Sign up for our newsletter + get your Using Positive Affirmations in your Business mini-kit!!!


It is Time for Your Own Website

halfcirclesYou’ve been working your ass off, day in and day out. Putting in long hours to make your products, write product descriptions, take product photos and list your items on Etsy. Then learning about copywriting, SEO and photography so you can spend even more hours rewriting descriptions and taking more photos. I’m exhausted just thinking about all the work you’ve done. And don’t even get me started on the money you’ve spent—printers, shipping materials, equipment, training courses, the works. Add it all up and that is a lot of time and money you’ve invested in your Etsy shop. What if one day . . . it all disappeared? All that time and money gone out the window. That’s the risk you take when your business is completely dependent on Etsy. Making your business dependent on another company, like Etsy, eBay or Amazon, is called digital sharecropping. And it is bad news, friends.

Digital Sharecropping

Remember learning about sharecropping in school? Yeah, it’s been a while for me too. Here’s a quick refresher. Sharecropping was all the rage in the southern United States after the Civil War. Landowners allowed farmers to live and work on their land in exchange for profits from the crops. Sharecroppers were at the mercy of the landowner. If the landowner raised the rent, they had no choice but to pay the higher fees. If the landowner kicked them out, they had no other means to survive. The sharecropper does all the work, and the landowner gets most of the profits. And to make it worse, the landowner has all the control, so the sharecropper is stuck with whatever the landowner dishes out. When you rely solely on Etsy for your business, you are digital sharecropping. Etsy is the landowner. They give you an online shop, a piece of digital land. You are the sharecropper. You pay rent in the form of listing fees and commission. Etsy has control over your land, and you are stuck with whatever they dish out.

How Digital Sharecropping Can Hurt Your Business

My friend Suzie recently got an email from Etsy asking her to answer a lengthy questionnaire, and to submit an in-depth tutorial (with photos) explaining how she makes her jewelry. She was given five days to respond. Suzie’s mom was admitted to the hospital the day before she got Etsy’s email. She wasn’t able to compile the info in such a short timeframe. So she responded to Etsy, providing links to several existing tutorials on her blog, and explained she would provide the rest of the info in a few days when her mom got out of the hospital. Etsy closed her shop immediately. Suzie no longer had a way to make money from her jewelry business. She couldn’t even access the product descriptions and photos she had spent so many hours on. Sadly, Suzie isn’t the only person this has happened to. You’ve probably seen lots of stories about shops being closed by Etsy. There are other worries as well. What happens when Etsy raises their fees? What happens if Etsy is bought by another company? What if Etsy shuts down? These scenarios are totally possible. Just one decision made by Etsy, a decision you have no control over, can make or break your business.

Protect Yourself From Digital Sharecropping

It’s scary stuff! But there’s one thing you can do today to protect yourself from digital sharecropping—get a self-hosted website. Having a self-hosted website is the equivalent of buying your land instead of renting it. It gives you total control over your online home. It gives you a backup plan to ensure your business can survive, with or without Etsy. Ack, tech-speak! What does self-hosted mean? Every website needs web hosting. Web hosting stores all the articles and images for a website, and makes the website accessible online. Self-hosted means you have access to your website’s server, which is where the articles and images are stored. You control what programs are installed for your site, as well as your website content, design, back ups, email, etc. Free services like Blogger, Weebly and Wix are not self-hosted. They only give you limited control of your website. And, just like with Etsy, they can shut your site down at any time.

How To Get a Self-Hosted Website

Thanks to WordPress, you can make your own self-hosted website on the cheap. If you can use Microsoft Word or Apple Pages, you can make a website with WordPress. For reals. Need help getting started with WordPress? That’s what I’m here for! What overwhelms and confuses you? What questions do you have? Let me know in the comments so I can help you out. Then head on over to Pixel Frau where you can learn how to register a domain name and get a free WordPress beginner’s guide.


Julia Sydnor – Pixel Frau

Julia Sydnor is the geeky gal behind Pixel Frau. She teaches Etsy sellers how to make kick-ass websites with WordPress. Want a website for your creative business? A website you can be proud of? A website that gets you more sales? Head on over to Pixel Frau to get started.


Plugin Your WordPress

While WordPress is a wonderful tool all by its self, it doesn’t really do everything. It does, however, have the ability to add plugins. Plugins extend the functions of WordPress to allow it to do pretty much anything you could possibly need WordPress to do (except maybe make you a sandwich… maybe). All of the plugins I am listing can be found and installed directly through the plugin search in your WordPress control panel. Here are a few of the plugins I have found most necessary for getting started and extending the basic functions of WordPress. The best thing of all is THEY ARE ALL FREE!

Modern Painting Original Abstract by Bangbouh Fine Art

WordPress SEO by Yaost

This is by far the best SEO plugin I have found so far. It gives you complete and intuitive control over every single page and post on your WordPress, as well as giving you the ability to customize the more general SEO settings. It gives you control over everything from your keywords to your xml map (if you don’t know what that is, it’s okay, it will take care of it for you.)


The Free Thing that Changed the Internet…and How it Can Help Your Business

 This post was written by the newest addition to the Handmade Success team, Amalia Elliott.  Stay tuned for more great advice from Amalia plus a big announcement from Handmade Success next week!

Binary Happy Birthday
Binary Happy Birthday by The Wallaroo Prints

WordPress: Giving the Power of Web Publishing to You

Up until very recently, if you wanted a website you either had to pay someone a big chunk of money, learn html, css, and various other languages yourself, or use some piece of software that never works the way it says it will. These methods could be costly and very time consuming, not to mention stressful.

In recent years [maybe in only the last 5] the face of web publishing has changed drastically. (more…)