If your shop on Etsy lasts long enough and you see some success, there will inevitably come a time when you realize that you need to stop putting all their eggs in one basket. Maybe it’s a long period of slowing sales from changes behind the scenes, another payment processing outage, or ads for your competitors’ products showing up in your store. Whatever the reason, at some point you decide that it’s time to build your own store. The problem is, how do you get traffic to your new website?

Some people say that a big advantage of selling on a large online marketplace like Etsy is that they do all the hard work of getting customers to visit your store. That’s not quite true: they get people to visit Etsy, but when it comes to getting those people to choose your store, it’s up to you.

You’ve got to create the standout product photography, optimize your product descriptions for keywords, keep your listings fresh, and stay on top of what Etsy is planning to change (or what they change without telling anybody in advance).

A website of your own demands the same type of work, but the payoff is that you’re building traffic that goes directly to your store without having to tread a path past fifteen of your competitors. And once you get traffic to your new website, you can build a long-term direct relationship with people through tools like an email list.

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    Here are seven things that will help you get traffic to your new website or online store:

    1. Install Google Analytics so you can measure your results. You can’t improve what you don’t measure, and Google Analytics lets you analyze how many people are visiting your site, where they are coming from, and what they do once they get there. Follow Google’s instructions to get up and running, and then take a look at ConversionXL’s excellent guides for configuring Google Analytics and using it to track Goals, Segments, and Events.
    2. Get friendly with the Google Search Console. The Search Console is the closest you can get to seeing inside the GoogleBot’s brain without breaking in to one of their data centers. Use it to see your site the way Google does and get their recommendations for making your site as easy to index as possible. Making things easier for Google will result in better data for your site in their index and improved search performance.
    3. Practice Sane Social Networking. If you’re doing all of your social media marketing yourself, choose a couple of social networks to focus on so you don’t end up going crazy with social media marketing overload. My clients have the best results with Pinterest, followed by Instagram. Creating a content calendar and scheduling posts in advance can make the job more manageable. Pinterest’s and Instagram’s buy button integration hasn’t really taken off, so don’t spend time implementing it if you’re already busy.
    4. Work on Your Image. Make sure your product listings have lots of big, Pinnable, share-worthy, top-quality images. Your image file names should contain the full product name and keywords, and you should add “alt” tags to each image with the same information in them. These will help your images show up on Google Image Searches and when people add them to Pinterest. Set up a Business Account on Pinterest and Confirm your Site so that you can serve “Rich Pins” with more details than normal pins. If you want to go the extra mile, verify your site with Pinterest and include Pinterest-optimized images on each page that are 2 to 3 times as tall as they are wide and contain attractive, descriptive text.
    5. Explain Yourself. Help Google index your page more accurately with long, descriptive, keyword-laden product descriptions. Five hundred words is a good minimum target. Take the opportunity to develop a story around your brand and your products that will stick in your customers’ minds and establish your products as being different from your competitions’. Make sure each description is unique, and built around the search keywords that best describe your product.
    6. Update Your Site Regularly. Keep giving Google new material to index, and your site visitors a reason to keep coming back, with new and interesting content that’s added on a regular basis. Either write new articles (a.k.a. blog posts) or add new or revised product listings. Consider packaging your pieces into collections that are featured on a schedule throughout the year so that even if you don’t have 100% brand new inventory you always have something that you can share with your visitors.
    7. Build Your Own Audience. Start a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly email newsletter with updates on your stores, special subscriber-only promotions, and product announcements. This lets you bypass the unreliable stew that is social media and build a following that is yours and yours alone. MailChimp is a great place to start since it’s free up to 2000 subscribers and can integrate into any website under the sun.

    You’ll probably notice that I left something out: ads. Think carefully before you decide to get traffic to your new website with sponsored posts or pay-per-click advertising from Google, Facebook, Twitter, or anyone else.

    Online advertising is like eating spinach is for Popeye: when you use it you’ll get quick results, but when it wears off you’re back to having ludicrously-undersized upper arms. If you do choose to advertise, make sure you also do all the other things in this article, or else as soon as you stop your ads your traffic will slow to a trickle.

    As I said at the top, at first glance this might seem like a lot of extra effort to get more traffic to your new website. But it’s not that different from what most successful Etsy sellers are doing already to stand out in an increasingly crowded and unpredictable marketplace.

    The difference is that this work goes into something you own yourself, not a rented booth at a virtual craft fair. And once you get the snowball rolling you’ll have your sights set on a more targeted and more loyal customer base than Etsy could ever deliver. Are you ready to get started on your own site? Contact me today!