Truly, the path is long, and can be hard, and has so very many steps.
However, I’ve been in the handmade business for a long time now, and over the last few years I’ve built up my business to the point where I am now earning MORE than I did in my last professional job.
Some days, I can’t quite believe that I’ve reached this point. A few years back, it seemed like a pretty unattainable dream.
But here we are. I am lucky enough to be making a living making beautiful things – doing something I love.
I don’t say this to brag or toot my own horn, I say it to give you hope.
Not a false hope. Not a hollow – you will succeed if you just do what you love.
But if you’ve dreamed of doing what I do – making a living from selling your craft, I’m here to tell you that it IS possible. No, it’s not easy. No, it’s not a quick process. But it can be done. I, and many other artisans, are living proof.
Today, I thought I would dig deep into those years (and YEARS) of trial and error to share with you 10 things that I believe are absolutely crucial to the success or failure of your online handmade business.
But… before we dive into these 10 steps – don’t miss out on even more FREE content (including my Etsy Quick-Start Guide).
This is number 1. I’ve written about this before – the uncomfortable fact is that when you make the transition from making things simply for your own joy and satisfaction to making things to sell, you need to change your mindset.
This can be HARD. Of course you love what you make – that’s why you make it.
But is there a market for it? And is the market willing to pay what they need to in order for you to build a profitable business?
Before you dive into setting up an online shop and learning everything there is to learn about selling your work, you need to seriously consider this question.
One of my most favourite mantras when it comes to business is this:
Whenever sales are slow, or I’m not getting as many comments/likes/tweets etc etc as I’d like, I remember this.
Businesses do not grow overnight.
They take YEARS to become truly successful.
Are you in this for the long term? Because if you’re doing this to try and turn a quick profit, just stop now.
If you’re not sure that you want to be doing what you’re doing in 5 years time – don’t try to turn it into a full-time business.
You need to be dedicated and patient.
If you’re both of these things, and you take steps every day to grow your business, success WILL eventually come your way.
Part – an important part, I believe – of having a handmade business is being open and friendly with your customers.
They are buying from you because they prefer to buy unique things, direct from the person who made them.
Don’t make it difficult for them to get to know you (i.e. have a good About page with photos of you and your work, and the story of how you came to be making what you make) BUT at the same time, remember that your customers are not your buddy.
By all means be friendly and lighthearted with them, but remember to treat them with professionalism and respect.
Use salutations when you write to them. Always respond to questions promptly and in detail.
Don’t get het up with a customer who is making unreasonable demands – just respond calmly and professionally with reference to your strict and reasonable policies (you have those, right?).
NEVER NEVER NEVER complain about a customer in a public forum. Just don’t. Ever.
No matter how unreasonable they may be, or how mad they have made you, they, and every other customer you have, deserves respect, and to know you won’t air their issues in public.
Balancing this line between being friendly and being professional is crucial for the success of your business.
This. Is. Key.
When you sell online, your photos will make or break your business.
The photo is the first thing that captures the eye, and usually the largest part of the decision-making process when all is said and done. I even know people (and am totally guilty of doing this myself at times) who barely even READ the description, but just buy pretty much immediately based on the photo of an item.
Take the time to get good photos.
What makes a good photo?
You can only get so far making OOAK (one-of-a-kind) items when you’re selling online. I wrote more about this here recently, so I won’t go into detail.
Suffice it to say, once your business starts growing, the time it takes to photograph/describe/title/edit etc etc every new product will be time you will not have.
If you don’t believe in yourself – and your product – you will never succeed.
It takes so much time and dedication to really make a go of selling your craft online, that if you don’t make something you absolutely love – and are convinced that others will love, too – you will run out of steam, get disheartened, and give up.
Put your soul and passion into what you make. Love it fiercely.
BUT. Be open to change. If you’ve been working and working and working… and STILL aren’t gaining any traction after weeks/months/years… something might need to change.
It might be what you make. It might be something about what you make. It might just be your photos or price point.
Love what you do… but be open to the fact that in order to succeed, you might need to make a change.
This is not a bad thing. Don’t be discouraged if you do need to make a change. We all know the story of Edison and the lightbulb, right?
Email is still the most direct and effective way to connect with your customers.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you can blog, facebook, tweet, instagram your heart out… but people can still ignore – or just miss! – all of this.
Once your customer or prospective customer has taken the step to trust you with their email, they have given you permission to contact them directly.
These are your best prospects for making a sale – the people who love what you do already! You don’t need to convince them that what you make is awesome, because you already have.
Treat them with respect, give them value in the emails you send, and stay in touch with them on a regular basis. They will reward you by becoming loyal customers.
This is one of THE most common problems in the handmade community.
Most of us start off selling our work from a hobby perspective. We have no idea what price we should be selling our work for, so we tend to drastically underprice it. We know how to make it, so we tend to underestimate the skill that has gone into the process.
DO NOT TRY TO COMPETE ON PRICE.
There will ALWAYS be someone selling something similar to what you make for much less than you. Even other talented crafters and artisans.
You need to do the hard work to figure out what price you need to sell your goods for to make a decent living, and that’s the price you need to sell it for.
This is hard. It can be confronting. It will probably take you out of your comfort zone.
But if you’re serious about making a living from your craft, it’s something you need to do.
If you need help figuring out just how to do this, go read this article.
You’re a professional – so you need to LOOK like a professional.
You’re selling online, so your online presence needs to be professional and welcoming.
At the very, VERY least, invest in a $12 domain name, and re-direct it to your online store.
That way, on your business cards, your email signature, your social media accounts, and everywhere else you list your website, you can use mybusiness.com rather than mybusiness.etsy.com or madeit.com.au/mybusiness.
Such a small change can make a BIG difference to the impression people have of your business.
You should aim to have your own, stand-alone and self-hosted website as soon as you can make it happen – preferably with a blog included – but having your own domain is a fantastic start.
And yes, you should be blogging. It’s the best way to craft a story about you and your work. Don’t freak out or get overwhelmed if you don’t know what to blog about, just start. In fact, here are some ideas to get you rolling.
In business, there is no such thing as DONE.
There is always more to do.
New things to try.
Mistakes to be made.
Things to learn.
If you don’t try, sure, you can’t fail.
And if you do try, you will fail. Over and over again. But each time, you learn something more. You might take a step back, but you’ll take two steps forward.
I did it. You can, too.
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Choosing Your CraftSelling Your WaresQuestions & AnswersRelated ArticlesReferences
This article was co-authored by Ylva Bosemark. Ylva Bosemark is a high school entrepreneur and the founder of White Dune Studio, a small company that specializes in laser cut jewelry. As a young adult herself, she is passionate about inspiring other young adults to turn their passions into business ventures.
There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
For many people making crafts is a hobby. It can be a form of relaxation, or a way to provide handmade gifts to family and friends. But some people make supplementary income by selling crafts, or even do it as a full-time job. To make money selling crafts, doing the actual crafting is only part of the process. You need to strategize, prioritize, and advertise, among other things.
Part 1Choosing Your Craft
Part 2Selling Your Wares
Ylva BosemarkFounder of White Dune Studio
Founder of White Dune Studio
Try scheduling your social media posts in advance. Ylva Bosemark, a young jewelry designer and business owner, says, "Planning out my posts beforehand has been a lifesaver. I use a platform that allows me to plan my posts weeks or months in advance. That way, I know I'm reaching out to my followers, but I can also plan ahead and don't have to stress about posting every day, which can be draining."
I make jewelry and toys with small items on them. How do I protect myself regarding choking issues?
If you are selling online, in the description, say your product comes with small pieces. If you're giving it to them in person, tell them.
What if I cannot mass produce the crafts?
You can enlist help, or you can simply sell what you can make.
What if I make good crafts but no one wants to buy them?
Try to advertise more. Sell to your friends. Most likely they'll tell their friends, and then those friends will buy your crafts (and tell others as well)!
How can a kid do this? What sites can I use?
You can still use Etsy, just ask a parent or guardian to help you set up the account and manage the bank account/money side of things. If you have social media, you can advertise your crafts there as well.
How can I sell if I am a 9-year-old?
Pair up with another kid and ask parents to set up a market stall for you. You can then split the cost with the other child.
How can I make a stand to show off my art?
You could use something as simple as cardboard and paint, or you could use wood to build one.
How do I get a credit card machine?
You don't have to get a credit card machine if you have a smart phone. They make small devices now that plug into the headphone jack of your phone and allow you to swipe cards. However, if you want to buy a credit card machine, you can get one online on sites like Amazon.
How can I sell crafts while living in an apartment building? Can I still go door to door?
Market your products on social media and tell customers they can meet you in a public place such as a grocery store or pick up at your apartment building. You can also take part in local craft and vendor fairs and festivals to sell your items.
Can I make and sell pop jewelry?
Yes you can, as long as you follow the tips that are listed in the article.
What if a person is homeless and living in a car, and they want to sell their arts and crafts?
I would recommend consignment. Find a craft store that is already established in the area and present your items to them as a consignment arrangement.
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Turn your DIY crafting hobby into a living. It's easier than it seems — use the best websites to sell crafts online and turn a profit!.
Home-Based Craft Business: How to Sell Your Crafts
Selling On The Computer
Today, home-based businesses have an advantage that no other generation of crafters had before: the Internet. The Internet offers limitless options for selling your hand crafts. You can sell your crafts on eBay, or sites like Amazon, etsy.com, and/or develop your own website and sell from there; you can contact regional, national, and international craft vendors, and more.
Online selling sites like Etsy, eBay, Amazon, and such are typically the same in regard to format:
In addition, online stores hosted by such sites generally offer some site design, which may include banners, shopping and shipping policy information, ample space for uploading photos of your crafts, and your profile. Etsy.com even offers more potential to reach customers through Alchemy, which offers a point of contact between crafters and potential buyers that enables crafters or sellers to bid on purchasing orders and products listed there.
We will explore the benefits of developing a website for your craft business a little later, but for now, access as many avenues through the Internet as you can. You can focus on selling to distributors, clubs, or crafting businesses that are larger and already developed, or you can create your own supply and demand chain with a bit of effort and dedication.
Online business and auction sites, such as eBay, continue to be popular among crafters. They are relatively cheap, and can reach global purchasers. Whether you decide to sell your crafts on eBay, or another online auction or business site, you will more than likely need to create an account. You may also need to develop a login or screen name, and password.
Most online vendor sites, such as eBay, offer users some form of tutorial on how to set up pages that display your crafts, as well as enable you to communicate with potential buyers. Be aware that such websites will demand a listing fee for any item. Your listing fees can be as low as 25 cents, but may also go up, depending on the overall price of your items.
Want to learn more? Take an online course in How to Start a Craft Business.
Selling Your Crafts At Craft Shows
One of the tried and true methods of selling your crafts, is to attend local and regional craft shows. Craft shows will help provide name recognition, as well as enable potential buyers to view a variety of your crafts in person. Craft shows are especially popular in rural areas prior to the holidays, offering prime opportunities to make profits.
Take the time to research the types of craft shows scheduled for your area, and make sure they will suit your type of craft. For example, many craft shows are general in nature, offering everything from Christmas gifts, to handmade jewelry, to bird houses, and iron work, just to name a few. Others focus only on Christmas items, while others may focus only on quilts and quilted crafts and so forth. Look in crafting magazines, or online crafting publications, for information regarding posted events for crafters in your area.
Renting a booth at a craft show costs money, and while these costs will depend on where you are located, keep in mind that the result from renting a booth, as an investment perspective, may only make you enough money to break even. However, getting your face and your crafts out there may be worth the effort and the expense. Regardless, you want to at least break even. Before you attend a craft show, make sure you have made enough of your craft item to offer a variety of options, sizes, and colors for potential customers.
Be prepared to vocally sell your craft as well as display it. Customers may be interested to know why you focus on certain crafts or aspects of your craft, and may want to know how you make it, how long it takes, and so forth. You may even consider working on one of your crafts at the show, so people can see you producing your craft while they browse.
When you attend a craft show, invite your potential customers to touch, feel and freely look at your crafts. This way, they will be able to determine the quality and durability of your craft. People like to touch and feel what they might be buying, so do not hesitate to offer them that opportunity.
Custom Orders And Consignments
While not the most traditional method of selling your crafts, more crafters today are looking into consignments. Selling your crafts on consignment means placing your crafts in gift shops or businesses in your local area prior to receiving payment. You will split the profits on your craft with the store owner. This method of selling crafts comes with its own set of pros and cons. While you will be able to enjoy a greater marketability for your crafts, you also have to share the profits of your hard work.
There are different types of consignments, such as sharing a percentage of the sales with the shop owner, or a percentage of your sales for the amount of space in the business where your products are displayed. Determine ahead of time whether or not consignment businesses in your area may offer you benefit and profits, and then get details in writing.
Craft Home Parties
In some areas, crafters get together once a month, or several times a year, to host home-based crafting parties. Much like traditional Avon or Tupperware parties of the past, this enables groups of interested individuals to come to your home to look at, and hopefully purchase, your crafts -- and maybe even learn how to make a few. However, you may need to determine the answers to a number of questions beforehand, not the least of which is, whether or not you will need a permit to sell your business items from your home, as well as whether you have enough space to not only display your crafts, but provide access to visitors interested in your craft.
As you can see, there are a wide number of options and opportunities to sell your crafts, and you will need to determine which ones work best for you. Before you decide to sell your crafts through any method listed in this article, make sure you have a good supply of crafts available to clients. Because crafted items may take anywhere from a day, to several weeks to create, it is best not to keep your customers waiting, in case you run out of items when you have underestimated interest or demand for your craft.
When creating an adequate supply of craft items for your potential customers, you will need to have adequate supplies on hand to do so.
Saving on Supplies
A basic tenet of any business, and that includes a home-based craft business, is to keep your overhead down. Overhead is the term used to describe expenses incurred by a business. Such expenses may include supplies, utility bills, rental space, (which does not apply to a home-based business), and such things as insurance costs and equipment -- computers, fax machines, printers, and any machines or tools needed to create your crafts.
These days, a home-based business can operate with full functionality with a few basic, but very necessary, pieces of equipment. Such equipment may include a computer, printer, and fax machine. When communicating with clients and potential customers, you may need to use the telephone. Today, land lines are disappearing in favor of the VOIP Services. VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. Examples of such services includes Skype, Vonage, and Google Voice.
While a land line still provides the best clarity, they are also one of the most expensive telephone services today, especially when contacting international customers. However, keep in mind that if you utilize Internet telephone services, you may experience down time during power outages.
In addition to Internet telephony, most people today use cell phones, and increasingly do business with their cell phones, as it offers easy accessibility. Most business owners carry their cell phones with them throughout the day, offering enhanced availability and access, as well as the capability of taking orders, or answering questions 24/7, if you are super-dedicated. Otherwise, create a voice mail stating your business operating hours, and tell potential customers that you will return their call in a certain amount of time.
If you prefer a traditional land line, look into the possibility of advertising in the Yellow Pages with only a residence land line. Compare telephone long distance rates to get the best deals.
Fax machines are not mandatory, but may be convenient for receiving and sending orders. Your computer ordering system is also an excellent way to receive product requests, and offers easy email, chat, and telephone access for a basic monthly cost.
Other expenses you may need to consider to operate your craft business, include a vehicle, to take you to craft shows and fairs, and to pick up supplies. Try to limit your purchasing ventures to one or two purchasing ventures a month, to save on gas. Do not forget that vehicles require auto insurance, but you may be able to write off a portion of your vehicle expenses, including mileage, gas, servicing, and auto insurance when you fill out your income taxes.
Regardless of your craft, check with wholesale suppliers to determine the minimum order amounts for your supplies. This may save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year.
Locate a number of craft suppliers in your area and call them. Ask them whether or not they can sell you bulk supplies, even if you are not a physical store or craft supply dealer. In many cases, individuals can buy directly from manufacturers. Doing so can lower your supply costs by as much as 50 percent.
Create a list of the types of supplies you need to build your crafts. Break these down into costs that you pay when purchasing your supplies from your local craft or retail store. Then, look in the phone book, or online, for wholesale suppliers; determine whether or not they will sell in bulk to you, and then find out about shipping and handling charges. Always compare prices for both methods to determine which will save you the most money in the long run.
When selling home-based crafts, you need to also think about packaging. Your packaging needs to be attractive, yet functional, and able to protect your craft when shipping. In some cases, you may need to have special envelopes and boxes, or have packaging custom-designed for your product. For example, you do not want to pack a bird house the same way you would pack a doll, a knitted sweater, or a Native American dream-catcher.
Keep in mind that the larger the package, the higher your shipping costs are going to be. You also need to protect your craft while in route, which may mean, and is not limited to, bubble wrap, foam pellets, or other special packaging.
Check at your local retail office supply stores to determine their basic costs for various-sized shipping containers, bubble wrap, or pellets. Then contact shipping and packaging wholesalers, and compare prices. Again, order adequate supplies in advance.
While you do not want to spend an excess amount of money on packaging, you do want to make the packaging appeal to your clients. Simply sticking a doll into a cardboard box and shipping it is not acceptable. You will need to somehow wrap and present that doll to your customer in an appropriate and attractive manner. This will generate good feedback and also show the customer that you take care and pride -- not only in creating your craft, but making sure that it reaches its destination safely, and in one piece.
Mail ordering your crafts may also require a little extra expense and time. Determine the cost of mailing by surface, air, or express, as well as the dimensions of your packages, so that you can anticipate mailing costs, which may be passed on to the buyer. In most cases, when selling online, you will state the price of the product in addition to shipping and handling charges, which will help cover your costs.
Be very specific when listing shipping and handling costs to different areas of the country. For example, if you live in Arizona, it is not going to cost the same to ship to New Mexico, as it does to Maine. Take the time to research various weights and sizes of packages to anticipate your costs, which will also help save you money, and keep your overhead costs down in the long run.
When you open your own home-based craft business, it is natural to focus only on the developing and completion of your crafts. As you can see so far, opening your own business requires a bit of time and effort in learning some of the ins and outs of a home-based business. While all of these things -- learning a little bit about targeting a market, determining your earning potential, and whether or not you should buy wholesale, determining mailing costs, and how to set up your business -- may take away from your crafting, they are essential to running a successful home-based craft business.
Are you struggling to sell products that you make online or in shops? Or want to start but don’t know where to begin? Learn how one mum has built a successful business from selling her handmade lampshades.
One of the first ever inspiring mums we interviewed for Talented Ladies Club was our friend Miranda Law – the extremely talented lady behind Swee Mei lampshades.
When we interviewed Miranda she was just starting out in business, trying to find the best places to sell her handmade lampshades, and people to buy them. 18 months on, she has more orders than she can cope with, and earns a good living from her work.
Over the intervening months she’s experimented with pretty much all the main online selling platforms – with good and less positive results. So we asked her if she’d share her experiences with us, to help other designer/makers and online retailers earn an income online (and in shops) too. Here’s her advice.
Love to start a craft business but stuck on an idea? Get our Business Idea Kit for just £19
So it’s been about a year and a half since I first started selling my handmade lampshades and was first featured on the Talented Ladies Club website.
It’s been a fantastic start to my business and I’ve learnt a lot in that time so I thought I’d share with you some of my experiences of selling through various different channels – some with great success, some not so much.
I appreciate that some of you who sell will have had vastly different experiences but this is how things have worked out for my business, Swee Mei Lampshades.
As you probably already know, Etsy is an online market place for handmade items, vintage goods and craft supplies. It’s the biggest and best known site of its kind and seemed the obvious place to start for me.
As an American site it reaches a huge audience, which is great if you’re prepared to ship over the pond too (I wasn’t). There are somewhere in the region of a million sellers on Etsy and over 30 million registered customers. That’s a lot.
Anyone can open an Etsy shop so quality can vary hugely. There are some excellent sellers on there and there are are some downright bizarre items too. Lots of OOAK (One of a Kind, and probably just as well) items among bigger, more established shops.
The shop itself is easy to set up and you can give your customers options to click on regarding size, colour etc. There is no joining fee – you pay a small charge to list an item (20 cents for four months or until it is sold) and 3.5% of the price if and when it does sell.
Being such a huge site is a double-edged sword. Although you can potentially, as a seller, reach a massive target audience, you can also get lost in a great sea of crafting genius, handmade mediocrity and worse.
Think carefully when you write your listings and titles, about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), keywords, the order of those magic words and what your potential customers will be typing into the search box. (This goes for all online selling and there are many articles out there that will help you to figure this all out.)
Listing/re-listing frequently will help, as will getting involved with the Etsy community. There are teams you can join, who will be sellers in your area or who sell the same kind of items as you, and the community forums are a great source of advice, support and a fantastic way to network. Other Etsy sellers put together ‘treasuries’ – themed wish-lists if you like – and to get your item featured in one guarantees a lot more views to your shop.
I don’t really speak from experience here. I didn’t throw myself into it and had a grand total of one sale on Etsy in the few months I was on it. And that was from a friend of a friend who I suspect would have bought from any site.
I love Folksy and it was good to me when I first started up. It’s a British site, lauded as our equivalent to Etsy but much, much smaller and not as well known. There are around 6,000 sellers on Folksy at the moment and a quarter of a million visitors a month.
Again, it’s for handmade, vintage and craft supplies. Anyone can sell, there is no joining fee and it’s 15p to list an item for four months and 6% per sale. Great if you don’t have a huge number of products, but if you do, or would like to re-list your items more frequently, you can become a Folksy Plus seller for £45 a year.
You’ll still have to pay the 6% on sales but there are no listing fees. The advantage to listing/re-listing frequently is that your items will have a higher search ranking. A very good thing.
Selling on your own site is a quite different to Etsy and Folsky. By setting up your own storefront and sourcing products from suppliers, you’re establishing your very own e-commerce business.
Many budding entrepreneurs have had great success through private-label products. These are products created by third-party manufacturers under your unique brand name. This type of setup provides the most control over your products, profit margins and brand as a whole.
Courses like the Amazon Selling Machine teach people how they can start their own private-label e-commerce business and have helped create many successful online store success stories.
As with Etsy there are seller forums with good advice and support from others. Well worth getting involved in as I suspect a fair few of my sales came from other Folksy sellers.
The site is very pretty, easy to use and set up and the quality of items available is, generally speaking, quite high. Each listing is for that item only, you can’t give any clickable options for size or colour, which is a bit of a pain but the way round this is to offer choices in your listing text and then ask the customer to let you know their choices at checkout. Or you may have to set up a new listing for them if the price point is different. Not really ideal but workable.
I found Folksy to be a great place to sell as I was starting up. Sales trickled in slowly but steadily and it’s a good place to direct people to if you don’t already have your own e-commerce website.
With both Etsy and Folksy, you have to work at getting your shop seen and achieving sales – you can’t just sit back and hope for the best. Linking to your shops from a Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram accounts will increase viewings and should in turn increase your sales.
If you’re lucky enough to be featured on the front page or in a ‘gift guide’, all the better. These are collections curated by Pinterest users and Folksy HQ and guarantee lots of views.
I often see people ask whether they should sell with Etsy or Folksy. I say do both. Why wouldn’t you? You’ve taken the photos and written the descriptions and that’s the most time consuming part. Listing items is a fairly quick process after that. And at 15-20p per item, it won’t break the bank.
I’ve not got a Facebook shop but I do have a business page. It’s an amazing way to reach an audience and get your work seen. I’ve found it to be friendly, supportive and also a good way to get those all important sales.
Ask all your friends to ‘like’ your page (some of them will). They’ll make the odd comment, their friends will see it and hopefully ‘like’ your page too and on it goes.
A giveaway or competition is easy to set up (read Facebook’s rules first) and will bring in lots of new likers. Follow other pages that interest you or are relevant, post engaging content, link, share, comment and others will do the same for you. But only do these things if you mean it, not just so that others reciprocate.
There are some fantastic pages like British Crafters who do great work in sharing others’ makes and it’s well worth getting involved with them.
Your page should reflect you, your brand and your tastes. Your likers will get to know you a little and you build customer confidence in your business. Facebook is usually my first port of call when I want to share a new product, some good news or want to run ideas by someone.
I ‘met’ many lovely and talented people on there and it’s by far the most social platform. But don’t get carried away. Although it’s great to put some personality into your page, the rest of the world doesn’t need to know that your whole family have a stomach bug or that you’re really annoyed with your partner. Keep it positive and professional.
There have been a lot of complaints recently about Facebook changing its algorithms so posts are not being seen by as many people. This is because Facebook would like you to pay to get your posts seen. I’ve not noticed a huge change but the more you interact , the more you’ll be seen.
I did pay for an ad once. It’s quite cheap, your ad goes to a targeted audience and I gained a fair few new likes and lots of views. Whether they translated into sales or not, I’m not sure. I have a link to my website on there so it’s hard to tell. I’ve made many sales through Facebook though, that much I do know.
I set up my own website a little while after I’d started selling. I designed it myself on Weebly. I’m no techie and I’d never done anything like that before, but it was really simple and straightforward.
My site is pretty basic but it does everything that I need it to. At first I didn’t have it set up for e-commerce, I just had a page that linked directly to my Folksy shop, which worked just fine but obviously it looks far more professional to have a proper shop page, as I do now.
It takes a while to become established and increase your ranking or even appear in searches but is well worth doing – just think of the money you’ll save from no commission fees on your sales!
Read up on SEO (you’ll find some helpful advice on writing SEO copy for your website here), consider your content carefully and remember to use your keywords – and not just in your text. Your photos should be tagged too as you’ll want to show up in image searches as well. A blog (updated frequently, of course!) and sharing links will also help up your search rankings.
I know that many customers prefer to buy directly from the seller rather than line the pockets of a middle-man. They’ll see your work elsewhere, Google your brand and then buy directly from you. Great news for you if you have a website. (But equally you’ll find that others will feel more secure buying via a more established online store, so it’s good to have both.)
Link your website to Google Analytics and you’ll be able to see how many views you’re getting, from whom, what they’re looking at, how they found you and much more – all very useful information.
It’s a little baffling at first (well for me it was) and I only ever look at the basic information, but it can be strangely addictive to see, in real time, how many people are looking at something you’ve just posted.
The last few months have seen my website sales growing and growing and I’m always on the first page of Google for a ‘handmade lampshade’ search, although I’m pretty sure it’s only me that ever Googles that. Anyway, do it. Set up a website. It’s really important and you’ll be taken more seriously by buyers, press etc.
This seems to be the platform that most people want to sell on, and for good reason. They only accept a very small percentage of applications to sell with them so the quality of items is high.
There is a one-off joining fee, around £200, and they take 25% (a total of 30% with VAT) commission on sales. It sounds a lot but if you were selling wholesale to a shop, it would likely be around 50% and Not On the High Street has a huge following, strong marketing and a great reputation, so your products will be seen by a vast audience.
This is by far and away the place where I sell the most lampshades. It’s a nice looking website with lots of choice and customers are confident to buy on there. I’ve put my prices up since selling with Not on the High Street (you kind of have to!) and have found that customers are more than happy to pay them.
It takes a little while to set up your shop. It’s slightly more complex than either Folksy or Etsy, but there is a great deal of support available from Not on the High Street staff who will help you every step of the way if you so wish.
Once you’ve set up your shop, it will be reviewed and suggestions made for changes or improvements if necessary. I got my first sale the day after my shop went live and it’s only got better. The more you sell, the more you’ll be seen, and the more you’ll sell.
It’s not an ideal site for one-of-a-kind items as listing takes longer and they’ll be harder to find in searches, having not been previously sold.
It’s a very big site and the search function isn’t great. Enter ‘blue lampshade’ and you’ll be presented with items that are blue, items that are lampshades and items that are neither. But they’re working on it.
Not on the High Street have a big budget for marketing and advertising and good contacts with the press. I’ve had my work featured in Stella Magazine (the Telegraph) and I’ve been asked to feature in the upcoming Christmas TV campaign, as well as a few other items in the press. So that joining fee and commission are well worth it. You don’t have to work so hard at getting sales here – they do the work for you.
You will be limited as to where else you can sell the exact same products (they want to stay true to that ‘not on the high street’ claim) but Etsy, Folksy, EBay, your own website and local shops are fine.
Make sure you have great product photos. What might be acceptable on Etsy or Folksy may look a little homespun on Not on the High Street. There is a very high standard of presentation and even fantastic products won’t sell if not photographed properly.
Again, there is a lot of info out there on taking good product shots. There are workshops or you could pay a photographer for a private lesson/shoot, which is well worth it. (I will admit to one or two of my photos being taken on my iPhone though.)
I did quite a few fairs when I first started up Swee Mei. They can be good fun, sociable and a great way to judge interest in your products. But only if you’re at the right sort of fair.
You don’t want to be trying to flog your amazing hand-knitted, organic, tie-dyed boob tubes to some pensioners who have wandered in off the street looking for nice jam. So do your research and think carefully about location and also look into who else will be selling there. Are you compatible?
Find a market or fair that is a fit with your products and sell there regularly. People will know where to find you when they finally realise their need for that boob tube.
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t sell much on the day. It’s about getting your brand known as much as anything else. Have lots of business cards available and people may well come to you at a later date. This happened to me – people loved the shades but not many bought on the day, lampshades not really being an impulse purchase. However they did visit my website to buy once they’d had a good think about it.
Try to create an eye catching display and it helps if you can have something to be working on throughout the day. Customers are interested in how things are made. Oh, and SMILE. There’s nothing more off-putting than a stall-holder sitting there with a face like thunder because they’ve not had a good day.
I stopped doing craft fairs for a number of reasons – I didn’t like giving up my weekends, childcare was an issue, large numbers of lampshades are a pain in the bum to transport safely, and although I made a few sales I didn’t feel the end justified the means.
I can’t say I stuck with it long enough to make fair judgement, to be honest, but it wasn’t really for me. If you sell smaller, mid-priced items you’ll probably have more success than I did.
I guess that having lots of shops stock your products is probably the dream. In fact some makers choose to sell wholesale exclusively. Obviously you stand to sell much more if your products are in many outlets, where they can be looked at, touched and picked up, as many people like to see things in the flesh before they buy.
But bear in mind that most retailers want to pay you around 50% of the retail price. This may seem a lot when it’s you that’s buying the materials and making the items, but retailers have many overheads to cover, including premises, utilities, staffing, advertising etc.
You might be able to produce your items at a smaller cost if you’re fulfilling big orders or you may just be happy to make less profit but on more sales. However, if the 50% wholesale price doesn’t work for you, consider selling on a sale or return basis for a smaller percentage.
Typically, the retailer will take 20-30% of the retail price for sale or return. Make sure you are both clear on how long the items will be stocked for initially and who is responsible for delivery costs – normally you’re responsible for delivery and they’re responsible for return costs.
Drop-shipping is a great way to sell too. Retailers advertise your products and take orders for you, but you’re responsible for delivery.
You may want to have separate agreements with different shops depending on how much you want to be stocked by them. If Liberty come a knockin’ that 50% may not seem to harsh, so judge each offer on its merits.
I’ve been asked by a lot of shops about wholesale but I’m currently only working with a couple of bricks-and-mortar retailers. When I started making lampshades, I set my prices at a level that was right for me selling directly to customers. I’ve put them up a little since then, but unless I cut my manufacturing costs and/or raise my prices again, the numbers for selling wholesale don’t really work for me.
It’s something that I would like to get more into in the future but I’m being kept pretty busy at the moment through other sales channels so it’s not top of my list.
So that’s how it’s been for me. I still see myself very much as a beginner in this whole business, but what a great start it’s been! What began as an idea to make some pin money alongside my ‘normal’ job has taken over and is earning me far more than my other work.
Along the way I’ve learnt so much, not had any major disasters and, most of all, enjoyed every minute of it. The freedom of working from home and choosing my own hours is the biggest bonus. I generally start work in the early hours of the morning and can have done half a day’s work before the children are even awake.
So if you think you have a great idea or an original product, just go for it. Do your research, work hard and make it happen. You (hopefully) won’t regret it.
Love to turn your crafting passion into a profitable business? Find out how Kickstart will guide you through your first year
You can find out more about Miranda and see her range of handmade lampshades on the Swee Mei website.
Photo credit: Love FromGinger
By Miranda Law on April 2nd, 2015
Turn your DIY crafting hobby into a living. It's easier than it seems — use the best websites to sell crafts online and turn a profit!.
Do you have a knack for creativity? Are you constantly making amazing crafts for birthday gifts and holidays? Or perhaps you just make them for yourself and folks frequently tell you that you should sell your handmade awesomeness. If this sounds familiar — or you’re a knitter, jeweler, potter or some other craft maker who’s considering selling your goods — this post is for you. It’s easier than you might think to start your own handmade crafts business. Below, you’ll find some of the best websites to sell crafts, as well as some advice for creating an eCommerce store of your own.
In no particular order, here are six of the best websites to sell crafts I’ve found and some pros and cons for each.
Our list of best websites to sell crafts starts with Etsy, which is hands down the most well-known place to sell handmade goods. But just how good is it for sellers?
I didn’t realize this, but Amazon has a handmade goods area for artisans to sell their crafts online. Who knew?
Artfire is third on our list of best websites to sell crafts. Headquartered in the Tucson Arts District, this marketplace specializes in handmade and vintage goods, as well as digital arts and craft supplies.
Yes, you can sell handmade crafts on eBay. Is it one of the best websites to sell crafts? Perhaps, but you’ll have to be the judge.
Our fifth entry for best websites to sell crafts might be new to you. Zibbet calls itself “the largest marketplace in the world that stays true to the definition of handmade.”
This 10-year-old service claims to charge 50 percent lower fees than the other craft marketplaces.
Of course, there are many other sites where you can sell your handmade goods, such as iCraft, BigCartel and IndieMade. You might want to do research on all of your options before committing to one, however. Then again, you might want to forgo all the selling platforms completely in favor of setting up your own online store.
The best websites to sell crafts might just be the ones that are owned and operated by the artisans themselves. Sure, you can still maintain listings on the platforms I mentioned above, but having a website you own means you keep all the proceeds. No middleman? Yes, please! Here are the steps you should take to launch your own crafts store online.
There’s a saying, “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” You need a plan before you jump in with both feet. Dip your toes in first with this article on things to consider before launching your online store. Also, think about things like:
Once you’ve created your plan, it’s time to name your virtual store. Not sure which domain name to buy? Check out our 10 tips for choosing the perfect domain name here.
By the way, you don’t have to limit yourself to .com, either. There are customized domains available, such as .art,.giftsand.shop. Use one of these domain names to put a creative spin on your web address.
What does a website with eCommerce functionality typically include? At its most basic level, an eCommerce site:
For WordPress users, there are plugins that will quickly turn your existing site into an eCommerce site (the most popular is WooCommerce). But if you’ve never built a site before, the easier option is GoDaddy’s GoCentral Online Store. With swipe-to-style editing, intuitive layouts, integrated eCommerce functionality and more, you can have your site up and running in less than an hour.
Now you’re cooking, my crafty friend. At this point, you’re building your online storefront. Be sure to include killer listing pages with the best pictures to showcase those stunning crafts.
Let your creativity shine here with the details about the product, and don’t forget to include pricing and shipping info.
The goal is to get those digital shoppers to click that sexy Buy button, so make sure your listings entice your visitors to pony up the dough!
Get step-by-step instructions on launching your own online craft business with our comprehensive guide to selling crafts online. From tips on brainstorming a great name, to how-tos on taking photos, to setting prices and cross-promoting your wares on craft marketplaces, this guide hits it all!
Once your store is built, you’ll need to bring people to it and then turn them from lurkers to buyers! One good way to do this is to work keywords into your page text and product descriptions. This will help search engines understand what your website’s all about and point the right people in your direction.
Social networks like Facebook and Instagram are great for starting a buzz with crafters and makers.
Even if you just start with one network, stay active and respond to anyone who mentions you. Many store owners also start blogs as a way to reel future customers in. Check out more ways to bring people to your online craft store here.
That’s the plan, anyway. Creating the crafts, and even launching the virtual store, is all child’s play compared with actually making a sustainable income with your craft website. Still, with GoDaddy on your team, making money with your eCommerce store is significantly easier. In fact, we’ve got loads of knowledge on the online sales front. Get more inspiration here, and then make the move from hobby enthusiast to pro craft seller!
What's great is that you can do all of this at home! There is no need to go to trade shows or craft fairs in your city to sell your crafts.
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