Selling on Etsy, Shopify and Social Media - What You Need To Know

A Guest Contribution By Mary Savel, Leather Beast
Originally posted on Elktracks Studio



It’s a new year and you want to kick the year off right by starting to selling your leathergoods online. The only problem is, you’re not sure where to sell them. These days there are more options than ever where you can set up a leathergoods shop online.

The main options include selling on marketpaces like Etsy and Amazon Handmade, on your own hosted Shopify, Squarespace or Wix website and on social media channels like Facebook and Instagram.

The available options and varying opinions about which place is the best place to sell, can make your head spin and be overwhelming! Below i’ve put together some of the biggest pros and cons to consider when selling on marketplaces like Etsy, hosted website platforms like Shopify and selling on Facebook and Instagram.



Etsy is one of the oldest marketplaces, which started back in 2005 and one of the biggest platforms with 1.93 million sellers. One of the biggest pros of selling on Etsy, is that compared to setting up a website, it is very easy to get your products listed. Once you create an account and enter some personal information, you can get started listing your products right away, easily.

Another pro to using Etsy is that they have a built in audience. In the last year there were 34 million people who purchased something on Etsy. That's roughly 2.8 million buyers per month! Etsy also invested $78 million last year in advertising with a purpose of attracting buyers to shop on Etsy. They plan on increasing this budget by 40% over the next year.

One of the biggest downsides to using Etsy, is that you’re not in control of how your shop looks and feel to your customer. Since you’re on a marketplace that you don’t own, unlike your own website, you have to adhere to Etsy’s rules, requirements and limitations.

While you don’t have a monthly website hosting fee to use Etsy, there are listing fees of $0.20/listing and transaction and credit card processing fees on all sales, which just increased last year. Etsy now takes a 5% transaction fee on sales (including shipping) plus a processing fee of 3% + $0.25 on each sale.

So how does this shake out?  Let's say for example, you list a product and it sells for $90 and you charge $10 for shipping, Etsy will keep a $5 transaction fee plus a $3.25 processing fee. So on the sale of your $90 product, Etsy will keep $8.25.

How does this look on a monthly basis? Lets say you sell 10 of those $90 leathergoods and make $900 in a month and your shipping costs are $90 total. Etsy will keep $82.50 in fees. This might not seem like a ton… until you start looking at other selling platforms and anticipating growing your sales month after month.



A hosted website on a platform like Shopify, Squarespace or wix where you’re on a platform but you have much more control over how your site looks and functions. This a great alternative to Etsy.

The biggest pro to having your own website is the control that this gives you over your business and brand. When you have your own website you can design it however you like, of course there are some limitations with a hosted website, but speaking from experience, Squarespace and Shopify are easily customizable and great options if you’re not a programer or someone who wants to pay for a website to be hosted and built from the ground up.

Shopify, which is the platform that I currently use for my ecommerce website, in addition to being easy to use has great built in features like abandoned cart recovery, discount codes, gift cards and online sales channels.

One downside to choosing to sell on Shopify over Etsy is that you have more maintenance and setup required. For most people this will be a pro - to have more control over the setup, but if you’re someone who does not play well with computers, you will need to consider this.

Lets talk about Shopify fees. There is no listing fee with shopify as there is with Etsy, however there is a monthly fee to run a website of $29/month plus the 2.9% + $0.30 credit card fee. This monthly fee might seem steep at first, but let's take our example that we used above for one month of sales on Etsy. If you made the same 10 sales of $90, you would only pay $58.10 in fees. That’s about 40% less in fees.



Selling on social media is the new thing that I get asked about a lot these days. Since unrolling the ability to sell straight from your instagram and facebook page, this has become a popular way of maintaining an ecommerce presence for a few reasons.

It’s really easy and lets face it, we’re all on Instagram and Facebook every day anyways so why not throw up some product listings, right? And if you’re on these social media channels more then you should be, then you know the rest of the world probably is too so there is a huge potential to get a lot of eyeballs on your listings.

But one downside with using social media to sell your leathergoods is that again you must adhere to the rules and restrictions that Instagram and Facebook place on you and your brand. And at any minute these rules could change. Algorithms can shift and with the flip of a switch, as we have seen before, things can change overnight and your visibility can drop significantly.

Another downside of using social media as a sales channel which can vary depending on your own audience, is that a lot of people aren’t on social media to shop. And this can actually be a turn off to loyal fans and followers. For example, I reserve my social media accounts to help me build a relationship with my customers and as a place where I can provide them with value.

So if i’m constantly posting ways where they can buy, buy, buy, this can be a big turn off for a new follower that would otherwise be interested in my products after I’ve given them a chance to absorb my brand and what i’m all about. For my audience, it makes more sense to reserve social media as a place where I can provide value, and give, give, give first before asking for them to buy anything.

I like to think of social media is a stepping stone to getting my audience onto my email list where I can continue to build the relationship and then serve them with my leathergoods in a more personal way.



So to review, these are the things to think about when looking for a place to sell your leathergoods.

1 | Transaction, Credit Card Processing and Monthly Fees

Sales transaction and monthly fees can seem small until you start to add them for the month or the year. So look out for fees and make sure you consider your sales volume and what your potential fees will be for the month and the year before you decide on a platform.

2 | User Friendly

Is the platform user friendly and is it going to be easy for you to update? Are you tech-savy or are your capabilities limited when it comes to technology? Make sure you understand what is involved when it comes to updating and the maintenance of your website or platform of choice. The last thing you want to do is to get in a situation where you have to spend additional money (if you’re trying to keep overhead costs low) to have someone else make updates to your website for you.

3 | Ecommerce Features

Does the platform have built in ecommerce features that will help your business grow? Shopify has a lot of built in features like abandoned cart recovery and seo features which can be a huge way to retarget browsers and become ranked in google search results.

4 | Control of the Platform

How much control will you have over the platform? As we now know, you have little control over Etsy and social media which can be a huge negative if you’re using these as your only sales channels. You have much more control over how your site displays and how your customer will interact with your brand when you have your own website.

5 | Overall Business Goals

Finally, what is your overall goal for you business? If you’re looking to build a strong brand and successful profitable business, I suggest being in control of your own website and putting the time into building a loyal following on social media. Test what works for you and your audience and always aim to serve them first with the best experience possible so that when they visit your brand online, you will be rewarded with a customer base who is ready to shop your leathergoods.


In addition to the resources at Elktracks Studio, you can learn more about what it takes to build and grow a profitable leathergoods business by downloading your free copy of the THE LEATHERGOODS BUSINESS BLUEPRINT at

Mary Savel teaches people how to sell their traditional leatherwork online, at craft fairs and to stores. She runs and lives and works out of her NYC apt. To learn more about making and selling your leathergoods, join the Facebook Group, the Leather Tamers.