C&T Q&A – Can I Have a Successful Online Handmade Business if I Make Mostly OOAK Items?
Today’s question is from Annaliese, who asked on the C&T Facebook page:
I’m struggling with how to manage multiple ways of selling (eg. own site, etsy, madeit, markets, consignments etc) when about 95% of my work is OOAK and can’t be listed in multiple places at once. How do you make sustainable business when the product is OOAK?!
I hate to say it, but my initial reaction to this question is: you can’t.
Let me explain why.
When you sell your handmade goods to stores or at markets, it doesn’t matter if all your goods are OOAK (one-of-a-kind). You send them to the shop, or you lay them out on the table, and people love them and buy them, or not.
Selling online, however, is a totally different ballgame.
Making the item is only a small part of the work that goes into listing a handmade item online. Whenever you decide to list an item in your online shop, you need to:
- Photograph it
- Edit the photos
- Write a title
- Write a description
- Come up with tags
- Upload the whole lot to your shop
- + more!
This takes time. LOTS of time.
To run a successful online handmade business, you really need to be selling multiple items every single day. Depending on the price-point of your items, anywhere from 5-20 items a day.
Imagine if you had to go through the above process for every single item you add to your shop?
Major time suck.
Therefore, once you get busy, doing this is really not sustainable in the long-term.
However, I’m not saying not to make OOAK items – far from it!
What I AM saying, is that if you want to have a successful online handmade business, you really need to produce a range of reproducible designs that you can list once, and then sell over and over again without having to do any additional work.
This should be the core of your range – your ‘bread and butter’ items.
They should form a substantial proportion of your product line. You still have the freedom to make and list OOAK items, but you’re not spending a huge amount of time listing new things all the time.
This also eliminates the problem Annaliese is suffering from – not being able to list her items across different venues. You can list your reproducible designs in as many venues as you like, as they are pre-made or made-to-order, and it doesn’t matter how many times you sell them. Then, just list your OOAK designs in your main online venue – whether that be your own site or your Etsy shop.