If you’re the crafty type and make your own handmade crafts you might think that they’ll be great to sell online but if you’re not sure where to start, we’re going to cover how you can sell them online and be successful.
When you first begin thinking about selling handmade items online you might think of the more traditional ecommerce marketplaces like Etsy which has over 39 million active buyers however, selling on a platform such as this isn’t always the best option for your business. We’re going to be looking at the two main options for selling online as well as how to get started selling handmade crafts online.
Choosing the right platform
To keep it simple, there are two main options for you to choose from; sell through a marketplace or sell through your own website. They both can help you to sell online but which you choose will depend on a few things.
With marketplaces, it’s relatively easy to set things up and start selling and also has little to no start-up costs which might be a good option if you’re testing the waters with your crafts. As they’re already existing platforms, they allow you to get set up within a few minutes and some also offer additional marketing services on top.
There are however, some limitations with this option. When you first start out, you’ll have little traffic and you won’t have been able to build a strong reputation with customer reviews etc just yet. Trust signals are a very important factor when buying online and people are less likely to buy from a supplier who has little to no customer reviews.
Word of mouth and any marketing you can do in the early stages will help you to build up your new business but do remember that you’ll also have a lot of competition on marketplaces such as these and that will ultimately influence the way you sell and market your items, with the potential to eat into your profit margin in order to stay competitive.
Our own CEO Antony talks about how marketplaces can quickly become your direct competition in his blog on “Are marketplaces your friend or your competition?”.
An ecommerce site
An alternative option and a good choice if you’re looking to stand out and create your own brand is creating your own ecommerce site. While this may seem slightly daunting at first, it’s an option for new businesses that can be highly rewarding and isn’t as hard to get set up as you might think.
There can be some start-up costs involved with setting up your own ecommerce shop but you’ll be able to see the benefits pretty much straight away, that you won’t get the full extent of with marketplaces.
Having your own ecommerce site allows you to create your own brand identity, have full control over every element of your business, pay fewer fees and provides an air of authority as well as helping you to better compete in the market.
Both options have their positives and negatives and which you choose will depend on your business aims and goals in the start. You also need to consider the type of item you’re selling – in this case handmade crafts.
You will be competing against not only other businesses who make similar crafts to you but also ecommerce giants such as Amazon that have a strong brand reputation and can offer things like next day delivery. But you also have an advantage over big businesses like these.
You can make your buying experience very personalised for your customers, especially when you’re first starting out. Your packaging and delivery can help you provide a special touch that larger companies simply can’t. For example, providing personalised thank you notes for ordering from you and perhaps throwing in a small (and cheap) free item with their purchase.
It’s also a great idea to ask customers to leave you a review for the item purchased and if you choose to have your own ecommerce site, asking them to leave a review on Trustpilot rather than your site as this can have many benefits from SEO and trust signals. But before you get too ahead of yourself, we need to tackle the basics of getting started.
Choosing a business name
When it comes to choosing your new business name, you need to brainstorm some ideas and remember that it’s perhaps not always the best idea to go with the first name you fall in love with.
Jot down on some paper all the names that come to mind, try mixing them up with each other too and see what you come up with. Getting them down on paper allows you to see them in black and white, and makes it easier for you to spot ideas that are a non-starter.
You then need to pair down to your top 5 names, removing ones that are already in use (just make sure to Google the names in your list for this) and any that don’t fit the bill or branding that you’re going for. It’s also important to do your research on domain names – you wouldn’t want to have chosen the perfect domain name for your website to then discover that someone else already owns it.
When you have your top name options, it’s a good idea to get trusted family and friends to take a look over the list and get their feedback – they may be able to spot something that you initially missed. You might also want to see what the name looks like as a URL for example, “www.ekm.com” so you can ensure that there isn’t any unintentional innuendos.
The next steps
Once you’ve chosen the platform for you, whether that be on a marketplace or on your own site, you need to write down a solid business plan to help you set out specific milestones and objectives within the first few months of business. This will also need to include how you’re going to get the word out about your new business venture.
If you’re just testing the waters or have no budget to put into marketing, then there are a few free options to get the word out about your business. Firstly create social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn) under your brand name (or an easy variation if the name is already taken i.e. @EKM_UK is our variation) and also remember to create branded profile and header images for each.Remember when it comes to the imagery for your social profiles, these need to be in keeping with your branding to be consistent throughout. You can either design them yourself or have someone design them for you.
Once you’re all set up and have listed your products ready for purchase you can begin promoting your ecommerce site or marketplace through your social media channels and word of mouth.
Industry specific marketing
As a handmade craft seller any paid marketing you choose to do will need to be tailored specifically toward your ideal customer. Whether you chose to start your business via a marketplace or your own ecommerce shop, you’ll be able to gather data on your customers after a month or two of trading.
Google Analytics is a great free tool for tracking website metrics from how many people visited your site, to where they came from and what their age and location is. Marketplaces may have their own version of this, providing you with similar information based off of your customers, however some may have an additional charge for this.
From this data you’ll be able to get a really good idea of who your customers are and you’ll be able to use it to decide what kind of audience you should focus your marketing efforts.