So many services and options are available if you make the decision to sell your crafts online. So much so that it can get confusing knowing where and how to start. In this post we will list many major online platforms and services you can use to sell. We will even categorize, segregate and differentiate between them.
Selling online has never been easier. And you can choose the right online system that suits your selling needs. You can create an online shop within an hour, using the ready-made marketplace systems or you can sell on your own blog and accept payments easily using 3rd party e-commerce and payment processing services.
Market Place Websites
Marketplace websites allow you to build your own stores within their system. They also take care of things like payment processing.
Etsy is the foremost name in market places for crafters, which is why we have already written extensively about it. Etsy gets a large amount of traffic, about 10 million visitors/month at the time of writing this. This number is only likely to increase with time if the current trend is any indication of things to come.
Etsy allows crafters to easily sign up for a free account and create a very nice looking online store-front. They charge you for listing items and a percentage of the price when the craft is sold. 40 cents for four months of listing of each craft, and 3-5% of the selling price, are the current charges at the time of writing this article. This is definitely a very reasonable fee structure and cheaper than many other similar services.
Etsy is very user friendly both for selling and buying. It offers a host of support tools that allow potential buyers to interact with the seller, including a robust search tool that allows users to find what they are looking for. Buyers can easily save, follow and share their favorite sellers and crafts and ask questions.
Etsy has over half a million sellers competing for its enormous traffic. Its annual sales are already close to 1 billion dollars and growing. For more details on selling on Etsy, read our special Etsy section. You can sell art, crafts, craft supplies and vintage items on Etsy.
ArtFire is the closest competitor to Etsy as of now. It gets only a fraction of traffic that Etsy does, but nevertheless, it’s the next most popular choice. Like Etsy you can create beautiful storefronts and sell art and crafts and craft supplies. No vintage goods allowed here.
There is an advantage of listing your crafts on a less trafficked website. They are perfect when you are re-directing your customers from your blog, or any other source to buy on the storefront. Since there are also lesser number of sellers, your buyers are less likely to get distracted by other crafts.
Anyway, ArtFire is a great option. You should try it if you have the time and space.
More Online Marketplace Websites
Internet businesses are always evolving. Many follow suit of success models like Etsy, many of the following websites are older than Etsy, even if not that popular. A strong reason to list your crafts on these websites is that since they are smaller, with a fewer number of sellers, you actually have a better change of standing out.
It’s easy to get lost in the large sea of sellers on Etsy if you do not take the right steps.
Some of these smaller websites are also a great place to start because they are absolutely free. That’s right. You get to sell and keep all of the money. There are others that charge you a nominal commission only when you sell. There are no upfront charges or to list your crafts.
This is not a comprehensive list of course as we have already said, Internet businesses keep evolving. Here we go.
- ShipHandmade.com – (out of commission) Based out of Seattle, this is a free marketplace with the theme of green living. If that’s you, this site could be a great place to start.
- Madeitmyself.com – (out of commission) This website is for only handmade crafts with the focus on hobbyists. It’s a quaint niche website without any mass produced crafts.
- DaWanda.com – This is a good option if you are looking at European clientele, specially from Germany. (Now also a part of Etsy)
- Yessy.com – This website was one of pioneers of selling out online. It specializes in fine art.
- SilkFair.com (out of commission) – You can use this service to list items for free on their marketplace. They charge a 3% commission only when you sell something. You can also sell through your own domain as they offer pretty functional and customizable websites as well.
- Facebook Shops – As long you have a 3rd party application to actually sell and process payments, you can list your items for sale on Facebook. This is fairly new so yet to be seen how well its working for crafters. Nevertheless, Facebook is a powerful and popular social media platform so it makes sense to list, share and gain popularity for your crafts here as well.
I’m sure new businesses will keep coming up and you will have more names to contend with.
As the name suggests, these sites allow you to sell your crafts in an auction where interested buyers bid for it and at the end of the auction period, the highest bid gets the product.
No further explanation is necessary as you all must know about the biggest names in the auction business and how it works: Ebay!
eBay is the biggest name when it comes to auction websites. Although it has product listing in many different categories like electronics and apparel, the art and craft segment is very popular as well.
You can do the following things on eBay: Create a store, set a fixed price to sell, start an auction, upload product pictures and write lengthy descriptions and till some time back you could even collect email leads, but that feature is no longer available.
eBay charges you for listing the items (although the first few items might be free) and also charges a commission on the final selling price. The commission is typically higher than Etsy and that’s why some people have been discouraged from selling on eBay.
However, completely removing the auction aspect from your selling strategy could be a mistake. Read our post here on: Why You Should Sell On Ebay.
Many artists use eBay as their primary selling platform. The bidding format is an extremely powerful tool if you have the right craft. Think real auction houses like Sotheby’s. They make tons of money selling stuff on auctions eBay is the biggest online auction house.
Another reason why eBay is so popular is because of the variety of art and craft you can expect to find there. You have artists selling their original art and crafts as well as shops for antique paintings and art. You will find people selling a host of stuff that they own or have inherited. You will also find art supplies and tools of all kinds. All this makes eBay a very attractive stop for craft and art lovers.
TopHatter is a live auction site. There are a variety of auctions happening everyday. They have a very interesting interface and you can see the schedule of their themed auctions for the day. The buyers and sellers can chat live during the auction and everyone can see and participate in the chat.
TopHatter auctions include designer brands, vintage items, crafting supplies and artwork. Top Hatter is a steadily growing platform and definitely worth exploring.
DailyPaintworks is a good option for an artist looking to auction their work to a select clientele and mainly their own customers. The low number of sellers allows you to stand out as well as to re-direct your direct customers there without the fear of distraction.
Products On Demand Websites
Products on demand allow artists to sell their art through various products like t-shirts, mugs, cell phone and tablet cases, bags, as well as art prints on posters, cards, stretched canvas, books, framed fine art, paintings and photography.
A large market of the product on demand websites is traffic rendered by the artists themselves. However, you can get orders from website visitors as well if your work is eye catching.
Product on demand websites make things easy for the crafter since they process all the orders as well as create and ship the products themselves. The artists earn a commission on each product sold.
These are the 2 main leading websites for products on demand services. The users can get a wide variety products made using the art of the artist, some of the most popular of which are t-shirts, posters and mugs. Zazzle allows the artists to create their own shops and set their own commissions. The final price is accordingly and automatically adjusted.
Is an Australia based product on demand site with attractive interface and features.
This website offers museum quality prints on paper and stretched canvas, including framing services. It offers a host of features and services to the artist like the ability to create printed catalogs, branded store fronts and sell prints on Facebook and Amazon and create newsletters.
Like the previous mentioned website, ImageKind also sells art prints. It is a branch of CafePress.com and geared towards artists selling posters and prints, with or without framing. The very user-friendly feature of ImageKind allows potential buyers to see what the print will look like when framed or as a stretched canvas.
Artists get free space and set their own profit mark-up over the base price.
This website offers on demand prints as well as sale of the original artwork. The artist is given a 30% commission on sale price for prints whereas the buyer is referred directly to the artist for the sale of the original.
Setting Up Your Own Website
As an artist selling online, it’s a very good idea to have a website of your own. There are many reasons for it and we have spoken about them in detail in this post: Why You Should Start Your Own Website. In brief, your own website allows you to write about your work, connect with potential buyers, capture leads, send newsletters etc. here are some popular options to start your own website.
WordPress is the most popular blogging platform as well as one of the easiest ways to start a fully functional website, complete with an e-commerce store if you wish. WordPress gets its reputation from its famous ‘one-click install’ to a host of ‘plug-ins’ that let you manage a vast range of functions. Think of ‘plug-ins’ as apps on your phone, different apps to do different things.
The look of a WordPress website depends on the ‘theme’ you choose. And believe us when we tell you that there are hundreds to choose from.
Developers all over the world are busy making new ‘plug-ins’ and ‘themes’ for WordPress all the time.
Web-hosting services are offering fast and hassle free hosting for WordPress blogs. And not to mention that the creators of WordPress are constantly updating the platform with better features and security. We have written a more detailed post on WordPress here. Read it to learn things like the best themes and plug-ins to use and the best hosting option for your WordPress site.
Shopify is actually pretty great. You can use a really easy drag and drop kind of interface to create stunning web stores. Its all very simple. Shopify integrates with various payment processing services as well. All in all, its an effective way to create an online store and very popular. Have a look at some of the Shopify websites here: www.Shopify.com/examples
Same as Shopify, Big Cartel also lets you build custom e-commerce stores. See a few examples at: http://directory.bigcartel.com
You should definitely add Pocketbarn to this list. I’m a crafter and I’m helping them get their name out there because they are 100% free (don’t even charge when you sell something) to list up to 3 items. You can pay to list more but you certainly don’t have to. You can rotate your listed items as often as you like so the free option works for me. Oh, and it has a local focus so you don’t have to mess around with shipping (unless you want to).