Big Cartel vs Etsy: Where Should You Advertise?

Big Cartel vs Etsy: Where Should You Advertise?

Trends | Aug 08, 2021

When opening your online store, are you wondering if Big Cartel or Etsy would be a better choice? Each platform offers different advantages but also has its share of downsides. Your customers need a centralized place to access your products and services, so deciding on how to showcase them is crucial for boosting brand awareness and providing easy, clear access to your brand.

So you’ve developed the next big thing and are ready to share it with the world. Posting about it on social media is certainly a way to get attention, but to offer interactive ways to access your product or service, you need a store. Thanks to the internet, instead of rushing to the want ads for a brick and mortar shop, you can set up shop right away online. However, there are several platforms and companies available to facilitate your new brand’s needs. Not all companies offer the same tools, so let’s break down the pros and cons of both Big Cartel and Etsy to see which works best for you!

Big Cartel vs. Etsy-Pros and Cons

Big Cartel

Big Cartel is the platform for brands looking to craft a full-fledged experience for customers. What began as a music brand has evolved into a Google-analytics-integrated powerhouse that drives profits to business-savvy artisans eager to build a place of their own. Crafting your brand using Big Cartel has plenty of pros and cons to consider.

small business

Pro: Start Free

For sellers that don’t have a large slew of services to offer or want to get up and running immediately with their own, stand-alone shop, Big Cartel doesn’t even require a credit card to join their site and start making sales. In fact, there are tiers of options to choose from when deciding the state of your business for levels of expansion beyond your initial set up. In addition, there are no listing fees or hidden costs. You only pay for what you need as you grow and get things like a free domain name and statistics included.

Pro: Create Your Own Platform

Rather than relying on a platform to create a virtual experience for customers, design and other details are in your hands when using Big Cartel. Any marketing done for your store stays within your store instead of being frittered away to competition, and your brand awareness will increase from custom domain names and design elements that are specific to your brand, adding to the unique experience your products and services offer customers.

Pro: No Competing Items or Stores

Rather than relying on a platform to create a virtual experience for customers, design and other details are in your hands when using Big Cartel. Any marketing done for your store stays within your store instead of being frittered away to competition, and your brand awareness will increase from custom domain names and design elements that are specific to your brand, adding to the unique experience your products and services offer customers.

Pro: Plenty of eCommerce Tools

Never underestimate the power of a good promo. Big Cartel understands a store’s need to offer discounts and other savings for customers and empowers business owners to equip stores along with social media integrations and payment gateways. To have full control over every detail of your business from both front-end and back-end perspectives, Big Cartel offers minimalistic, easy to operate tools.

Con: Hard to Scale

If you have inventory of over 300 items or need to offer a variety of sizes and/or colors of items, scaling your brand will cap at that limit regardless of what package you pick. Design inventory of the store faces a similar stop point. If you rebrand to a complex design that requires extra coding or detail work, you won’t be able to integrate those changes through their platform.

Con: Not as Well-Known as Competitors

Big Cartel started as a niche firm, and it still is very much a creatives-only club. If you have specific wares to sell on a small or artisanally small scale, your customers likely would have no idea you were even using Big Cartel to host your site.

Con: No Cross-Traffic

Since you are a stand-alone store through Big Cartel, your brand misses out on cross-traffic generated by marketplace shoppers. Platforms like Etsy are more like a farmers market where you can get ideas for other purchases from different vendors. Hosting your store through Big Cartel means that while your marketing efforts would directly and singularly benefit you, you don’t benefit from anyone else’s marketing plans simply by being nearby competition.

Con: Handle Your Own Marketing

DIY in every sense of the word, Big Cartel shops are very much your own frontier. That being said, while you benefit from all of your information being directly relevant to your store and brand, the heavy-lifting for marketing, promotions, and driving traffic rests on you and you alone. Lone wolves can rejoice, but those who aren’t so marketing savvy may struggle to get visitors when starting out despite all of the tools and options for growth. Creatively tinkering is the lifeblood of the Big Cartel brand, and that kind of leisure isn’t always available to busy, budding entrepreneurs.



Known as the place to find excellent knick-knacks and handcrafted items, Etsy has grown into a full-fledged marketplace for anything and everything! With 43.9 million buyers and sellers and an inventory of 26 million items, it may be easy to think that this is obviously the place to start. Not so fast! Check out these pros and cons before getting started.

Pro: Household Name Storefront Service

Etsy has made a name for itself, and capitalizing on that popularity can help burgeoning brands grow alongside other growing brands seeking to express individuality but within a self-contained company. Despite its powerhouse size, Etsy is not owned by Amazon, Facebook, or other major companies and thereby offers a multitude of expansion options to business owners without having to resort to those marketplaces.

Pro: Very Beginner Friendly!

For a straight forward, super simple store set up, Etsy has that in spades! Opening your shop doesn’t require complicated design choices (as there aren’t too many options), and you already have an audience that trusts Etsy, so some of that brand trust will automatically transfer to your brand since you have a page on their site. Much of the audience will be expecting a handmade, personal experience, and this element is helpful for building a customer-service centered business model from the start.

Pro: Strong Technical Support

Etsy understands that in addition to crafting products, you’re crafting a business. The heavy popularity and audience affords Etsy additional support options, including live chat, email, and phone. It can be nerve-wracking starting a business, so it’s helpful that a company of Etsy’s size keeps that in mind when assisting sellers in building their stores.

Pro: Operates Like a True Marketplace

Buyers on Etsy may have a specific niche item in mind, but being in a marketplace means your items will be ranked alongside similar items in a similar price point and availability. If you set your design, metrics, and other factors properly, you can leverage traffic from other brands to create sales and conversions for your products and services. Plus, additional products and services of yours are available on product pages, and reviews feature all of your items to keep the traffic-train going!

Con: Marketplace-Level of Competition

Sometimes something can be both a major benefit and a problem. By the same token of a brand losing business to your better product or service, the same can happen in reverse. The large audience also allows for getting lost in the shuffle, so while you can profit from someone else’s marketing, others can benefit from your efforts as well.

Con: Lack of Customization

Many Etsy stores look similar, and this limited choice from the seller’s perspective creates limits for brand recognition and customized experiences for users. You also don’t receive your own personalized domain or other metrics that would help build your brand beyond a hobby shop. However, since all other brands are in the same boat with the same limitations, the visual playing field stays level from store to store within the site. This still creates a slight brand disconnect that is something to consider.

Con: Listing Fees On Top of Monthly Fees

Etsy charges listing fees on top of the monthly maintenance fees. While Etsy also has a “forever-free” option for smaller stores, expansion will prove a costly investment. While there also aren’t inventory caps in the technical sense, the financial limits will kick in when trying to expand inventory.

Con: Not a Standalone Platform/App

The wide audience reach Etsy can boast only applies to Etsy itself, not your brand specifically. Just because millions of people are using the platform doesn’t mean millions are visiting your store. This will also make generating marketing analytics that much more difficult, as visits routinely have the threat of being derailed by competition. This also means you will lose out on some specific integrations or tools that you could leverage with other eCommerce platforms, tailoring the experience to both your brand and your business operations.


The Consensus?

Whether Big Cartel or Etsy fits your needs better, there are several other options for opening an online store. The sheer volume of choice can be overwhelming, as Etsy and Big Cartel aren’t even factoring other competitors like Shopify or social media integrations! When there are so many ways to forge your brand’s path, it never hurts to enlist the help of experts. Luckily, ULS specializes in digital marketing strategy AND building eCommerce shops on any desired platform or entirely from scratch! Schedule your free consultation with us today to get personalized advice for your brand growth!

Default banner - Free Consultation

GET your FREE Consultation

Scan this QR Code to access.


Get FREE marketing consultation for your business.

Book Now!
qr-code mobile
chat icon