A lot of people ask me for my opinion on which online storefront is the best. I usually tell them, “Well, that depends on your business”…except when it comes to ONE platform, and that’s Etsy.
When I first started selling digital products (cute graphics and designed prints), I sold them on Etsy. After all, that’s where everyone was selling their products. I thought it was a safe, secure, and stable way to make passive income.
And it was…for a while. Now? It’s a complete rip-off.
In case you’re out of the loop, Etsy sellers went on strike in mid-April 2022 because the online storefront jacked up their transaction fees from 5% to 6.5% ON TOP OF payment processing fees and service fees — while reporting record profits.
If a pre-made storefront seems like an attractive option for your digital product shop, I get it. There’s minimal tech set up and for the most part, it’s pretty user-friendly. But trust me on this one — the drawbacks far outweigh the benefits.
If you’re ready to start selling your digital products while YOU call all the shots (not some out-of-touch corporation) and avoid sky-high fees, then read on.
It’s true — Etsy is in control of who has eyes on your shop. You can do all the SEO and keyword research in the world, but ultimately it’s Etsy’s platform — just like various social media platforms, they have an algorithm and hefty price tags for ads.
Enormous fees aren’t their only issue either.
In 2020, Etsy launched a mandatory advertising program, taking a 12 percent minimum fee for every successful sale. There’s also the Star Seller Program, where sellers receive a badge if they maintain customer metrics like quick response time or five-star ratings…which sounds good, but it opens the door for micromanaging.
We don’t have time for that bullshit when we’re trying to make money.
Between the listing fee, transaction fee, and processing fee, these fees add up and take away from your overall sale. That means you could be losing money by using Etsy. Many small businesses who list on Etsy have to up their prices to accommodate the cost of fees, which can be frustrating to customers on the outside looking in.
Other storefronts have fees too, but they aren’t nearly as high and are typically bundled into a monthly membership fee. If you’re selling a lot of products, whether digital or physical, those fees can really take you by surprise.
If there’s a better deal than Etsy, go elsewhere!
So if not Etsy, then what?
As someone who has personally had experience with both Squarespace and Shopify, I can tell you that they’re both great options — and you don’t have to be a web designer or coding genius to figure them out.
Both Shopify and Squarespace have templates and professional themes that help e-commerce of any size and can be created with the push of a button. The biggest difference? Squarespace serves content-based websites while Shopify is focused solely on online stores.
Each type of storefront has its own pros and cons too.
Pre-made storefronts (like Etsy and Creative Market) are easy to set up but also limit your revenue by having to charge competitively in an oversaturated online market. Custom storefronts give you total creative freedom, but have a huge learning curve and will likely require you to hire a pro designer to help you out (if you don’t have the time to figure it out on your own).
Knowing which is right for you comes down to the answers to these questions:
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it will help you gauge where you’re at with your business and which storefront may fit your brand the best.
As I mentioned earlier, Etsy is in control, which means you want to have a backup plan if something ever happens to your shop. This is where an email list becomes helpful!
Having an email list will allow you to build your community outside of Etsy and give you an additional way to advertise your products.
Of course, if your email list has a total of 2 (which includes your personal email and your mom’s supportive sign-up) then you may be freaking out a bit thinking about growing that list enough to make a sale.
Don’t worry — I gotchu! In this video, I show you where to start when it comes to building an email list for your online shop (really — it’s not as scary as it sounds). Give it a look!