Selling On Instagram Vs. Etsy: All Things Uncovered!

Running a business can be very rewarding, but you must make all the decisions yourself.

An improved understanding always helps make better decisions, so always watch out for articles like this one. 

Suppose you have products you are making yourself; There are a few different ways to sell them.

I will now compare selling on Instagram Vs. Etsy while trying to give you a bigger picture. 

Selling on Instagram involves setting up a shop through Facebook and building a brand with a website. I think we all know what that is.

Etsy, if you’re unfamiliar, is a place where you can buy and sell various types of handmade goods. It is also one of the biggest marketplaces of its kind in the world. 

When people think of small-scale, hand-crafted, creative products, they think of Etsy (at least the people that I know do).

Here’s a little more about the pros and cons of each one, and which choice might be right for you.  

Selling On Instagram 

Selling on Instagram

Here’s how I want you to picture it: Imagine you own a farm and want to sell your vegetables. Selling them on Instagram would be like taking a batch of vegetables to the nearest main road, and putting up a stall there. 

Selling them on Etsy, however, would be like taking your vegetables down to the local farmer’s market, and selling them there. But more on that later.

Now, Instagram has several nuances and things to consider before you can make an informed decision. But before I get into those, let me give you the gist of it.

Ultimately, it all depends on the scale of your operation: 

  • If you are just starting with your business idea and are still testing your products, you can manage things on Instagram alone. 
  • Either way, to fully utilize Instagram’s traffic, you need to: develop your brand, build your own website, and then use visitors’ info to grow your client list. 
  • You can even analyze your audience and build better strategies using tracking data. Most people make websites using WordPress while others use e-commerce platforms like Shopify to manage things.
  • On the other hand, If you want to focus on the crafting itself, and don’t really care to invest time and energy into the other sides of the operation, like marketing and sales, Etsy will work out great. 

Those were some important things to consider before making your decisions. Let’s take a closer look at Instagram through some Pros and Cons.

Pros Of Selling/Marketing On Instagram

Well, let’s first talk about the pros:

1. Organic Growth

Putting aside the vegetable analogy, Instagram has become a viable mainstream platform for everyone, from content creators, celebrities, and companies to clients, customers, and users. There’s no shortage of traffic. 

Primarily, it’s a visual platform, so in a nutshell: people want things worth looking at. But it’s also great for business. More 18 – 34-year-olds are buying things on IG today than ever before. 

On Etsy, you find people who only want to buy stuff, which is what you want. But guess what? There are better ways to increase your sales, and that’s what digital marketing is all about!!

By posting content relevant to the medium and appealing to the audience, you can increase your prospects and grow your business here. 

2. More Freedom

I think this is the biggest advantage that IG has over Etsy. You have so much more flexibility in terms of how your brand and your products are being viewed by your customers.

Using the many potential design choices possible in this medium, you can showcase your company and make it memorable.  

If your brand identity is highly developed, you can create personalized content to connect with your audiences more deeply, without massive ad campaigns. 

The most important thing about all these options is: You can do it all in your own way, since you will run the show. On Etsy, however, you’ll have to follow their rules.

3. Building Brand Awareness

Leveraging the traffic and the freedom will grow your reach, build your audience, and eventually boost your sales. 

Once you optimize your profile, content, and bio and set everything up properly, you can engage with clients and get feedback.

By providing value to your clients and making good-looking content on your IG, you increase your brand recognition and earn your audience’s trust. 

Hey, the more people you know, the better, right?  

4. IG Ads

IG Ads are excellent for selling products if properly run and well planned. This is especially true when all the products can be ordered easily, and the campaign is well-optimized.

The audience should be selected carefully, and the actual ad should be compatible with the audience. That said, ads on this platform can potentially give you great returns on your investment.

Etsy also allows you to run ads more affordably than this. Yet, they’re far less effective as you have less control over them.

Cons Of Selling/Marketing On Instagram

And here we are with some downsides:

1. Oversaturated

I think the biggest challenge on IG currently is that there is too much content. With the intro of reels and shorts, all platforms are trying to become TikTok.

There are also too many businesses and big companies, all of which come together to create a crowded feeling.

I can’t really give you any data to prove it, but let’s face it, Instagram just isn’t the cool, fresh, and hip thing that it used to be.

Etsy, by comparison, still seems like a good brand that most people would love to buy from.

2. Competition

Now there really are tons of accounts on IG. No matter what niche, chances are, you will have competition. This is especially relevant for running ads, by the way. 

You really want your content to stand out from the competition within your niche. If someone sees similar product ads, they won’t even remember which one was yours! 

You will have a ton of competition on Etsy also, but on IG, all kinds of different things are fighting for the user’s attention.

3. More Demanding

To set up your shop here, you have to register your website through Facebook Business and build your catalog.

You can build your own website and use an e-commerce platform to handle payments and shipping. 

Right after that, people can buy your products right through your own posts and stories. You can also choose to sell your products without a website and manage the customer service, transport, and payments yourself.

Either way, it’s difficult to manage all of this on top of posting content and running your business! Even marketing pros can find it a tedious work after a point.

You can always hire a trustworthy person to figure all this out for you, which brings me to my next point. By the way, Etsy can also be a little bit demanding, as you will see.

4. It’s Expensive

Since a Facebook store requires you to own your own website, there are a lot of expenses that come with it. Whether it’s paying for a domain name, a subscription to a website builder, or a web developer’s fees, all the costs stack up.

Selling on IG without a website is always an option, but having a place to drive traffic and grow your email list (for example) is much better. 

It’s much more straightforward with Etsy, which also has fees and commissions to be paid. Those are less than the capital required for this option, though.

5. Conversions are More Difficult

This is where the wide range of audiences becomes a double-edged sword. It’s clear when you think about the audiences on this platform. 

Affordable consumer goods are great for IG because everyone needs them. For bigger purchases, though, most people on this platform don’t want to make many commitments. 

On Etsy, most people who visit already want to buy something. So the conversion rate is way higher. Again, it will depend on your product and your market.

Selling On Etsy

Selling On Etsy

Now you already know a few things about Etsy. It’s a worldwide marketplace for handicrafts. But what are handicrafts anyway? Essentially, anything made by individuals using creativity.

I’ve found all kinds of things like furniture, clothes, jewelry, comic books, and even people offering their services through Etsy. The brand has millions of worldwide customers.

First, you should check out their policy for your area and see their terms and conditions. Please remember to consider their rates and charges for calculating your own prices. 

Returning to the farming analogy: Selling products on Etsy is like selling vegetables in a farmer’s market. 

  • The market will have dedicated customers, but you must compete with other sellers.
  • You have a place to sell your veggies for minimal rent, yet you are not the owner and will have to follow all their policies.
  • Finally, the people are coming to buy vegetables from that particular market, not from you especially. 

Pros Of Selling/Marketing On Etsy

Of course, just like IG, Etsy would have some updates as said, let’s pay some attention to them.

1. A Dedicated Marketplace

The best thing about selling your products on Etsy is its millions of regular customers. Unlike IG, where people are engaged in all kinds of things, from journalism to entertainment, all the traffic on Etsy wants to spend money.

The brand value also plays a part here; if your products are in this shop, it makes your brand a bit more legitimate. That’s especially true when you’re just starting out.

Another benefit of having a dedicated marketplace is that you can do a proper market study. I think selling products here can be helpful for testing and product development in its own way.

You can see some of your competition, what’s popular in your market, and make use of Etsy’s unique audience. How to do so is in the next section.

2. Very Fast To Set Up Your Store

A common mistake people make at this stage relates to planning their timelines. I’ve found that people are over-optimistic while planning and underestimate how long something will take. 

Let me tell you that people also don’t realize just how much time they can save through the Etsy store. I’m not trying to sell you on it here; it’s genuinely a speedy process. You can set up your Etsy store in around 15 minutes. 

That’s pretty fast in my book. Most strategies on IG are pretty long-term by comparison. Not to mention all the time you can save by not having to deal with so many other things, which brings me to the next point.

3. Simple and Accessible

Setting up and starting out on Etsy is not only quick, but it’s also easy. The website can display your products to people who need them, handle conversions, take payments, and handle shipping.

There are some nuances in the Cons section below, but the bottom line is that Etsy is very accessible. The barrier to entry is very low, and people can easily get into the market and get their business off the ground.

I would say that succeeding on Etsy still takes effort and research from your side. Compared to everything to consider on IG, this one is easier to get into from scratch.

4. Community Support

I found that Etsy has a very supportive community of sellers. You can find countless YouTube channels and small companies that make educational resources for other sellers on all levels.

All these are made and run by people that have succeeded on the platform and are very transparent about everything related to the company. The company also has a massive team to support its sellers and back them up.

Now you find content on all kinds of things on all platforms, but compare it to how Instagram is totally automated and doesn’t even have a number you can call. With Etsy, it really feels like a community, as you can feel the human touch.

Cons Of Selling/Marketing On Etsy

Here are the shortcomings of selling on Etsy:

1. Rules And Restriction

With the human touch comes a bit of human error. That has nothing to do with Etsy’s rules, by the way; I just thought that was a cool thing to say. Moving on to the point here: If you live in Etsy’s house, you must follow their rules.

That’s the trade-off for outsourcing your marketing, finances, and shipping. Etsy may regularly change their policies when they feel the need to. I mean, ultimately it’s their business, and they call the shots.

This means less freedom for you and a lot of adjustment. You have very little control over how your products look and are displayed. You can put pictures and descriptions, but that’s pretty much it.

To give you an excellent example of the lack of freedom, the company recently increased the fees and prices charged to sellers and made running ads compulsory for everyone.  

2. Competitive Challenges:

Understand a few things first: Etsy has a search system to help customers find their products. This means Etsy also has its own algorithm. You need to figure out how to do SEO on this website to increase sales.

The website also has a system for ads that you’ll have to figure out to make full use of. This was to give you an idea that starting off on Etsy might be quick and simple, but that doesn’t guarantee a lot of quick money.

The fact is: There are tons of people selling here, and that comes with its own difficulties. I mentioned the things you need just to get yourself noticed, but there is an even worse thing about selling in a marketplace.

The first thing people do when faced with competition is to reduce their prices. This is called competitive pricing. Since the customers can make side-by-side comparisons, the other prices obviously influence their decisions.

You don’t have to give into this downward spiral but know that on such platforms, this might reduce your sales.

3. Less to No Brand Loyalty

This one, to me, is one of the biggest disadvantages. It’s great to have an existing customer base to sell to, but it’s a double-edged sword in this case. 

You see, Etsy might have many customers, but they also have their own brand. Imagine a person buys a pillow cover or bedsheet made by you. If that person’s friend asks them where they got it, they’ll say they bought it on Etsy, not from you.

That’s bad for you in the long run. You can try to alleviate this with beautiful and memorable packaging. Ultimately, it depends on your needs.

Maybe you make large quantities of utility products and don’t care much about branding.

Building a brand can take a long way, though, and is a core component of digital marketing and selling on Instagram.

4. Dependency

This is a point raised by experienced sellers of this platform. You see, relying on a platform like this is great for jump-starting your business and working your back-end operation for increased sales.

You can focus on making things without worrying about selling them. Unfortunately, after a while, this can become problematic. As mentioned before, Etsy often changes its policies as and when required.

They also change their algorithm and charges, which you must adapt to. In rare cases, they even do audits and close stores if necessary. 

My point is this: If you don’t know anything about distribution or payments, in the worst-case scenario, you can face unfavorable circumstances, and might even be left stranded.

Imagine your frustration when you took the time to figure out the SEO stuff. Your products even start ranking, only for Etsy to change its algorithm a week later. 

The moral of the story is to have your eggs in different baskets, especially if this business is your primary source of income.

Which One Is Better For You? IG Or Etsy?

We’ve covered many things till now, and I won’t bore you with more. In a nutshell:

Instagram is better for a long-term project that will be scaled. If you want the freedom to creatively promote novel products, you can get it here.

Etsy is better for selling handicrafts without the hassle, time, and investment of setting everything up yourself. If you want to start earning as soon as possible, this might be better than IG.

Obviously, there is no objectively better option. But what do I suggest after all my research?

My Views & Advice

I think it’s more helpful to look at the bigger picture here. Both these platforms have unique audiences, and I believe they can have their own places in a business strategy. 

Ultimately, you need your own brand to scale your operation. For that, you need your own website. That will always be essential for digital marketing. Now your website can just as well be an IG page or your Etsy shop.

I think it’s better to use a combination of both, though, and price your products carefully in each place. Any marketing efforts by you from IG should direct traffic to your site and let Etsy make sales automatically.

There are even ways to connect your Etsy shop to your IG, if that sounds good to you.

In Conclusion

We discussed how IG is great for building a brand with visuals and increasing your company’s reach. While Etsy is fantastic for quickly setting up a shop and starting your business.

I discussed both the platform’s pros and cons in detail and suggested using a combination of both. Hopefully, you gained some clarity in this article and found a response to your queries.

As long as you have a big picture and a laid-out business plan, I’m sure you can profit significantly from succeeding on these amazing platforms.

FAQs [Frequently Asked Questions]

Is Etsy Profitable?

Well, no, not particularly. Some statistics show that about 65% of sellers make less than $100 annually. This is fine for people who do it as a hobby, but you need a business mindset to make money.

Can I sell on both Instagram and Etsy?

Yes, you can. IG even has a built-in shop feature where you can link your Etsy shop right on your profile.

Is Shopify a good alternative to Etsy?

Shopify is a great option if you have an existing customer base. If not, Etsy’s existing traffic might be better to start off with.

Anirudh Gitai.- SB Digital Writer/Affiliate Marketing Coordinator

Anirudh Gitai

Writer from the heart – whether it is affiliate marketing or fiction – and a proud member of Shivansh’s team! Big fan of combat sports, reading non-fiction, and watching the best of everything from anime and movies to TV and video games.

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