If you are looking at marketing your craft business online, I FIRMLY believe you need to start by checking out Etsy. I was searching around and found a lot of negative info about Etsy and felt that I needed to come down firmly on the “Etsy is not stupid” side!
Etsy.com is an online market place for crafts and collectables. They have set up a system where you can list and sell your items to a built in audience of people primed to buy handcrafted items.
The reason I am so gung-ho about Esty.com is that having worked with hundreds of small business owners over the years, I know the pitfalls of building a website from scratch (and a website is what you will need to have a large ecommerce site), getting a merchant account and hooking it to your shopping cart and then after all that (I would plan on paying at least $5,000 for a decent site), you have to find and drive traffic to it.
Clearing up some misconceptions about any site like etsy.com
So I was reading horror stories about how paying less than twenty dollars a month for an online marketplace was unthinkable. HMMMMM I have an online shopping cart (infusionsoft.com), a merchant account, an in-between the merchant account and the website processor, hosting and URL costs. Those are well over $300 a month before I sell a thing. Twenty bucks a month and a portion of sales is nothing compared to setting all that up!
There are other crafters there so you are competing with each other. This one is really hard for me because I just want to say, well duh! OF COURSE it is good that there are other crafters there….while it would be great if you could generate that much traffic to your little site WITHOUT having competition, it is the aggregation of all those other crafters that gets people there!
There are other crafters there part two…So we get this a lot with the video sites. They tell their members that it is better that no one can go to someone else’s video because they are sitting alone. That is the big problem…their video is sitting alone without any other videos to help generate additional interest…much like your sales site sitting alone will need a lot of help to generate interest.
Someone is going to steal your idea…sigh. Okay, so if you are NOT selling on Etsy, do you think that someone will not still steal your idea? Are you selling at craft fairs, someone could steal your idea, going door to door, ditto. If you are creative and working, there is always a chance that someone could copy you, but they can’t BE you. If you make something truly amazing, then no one will be able to copy you!
Etsy drives down the price of your artwork. This one reminds me of the realtors talking to their clients. Because the client has a “special” house, they should get more money for it. There are no special houses (or at least very few) and the market determines what the price should be. If you are selling lace doilies and no one is buying, could be a couple of things, they are not all that popular or they are overpriced. You can’t make the market want what you are selling, you need to ask the market what is popular and then cater to them!
These are just a few of the things that I heard, overall please just know that having this type of marketplace is a great place to start and get started. Some of what I heard was sour grapes and I think that we can fix that with sound craft business marketing (but that is a post for another day!)