Selling crafts online: Make money with your hobby
If you enjoy making crafts, creating jewelry, or doing needlework, you might have wished that you could share your work with the world. Classic sales channels like flea markets and boutiques can be a good option for selling your crafts. But selling your crafts online comes with a variety of options for presenting your products: from special platforms for handmade items like Etsy to online marketplaces like Amazon Handmade to social media and your very own website, the options are plenty.
Keep reading to learn about the best ways for beginners to sell crafts online.
- How to sell crafts online: Basic questions
- Selling crafts online: Pros and cons
- Easy entry: How to sell crafts online with online marketplaces
- Social media: Key to success
- Your website – your shop: How to sell crafts online independently
- Do you need to register a business in order to sell crafts?
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How to sell crafts online: Basic questions
If you want to sell your crafts, you should put some thought into which channels – online and offline – best suit you and your products. Here are some of the most important questions to ask:
- How many people can I reach with the channel in question?
- How much does this channel cost (in terms of effort, listing fees, and commission)?
- How much time do I need to spend on selling?
- How much do I want to earn?
- And finally, will my hobby still be fun once I turn it into a business?
Selling crafts online: Pros and cons
The Internet offers many opportunities to reach customers worldwide. But it’s not always necessary to sell your products online. When it comes to selling crafts, “real world” locations have plenty to offer. Flea markets, farmer’s markets, the small boutique around the corner, or even a wholesaler are good options for getting your goods to the consumer. So, what are the pros and cons of selling crafts online and offline?
Differences between selling crafts online and offline
Both, traditional sales in shops and flea markets and online sales, require resources, mostly in the form of time and money. If you’re selling in person, you’ll need cash to rent a stall and commit the time to talk to customers or shop owners. If you opt for online selling, you should expect to spend a lot of time setting up your chosen platform and filling it in with information and products; and of course, it does cost money to sell online too – most online sales channels ask for commissions or a monthly fee. Both forms require knowledge of your customers and the competition. But aside from these basic similarities, there are significant differences:
|Selling crafts offline||Selling crafts online|
|Personal contact with buyers (customers, distributors)||Sales are impersonal and often automated|
|Personalized buying advice, sales talks||Standardized, abstract information online|
|Often receive personal and direct feedback from customers||More impersonal feedback, categorized reviews|
|Personal relationships and emotions play a much bigger role in a purchase||Personal relationships and emotions play a smaller role in making a purchasing decision|
|The seller or reseller needs to be present in person during business hours, which gives rise to costs||Worldwide sales independent of time and location are possible; comparatively low costs for website/online stores|
|Competition is usually minimal||Worldwide competition, especially on popular platforms|
|Comparing products is only possible in person||Global comparison of products possible|
|A product can be inspected, picked up, and bought||The customer won’t see the product in person until the product has been delivered|
Selling online: Beginner-friendly with special considerations
There are several good reasons for why online sales have grown rapidly in recent years regardless of external factors like political or economic shifts. Selling crafts online is an affordable, fast, and relatively easy way to reach many potential customers. If you already own a steady business selling your crafts in person, taking things online will open up whole new groups of buyers. Just keep in mind that knowledge of how purchase decisions are made online is vital and then use that understanding to offer your customers the information they need to make that decision.
Take note of the following ten points:
- The clearer and more concrete the product information is, the more trust a customer will have – leading to higher sales.
- The more personal information you share, the easier it is for customers to trust you improving customer loyalty.
- Big, recognizable brands stand for safety and reliability. That’s why many people shop at online giants such as Amazon, despite widespread criticism of them.
- Advising customers is of the utmost importance online: Show your customers that you’re available and offer them the chance to ask questions about your products. Reply as fast as possible.
- Build a fan base, invite your offline customers to follow you online.
- Broadcast your success: The more people trust your products, the more trust you’ll be met with. Just make sure to maintain a certain air of exclusivity around your crafts.
- Pay attention to your reviews in online forums and ensure you get good reviews. A generous dose of goodwill and flexibility will take you further in the long run than insisting you’re right.
- Get to know your online customers using analytics tools like Google Analytics.
- Try to get your customers to recommend you to their networks.
- Try to manage your sales channels yourself. You can set up your own website or online store and gain some independence from online marketplaces and their conditions.
You can find more detailed information in our article on online sales.
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Easy entry: How to sell crafts online with online marketplaces
Online platforms are the easiest way to sell your crafts online with little effort. The best-known online marketplace for arts and crafts, jewelry, and other creative products is Etsy. For a symbolic listing fee of 20 cents and commission on each item sold, you gain access to millions of shoppers. However, the downside of big online marketplaces is that the competition can be stiff in certain branches. This is one reason to consider testing various platforms when you’re getting started and then sticking with the one where you see the highest success. If you’re looking to sell crafts, the following platforms are must-knows:
- Etsy – Probably the biggest platform worldwide for creators and their crafts.
- Amazon Handmade – The section of Amazon for handmade products and crafts.
- Storenvy – An online marketplace with plenty of room for your own ideas.
- Zibbet – Zibbet offers free accounts to users, with no listing prices or commissions.
- Bonanza – Online sales platform with access to Google Shopping listings.
You can find detailed information about other online marketplaces for crafts and handmade products in our article on Etsy alternatives. To find out more general information about online sales platforms, look at our article on the best online marketplaces.
Social media: Key to success
Social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest originally weren’t meant to be sales channels, but they actually work very well in this capacity. So, well that Facebook, for example, set up its own marketplace for private sales. Users can also set up their own shops for presenting their products on Facebook and Instagram. Purchases can even be completed on outside websites.
You should see social media primarily as a communications channel. It can be a great way to develop your business – from gaining exposure and keeping in touch with regular customers to building a fan base and keeping your customers up to date.
When using social media for sales, it’s of the utmost importance that you don’t violate the rules of platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. You should learn how to use their features and mechanisms to your advantage. The number of people who set eyes on your posts depends largely on the algorithm. Good content and a large follower base are key elements in making sure you reach as large an audience as possible. When it comes to selling products directly on social media, you likely won’t get around paid ads. Luckily, they tend to be relatively affordable and give you the chance to select a target group based on their areas of interest.
Ideally, a sale begins on social media but ends on your own website. That way you maintain control of your customers’ data and can also reach out to them on other channels (depending on the relevant data privacy terms).
Your website – your shop: How to sell crafts online independently
If you’re still testing the waters, online marketplaces and social media will likely satisfy your needs. But if you’re ready to regularly sell your crafts online, you won’t get around having a website, preferably with its own online store. Here are some of the reasons that it’s important to have your own online presence:
- Your website serves as a business card, a catalog, and a sales platform all at once.
- You alone are in charge of its design and content.
- You can act autonomously and aren’t subject to the changing terms and conditions of larger platforms.
- Your website is the base from which you can conduct all of your online business.
- If you have your own online store, you end up with 100% of the profits. You won’t pay any commissions or listing fees.
- You can link directly to your website and online store on social media.
Creating your own website with an online store is easier than ever. With a good website builder, you can design your web presence quickly, affordably, and without any special technical knowledge. You’ll be able to choose your own domain name and find a design template that suits you and your products. Good website builders also offer comprehensive online store templates and e-commerce features.
Do you need to register a business in order to sell crafts?
You don’t always need to register yourself as a business in the US in order to sell your crafts. Whether or not you’ll have to register depends on the location and structure of your business. The main factor will be whether you operate your business under your own legal name. If you opt for this structure, you usually won’t have to register. However, you should check with a lawyer or business advisor in your area about which rules apply to you and your business.
At first glance, it might seem convenient to simply run your business under your own name and avoid registration, especially if you’re running a small business. However, registering your small business comes with a number of advantages. You’ll secure tax breaks, legal perks, and protection against personal liability. Depending on how you register, you can also protect your business name so that no one else can operate under the same name.
What else is there to do?
After registering your business, you may also need to get a state tax ID number or federal tax ID number, also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This number is required for opening up a separate bank account for your business and hiring employees. You can apply for an EIN online.
And finally, you should look into whether you’re required to apply for any special licenses or permits. These exist on both the state and federal level. Whether you need a license and who you need to apply with will depend on your industry and the products you’re selling.
Tips for small business owners
In addition to these legal steps, there are a couple of other things you can do to set yourself up for success. You should consider opening a separate bank account for your business. That way you can build credit history and will protect yourself better against liability. It will also lend you a more professional appearance with clients and customers.
Getting insurance for your business is not only a good idea but actually a requirement in some cases. However, even if it’s not required, insurance can protect you from accidents and unforeseen events.
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