A year in Shopify: 4 Lessons and 1 Myth

One year ago

As I wanted to diversify my income and not be depended solely on Etsy, I started looking for alternative sales channels, marketplaces and selling platforms. Of course, WordPress was always on the top, but heck, I had no idea how to set it up (I am a leather crafter, not a computer expert).

The (second) best option was Shopify.

As I had read in multiple articles, “When you start selling regurarly on Etsy, you can run a successful Shopify store.” I was making around 25 to 30 sales per month, so yes, I considered this as regularly.

I held this thought close to my heart, took a deep breath and dived into the Shopify world.

It took me a couple of weeks to figure just the basics out and set up my shop – which is okay, I already expected this to happen.

What I didn’t expect though, was the cost of a properly functional store.

The basic shopify subscription offers the hosting and a basic email marketing with a few templates.

But a professional looking store, a fully functional store, an eye-catching store, needs more than just a window to display products.

It needs some image compressor/resizer, it needs some pop-up to capture emails (if you are interested into starting a newsletter and get in touch with customers), for example, it needs a blog, and those are just the very basics.

So, I wanted to start a blog along with my store (which was provided).

When I got my first comment to one of my blog posts few months later, I realized that there was no way to reply!

Spending some time in the Shopify Community showed me that I was not alone.

Yes, you get a blog along with your subscription, but not the ability to reply to comments (you need to PAY for an app to do so.)

If you are a small business owner like me and try to expand or diversify your income with little or no budget, then it’s not possible.

My Etsy shop supported financially my Shopify Store all the time – and I was making only 1/3 of the amount I needed to consider it a living from it (and it was, still is, my sole income.)

Once I had my shop up and running, it was time to work with (on-for) it.

And that’s where all the serious mess begins.

I somehow messed my blog’s fonts and turned white (on a white background). Believe it or not, despite the fact I had learned a bit to use the Shopify platform, I couldn’t fix this. The only thing I managed to do was to replace the white background so the text was visible (but looked awful.)

I reached Shopify Support and explained the situation.

I waited and waited and waited, to get a “You will need to hire an expert for this” response.

(I did and their prices are INSANE)

Tried more on my own, a day or two passed, reached out to the support team again and explained the same issue.

“Sure, let me solve this for you.”

Less than 10 seconds later and it was fixed.

Why wasn’t it fixed the first time, since it was less-than-10-seconds easy?

I can’t tell you how many times I read in forums and communities complains about Etsy’s fees. And I genuinely understand the frustration. I have been there, too!

When sales are slow, competition rising, people running out of money, deal with a bad economy, the extra costs are pain.


Let me tell you this: When I first opened my Etsy shop, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. All I knew, was to make leather bracelets and create the listings.

I did write descriptions, but new nothing about keywords and SEO.

I did put all 10 photos, but they were not that good. (In fact, I occasionally stumble upon some of my first product photos and I freak out)

I did include all 13 tags, but most of them were wrong. (I believe that some of them are still wrong)

I did set up social pages but other than sharing a picture of my products with a title, I knew nothing more about content quality and marketing. (and I’m still learning!)

And this was my Etsy shop for a year.

However, with my nothing SEO/marketing/content creating, I got a 100 sales!

Why? Because Etsy was driving people to my shop. They gave me the new shop boost, they used off-site ads, they did all the things they do to work on stores and it worked. The rest was a matter of my own work and crafting skilss, my products quality, my communication with buyers, my packaging, my shipping, etc.

I SPENT 200-250 euros in ads for my shopify store, from 30-45 euros for subscriptions and apps per month for 13 months and what I got was 9 sales in one year (and half of them were mine, meaning by people I brought to my store via social, or my Etsy customers.)

So, even if you are “just the maker”, your Etsy store CAN and WILL work. You will learn stuff along the way, you will improve, but even with nothing but your crafting skills, it can work. (In my 2nd year on Etsy, I tripled my sales – but of course, 2023 is a tough year.)

However, if you run a Shopify store, a limited (if any) budget is not enough. You need to pay a lot to marketing your business properly to generate you sales.

Do you have enough money to invest into something like that? I cannot talk for dropshippers, but for genuine hand crafters who run Etsy shops and try to diversify.

If you have only your skills and your time to invest, Etsy is your first place to be. Shopify is a big no-no.

My biggest issue with Shopify (and my “I had enough” point) were product photos.

They were displayed as crap and didn’t know why.

When I uploaded them as they were, my store’s speed went red low. When I compressed them as best as I could (not to lose quality) and uploaded them, they were still crappy.

Here’s an example:

I reached out to Shopify Support and waited and waited and kept waiting for their response, their support and assistance, just to have them telling me “Oh, you will need to hire a Shopify Expert for this”. Again.

Tried to figure out things on my own (weeks passing), watched a bunch of tutorials, read articles, joined the Shopify community, to my surprise I saw many, many people dealing with the same issues that remained unsolved.

More weeks passing.

I decided to pay another 10 euros per month for a promising app that would optimize my pictures, provide alt texts and do all that micro-work (which is also important.)

While the app did a great work (improved SEO, got me more traffic, impoved my organic search), my pictures were always pixelated.

How am I supposed to make any sales ?

I’m surprised I even managed to make 9 in a year.

My one year on Shopify never paid me back for at least what I had invested.

I reached out to the optimizing app support team and asked them about my product photos problem. The guy just casually said: “Oh, it’s just a matter of the theme’s code, you can ask the developer to disable it. It’s nothing really, done in seconds, and many others had the same issue, too.”

Seriously? Was THAT simple?

Again, reached Shopify Support. I kindly asked them to disable image resizing from my theme’s code. They told me to wait while they “take a look at it.” Much later, the response was: “Our team seems to be unable to work on this. Consider hiring a Shopify expert!”


I already pay 42 euros per month and I expect AT LEAST to have a properly functional store, I told him. And closed the chat, slammed my laptop and unplugged it. I was FURIOUS.

One year later and I was ashamed of my store! Ashamed. I was ashamed for trying to bring people, just to show them this:

Next morning, made myself some coffee, turned on my laptop and went to ChatGPT: Suggest me FREE shopify themes (the “good ones” cost 350 USD) that display high quality product images.

My dearest friend, replied: this, this and that.

So, I went and changed my theme to one of ChatGPT’s suggestions.


One year of me suffering, working like crazy, losing my sleep, paying for nothing, and NO ONE of the damn support-my-ass team could tell me “hey, this theme you are using is not that good for your store, why don’t you try this or that?”

WHY? Just tell me why. If I make money from my store, then you do. If I’m not, then I will just close it and you won’t get nothing from me. So why?

That was the moment I was done for good with Shopify.

I could again reach shopify support and rant about it, but what was the point? They could have told me in the first place if they wanted to.

The very same day I closed my store. That was it.

I gave me one week of nothingness just to calm down. And I went to WordPress.

Here is A MYTH ABOUT WORDPRESS: You can’t make it without proper knowledge.

That’s NOT true.

Shopify and WordPress are just two different things. Shopify is not easier than WordPress, WordPress is not harder than Shopify (or Squarespace, or Wix or whatever I guess). It is just different.

I knew absolutely nothing when I first started with Shopify and I learned along the way. I am not sure that what I learned there, was of any help to my WordPress journey. If yes, then it is just a tiny percent. But I can tell you this, for sure: WordPress is very honest and clear. You want this, you do this. No strings attached.

If you run an Etsy shop as a small business/hand crafter and want to (and should) expand or just diversify your income streams, I would discourage you from trying Shopify. Maybe it works well with dropshippers and/or people who can invest a fairly large amount of money, but from my one-year experience, I highly doubt it can be of any use for a hand crafter, other than draining your pocket and drive you crazy.

Yes, WordPress is the King.

I don’t care how long it will take me to build a store that would make me a decent income (I work on it on my own, without a budget to invest). But I don’t care, because I don’t have to pay all that money anymore.

More important, I am calm and peaceful.

And I can focus more on my work, my family, my customers, and improve my marketing skills, learn more computer-freak stuff, with no pressure of a large bill in the end of each dead month. I know there are things to make it better, but I am not ashamed of my store. I am happy to bring people and show it.

If I did it, just a mom of two with scattered books all over the house, a former wing spiker and a zombie movies lover with just my crafting skills and a functioning brain with a will to learn, then hell yeah, you can do it too.

Thank you for reading!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Shopping Cart