How to Make Your Handmade Shop a Success
Most of the advice below can be applied when selling any handmade product online - so whether you're selling t-shirts or bags, there'll be help here for you :-)
I personally sell jewellery online from Etsy and I have read so many tips for advertising, branding, packaging, marketing etc. whilst trying to make my shop a success, that I now have a huge collection of very helpful links.
Therefore, I've decided to put all the best info here on one page to hopefully help out others who sell their handmade wares online. And although a lot of the links refer to Etsy, the information and advice can usually be transferred to any other place on the Internet where you sell your products.
Take Better Photos
I think photos are the most important thing to get right in order to sell online, so you must work on these constantly.
Handy Books for Online Sellers
There are some excellent books available on all aspects of selling online, including on the subjects of building your own website, learning about SEO and marketing your products:
Places To Sell Your Items Online
The following list provides links to marketplaces on the web where you can sell your handmade items, with Etsy being the most popular/well-known. People often have their own stand-alone website as an additional store or as their only outlet.
Most popular, and is used worldwide.
- Shop Handmade
Also available as a .com address
- Big Cartel
You can use this site to create a nice looking shop containing any type of item.
- Art Fire
- Made It Myself
Based in the USA
Top Tips for Selling Online
My personal advice:
- Photos are THE most important thing about selling online, since your customers can't pick the item up in real life. Make sure they're clear and bright, and show every detail. You don't need an expensive camera; I have a point-and-shoot, white paper for underneath the jewellery, a spotlight and a lightbox, and then I use Photoshop Elements (bought for Â£10) to brighten the photo up on the computer. And take LOTS of photos and at different angles, so that you have a higher chance of getting a couple of really good captures!
If your photos are good enough, put them on Flickr (with your shop address in your profile, not on the photo page).
- Have patience...you may wait months to get the first sale, and years for regular sales. People 'in the know' have said it takes a few months for the first sale, and around 12-18 months for regular sales.
- Update regularly. Don't lose heart because you're not making sales. Persevere for months and eventually search engines will notice you update regularly and you'll creep up the search results.
- Have as many designs as you can manage/afford in your shop. The more items you have for sale, the easier it is for people to find you, and the longer people will stay in your shop. Imagine each of your items is a little pointer directing people to your shop, and the more pointers there are, the more visitors you get. Some people who sell full-time recommend listing as many products per day as you'd like to sell per day.
It's no good having a singular great product all alone in your shop unless it really is amazing and it is consequently spread around the net by fans. People like choice, and they like to browse easily too, so categorise your products well for ease of use for the customer.
- Have attractive or at least smart packaging which matches your shop style, preferably with branding on, plus a hand-written note and 2 business cards (so that the customer may give a card to a friend). People want a special touch, but don't go overboard! Go for simple, consistent and inexpensive, whilst making the packaging unique to your shop.
- Brand your shop: If you haven't already thought of a name, think of something memorable and easy to spell. Remember not to call your shop something like 'super duper jewellery', if you're not 100% certain that jewellery is all you want to ever sell. Something beginning with 'A' is good if you want to appear at the top of link lists :-)
Know your style, your market, and your niche. What makes you different from everyone else? Write down keywords that sum up your style and products, which are what your intended market would search for.
Have a logo, the more memorable the better. Put this on your business cards. Try to make your business cards as pretty as possible (maybe include photos), or put a '10% off' code on them to try and encourage people to keep them.
- Use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other social networking sites to advertise your wares. You can also use a blog, but only if you are happy to write posts regularly, otherwise you'll hate doing it. Also join appropriate forums but don't post comments just to advertise - put your shop link in your 'signature' and join in conversations on the forum as normal. People hate spammers.
- Use Metatag Analyser
on each of your web pages to check whether your tags/descriptions/titles are search engine friendly.
- Approach suitable blogs to ask for a feature - provide a little write-up and your favourite photo or 2 in your e-mail. Perhaps you could offer a Â£10 giveaway if people comment with their favourite item of yours.
- Use Project Wonderful to advertise on suitable websites of your choice. You can pay any amount (sometimes nothing) - it depends on the site popularity. Just create eye-catching ads in the correct sizes.
- Submit your shop to search engines.
- Create your own Squidoo lens on a subject related to your shop in some way (with valuable information on - not just an advert for your shop), and have a link to your shop in the intro.
- Have excellent customer service...personalised service sets you apart from large businesses.
- If you find you have items that sell more than others, try offering them in different colours or with slightly different versions of the same thing.
- Remember that the most important thing you need to do is to GET PEOPLE TO YOUR SHOP! If you don't have visitors, it doesn't matter how good your products or photos are because no-one will see them. Don't make the mistake I made and have a sale in order to try and lure visitors to the shop....sales only work when you have visitors (!) and also if you have frequent sales it can devalue your products and people will learn to wait for a sale until they buy something.
Craft Business Help and Advice
The following links are ones I've hand-picked as the best and most helpful, and include tips on everything from advertising and marketing to branding and packaging. A lot of them refer solely to Etsy shops, but most of the tips can still be used with other online selling methods.
- Etsy Seller Handbook
Advice on every single bit of Etsy selling.
- Etsy Blog
So much info on every subject - great to browse through.
- Starting an Etsy Business 1
A specific example of starting a vintage Etsy shop.
- Starting an Etsy Business 2
A specific example of starting a vintage Etsy shop.
- Starting an Etsy Business 3
With helpful tips.
- Biz Ladies Series
Masses of business information.
- Crafty Business
Things to consider before you start.
- Biz Tips
Top Etsy business tips.
- Seller How-to
Getting noticed by the blogosphere.
- Free Banner Maker
Follow the link to create your own shop or website banner online.
- Tell Your Shop's Visual Story
How to marry your graphics, photos and visual branding together.
Your website appearance, banner and logo are all very important in attracting buyers and conveying the look and style of your shop. The above banners are examples of those sold on Etsy.
How To Make Your Online Shop a Success
- Quit Your Day Job
Inspirational stories and tips from people who do this full-time.
- NO NOs
What buyers don't want to see.
- How to Tag Products
With lists of example words.
- UK Chat Thread
Etsy UK community.
- Business Forum
Etsy business topics.
- Memorable Packaging
Make your packaging memorable and unique.
- Selling T-Shirts
7 Ways to promote your t-shirt shop.
- Advertising Your Shop
Site to advertise your Etsy shop on.
- Increase Your Sales
Very important tips.
- Get Your Shop Featured
Popular sites to get featured on.
Find Your Niche
Promote Your Shop & Get More Traffic
- Musings of a Newbie
10 things an Etsy newbie has learned.
- Necklace Selling
Tips for selling necklaces.
- Lessons Learned
Handy lessons for a newbie.
- Packaging Wisdom
Lots of advice on packaging.
- Etsy Traffic
Hints on how to increase traffic to your Etsy shop.
- Online Advertising
7 steps to understanding online advertising.
- Graphic Design
10 graphic designs to give your shop the edge.
- Inspiring Packaging
The importance of packaging.
- 21 Blogs to Follow
If you want to sell art online.
- Guide to Custom Work
How to best sell your personalized designs.
These 'Dynamite' tubes are what the t-shirts from Johnny Cupcakes are packaged in. Not only is it fun, but it makes the company stand out from the competition too!
Online Selling Tips 'n' Tricks
- Get The Sales You Want
Monster load of resources and articles.
- Giant List of Helpful Links
Covering lots of areas of selling.
- 3 Simple Tips for Success
Straightforward handy hints.
- The Secret to Selling
Bullet pointed list of important tips.
- Tips for New Sellers
8 Things to think about.
- From Nothing to a Sale a Day
One seller's inspiring story.
- Tips From a Successful Seller
Help from a full-time Etsy seller.
- Etsy Shop Checklist
A list of things to ask yourself about your shop.
- What Makes a Successful Shop
18 excellent points.
- Be a Success
Pointers on how to become a success.
- Beginner's Guide to SEO
Optimize your website for search engines.
- Selling on Etsy or Ebay
Focusses on selling vintage jewelry but the advice is useful to all.
A huge resource of inspiring articles.
- Everything Etsy
Lots ot tips, tools, ideas and tutorials.
DIY Photo Studio
Remember to Buy Handmade Too!
There are so many reasons to buy handmade rather than buying from high street chains, and in my opinion the following points are the most encouraging reasons to cross over to the world of handmade :
1) Much friendlier, more personal customer service
2) Original, unique and often one-of-a-kind designs
3) The artist behind the items really appreciates your custom
4) There is the real possibility that the artist will accept personal requests and create a custom item just for you...all you have do do is ask!
5) The artist often puts plenty of thought into packaging your purchase to make it more special and fun to unwrap
6) You are helping someone to carry on being able to do something they love
7) The quality is usually higher because of the heart, attention and care put into handmade products
8) There are items available for every taste and pocket
I really hope that you consider buying handmade in the future if you don't already - just think of the independent artists you are supporting all over the world!
How To Take Better Product Photos
The following links give tips and instructions on taking better photos of your handmade items, plus tutorials for making photography aids.
- How To Take Better Pictures
Tips and lightbox instructions.
- Photo Studio How-To
Make a cheap photography set up.
- Advice for Better Photos
Tips on lighting, background and other areas.
- Foldaway Lightbox
Tutorial on how to make an interlocking lightbox.
- Inspirational Photographs
Examples of backgrounds and compositions of jewellery products.
- Handy Pointers
What to think about when taking photos.
- Using Cheap & Simple Tools
For creating better product photos.
- White Balance
How to capture your product's true colours.
- Add a Bright White Background
How to create a professional plain white background.
Free Etsy Images
Creative Packaging Ideas & More Selling Advice
- Innovative Packaging Ideas
10 points for creating unique packaging.
- Packaging How-To
Brilliant ideas from the Etsy blog.
- Packaging for Crafters, Makers & Sellers
Great advice for small businesses.
- Handmade Spark
One of the best sources for inspiring Etsy tips.
- Renewing Etsy Listings
Finding the most effective way of renewing.
- Brilliant Etsy Advice
From a successful seller.
- Crafty Reading Roundup
Huge resource of craft selling information.
- Getting More Product Exposure
And ultimately more sales.
- 30 Day Etsy Challenge
30 days of tips, advice and brilliant ideas.
- Keeping Your Shop Relevant
How to adjust your shop to cater to the relevancy search function.
Brand Your Packaging
Branding your shop is very important for making your business memorable and unique, and branded packaging is essential for delivering an all-round professional service. It is essential you have cohesive logos, packaging and a banner with similar colours, style and theme.
If you're in a competitive market you really need to stand out, so decide on a simple and cheap packaging style which is stylish and unique to you, and brand it (in quite an obvious way!) with your business name, and always include business cards.
Etsy Shop Tools
- Easy Etsy
A whole host of Etsy related tools to make life easier.
- Tools 4 Etsy
A variety of search tools.
- Who's Talkin'?
Are any social media sites talking about your shop?
Check if your shop has got hearts or is in a treasury.
- Craft Cult & Heart-o-Matic
See your shop stats, including hearts.
Useful Etsy widgets and tools.
- Etsy Hacks
Applications which make Etsy life easier.
- Schedule Listing Renewals
Using the Statsy tool.
- 10 Etsy Web Apps
Top ten tools to make Etsy easier to handle.
Top-Rated Creative Selling Books
Please Comment On My Lens!
amandascloset0 on May 22, 2014:
I sell ready made and hand made with both etsy and ebay stores
Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer from Hedgesville, WV on December 08, 2012:
Great job all your lenses I love!
microbio on November 19, 2012:
Very informative and comprehensive lens, thanks :)
In my opinion the hard work comes not from finding your niche but from finding the right media to advertise in, free or paid for.
handcrafted-coolery on October 23, 2012:
Thanx for this Lens, theres a lot of helpful information here!
sasta10 lm on October 22, 2012:
Love etsy, love those hand made stuff people sell on the site. I sell vintage item on etsy myself, it's a great place to sell and socialize. Thanks for sharing this great lens.
CozyKitty on October 10, 2012:
This is such a valuable resource for Etsy sellers (or anyone looking to run a small business). Etsy is definitely on my list of future aspirations, and your lens will be such a help. Thank you so much! :)
carla-t-falls on October 09, 2012:
What a fabulous page. Just great info. Thank you.
lisaastrup on October 06, 2012:
A very big help, thank you - could use extra help with keewords becurse
English is not my mother tongue.
abraxo on September 13, 2012:
Great lens! I think you should add a section that focuses on keyword as they stand now. I've been using single word keywords and have been informed that this is no longer relevant and phrases are now in. I have a hard time grasping this concept.
Uprofit on September 06, 2012:
Luv that lightbox idea, got me thinking.
anonymous on August 24, 2012:
The download link for free Etsy images is not working...:(.
hunter5012 on August 13, 2012:
Great info. Thanks
zia-barkatullah on August 10, 2012:
thank you for your informative article, nice job with all the links and the look of your lens
anonymous on August 06, 2012:
I may be bug-eyed from reading, but was well worth it! Thanks for all the information, particularly the links. Much appreciated.
allpetscherished on July 20, 2012:
This was a very informative lens! I've bookmarked to take a look at some of these links. Great resource, thanks!!!
ICanDoThis LM on July 06, 2012:
really good job!
BlackSunflowerB on July 05, 2012:
Very informative. I can use these tips.
Hawaiitom on June 11, 2012:
Super cool information--wow!
LynetteBell from Christchurch, New Zealand on May 24, 2012:
Great infoirmation thanks:)
derekh123 on May 10, 2012:
this lens is simply great!! I have one more tip for you on how to sell your products quickly - visit http://advertising-for-free.co.uk
elisiepoo on April 13, 2012:
Nice lens :)
elsiesflat on March 27, 2012:
Great lens. I'll be sure to try some of these tips with my own shop.
brynimagire on March 26, 2012:
Excellent post ! Interesting lens !
Harriet from Indiana on March 14, 2012:
Etsy is so overloaded with jewelry sellers that after almost three years I have only sold 15 pieces. Not exactly a living. Thank goodness I do well at craft shows.
earthybirthymum from Ontario, Canada on February 01, 2012:
you given some great Etsy advice. I've been on Etsy for almost a year now, still enjoy it, and always learning.
n0elle on January 14, 2012:
Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge! This is a great lense!
jtbmetaldesigns on December 31, 2011:
Thanks for the encouragement! I opened my Etsy shop in Jan 2011 and Ihad my first sale the
Following June. Christmas gave me a boost now I hope 2012 will be better.
CosyMattress on November 24, 2011:
some good advice on this lens - all to often you are in a rush to set up your site
bikerministry on November 08, 2011:
I reopened my "bigsis2" Etsy shop. THANKS. Blessings.
GoldenClone on September 20, 2011:
Craftybegonia on September 11, 2011:
Very nice lens. Great info and links!
anonymous on September 09, 2011:
Very cool lens Studentz. All the best with your jewellery shop!
buntyross on August 09, 2011:
wow this is beautiful information , I just loved all the information i make hand made beaded lanyards and would love to sell them Online. thanks for the great tips for photographing loved them all.
Judy Filarecki from SW Arizona and Northern New York on August 02, 2011:
Thanks for all the great info and links. I'm just starting out with Etsy and I see there is a great deal to learn as I develop my shop.
FluffySoap on July 21, 2011:
I'm bookmarking this lens. Thank you.
anonymous on July 17, 2011:
Hi -I have just been scrolling down your lists -loads of information we have been pondering on, researching, worrying over. Very, very helpful. Thank you.
anonymous on July 08, 2011:
I really love to see your products and the tips are one of a kind. I'd be grateful if you could see mine as well. Visit me here jewelry making and Jewelry Making Kits . Thank you !
Shanir LM on July 06, 2011:
Great lens, very helpful! :)
KANEsUgAr on June 30, 2011:
The light box idea is brilliant, I got to try that. I use the camera on my phone, edit it and post it on my etsy shop. www.etsy.com/kanekl I make sugar flowers for decorating cakes and cupcakes.
anonymous on June 29, 2011:
Thanks very much, your Squeedo page helped us a lot. We are from Brazil and when out of our job (Get your HTML codes here!otimizacao de sites) we like to do handmade stuff, and trying to sell online. Thanks again!
ANYclothingDesigns on June 12, 2011:
thanks for the great tips and tools!
MelsBells on May 20, 2011:
This lens is chock full of great tips for selling on Etsy! I have written several lenses full of additional tips. They're great for Etsy sellers as well as anyone starting or running a small business particularly of the handmade variety. Regards :)
anonymous on April 08, 2011:
bijuterii on December 15, 2010:
I liked the site..This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free.
Mrmakingusmile LM on November 22, 2010:
Good information. Thanks for sharing. Thanks for making me smile.
anonymous on November 16, 2010:
Very informative lens...thanks!
Lloyd Pinto from Mumbai on October 31, 2010:
Blessed by a Squid Angel
John Dyhouse from UK on October 20, 2010:
A mine of information, thanks for that. I guess it will need some time to take it all in
MissyBrown LM on October 17, 2010:
Wow that is a ton of great information! I'm going to come back and read it again.
uncabillysays on October 02, 2010:
Very informative! Great work - Thanks!
handmadespark on September 06, 2010:
Thanks for including Handmade Spark!
Mortira on August 15, 2010:
This is a truly amazing resource for sellers! I love your tips, especially the one about keeping at it. Far too many sellers give up early in the game.
I've rolled this to some of my new Etsy lenses!
knavyblue on July 17, 2010:
June Campbell from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on June 03, 2010:
This is another great lens. Well done.
Niche-Diva on April 17, 2010:
Thank you - such great information all in one place!