Etsy vs.Independent Website

Discussion in 'The Fire Hydrant' started by Saeleofu, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    So, I'm wanting to start selling harnesses and leashes that I make. I was going to make a fancy-ass website but it tuned out I have no patience for it. I CAN do it, and I do like web design, but I have so much other stuff to do I haven't found the time.

    Today, as I was making tester leashes, I thought about Etsy. I was thinking I could put ready-to-ship items up, but also custom ordered things and add-ons and stuff. AND, this would allow me to limit the orders to a given number at any given time, where an independent website wouldn't...I really don't want to get a massive order for 20 harnesses all at once :yikes:

    So, for those of you who use or have used one or the other or both, what are the pros/cons? Anything to be aware of?

    For those of you who buy stuffs, do you prefer Etsy or individual websites? Do you tend to check Etsy first when you want something, or only after you can't find it elsewhere?


    THANKS!
     
  2. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    Etsy makes finding things very easy but I think they take fines?

    I like etsy.
     
  3. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    They do have fees, but if I remember right they're not too bad. I did have some stuff listed on Etsy a few years back, but nothing ever sold (everything I did sell was sold locally). Harnesses would not be the $8-$20ish each that my first set has gone for, I would actually intend to make a little bit of profit off of them, so I'd be okay with a small fee for listing/selling if it makes it easier - so long as they still sell. Leashes are dirt cheap to make and take no time at all, so I'm hoping a LOT of people are in the market for euro leashes lol.
     
  4. ruffiangirl

    ruffiangirl New Member

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    I prefer etsy myself I hardly buy stuff from independent websites.
     
  5. Brattina88

    Brattina88 Active Member

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    I like etsy, unless I know the independent buyer or they have a lot of good reviews from people I know. I feel like between etsy and PayPal there's a saftey net.... You know... Just in case ;)
     
  6. sassafras

    sassafras mushinois

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    I like Etsy and it's a pre-packaged audience for you. A lot of people like to shop it so if I was just starting out I'd probably start there. They do take a cut and like anywhere else, I've heard good and bad things about them on the rumor mill.

    You're probably also already aware that there are bajillions of other people selling stuff like dog harness and leashes (I just went there and did a search for dog harnesses and 128 pages came up) and so you'll have to find a way to stand out. Not that you wouldn't have the same issue with an independent website. I know that many people have both an Etsy shop AND an independent web site, or started on Etsy and then grew into their own website.
     
  7. stardogs

    stardogs Behavior Nerd

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    I def shop etsy first for things like you describe, so I'd prob start with an etsy shop over a regular website.
     
  8. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

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    I don't even know what etsy is :)
     
  9. Airn

    Airn New Member

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    I'd have a place on Etsy, since it's a very popular site. But I'd also have a page on Facebook. I've 'Liked' a lot of dog centered pages because my friends have. I never would have noticed these companies other-wise. I think using social media to your advantage is a huge plus for your business.

    And like others have said, you have to set yourself apart. You can make a Facebook page a bit more personalized. Not to mention you can respond (easily) to people's questions and concerns. I always look for a Facebook page first. They usually have more (direct and up to date) information and honest reviews. Plus PICTURES :D
     
  10. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

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    In both situations you have to deal with being found. If we start with the broad strokes of Google, Yahoo, Bing, et cetera - IMO it's probably going to be far easier to get yourself found within the confines of Etsy - and if you set your store up wisely, taking advantage of Etsy's SEO along with your own - as opposed to setting up a store by itself and hoping you get moved into the top ranks of Google on your own SEO practices.

    Of course getting found on Etsy itself can be tough. You need really great photos to even get people to click on your item, and it needs to be evident from those photos why people should buy your harness versus another one, which can be tricky.

    Etsy has both listing fees (20 cents per item) and takes a chunk of your final sale price, and of course most people pay through Paypal and that will take a chunk as well. On the other hand, if you get a cart for your website, that will almost definitely have fees associated as well... I'm still trying to get this hammered down for my tags... I'd like to have people able to buy from a website but the process of getting a cart sorted out isn't working out too well.

    I do think there's a lot to be said too for the credibility of Etsy as a store versus "here's a random website I just found so let me fork over money!" I agree on the idea of selling on Etsy for now and then in the future possibly spreading to your own website. My idea was to sell ready made items on Etsy (hitting up casual buyers and people who came directly to/from my website), but have people come to my site for custom items - but I think it may all end up on Etsy. I haven't sold a "custom item" with Etsy's new custom item system so I'm not sure how it works but I believe they've made it pretty advanced?

    I would say make a basic website you can have attached to your store where you can go into more detail of things, a gallery of stuff you've sold, et cetera... just a further informational site. And then link back to Etsy for people to buy things.
     
  11. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    Beanie, I REALLY like your hybrid idea! And of course Facebook is a must. I already have a page on Facebook for it, it's just not "open" yet.

    Yes, definitely all this. I will be catering to SDs/working dogs, as there are literally NO affordable guide/working dog harnesses out there. And the only other person I can find that makes nylon guide harnesses has a turnaround time of a full year, which is why I even tried to make a harness in the first place. I figure the leashes and stuff will just be a sort of "oh, while I'm here, I'll get this and save on shipping" sort of thing. And they'll mostly be euro leads and traffic handles, which, again, are commonly used on working dogs.

    I'm also NOT planning on making this a full-time, support-myself-on-this-alone business. So if I sell two items a month, awesome. If I sell 10 items a month, great. If I sell 5 items a year, still fine.

    Photography is the one I have to work on. I need to schedule time in the daylight to take proper pictures, instead of taking them on the kitchen floor at midnight like I tend to do :rofl1: So, instead of this (which is the dining room wall, not the kitchen floor, but whatever lol):
    [​IMG]

    Do more like this (I so didn't make this collar, it's Ella's Lead, but I love the photos I took of it lol).
    [​IMG]


    Thanks SO MUCH for all the input! Keep it coming, but I think I'm going to go with Etsy with a Facebook supplement and eventually (sooner rather than later) a no-cart website. I know OnLead gets by with a website with no cart and sells through email, but really, it's a pain to buy that way and I feel like it would turn a lot of people off and look suspicious. I trust OnLead now and shop there all the time, but I was definitely wary of it at first.
     
  12. Brattina88

    Brattina88 Active Member

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    :rofl1:
    Good point, though! Pictures are always a huge selling point to me.`
    I always wondered about making something like this http://www.wikihow.com/Create-an-Inexpensive-Photography-Lightbox ... there's tons of ideas if you google it :p
    Also, I know some sellers use dog models or stuffed dogs even for showing off the shape of the harness better
     
  13. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    I've actually been meaning to make a light box to take pictures of the gecko in, never thought of using it for this!

    I could totally make/find stuffed dogs to use as models for the smaller stuff, and my own dogs for the bigger stuff.
     
  14. ruffiangirl

    ruffiangirl New Member

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    I wonder if anyone is making working hanesses out of biothane because thats another idea that would be great I think!

    Also working leads with no handle just the clips and rings out of biothane!
     
  15. Fran101

    Fran101 Resident fainting goat

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    Etsy.
    I don't even search for independent websites at all anymore really unless someone recommends it via word of mouth.. I want the customer reviews available and etsy does a great job with that.
     
  16. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    All Things Bright And Biothane and Custom Canine Collars both do custom biothane work, you can contact them :) I don't have the supplies or knowledge to make biothane anything, and I can't make the investment to learn and purchase tools right now.
     
  17. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    So, interesting turn of events.

    Sadly, the owner of PawPower Creations has passed away. I was just informed of this a few minutes ago by an old friend from the SD forum I used to be on, but it happened back in May. He was an awesome person and will definitely be missed.

    That also means there is NO source for nylon guide harnesses right now, aside from the DT guide harness which is expensive and not custom, and the Am-Can guide harness which is also expensive and I've been told they're pretty terrible.

    So, I may have a bigger market than I had expected, and I will try to roll out the Etsy shop and Facebook page sooner than I had planned. I'm going to try to get them up this week, since the need is there.

    For thoseof you who have bought a harness from me, or those of you who use a guide/working harness, what would you pay for a harness? I'm still getting the occasional scorch marks or crooked stitching, which I know brings the value down. But I'm just having a hard time pricing these things. The Am-Can harness goes for $90+ (and almost $30 shipping). The PawPower ones went for $70 for the harness and $35 for the handle. If you wanted padding, it was an extra $10. I just...feel terrible about charging those prices. At the same time I had no qualms about paying that for the harness I wanted (it was the 1-year turnaround time that changed my mind). So far I've only sold my harness at cost plus shipping, and a few have been given away for free, too. So any pricing tips would be very welcome. The handles are a pain in the ass to make, and would be even harder if I made a cover for them. But they only cost me around $5-$10 to actually make, depending on the style. If I got stain to stain them, it would be easier than making a cover, but it would increase the cost. But charging $35 for the handle after knowing what they cost to make...it boggles the mind. I understand the point is to make a profit, and my time is valuable too, but...it's hard putting value to something.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2013
  18. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

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    You really need to do two things when you price your stuff. Well - three, really.
    First you price your materials. Let's say it's $10.
    Second you really need to price your time. If you feel guilty over it just pay yourself minimum wage - like $8/hr. I do not estimate my time as minimum wage, but sometimes I spend more time on something than I estimated originally and end up in the whole "wage"-wise.

    Then you need to examine the market. If your cost is $10 and it takes you three hours to make one, but the market is flooded with stuff that only costs $25, you have a problem. Either you need to find cheaper materials, get faster/more efficient at making them, or abandon the idea.


    Often larger companies charge more for a variety of reasons. You as an individual have far fewer expenses. You don't have to pay insurance for your company, for example. If you stab yourself with a needle or sew through your hand, that sucks, and hopefully you have medical insurance - but it's not the same as when an employee hurts themselves on the job. You don't have a building you have to pay for to house your materials, equipment, and employees. You don't have licensing fees (though you should definitely see if you have to file for a business license in your state. It's free to get one here.) or things like that.

    So don't feel like you have to price the same. A lot of people shop on Etsy BECAUSE it's cheaper to buy from a person rather than a company.


    Most importantly - don't undersell or undervalue yourself and your work. It's tough as an artist to not do this. I will tell you that often people look at cheap stuff and they believe the price is a comment on the quality. Or that you don't have any confidence in your stuff so aren't worth buying from. Your time and talent as a creator is valuable. Treat it as such.

    Since you already have given stuff away for free, of course be prepared to make donations. This weekend I donated $100 worth of stuff to a rescue for them to auction off. They auctioned it all off and got more money for it than I would have made had I sold it all piece by piece - and I got NOTHING for it. There is no law that says you can only have a business for profit. But if you aren't making a profit it's not a business. It's an expensive hobby.
     

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