsy or Shopify or both.

The first key difference between selling on Etsy or Shopify

If you’re reading this, my guess is you already know the difference between Etsy and Shopify but just in case that’s not true:

Etsy is a global marketplace and it was originally created as a place for buyers to go to find high quality handmade goods. Especially really giftable items.

Over the years it’s morphed a little bit and there are shop owners on there who sell things that aren’t what I would consider a 100% handmade, they’re more like hand designed small businesses.

Ultimately, Etsy is a whole bunch of small shops essentially renting a space within this large global marketplace. And then Shopify is a website builder; it’s not a marketplace.

There are other shops that are built on the platform but you aren’t sharing space. Your website is your website.

When customers come to shop, they won’t see competitors’ items advertised alongside yours like they will with Etsy.

It is truly your spot. You “own your building” with Shopify and you “rent a booth” if you’re on Etsy. So that’s an important distinction to start with Etsy because you’re part of this global marketplace and you’re always going to have a bunch of competition surrounding you.

There will be other shops selling similar things (which is fine, competition isn’t an automatic business killer.) There will be competitors’ listings that pop up on your listings because Etsy’s goal is to create a place for buyers to come to buy high quality items.

It’s main goal isn’t to be the place where shop owners become hugely successful handmade businesses. That has happened and it’s great if it does happen, but Etsy’s goal as a business is to first and foremost be a place for their buyers to come to find high quality items and that can make a big difference when you’re deciding where to build a shop.

So the first thing to keep in mind when you’re trying to decide if Etsy or Shopify is the better place for you to start (or if you want to be on both Etsy and Shopify), is that you’re going to be renting with Etsy and with Shopify you own your Shop.

With Shopify, that also means that all the normal things that come with renting and owning something – if you think about renting versus owning a house – are going to come with being on Etsy or Shopify.

Driving traffic to a Shopify vs Etsy store

The benefit of renting on Etsy is they’re bringing all of these buyers to the marketplace to shop. People know why they’re going to Etsy. They generally don’t land there on accident.

So it’s a venue filled with a ton of people looking to buy but the thing that a lot of shop owners don’t realize is that just because the buyers are coming to the marketplace, doesn’t mean that they’re just accidentally going to fall on your listing.

You as an Etsy seller still have to do the work to help the right people find you and you’re going to do that with keyword research inside Etsy.

With Shopify on the other hand, it’s not a marketplace so you don’t have the benefit of a ton of shoppers coming to find something to buy. Instead you’re going to need to be able to drive your own traffic.

But what’s kind of nice and kind of surprising is that the same techniques, the same skills you’re going to learn to be able to get found in Etsy search, all that keyword research is essentially search engine optimization.

Ultimately, you’re trying to get Etsy’s algorithm to find you if you’re selling on Etsy and show you to the right people.

And those exact same techniques are ones you can use on Shopify to get found in Google search and Google is a huge marketplace if you think about it. It’s even bigger than Etsy.

If you’re debating between Etsy and Shopify and you’re struggling because you feel like Shopify doesn’t bring traffic and you’re not going to have buyers to find you, it’s important to know the exact same skill that you’re going to need to learn to get found to make sales on Etsy is a skill you can very easily apply to your Shopify store to get those eyeballs on your shop and start making
those sales.

When to sell on Etsy vs Shopify

That could mean you start on Etsy. You learn how to do keyword research. You learn how to optimize Etsy’s listings for Etsy’s way of finding people with their search algorithms and then you apply those skills to your Shopify store and you test and tweak to make it work.

Or it might mean that you decide you don’t want to rent on Etsy and you just want to go straight to Shopify. If you’re going to take the time to learn that skill, if you’re going to learn how to optimize your listings for search either way, why not just have your own website, build the brand that you want to build and have all the features you want to have on a website you own.

It’s super important to keep in mind that while Etsy does bring buyers, it’s a total myth that just because there are buyers on the Etsy website, that means you’re accidentally, magically going to get sales.

You still need to do the work to make sure that you get found by the right people and end up in the right search results for those buyers to actually buy something from you.

So, so far we’ve talked about Etsy and Shopify as renting versus owning, we’ve talked a little bit about the idea of how you get traffic to both types of Shops, in this post I walked through the fees for each (Etsy vs Shopify)so if that’s something you’re wondering about you can head here to learn more.

Other Great Posts from M+K Collective:

The final thing to think about when you’re deciding whether you should sell on Etsy or Shopify

And then the last thing I think you should consider when you’re trying to decide if you’re going to start on Etsy or Shopify is time.

I started my Etsy shop four and a half years ago when my oldest was just a baby. At the time I didn’t have a lot of time – I didn’t sleep a lot and I had a full-time job so I was working on my shop early in the morning before my daughter got up or on lunch breaks or maybe between a meeting if I happened to have like 10  minutes at my desk.

Time was at a premium so building an Etsy shop felt like the easiest thing to do. There was a set framework. I could get my stuff up pretty quickly and at the time there really weren’t a lot of people out there teaching how to launch a store.

The majority of the resources I could find were specific to blogging and blogging is great but it’s not the same as owning a product-based business so Etsy felt like the easier place to start.

Even though it felt easy, it took, I think, a year and a half to really start to make consistent sales and that was with a lot of testing and tinkering. A lot of learning about the Etsy search algorithm; figuring out what keywords to use and how to find my right buyers.

So even though it was easy to get it started, it took a while for those sales to start to trickle in. It wasn’t fast and what I’ve realized over the last four years is that my shop can only grow at the rate that Etsy allows it to because the way you find buyers on Etsy, unless you’re driving outside traffic to your Etsy shop (which, if you’re going to learn how to do that I would so much rather you do that with a Shopify store where you own your space and you’re not competing with anyone,) if you’re driving traffic using Etsy’s search algorithm you have to get found.

They need to populate you in the right searches you need to be high up enough that your ideal buyers find you. If there aren’t enough of your ideal buyers on the website or if you have a ton of competition, it limits your chances to get found by the right people.

It can also be true that you don’t pick the right keyword at first – sometimes it takes a little while to find the right one to get yourself in the right result in front of the right people to make those sales.

So while there are a lot of benefits to starting on Etsy, if you’re trying to grow quickly, if you want to build a business at your own pace, that you’re fully in control of, Shopify is going to be the better bet.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking to build a creative outlet or a side hustle like I was when I first started my shop, Etsy is a really lovely place to start.

It gives you all the basics to get your shop up and running, you can test out different search strategies as you find time and it’s not going to be a big deal if it takes a year, a year and a half for you to kind of get the workings figured out and get those sales pouring in.

So timing and the urgency with which you want to start driving sales or when you need to start seeing a return on your investment to me is a really important thing to think about when you’re trying to decide whether to start on Etsy or Shopify or potentially both.

Hopefully that helped give you some things to think about on your journey to figure out which one is the perfect fit for you.

Wondering about Etsy vs Shopify’s fees and how much it costs to sell in each place?

You’ll love this post where I dive into my two shops to show you EXACTLY how much the fees are on Etsy and Shopify:

Etsy vs Shopify Fees (How Much Do They Really Cost)

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