We all have to start somewhere and taking that first leap into setting up a craft business and selling craft online can be a daunting thing. There are many things that go through our minds when starting out: where to sell your crafts, who to sell to, how much to charge, is our work actually any good? So in a recent #folksyhour we asked Folksy sellers what they would say to someone thinking of selling their craft on the internet. Sally Hawker from Sally and the Freckles shares their tips and advice…
Tips and Advice for Selling Craft Online
Is it good enough?
The main fear many of us have when we first start out us is whether our crafts and designs are actually good enough to be sold. It’s hard putting your work ‘out there’ for everyone to see and it’s also hard to be objective about something you have lovingly created.
Things you create by hand are so personal that sometimes you think if people don’t like it’s a personal attack on you. – Darwin Designs
This is a common fear, but Hazel from Leathermeister believes most makers feel like this and it almost “goes with the territory”. As Elizabeth from Big Bird Little Bird explains: “Many creative people are sensitive about something they pour a little of themselves into.” For some makers the fear of never selling again never leaves, but Julie from Argentology believes it is possible to embrace that as a healthy fear which “keeps you on your toes and forces your to think up new ideas”.
How to price your craft when you start out
The subject of pricing handmade items is often a fraught area and something which can cause a lot of concern for someone setting up a small craft business as it has implications for your shop and for future sales.
Kirsty and Adrienne from Frilly Industries describe getting your pricing right when selling crafts as a “minefield” – not only do you need to get your margins right but you also need to consider whether you want to sell your crafts and designs wholesale in the future. They suggest sellers plot out wholesale prices from the start to avoid have to adjust prices later on – which can even mean doubling them, as Alex from Darwin Designs points out. Alex also recommends that if you’re selling lower-priced items like cards, it’s important to factor in things like business cards and labels as the cost of these can add up. Allison Sadler from the People Shop‘s top tip is to make sure your pricing allows you to earn a profit and get it right from the very beginning: “Factor in everything right from the offset – time, materials, packaging etc, and ensure there’s room to make profit.”
Keep the value of craft high with proper pricing – Kim from Finest Imaginary
Kim from Finest Imaginary warns against not under-pricing your work as you may end up giving the wrong impression about what you do: “You give yourself, your craft and other makers that ‘cheap’ price tag that everyone hates.” Kirsty and Adrienne agree that under-pricing your work can create problems for other makers because once shoppers see an item at a low price, it can devalue the whole sector. To combat this, Kirsty and Adrienne consumer-tested their craft business by asking friends to review their products and prices first, to check what people felt about their pricing and get it right before they launched.
Consider your postage and packing costs
Postage and packing is another area which can be daunting when you first start selling craft online – how do you know how to package items and what to charge for postage? As with pricing your products, it’s important to factor in all your expenditure on packaging materials and postage – the aim is to price your postage costs at a level where you don’t lose money, but you don’t put off potential customers either. Luckily, as Hazel from Leathermeister points out, it’s easy to correct packaging methods and under-pricing on postage, so sometimes it’s a case of trial and error until you get it right.
Use craft fairs to test if your handmade products will sell online
As well as selling your crafts online, many makers start out at craft fairs and although they can be a bit hit and miss, they are a great testing ground – as long as you select ones appropriate for your products. If you choose the right kind of fair, they can be a really effective way to try out new products and get feedback, as well as potentially securing future online customers. Alix from Little Red Hen Jewellery and Natasha from Baillie Day both started out at craft fairs and found them useful for building confidence, meeting customers, seeing how people responded to their work and establishing whether it would sell.
For some, it’s not always about selling on the day either – many makers find that although customers don’t necessarily buy at the fair, they come back later and purchase online, so remember to take business cards or flyers with you that have a link to your Folksy shop. (Find out how to set up a Folksy shop)
Here are a few tips for established designers for selling at craft fairs:
- Attend a few bigger, more expensive events rather than lots of village halls (Alix from Little Red Hen Jewellery)
- Some craft fairs allow you to pay a percentage of your sale rather than a fixed cost, which can be great if you’re just starting out and worried about paying a big fee upfront (Poisoned Apple Jewellery)
- Choose the right kind of craft fair that represents who you think your audience is (Sally from Sally and the Freckles)
- People are more likely to be drawn to you at a fair if you’re offering something different (Emily from Pobble and Ping)
- Make sure the venue is a place where people go to anyway (Poisoned Apple Jewellery)
- Avoid craft fairs which also feature bought-in items (Jo from Lucy Lou Designs)
Talk to other sellers and ask for advice
One of the best ways to get advice and help when you’re starting out is to talk to other makers. They’ve faced the same problems and have acquired knowledge through their experiences. Many of us are big fans of the Folksy Forums and it’s the place we head to gain confidence and find out useful information on making and selling our crafts. The forums are a good place to go for support and tips and to get advice from friendly fellow crafters – something we all need of when starting out.
And, of course, there’s #folksyhour on Twitter every Tuesday, which many of us join for discussions on topics that affect us and our work – from how to keep your work original to practical topics like copyright and how to collaboration can help your business. It’s place to learn and gain reassurance from other makers, and somewhere to get useful advice – the ideal place to start for those who are thinking of selling their work.
Words of wisdom from experienced sellers…
“Make sure you love what you do. If you’re serious about making it happen, be prepared to give it your everything 24/7.” Allison Sadler
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“Be methodical – photograph all your items in the morning, then list them all in the afternoon.” Emily from Pobble and Ping
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“Make a schedule and plan daily tasks, such as taking photographs and editing listings. Keep your shop looking fresh – time spent updating your listing and photographs is a good investment. Your items can be the great, but if nobody finds them or if you have poor photographs, then you won’t make any sales.” Natasha from Baillie Day
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“Create a visual brand and make sure your photos communicate your brand well.” Lindie from Lindiespatch
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“Practice until you get it right or drop the idea.” Kathleen from Kathleens Attic
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“Just take a deep breath, bite the bullet and learn as you go. A ‘baptism of fire’ is the best way to get started… otherwise you might never get launched with all the stuff to learn.” – Frilly Industries
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“Research social media before you start.” – Shirley Rainbow
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“Stop worrying and procrastinating and follow your heart more.” – Elizabeth from Big Bird Little Bird
Find more advice:
- Tips on how to price your handmade work >
- How to price your work if you want to sell to shops >
- 15 different ways to price your handmade work by The Design Trust >
- A simple checklist for your Folksy shop >
- Read the lessons of a Folksy seller who sold their work to Anthropologie >
- How one Folksy designer used Facebook to become a best-seller >
- More selling tips from Finest Imaginary’s Kim Lawler >
- How to sell more at craft fairs >
- How to design a good craft fair display >
- Tips for posting your handmade products >
- How collaboration can boost your business >
- Find out more about #folksyhour >