My Journey to Selling My Natural Small Batch Products On Line

My Journey to Selling My Natural Small Batch Products On Line

So, after years of making soap for personal use or to give away as gifts, I decided in the middle of the pandemic (as did millions of others)  to dip my toes into the world of online selling.  I set up shop on ETSY. Great choice! Or is it? Let's break down the pros and cons of being an ETSY seller.

Pros: It's a Small World After All

One of the biggest pros of selling on ETSY is the exposure you get. Your products have the potential to reach customers from all corners of the globe. It's like having a virtual storefront in every country! How cool is that?  You cannot disregard this kind of exposure.  

Cons: Welcome to the Thunderdome

But wait, there's a catch. With great exposure comes great competition. You're not the only one selling handmade soap and skin products. You're just a needle in a haystack of talented artisans. Standing out can be as tough as finding a unicorn in a sea of horses. Buyers search for what they want and they are shown pages upon pages of the item being sold by the multitudes.  You can't even easily see which country the item might be coming from. 

Recognition, Where Art Thou?

Another downside of being an ETSY seller is the lack of individual recognition. Sure, your products may be popular, but do people know the face behind the creations? It's like being the invisible man of the online marketplace. You're the wizard behind the curtain, but no one knows it's you pulling the strings.  When someone buys something from ETSY and is later asked where they got this great thing, the answer is always "I got it on ETSY".  Never is the actual ETSY shop or maker mentioned.  I know this is the case even when I, as a seller, buy on ETSY.  It is just hard to distinguish the individual shops.  

Money, Money, Money

Let's talk about the moolah. After factoring in ETSY fees, taxes, shipping costs, and advertising, you're left with only about 60% of what you actually sell. It's like running a lemonade stand where the lemons are more expensive than the lemonade itself. Ouch!  ETSY is constantly sending you emails to encourage you that if you want to be successful you must  have sales, offer free shopping, and give discounts for everyone who visits your shop. 

Rules, Rules, Rules

And don't forget the rules. ETSY has a laundry list of do's and don'ts when it comes to what you can and cannot post. Step out of line, and your shop could be deleted faster than you can say "handmade with love." It's like walking on eggshells in a minefield.  There are tons of YouTube videos talking about how shops have been closed down without notice and even sometimes based on incorrect data their AI bots have gathered.  Even if your whole shop isn't closed down they can remove without notice individual items.  This even happened to me. One of my soaps was removed for what they said was inappropriate medical claims. I am a physician and hate products that make ridiculous medical claims that have no basis in fact.  I would never list my items as such. Yet ETSY felt that  I did and removed the product. There is no pathway to get your product reinstated. I tried. 

So Should I Leave ETSY?

I found myself at a crossroads. It is a true love and hate relationship.  I love the ETSY reach.  It CANNOT be beat. I don't love all the ETSY rules and fees.

So Let's ADD GoImagine?

What is the GoImagine Marketplace?  GoImagine is like the cool, indie cousin of ETSY. It may not have the same reach or the millions of buyers, but what it lacks in numbers, it makes up for in heart. This new online marketplace is all about handmade items, fewer fees, and giving back to children's charity. It's like the Robin Hood of online platforms, taking from the rich (big corporations) and giving to the kids.

Why Make the Switch?

I realized that I needed to spread my wings and explore new horizons. ETSY was a great place for a brand new start up since it made things quick and easy.  But it was quickly apparent diversification was needed.  What if my ETSY shop was closed down??  GoImagine offered something different. It was like finding a hidden gem in a sea of mass-produced products. Plus, who doesn't love supporting a good cause while shopping for unique, handmade items?  With thousands of buyers and a growing community, GoImagine may be smaller, but it's mighty. The focus on only verified handmade products ensures quality and authenticity, making each purchase feel special. You can buy from "neighbors" as the sellers can be searched according to location in the country. All sellers are from the US. Fees are much less and let's not forget the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that your purchase is helping children in need. So now, I also have a website on GoImagine.  As this one grows, I expect I will leave ETSY completely.  

Will I just stick with marketplaces?

Nope.  If you want to make a name for yourself, which I do, you need your own personal website. It's like your online home where you can showcase your talents, products, or services.  Your products are not listed right next to millions of other seller products that are similar.  You can have your own voice, your own look, and write whatever you feel best describes your products.  No fear of being closed down or having products removed. 

Which website builder should you use?

Now, I get it. Money doesn't grow on trees, especially for small businesses. But trust me, going with a cheap website builder is like buying a knock-off purse - it may look good at first, but it falls apart faster than you can say "oops."  I tried this for a short while and realized I ended up with a website of really limited abilities that would be noticeable by any experienced on line shopper.  Links would break and I needed to spend a tremendous amount of time to keep it up and running.  You want your website to look and feel professional. 

Shopify: Worth the investment

Enter Shopify. Sure, it may cost a bit more, but it's like buying a designer bag - it's worth the investment. Shopify works seamlessly, like a well-oiled machine. Plus, it offers a plethora of add-on apps, many of which are free. It's like getting a bonus with your purchase!

Get creative with total freedom

But here's the best part - total creative license. With Shopify, you can create a personalized look and feel for your website. It's like having a blank canvas and a whole bunch of colorful paints to play with. Develop your own branding, stand out from the crowd, and show the world what you're made of! My dream would be using only my Shopify ( website.  Having to keep up only one site would be AMAZING!.  But for now diversification is the key.  I will continue and promote my stand alone Shopify website but will keep my ETSY and GoImagine Marketplace websites for now. Wish me luck. 








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