Should You Sell Your Craft Online?

 

 

 

 

Should You Sell Your Craft Online-

Is selling your craft online right for you? Or would you be better off selling it via markets, shows, or to shops via wholesale and/or consignment? Or should you do a combination?

I think it is pretty clear these days that you at the very least need to have a presence online. That means a basic website and blog, as well as a few social media channels. No matter how you actually sell your craft, you still need an online presence so people can find you, connect with you, and become (hopefully) raving fans of your work.

But does that mean you have to sell online? Not necessarily…

The decision as to whether to sell your craft online or focus on offline sales is a personal one, but there are a number of factors to consider when you’re trying to make the decision. I’ve put together a list for you to consider below.

 

1. It will take longer to make money

No doubt about it – if you decide to focus on selling your craft online, it will take longer to make decent money. Markets allow you to make money on-the-spot much faster (provided they are successful), and selling to shops via wholesale means you get a nice chunk of cash straight up.

That said – once you’re established, you’ll be making money every day – even while you sleep! I love waking up in the morning and checking my sales from overnight. By selling online you will get smaller bursts of money more regularly – whereas markets and wholesale will give you larger chunks of money less frequently.

 

2. Is your item easily shipped?

If you make small items and/or light items, selling online is pretty straightforward. Shipping costs can be kept relatively low (especially in Australia if you can ship via a large letter size rather than a parcel) and it’s not too hard to carry a bunch of parcels to the post office.

However, if you make large or heavy items, shipping – especially internationally – can get pretty darn expensive. You might be better off selling at markets or to shops in your town/city to eliminate this problem.

Expensive shipping can definitely put off some customers – however, you’ll be surprised what some people are willing to pay for shipping if they REALLY LOVE what you are selling.

That brings me to…

 

3. Are you happy to sell internationally?

If you’re selling online, you’ll grow your business faster and make more money if you’re willing to ship all around the world. Don’t be put off by slightly higher shipping costs, or any other fears – it’s well worth the effort of working out a range of shipping costs up-front to get those international sales.

Around 75% of my jewellery sales are international – mostly to the US, Canada, and the UK, but I’ve also sold to Russia, Italy, Singapore, and many, many other countries.

If you’re worried about parcels going missing – don’t. I usually have around 4 parcels go missing each year (out of thousands) and they are just as likely to be within Australia as overseas! For me, lost parcels are just another one of my costs – I write them off as expenses and send a replacement piece.

The language barrier is also no longer a barrier thanks to Google Translate. I love being able to write a message in English, pop it in GT, and send it to my customer in their native language (with a disclaimer that I’ve used GT in the case that I’ve said something awkward, of course!).

 

4. Is your work easily reproducible?

This is big one. If you want to have a successful online craft business, at least some of your products must be reproducible. Why? Because when you sell online you not only have to do the work of making your piece, you also have to photograph it, edit the photos, upload them, write a description, calculate shipping costs, choose keywords… and the list goes on. If you’re doing this for OOAK products (unless they are very expensive – like high-end jewellery) you’re going to hit a wall and not have enough time to make products and do all of this work AND make a decent profit while actually enjoying life rather than being a slave to your work.

By having reproducible products, you do all this secondary work just once – then you can sit back and sell the same design over and over again. Each one can be and is unique and handmade, but you do have to have a design that you can reproduce to be almost identical to your online display item.

 

5. Do you value face-to-face interaction over online interaction?

If you’re an introvert, then selling online is perfect for you. You can interact with customers and potential customers on your own time, at your own pace. You don’t need a phone number (I don’t make my number available – I work exclusively via email and in the 6 years I’ve been in business this has never ONCE been a problem).

However, if you’re an extrovert, and you adore face-to-face contact with your customers, then you might find selling online a little disheartening. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from selling primarily online and still attending a market here and there to get your ‘customer fix’.

And, you can still interact with your customers via email and social media – I do this every day and it’s part of my job that I love.

 

6. Do you have the products to do markets?

Because I have focussed on online business – and reproducible designs – I no longer do markets. Why? Simply because I don’t have stock to sell at them! When I make a new prototype design, I make it, photograph it, and then, more often than not, keep it for myself or Nick. It means we have a nice bank of our own jewellery to wear when we’re out and about – which is of course one great way to market your work.

So, for me, markets don’t make financial or time sense – I can make as much online in a day as I make at most standard markets, and I spend way less time and effort to do it.

If, however, you make the sort of thing where you’ve always got stock laying around, or you can make lots of stock quickly, then markets are a great idea!

 

7. Do you like having your weekends free?

This is another reason I don’t like doing markets, personally. I know I’m self-employed, so I can set the hours and days I want to work… but most of my friends aren’t! So, if I want to hang out with them, I have to do it on the days they have free – and that’s generally the weekend. I don’t like having to get up super-early on a Saturday or Sunday morning and schlep myself and a car full of stuff to a market, then stand around all day in the hope I make a few sales.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve done many a market, and there are lots of fun things about it: interacting with customers, hanging out with my crafty peeps, seeing how people respond to my work in-person… but I can do most of this by just attending a market (and spending lots of money on other people’s stuff… ahem…) so that’s my preferred thing to do.

Some folks, however, adore markets and everything about them! If that’s you, then go for it.

 

8. Are you willing to invest the time to learn how to take and edit stellar product photos?

When you sell online, you’re not selling the product, you’re selling the photo. If you’re not willing to invest the time (or money) in getting stellar photos of your work – don’t bother starting. I know that sounds harsh, but with SO much high-quality competition out there, you have to be willing to step up and get your photos right. Nothing else matters until you get this sorted – truly.

That said – if your photos aren’t stellar just yet, don’t let that stop you from at least getting going. Start where you are. Do what you can. Then LEARN and experiment until you end up with high-quality photos. This may take a week – or a few months – or even a few years. I don’t think anyone is ever 100% satisfied with their photos, but once you can put them side-by-side with the best in the business and compete, you’re doing okay.

 

9. Do you enjoy the process of selling and marketing?

There’s no way around it – if you start your own business, you are now a salesperson and a marketer. No matter if you decide just to sell to shops in order to avoid having to sell and market your work direct to customers… you still have to sell and market your work to retailers. There’s no way around this fact.

So – do you enjoy telling your story? Because really, that’s all marketing is – storytelling. If you can change your mindset and come from a place of telling the story of you and what you do, then marketing becomes much easier, authentic, and less ‘icky’ feeling. You might even end up enjoying it…

 

10. Are you happy to make less money selling to shops?

When you sell online or at markets, you of course get the full retail price for your goods. Wholesale and consignment are a different story. For wholesale, you should expect to be paid 50% of the retail price of your work (of course, you set the minimum volume/minimum value that the retailer has to order to make it worth your while). For consignment, you can expect to get a little more – maybe 60-70% of the retail price – but of course you don’t get paid upfront, you only get paid when your work sells.

Consignment is a good way to get the foot in the door when you’re just starting out, OR to get into a specific shop or gallery that don’t work on wholesale. However, consignment isn’t really a viable way to make a living long-term, because the money is just too iffy. If you want to focus on selling to shops, you want to focus on gaining wholesale customers who end up being repeat buyers – that’s the way to grow a sustainable wholesale business.

Of course – you should be pricing your products so you make a profit on the wholesale price – not just the retail price. If you’re not doing this, then don’t start selling to shops, because you’ll end up running your business into the ground through not making enough money to support its growth.

 

11. Do you have the time/skills to set up an online shop?

I included this one because it’s often the excuse I hear from people as to why they’re not selling online. Look – no matter what avenue you take, it will take time to get and keep your business going. If you do markets, you need to invest time in creating displays, sourcing markets, applying, getting to-and-fro, actually attending etc. If you sell to shops, you need to research possible buyers, contact them, follow-up, do trade shows, etc. If you sell online, your time will be spent working on product photos, building/tweaking your website, sourcing new venues to sell on. No matter which path you choose, it will take a good chunk of time to run and grow your business.

As for skills? Photography is really the main thing. You can set up shop online SO easily these days, especially if you start out somewhere like Etsy, where all you have to do is upload pictures and words, and they do all the techy stuff for you. Don’t let a current lack of technical know-how stop you from going the online route. You’ll probably find it’s easier than you thought it was to get started!

 

In the end, this decision will come down to your products, your personality, and your business goals. No-one can tell you the ‘right’ way to sell your craft – it’s something you have to work out for yourself. Of course, once you do, you can find folks who’ve done it before you who can help you figure out the ‘how’ a whole lot sooner!

 

Do you have any questions, or other things that you think need to be considered when it comes to deciding to sell online? Share them with us in the comments.

 


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…

 

This is what Set Up Shop alumni really think… + Registration Final Reminder

 
 
 
 

Set Up Shop - Take your shop from go to whoa - 2014 5

Hey Thrivers!

Just a quick final reminder that registration for the May class of Set Up Shop closes in less than 24 hours.

I’ll be shutting the virtual doors at 9am, on Wednesday April 30th (AEST). Just to help out those of you not in Australia, that time is:

  • 4pm Tuesday in Los Angeles
  • 7pm Tuesday in Toronto
  • Midnight Tuesday in London

Set Up Shop is affordable (less than $100 for the Silver Membership), practical, based on what REALLY works (learnt via my own and others’ trial-and-error actually DOING what I’m teaching you), repeatable (you can go through the lessons over and over again and make progress), always available (I even give you a pdf ebook of the entire content at the end for easy reference), and connects you to a private, supportive community of handmade business owners who really want to make their dream a reality.

I think you’ve heard enough from me about the course… and everything you need to know is on the course page here.

I wanted to leave you with some feedback from a few students that I’ve received recently.

I can tell you how useful, practical, and inspirational the course is till I’m blue in the face… but the true test of quality comes down to what the course alumni think

**************

Set up Shop has been the most productive 30 days I’ve had in my business so far.

It has given me the opportunity to reflect on what I am doing, consolidate and reaffirm what I already do well and give me the push I needed to put into practice processes that will help me to grow my business further.

The daily lessons have been thought provoking and provided me with a clear series of action steps that I was able to work through at my own pace.

These together with the incredible support and shared knowledge provided in the private facebook group have really proven to be incredibly rewarding. I am so glad that I signed up for the course and can’t believe that I even hesitated to do so.

It is a small investment to make for such big benefits.

Thank you Jessica xo

~ Tania Robinson

**************

I have found your course amazing and it has given me the knowledge and courage to do this. The help, knowledge and ongoing support shared by fellow like minded creatives also participating in your course through the facebook page has been invaluable and a source of inspiration.
So thank you Jess for creating this wonderful course and sharing all your know-how with me, I really have appreciated it.
~ Minna Cleggett

**************

Loved this course… Really makes you think about your business & gives you a big kick up the bum to help achieve your goals… Now writing this, I think I need to go over it again so I can see how far I’ve come!!

~ Brianna Murray 

**************

Thanks Jess – so great speaking with you and being a part of your fabulous Create & Thrive e-course.

Participating in the e-course made me feel more connected to a creative community of women and tapping into both yours and their Australian and overseas business experiences, was so enlightening.

It’s great to learn from someone who has done it and is current right now, working in their own creative business too – all from your at home studio/office and on the road too – fab!

Love what you do, mixing it up with your Epheriell jewellery designs, simply beautiful, together with your Create & Thrive business concepts and teaching methods – just so easy to follow with really useful practical information and lots of common sense too.

I am now better equipped to work on and in my business, having shared in the Create & Thrive experience, and I am so looking forward to kicking it up a notch, nurturing my business along and watching it grow.

Thanks for your inspiration, energy and extraordinary desire to help others in the creative industry, to get it right.

~ Colleen Moutsos

**************

This class is awesome. Best investment I’ve made in my business. The private Facebook group is filled with talent and great ideas!

Lisa Palmer 

**************

Register for the May course of Set Up Shop

 

Jess xx

P.S. Remember one of the May students will win a FREE virtual pass to the Artful Business Conference!

This is Why I Want You to Make Your Dream Come True

 

 

 

this-is-why-I-want-you-to-make-your-dreams-reality.jpg

I  just got back from spending 2 weeks travelling around Cambodia.

I have been to South-East Asia before… but I’ve never spent so much time in one country, travelling around on the ground between towns and cities.

It was an experience I wish every single person who lives in a developed nation could have.

Why? Because you will realise, in a visceral, fundamental way that you never have before, just how good you’ve got it.

I never truly valued such simple things as clean air, clean streets, and clean waterways before spending time in a country that doesn’t have any of these things.

Truly. I know I’m pretty lucky – and I work hard – to have the life and lifestyle I enjoy. But you know what? A huge part of my success simply comes from being born where I was… and taking advantage of that.

Most people in Cambodia are still so focussed on survival, that they will never get the chance to follow a dream. It is getting better there, slowly – but they face so many fundamental challenges. After all, over 20% of their entire population was killed in the 1970s during the reign of the Khmer Rouge.

I don’t know where you’re sitting as you’re reading this. However, given that you are here, with a internet-connected device, with leisure time and the curiosity about handmade business that has driven you to spend a few precious minutes of your life reading this article… I’m going to assume you are most likely in a developed nation, with a comfortable life. You have clean, safe water. A roof over your head. Healthy, clean food on your table and in your fridge. You have a supermarket nearby. You can walk outside and breathe clean air (I hope!). You’ve probably had a good education. In short – you’re one of the lucky ones, blessed to have been born in a clean, safe, wealthy country – and you’ve got endless possibilities in front of you if you would only reach out and take them.

Are you reaching out and taking them?

Or are you wasting your life just dreaming?

Don’t get me wrong – dreams are vital. Without hopes, dreams and ideas, we would never grow, change, evolve, or strive.

But in the words of the great philosopher + psychologist…

 

Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. ~  William James

 

If you have a dream… don’t ignore it. MAKE IT REALITY.

Turning my own dreams into reality has been the most rewarding part of my life. This is why I’m so passionate about helping YOU do the same. I want you to feel the joy, the strength, the freedom, the fulfillment, the self-esteem, and the power that comes from turning the dream to run your own business (or whatever else you dream) into a reality.

Putting yourself out there and taking the risk to do this is scary. For sure. But as Susan Jeffers says: “feel the fear and do it anyway”.

The more often you take action, the more courage you feel. The more confident you become. Because you realise you CAN do it. You DO have the courage, the smarts, the get-go, and the information you need.

The internet has created a world where no information is farther away than a Google search. Don’t let lack of information hold you back – go out and hunt for it. Search the hills, valleys, and deep ocean trenches of the web until you find what you seek. It’s out there.

Once you have the courage, the passion, and the knowledge… you can make amazing things happen.

Don’t squander this amazing chance you’ve been given. You are one of the lucky few who has the freedom and opportunity to actually follow your dreams.

Don’t live a life of ‘If only’s’.

Live a life of ‘I did’s’.

 

Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE. ~ Joss Whedon

 


If you want to turn your dream of having a successful online handmade business a reality, join us for Set Up Shop – a 30-day e-course where I take you step-by-step through everything you need to know to get a fabulous shop up and running smoothly. You’ll also join over 400 alumni in our private facebook group and gain invaluable support, friendship and understanding from those already turning their dream of having a handmade business into a reality!

Click here to find out more…

Image source: Robin Benad

Set Up Shop Registration for the May 2014 Course is Now OPEN (with a juicy bonus)!

Set Up Shop - Take your shop from go to whoa - 2014 2

 

Hello Thrivers!

Jess here – I’m back from my Cambodian adventure… just in time to open up registration for a May run of Set Up Shop!

I wanted to run Set Up Shop one more time in the first half of 2014 for those of you who missed the February class, because this is the perfect time of year to finally get your online handmade shop up and running smoothly.

The holidays are far behind us, and Christmas is still a long way off. If you’ve got kids, they’re still in school, and if you’ve got a 9-5, there hopefully isn’t anything too massive going on at this time of year.

 

SO! If you’ve been holding out for the ‘right time’ to take Set Up Shop, I reckon this is it.

 

Set Up Shop - Take your shop from go to whoa - 2014 3

 

If you’re new round these ‘ere parts, and don’t know what Set Up Shop offers… head on over here to find out more.

 

Set Up Shop - Take your shop from go to whoa - 2014

 

Set Up Shop - Take your shop from go to whoa - 2014 4

 

Registration is open NOW, and closes on April 29th.

 

BONUS: One of my May students will win a Virtual Pass to the Artful Business Conference!

 

white-header-900

 

If you sign up to the May course, you’ll go in the random draw to win this brilliant 2-day virtual conference pass to the premier creative business conference in Australia.

Why a virtual pass? So no matter where you are in the world, you can participate! It’s available to everyone.

This pass is worth $197. Along with myself, speakers at the conference this year include: Karen Gunton, Elle Roberts, Denise Duffield-Thomas, Valerie Khoo, Julia Bickerstaff, Tess McCabe, Lisa Messenger, and Victoria Gibson.

It’s going to be 2 days of amazing practical information, inspiration, and ah-ha moments.

 

Register for the May course of Set Up Shop now for your chance to be part of it for FREE.

 

 

5 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Own Success

 

 

 

 

5 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Own Success

Over the last few years, I’ve taught, talked with, and watched many hundreds (perhaps even thousands!) of people who have the shared dream of turning their handmade hobby into a thriving business.

Unsurprisingly, they all share many positive things in common.

A passion for making something. A love of being creative. A drive to evolve. The desire to make real dollars from their craft.

All of those things are vital if you want to reach your goal.

That being said, I’ve also noticed commonalities in those who are struggling to move forward.

These are the people who dream the dream, but just can’t seem to turn it into a reality.

Sometimes, there are outside factors that hold us back, for sure.

But very often, these people are actually getting in their own way. They’re holding themselves back, or sabotaging their own success – and they might not even realise it.

 

I want to share 5 ways I see these people sabotaging themselves – because becoming aware of the issue is the first step towards moving beyond it.

 

1. Giving up too soon

Let’s just get this out of the way straight up. If you’re starting a handmade business expecting to be making a 5-6 figure profit in the first year – or even 3-5 years – please don’t bother.

Even those people who seem to be an ‘overnight success’ usually have many years of experience behind them – whether that’s years of doing their craft professionally (like an illustrator) or as a hobby.

Unless you are in the infinitesimal minority who have an absolutely brilliant, unique idea, AND know how to run a brilliant marketing/advertising campaign to get your brand off the ground, it is going to take YEARS before you’re making really decent money from your handmade business.

YEARS.

Obviously this will vary on umpteen factors, such as your cost of materials (for me, silver is pretty expensive and eats into my profits, but if you’re a graphic designer, you’ve probably got all the tools you already need, and you don’t buy ‘materials’ as such), the time you have to devote to your business, whether you have another job, and so on.

Too many times to count have I seen someone open an Etsy shop, chuck in 10 or so badly-lit, badly-photographed items, and then throw their hands in the air after a month because ‘they’re not making any sales’.

Of course you aren’t. You’re competing against other makers who have been not only honing their craft for years – they’ve been honing their branding, photography, marketing, etc.

You need to up your game.

Not only that – you need to go into this thing with patience and dedication.

If you’re not in it for the long haul, don’t start.

 

2. Focussing on the negative

The perfect place to see this in action is on the Etsy forums.

There is some great advice in there, but it’s more often than not buried amongst the masses who are moaning about some change Etsy has made that’s apparently caused their sales to suddenly cease. Well, honestly, I haven’t been in there for years apart from the very occasional and quick dip in, so maybe things have changed… but I’m guessing not. (Also, just a case in point – I’ve been selling on Etsy since 2008, and not once has a change they’ve made so far had any real noticeable impact on my sales. You know what has? Me – working on my photography, titles, tags, descriptions, marketing and customer service.)

This is just one example of how people are sabotaging themselves by focussing on the negative.

If you catch yourself doing this – stop.

No-one is responsible for the success or failure of your business but YOU.

Stop blaming, stop complaining, stop obsessing over your competitors, stop focussing on the negatives, and start focussing on the positives.

If you stumble across a product that looks suspiciously like yours… click away and forget about it – after all, how do you know you came up with the idea first? (Exact copies of art and photography obviously exempted here.)

If your venue makes a change you’re not happy with (for example, I disliked that Etsy moved from a 3-choice rating system to a 5-star system, but I never once thought of leaving) – either stick with it and see how it affects your business in the long term, or start building your own shop on your own dot com.

Don’t focus on the sales you don’t get – focus on making the customer experience for the sales you DO get absolutely fricking amazing so your customer raves to all their friends about how amazing you are and how gorgeous your product is.

Focus on how you can grow your business in the right direction. See every challenge as a way to grow and evolve.

 

3. Split focus

I’ve made this mistake myself – starting too many new things at once, and not being able to give any of them the attention they truly deserve because I’ve spread myself too thin.

It’s an oh-so-common pitfall amongst creative types, because we have so many ideas, and we get bored easily.

So, instead of starting that yoga clothing business… we start that, and a dog-walking business, and a web-design business, and maybe work as a barista on the side.

Which is, no doubt, fun and challenging… but there’s no way we’re going to give each and every one of those ventures the time and attention they need to grow truly successful if we’re trying to do them all at once.

Sales follow your focus.

That’s not to say you can’t do them all – just do them sequentially rather than simultaneously.

Give yourself a timeframe to focus on one only (say, 12-18 months) before you’re allowed to start a new venture.

Nick banned me from starting anything new in 2014, because of my habit of doing this very thing. (I jest… sort of… I banned myself, too).

Make sure, however, you’re not falling into the ‘giving up too soon’ trap I discussed earlier.

Give it true, 200% effort in the time you devote to getting a new business up and running.

 

4. Too much ‘research’ not enough action

You’ve done the courses. You’ve bought the ebooks. You’ve checked out every single related book from the local library.

You have all the theoretical knowledge… but you’re yet to do anything about it.

You know I am a HUGE proponent of consistent investment in your own education – both personal and professional. I teach courses, I write ebooks.

That said… there is definitely such a thing as too much research.

There comes a point where you just have to take the leap.

Stop planning and start doing.

Yes, you will fail and fall down.

Yes, you’ll make an embarrassing mistake (or 20).

Yes, you’ll undercharge on postage at least once. Badly.

But until you actually step into the arena and start failing and succeeding, you’ll never make real progress.

 

5. Waiting for perfection

This is closely linked to number 4. Too often, people hang back from taking action because of fear.

They’re afraid of not being perfect. Of not having a perfect product, or perfect packaging, or perfect photography.

Nothing is ever perfect.

Get it to the stage of ‘pretty darn awesome’ and get it out into the world.

You can evolve. You can work on it, you can make it better.

Don’t hide your light from the world – let it shine.

 

Now it’s over to you – do you recognise any of these traits in yourself? What are you going to do about it?

 

Image source: Elisabetta Foco


 

If you want to turn your dream of having a successful online handmade business a reality, join us for Set Up Shop – a 30-day e-course where I take you step-by-step through everything you need to know to get a fabulous shop up and running smoothly. You’ll also join over 400 alumni in our private facebook group and gain invaluable support, friendship and understanding from those already turning their dream of having a handmade business into a reality!

Click here to find out more…