When starting a handcraft business, many entrepreneurs take to Etsy or eBay to sell their goods--but some choose to go it alone. What to know before selling your designs through a third-party site:

PRO: That's where the customers are. "It's all about exposure," says AHeirloom's Bill Mowat. "If you're part of a marketplace like Etsy, you know people go there."

CON: Exposure comes at a price. Etsy charges a 3.5 percent commission on sales; eBay has an intricate fee structure that can include commissions of up to 10 percent per sale.

PRO: More exposure means more breakthrough opportunities. "We don't have a PR company," says Mowat, who explains that bloggers found his company through Etsy. "One random website on the internet won't be found."

CON: Your brand can get lost in the marketplace crowd. On portals like Amazon and eBay, "you'll have competition on your page," says Tools for Working Wood's Moskowitz, who built his own website for the company. By selling through these sites, "you make it harder to establish your own brand outside the portals," he adds.

PRO: The Etsy shopper cares. The site's historical focus on handcrafted goods means that "people really appreciate the connection to the maker," says Mowat.

CON: Expect to be copied. "The amount of plagiarism and copying that goes on there is huge," says Mowat. "That's why we make stuff that not everyone can make."

From the November 2014 issue of Inc. magazine