If you sell on Etsy, you’ve probably heard about other shops getting suspended. Often it happens without warning. Sometimes the shop gets reinstated, but other times things don’t go so well. Here’s what to do if your Etsy shop is suspended—and how to protect yourself with an exit plan so you’ll never have to worry about your shop being suspended again.

If Your Shop Has Already Been Suspended

First things first: if you’re reading this article and your Etsy Shop has been suspended, you want to know what to do right now.

Most importantly, remain calm. I know, that’s easy for me to say, but you have little choice but to wait for the process to run its course and do your best to get your Shop reinstated.

You probably got an email from Etsy’s “Integrity Department” requesting information. Before you respond, look at Etsy’s policies relating to the questions in the email and make sure you understand them backwards and forwards. If you have questions Etsy’s seller forums are a great place to go for clarification and moral support. Unfortunately, you are far from the only Etsy seller who has gone through this!

Once you feel like you have a solid handle on what Etsy thinks you did wrong and how to show them that they are mistaken (or if they aren’t mistaken, how you’re going to fix the issue), reply to the email with as much documentation as you can put together. Then cross your fingers.

There’s not much more you can do other than wait for Etsy’s response. If more than a few days goes by without a response via email, you can try reaching out in the forums or via Etsy’s official contact form.

Warning Signs that Etsy Might be About to Suspend Your Shop

OK, hopefully your shop isn’t suspended already and you have time to prepare your worst-case-scenario action plan. Let’s go over some of the signs that suspension might imminent. If you see any activity like this, it’s time to put your plan into action.

Usually Etsy uses a suspend first, ask questions later approach. But sometimes you get some advance warning. Usually this is an email from the Integrity Department, the electronic equivalent to the police coming around to your house “just to ask a few questions.”

They might want a few details on your production process, or have questions about your shipping methods. Either way, if you find one of those emails in your inbox it’s time to get your exit strategy in gear.

Another warning sign is if a buyer files a chargeback request against you. A chargeback raises a red flag with Etsy immediately, and they’ll send you a request for information relating to the transaction. Etsy gives you five days to respond to their request, and to start preparing for a possible suspension.

Finally, keep an eye on your reviews and shop rating. Etsy seems to want all its shops to be above average, and a shop with a history of not being able to get above a 3-star rating, or one with too many open cases, is on thin ice.

Protecting Your Business Before Your Shop Gets Suspended

Back Up Everything

The worst thing about getting your Etsy shop suspended is that you get cut off from everything—your product listings, your order history, and all of your glowing, positive reviews. So the number one thing every Etsy shop owner should be doing is keeping regular backups.

Etsy lets you download backups of your Order history, records of deposits and payments made to your Direct Checkout-linked PayPal account, and of your listings. They’re all available in one place by going to your Shop Settings, clicking on “Options” on the left sidebar, and clicking on the “Download Data” tab on the main Options screen.

These backups are delivered as CSV files that you can open in a spreadsheet program like Excel. They’re better than nothing, but they don’t include your shop info and policies or your reviews, and they don’t include your actual product photos—just the urls of where the photos are on Etsy’s servers.

The service Backtsy lets you make full backups of your entire shop automatically, either daily, weekly, or monthly. You can use these to backups to download a CSV file of your product listings and your photos, but you can only restore your other shop data back to an Etsy shop—you can’t export it to another eCommerce platform.

Whatever you decide to do, just make sure every piece of info in your Etsy shop also exists somewhere else, and in a format that will make it easy for you to reuse it or recreate it if you ever have to.

Protect Your Finances

When your Etsy shop gets suspended, you also lose access to any funds in the PayPal account that’s linked to Direct Checkout.

You will most likely get your money back even if you don’t get your shop back, but that process can take a long time and that can cripple your business if the money you need operate your business is frozen in your Etsy accounts.

Keep your balances in your Etsy accounts as low as possible and transfer your money regularly into an account that you are in control of so that you still pay your bills even if your Etsy shop is suspended.

Get Word Out to Your Customers

You need a way to get in touch with your customers if your shop gets suspended. Otherwise they’ll have no idea what happened and no way to find you and continue to buy your products.

A customer email list is the best way to do this, but Etsy makes if very difficult to run an effective opt-in campaign because they want to be in control of how you communicate with your customers. But Etsy can’t stop you from connecting with your customers on Social Media. Building a following for your business on social media isn’t just good for marketing—it will give you a way to tell your customers where to find your new shop.

Get Your Shop its Own Home on the Web

Broadcasting your change of address via social media is important, but you can make it even easier for your customers to find you and your new shop by having a Domain Name of your own.

Just because you have a shop URL on Etsy doesn’t mean you can’t also have a domain name, and having a domain name of your own that your promote as your home on the internet helps you build your brand.

Free Report for Etsy Sellers: Build Your Own eCommerce Online Store Today

Migrating your listings from Etsy to WooCommerce is only one piece of building your own eCommerce store. Download my free guide to all the tools and services you’ll need to build yourself an amazing website and eCommerce store. These are the very same tools, programs, and services I use to build sites for my clients. With this report you’ll be all ready to take your business beyond Etsy and into its next phase of growth:

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    You’ll also be subscribed to my weekly newsletter that’s dedicated to helping artists, makers, and small businesses who sell online operate, market, and grow their businesses.

    If you’re not ready to build a site of your own and your Etsy shop is doing well, you can set up your domain name so that it redirects people to your Etsy shop. That way, if your shop gets suspended or your decide it’s time to move up to your own online store on your own website, your customers don’t have to remember a new address.

    Build Yourself a Shop that Etsy can’t Suspend

    When you sell on Etsy, you make a trade-off. On the plus side, you get low-cost access to a huge, existing customer base, and as long as you play by the rules you get to take advantage of the selling and shipping infrastructure that Etsy has built. On the minus side, all of this—your customers, the selling infrastructure, even your store and the listings on it—belongs to Etsy.

    In a situation like that it pays to look out for number one and at the very least get your own domain name and back up your store (including reviews and your original product photos) weekly. That, combined with a solid social media following, will protect you if for some reason Etsy decides you no longer belong.

    But the best thing you can do for your business, for yourself, is to build on the success you have had on Etsy and leverage that into a store of your own. Say goodbye to ecommerce platforms where you don’t own your store, and build your own website and online store that you control.

    You’ll never have to worry about Etsy’s Integrity Department again.