Getting started selling arts & crafts online

selling arts and crafts online

There are many options for selling arts and crafts online. In this article you’ll learn what your options are, the pluses and minuses of each. And why making your own e-commerce website may not be as hard as you think.

The Problem

There are many reasons why you might want to start selling your arts and crafts online. Many people dream of turning their hobby into an income stream. We all hear those success stories of how someone turned their past-time into a million dollar company.

But few people end up doing it. Quite often people look into starting an online business but become overwhelmed by the choices available. They think they need an expensive website to get started. Worried that they will sink money into a big project that goes no where, they become discouraged.

Selling online is not difficult nor should it be time consuming or expensive. You just need to choose the right method of getting your wares online. Depending on your products type or how experienced you are business, there is a online selling method for you.

Ok, but how?

Marketplaces

Starting with the most easiest way to sell, there is TradeMe. TradeMe or Ebay if you don’t live in New Zealand, is an online market place where you can sell goods and services. Most people just sell second hand belonging they sent need anymore. But you can sell new products and even set up your own store within the TradeMe (or Ebay) website. This is a great way to get started. If you don’t know if their will be much demand for your arts or crafts then starting off on TradeMe is a good way to test the waters. You can tap into an existing audience of buyers.

Other similar ways to sell are FaceBook stores and online arts and craft market places like Etsy. There are many online art marketplaces. From commercial art designed for graphics designers to use through to marketplaces that sell photography and one-off pieces of fine art.

There are a few things you should note when selling through an online marketplace.

  • Fees. Online marketplaces charge you either a fee to place your products on their site, or when you sell them, or both. This can quickly erode your profit margins.
  • Usually you can’t customise your store. You will have to accept the design you are given. A great design and logo are good for connecting with your target audience and shouldn’t be underestimated.
  • You will be stuck with the features that the marketplace offers. This can be a problem for sellers who want to sell products that can be configured, or come in bundles or need special shipping options. Something quite common when selling arts, crafts and food online.
  • You are building your store on rented land. If the marketplace goes out of business then they will take your audience away. They can also change the rules at any time leaving your business vulnerable.

Hosted e-commerce websites

Another way to sell your arts & crafts online are hosted e-commerce sites. Services like Shopify allow you to create your own e-commerce website. Depending on the service, you will have more flexibility with the design of your website and more features than a marketplace based store. Usually the service will have some different themes you can choose from to change the look of your site.

Hosted e-commmerce services are a great way to test the water and see if you need a full e-commerce website. They are usually easy to set up, although there may be a bit of a learning curve.

Once again there are a few things to look out for:

  • Fees. Just like using a marketplace to sell, you will need to pay for the service. Most hosted e-commerce service will charge a monthly fee rather than a per sale fee.
  • Heavy customisation will need a web developer. Most service have pre-made templates to choose from and you can add logos and images. But to change the look a lot from the stock template you usually need a web design or developer.
  • You are still stuck with the features that the service has.
  • You are still building your business on someone else’s platform. Granted, you can do more marketing wise on a hosting e-commerce service but ultimately they own your site and you just rent it off them

Build your own website.

Going the whole hog and building your own website isn’t for everyone. Particularly if you want to keep your craft a hobby. But if you have tested the waters with by selling on a marketplace site or a hosted e-commerce service then you might decide your own site is the way to go.

Building your own website doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. WordPress and WooCommerce provide a great and easy to use platform for building an e-commerce website. Like hosted e-commerce services, there are plenty of free or premium themes you can use to change the look of your e-commerce website.

WordPress is fairly easy to use out of the box. However it can be made even easier to use with a Drag and Drop page builder. EG Web Design uses and recommends Beaver Builder. Beaver Builder is intuitive and have pre-made modules you can place on a web page.

Building your own website isn’t as hard as it used to be but there are still a few things to look out for:

  • Hosting. You will need a web hosting plan. Don’t always go for the cheapest. You get what you pay for.
  • Backup your website. You’ll need to take responsibility for your own site’s backups. Thankfully there are many easy to set up WordPress backup plugins available. Many are free.
  • When it comes to themes you get what you pay for. There a some great free themes out there but usually spending $50 on a quality theme with active support for your questions is worth doing.
  • Security. You’ll want to make sure your site is secure if you are making a living from it. There are plenty of free security plugins that will help secure your site. But to be certain it pays to buy a premium security theme of service to monitor your site. Or you can hire a web developer to security harden your site against attack.

Another plus to creating your own site is that it can grow with your business. If your store takes of you will be able to handle the traffic. Adding new features is simple too. The WooCommerce extensions site has thousands on add-ons. These extensions can add all kinds of features to your WordPress / WooCommerce powered website.

So before making the move into selling arts and crafts online do some research. See which online selling method is the best suit for you, your experience and your product.

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