Shop Handmade: Etsy vs. Artist Websites - What's Best for Makers?

Have you ever wondered if it's better to buy from an artist's Etsy shop or their own website? 

If you're considering this, you're likely a thoughtful and empathetic person who wants to do right by the artist! So first off, thank you for being so considerate! Supporting artists is sometimes tricky, and this post aims to give you tips on how to best do that, especially if shopping on Etsy.

tl;dr - It depends on the artist

Though it's probably safe to say most makers prefer that you shop on their own websites, every maker has their own unique situation, and it's always best to ask them directly. Reach out through email or a contact form on their website—somewhere they have full control over their communication. Avoid using Etsy's messaging system.  If makers tell potential customers—either in Etsy convos, shop announcements or in listings descriptions—to make a purchase outside of Etsy, Etsy considers that "fee avoidance.” This violates Etsy's terms of service, and could lead to shop suspension.

For Rebeca Mojica Jewelry items: In addition to my website, you can find my items on a variety of platforms and in retail shops throughout across the US. For most jewelry, I honestly have little preference where you purchase; there are pros and cons for each platform (which I'll address in a separate post). For custom jewelry, large orders, or long-time repeat customers, I generally prefer that folks purchase via my own website, but that's just a slight preference. In other words—I'm happy for your business no matter which platform you would like to use!

Why to Buy on Etsy

Most artisans with both an Etsy shop and a website likely prefer customers buy directly on their website. This makes sense: websites offer lower fees and more control. We can manage everything ourselves, including building an email list to connect with customers beyond the sale. (Bonus for you: most of us send far, far fewer emails than Etsy!) On Etsy, you're essentially Etsy's customer, while on an artist's website, you're directly supporting that specific business, allowing for a more personalized experience.

There’s a flip side, though. The fewer orders someone receives on a particular listing in their Etsy shop, the lower that listing gets pushed in Etsy’s search algorithm. This makes the item less likely to sell, especially if it gets pushed several pages back in the search results. It’s a vicious cycle—the less you sell, the lower you rank, the even less you sell, and so on. 

So, if a maker is trying to have some amount of success on Etsy, they need orders on Etsy. Which is why it can sometimes still make sense to buy from artisans on Etsy rather than on their own websites.

Though it remains to be seen how Etsy weathers the current challenges (Etsy’s search is not great; the market—both on and off Etsy—is flooded with mass-produced junk from overseas; scammers are prolific; Etsy considers AI art to be "handmade," etc. ), right now Etsy still drives sales many artisans wouldn't get elsewhere.

How To Best Support Artists on Etsy

If you do want to purchase from a maker on Etsy, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Whenever possible, access their shop using a “Share and Save” link. These links start with the shop name, followed by etsy.com. Example:

    https://rebecamojicajewelry.etsy.com <—this is a Share and Save link. I’ll earn 4% back from any orders placed via this link. You as a customer aren’t out any money; the 4% just shifts from Etsy’s pocket into my own pocket. If you aren't sure if a link is Share and Save, then just type the URL into a browser: SHOPNAME.etsy.com

    https://www.etsy.com/shop/RebecaMojicaJewelry <—this is a standard Etsy.com URL, and results in no savings for the artisan

  2. If you decide to Google search for the artisan's Etsy shop, do NOT click on any links that are “sponsored.” These result Etsy taking 12-15% of the order total as an advertising fee. This is on top of their other fees and commissions, which can result in very high fees for the artisans. Etsy takes this fee on each and every order you place within 30 days of clicking. If you are unable to use the Share n Save link outlined in #1, then at the very least, go to the app, or Etsy.com and then search for the artisan.

    Below is an example of a sponsored search result that you should never click on!

    screenshot of google search results showing an Etsy-sponsored link for Rebeca Mojica jewelry

    Sponsored links appear in other search engine results as well as on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. 


  3. After your purchase, please take the time to leave a 5-star review if you’re happy. Not only does this make an artisan’s day, it also affects the item’s ranking in search, making it more likely to be found by other potential customers. (If your piece was a one-of-a-kind piece, then the item won’t be found in search, but a positive review is still helpful for the shop's overall “marketplace experience” score, which is another metric used for search ranking). Etsy sellers wishing to retain their “star seller” badge must maintain an extremely high review average, and a single low review can be devastating for a low-volume seller. If you’re not happy, please, for the love of all that is good and decent in this world, reach out to the artisan before leaving a crappy review.

Every Little Bit Helps

Ultimately, the decision of where to buy comes down to both the artist's preference and your own comfort level. By being mindful of the points mentioned above, you can ensure you're supporting your favorite makers in the most effective way possible. Remember, a little extra effort on your part, like using a "Share and Save" link or leaving a positive review, can make a big difference for an independent artist on Etsy. Believe me, we do appreciate it!

1 comment

That was very good info and great to know. Thank you!

Jan Neff-Sinclair May 25, 2024

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