A lot of Etsy sellers also want to start their own websites, and questions about how the two interact come up fairly often.
Etsy has specific terms of service that cover selling on both Etsy and your own website, and to avoid violating the rules, you need to be aware of what’s allowed.
As a general rule, Etsy sellers are allowed to sell on their own websites as well as on Etsy, but there are guidelines that have to be followed. The main thing that sellers need to avoid doing is diverting traffic off of Etsy in order to sell on their websites instead, because this constitutes fee avoidance and can result in your Etsy shop being shut down.
Etsy used to go so far as to prohibit any links to websites in our Etsy shops, but that rule has loosened to a certain extent. There are still rules that sellers with websites have to keep in mind in order to avoid violating Etsy’s policies.
Table of Contents
- Can you advertise your website in your Etsy shop?
- Where can you link to your website in your Etsy shop?
- What is fee avoidance?
- What to do if you only sell something on your website.
- What about custom orders and returning customers?
- What can you put inside your packages?
- What about mailing list discount codes?
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Can you advertise your website in your Etsy shop?
You can link to your website in your shop in only one place, and that’s the dedicated link in your About section.
Other than that, you should be very careful about referring to your website in your Etsy shop, and definitely never tell people to leave Etsy to shop there instead.
Where can you link to your website in your Etsy shop?
Etsy used to prohibit any links to outside websites, but now allows a website link to be added to the shop’s About section.
This section has places for links to social media and a website, and you can add your site link there and be within Etsy’s policies.
When they changed this policy, I checked with Etsy, and they said that you can add the link there but you can’t tell people to go shop there instead of shopping on Etsy.
This is the basic guideline that you need to follow when making decisions about whether your website links should be added to different places in your shop.
When you’re not sure, limit your link to the About section and avoid putting it in other places. I’ve seen people put their website link on their shop banner and in listings, but that can get tricky if it’s intended to get people to leave Etsy to shop.
It’s DEFINITELY not allowed to blatantly tell people to go shop on your website, which is something that a lot of people do. That’s something that will get your shop shut down fairly quickly, because it’s 100% fee avoidance.
What is fee avoidance?
Etsy defines fee avoidance as: “Any action by a seller to avoid paying a fee is considered fee avoidance and is strictly prohibited by Etsy. This includes, for example, encouraging buyers to purchase an item in your Etsy shop through another venue. A transaction initiated on Etsy may not be completed off of Etsy.”
This basically means that if a customer contacts you first on Etsy, the transaction should stay on Etsy. You can’t tell them to go to your website, and you can’t send them an invoice for a payment using Paypal or another outside payment platform.
Anything that diverts the payment from Etsy is going to fall under the fee avoidance umbrella, especially if you sell the same things on Etsy and on your website.
But what if the products on your website are different from the things that you sell on Etsy? Is it fee avoidance to send people to your website then?
What to do if you only sell something on your website.
If you only sell an item on your website and an Etsy customer asks you about it, you still can’t send them a link to your site. That’s telling someone that they should go spend their money somewhere else, so that ends up falling under the definition of fee avoidance. They may still be able to find something similar on Etsy in another shop.
You could list that item on Etsy as a custom listing for them, but if you don’t want to do that for some reason you’ll have to tread carefully.
I have a lot of things that I only sell on my website, and aren’t listed on Etsy. If someone asks me about those items, I just respond that those are only available on my website without adding the link.
Some customers don’t want to leave Etsy to shop for whatever reason, so they might not want to take the time to go find your website link. If someone does, they can go to your About section to get the link.
If a customer asks you for your website link, I would tell them that it’s in your About section, and link them to that instead. Doing that will let them be the one to find the link, and you will have stayed within Etsy’s policies.
If a customer insists on you giving them the link, just tell them that it’s against Etsy’s policies to do that, and direct them to your About section again. This usually won’t happen because most people will figure out that they can just go to the About section themselves.
What about custom orders and returning customers?
If you get a request for a custom order on Etsy, that order needs to be fulfilled on Etsy. You can’t take that transaction off of Etsy to fulfill it, it needs to be processed through the Etsy payment system.
This can be really aggravating if the customer is a returning customer, or someone who you met through an outside source.
It’s really important to let people know that they should email you directly and not use the Etsy message system if you meet them at craft fairs or other outside venues.
If you remember to do that, it will eliminate most of the messages that people send you that then lock you into filling the order on Etsy.
You can also put a card in your packaging that encourages people to shop on your website for future orders if they plan on becoming a repeat customer.
What can you put inside your packages?
Etsy doesn’t have any policies limiting the types of promotional materials that you can put into your packages when you send orders. Because of that, you can add business cards with your website links, cards encouraging people to shop on your website, and any other promotional material that you use to direct people to your website.
Everything that I put inside of my packages directs people to my website, not back to Etsy.
I also add a card that details the benefits of shopping on my website instead of Etsy including lower prices.
Take advantage of your package inserts to make sure that customers know that you have a website, and any of the perks they might get if they shop there instead of on Etsy!
What about mailing list discount codes?
If you offer a discount for signing up for your mailing list, the coupon that you offer needs to be good on Etsy, not just on your website. Directing people off of Etsy by only allowing them to use a coupon code on your website is fee avoidance if they came to the signup form from Etsy. Allowing them to use the code on Etsy will also prevent people from being irritated because you only offer the code on your website if they don’t want to shop there.
Many customers WANT to shop on Etsy because they feel more secure about Etsy than they do about random websites.
They might also have an Etsy shopping cart that they’ve added items to, and they probably don’t want to go through the trouble of shopping on your site if they’re ready to check out on Etsy.
Or, they might have items in their shopping cart from several stores, and they only want to check out once on Etsy.
Making the discount code that you offer be available on both your website and on Etsy will avoid all of these potential problems!
I think that it’s important for every ecommerce seller to have their own website, but you do need to follow the rules to avoid violating the terms of service on Etsy. It can be tricky, but it’s required, and it will keep you from worrying that your shop is going to be shut down for fee avoidance!
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