Don’t Panic: an update to why I left Etsy for Shopify (and a quick rundown of other Hosting Alternatives)

You may be familiar with the blog post I wrote a few years ago for Lisa over at Marketing CreativityWhy I left Etsy: Hosting Alternatives. Every few months I get an email or message asking am I still with Shopify, do I still like it, and what about _____ alternative, and do I still use Etsy at all, and so on. There’s been a definite uptick in those messages the last few days, what with Etsy’s shitting the bed surprise announcement about fee increases and tiered plans, so… let’s recap, and then I’ll get to today’s world.

Want the TL;DR? Skip to the last three paragraphs!

Long-time followers will remember I started on Etsy, after the closing of Hanks Yarn and Fiber. It was a great platform to start on; minimal dollar layout, all coding is done for you, they have all sorts of forums and blog posts and information on how to get started with your business.

But I outgrew them pretty quickly – not as much financially but more in the way of how I wanted my shop to look and behave. So I started looking for alternatives. I considered a shop I’d host on a WordPress blog (but would have to do updates and security work for) versus a different platform such as Big Cartel, Big Commerce, Craft Launch, Indie Made, Shopify, and Volusion. Ultimately I chose Shopify, and I’ve been with them ever since. You can read my comparisons here, and in tooling around on the Interwebs this morning I found this recently updated article comparing six other alternatives.

Now, I’m still happy with Shopify, but many other new places have opened up that you might want to research should you be thinking of leaving Etsy. Personally I have not done a lot of research on these, because I’m happy with Shopify (and I’ll get to that in a minute) but here are some sites I’ve been hearing a lot about.

Both StoreEnvy and Zibbet have come up in conversations with friends recently. Just a few days before the Etsy announcement, a good friend was telling me about Sift Local – they’re not a marketplace (yet) but have plans to grow into one – it’s been a busy week for me and I haven’t had time to set up a page with them yet but I do plan to by the end of the week. Lastly, if you’re in the UK, my friends across the pond have spoken pretty well of Folksy.

Now. Let’s get on to why I’m still happy with Shopify!

My big thing right now are the sales channels. With my Shopify plan (the middle one of the three they have listed on their plans & pricing page), I have a website. I have “buy buttons” which gives me the html code to embed any product I have in a different website I run. That product can be purchased directly through that “buy button” or linked to the product page so people can see more about the product (I use those on this blog, in the sidebar). I can sell directly through a shop page on Facebook, without having to adjust stock or worry about payments – it’s run as if it is through my website. I can sell through Pinterest. I can sell through Buzzfeed. I can sell through Amazon Handmade. I can sell through Instagram. I haven’t yet but can sell through Houzz, eBay, Kik, and Wanelo. I can get a POS app for my phone that (if I didn’t already use Square) would allow me to set up and sell at craft shows using a Shopify chip reader and an app for my phone that automatically deducts the stock from my website.

I mean,  come on! Pretty much all of that right there is worth the price of admission, in my opinion. I’m winding up not paying Shopify too much more per year – still – than I was paying Etsy that last year in monthly fees and yet I can sell in so many more places than I could in Etsy! And I get to control what my website looks like – I don’t look like every other shop out there. And Shopify has a payment gateway that allows me to take credit cards, which, granted, Etsy offers now, but they didn’t when I started to branch away from them a few years ago. But Shopify also accepts Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, and Google Pay. And if I wanted to get into it, Bitcoin (but I am old and crotchety and bitcoin confuses me). And Shopify has an account with UPS that I can use, so I don’t have to sign up for my own account but can still offer UPS shipping, along with the FedEx and USPS that I already offer.

So, I am not part of the … I think they call it the Shopify Partners plan, or something. I don’t get a referral code to give out or get some sort of kick-back if you sign up for them after listening to me. But I have been very satisfied with them through the years and feel no hesitation about recommending them. If you’re thinking about leaving Etsy, or at least branching out to have a little more control over your shop, think about Shopify. Here is their pricing page, and here is a little bit about their “lite” plan. The “lite” plan might be a good stop-gap, testing phase shop for many of you, especially if you already have your own site via something like WordPress. There’s not a direct website shop, like mine; but you can sell via a dedicated Facebook shop page, through Facebook Messenger, via the Buy Buttons I was talking about above, you can create and send invoices, and you can use the chip reader at things like craft shows.

Just want the TL;DR?

If you’re freaking out about Etsy’s sudden changes, my best advice to you is to DON’T PANIC. Breathe. You got this. First off, the changes aren’t really all that heinous, all that unexpected, and they weren’t made specifically to mess you up. They’re a business, they have to turn a profit. If people are gaming the system and cheating out of Etsy for their full 3.5% by lowering the selling price but quadrupling the price of shipping… well, that really is kind of Etsy’s fault for still offering shipping price “per item” instead of only offering weight-based carrier shipping. But of course they’re going to change the playing field if they can. One bad apple spoils the bunch, and I’m sure you’re not doing it but somebody is, and that somebody ruined it for everybody. So don’t take it personally, and don’t panic.

The kinds of reactions I’ve been seeing the last few days are:
— “well, I was thinking of leaving Etsy anyway, this is just the nail in the coffin and the fire under my butt” (to you, I say, get out there and get it! Do your thing! Claim your space!)
— “oh no what am I going to do the sky is falling the sky is falling” (to you, I say, breathe, honey. You got this. Let’s figure it out, one step at a time.)
— “well it’s not like Etsy was making a lot of money off me to begin with, I hadn’t had a sale in months” (to you, I say, you might have some other things going on that this blog post ain’t gonna help ya with.)

Lastly… these financial changes don’t take effect until the middle of next month. That gives you four weeks to research other options, or to figure out how to raise your prices if you’re staying on Etsy. Either way you go….? Listen, you. You’re out there. You’re doing this. You’ve already made the big scary step of opening your own store and doing your own thing. You wouldn’t be able to do that if you hadn’t already proven yourself to be larger than your fears… so don’t let something like this stop you.

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