So you have been producing a lot of handmade crafts, and have maybe even sold a few in your community. Friends and family have told you how wonderful your work is, and you think you are ready to branch out and make some real money… or maybe you just want to make enough to keep buying craft supplies.
Whatever your reason for wanting to branch out into online craft sites, you will find the world of internet crafts to be huge, wide open, and very confusing! So how do you narrow the field to one site which is best for you? Or should you list on more than one site?
If you are in this category, and looking for some help and advise, read on! Here are a few things to consider before you choose a website for your handmade crafts:
User Friendly for Newbies
The best way to determine this is to check the “community” sections of the site. What are current store owners saying about customer service? Do they complain that “management” doesn’t respond to inquiries or emails? Are the other store owners open to helping newcomers?
How hard is it to set up a shop and upload your crafts? Most sites have a tutorial or step-by-step explanation of the process. Be sure to check it out. Also visit the FAQ section for questions you may not have even considered. If you’ve never had an online store, you will need a lot of help and advice. Be sure the site you choose provides both.
Cost of the Marketplace
This is often the first thing new sellers check out, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Price does matter, and it’s better to get your feet wet someplace that’s not going to cost you a fortune during your learning curve. Just remember you usually get what you pay for…
It’s often difficult to compare pricing structures as there is so much variety in this area. The most common pricing structures are:
- Free with a limited number of product listings and no percentages when an item sells
- Flat subscription rate. You can post as many items as you want with no additional costs
- Commission only, with no listing fees. You are only charged when your product sells
- Listing fee for each item plus a percentage for each product sold
Which is best for you? I don’t know! Depending on what you are selling, how much you will be listing, and the average price of your items, any one of the structures may be best for you. If you plan to list a lot of items, a subscription plan may be ideal for you. If your time is limited and you just want to get your feet wet, a free site might give you some exposure to online selling.
What’s Your Competition?
The adage, “if you build it they will come” doesn’t apply to websites. For example, check out how many sellers on etsy produce jewelry! There are always complaints in the forums about how hard it is to be “found” there.
How hard is it for customers to find your store out of all the others on the site so they can check out your products and make a purchase? Try searching the site for something you sell. Can you find it? How does a customer find a new shop, person or item on this site?
When I started selling on etsy, very few people were making stained glass pieces. That was a great help. Now, many more folks are selling stained glass there, but still not a huge number who make suncatchers. That’s my niche, my specific type of craft. You have a niche, too, even if you aren’t aware of it. How much competition is there in your niche?
How much site traffic does the website have? Is the traffic mostly sellers looking for ideas or listing items, or is it largely buyers? New visitors and buyers are absolutely necessary for your business to grow.
Even if the site gets a lot of traffic, are the visitors shopping or just looking? How hard is it for new customers to shop at the site? Do they need an account, or can they visit as a “guest” instead?
How often will your newly-listed items be on the home page? Some sites rotate new listings, some only allow those who pay a fee to appear there. Be sure to check that out.
How Much Can You Personalize Your Shop?
People love to shop at sites which make them feel good about their purchase. They like to hear the story of how a crafter got into that craft. They like to know how an item was made and why. So does the website you are considering give you the opportunity to give the customer this information?
Can you post a bio and picture or banner? Do you get a URL? Can you create shop sections for different items? Is there a place for your shipping information and returns policy? What extras do you get (like a blog or an opportunity to interact with other sellers)?
So Start Checking Out Some Websites
These are just 5 of the areas you should consider when you are choosing an online selling site. If you find it difficult to choose one website, you may want to go with 2 or 3 different ones to see which works best for you. Whatever site you end up on, don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to get steady sales. After all, you will be the new kid on the block for a while wherever you go!