Brand Design Photography & Styling Clarity Consulting

Let's talk Etsy vs. Big Cartel!

*click image to visit my treasury for my office makeover!

[vimeo 23216545 w=515&h=290]
I couldn’t resist. I’m going to have to make one of these!

I’ve been doing a lot of Etsy shop hopping, hoping to find items that I’d want to include in my home office makeover. Because I’m a treasure hunter myself, I have a hard time settling for what’s on Etsy with the thought that I can find the stuff myself with just a little bit of hunting. I’m finding that if I go out searching for a specific item in mind, I don’t find it. I’ve discovered the art of thrifting, hunting, pickin’ is that you never know what you’ll find, so throw all expectations out the door.

Let’s talk Etsy for a moment shall we. I’d like to start a discussion in the comments section of this post today and I’m going to try and actively participate. So here’s the thing. I really enjoy the community that comes along with Etsy. The search tools are very easy to navigate and it seems that if you are searching for anything hand made or vintage, Etsy is the first place to check. My pet peeve with Etsy is there are a lot of shops that just exist because they can. They lack a direction, lack branding, and lack any kind of professionalism. I really appreciate the Etsy sellers out there who know that building a cohesive brand through product selection and branding is extremely important.

I currently use Big Cartel to sell my vintage goods because I’m passionate about having a shop that is branded and over time can stand as it’s own identity. I am noticing that even though I’ve made efforts to advertise my new shop to bring awareness, the lack of online community means that I am constantly working REALLY hard to get people to stop by. I’m reassessing my strategy at the moment and thinking about having both and Etsy and a Big Cartel shop (different items in each with a few overlap). This sounds like it might be more work than it’s work, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts about Etsy vs Big Cartel and if you have any advice for driving traffic to online shops.

Like anything else, I understand that a shops success just takes time and patience. As long as I am doing everything I can to get to my end goal, I’m a happy camper.


18 comments on “Let's talk Etsy vs. Big Cartel!

  1. What a great topic, I hope you get a lot of feedback, because we are super curious as well.

    Being that we don’t have a Big Cartel shop, we can really just comment on what we know about Etsy. I think it comes down to what your goal is. Sales vs. brand. For us, being that we have an overabundance of inventory, ranging styles, eras, purposes, it helps to just have a medium that will move product. Get it sold. For example, Ebay in our opinion has even less of a ‘branding’ atmosphere than Etsy. It’s possible to create your own little space on Etsy, while maintaining professionalism and a sense of individuality that is true to who you are. For us at least, our brand has been less of a concern, than the ability to reach a large customer base.
    You are absolutely right that some people use Etsy with no direction, but I would say the scale tips in the direction of those that do.

    1. Thanks for stopping by girls. I was thinking about you when I wrote it since we’ve had several side notes about the two services before. Thanks for chiming in!

  2. Well, first of all I’d like to say how excited I am to be back home and back to blogging because I missed reading your blog while I was away! You always have something interesting to say or show us and I love your aesthetic!

    As for this particular post, I am loving that Etsy video. I think I need to make that mobile, it is too cute.

    I couldn’t agree with you more about Etsy having so many shops that are run by people who don’t seem to take it so seriously. I think it’s great that there is a site like Etsy for people to start their business and learn how to get it up and running and it’s understandable for there to be a period of time where the shops aren’t at their most professional, but if the shop owner is going to continue to keep it running, they should put the time and effort into making it as professional as they can. I’ve always wanted to start an Etsy shop, but I haven’t simply for these very reasons. I wouldn’t want to put my wares out there if I weren’t going to be serious about it and make it as professional a place as I can.

    I’ve never actual visited Big Cartel, but I think I will now that you’ve mentioned it!

    Maybe you could try having a shop on both sites to see how it would work for you and then choose which one you find yourself loving the most and getting the most business out of?

    I really need to check out your shops!


  3. I totally think you should test the waters because Etsy is a big go to for all things vintage. It’s my first stop whenever I’m looking for something and I almost always end up buying that item from Etsy (after possible price/quality checking on Ebay, etc.).

    I actually love the fact that shops on Etsy just exist because they can. I’m a perfect example of that as I run a little vintage corner for my mom consisting mostly of jewelry. I don’t have time to really “brand” the shop as I have to work at my “real job” in order to make a real living even though I’d love to focus so much more on the shop. I think you find such unique people with amazing talents on Etsy and no matter how random they may be, you just might find exactly what you were looking for.

    On a side note: I really love the look and feel of your shop but the lack of shipping rates scares me. You’ll probably be hearing from me soon regarding a shipping quote. 😉 Great topic!

    ♥ sécia

    1. Thanks for all your suggestions everyone. I really appreciate it and it’s helping me make an informed decision. Get it coming!!

  4. The great thing about Etsy is that it is already so established and well known. It seems that you have to work really hard to drive traffic to a Big Cartel shop, and very few people outside of your blog readers/twitter followers will see your shop. Because of it’s popularity, Etsy will automatically give you a much larger audience, which in turn means more traffic and sales.

    Yes, there are a lot of crappy shops on Etsy, but I don’t feel like they compete AT ALL with finely curated and photographed shops. You present your items so well, and that makes your items more special and covetable to your potential customers.
    The community aspect of Etsy is great for building relationships and getting exposure. The “circle” feature gets your shop and items out there, treasuries can land you on the front page, and you get to interact with other sellers on your caliber.

    blah blah blah. I choose Etsy over Big Cartel, obviously. 🙂

    1. Thanks for you feedback Annie. I’m starting to think that using Etsy in the beginning may be a great way to get the ball rolling.

      Thanks for your sweet comments about my shop photography. I sure do have a fun time putting everything together 😉

  5. My thoughts, TRAFFIC is most important to a “Start UP”…
    Both sites have their benefits and drawbacks, BC is a
    “bring your own” audience, where Etsy is community-oriented, and should bring more traffic in the beginning. Try using each of them to start, build your client base, then choose the best fit.

  6. Great topic. And yes, your shop is beautifully designed (and stocked with beautiful products) and I envy the personalization that Big Cartel offers.

    I went through the same sort of internal struggle last year. I spent months designing my own website, developing a brand, researching shopping cart applications, etc. I didn’t want my shop to have the same look/feel as the “I think I can sell anything online” shop. However, I saw many benefits and other amazing vintage shops using Etsy. Having all the tools at my fingertips (with Etsy’s user interface + PayPal), I’m able to focus on my blog, inventory and customer service. It’s great to see what items are ‘favorited’ and which items are added to treasuries. It also tracks all my sold orders, and I can track my shop with Google Analytics.

    For the $0.20 listing price, you can’t beat it. I just created a simple landing page for my domain to be directed to my shop or blog. Overall, I’m very happy with Etsy so far. One day I’ll bring my shop to stand on it’s own.

    1. Awesome feedback Christina! I love that you mentioned that you get to see what items people like and which items are added to treasuries. I could see this being extremely helpful when restocking inventory. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Hi Cassie! I debated this for a long time, but for me it was Etsy vs Big Cartel vs Storenvy. I ended up choosing Storenvy because it’s completely free and completely customizable. Even though they are still kind of small, I do like that they have the same kind of community feel as Etsy- it seems like a very important traffic booster. As Storenvy has grown, my sales have been growing too, which is great. BUT staying on the topic- I shied away from Big Cartel because I was afraid of standing alone. Being part of a larger site pretty much guarantees traffic you may not have otherwise had.

    That being said, most of my sales have been from friends, friends of friends, & people who are on the hunt for very specific things via Google (google loves me, which is nice I guess :)- in other words, a lot of people have been directed to my shop via FACEBOOK. I do have a fan page for my shop, but I’ve found that linking to products as I list them in my regular news feed has been a super way to get traffic, and there’s a very high conversion rate.

    I’ve only advertised on two blogs but that proved to be very helpful. I didn’t get a ton of traffic from them but the traffic I did get was quality- fewer people were visiting but were spending a lot more time browsing my things.

    The weeks I update & spend a good chunk of time promoting on facebook/Twitter I definitely see an increase in sales. It’s taken months but I am pretty happy with where I am. I’m in the middle of trying to find a new place & ending my real job so I’ve been slacking on all of the above… need… more…. motivation…. ugh. 🙂

    Waow, what a ramble! I do agree that you should maybe try an Etsy shop as well just to get an idea for what is better! I probably would have chosen Etsy but not everything I sell is vintage & didn’t want to break the rules, though I see it being done there all the time.

    1. Thanks Nichole for all your great insights. It might be worth promoting my shop more of Facebook too. I haven’t tried that route yet.

  8. Y’know, I have actually never heard about Big Cartel. I only knew of Etsy and Art fire. I’m going to have to check this one out!

  9. LOVE that you started this discussion as I’m in the midst of shopping for the online store I hope to have open this month – and while I’ve set up an Etsy account I’ve been debating whether I should not try Big Cartel. I like Big Cartel for the reasons you’ve mentioned – you can really brand it and make it your own…but I think I’ve decided to go with Etsy because, as others have said, it seems to be community oriented and the search feature is really very simple. Also, on all the blogs I read they all shop, talk about Etsy – which is a big indication for me since I’ll be trying to leverage my blog readers to get some word of mouth out.

  10. I chose Big Cartel over Etsy because I wanted people to see my own products without having the ability to directly compare with hundreds of other shops. It is hard to drive traffic to the store itself, but I like the independence.

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