5 Things to Consider in Choosing a Website for Selling Crafts
So you have been producing a lot of handmade crafts, and 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, like me, you just want to make enough to pay for your craft supplies.
Whatever your reason for wanting an online craft site, 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 looking for some help and advise, read on! Here are a few things from my experience for you to consider before you choose a website for your handmade crafts:
1. 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. Can you understand it? 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.
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 these 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 be best to give you some exposure to online selling.
3. What’s Your Competition?
The adage, "if you build it they will come" doesn’t apply to the internet. 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? Try searching the site for something you sell. Can you find it? How many similar products are selling there? 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. It’s the specific item you make. How much competition is there in your niche?
4. Site Traffic
How much site traffic does the website have? Is the traffic mostly sellers looking for ideas 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? Is it easy for them to pay with a credit card? 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.
5. How Much Can You Personalize Your Shop?
People love to shop at sites which make them feel good about their purchase. Some like to hear the story of how a crafter got into that craft. Some 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)?
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 time to get steady sales. After all, you will be the new kid on the block for a while wherever you go! Also remember that you need to be spending lots of time getting established before you make any sales. Research ways to improve your photos, descriptions and marketing – you should be continually working at improvement. Good luck!