The Handmade Entrepreneur | How to Sell Your Own Products Online
Have you ever considered turning your creative talent into something more than a hobby? Starting an online craft business can be a profitable side hustle and if done right, it can flourish into a full time venture.
While local craft shows and markets can provide some local exposure for your products, the internet gives you an additional storefront option to reach a wider audience.
Easier to Start than Ever Before
Thanks to the recent growth of the e-commerce retail community, selling products online has become easier than ever. Whether you make organic makeup or handmade jewelry, chances are that someone out there is looking for a product just like yours.
What draws people into starting a craft business is the minimal financial risk associated with it. Startup costs can be very low as you have likely already invested in the necessary equipment and materials.
In terms of setting up your digital presence, there are plenty affordable tools available for you to use.
A Little Prep Goes a Long Way
One thing to do before starting any type of business is to familiarize yourself with of legalities of business registration and taxation laws in your country. You may also want to consider doing some market research on competitors in your niche who make products similar to yours.
Market research goes beyond simply looking at their product list. Make sure to pay close attention to their product descriptions and customer reviews and check out their social media channels.
This is not to copy them, but to identify strengths and weaknesses to better serve the market.
Combing through product reviews can be a great way of finding a problem to solve that exists in the market. And if you can provide good solutions, this can differentiate your offer from others.
Once you have done some research and found potential demand for the type of craft you make, it’s time to dive into setting up your online store. Read on to learn about some basics tips on how to start a craft business from scratch.
Read our full article on how to find the best e-commerce platform for you.
Choosing The Right Platform
When trying to decide what the best eCommerce platform is for your craft business, focus on flexibility and return on investment. To help you narrow down your options, here is a list of platforms most commonly used by artists and makers when first starting their online business.
With over 33 million buyers on the global scale, Etsy is without a doubt the best-known marketplace for anything handmade. Here you will find a wide range of one-of-a-kind handcrafted products ranging from jewelry to custom made souvenirs and vintage products.
When setting up your store, you can choose custom layouts and colours that best reflect your branding. Although the platform is free to use, Etsy charges a small listing and commission fee on every sale.
Shopify is the preferred e-commerce platform of many major retailers as well as small businesses. With monthly packages starting from $29, you can set up an online store with your own domain and using your own branding.
There are dozens of tools and plugins available on Shopify, to help you provide your customers with a seamless shopping experience. But keep in mind that since your products will not appear in any listing, you will be responsible for driving traffic and leads to your stand-alone store.
With the recent launch of its online store feature, more and more businesses are discovering the power of Facebook to drive sales. Shoppers can now make a direct purchase by visiting your Business Page and clicking on your Store Tab.
Good news is that you do not require an existing e-commerce shop in order to list products and set up a payment system on Facebook. This allows you to market and sell your products on a single platform, with no associated fees.
A Few Essentials for Your Handmade Goods Shop
Product Photos Are Key
If you ask any seasoned e-commerce entrepreneur, they will tell you that product photos can determine whether or not your business will succeed.
The design of your website or marketing efforts will not be as effective if your product photographs are unattractive. While hiring a professional product photographer can be costly, you can create your own images by following simple product photography tips.
Make sure your photos are taken with natural lighting and on a plain background to simplify the editing process. It is also completely acceptable to shoot products with your smartphone or iPhone camera, as long as you put some effort into editing.
Optimize Your Product Descriptions
Apart from your product photos, descriptions provide the customer with all the information they need to decide on a purchase.
While a product can be described in a variety of different ways, it should be informative and highlight all key features.
Place keywords strategically in product titles and descriptions for SEO purposes, making it easier for customers to find your products. This is where competitor analysis will come in handy.
Market Your Store
Without extensive marketing efforts, increasing traffic to your store and driving sales is close to impossible.
Social media channels like Instagram and Pinterest are the perfect platforms to showcase your unique creations in a visually pleasing way to drive interest to your products.
Meanwhile, Facebook provides businesses with powerful analytical and paid social tools to execute advertising campaigns to a carefully segmented audience.
As part of your promotional strategy, make sure to collect email addresses from your customers. This way you can send them promotional emails or news about featured products.
One advantage hand-made work has is that it is, or certainly can be, unique. The internet loves well-designed items that are unique. Being able to create a page, picture, or post that is unique often gets the best kind of attention from search engines and people.
Create Multiple Revenue Streams
You might also consider adding multiple potential revenue streams to your store. These could include affiliate marketing of products, drop-shipping, print-on-demand items like t-shirts and mugs that match your brand and designs, or you could add digital products.
Digital products are a great item to sell. A digital product could be an e-book or a video course. Digital products have a significant advantage over physical products — particularly hand-made items.
Hand-made items require time. Selling a hand-made item to 1000 people requires substantially more work than selling just one. This means that the item is not scalable. Adding scalable items provides much greater sales potential.
Let’s say you make beautiful quilts. You can sell these quilts in your online shop. You could also create an e-book on how to make a quilt which you could sell as well.
If you were to sell this e-book to one person or to 10,000, the work for you stays the same. So an e-book is a highly scalable item.
You could do the same if you were to create a short video course on how to make a quilt. A less profitable version of this might be to sell someone else’s book or video in your store for a commission. Also an option.
Printables could also be a good fit.
Running your own store takes dedication and persistence. It is important to set achievable goals and trust in the process as it may take some time to make the first sale. But if done right, it can be extremely rewarding to turn a passion into a profitable venture.