Handmade products have always been special. A card with a child's handprint on it. A fresh-baked batch of cookies. A crocheted blanket. It feels good to receive an item that a talented individual has made with their own two hands.
Whether craft items come from a friend or a professional artisan, they are just more personal than mass-produced products. This is the main reason they've become so popular—from face masks and home décor to jewellery and DIY patterns, in recent years, selling handmade items has become a legitimate business.
For a long time, Etsy has been the go-to marketplace for folks looking to make money doing what they love. Not any more. There are now a bunch of viable alternatives that offer different features, benefits and ways to turn grow your brand.
In this guide, we'll look at the most notable Etsy alternatives and how the platform stacks up against the growing field of competition.
Etsy is a global online marketplace that's designed to give people a platform to make, sell and buy unique and creative goods. With many online stores devoted to new and shiny items, it focuses on vintage and handmade items.
Favoured by independent artists and creatives, the most popular products sold on Etsy include handmade jewellery, art, clothing, home décor, accessories, toys and assorted collectibles.
Selling on Etsy is a viable option. There are a few main benefits: it's quick and easy to get started, it's fairly cost effective in comparison to other marketplaces (or creating a website) and you get the additional benefit of Etsy's large built-in audience.
However, there are drawbacks too:
There are certain limitations that come with online marketplaces. If you're after more control, flexibility and advanced features, creating an ecommerce website that you've got complete control over is a better option.
That might sound intimidating for some. But don't worry, the days where building a website was like hacking into the Matrix are (sort of) over. Now there are a range of website builders and dedicated ecommerce platforms that make it easy to start in as little as a few minutes.
If you're a creator looking to sell online, a custom-built online store is the way to go. That way you can customise your site for your unique needs, better understand your customers and have a "home" for your business on the internet.
Paperform is a simple, beautiful and powerful ecommerce solution that adapts to your needs. Whether you need to build a one-page website, a home for a brick-and-mortar restaurant or place to sell your artwork, with our tools you can achieve it.
With our intuitive free-text editor designing your site is just a matter of typing on the page. Paperform empowers you to reflect your unique brand without any design skills or code—adjust fonts, tweak the UI and add multimedia elements to make your store your own. Use one of our 600+ templates to make it even easier.
We also offer a full suite of business tools to help run your growing creative business. List your products, manage inventory and seamlessly guide customers from browsing stock through to payment and aftercare. Connect with leading payment providers like PayPal, Stripe and Braintree. Whichever solution you choose, we take no extra fees.
On the backend, Paperform provides analytics to keep track of how customers engage with your brand. Use our built-in survey and form tools to send customer satisfaction surveys and ensure you're meeting customer needs. Then, use our 3,000+ Direct and Zapier integrations to connect with your favourite marketing tools.
“I initially played around with some larger platforms like Shopify. However, I quickly found that while their platform is powerful, it was perhaps too big and overwhelming for a small local business. . . That’s when I came across Paperform. I found that the process was quick and painless, and connecting with PayPal was a breeze.” — Dennis Karle, Freelance Consultant.
📚 Read the case study and learn how a Blütenträume’s Paperform store got 300 orders in just five days.
Worried about setting up your online store? Don't be. Our customer support team is around 24/7 to help you get setup at no extra cost. Whether you're an existing Etsy user looking to migrate or want to turn your hobby into a business, we're here to help you grow.
Shopify is great for setting up a site that doesn't require too much technical know-how. It has comprehensive ecommerce functionality and can scale alongside you as your creative business grows.
It's more expensive than other solutions on this list, but that's because it's one of the most popular ecommerce solutions on the web. It offers a full suite of business tools, including POS, local delivery options and even loans through Shopify Capital.
Shopify comes with all the tools you need to manage your handmade craft business online and offline. There is a large community and plenty of themes and add-ons to help you get started. Just keep in mind that because it's such a large company, it can be difficult to get support when you're starting out (and it can be a bit confusing).
WooCommerce is a popular WordPress plugin that transforms WordPress into a fully functioning ecommerce store. While there are now many alternatives, it remains one of the most popular solutions, mainly because its free and open-source.
The base product is technically "free", however the default features are quite limited. You'll have to pay for add-ons and extensions to get the full benefits. This isn't a deal breaker, but the costs of these extensions can swiftly add up.
WooCommerce does offer everything you need to sell and run your business online. You can process orders, track stats in real-time and customise your site to suite your style. A word of warning: it's not the most user-friendly option—a working knowledge of web development is strongly recommended.
Ecwid isn’t so much a website builder as it is an add-on to give your website or social media a shopping cart. For example, if you're a graphic designer with an Instagram portfolio you could use Ecwid's features to allow customers to purchase directly from your page (though it's unnecessary now Instagram has built-in ecommerce.)
The selling point of Ecwid is that it's easy and free to get started. This draws in new makers and entrepreneurs looking for a solution other than Etsy. There's no need for any web design skills or complex code and there are a range of relevant features like order management and basic inventory.
There is one major downside: Ecwid relies on helping you sell on other channels. To get the most out of it you'll have to be prepared to setup a multi-channel strategy and offer your products across several platforms like Facebook, Amazon, Google
Big Cartel is a store builder that’s specifically designed for creators selling physical products. It’s best suited for small creatives, artists and crafty entrepreneurs. There is an active user base built around the art community and resources to help you get started.
Unfortunately there are a few limitations. You are restricted to how many products you can sell, and even how many images for each product you can include. This won't be an issue for smaller businesses, but if you're producing a lot of products it can get in the way.
As for branding you're able to make simple customisations to your site. The themes are simple, but there are enough options to build an aesthetically pleasing site that reflects your business. The free tier is rather forgiving too, so it's a good option if you want to dip your toes in the water without committing.
Much like Big Cartel, IndieMade is designed specifically for artists. You can build a website with a store, blog and gallery in a much easier way than if you tried to do so with WordPress. Plus, it's affordable and easy to update.
IndieMade comes with inventory management features and everything you need to sell online. It isn't hugely customisable, but the focus is on simplifying the creation process so makers can spend more time crafting cool products. There are basic SEO, analytics and marketing integrations that will cover most small entrepreneurs.
Compared to other solutions IndieMade is rather barebones. However one advantage it does have is that it integrates nicely with Etsy. You can sell on both platforms and your product inventory will update automatically.
Squarespace is a big name in website builders for a reason. It’s aesthetically pleasing and powerful. It was one of the first companies to democratise the website creation process and is a good option for newbies, with a drag-and-drop editor that is easy to get a handle on.
It's important to note, that while Squarespace has recently made the move into the ecommerce space, thats not its main focus. As such, ecommerce functionality isn't included as part of the base offering, which is more focused on portfolios and blogs. Most advanced functionality is locked behind the higher pricing tier.
Conveniently, you can port all your Etsy products across to your Squarespace site, so if you're looking to migrate an existing store it is one of the simpler alternatives.
Much like Squarespace, Wix started as a generic website builder. It has since made a shift to ecommerce and has become one of the better solutions on the web. They have a decent drag-and-drop builder, customisable templates and comprehensive features across their three plans.
Wix has all the payment and order management functionality you would expect. The shipping options allow for cost calculations within the US, as well as offering options for local delivery and pickup. Unfortunately, you're mostly stuck with their templates rather than being able to create a solution of your own like you can with Paperform.
Alternatives to Etsy can be divided into two categories: online marketplaces and dedicated ecommerce sites. Which one you choose depends on your needs and the type of business you want to build.
Online marketplaces are simple to use, but have many of the same drawbacks that Etsy suffers from. These are third-party platforms that are easy to manage and take less commitment than a website, but come with certain limitations and restrictions.
"Online marketplaces are basically a digital version of the local market where you have to pay a fee to set up your table and sell your products. Except on the internet there's fees for listing, processing and advertising your goods."
The obvious examples are Amazon, eBay and Facebook Marketplace. For crafty types, it’s best to look at specialised marketplaces, so that’s what we’re going to do here.
Amazon Handmade is the the global ecommerce mega giant's response to the need for a more personal touch. When we think of Amazon, we think of mass-produced items with discounts and overnight shipping and all those other hyper-capitalistic things that makes Amazon what it is.
Handmade is the antithesis to this. It highlights smaller sellers and makers. Here you will find a market for items like jewellery, stationary, home décor, beauty products and all sorts of other handmade goodies.
It's more expensive to sell on Amazon Handmade than it is on Etsy. But you get a few more fulfillment and inventory management features on the backend, as well as the chance to put your products in front of more than 300 million customers. Be wary that, as we touched on earlier, this also means a lot of competition.
Zibbet is an interesting platform. It has a marketplace where people can find your goods, but its primary offering is a hub from which you can manage other sales channels. For example, if you wanted to sell across Etsy, eBay, Facebook and an Instagram account, you can do it through Zibbet.
There's one catch: you still have to manage and pay fees for each individual store. That can get a bit overwhelming to say the least. Though at least when you make a change to a product on your Zibbet store, that change is automatically process on other platforms.
Zibbet is a decent solution to consider if omnichannel marketing interests you. Just make sure to check it integrates with your platform of choice first. (As of September 2021, the Zibbet Marketplace is temporarily offline to to acquisition transfer.)
Artfire is very similar to Etsy. It's not as large, which means there's less competition and potential for exposure (at least on their platform). There is one handy feature that Artfire does offer—customers can post wanted ads that sellers can respond to. This acts as a way for folks to commission work and directly meet demand.
As a website, Artfire tries to stand apart by highlighting individual creators. New sellers are featured on the homepage, and customers can also search by store size, which allows smaller sellers to be seen. Fees are slightly higher than Etsy, but you have a cleaner shop page with no ads.
While Bonanza isn't aimed exclusively at crafters and independent sellers, it's an online marketplace that hosts a myriad of small businesses, making it a viable Etsy alternative.
Bonanza prides itself on being “seller-first”. Unlike most marketplaces, sellers have access to customer data and can engage in repeat marketing efforts. A unique feature is that buyers can haggle just like an in-person market. This is good for customers, but not exactly the most attractive idea for prospective sellers.
Storenvy is a “social marketplace”, meaning that you can interact with it in more ways than just buying and selling. With an account, you can Envy products (their version of Likes), add products to “collections” (kind of like Pinterest boards) and follow other creators and stores.
What's the point of Envies? Well products with lots of Envies end up on the popular page, giving your store greater exposure and improving your chance of getting sales. It's a strange mix of social media and ecommerce store that works rather well.
While Storenvy isn't going to compete with the big name social media websites, there is an active community engaging with products and creators. Many principles used to grow and engage social media followers can be applied on this platform too.
While anyone can buy from aftcra, this platform only allows American-made goods to be sold. It’s very community-minded and very small. Their mission is to support local artists and artisans living across the United States and provide a marketplace that constantly evolved to suit buyers and sellers.
If you call the Land of the Free home then aftacra is a great alternative to Etsy. The marketplace is uncluttered, there are no listing fees, and their customer service experience is top notch. Just keep in mind it doesn't have the traffic and reach of the larger marketplaces on this list.
Like aftcra, Folksy is locked to a particular region. In this instance it's the United Kingdom, the home of Queen Elizabeth and Digestive biscuits. As it says on their homepage, "every purchase from Folksy supports a genuine craftsperson".
It's important to note that unlike other marketplaces, Folksy is purely dedicated to handmade products—no vintage items or reselling is allowed. This ensures they can remain dedicated to supporting local artists and makers.
Customers can shop by region (e.g. Scotland, South-West England) and products are highlighted on the homepage based on popularity, reaching best-seller status, or just being featured. The community is close-knit and there's a bunch of useful resources to help your business grow.
Redbubble allows you to upload art, then its manufacturers print it on a variety of products. This means your designs can feature on shirts, phone cases, home décor, and a whole lot more, with minimal involvement from you.
Redbubble takes care of all the product assembly and shipping. Because of this, it charges a price that varies based on the product and delivery area. The artist then adds a margin on top of it, and those two costs combined make up the final price (which is fairly costly).
As with any online marketplace, if a customer doesn't like your pricing they can just move on to the next design. This is particularly fraught on Redbubble, where any and all designs have the potential to be repurposed on a similar product.
Depop (a subsidiary of Etsy as of 2021) is a fashion marketplace app for secondhand, handcrafted and reworked items. While there are a diverse array of items sold on the platform, its goal is to transform fashion to make it "more inclusive, diverse and less wasteful".
With Depop you can list for free and start selling immediately. In terms of looks, the app is very similar to Instagram (which makes sense as the audience here is made up of teens and Gen Y). There are next to no customisation or branding options, unless you get creative with your product photos.
If you're looking to build and grow a business there are better options than Depop. However, if you're looking to start a side hustle and want to tap into a more youthful market, it's a good option.
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Etsy and its alternatives all offer viable ways to sell online. We may be biased, but we think Paperform provides the best ecommerce solution for indie makers and crafters by balancing a simple creation process with advanced ecommerce functionality.
Our all-in-one platform takes care of every part of your online business. Whether you are selling arts and crafts as a hobby or starting your dream fashion label, Paperform has you covered. Sell your products, build your audience and showcase your brand all in the one spot.
Still using Etsy and unsure if you should take the next step? Leave your products up on your Etsy shop and use our 14-day free trial to try Paperform's features. That way you can get an idea of what your new store could look like, without having to make a monetary commitment.
Build your dream store with Paperform and start selling today with our 14-day free trial—no credit card required.
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