I wrote last week about how to work out whether or not selling online is the way to go for you and your handmade business. Today, I want to address the issue of readiness – that is, are you even at the stage where you’re ready to think about starting an online craft business?
When you’re growing a business, there are always things to learn. The list is endless, and always expanding.
However, there are 5 absolutely non-negotiable things that you need to get a handle on if you’re considering selling your work online.
1. An Attractive & Useful Product
When you move from making something because you love it, to making something to sell it, you need to shift your thinking.
It’s no longer just about you – it’s about your customer. This doesn’t mean you can’t make what you love – you should be making something you love – but when you design and make a new product, you need to consider whether it’s something your ideal customer will love… and pay good money for.
If you’ve done the work to figure out who your ideal customer is – what their wants and needs are – this will be infinitely easier. And, if you have a brand in place, your new products will naturally have to fit in with that, rather than being a random mish-mash of things you just ‘felt like making’.
2. A Brand
Successful businesses have a brand. Full-stop. And it’s not accidental, either – it may have grown organically, but smart businesspeople quickly realise the power of branding in all they do. It makes their work recognisable. It gives customers and fans something to connect to. It makes designing new products and marketing strategies easier because everything you do needs to fit with your brand. Constraints are the best friend of the creative.
It doesn’t matter what your brand is – what matters is that you have one, and that your imagery, photographs, visual marketing, and copy (all the text you use on your site/in your communication) reinforce and align with your brand.
3. The Ability to Take Stellar Product Photos
Once you have a brand and attractive + useful products, it’s time to show your products off to the world. When you sell physical items online, your photographs will make or break your business.
There are, of course, a stack of obvious basics that you need to get right, but you also need to capture that elusive ‘wow’ factor that makes your product stand out from the rest. This is somthing that takes time and experimentation – but chances are you’ll know it when you find it. You’ll see sales increase, features increase, and that’s the only true way to know for sure you’ve hit on the right photography formula.
4. A Basic Understanding of SEO
Sure, your photos are what will draw someone in and convince them to buy – but how are they supposed to find you in the first place? Via text search. We have yet to reach the point where we can plug our brains into the internet and search for what we want via images (though I’m sure it will happen one day). There are, thankfully, a lot more visual channels for people to find us (such as Pinterest and Instagram). But, for now, you need to understand how SEO – search engine optimisation – works, at least at a very basic level, because in order to search for something specific, our customers still need to use words.
You need to ensure that the titles, description and tags (if any) attached to your product are full of keywords that customers will use to find your product.
Honestly, I should have put this first, because without courage, you will never succeed. Business is all about experimentation. You have to be willing to take risks, fail… and then pick yourself up and try again. You have to live with fear every day. You have to be comfortable with uncertainty. There are no fail-safe formulas for business success.
Everything I’ve covered here can be taught and learnt. Yes – you can even learn to be more courageous! However, a certain level of self-confidence is definitely a pre-requisite to creating a successful online business.
You need to believe in yourself – that you are capable of facing challenges, learning what you need to learn to overcome them, and that you are worthy of success. You need to believe in your brand, your products, your photography, and be proud of what you are offering to the world.
Because if you don’t believe in yourself – why would your customers?
Do you want to learn how to set up your own online craft shop and get it right, first time?