It’s a common question among those of us who make and sell jewelry and art beads – Do you need a website? Many jewelry artists think that they don’t need a website if they are selling their work through a sales venue such as Etsy (or any other online sales venue). But nothing could be further from the truth!
One of the most common complaints about Etsy is that it’s too hard to get sales. However, you can’t rely on a sales venue website like Etsy to bring buyers to you. It is necessary to do your own marketing. You must find buyers through your own hard work making connections on social media, blogging, or even buying ads on websites. Self-promotion means getting your name in front of people and making them interested enough that they want to learn more about your work. But where do you send your potential customers once you have their attention? Do you send them to your Etsy shop? If so, then all the links you have carefully created around the web, every pin and tweet, every blog comment and feature, will point to your Etsy shop. That’s what you want, right? Don’t be so sure!
But what happens if Etsy disappears? Or if they change their policies and you don’t want to sell through them anymore? As we have found recently in the handmade community, many people are facing this very issue. If all of your marketing efforts drive traffic directly to Etsy, then it all goes up in smoke when you close your Etsy account.
Wouldn’t it be better to send the traffic to your website instead? If all your marketing efforts point people to your website, you can then direct your traffic to whatever sales venue you are using at the time. And unlike tweets, repinned pins, and Facebook shares, you can change the destination links on your website with a few clicks. When you have your own website, you are in control of the content. You’re not at the mercy of another company changing their policy, filtering your posts, or ranking your content below that of other users.
A website can be as simple or as complex as you are able to create and maintain. You don’t need a complicated website with a shopping cart and an expensive suite of marketing tools in order to benefit from having your own website. Sites such as Etsy and the like do an admirable job of being an online storefront for you. That is good news because it means that you can put more effort into your branding, marketing, and search engine optimization.
Your website should be the center or hub of your online world. Every social media profile, every promotional link, every comment left on websites, and each mention by bloggers should link back to your website where you can craft the viewer’s experience to work to your advantage. Remember that new social media websites are starting all the time and even Facebook is going to fall out of favor at some point. Will you be the one holding the keys to your brand’s online identity?
Even if you don’t want to blog, a simple website is valuable. It gives you an opportunity to make an impression with your brand, explain what your philosophy is, describe your process, or show a representative portfolio of your work. Of course, you would also want to give links to your sales venue and give people a way to get in touch with you.
A website does not need to be expensive. WordPress.com works well for those with more tech savvy. But Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, and more have low-cost plans. Plus, there are lots of web designers who specialize in getting you up and running quickly.
The question at this point shouldn’t be IF you need a website. You do! It doesn’t have to be fancy. Don’t be homeless on the web.