Years ago crafters were tied to church fairs and local gift shops to sell their creations. Now, thanks to the miracle of the internet, crafters can use online markets like Etsy to sell their wares beyond their local area.
I’m not much of a crafter myself, so I turned to three excellent ladies that work with Etsy themselves to explore this topic. They each represent a different Etsy experience, and have shared their know how with the rest of us who may be thinking about delving into selling work online.
Beth Cyr Jewelry – Organic Metal Jewelry
Beth Cyr started with Etsy at the suggestion of a friend. She had quit her job to follow her passion and become a full-time artist with no clear direction of how to accomplish that. After a few months of just scraping by, she started listing with Etsy.
“I hoped to be able to make a living selling on Etsy. The friend that had told me about it did really well and sold quite a lot. So it gave me the confidence to know that was possible.”
One of the things that works well for Beth is the huge market available to her through Etsy from the convenience of her computer. She has sold her jewelry in almost every state in America, and in ten countries. “The first street team I joined, EtsyMetal, is amazing as well. The amount of support and inspiration that has come from being a part of that group is incredible and I would venture to say life changing.”
Beth’s Advice for other Estiers? In her own words:
Oh I have lots of advice, but I’ll try to keep it short! If you really want it to be successful, treat it like a full-time job. Do as much as you possibly can to get your name and your shop link out there (without being annoying). Get a flickr account, start a Facebook business page, start a blog, follow blogs, make connections. I think a large part of the continued success of my business has been the (free) features on many blogs – some small, some larger.
Be generous! Try to give more than you get – it will come back to you. Feature friends and other people’s work you like. Helping to promote others is excellent for the entire handmade community. I think it is important to have the intent of helping other though. It is fairly easy to spot when sellers go about promoting others with a clearly self-promoting goal (which I find quite off-putting).
I also think it is good to remember what works for one person may not work for another. A lot of new sellers seem to want to find that special formula that someone else used and apply it to their own shop. The “formula” that I came up with for myself, probably wouldn’t work for someone else, not to mention that it is always changing :)
There will be times when you feel like you are working extremely hard and there is no payout. You’ve spent hours on the computer – days and days at a time and not sold anything. Keep going! I believe that if you are authentic, love what you do and offer it in an open manner, you will be successful.
Oh… and offer excellent customer service.
Wild Dyes – Tye Dye & Fiber Arts
Kris Ogden is known as Tye Dye Kris around the Emerald Coast. She started out with Etsy after it was suggested to her by her friend, Holly Eqq. She had heard of it but wasn’t really inspired to try it with her own art until then.
“I thought that Etsy would give me a good user-friendly site to sell my art without having to figure out the whole shopping cart thing for my own website, wilddyes.com. It costs very little to use, and you get the added bonus of Etsy driven site traffic.”
Kris likes the cost efficiency of Etsy. It costs only 20 cents to list each item, the photos are free and the listing stays up for months. Kris also likes the strong and well-connected Etsy community that opens up all sorts of built-in marketing opportunities. “My best experience with Etsy is just how fun it is to browse and look at what other artists and crafters are creating. I can spend hours doing this!”
Kris’s advice for other Etsiers? In her own words:
“For anyone new to selling online my best advice would be to get a decent digital camera and brush up on photography. Learn how to take a great picture of your item, It may be the most amazing piece of art, but if your picture is marginal, and amateurish you may lose the sale. Try to make your items look as slick as possible. Etsy has a lot of info on how this can be achieved.
Secondly I would say make sure to give good customer service. There is a feedback system on Etsy for customers and sellers to leave feedback about each other. You want positive feedback from your customers, other customers will look at your feedback and make a decision if they want to buy from you or not.
Tangent Lines – Designer Jewelry & Accessories
Tina Lorah was attracted to Etsy because it was a well-known and established site, like eBay, but for hand crafted items. She hopes that one day she will earn enough regularly to quit her day job and create fulltime.
“I have a lot of friends that do crafts and who hope to sell their stuff and I think we all have that same dream of working for ourselves.”
Tina thinks that Etsy is the way to go for maximum exposure for minimal cost and head ache. There’s no website to manage, no domain names to obtain, and no brick & mortar store to eat away profit. The social aspect is another bonus. Etsy is an excellent chance for artists all over the world to network with each other, share ideas and inspiration.
Tina’s advice for other Etsier’s? In her own words:
“Choose your shop name carefully, make it easy to find. I didn’t realize that if you have more than a one word shop name, it runs the words all together. So if it’s a long name it’s going to be harder to find than a one or two-word name. Which leads me to my next bit of advice; Read the information they have on their website first. They have a wonderful resource guide with all kinds of helpful advice on setting up your store, increasing sales, taking better photos…..and so much more. Plus there is more info in their community where you talk with other shop owners as well as buyers plus info through blogs.”
That’s the scoop from actual Etsiers. To me it sounds like the best way to get your creations into the hands of others. For those of you that have an artistic flair, consider turning it into a little extra money by selling your items online. If you do, let me know about it… I’d love to share your story here on Dandilyon Fluff.