I've had my own website for several years now. When I first started out, I tried making my own but found my skill in the area definitely lacking. So I started looking around for someone to help me out and hired someone who helped me create a better site. But it still wasn't what I wanted.
Through networking sites I met and started working with Lightning Bug Designs - I was one of their very first clients. I LOVE their work. Things aren't always perfect because we're all very busy but I'm always happy with the final results. The first site was great but a year later I decided I wanted it changed again.
The second site is what I have now and I love it. We did a change again this year, but not a redesign. This time I decided to remove my shopping cart. It was not an easy decision to make. Having my own shopping cart allowed more flexibility and it also gave a more "professional" feel to the site.
However, sometimes life takes over and I ultimately decided that simplicity was more important than appearing "professional" (because I know some very unprofessional sites that have shopping carts).
I decided that Etsy will be my shopping cart. Have sales slowed? Yes, but it could have more to do with the economy than with my change over to Etsy. I know that some people will prefer not to shop via Etsy and pay via Paypal. So I also have to be a little more flexible with payments. I'll accept money orders but it will take longer for people to get their jewelry that way.
In the end, I may end up adding a cart back to my main website in the future. But for now Etsy is my main focus.
Which is better? I don't think that can be determined ... it is an individual choice and each person will have a different experience. I love Paypal and find it easy and secure to use. Others don't feel the
A website adds legitimacy. Even just having the address www.castocreations.com already gives that air ... but Etsy allows people to leave feedback publically. My rating so far is 100% and I hope it stays that way. To me, that feedback is super important.
I also love that I can see who 'hearts' me ( a way to add a favorite in the Etsy world). I do not contact people who heart me but it is nice to see new people finding my work.
Etsy has a built in audience. When you post a new item it is added to the front page, for at least 15 seconds, but is also added to the top of the list in your category. The list can move fast but for those few minutes you are at the top. To stay visible you need to post several times a day throughout the day.
On a website you can post new items and not be seen for days, weeks, or months depending on your sites SEO. Etsy items are able to be found via search engines as well.
Another huge benefit Etsy offers is affordability. It wasn't inexpensive to have my website built. I won't quote my figures but having an effective site can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 and more.
Etsy charges $0.20 for each item listed and then when the item sells takes 3.5% of the price. If you also use Paypal to receive payments you'll be charged a fee there too. But together they are still a decent cost of a business, in my opinion. It costs me at least $16 a month (that is with no sales) to have a merchant account to take credit cards. On top of that monthly minimum fee, when I do have sales to charge I get charged a percentage of each sale - a different one depending on the card used. Then there are other fees if the customer uses a rewards card or if they return something.
In the end, for small businesses like myself who hand make their products, Etsy is an amazing and wonderful option.