There are quite a few ways folks have sold their crafts on the Internet. There also seems to be a somewhat natural progression for the artisans who are successful in doing so. This entry will discuss one common method that I am seeing quite a few crafters do quite well with.
You may or may not have heard of a great place called Etsy it is sort of a combination of E-bay, your newspaper’s classifed ads, and MySpace.
It’s like E-Bay in that sellers sell and list their items for a fee. But unlike E-Bay, Etsy has a simple fee structure where items can be listed for only 20 cents and when sold 3.5% of the sales price is charged. The shopping cart and all that sort of stuff is taken care of by Etsy.
It’s like classified ads because, unlike E-Bay, the items are all listed with a price – no auctions, no haggling.
It’s like MySpace because each seller can set up their own shop/site and is given their own URL.
How would I use Etsy to start selling crafts on the Internet?
Etsy is a great community, members share information and often help promote each other. Anyone new to selling crafts on the Internet can learn a lot from simply hanging around the Etsy forums. I would also highly recommend anyone new to the game to check out Craftster and The SwitchBoards to learn from others.
Etsy allows each crafter to set up a shop. Each shop has to have a unique name. This is the point where I think many crafters make their first mistake. While they may not have in their immediate plans to have a full-fledged website of their own, they fail to protect their business name. They work so very hard on promoting their Etsy shop and their brand name and when the time comes to expand to a real website they sadly find someone else already has registered the domain name.
Step 1 to Selling Crafts on the Internet
So, step 1 would be to invent a unique name that can be used on Etsy and currently has the dot com version of the domain available for registration. There are great places like Name Cheap and Go Daddy where you can get a free account and register your domain name for as little as $10 per year. Even if you don’t know if you’ll ever have a website of your own, you will be protecting your brand name. I would find the smallest hosting account available and put at least a page-long website that points to my Etsy shop.
Step 2 to Selling Crafts on the Internet
Step 2 would be to start putting my things in my shop and setting up my banner and categories. The great thing about Etsy is it is a perfect place to test the waters for that great product to see if anyone else thinks it’s as great as you do. Better to find out an item may not be sellable at a particular price point after spending 20 cents and failing to sell one, than forking over a bunch of money for a table at a craft fair and making dozens of your item.
Step 3 to Selling Crafts on the Internet
Step 3 is market the heck out of your Etsy shop, learn from others, keep making more items, and do everything you can to keep your customers happy. Yeah, I know, not much detail here – people have written multitudes of webpages and even books on these topics, so I’ll just leave the laundry list of to do items rather than get into details. (Don’t forget to visit the rest of my blog for information on these topics as well as the forums mentioned earlier in this post.)
May people are succesfully selling crafts from their MySpace pages, blogs, forums, and online consignment shops. From what I have seen all of these methods work for the beginner seller too, but Etsy just seems to be the best place I’ve seen to test the waters and get your feet wet. Just keep in mind, nothing on the Internet is an “If you build it, they will come” sort of thing, where ever you sell your crafts online you are going to need to promote your shop, booth, or webpage both online and off to sell your items.
Good luck and happy crafting!