Learning a craft is one of life’s great pleasures. While perfecting your skills over countless hours, you’ve probably thought about how you could sell some of the items you create. Knowing how to get started with this can be tricky, but we’re here to help.
Setting up an online store is now easier than ever, with countless ecommerce platforms offering simple tools at an affordable price to help you get your products online.
In fact, now is the best time ever to open an online store. Statistics have shown a huge recent spike in US ecommerce sales, which jumped from $154 billion in Q1 of 2020 to $215 billion in the same period in 2021. On top of that, annual ecommerce sales in the US are also set to rise to $563.4 billion by 2025.
In this guide, we’ll walk you step-by-step through what it takes to get your fantastic crafts online and give you some tips on how to get them flying off those digital shelves.
If you’re considering launching an online store, then you probably have a good idea of the types of crafts you will sell. However, taking some time to assess the market will help you understand the potential of your new business, and how you may be able to make small tweaks to get better results.
Start by researching these key areas:
- Who your competitors are/will be
- What your competitors offer
- How your competitors market themselves and generate sales (their business model)
- What the demand for your crafts is like
- What the current trends in your chosen niche are
The amount of market research you can do is practically endless, and can often seem daunting. But even just spending a few hours using Google to research the points above can really help inform your decision-making as you prepare to start selling crafts online.
So, now you have a grip on what the market looks like – and exactly what it is you’re going to sell – it’s time to decide where you’re going to sell your crafts online. Once you scratch the surface, you’ll find countless options to help you get selling, but below, we’ve put together a go-to guide to picking the best option for you.
Where to Sell Your Crafts Online: Options
- Online store
- Online marketplace
- Social media
Creating an online store is the first thing that most people think about when selling their crafts online. There are many great platforms that will provide you with everything you need to get set up; some of the best include Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace. Here are a few things to think over when considering whether an online store is for you:
- Maintain a greater level of control over your store
- Add functionality as and when you need it
- Generally levies lower fees to sell your products
- Ability to use the website as a brand-building tool
- Usually more expensive to set up
- You’ll be responsible for driving your own traffic to the site
- You’ll be in charge of dealing with any technical issues (although most ecommerce platforms offer excellent help and support)
One alternative to creating your own online store to sell your crafts on is to take advantage of an established online marketplace.
Etsy, for example, is a very popular marketplace amongst crafters, although you can also use more general marketplaces – such as eBay or Amazon – to sell your products. Check out the negatives and positives of this approach below, to find out whether this form of online selling is right for you:
- Access to a large audience who are ready to buy
- It’s simple – and often free – to set up and sell products
- There’s no onus on you to maintain the site
- Fees are usually applied to each sale
- You have no control over the functionality of the site
- Costs can arise with little or no notice
Social commerce is a relative newcomer to the ecommerce space, with channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest all now allowing businesses to sell directly to customers, without them even having to leave the platform. But is social media the right form of selling for your burgeoning crafts business?
- Sell direct to customers where they like to hang out (on social media)
- Lower fees than many marketplaces
- Ability to create an exciting shopping experience with high impact content
- Ability to easily leverage User Generated Content (UGC) to make more sales
- The platform will usually take a fee per sale
- You won’t have any control over the functionality of the platform
Brands are a crucial part of growing any business, but this is especially true when it comes to selling your crafts online.
As you build your brand, your audience will come to recognize it and associate it with the skill and craftsmanship that goes into creating your products. There are countless well-known examples of this: from associating the Apple logo with quality computers to conflating the Porsche name with luxurious cars.
Here are a few tips to get you started with creating a strong online brand:
- Use customer research to find out the types of businesses they like to deal with, and the styles that appeal to them
- Develop a brand identity that represents what you stand for, and which appeals to your audience
- Create helpful content that positions you as knowledgeable about your craft
- Use platforms such as a blog and social media to develop a brand voice, and to increase your reach
It takes a lot of time, effort, and skill to create your crafts, so don’t do them a disservice by posting a dark, blurry photo – alongside a half-hearted product description – on your online store.
One downside to ecommerce is that your customers don’t get the opportunity to really inspect the quality of your products in person. This means it’s your job to best represent your products, in order to give your customers the best idea of what they can expect to receive.
Take multiple good quality photos of your product from different angles. Ideally, your photos should be taken on a white background, although a simple, bright and aesthetically pleasing backdrop can also produce good results.
You may also choose to add shots of your product being used, in order to add an additional dimension to your showcase.
Try adding a video of your product that gives customers a 360-degree view.
Your product description is where you really sell your crafts. Although you need to add practical details about the product, you’ll also need to sell the product to the customer, by helping them imagine what it’s like to own and use your product themselves.
Pricing your product is always a tricky task. It’s all about making your products financially viable and appealing, whilst also ensuring that you’re remunerated for the skill and time you’ve put into creating them.
Here are some quick tips on pricing your products. If you want more detailed insights, check out our article that explores how to price a product.
- Calculate material cost per product
- Estimate overhead cost split between products made
- Calculate the time invested per product, and how much you would like to be paid for your time
These three factors will make up your price. However, you’ll also need to check this price against competitors on the market. If your prices are above the average, you may be paying too much for materials, or charging too much for your time. If your prices are below the norm, you may be missing something – or paying yourself unfairly!
Whether you decide to build an online store or sell via social media, you’ll need to set some time aside to get set up. To help you out, we’ve noted down a few examples below, so you can see what’s typically involved in this process:
Creating Your Own Online Store for Your Crafts
- Visit shopify.com and sign up
- Select a domain for your store
- Select a theme and customize your content
- Upload your crafts
- Decide on how and where you will be paid
- Go live and start selling!
Creating a Seller Account for Your Crafts on an Online Marketplace
- Visit etsy.com and create an account
- Select ‘Set up your Etsy shop’
- Fill out the required information, which includes: Shop preference, shop name, product information, how you want to be paid, how you want to be billed
- Start selling!
Selling Crafts on Social Media
- Ensure you are eligible to sell on Instagram
- Convert or set up a creator or business account
- Connect your Instagram to your Facebook page
- Upload your products
- Submit your account for review
- Turn on shopping
- Tag your products on images or stories
- Start selling!
Packing and shipping your crafts is an often overlooked part of getting set up when selling online. It’s vitally important to understand how much it will cost you to ship your products, as well as how (and how much!) you plan on charging your customers for this.
There are three main ways of handling the shipping of your crafts:
- Free shipping – where the cost of shipping is built into the product
- Flat-fee ship – where you offer a flat rate for shipping based on an average cost
- Real-time shipping – where customers are charged the exact cost of shipping their items
When assessing your product packing and shipping needs, you’ll also need to consider:
- Which courier is best suited to your needs and budget
- How you will package your products so they reach your customers safely
- Whether you need to take out insurance on your products whilst they’re being delivered
However fantastic your crafts are, without marketing them, it’s unlikely that anyone will know what they are, or understand why they need them in their lives. Marketing your online store, then, is a huge subject, which we cover in detail in several other articles:
However, in this section, we’ll still give you a few top tips to get started with marketing your craft store – though it’s dependent on the platform you’re using.
Unlike online marketplaces – which generally come with ready-made audiences – when you create your own online store, you’ll be responsible for driving traffic to your own site. Here are a few marketing tools that work well in this scenario:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): posting blogs, increasing site speed, and securing backlinks
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM): paying to rank highly on search engine results for particular keywords that are relevant to your crafts
- Organic social media: posting engaging content on social media to drive traffic to your online craft store
- Social media ads: paying to reach those who matter most to your business via social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram
Marketplaces usually have a considerable amount of traffic already visiting their site. So, in this instance, there’s less of a need for you to drive traffic to your site through means such as SEO. However, not all the traffic on the site will find its way to your store. Here are a few smart ways to drive attention to your products:
- On platform ads: paying to ensure your products appear at the top of listings
- Organic social media and social media ads: driving traffic from social media platforms directly to your store
Social commerce offers the most simple way of marketing your crafts online. As shopping is native to the social platform, on-platform promotion is by far the best way to drive sales. This may include:
- Building your audience through posting quality content
- Paying for social ads that lead customers directly to where they can purchase products
When you get started with selling your crafts online, you’ll inevitably make a few mistakes. This is natural, and also serves as a good way to improve your skills. Don’t get disheartened when you do something that doesn’t work out as planned – just make sure that you learn from it!
In this guide, we’ve walked you through everything you need to know to get yourself set up to sell your crafts online. From which products to purvey, to which platforms to sell them on, you have all the knowledge you need to turn your passion into profit.
How to Start Selling Crafts Online: Checklist
Answer these questions to ensure that your online craft store is ready for the world:
- What products will you sell?
- Where will you sell your crafts?
- What will your brand look/feel like?
- How will you showcase your products?
- How much will you charge for your products?
- Are you set up and ready to sell?
- How will you ship your products?
- How will you market your brand?
- How will you ensure you capture and learn from your mistakes?