Learn To Bead

At Land of Odds / Be Dazzled Beads – Beads, Jewelry Findings, and More

Selling Through Online Craft Marketplaces

Posted by learntobead on December 4, 2013

SETTING UP YOUR BUSINESS
AT CRAFT MARKETPLACES ONLINE

etsy-website

I recently posted an article I had read about selling on Etsy (http://www.today.com/money/etsy-nomics-lets-sellers-stitch-together-living-new-pattern-2D11591368) .    There was a big response, so I thought I’d do a little more research.     I have been selling online with my own websites for almost 20 years now, but have not had much experience with selling through these online marketplaces.

I have found that many people get frustrated with these sites, in that sales can be minimal, or the numbers of people they are competing with seems daunting.  But I have found these same people not doing all the necessary “good business” tasks, such as some intensive and persistent marketing of their wares, and smart photo and text detail for their pieces.

Question:  WHAT KINDS OF EXPERIENCES HAVE YOU HAD, and WHAT KINDS OF TIPS CAN YOU OFFER?

 

 

Here’s some of the things I have found.

First, there are many, many online marketplaces to choose from.   Some let you set up your own website, and others show your merchandise as part of a larger marketplace.  Each has pros and cons.    Perhaps one lesson is:
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

My list of these sites include:

Etsy
Zibbet
Artfire
overstock.com/mainstreet revolution
tophatter (an auction site)
Ebay (an auction site)
storeny
luulla
bigcartel
meylah
madeitmyself
handmadeartists
createinventandsell
thecraftstar
rubylane
dawanda
copious
1000markets
silkfair
ecrafter
supermarkethq
goodsmiths
freecraftfair
folksy
notmassproduced
market.poppytalkhandmade
jewelrywonder
ave21
jewelspan
artflock
bonanza
lilyshop
icraft.ca (Canada)
shophandmade

The PROS for any site:
– low commission on sales
– good traffic
– ease of setting up your shop
– having a lot of control over how your shop looks; how customizable it is
– no monthly fees
– web host does a lot of promotion
– site has a good search function
– site has good statistics, and lets you easily track traffic and what has sold, at what price point, and when, for both of your specific merchandise, as well as for all merchants with similar merchandise

 

The CONS for any site:
– high commissions and/or fees
– when site is too big, may be difficult to get noticed
– host limits how you list and present your items
– host restricts your contact with your customers

 

Other types of questions to ask:

– Does site handle the billing and payments for you?
– What kind of marketing does the site do?
– Is it relatively easy to set up your site and keep it updated?
– Are there are limitations on the numbers of items you might list at one time?
– Are there any limitations on the number or size of photos you can include on your site?
– How and where will your items appear in a search listing on the host’s site?
– What payment methods/options are allowed?
– Does the site restrict items to “Handmade” only, and how is “Handmade” defined?   You do not want to compete with cheap, imported, machine made jewelry.
– How easy is it to contact customer service?  Do they provide a lot of easy-to-follow tutorials for setting up and managing your site?

Different types of fees that might be assessed:
1. Listing fee
2. Sales commissions, usually as a percent of sale
3. Renewal fees (when listings are time limited)
4. Monthly site maintenance fees

 

Some Tips and Advice:

(1) Your items should be different enough from others to set you apart, and get you remembered
(2) If your items are similar to others, you might consider competing on price
(3) Do NOT depend on the host to promote your site; you must actively – that means, almost every day – do things to promote your site.
(4) Don’t just list your items and let them sit there
(5) Excellent photos are a must
(6) Treat your online shop as a business, not a hobby
(7) Categorize and label your jewelry and jewelry lines; picture the words someone might type into a search bar in order to find this jewelry, and use those as key words in your labeling
(8) Let your passion shine

Many, many people you will be competing with do not necessarily have good business sense, particularly when it comes to pricing their jewelry.    People, in general, tend to underprice their pieces.   They go out of business quickly.   But while they’re in business, you are competing with them, and often you find it hard to compete on price.

This is a given.  That means you have to spend more energy on marketing your competitive advantages, in order to justify the prices you need to charge, in order to stay in business.   Some of this will come down to better presentation – more facts and great detailed images about your jewelry, and  more details about the how your jewelry will benefit your customer.   Better presentation equals more trust; more trust should translate into more sales.   Some more competitive advantages: your jewelry is better made; it uses better materials; your line of jewelry is broader; you have better customer care policies; your style is more unique; your jewelry supports as “cause”.

And many, many more people you will be competing with have very good business sense.    There are over 6 million items of jewelry on sale on Etsy at any one time – many by sharp, savvy artists.   To get seen, heard and responded to takes emphasizing your competitive advantages, as well as persistent, broadly targeted marketing.

 

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2 Responses to “Selling Through Online Craft Marketplaces”

  1. I think the problem for many of us selling on Etsy is figuring out how to promote our sites. I have a blog and I use it, but tried a face book page and could not get anyone on it, I bribed enough family and friends to like it to get admitistrative ability but no one really got on it. If you do not have marketing experience, how can you learn how to market your items ? I am proud of my jewelry and wine charms and want to succeed, but I feel like I am beating my head on a wall sometimes !!

    • There are many online articles and video instructions about marketing your products online. Take advantage of these. On craftartedu.com, you will find two of my video tutorials, one on Pricing Your Jewelry, and the other on Doing Craft Shows.

      It is useful to develop a marketing plan. At first you “shot-gun” the tasks you want to do. That means, you try a little of everything, to see which types of tasks get bigger results.

      Be persistent. Do a marketing task each and every day.

      Examples of marketing tasks:
      1. placing a link to your business on directories and search engines
      2. responding to postings and questions on social media sites and message boards
      3. blogging
      4. advertising; I’ve found that offering gift certificates for fundraisers/silent auctions for pieces of jewelry or a class works very well.
      5. contacting similar or related artists and working on ideas to coordinate your websites or coordinate your marketing. Polyvore is a website that presents collections of items people think go together. You might work with other artists to post collections on there.
      6. print up business cards (check out Vista Prints) or brochures, and hand these out
      7. do craftshows where you use these as marketing tools for your online business
      8. generate an email mailing list and use it

      Hope some of these ideas are helpful.

      Warren

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