On October 1st Etsy announced some pretty extreme changes to their TOUs. The forums are in an uproar. Being found amidst hundreds of thousands of listings is hard enough with resellers and the sheer number of shops. However, Etsians are a hardworking bunch and just keep swimming. The new announcement stands to flood the site with mass produced items. As a designer can outsource all their work and list thousands of items a day. Not saying they would, but for those of us in the cloth diaper industry it is now ok for Goodmama, Bumgenius, Fuzzibunz etc to list and sell on Etsy. Not saying any of them would as they have their own sites and sell in pretty much every cloth diaper store across the country, but it paints a picture of what the new Etsy will look like and how hard it might be to stack up against.
While undisclosed some of that factors in ranking higher in searches is the number of relevant listings you have and the number of times and item has been sold/relisting. A shop pumping out higher quantities will likely appear first in a search over an equally tagged and titled product from another shop. Is your business prepared if the flow on Etsy becomes a trickle? Or will it drastically affect your shop? This is why not keeping all your eggs in one basket is important. You never know what might happen and you don't want to be left scrambling. I am not advocating a mass exodus from Etsy, it is every bit as important to continue to work on your shop on Etsy, but take some time to see where else you might be able to stash some eggs. Make like a boy scout and be prepared.
But it's hard enough to stock and promote one site right? It's absolutely worth it to diversify. Can shoppers still buy from you if the site is down for maintenance? What if your shop is suddenly closed without notification? How do shoppers unfamiliar with Etsy find you? Additionally links and mention throughout the interwebs increase rankings in search engines. The more places you and your shop exist and are linked to with unique content online the happier Google, Bing, etc. are to pop up your various pages.
1. Research other selling sites. Right now Etsy is a leader in online marketplaces, but who knows what else is coming. With the promise of a handmade commitment a large number of Etsy sellers are starting up on Zibbet and they are bringing their client base with them. Hyena Cart has long been a crunchy little island for cloth diapering and WAHM wares. There's also The Craft Star, Artfire, and more. Much like Esty these sites help by using a variety of sellers to increase traffic flow. There is likely to be a venue that will fit with your goals and give you a plan B.
2. Consider your own website. Sites like Go Daddy, Big Cartel and Tictail offer sellers the ability to create a free standing domain. You can also find a hosting site like Dreamhost and start from scratch. While it can be expensive to invest in web design there are affordable options. The benefit to having a registered domain is that you own it and always will as long as you keep your registration current. Even if you use the domain to redirect to your shop on Etsy or another venue it gives you ownership of your branding and in the event of a crash at another venue it's easy to divert shoppers to your personal site or wherever you move your shop to all from one domain that you consistently control.
3. Real life sales are a great way to supplement your cyber business. While not everyone has the resources to open a brick and mortar location there are still options that can get your product into the hands of tactile shoppers. Many cloth diaper shops and children's boutique are happy to work with local vendors. Look at your pricing to see if you can handle consignment or wholesale contracts. Watch for local craft fairs or better yet children's expos. Setting up a booth is a great way to interact with potential buyers and get your name out.
4. Small group networking while not exactly a method for sales it's a viable way to meet your target market. By attending RDIA meetings or joining a natural parenting playgroup you are making connections with the kind of buyers looking for your product. Obviously we don't want to be the pushy sales lady, but if your child is wearing you product it's an easy segway into "yea I have a shop." People who have gotten to know you are more likely to shop with you over an unknown WAHM. Plus anything done in person saves you fees.