If you think you might want to sell handmade crafts online you should first determine how you want your business to evolve and what are your goals for your website.
There are a few directions you could take, and your goals for your website will have an impact in a lot of the decisions you make about your site.
Here are a few possibilities that I can think of. I'm sure you could come up with a few more ideas to adapt your handmade business to an online business.
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Some people don't sell their handmade crafts online directly, instead, they use their site as an online gallery to promote their business to potential wholesale customers and gallery owners or to local customers who may be interested in commissioning a piece. Their sites are marketing tools which allow them to refer customers to a place where a lot of their work can be easily viewed.
Do you contract your services to paint murals or do you paint portraits? A website can be an excellent way to promote this kind of local business.
This type of site can also be helpful when applying to some juried craft shows. Some (but not all) craft shows will allow you to simply submit your website (assuming it has great photos of your work) for jury review. If you have a professional looking site that shows off your work to its best advantage, an online gallery can help you to build your business opportunities like this.
Instead of (or in addition to) selling through third party websites like Etsy, many professional craft artists build their own sites for selling crafts online. With a few simple resources and some time spent building a quality site, you can be on your way to owning your own traffic instead of relying on third party sites for your online sales.
You might wonder why you would bother to go through all of the work required to build and get traffic to your own site when there are sites like Etsy which allow you to set up a shop fairly quickly and easily, eliminating the need to learn how to build your own site.
Many people have good success selling on Etsy, and it can definitely be a great place to sell crafts, but I would be very careful about making it (or any other third party site) my only source of business income. When your business is completely dependant on another site, then you don't really own the traffic to your online store. The site you use could change their rules at any time, and some types of changes could devastate your business.
When you have your own site and your own traffic to that site, then you control the decisions and, therefore, you have far more control over your business.
Have you thought about whether your craft translates well into the sale of digital products that your customers could pay to download? You may choose to sell collections of photos or illustrations that people may use on their own websites or in their own craft projects. You might like to develop other craft related resources such as instructions for craft projects that people could buy and download from you. Or, you could create patterns that people would pay to download.
The real beauty of selling digital products is that this type of business is scalable. That is, once you develop the products, the sales become automated and you can sell the same item over and over. Plus, there are no items to package and mail and no inventory to keep stocked.
This website is an example of information publishing. You could build an entire craft website around your own specific area of expertise. You provide great, free content to your readers and make an income with a few ads placed throughout the site.
Although there are plenty of companies you can use for web hosting, I only know of one company that goes well beyond web hosting and teaches you step by step how to build a website that gets traffic, which is absolutely crucial to the success of your business. It's fine to build a lovely looking site, but it won't help you sell crafts if you don't have any visitors to your site.
SiteSell is an all in one online business building service that has taught me everything I know about building an online business. They are really an excellent company with an exceptional product. You can learn more about SiteSell here.
There are plenty of ways sell your handmade crafts online or build a creative business online. It is important to find the right tools for your needs. Once you put those tools in place, and apply your brains and motivation, the possibilities are amazing.
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