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Blog / Ecommerce platform guide / Selling on Instagram vs. Etsy: What’s Right for You in 2024?

Ecommerce platform guide

Selling on Instagram vs. Etsy: What’s Right for You in 2024?

Selling on Instagram vs. Etsy: What’s Right for You in 2024?
Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

By Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

10 min read

Both Etsy and Instagram are popular platforms for selling online. But which platform is best for your specific business and goals? It depends on your personal preferences and needs.

Etsy is an ecommerce platform specialized in selling handmade goods, vintage items, or craft supplies. Instagram is a social media platform that can be used for selling products, but it doesn’t have the same features as Etsy. Both platforms have pros and cons, and you can succeed as a seller on either one.

Luckily, we’ve analyzed the ins and outs of selling on Instagram vs. Etsy so that you can make the right decision for your business venture. But first, have you chosen a product-sourcing method?

How to source products to sell online

Before deciding which popular platform is best for selling online, consider what types of products you’ll sell and where to source them.

One option is to sell handmade goods, but this isn’t the most scalable business model. You could also buy products in bulk from a wholesaler or directly from the manufacturer, but this incurs large overhead costs. Plus, you risk losing money with unsold inventory.

What if there was a way to showcase your unique artwork and designs on countless products without any upfront costs? It’s entirely possible with the print-on-demand business model!

Print-on-demand is similar to dropshipping, where you sell third-party products on your storefront without keeping inventory—meaning, no overhead costs. What makes POD companies stand out is the ability to print on the products. You can create unlimited designs and have them printed on custom t-shirts or mugs, embroidered on bags and hats, and much more.

a collage of images of a man working in a factorySource: Printful

Let’s say you have an online store and use a POD company like Printful. When a customer orders something from your store, your POD partner receives the order and notifies you. The company then prints, packs, and ships the product to your customer on your behalf.

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The good news is both Etsy and Instagram offer seamless integration with print-on-demand providers like Printful. Need help finding popular products to start selling? Check out this list of best-selling print-on-demand products to add to your store.

Now, back to selling on Instagram vs. Etsy.

Let’s dive in!

Selling on Instagram

As a highly visual platform, Instagram offers multiple ways to showcase your products—reels, photos, stories, live streams, and more. But don’t simply use your Instagram page as a content-producing channel—think of it as your website’s landing page. Your Instagram bio or profile photo, for example, is an opportunity to inform customers of your brand and what content to expect from your page.

a screenshot of a social media postSource: Wishpond

If you’re unsure how to design your page or write your Instagram bio, check out other popular shops you admire. Analyze their content and see how you can exude that same level of professionalism on your Instagram page.

Find out how to make money on Instagram and grow your following.

Pros of selling on Instagram

  • Large audience: Instagram has an incredibly large audience of 2.4B+ users. This means you can reach a wider audience, and it can be easier to find your niche market.

  • Visual nature: Instagram is a highly visual platform that allows you to showcase your products from multiple angles. This is great for artists, content creators, designers, and anyone selling visually appealing items.

  • Direct interaction with customers: One huge advantage of selling on Instagram is that you can directly interact with your customers. This allows you to build relationships and trust in your brand. Plus, you get immediate feedback, allowing you to improve your offerings constantly.

  • No fees: Another significant advantage of Instagram over Etsy is that there are no fees for listing products or transactions.

Cons of selling on Instagram

  • Not an ecommerce platform: The main downside is that Instagram is primarily a social media platform. This means it lacks ecommerce capabilities like shop analytics, abandoned cart recovery, email marketing, and coupons.

  • No built-in payment processing: As of now, Instagram doesn’t have a built-in payment processing system. You must outsource a third-party payment gateway and redirect customers to your website or another external link to complete payments. Checkout on Instagram is currently available only in the US, but Instagram plans to implement this feature in other countries.

  • Unpredictable algorithm: Another con is that it’s hard to determine what makes content go viral. Instagram’s unpredictable algorithm can make it difficult to stand out and attract customers.

Selling on Etsy

Etsy is specifically designed for selling handmade goods, vintage items, and craft supplies. Established in 2005, it’s a leading online marketplace for handmade goods. Sellers can connect with buyers worldwide and benefit from features like customizable storefronts, social media integrations, and analytics tools.

a screenshot of a storeSource: Etsy

One valuable feature is that you can customize your Etsy shop to your liking, allowing you to reflect your brand. Plus, you can link your website directly to your online store. Find out how to make money on Etsy in our complete step-by-step guide for beginner Etsy sellers.

Pros of selling on Etsy

  • Established audience: As Etsy buyers are already looking for handmade or vintage items, reaching a relevant audience is easier. It’s also a great place to sell artwork and customized products.

  • It’s an ecommerce platform: Etsy allows you to access features like shop analytics, abandoned cart recovery, email marketing, coupons, and more. These marketing tools are excellent for expanding your reach, growing your online store, and increasing sales.

  • Built-in payment processing system: The Etsy platform includes payment processing systems, making it easy for customers to buy items directly from your shop.

Cons of selling on Etsy

  • Highly competitive: Etsy currently has 7.5M active sellers and 95.1M active buyers. With the ability for buyers to filter products by lowest price or top customer reviews, it can be difficult to stand out from the competition.

  • Higher fees: Etsy charges fees for listing items and takes a percentage of each sale. Plus, there are payment processing fees based on your chosen payment method.

  • Product limitations and regulations: Etsy sellers must comply with strict policies to avoid shop closures. Check out Etsy’s seller policy to find out more.

Check out other Etsy alternatives for your business venture.

Selling on Instagram vs. Etsy: a comparison

Now, let’s look at the key differences between Instagram and Etsy regarding target audience, costs, brand control, and marketing or analytics features.

Target audience and reach

Etsy provides an audience interested in handmade and unique products, making it easier for sellers to reach their target market. However, many sellers offer similar products, making it hard to attract customer attention. You’ll need high-quality product photos and a solid marketing strategy to drive traffic to your shop.

Instagram is a widely used social media platform where you can easily reach potential customers. As mentioned earlier, there are 2.4B Instagram users worldwide. However, it’s not always guaranteed that your target audience will see your posts due to the platform’s unpredictable algorithm.

You must ensure you’re offering trending products that customers are interested in. For Instagram, create engaging content and follow the best social media practices. For Etsy, set up a beautiful shop page with stunning product photos.

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Instagram doesn’t charge fees for listing products or transactions—fees will depend on your third-party payment processor. Etsy charges a listing fee of $0.20 per item and a transaction fee of 6.5%. Although seemingly insignificant, these fees can eat into your earnings over time.

Other costs of selling products online include shipping fees, materials and supplies, and insurance and legal fees. Review the full list of Etsy fees to see if it’s the right fit. For more info, check out our article on the costs of running a print-on-demand business.

Brand control

Etsy offers limited customization options for fonts, color palettes, and layouts. Sellers also rely on pre-made templates or design elements. These restrictions result in many Etsy shops looking the same, making establishing a unique brand identity challenging. Sellers must differentiate themselves through product quality, customer service, and storytelling.

On the other hand, Instagram’s visual nature and large user base make it an ideal platform to showcase products and build a brand. Also, Instagram allows you to engage with customers and collect user-generated content to signal trust and authenticity to newcomers.

In terms of brand control, Instagram takes the lead.

Ads and other marketing features

As a platform built for selling online, Etsy has many marketing features. These include social media integration, email marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO) to help sellers promote their products and reach more customers.

Plus, Etsy provides many marketing tools to help you manage your business, like shipping labels, coupons, and payment processing. You also gain access to Etsy ad campaigns and offsite ads. Etsy also awards the top sellers with a special badge, making them a Star Seller. Find out more on how to promote your Etsy site on their website.

On the other hand, Instagram doesn’t allow you to set up a shop or offer marketing or shipping tools. Moreover, Instagram doesn’t have a built-in audience interested in buying handmade goods, so you must put in more effort to find potential customers.

By choosing Instagram, you’ll miss out on useful features like recovering abandoned cart tools, shop analytics, and email marketing. But Instagram does allow you to run ads with Meta Business. These ads automatically show up on Facebook as well.

While Instagram doesn’t have built-in marketing tools, there are multiple techniques for driving more engagement and sales. For example, posting Instagram stories regularly and hosting live streams can boost engagement and help you gain new leads. Leveraging user-generated content and partnering with micro-influencers can help build trust in your brand and boost your reputation.

Head over to our article on how to drive sales on Instagram to learn more about platform marketing techniques and other services that can make your Instagram shop thrive.

Analytics features

When you compare Instagram to Etsy in terms of analytics features, they’re both fantastic.

Etsy offers built-in analytics tools for sellers, providing insights into their shop’s performance. These features include tracking metrics, analyzing traffic sources and customer behavior, monitoring listing performance, and viewing search terms. These insights help sellers optimize their listings and make data-driven decisions to grow their shop.

If you need help understanding your data, optimizing your listings, or doing other analytics tasks, Etsy offers many analytics integrations. These include Google Trends, Wix, Sked Social, and Alura. Find out more about Etsy’s integrations.

Instagram also has built-in analytics tools for business and creator accounts. These tools offer valuable insights into your account’s performance, including post and story engagement metrics, audience demographics, and ad performance.

Instagram Insights provides an overview of account reach, impressions, profile views, website clicks, and follower demographics. You can also view metrics for individual posts, identify top-performing posts, and understand which content resonates best with your audience.

Craft success on your perfect platform

Both Etsy and Instagram offer great opportunities for creative entrepreneurs to showcase their products to a global audience. Etsy is tailored for handmade and vintage goods, while Instagram is a versatile platform for brand building.

When choosing between the two, consider your business goals, target audience, and product offerings. Take a closer look at each platform’s unique benefits and drawbacks covered in this article. Then, create an online strategy that aligns with your brand vision and business objectives.

Alternatively, don’t hesitate to use both. Using multiple channels to reach customers can increase your visibility, engagement, and sales. Remember, the key is to stay adaptable, creative, and responsive to the changing needs of your audience and market. Here’s to successful selling!

Read next: Etsy vs. eBay: Which One is Best for Your Online Business?


By Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa on Mar 14, 2024

Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

Guest author

Zoe is a creative writer, multilingual translator, and certified yoga instructor with a passion for learning, traveling, and global cuisine. When she's not typing away at her PC, you can find her teaching yoga in the park, reading on the couch with her cat, or plunging in the Mediterranean.

Zoe is a creative writer, multilingual translator, and certified yoga instructor with a passion for learning, traveling, and global cuisine. When she's not typing away at her PC, you can find her teaching yoga in the park, reading on the couch with her cat, or plunging in the Mediterranean.