Selling Crafts Online - 10 GET REAL Questions!


There's a great deal of info on this site and all over the internet on starting a craft business, selling your handmade products online, and selling on Etsy and Folksy.  The craft market is booming with more and more independent artists, makers and designers looking to start selling crafts online everyday - which is FANTASTIC!

However competition is rife, and unless you fully embrace online marketing (and I mean a proper bear hug when I say embrace) then it's unlikely you will succeed (which is sad for everyone).

I have been writing tips for building blog traffic and selling crafts on the internet for a number of sites and on this blog for nearly 5 years now, sharing tips I learn in my day job as a digital marketing consultant and online community manager. (see my cv here!)

Online Marketing For Your Craft Business

My Book is now available!

Have a browse through my post online marketing tips for craft sellers which has masses of links for you to read through.

 I wanted to concentrate this advice into 10 questions for anyone considering setting up a crafts business to answer before they make a start.

If you have already started selling your handmade products online please leave a comment at the end of the post - because I'd really like to know -

"What  do you wish you had known before
setting up your craft business online?"

Here are my GET REAL questions for would-be craft sellers - 

1. Do you have a desirable product? 
If the answer is "yes it's ace, obviously - I made it", then slow down before you start bulk buying materials. Have you done any market research? - Who will buy your products (the target market) and do you have any competition? Ask your best friends for their honest ruthless opinion - be sure they understand that the product is a prototype and you need feedback.

2. How much time do you have per week to spend making your product - and how many products does that mean you can make per week?
eg - realistically 2 evenings a week plus a Sunday afternoon for example = 10hrs a week.  If each item takes 30 minutes to make that's 20 items a week maximum.  What if they each take 3 hrs - that's just 3 a week - how can you make the items quicker without compromising on quality.

3. Have you worked out the exact cost of producing your handmade item?
You want to sell your work at a fair price - don't give it away, if you don't make a profit it is not a business, it's a hobby.  Also look at the hidden costs of selling online, web hosting, market place listing fees, advertising, stationery, packaging, postage.  Oh and your time?  Can you use less expensive materials without compromising on quality.

4. Are you happy to spend that much time working for that much profit?
Lets say your 20 items a week are a great success and you make £5 profit on each after factoring in all the costs.  So in a really good week you make £100  for 10hrs work right?  That's £10 an hour...  oh but we've forgotten one thing...

5. How much time do you have available to spend marketing your work per week?
I think at least an hour per day is needed (would love to hear how much time any of you actually spend on marketing, eg writing blog posts, social networking and writing newsletters etc) - so 7hrs per week - your hourly wage is now coming down to around £5 - and you are working pretty hard! Oh and don't foget the time needed on admin! (taking photographs, editing photographs, adding listings to websites, accounts and self assesment forms)
      Does your idea still work for you?   Good because that means you are passionate about your craft and that's a good sign - you will love every hour you put into it and you aren't purely motivated by profit margins.  Hooray, now move on to the next set of questions! 
    Alexandra Snowdon - When you feel like quitting, remember why you started
6. Have you thought of a unique business name?
Research any name ideas online to see if the domain is available (check with 123reg) and also checked for similar names on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  It's very deflating when you realise your funny pun name is not "sew" unique after all.

7. What is your route to market?
Will you sell just from your own website or take advantage of the traffic on handmade market places? Setting up a shop with Folksy and Etsy is a fantastic way to test the market before investing (time or money) into a website or into paying fees for a more prestigious site like Not on the High Street.  They also have big internal support networks so you can get involved in the communities and make some friends and fans in the craft community.

8. Can you take amazing photographs?
When you are selling crafts online you need to have lovely photographs.  Take a look at my craft gallery for inspiration and read my product photography tips -  if necessary invest in a course, it will pay off!

9. Are you aware of Search Engine Optimisation?
People need to be able to find your work! The content you create online can be tweaked so that it appears nearer to position one when someone searches for it - I have a good post on here that explains seo and how you can use your craft blog to drive traffic to your webshop.

10. Do you have a Social Media Strategy
Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Google+  - any idea how to use them and importantly how not to use them to sell your crafts.  They are all about engaging with potential customers and influencers - you need to to some research on each social media channel and work out how much time you can spare to keep them regularly updated.

        Find all my marketing advice for crafters here - boosting traffic to your website with seo and content marketing and increasing your social reach - just click here!
      Please ask anything you like in the comments or add your advice by letting us know what you should have spent more time researching or doing when you started running a craft business.

      I've created a thread over on CraftsForum and on the Etsy UK team page - have a look and see what they all have to say too!