If you want to start an online business and sell products online, a massive part of your decision is choosing where to sell.
This is especially true for selling handmade goods, artwork, and crafts to make money online.
But you may be wondering, is Big Cartel better than Etsy?
We’re here to answer this question by breaking down the key features of each platform, as well as the pros and cons to both, so we can end the Etsy vs Big Cartel debate.
About Big Cartel
Big Cartel began in 2005, and the platform caters to small artists and business owners who want to build a unique store and run their creative business easily.
So, if you sell stuff like artwork, jewelry, pottery, metalwork, woodwork, or anything else with a creative flair, Big Cartel is a good fit.
Big Cartel’s goal is to make running an ecommerce store simple while offering minimalist designs and access to great features and support.
You can also integrate your Big Cartel store with Instagram and Facebook, get access to a custom domain, track your shipments, and even offer your shoppers discounts and promotions.
Etsy also began in 2005 and is home to over 4.3 million active sellers of handmade goods, vintage finds, and craft supplies.
Overall, selling on Etsy is very simple, and it’s easy to create a listing and Etsy has low listing and transaction fees.
The Etsy marketplace is also massive, with millions of active buyers, and sellers can have their products featured side-by-side in the Etsy marketplace.
Popular products people sell on Etsy include:
- Craft supplies
- Home goods
You’ll have access to the vast audience of Etsy shoppers, a supportive community of buyers and sellers, as well as many great features to help increase your sales.
Big Cartel vs Etsy – Feature Breakdown
Now that you know some basic info about both Big Caretel and Etsy, it’s time to break down the important features.
Keep reading as we discuss pricing & fees, ease of use for sellers, store customization & themes, customer service, and the best products to sell on Big Cartel vs Etsy
1. Pricing and Fees
The fees you pay on the selling platform you choose can have a big impact on the actual profit you make on your sales.
Things like monthly subscriptions, listing fees, and transaction fees are an important consideration when deciding where to launch your business, so let’s see what this looks like on Etsy vs. Big Cartel.
Big Cartel Seller Fees
Big Cartel selling fees are straightforward because there aren’t fees for listing products and no transaction fees or commission charged when a sale is made.
Unlike Etsy, Big Cartel charges sellers monthly to run their store, and you can choose between their free and paid plans based on the features that suit your needs.
The Big Cartel subscription plans include:
- Gold (Free) – Up to 5 listings.
- Platinum ($9.99/month) – 50 listings.
- Diamond ($19.99/month) – 500 listings.
Different paid plans also have different perks, like adding more images per product listing, implementing Google Analytics, bulk listing editing, and automatic sales tax.
The free plan is still nice because you can customize your theme, get real-time sales stats, use a custom domain name, and offer discounts.
Note: Online payment processors still charge transaction fees, so if you use providers like PayPal or Stripe, you’re going to pay fees.
PayPal fees and Stripe fees are usually around 2.9% plus $0.30 USD per transaction, so factor this into your pricing.
Overall, Big Cartel is a pretty inexpensive way to run your own online store.
Plus, you have the option to pay for the plan that is best suited for your needs if you want to sell more than five products.
Etsy Seller Fees
Etsy’s selling fees are a bit more complicated than Big Cartel since the platform charges both a $0.20 listing fee (renewed every 4 months), a 5% transaction fee and a 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee.
In the short run, this makes Etsy cheaper than selling on Big Cartel since you’re just paying a $0.20 listing fee and transaction fees.
However, the transaction fees are higher than Big Cartel since Big Cartel just charges payment processing fees and not that 5% transaction fee.
Ultimately, if you make a few sales per month and run a small shop, Etsy is more affordable than Big Cartel. But if you generate serious sales, Big Cartel becomes more affordable.
It’s also worth noting that there’s an Etsy Plus plan that costs $10 per month and gives you more customization control over your store, so this can be another fee to factor in.
Winner: Etsy is cheaper than Big Cartel for small stores but Big Cartel becomes more affordable than Etsy for high sales volume.
2. Store Customization & Themes
Another important factor to consider in the Etsy vs Big Cartel debate is how much control you have over your storefront design and branding.
Customizing your storefront helps you stand apart from the competition, which can help you draw in more customers and keep them coming back.
Thankfully, both Big Cartel and Etsy do a decent job at giving you more control over your storefront design.
Big Cartel has numerous themes and templates that you can apply to your online store to begin selling.
The best part about Big Cartel’s themes is that you don’t need to know much about HTML to create a beautiful storefront you love.
Big Cartel also has a minimalist feel for many themes, and here’s an example of what one Big Cartel store looks like to get an idea:
As you can see with this store, the sidebar neatly displays different categories, and there’s also a product list for customers to quickly shop from.
The themes are still quite diverse however, so Big Cartel shops don’t all look the same.
For example, here’s another Big Cartel shop example that sells pottery and ceramics:
It’s easy to change simple features like your logo, font, colour scheme, and a few other items, but certain design changes and customization will require some HTML knowledge.
Overall, Big Cartel customization is simple, and you don’t need any coding knowledge which is nice.
The process is kind of similar to using an ecommerce platform like Sellfy, which lets you start an online store in just five minutes.
Etsy gives sellers less customization options and control over how their storefront looks, which is a potential disadvantage versus using Big Cartel.
As an Etsy seller, you really only have control over your colours, fonts, display photo, banner photo, and store description.
Granted, you’re selling on a marketplace, so Etsy wants stores to have a uniform design so buyers have a consistent experience.
Here’s an example of what an Etsy store looks like:
You can pay for Etsy Plus for $10 per month to get more control over your design.
For example, with Etsy Plus, you can feature your top selling product prominently in your storefront, but it still doesn’t compare to designing your own site with Big Cartel.
Winner: Big Cartel’s customization features and beautiful themes are easy to use and allow your store to stand out.
3. Ease Of Use For Sellers
You want your sales platform to be pretty intuitive and easy to use, so you’re not running into trouble setting up your store or accessing certain features.
Big Cartel is one of the easiest ways to start selling online, and this is why many sellers start out with this ecommerce platform.
You can start up your store with the help of a step by step guide, which even shows you how to list your first item.
It’s easy to customize your storefront using their many features and all of your sales and products can be easily accessed through an easily navigated central dashboard.
You don’t have to be very technically knowledgeable either; Big Cartel doesn’t take long to set up and begin selling, even if you’ve never sold anything online before!
Etsy is one of the easiest to use sales platforms available today since they take all of the stress of website design and marketing away from you.
Uploading products is easy, you just have to fill in the required info and add some photos and you’re ready to sell!
Bringing in new customers is also easier than Big Cartel since all of your items are displayed in the marketplace and if you want to boost sales, you can simply pay a bit of money and have Etsy market your products for you.
Winner: Both Big Cartel and Etsy are incredibly beginner-friendly ways to begin selling stuff online.
4. What Products Sell Well
You might also want to consider what people look for when they shop on Etsy vs Big Cartel, as your products might be better suited to one platform over another.
Big Cartel Products
Big Cartel primarily targets artists who create original prints, clothing, pottery, jewelry, as well as other creative mediums.
Its website even states that Big Cartel provides “easy online stores for artists and makers.”
Examples of products that suit a Big Cartel shop include:
Now, there are two disadvantages to selling on Big Cartel versus Etsy that you should know about.
Firstly, Big Cartel requires integrating with Pulley to sell digital products from your store, and Pulley costs $6 per month.
In contrast, you can sell digital products like digital stickers, ebooks, or digital prints on Etsy without paying extra.
Secondly, Big Cartel isn’t a marketplace, so when you list your products for sale, you can’t rank on a central marketplace where millions of buyers can find your products.
This is the main disadvantage to selling with your own website versus selling on marketplaces like Etsy or even with popular selling platforms like eBay or Mercari.
Etsy is divided into many different niches and product categories, where some do a lot better than others.
Here are some of the best selling item categories in on Etsy in 2021, according to Cedcommerce:
- Craft and Supplies
- Handmade Items (Woodwork, metalwork, etc)
- Wedding (Corsages, favours, bridesmaid & groomsmen gifts, place settings, etc)
- Accessories (Scarves, hats, hair accessories)
And, as mentioned, the major difference between Esty and Big Cartel is that Etsy is a marketplace, so buyers can find your products organically.
If you don’t have much time to promote your store on social media or with SEO or paid ads, this is a massive advantage to selling on Etsy instead of Big Cartel.
Winner: Etsy has more product variety, digital downloads, and lets buyers find your products organically thanks to the marketplace.
5. Customer Service
Owning a business can be tough, so the last thing you want is technical difficulties getting in your way.
It’s helpful to know that if you run into an issue setting up your store, or if anything goes wrong during a sale, there’s a team who’s ready to help you out.
You also want your customers or potential customers to have access to customer support as well so you’re not leaving unhappy or confused customers in the dark.
Big Cartel Customer Support
Big Cartel’s customer support team is available via email during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 9AM-6PM EST).
The hours are definitely a little inconvenient, however, during service periods their team is very quick to respond and find resolutions to any seller or customer problems that are going on.
Etsy Customer Support
Etsy has gone above and beyond to provide help for new and old sellers alike.
You can live chat or call to speak with their live agents at any time and they are always super friendly and helpful, no matter what the issue is.
They also have a wide range of resources available for sellers, including guidebooks for selling, online communities, and even tutorials you can watch.
They’re committed to making the Etsy experience enjoyable for both buyers and sellers on the platform.
Winner: Etsy has the most accessible and well-rounded customer support available.
No ecommerce platform is an island, and you often need to integrate third-party software with your storefront to handle a specific task.
Etsy and Big Cartel differ in their integration partners, so let’s cover each one down below!
Big Cartel Integrations
Big Cartel integration options include:
- Marketing Apps: Includes Elfisight, Instagram, Mailchimp, and Zapier.
- Manufacturing & Shipping Apps: Includes Printful, Pulley, ShipStation, and ShipRush.
- Store Management Apps: Includes Google Analytics, Lucky Orange, and Live Chat.
- Payment Processors: Includes PayPal, Stripe, and Venmo.
- Domain Providers: Includes Bluehost, Dreamhost, GoDaddy, Google Domains, HostGator, and Namecheap.
Since Zapier is an integration, you can also connect Big Cartel with thousands of other apps, so there really isn’t a weak point here.
I do wish some email marketing providers like ConvertKit were natively integrated, but this is just a small negative.
Etsy shop integrations include:
- Marketing Apps: Includes AWeber, Crowdfire, and Pinterest.
- Listing Optimization: Includes eRank, Marmalade, and MockupEditor.
- Bookkeeping & Taxes: Includes Quickbooks and TaxJar.
- Inventory: Includes Square, Craftybase, and Putlet.
- Print on Demand: Includes Printify and Printful.
Overall, integrations are similar between Etsy and Big Cartel, although one advantage of Big Cartel over Etsy is that it integrates with Zapier.
Winner: Big Cartel has slightly more integrations and also works with Zapier.
Pros & Cons
Now that we’ve run through the different features of Etsy and Big Cartel, let’s get into the pros and cons of each one individually!
Big Cartel Pros & Cons
- Customizable: With some basic HTML knowledge and Big Cartel’s editor, you can bring your store to the next level and customize your customers shopping experience.
- Your Own Shop: Unlike Etsy, your Big Cartel shop is a standalone ecommerce shop, so it feels more like an actual brand and you have more control.
- Multi-Channel: – Big Cartel lets you sell directly from your online store or complete in person sales. You can also enable shop features on Instagram and Facebook which is a nice integration if you have a social media following.
- Simple Fees: The monthly subscription takes away the worry of random listing and transaction fees showing up on your statements. You still pay payment processing fees, but Big Cartel is cheaper than Etsy if you have a high sales volume.
- Product Limits: Big Cartel is affordable, but it limits how many products you can sell unless you keep on upgrading.
- No Marketplace: Unlike Etsy, buyers have to find your Big Cartel store and products on their own, without the benefit of a marketplace search feature.
- Limited Payment Types: Big Cartel only accepts Stripe, Paypal, and Venmo. This should suffice for most sellers but it’s worth noting.
- No Review System: Buyers can’t leave reviews on products, so new customers won’t be able to see the reputation you’ve built for yourself. This is again a massive difference from selling on Etsy.
Extra Reading – The Best Etsy Alternatives For Sellers.
Etsy Pros & Cons
- Unlimited Listings: There’s no limit to how many items you can upload to your shop.
- Buyer Reviews: – Etsy has a very supportive community of buyer and sellers, so it’s easy to build your credibility and get 5 star ratings. Over time, having numerous positive reviews can help you generate more sales.
- Promotional Features: You can rank organically on Etsy’s marketplace, but you can also try the Etsy Ads program to promote your store or specific products.
- Simple To Use: Etsy is very straightforward for sellers, so it’s easy to get started and grow your store. Etsy Plus is also available if you want more customization options.
- Limited Customization: Even with Etsy Plus, your shop looks pretty similar to everyone else’s since Etsy keeps their marketplace rather cohesive.
- Fee Structure: While the fees on Etsy seem fairly small, they can definitely add up the more your shop grows. The 5% transaction fee is the largest difference between selling on Etsy vs Big Cartel, so calculate how much you pay on fees with each platform.
- Market Competiton: – There are millions of sellers on Etsy with similar products, so it can be hard to set yourself apart.
Extra Reading – The Best Sites Like Redbubble To Make Money Selling Online.
Verdict: Is Big Cartel Better Than Etsy For Sellers?
Figuring out where to sell online can be difficult, even after comparing all of the features of Etsy and Big Cartel.
So, here’s how you can choose the right ecommerce platform for your online business.
Sell With Big Cartel If…
Big Cartel is ideal if you sell physical art products at high volumes since you don’t pay as many transaction fees as you do with Etsy.
Additionally, if you sell five products or fewer, you can use Big Cartel’s free program and establish an online website that’s brandable and unique.
The main downside of selling with Big Cartel is that you have to drive your own website traffic since there isn’t a marketplace, so keep this in mind!
Sell With Etsy If…
Etsy is superior to Big Cartel if you want to leverage the marketplace feature and have buyers find you organically.
It’s also superior if you sell digital products since Big Cartel requires a paid integration to let you do this.
Etsy can get expensive with listing and transaction fees, but if you get more buyers organically from the marketplace, this helps justify the expense.
Sell With Both Platforms If…
It’s probably unlikely that you’ll sell on both Big Cartel and Etsy, but there are some scenarios where this makes sense.
For example, you can always use Big Cartel to sell some of your top products and then list digital products or less popular sellers on Etsy.
Etsy is probably the faster route to getting sales since buyers can find you organically, but at the end of the day, you can expand your selling channels as your business scales.
I hope this Big Cartel vs Etsy breakdown helps you choose the right platform to power your online sales.
Again, there are so many options out there to choose from; the important part is just starting.
Etsy is probably best for beginners due to the marketplace potential, but again, don’t be afraid to explore several options!
Best of luck!
Looking for more ways to make money online? Checkout:
- How To Make Money With Redbubble.
- How To Start A Printify Etsy Shop.
- The Best Websites Like Society6.
Selena Fulham knows how valuable having a side hustle can be. She’s a freelance content writer with a focus on SaaS, B2B technology, social media, and the art of making money online. Currently based in Montreal, Quebec, Selena can usually be found either drinking coffee, hiking up a mountain, or snowboarding down it.