[17] Should You Sell Your Craft Online?

The Create & Thrive Podcast - Episode 17

In today’s episode, I’m going to take you through a workshop that will help you decide whether you should sell your craft online.

You might find that you prefer to sell via wholesale or consignment in shops, or at markets –  or maybe you can do a mixture of all three.

I love selling online; it suits me and my lifestyle.

Why? Well, amongst other things, I like to have my weekends off – and I especially love the idea of making money in my sleep!

No matter what, you need to have a website and a couple of social media channels but that doesn’t mean you have to sell your products online if that isn’t a good fit for you and your particular product.

Listen in and think about each of the points below to see whether selling online is a good fit for your business.

  1. It will take you longer to make money.
  2. Is your item easily shipped?
  3. Are you happy to sell internationally?
  4. Is your work easily reproducible?
  5. Do you value face-to-face interaction over online interaction?
  6. Do you have the products to do markets?
  7. Do you like having your weekends free?
  8. Are you willing to invest the time to take and edit stellar photos?
  9. Do you enjoy the process of selling and marketing?
  10. Are you happy to make less money selling to shops?
  11. Do you have the time or the skills to set up an online shop?

In the podcast, I take you through each of these points in detail, in order to help you consider the pros and cons of each question.

Sell in your sleep

Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • If you decide to focus on selling online, it will take you longer to make money; unless you have a lot of money upfront to get your shop running with lots of advertising and marketing.
  • Online is more about the long game.
  • “Once you’re established and you have traffic going to your site, you’ll make money in your sleep.”
  • Consignment and wholesale will make you larger chunks of money but more sporadically.
  • If you make small items, selling online can be easy since shipping can be reasonably low.
  • If you make large or heavy items then shipping might put off some customers.
  • If you sell online, you’ll make more sales if you’re happy to sell your things online.
  • “80-85% of my sales are International”.
  • It can be really exciting to sell to people overseas.
  • Don’t be worried about losing items in the mail.
  • “I sell thousands of parcels overseas every year and I have about four go missing. I write these off as expenses and send a replacement.”
  • Don’t be concerned about language, use Google Translate and use a disclaimer that you’ve used that service so the customer.
  • If you’re going to have a successful online business, you really have to have some items which are reproducible.
  • You need to do so much for one listing (photography, description, loading onto the site etc) that it makes more sense to sell the same design over and over again.
  • “All I have to do when an item is sold, is make the item and send it. Each item is as close to the prototype as I can make it – and though it might be the ‘same’ as another product I’ve made, it’s still handmade with love.”
  • You don’t have to give OOAK products all together, you just need to have a reproducible range too.
  • Then you can put your high end creations online when you have the time and passion to create them and not feel like it becomes a chore.
  • You can interact on your own terms and in your own time.
  • “I don’t even have a phone line, I do all my business via email.”
  • If you love face-to-face and you get energy from interactions with other people then selling online might not be the best thing for you.
  • “I don’t have any stock. I make a design, I photograph it and then more often than not, I keep it myself or I give it to Nick.”
  • Wearing your own jewellery is a great way to market your goods.
  • Markets don’t make much ‘time sense’ if you don’t have a lot of products lying around.
  • If you can make a lot of product quickly, markets might work for you.
  • If you don’t want to work on the weekends then markets probably aren’t for you.
  • “Most often I can make more online in my day at the markets than at the market itself.”
  • When you sell online, you’re not actually selling the product, you’re selling the photo of the product.
  • If you’re not willing to learn how to take amazing photos, it’s not worth starting.
  • If your photos aren’t stellar yet, as long as you’re willing to work on them, don’t let that stop you.
  • It might take you a week, a month or a few years but it’s worthwhile trying.
  • “I’m not a trained photographer but I’ve worked it out myself so you can do it too.”
  • C&T GUIDE: Product Photography by Jeffrey Opp
  • There’s no way around it, you’re now a salesperson and a marketer.
  • Do you enjoy telling your story? Because that’s marketing!
  • If you can change your mindset and think about marketing as telling your story rather than selling your product then it will be a much more authentic experience.
  • When you’re selling online, you need to enjoy that process and you need to work out how to enjoy it.
  • When you sell at a market or online, you get the whole price.
  • Through a shop, you will be getting around 50% of your retail price in your pocket.
  • Consignment is a bit ‘iffy’ sometimes since you get your money only after the product sells in the shop rather than upfront.
  • If you’re not already making a profit on your product above the wholesale price, don’t start selling to shops yet.
  • No matter what avenue you choose, it’s going to be a lot of hard work.
  • Time is part of the expense of your business.
  • Out of the options of Markets, Wholesaling to Shops or Online Selling: which one makes you feel a flutter of excitement?
  • Pick one to focus on and make it your priority.
  • It doesn’t mean you can’t dabble in the other options, you should just focus your attention on one route to start with.
  • “You’ll probably find it’s easier than you thought it was to get started.”
  • Nobody can tell you which way to go but there are lots of folks who help you with the ‘how’.
  • C&T COURSE: Set Up Shop with Jess Van Den
  • C&T COURSE: Wholesale Know How with Melanie Augustin

Download/Listen to this Episode

You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher

Set Up Shop Registration Open Now!

 

 

Set Up Shop Square (1)

Yes, it’s time… the first class of Set Up Shop for 2015 is now open for registration!

I’ve had the honour of guiding over 400 creatives through this course over the past two years, and I’m looking forward to helping you turn your online shop into something that you can both be proud of, AND that sets you up to actually bring in sales and grow your business. In this course, I’m coming from a place of hard-won experience – I’ve done what I’m teaching you, and I have a successful online craft business that supports me and my little family (and employs both me and my husband).

I have (and am still) ‘walking the walk’ of running an online handmade business.  I’m right there in the trenches with you, every single day. This is not something I theoretically know how to do – it’s something I’ve done, and continue to work on.

I know the system I teach in Set Up Shop works. Both because my students tell me so, and because I used what I teach here to get my own business up and running.

I created this course because I’m passionate about sharing what I learn, AND helping others to realise their dream of having a successful craft business – because I want you to enjoy the freedom, joy, and fulfilment that comes from doing just that.

Registration is open now, and will close midday Sunday the 22nd of March AEST (that’s Australian Eastern Standard Time!).

Class begins Monday the 23rd of March, and runs for 30 days.

To find out exactly how the course works, the options you have for Membership, and what we’ll be covering, head on over to the course page here.

If you’re worried that you won’t be able to afford this course, because you’ve seen all the super-expensive courses that are out there – don’t be.

The entry level Membership to Set Up Shop is just $85* – because I want every single person who needs this course to be able to afford it.

I want YOU to be able to invest in this course and experience the huge positive changes it can help you make in your life and business.

Set Up Shop Alumni Carolyn Grill says this of her experience:

It has been eye-opening and inspiring and I can say, wholeheartedly, if you are thinking of opening up an online shop this course will save you so much time and frustration.  Plus, you’ll meet a host of other talented, helpful creative types.  Money so very well spent!

If you have any questions, please just leave them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you asap.

I hope you can join us and get your shop up and running in 2015!

Register Now

Jess x

 


 

(*price in AUD, and GST applies to Aussies)

How to Bring Quality, Targeted Traffic to Your Online Shop

 

 

 

 

How to find quality, targeted traffic

This is a guest post by Arianne Foulks of Aeolidia.


 

I’ve discussed conversion rate on on the Aeolidia blog before, and this is a useful companion piece, about how to get serious buyers to your website in the first place.

It can be very puzzling figuring out how to get people to visit your site, especially if you’ve been relying on a service such as Etsy to drive traffic to you. Once you have a website of your own to promote, you need a plan to reach out to all the right people.

I have a lot of great email chats with creative business owners who receive my newsletter, and I was recently asked:

Another thing we are currently working on right now is probably something a lot of new e-commerce site owners are trying to figure out – good quality traffic. We are working through our marketing plan/checklist now, but I know it’s just going to take time to get the traffic flow we want. I think all the pieces are there – good quality site, good products, and good social media interaction. We just need to grow our trickle of customers to a steady flow!

This question shows a lot of insight, because the biz owner knows she should be looking for good quality traffic, not just traffic. “Traffic” is how we refer to the flow of people onto and through our websites. Your traffic is how many visitors  you get. If you have low quality traffic, you may get hundreds of thousands of people on your site, with only a few remaining there to purchase.

High quality traffic will give you a lot of sales with less people visiting (and less marketing effort on your part).

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Why you want targeted traffic

Many of our clients run creative businesses that are so unique and out of the mainstream that they’re going to want highly targeted traffic – meaning visitors who understand the type of business they are, and who are looking for the kind of stuff they sell.

For instance, we featured Finspo on our blog recently, a business that creates wearable mermaid tails. You can’t just tell a random person on the street about Finspo and expect them to bust out their wallet. Advertising someplace for everyone to see will likely be a waste of Finspo’s ad dollars. But advertising in places where she knows mermaid tail lovers are hanging out will pay off well, such as a sci-fi/fantasy conference where people dress in costume, or a mermaid-loving Facebook group.

Your business doesn’t need to be wildly unusual to want targeted traffic. Most readers of a blog like Design*Sponge, for example, are interested in design, naturally, so a business selling design-oriented products or services would much prefer the targeted traffic of a Design*Sponge editorial post than a mention on a website that caters to an audience who don’t value design.

The more unique or niche your business is, the more carefully you’ll want to target your marketing efforts. If you feel like you offer something most everyone would want, go ahead and send a firehose of untargeted traffic to your site and enjoy! But generally, it’s easier to distinguish yourself by not appealing to the masses, and instead speaking to your own group of likeminded people.

Research your target customer

So, how exactly do you do this?

Research your target customer

Things to know when marketing your products or services:

  • Who is my target customer?
  • What problem can I solve for my target customer?
  • What desires can I fulfill for my target customer?
  • Where does my target customer hang out?
  • How does my target customer communicate?
  • What motivates my target customer to make a purchase?

Spend some time in your customers’ shoes and find out what blogs they’re reading, what hashtags they’re following, what Pinterest boards they build, what language they use.

This will allow you to do the right thing when trying to attract them.

Make a plan to attract the right people

Understanding your target customer will help you know:

  • What blogs you want to be featured on
  • What sites to advertise on
  • What keywords to pay for
  • How to word your pitch, advertisement, or website
  • What benefits to point out
  • What offers to make
  • What collaborations to forge

How can you apply this research?

Here are some ways to market your business and get the traffic that will convert to sales on your website:

  • Get editorial features, do giveaways, or guest post on blogs that you know your perfect customers are reading.
  • Pitch your business to niche publications.
  • Use Google’s retargeting ads to only advertise to people who have already visited your site and are likely to be interested (best quality traffic!).
  • When purchasing keyword ads, use very specific keywords, rather than vague or broad ones (for Finspo, “mermaid tail,” not “costumes”).
  • Adjust the copy/content on your website to speak directly to your target customer, and remove anything that’s trying to pander to a wide audience. This will help with retaining the traffic you get, and making sure Google shows your site to the right people.
  • Post regularly to a blog on your site that is very specific to what your target customer is interested in. This will make you show up on Google when these people are searching for their interests.
  • Be familiar enough with your audience that you can keep them subscribed to your newsletter and  your social media feeds, and share with their friends.
  • Collaborate with a non-competing business that has an audience that will like your stuff, to promote each others’ work in a win-win way.

How do you market your business?

Are you trying to reach a lot of people, or enough of the right people?

How do you know when you’re doing things right?

What questions do you have about applying this advice to your business?

Please share in the comments!

 


Get your targeted traffic workbook

Arianne has created a free PDF workbook to research and pin down what you know about where your best customers are hanging out. It explains the concepts above in more detail, and you can use the included tips to make a plan to get high-quality, high-converting traffic to your website. Click here to get the worksheet and bring buying customers to your site!

5 Things You Need Before You’re Ready to Sell Your Craft Online

 

 

 

 

5 Things You Need Before You're Ready to

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.

 

5. Courage

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?

Join us for Set Up Shop – a 30-day e-course that teaches you just that. I learnt the hard way, but you don’t have to – join over 400 crafty entrepreneurs who’ve already taken the course and get your own online shop up and running! 

Click here to find out more…

 

Set Up Shop Registration Open Now for October 2014!

Set Up Shop Square (1)

 

Yes, it’s time… the final class of Set Up Shop for 2014 is now open for registration!

I’ve had the honour of guiding over 300 creatives through this course over the past two years, and I’m looking forward to helping you turn your online shop into something that you can both be proud of, AND that sets you up to actually bring in sales and grow your business. In this course, I’m coming from a place of hard-won experience – I’ve done what I’m teaching you, and I have a successful online craft business that supports me and my little family (and employs both me and my husband).

I have (and am still) ‘walking the walk’ of running an online handmade business. I created this course because I’m passionate about sharing what I learn, AND helping others to realise their dream of having a successful craft business – because I want you to enjoy the freedom, joy, and fulfilment that comes from doing just that.

Registration is open now, and will close midday Sunday the 5th of October AEST (that’s Australian Eastern Standard Time!).

Class begins Monday the 6th of October, and runs for 30 days.

To find out exactly how the course works, the options you have for Membership, and what we’ll be covering, head on over to the course page here.

If you’re worried that you won’t be able to afford this course, because you’ve seen all the super-expensive courses that are out there – don’t be. The entry level Membership to Set Up Shop is just $85* – because I want every single person who needs this course to be able to afford it.

According to conventional wisdom (and what many of my past students have told me) I should be charging a lot more for this course, but you know what? I don’t need a Ferrari (my campervan is just fine). I don’t need a fancy house (my two rooms are enough). I don’t need to make a million from this course: just enough to make you value it, and for me to justify spending the time on it. What I need is for YOU to be able to take this course and experience the huge positive changes it can help you make in your life and business.

Oh – and one last thing… if you’ve been considering doing the course for a while now, and you were planning on signing up for Gold Membership (where I give you a full shop critique after the course) OR for Platinum Membership (where you also get a one-on-one skype session with me) – this is your last chance!

I’m reorganising the Gold and Platinum Membership levels after this run of the course – and you will no longer get a full critique with Gold Membership – only with Platinum (which will be changing to the 3-month-mentorship model similar to what I offer with SHIFT). I currently charge $95 for a full critique outside of the course, so getting it in the current Gold Membership is quite a bargain. If you want one, and you want to do Set Up Shop, don’t miss out – there are only 20 Gold Places available.

If you have any questions, please just leave them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you asap.

I hope you can join us and get your shop ship-shape just in time for the Christmas rush!

Jess x

 

(*price in AUD, and GST applies to Aussies)