I see a lot of artists using Etsy, Fine Art America, and Saatchi (and other sites like that) as their website address they put on their business cards and tell people to go to to look at their art.
While there’s nothing wrong with using these websites, they shouldn’t be your main web address.
Let’s say you’re on Etsy. What would you do if Etsy were to go out of business suddenly? What would happen to the following you’ve collected in your Etsy shop? What about all the links you’ve put out on the internet (not just your social media channels, but any time you’ve commented with your link ANYWHERE online). You’d have to trash your business cards. And you’d be set back pretty badly with amassing a strong fanbase.
IT WOULD BE DISASTROUS FOR YOUR BUSINESS.
Even if Etsy never goes out of business, though, when you direct people to your Etsy shop you have no control over what happens when they get there. It’s so easy for them to get distracted by other sellers’ items, all those links back to the Etsy homepage, their favorites list, and a great big search bar – all taking them away from your shop!
On most of these sorts of sites, you don’t have easy ways to get people onto your email list (if you don’t have an email list, you absolutely should!) so that you can send them more of your art and let them warm up to you before purchasing.
So it’s much better to be directing people to your own site where you own the domain and can keep backups so that if anything went awry you could be up and running again as if it never happened in just a few hours.
BUT NOT EVERYONE IS PREPARED TO BUILD THEIR OWN SITE.
It costs – either tons of time or a little money (or a lot of money if you go that route) – and a lot of new sellers aren’t ready to do that. So Etsy is a good place to test the waters.
But once you start getting serious about your art business, you’ll need your own site.
I recently got a blog comment saying that a woman has sold a few things on Etsy but only when she posts 4 times or more on social media each day, uses very specific keywords, and pays for promoted ads on Etsy. She isn’t able to keep up with posting that much if she has to do it both for Etsy and for her own site and worries that it would look spammy and even be confusing to people.
I hear that sort of story from a lot of people.
They’re pouring time and money into Etsy and reaping only as much as they’ll ever reap. That time and money they spend isn’t setting them up to grow and make more and more money. They’ll just always make a few sales only when they promote that much.
But if they switch their efforts to their own site, they’ll likely make a similar number of sales right now, but have an opportunity for great growth as they continue to promote and build an email list of interested people while they do.
It’s just very difficult to get traction on a platform you have such little control over. So most people end up struggling and pushing for each sale forever.
But when you are building your own audience alongside your pushing and struggling, then pretty soon you don’t have to push quite as hard.