So I’ve spent some time learning my way around my shop and have created items I think will sell. What’s next? Somehow, I need to find an audience for my work. There are a million ways to sell. I’m going to focus on a just few to start. Here I’ve listed the channels I plan to focus on along with a few tips I’ve picked up from people who have successfully charged down the path before me.
Etsy has been around since 2005. It is a marketplace for anything handmade, vintage, and now even unique factory-made items. You can sell a couple items for extra income or even make a living selling full-time.
The site offers an opportunity to get your item in front of a ton of eyeballs. Traffic on the site is high. Pictures sell on Etsy so be sure to spend time getting great photos of your products. There are some great tutorials too help with that if you aren’t an experienced photographer. Most camera phones can take adequate photos these days. Be sure to take the time to write up a nice description and take advantage of all of the tools on Etsy for keywords and categories. Take a look around the site for similar items to get some ideas.
Etsy manages all of the money stuff for you so you don’t need to worry about shopping cart software or accepting credit cards on your own. This can be a huge time saver especially if building websites isn’t your strong suit.
There is a high level of traffic at the site and a huge number of people selling which can make getting seen a bit tough. Call out all of things that make your items unique and special. Is it customizable? is it made with earth-friendly materials? Think like someone looking for your kind of product and write your description for them.
Craigslist and other classified ad sites
Another option is to use craigslist or other direct-to-buyer sites. Depending on where you live, this can be a very good option. If you live close to a major metropolitan area you can take advantage of the large market. Just like Etsy, you need to sell your items with a great picture and a dynamite description.
You’ll have to negotiate the exchange of goods and cash on your own. This means you’ll need to deliver or allow buyers to come to your house or work. The upside of this is meeting new customers face-to-face. Often, if someone is interested in one of your items they will be interested in your other work. A face-to-face meeting offers the perfect opportunity to sell your other goodies.
Your own website
Running your own website allows the most control over how your goods are presented. Every pixel, every click, and every bit of content is under your control. For some, this is the only way to go. Trying to fit your unique items into the framework of someone else’s site may not show the personality and unique features you want to show off.
You’ll need to work at driving traffic to your site. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, word of mouth, and emails are all good marketing tools.
You’ll also need to set up a way for people to buy from you. The easier you make it for people, the more sales you’ll get. This means setting up e-commerce, a shopping cart, credit card verification. Some services like Squarespace offer this as part of their website building tools.
Locally made goods have never been more popular. As a result, many shops are looking for artisans and makers who live and work in the area. Many of these stores work on a consignment model splitting the retail price with you. A 60/40 spilt is common with the store taking 40% and giving you 60%. You will need to check in with these shops regularly to collect sales and replenish their stock. There is a pretty decent amount of camaraderie between these smaller shops and if you are lucky, you can leapfrog from one to another collecting contacts and recommendations as you go.
What other methods of selling have you tried? What has worked? What was a waste of time? I’d love to hear from anyone that has experience selling their goods.
This post is part of a blog series entitled “For Fun and Profit“. Check back for regular updates.