This is the first in a new series of guest blog posts. We know that many of you are turning your crafting hobby into an income and there is such a range of places to sell online now so we've asked an expert for advice to help you choose where to sell:
Selling Handmade Online
Selling online has become easier and easier. A variety of applications and programmes are on offer to help create an online marketplace, from Wordpress plugins, Pavyment on Facebook, marketplace sites such as Folksy, as well as a variety of solutions for creating your own online store. It can be baffling to decide how and where to sell your handmade goods. Most of the options for selling online will require a Paypal account.
Handmade Marketplace Websites
There are a range of sites that enable you to sell handmade items or supplies under their umbrella, such as Folksy http://www.folksy.com/, Etsy http://www.etsy.com/ or MISI http://www.misi.me.uk/, to name a few.
• CMS (control management system ie type in the box, no HTML knowledge is needed, for ease of management
• Listing fees, typically around 20p per item
• Handmade and supplies only (some sites also allow Vintage items)
• Individual store with unique url e.g. http://www.poppysparkles.folksy.com/
• Basic SEO and keyword knowledge needed
• Requires promotion and regular listings
• Opportunity for community and networking e.g. Etsy teams, Listing challenges, forums
• No moderation (although, Front page is often curated on these sites)
• A low-risk option for testing the water, as well as another outlet for more seasonsed sellers.
Gift websites for designer makers are increasingly popular and offer a similar, but more exclusive, service to the handmade marketplace websites previously mentioned. A few examples are Gift Wrapped and Gorgeous http://www.giftwrappedandgorgeous.co.uk/ Not on the High Street http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/, Swanky Maison http://www.swankymaison.com/
• Selection process for new sellers – quality of products and images need to be high.
• Membership fee (No listing fees after this)
• % commission on sales – higher than handmade marketplaces such as Folksy.
• CMS for easy listing and management
• Same amount of work as listing on sites such as Folksy e.g. Knowledge of SEO and keywords still needed to get full benefit.
• Increased chance of Press coverage from site owners’ PR. Before signing up, ask about costs of inclusion in promotional media e.g. fee for featuring in seasonal brochures
• For more established designer-makers.
• Domain name usually required
• Hosting costs may apply, but some offer a free trial.
• No listing fees or commission
• Control over design, categories etc
• No limit on what you can sell ie scope to add complimentary product ranges that are not handmade
• Can be a drain on time, but there are some quick, easy to use solutions eg Big Cartel http://bigcartel.com/, Super Simple Shop http://www.supersimpleshop.com/ or Create http://www.create.net/ are just a few examples. Many of these offer introductory offers, but read the pricing and small print for signing up.
• Requires promotion and SEO optimisation to a greater extent than any other option.
• Time and money make this a more serious venture when you are ready to commit to selling online. However, when you factor in listing fees and commission taken, it is likely to be less expensive in the long-run, allowing you to sell direct to customers without the middle-man. Just remember that the middle-man does work to drive traffic to their site, which gives you a head start that you can capitalise on with good use of keywords in your item titles and descriptions. Going it alone requires commitment to SEO and promotion.
Viv Smith, is the owner of Poppy Sparkles (http://www.poppysparkles.co.uk/ ), creating Handmade Birthstone Jewellery.