So many services and options are available if you decide 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 3-rd party e-commerce and payment processing services.
Roughly, there are 4 broad categories of online systems that allows you to sell your art and crafts online.
- Marketplace Systems.
These websites allow crafters to open an account and create their shop within their website. The crafters can choose a username and a shop name, and upload their product pictures and descriptions. The processing of any order is taken care of by the website, and a host of other support features are offered. The shipping of the product is the crafters responsibility. Read 31 Places To Sell Your Crafts Online.
- Auction Websites.
Instead of selling at a fixed price, many crafters prefer to auction their crafts. This works very well for limited supply and ‘high in demand’ crafts. The buyers themselves push up the selling price of the craft through the bidding processing the crafter ends up making more profit.
We have written a great post here on ‘why and when you should auction your crafts.’ Once again, order processing and payment is taken care of by the website, whereas shipping is the buyer’s responsibility.
- On-Demand Systems.
These websites allow the printing and reproductions of art on an ‘on-demand’ basis. The art usually gets ordered and printed on popular products like coffee mugs and t-shirts. These websites take care of the entire process right from processing orders, printing and shipping. All the crafter has to do is upload their designs. They earn their commission every time a product gets sold.
- Self Owned Websites.
Selling on your own website, through your business domain is no longer difficult or complicated. There are many services that offer a complete platform to do just this. You can simply start your own blog or you can embed an entire, ready-made e-commerce system that looks great. You have access to easy options to adjust the look, colors and style of your website.
These services charge a recurring fee. They allow you to process your payments using your favorite payment processor and the shipping is also your responsibility. Basically, these services just provide the platform for creating the website. Everything else is the crafter’s responsibility.
A Place To Start
As an hobbyist or an amateur artist a marketplace website like Etsy is a great place to start. It’s easy to setup and costs very little to begin. Some marketplace websites are completely free. However, this is not all that we want for you. What we have in mind is…
The Advanced Online Seller
We envision you with a home based craft business where you are working from home or from studio wherever it is. You indulge your creativity to make beautiful crafts and online buyers love you for it!
You have a professional image online and your art and craft sells with popular demand. If this is how you see things as well, then keep reading.
To be a successful online seller you need to put a few elements in place. Selling on Etsy is not all that great if you haven’t done diligent branding work. We have written all about 7 steps to branding in this post. Read it!
You need to be up to the task when it comes to having a good business name, logo, shop banner, printed materials, packaging, letter heads etc.
You need to learn the importance of good photography and copyrighting. Start with writing a great profile for yourself for the ‘about’ page on Etsy and your own website.
You need to seriously consider a website of your own. That’s where a lot of important processes happen. Your website is fully under your control so you can shape it the way you want. It’s the only place where you can capture email leads and let interested investors subscribe to your newsletter.
Building an email list is a very powerful selling tool. You can write about your craft to your heart’s content. Using search marketing campaigns and social media promotions is that much more effective when you direct the traffic to your own website.
Building a fully functional e-commerce store and link it to easy payment methods like PayPal is really quiet simple. You have wonderful plugins and services that do this for you. You can also read about why you need to have a website in more detail in this post.
So what else do you need to do to sell online successfully? A point we mentioned in '10 Qualities of A Successful Online Entrepreneur’ was ‘be seen in many places'. So if your kind of work permits put yourself on ‘production-demand’ sites as well. It pays less but runs on full automation. Once you set things up everything from order processing to product shipping is taken care of by the other business.
You need to realize that having your own website and appearing on many platforms increases the perceived value of your work. Branding does the same thing. People will be ready to pay you a better price for your crafts.
Similarly, eBay auctions are great for 2 things. To move old inventory and offer deals and to sell limited supply items that can trigger a bidding war. You will end up getting a far bigger selling price than you thought.
Social media is a powerful branding and selling tool. I can’t imagine anyone running an online business today without due presence on social media websites like Facebook and Pinterest. They are powerful sources of traffic and interested clientele. And they are growing and becoming more powerful with passing time.
We have mentioned several websites and resources to start your online business with in this post you now need to decide which ones are relevant to you. Spend time on each of them for at least 10 minutes.
When you have short listed a few names, spend more time in them learning things in detail such as what are the popular crafts being sold there, are their similar crafts to yours, what are the reviews of customers shopping there, what are the websites policies for returns, shipping and refunds and so on and so forth.
All of this might seem like a lot to do. But you do not have to do it all in one go. One at a time is a good strategy. Once you have got things up and running you will have to make a schedule that allows you to devote time to each aspect of your online business.