Yup, that’s correct. My Etsy shop got suspended overnight at the start of February 2017. At this point my Etsy store had just hit it’s 2 year mark and was 100% passive except for the 2-3 hours a week I used to check up on it. At it’s peak it was bringing in $1000+ each month for me, but when it was truly passive it was making a steady $600+ each and every month in profit. Not exactly a lot, but when you’re making that amount for a total of 8 hours collectively in a month. Well. I don’t think anyone would complain about those numbers, am I right?
So how did I get my etsy shop suspended? To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure. Etsy sent an email saying my store didn’t follow their policies, but I read everything on their site to verify this and I couldn’t find anything that would make my store “illegal” on the site. However, now that it’s been over half a year since the incident, I do have my theories and I have learnt a lot of lessons that I want to share with you Hustlers also.
I didn’t do my homework
What I mean by this is, I didn’t know what it truly meant to manage a passive income stream. I didn’t even know what passive income was at the time. I just knew I had this online business that I barely needed to work on and it was consistently making me money month after month.
It didn’t even occur to me there’s an entire set of skills I needed to learn to run a passive income stream successfully. It would be too late by the time I found that out. My first passive income stream I built over 2 years vanished overnight. I was really naive and thought I could genuinely just leave it. I let the customer service slide to the point where I just didn’t care anymore.
I was progressively receiving more 3 star or 2 star reviews from unsatisfied customers. I didn’t take their feedback on to make the needed changes to my business. And I later found out that Etsy keeps tabs on negative reviews. Stores that get a sudden increase in negative reviews or complaints are subject to extra scrutiny.
This is my first theory on why I was shut down overnight. I was being irresponsible to my customers and Etsy must have taken note on this sudden decrease in customer satisfaction. What platform would want a irresponsible seller ruining their brand? In that sense, it made complete sense that my Etsy store got suspended.
I was dependent
I took over and dominated several of the biggest keywords for my niche, which obviously meant I stole a substantial amount of business from some competitors. It also meant I shone the spotlight on my store within my niche as well. It’s a small niche with maybe only <20 significant sellers in it. It wasn’t very hard to know who was who in the circle.
At the same time, there were threads popping up in the community section about stores getting reported for no reason. Or stores getting closed overnight. You’re probably asking what is a report. Well, everyone who has an account on Etsy can “report” a store to Etsy for a number of reasons, but all the reasons can potentially suspend the Etsy shop. You don’t need to provide any proof of your accusations and it will be logged on their database. If enough reports get sent in for your store, then Etsy will have to take necessary actions.
It’s not hard to see how easy it is for a store to get shut down even if they didn’t do anything. This is my second theory of how I got shut down overnight.
You have to understand that starting a business on a platform, such as Etsy, will always put you in a spot of vulnerability at the end of the day. Etsy has an image to uphold and the final word is in their hands. They can easily change policies, change their search engine algorithm and the like. Sellers will come and go, because Etsy understands the importance of being brand consistent, no matter what direction they want to take as an organization. As an individual seller, you’re helpless to their decisions.
I was 100% dependent on the traffic Etsy gave me to get sales. I didn’t drive any other traffic and it made me completely helpless to sudden changes. I was foolish to not nurture my customers by directing them to an online store I owned! I didn’t even have a store that I owned! I closed my shopify store once Etsy took off, thinking why should I invest my time and effort on Shopify if Etsy was progressing so well.
I couldn’t have been more ignorant and wrong. ALWAYS have a shopify store to direct customers to. They aren’t really your customers if they are buying your products from a third party platform.
The lessons to be learnt!
- Never neglect your customers. These are the people who have already gone through the entire sales process and are the best people to give you feedback. Take it, listen and make the needed changes if the same issues keep coming up.
- Do your homework. Never stop learning about how to run your business. You don’t know what you don’t know, and the only way to counter it is to always actively search for knowledge. Use what you already know to let it lead you to other things you can learn.
- Have a backup plan. Don’t just sell on Etsy alone, diversify your streams of traffic. Ideally start your own online store and not just have another store on a different platform like ebay, amazon or the like. I would recommend using Shopify as it’s such a seamless and easy to use service. Most importantly you don’t need to know any advance programming to create an SEO optimized website.
Shopify is a e-commerce software service provider for store owners to manage their business. It’s easy to use and extremely seamless. Shopify has risen up the past few years to be the go-to service provider for creating your own online store. And rightly so, there’s an app store full of free and paid apps. In fact most e-commerce apps are compatible with Shopify. A theme store full of ready to use designs that that are easy to edit and customize. You can get started with a free theme and still have a professional looking website.
But the two key features why I recommend Shopify is the SEO optimized code Shopify uses for all their themes. As long as you use a theme from the theme store on Shopify you know your website is SEO optimized. Having your website SEO optimized cuts out a lot of the grunt work in trying to get your website ranked and indexed by search engines manually. The way Shopify allows you to create pages, shop categories as well as organize your sitemap means it will automatically be SEO friendly. All you have to do is use your keywords and Shopify will do the rest for you.
Another feature, or reason is Shopify’s size in the industry. They’ve gotten so big that it’s impossible for other complementary service providers to not make their products compatible for Shopify stores. If you use other service providers such as Woocommerce, you’re instantly shutting yourself off from a lot of awesome apps and services. The same apps and services that could increase customer retention, decrease basket abandonment or even outsource your logistics out.
BUT, saying that woocommerce is free to use. So you do get what you pay for.
If you want to check out any of the resources mentioned in this post, please click on the links below.
Shopify (Get an exclusive 14 day free trial with this link)