The handmade marketplace is a thriving industry with literally millions of jewelry artists and crafters around the world selling their handmade products to buyers who appreciate carefully crafted handmade goods. Etsy is the biggest online handmade marketplace around and this company alone is said to have reported 1.4m active sellers at the end of 2014.
With that kind of number of handmade businesses in operation, it really is important to stand out from the competition (both online and offline) if you want your own business to be successful! In this article, we explain some important details that you should be paying attention to if you want your handmade business to take off.
1. Take great photos
Unless you’re selling your handmade products face to face, you’ll need to be taking photos of each product ready for selling online. And not just any old photo of your product… spectacular photos! Photos are ultimately what will draw potential buyers in to make them take a closer look at your product. They are the hook that could help you make a sale.
If your product photos are badly lit, blurry or just plain boring, you will have virtually next to no chance of selling your products online as potential buyers will probably skip past your product listing and click on someone else’s. That may sound harsh, but unfortunately it’s true. If potential buyers can’t see and touch your product before they buy, they will rely on the photo as the next best thing.
Photos that pop with color, products that show them being used and close up views are all attributes that can transform a product shot. If you’re not sure of the best way to photograph your handmade products, check out this handy post on how to take product photos that sell.
2. Fill your shop
If you want to be a successful handmade seller, you’ll need to launch with a bang! If you just have a few items to sell, either online or at a craft stall, there’s a chance that potential buyers won’t take you seriously. You have the look the part to be the part.
Take some time to create a range of handmade products and if you’re selling face to face, make a few extras for stock.
3. Optimize shop listing descriptions
If you have an Etsy shop, you can optimize your online profile and product descriptions with keywords. A keyword is effectively a search term – a word or phrase that a potential buyer will type into a search bar in the hope that they will find a selection of results matching their requirements. On Etsy, there is a search bar at the top of the website.
There’s no rocket science to keywords. All you have to do is think about what words or phrases are relevant to your handmade business that people could use to find you. If you sell handmade jewelry made with pearls, here are a few examples of keywords that you could use:
Freshwater pearl bracelet
Glass pearl ring
Take 10 minutes to write down all the keyword phrases that might apply to your handmade business and products so you can incorporate them naturally (don’t overstuff them) into your product descriptions, and more broadly, into your shop profile.
Another way to optimize your online shop listings when it comes to handmade products is to be as descriptive as possible about the way in which you’ve made the product. People who buy handmade products love to know if there’s a story behind them, so be personal and let your shop visitors know what inspired your creativity!
4. Promote your handmade business
Even the best product in the world wouldn’t have made a name for itself without the power of marketing. It’s not enough to just show off your products at craft fairs or fill in your descriptions properly on Etsy. You need to shout it from the rooftops to let people know about your handmade business! Take a look at these methods for promotion to get started:
a) Word of mouth
Let your family and friends know about what you do, let them see your products and give you feedback. You might get some sales straightaway! Hand out flyers and business cards and ask others to help you spread the word.
b) Social media
Set up a Facebook fan page, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram account if you haven’t done so already and plan a schedule for promoting your products on there. You can link back to your online shop if you have one or let people know how they can buy from you.
Social media is generally more effective when you include images. So going back to point no. 1, take some great photos to accompany your tweets, posts and pins. With social media, take some time to share news and information from your followers and you’ll find that they’ll start to return the favor and help you to promote your business.
c) Start a blog
Grow your following by starting a blog and writing posts on how you make your products and what inspires you. You can start a blog very inexpensively using WordPress or Blogger. Once you get this up and running, you can easily link to an online shop from your own website. Here’s a website with lots of pointers on how to get started with WordPress.
5. Build a mailing list
Once you start to make sales, keep a record of your customers (and if you start a blog, allow readers to subscribe). Your mailing list will become so valuable to you over time! Why? Well, right there at your fingertips, you’ll have access to a list of people who already like your handmade products and that fact alone will give your business a good chance of succeeding.
Your mailing list will form your customer base - one that you can send an email to now and then, letting them know about any special offers you have running or when you bring out a new product that may be of interest to them.
6. Make your packaging beautiful
Actually making a sale is a fantastic achievement, but successful handmade businesses don’t stop there. Make your customers remember you by packaging your products beautifully. You don’t have to spend too much money to do this and you can still package your products in an environmentally friendly way.
But rather than just sticking your product in an envelope, you could make special handmade labels, use brightly colored wrapping paper and even include a personalized handwritten thank you note. It’s the little things that make a difference to customers, so be different – and memorable.
7. Offer amazing customer service
You might work really hard to build up your handmade business only to get hit by a damaging review left by an unhappy customer. Don’t let this happen to you! Make sure your customers have a good chance of being happy from the very start.
Answering questions within 24 hours, being flexible about tailoring your product to customer requirements (within reason) and delivering your product quickly, are all attributes that will make buyers feel valued.
Offering a refund policy will make you seem trustworthy to potential buyers and if you receive complaints, deal with them professionally and quickly. If a buyer has a good experience with you, they are more likely to buy again from you and recommend you to others too.
Aside from the creation of beautiful products, the photos; product listings; marketing channels and level of customer service all have a very important part to play in your handmade business too! These are all important details that will help bring your business together and set you up for success.
We hope you enjoyed this article. For related reading, take a look at this article on how to price your handmade jewelry for profit!