Why Etsy Sellers Should Have Their Own Website

Having your own website is one of the most rewarding and fun parts of building an online business. It provides you with so many opportunities. For example:

  • A chance to create an individual space that is all you!
  • A chance to share your story in depth
  • A chance to tell more about your products and why you love them
  • A place to refer everyone to, without seeming like you’re trying to sell to them
  • A chance to learn something new and create a whole new set of skills
  • A place online that you control completely
  • An opportunity for future growth and expansion
  • A more professional image
  • Improved name and brand recognition

The list of reasons you’ll love having your own website could really continue for hundreds of items.

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The real question is “Why wouldn’t you have your own website?”

The only answers I can think of are cost, time, or techno-phobia (fear of the technology).

The cost is very low, the time investment can be spread out over years, and if you’re wanting to work (and make a profit) online, you better get used to technology or do like Kim did and trick someone else into learning it. :-)

You Need Your Own Website!

Your own website, hosted on a paid hosting account (rather than a free account such as blogger.com) offers you a list of advantages so long that I think if I wrote about them all, you wouldn’t finish reading this post till next week.

We set-up our own websites shortly after Kim started selling on Etsy and have learned the whole thing from scratch. It can be a lot to learn, depending on how far you want to go with it. But that’s the point! You can go as far as you want!

You can build a professional blog selling advertising, products, downloads, etc. You might find out, like we did, that the blog becomes as big a part of your business model as your actual store is.

You can extend your own site to have your own selling platform. One day you may become large enough that you would prefer to sell everything from your own site, rather than on Etsy.

You may come up with an idea of a web-based service you can offer your customers via your own site. You might develop an app of some sort.

The point is that when you have your own website, you look more professional now and you open up unlimited options for the future.

No website, or a free hosted website, simply don’t offer that kind of future opportunity.

What About Starting Off With Free Hosting?

Since the cost of having your own domain and website is so low (about $10.00 a month) it’s not worth the effort to build a whole blog at free hosting and then move it later.

There is lots of talk about “how easy” it is to move a site. It’s really not. It’s easy to move content, but not at all easy to move the look of your site, the arrangement of your site, or the content of your sidebars. It’s also not great from an SEO standpoint to move your site.

If you’re looking to build a long-term business online, then there isn’t really an option. I’m not trying to be a know-it-all here. I’m just trying to be someone who has been there and helped lots of others who have been there. Just someone pointing out the easiest and best path to where you want to go.

If you don’t have your own website hosted on a paid hosting account, and you really are serious about building your Etsy business long-term, then you should do exactly what I would do if I was in your shoes right now.

1. I would go to Hostgator.com and sign-up for the Baby Plan.

Again, I’m afraid if I go into all the details behind this advice the post will get crazy long. Here’s the bullet-point version:

  • We’ve tried numerous hosting companies
  • We now run our sites on Hostgator servers
  • Hostgator has awesome customer service – very helpful by phone or email
  • Hostgator has easy upgrades for when you grow
  • Our site uptime is excellent with Hostgator
  • Choose the Baby plan because you might want to add more domains
  • We have about fifty domains
  • When you have an idea, you buy the domain. If the idea sticks, you’re ready to go.
  • If you start a new shop, you buy the domain. If it grows, you’re ready to go.
  • Hostgator has easy month-to-month payment options

2. Once I had the Hosting Account Set-Up, I’d install WordPress.

WordPress is quick and easy to install for the first time. Here is a link to a tutorial Hostgator has put together for doing so on Hostgator servers: How to Install WordPress

3. Then you start learning!

It takes a little bit of effort to learn all of this stuff. Or you can hire people to do it for you. My advice is that if you plan to build your business up over time is to just take your time and learn it yourself.

We make changes every single day on our sites. It would cost a fortune to pay someone to do it all. It takes time to learn, but the knowledge can never be taken away. You’ll always be able to make your own changes and once you learn “how to learn” online, you’ll be able to figure out anything you want to do.

Tomorrow I’ll be talking about WordPress themes which are the framework that helps you give your WordPress site some character and better functionality.

I’m so sorry if this is over-simplified. I’m just offering by best advice without going into pages and pages of detail. I hope you find it helpful.

~ Tim

Disclosure: When we purchase a product and find it helpful (such as Hostgator) we often look to see if there is an affiliate program. When there is, we sign-up for it because we know we’re going to recommend the service or product anyway, we might as well get a commission. Affiliate commissions is part of how we support Etsypreneur and Everything Etsy, so we appreciate you clicking through our links when you buy these services. It doesn’t cost you a dime extra.

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Comments

  1. This article is perfect timing for me! I took my business more ‘full time’ when my son started school in January. I always said I’d start my own ‘site’ when that happened. But it looks like so much work and so intimidating! I’m barely keeping up with sewing my orders and cooking dinners :0) So just to clarify, do you guys mean a website that is more like a blog? Interactive with posts and tutorials and such? Not a website that just hosts your goodies for sale again?

    Thanks for ALL your amazing help!

  2. Tim Layton says:

    Hi Dana,

    Great question. This is one of the hundred bits of additional info I knew could be added to the post. They all end-up in the same place though, so that’s what I focused on.

    The answer is that you can create your website however you want. I use the term “website” to refer to your entire domain online. This includes a blog (I would start with a blog), an about page, photos, maybe a landing page for the home page, eCommerce if you ever go to that level, etc. It’s all part of your website.

    People get confused with the terminology but it’s really just the same thing by a different name. A blog is a type of website, but in the modern business world all business websites should include a blog section which is interactive with comments, etc. It’s better to have them all on your own domain.

    Hope that clarifies it. I’ll do my best to answer any more questions in the comments here.

  3. I just registered for a domain name and now I don’t know what to do with it! Did you learn html or C+ or some other programming language? Where did you start to learn how to build a website?

    Thanks, Adriann

    • Tim Layton says:

      Hi Adriann!

      You did exactly what I did. Just sign-up and figure it out from there. For the most part, the only two programming languages I use in every day web work is HTML and CSS.

      One of the best places to learn those is at http://w3schools.com

      BUT! You don’t really have to learn that stuff right off the bat. Most of what you can do with WordPress is doable without any of that. Did you sign-up with Hostgator? Did you install WordPress yet?

      Once I had WordPress installed I added a theme and I learned most of the main things you need to know from the Forums at the theme. I’ll be writing about themes tomorrow.

      The best way to start for a total beginner is to get WordPress installed and then start playing with it as a blog for a little while.

      Let me know if you get stuck with something. I’ll try and point you in the right direction.

  4. Wow! I just spent the last two hours researching this stuff…there’s a lot to think about. I guess it comes down to deciding how far I want to go with this business.

    There’s a lot to learn, and a lot of time commitment involved. Worth it for the long haul. My problem is that I’m struggling in a bit of a slump right now, and envisioning the ‘long haul’ is kinda hard at the moment. It’s times like these that you wish you could get a peek into the future! :-)

    Looking forward to the rest of this series!
    Blessings,
    Malaika.

    • Tim Layton says:

      Hi Malaika,

      I know exactly how you feel. I was just talking to Kim about a big project that could take years to get really rolling. I quickly overwhelmed myself thinking about all of the parts of the job at once.

      The biggest decision is to decision “to do, or not to do” something. Then it’s a matter of taking it step by step.

      If you figure out that looking into the future thing, let me know!

      Tim

      • This is exactly where I am at right now. I am so totally inpsired by your articles Tim and I want to go for it but I think fear is getting in my way a bit. How did you and your family get past the fear and just jump off??

        • Tim Layton says:

          I think we just “started” and the rest is history. If I had known how long it would take to get to where we are, I probably wouldn’t have done it.

          It’s probably a lot like raising kids. When you have the idea to have a baby it’s all fun and happy. Then you start to realize it’s a ton of work. By the time they are teenagers you sit back and think…. WOW, this whole kid thing has been a really big job!

          If you knew how hard it would be before you started, you might not. On the other hand, most parents I know would gladly do it again in a heartbeat because the rewards are well worth the effort.

          I think that’s the way it is with a business of your own. It’s harder than you think, but the rewards are worth it.

  5. Tim thank You so much for this info, this is the first things I have read on your blog/website and it is amazing, I actually just one month ago did all this that you said to do, so at least I know I am on the right track, but yes I am pretty much clueless from here so I will start following you like a hawk!!! :)

    Thank You, Joni
    http://www.lavalya.com

  6. Tim Layton says:

    This question just came in via email. I figured I’d post it here so others could read it and my answer:

    Hello Tim,

    I am confused reading what you said about you having 50 domains. What does that mean? Why 50? How did you get 50 and why would you want more?

    This info would help me understand better about having 50 domains.

    Warm Regards,
    Dar

    ——————-

    Hi Dar,

    As you become more familiar with the web and get more accustomed to maintaining your own site, you’ll probably start having new ideas. A new shop name, a related eBook or blog, etc. As you grow you might want to get more domains and you need a hosting account that allows you to do that.

    We started with one blog, ForeverWherever.com, and then added to it with RemodelingGuy.net and EverythingEtsy.com. Now we also have RemodelingThereapy.com and Etsypreneur.com. We’ve also got Kim’s felt business at KimberlyLayton.com and we have the domains to match a few of our Etsy shops. We also have a couple of really big ideas we want to make happen but haven’t had the time/money/burst of boundless energy yet.

    In addition to that, I’ve secured domain names to match my kids names so when they hit the big time one day, they already have the .com! :-)

    Domains add-up quick and it’s good to have a hosting account that lets you have unlimited.

    I hope that helps!

    Tim

  7. I also recommend Aplus.net (now owned by Deluxe). I started using them in 2005 and have been a very happy customer ever since – excellent pricing and support.

    I just downloaded WordPress late last year. It is pretty difficult to understand at first, so recommend having someone showing you around rather than trying to learn it yourself. I also recommend biting the bullet and paying for a WordPress theme like Genesis or Thesis. There are some nice extras that give your blog an even more polished look.

  8. hello, just wanted to say your daily newsletter is so encouraging to me. i don’t have my own domain or blog yet, but after reading your tips i am slowly getting over my blogophobia and warming up to the idea. :)

    • Tim Layton says:

      Hi Lauren,

      I hope that you and any other Etsy sellers who are reading this realize that I’m a big believer in patience when doing this kind of business. I think the biggest danger to the creativity of selling online is stress over the business and tech side of selling online. So I think it’s great that you’re taking your time warming up to the idea.

      Websites and blogging is a big subject so I’m sure we’ll hit on it again soon.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Tim

  9. Roseann says:

    Great article, thanks Tim! Enjoy my morning inbox with your email. Looking forward to working on a WordPress blog. Blogger is limiting. I have had some experience with WordPress with a real estate blog/website. However, I had it done. I’m looking forward to creating my own. Looking forward to learning more on customizing.

    Again, thanks for the your articles! ;)

    • Tim Layton says:

      Hi Roseann,

      I’m glad the article was helpful. We’ll be talking lots about customizing your site as time goes on. Since you get the daily email, you won’t miss any of it.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Tim

  10. Great article, loving all the information you are providing. Thanks so much.

  11. Hi Tim, I have my own domain name but am operating under wordpress.com…
    That’s different from what your referring to right? Or not? I don’t feel I’m able to pay for the full WordPress but would like to eventually. Wondering if it will be as difficult as any other “free” blog would be to switch over? Or if I have an advantage since I’m already on WordPress. I hope that makes sense. Thanks! :)

    • Tim Layton says:

      Hi Cheri,

      WordPress.com and “self-hosted” WordPress (often referred to as WordPress.org) are a little different but are very similar. So, yes it is different from what I’m referring to.

      What you’re using is very similar to Blogger, TypePad, Tumblr, or other free blogging platform. It can be very effective and is totally worth doing, but it’s not as good long-term as the self-hosted. Since the cost is very low (using the least expensive options only a few dollars a month) I recommend making the switch when you can.

      It’s pretty easy to move the “content” which is the posts and pictures from either WordPress.com or Blogger to your own self-hosted WordPress. The process is about the same for both.

      Does that answer your questions clearly? I hope so.

      Tim

  12. I am new to the site and this is one of the first post I’ve read. I recently changed over my site from a free blogging services to a full blown, hosted site with blog, about me page, portfolio and various other pages. Its one of the best things I’ve ever done in terms of my business. As you say in the post it gives me a place to send people where they don’t feel like they are being sold to, where they can get to know me a bit better and really let me play with my brand and image in a way that the free services didn’t.

    Although I am a designer by trade I’d always managed to duck and weave out of any serious coding knowledge and I managed to put the site together with only minimal help from the hosting people and some friendly web dev friends.

    The blog element was pretty new to me (the way I’d set it up before made it a bit of a chore) but it’s super easy and I am loving writing and curating posts! Almost as much fun as actually designing and creating my work :)

  13. I did it! Just got my own domain name and website…a little scary because it means commitment, but exciting, too! Can’t wait for the next post about themes…that’s the next step for me…just have to make a few more sales! :-)

    And you were right, bringing my WordPress blog over into my new site wasn’t too difficult. There were a few things that I had to go into the dashboard and input manually, but, for the most part, it was all there. The only things I can’t seem to carry over are my existing subscribers…is there a way, or do I just have to beg them to make the switch?

    Thanks again for everything!
    Blessings,
    Malaika.

  14. Gina Snyder says:

    I already have a domain name for my business through go daddy. Will I be able to use it with host gator?

    Gina

  15. Hi Tim,

    As others have mentioned above, your posts are so helpful and really practical! I am currently trying to figure out the best way to set up my website – I have a blog through blogger with my own domain name but want to switch to WordPress like you have recommeded.

    What I have found most difficult however (and you will probably get to this) is figuring out the shopping cart things…I thought I could just link my website straight to paypal but now I realise it doesnt work like that!

    It would be great to hear your thoughts about the best shopping carts to use and ones that arent too expensive. Its hard to justify $40 a month for something that is hardly being used!

    Thanks again,

    Anna – Tepea Design

  16. Great writing once again. Reinforces our decision about the hostgator service we went with. Thanks for fresh and informative – invaluable – information!

  17. I understand not wanting to move everything from a free website to a paid one down the road but what if you’re business isn’t making $100 a year profit yet to even pay for the paid hosting? What is your suggestion for people who just do not have the extra cash to put towards a host site or any other paid services. Should they just put off having a website until they are able to pay for a host site?

  18. OK – I have the WordPress blog up and running – i think it’s attached to my etsy shop (but I’m not really sure…) I really don’t know how to use all the add-ons and gizmos — what do I do next?

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