A Professional Website versus an Online Marketplace Profile: How only having an Etsy Profile hurts your Artist Digital Marketing Brand

Don't hurt your Brand by only having an Online Marketplace Profile


Imagine you are in a new city and are looking for a place to eat. You are starving and all you want is a Reuben sandwich. You come across a street that has two stores, a sandwich shop and a large supermarket. The sandwich shop is advertising its sandwich of the day, their Reuben sandwich for only $4.99. Now what you don’t know is that the supermarket has a deli that also sells delicious Reuben sandwiches for $4.99, but to find them you would have to go through the grocery store, past the produce department, past the frozen food section, to the deli in the back.

Question - in which store would you be more likely to look for a sandwich? The restaurant that specializes and markets itself as a place to get great tasting Reuben’s, or a supermarket that probably has a deli, and might have decent sandwiches but you have to go searching for them?


This same marketing rule applies to artwork sold online - specifically to having your own personal artist website versus having a profile on an online marketplace. Lets use Etsy as the main example. Etsy is a popular platform where artist can showcase and sell their original work. It’s a great tool to connect artists and craftspeople with people who are looking to buy original art and crafts. Its simple and straightforward to create an Etsy profile and start selling your artwork to customers.

However Etsy’s popularity and simplicity are also a draw back for your marketing brand as an artist. You are a professional artist who creates one of a kind and valuable works of art. The openness of Etsy’s platform mean that your artwork is being showcased next to keychains with pop culture references and hats made out of cat hair. No matter how high end your artwork is, the proximity to low end goods does a lot of diminish your brand as an artist. Think of it this way, would you rather have your painting exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art or at the garage sale in Wayzata, Minnesota?

Having your own website means you can control how you are marketed. You can control how high end your website looks, how you showcase your art, and ultimately how people view you as an artist and as a brand. This is the main difference between a marketplace site like Etsy and your own personal artist website.

Another difference is the kind of art and the kind of artists that use Etsy versus marketing themselves through a personal website. Many people, myself included, go to Etsy to search for inexpensive handmade items, something I might buy as a gift or a piece of artwork I need to fill space on a wall. I am not looking to spend more than $50. However when buying a more expensive piece of art online, I would expect the artist to have a professional looking website with their artist biography and examples of their work. As an art patron, this would reassure me that the artist I am buying from is a professional and I’m not being overcharged by someone who spent fifteen minutes smearing paint on a canvas.

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Despite what I said in the past few paragraphs, it is not a bad marketing strategy to have a profile on Etsy or a similar marketplace platform. Etsy is a great vehicle to reach art buyer’s that would have otherwise never seen your artwork. However when it is your only online presence it hurts your brand as an artist.

Professional artists have professional websites. Show potential customers that you are serious enough about your artwork to invest the effort in a professional website. Having a professional website puts you light years above an artist that only has an Etsy profile. Market yourself as a professional artist, not a hobbyist who makes crafts in their spare time.

For more information about web design and digital marketing, visit www.rubixartmarketing.com.