If you are selling your art or handmade work online, you may have your own website, or are possibly using a third-party platform. What are the benefits of each?
Third party sites, such as Etsy, Facebook, or other places where you either rent or have access to free space, own that space online. They make the rules. They can throw you off, charge you fees or increase them, or require terms that you aren’t comfortable with.
The benefits of these sites are that you have a place where your images are easy to upload, and you don’t have to start from scratch or reinvent the wheel. Many times, they have high Google rankings and their sites are easy to find. They do a lot of the marketing, and they provide other services, like a shopping cart that make it simple to get into the business of selling your handmade items.
But, they are also crowded with the work of many other artists, and you must find a way to stand out. You might have to spend hours every week trying to get featured on the front page of the site, or you might have to buy ads, which involves time and/or money. If you feel it’s working well for you, you may want to keep your online presence there. If not, consider your other options.
Many times artists feel that although they started out displaying their work on a third-party site, they have outgrown it. Etsy for instance doesn’t give you a slideshow featuring your work on your shop page, or a way for customers to sign up for your email updates. If you have moved beyond that level, you will want to move to your own art website.
This is where an individual artist website really shines. You are, of course, the one who is in control. No one can close you down, tell you what you can and cannot do, or change your business model.
Fortunately, there are ways to incorporate e-commerce right into your own website, through plug-ins (on WordPress for instance), linking through to a third party site to act as your shopping cart, or using a storefront such as Shopify or SquareMarket.
There are also providers with easy templates for individual artist websites that you can easily customize, and act as a free-standing art site that is your own. This helps minimize the cost for artists who want exposure without the big price tag.