There appears to be a plethora of market places on the fabulous world wide web but how do we know which ones to use... which one will drive buyers to my shop and importantly which one will make me money without requiring my first born child as payment for each listing?? hmmmm and so the pondering and Googling continues.
This is what I have found so far, the opinions and methods are my own so please do take the info and do what you will with it but be sure to do your own research too of course, my knowledge is not vast by any means its all just personal experience.
An obvious piece of advice is branding, save yourself a lot of time by designing your logo first, and making sure you have it saved as a jpg and a png. You will also need an avatar, usually a square smaller version of your branding/logo for example:
My logo is this
Ok so branding is done. Make sure you have a dedicated email address for your business, you don't have to own your own domain unless you want to, an email address from a general supplier is fine too i.e. mine is firstname.lastname@example.org, you can then use this dedicated email for setting up your shop and social media accounts.
Important!! Make sure you make a list somewhere accessible of the links to your shops, blogs, social media pages etc because every time you open a new account you are going to want to add links between them all. Somewhere on your tech where you can copy and paste them from is probably the most productive method.
Next advice would be photography. Now this is very important, studies show that buyers are much more likely to buy an item if the photo is pleasing to the eye. So either photograph all your items on a white background at nice flattering and interesting angles with good lighting for continuity purposes or you could choose to set up your photos with props and good locations for example: if you are making christmas tree hangers then its probably wise to photograph them with Christmas props, or on a tree or even next to a roaring fire nestled next to a cup of frothy hot chocolate. Its a strange idea I know but believe me it works, you have to set the scene to make people commit to a purchase. Either way is fine just give it some thought, one good set of photos can be used across all your online accounts.
Social Media: Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter - Yes, Yes and Yes again, these are all excellent for arty crafty people because they are visual based. Your products are shown at their best in pictures, have you ever tried to describe a Picasso in words without a picture to help? Its hard to get your point across like that so use these tools to your advantage. It is quicker to post a pic onto any one of these than it is to blog, so write a blog post once a week but try to post to Pinterest, Instagram Tumblr and Twitter daily.
Tumblr is a new one to me, as is Instagram and Twitter for that matter but I do like them all so far.
I am by no means an expert on any of them but I have found my sales have jumped since I opened accounts on them so thats a positive! One thing that I have learned is, in Tumblr allow it to post to Facebook for you, and when you post to Instagram allow it to share to Tumblr, that way with one upload you get 3 of your media accounts covered, handy huh!
I currently have an Etsy shop - Which by the way I love.... If you are crafty or a buyer of crafty things then Etsy will not be big news to you but it is BIG, it is actually one of the biggest marketplaces for handmade items with over 870,000 merchants selling and more than 12 million items for sale across the site.
It is super easy to set up a shop with Etsy and also manage the listings.... oh and the other very important bonus is that they charge $0.20 per listing and 3.5% commission on sales which is very reasonable compared to Folksy who I checked out today and well this is what I found...
Earlier today eager to get multiple shops online as quickly as possible I signed up for Folksy and I was just about to list my first item when I realised I had no idea what it would cost me in the long run so, I trundled off to check out the rates... they charge £0.15+vat per listing and a whopping 6%+vat commission. Needless to say I was back on Folksy cancelling my account pretty quickly, but as with everything that is just my personal choice, if those fees sound good to you then by all means go for it!
ArtFire: The newest shop I have opened is with ArtFire, now I am very new so all I can do is tell you about my experience so far, first, they are based in the USA so all your listings will be in $ but thats ok for me I sell a lot overseas already so pull up a currency converter on your trusty google, and change your usual rates into $ and its simple. Secondly, if you are setting up multiple shops do Etsy first with all your listings because ArtFire has a nifty little tool that lets you copy over your Etsy listings to ArtFire with a tiny amount of fiddling after... smashing!! I was not looking forward to having to type all the listings again.
ArtFire appear to do very well with SEO, prompting you to caption your photos, add keywords and tags etc to each listing so that much is promising. Now to the fees, well if you sign up before 30th September 2014 you get the $12ish price, after that they are upping the cost to $20 per month although there is a substantial saving to be had by paying quarterly as well as a 30 day guarantee which helps if you are just dipping your toe in the water so to speak. There are no other costs involved here no listing fees nor commission woop woop.
Facebook: Now there is a contentious issue if ever there was one, so do we open a Facebook Business Page or not - Well from what I can gather "no we do not" is the general consensus.
Why? Well..... First you need to build your shop.. then you are responsible for getting people to view and like your shop (unlike Etsy and ArtFire who do lots towards your traffic for you).
So first you add a social plugin on to your blog or website none ever clicks them but its free so hey ho we do it anyway. You then need to purchase Facebook Ads to help cajole peeps into coming to your shop - So you have achieved 'likes' now the only problem remains is that of those 'likes' your posts actually only reaches approx 1% of them you do not automatically show up in their feeds - so then at a loss of what else to do you hit that tempting 'Promote" button which also costs you the national food bill of the UK. So you have paid for the 'likes' then you pay again to be able to show them anything, is anyone else seeing the conundrum here? Surely your money is better spent elsewhere?
Now hold your horses I hear you yell, you can do it for free on Facebook! Yes my little cyber shouters you are right, you can. You need to set up a standard page, post all your pics, be sure to have prices with them as no one likes to shop without a price tag then make use of awesome groups and pages such as "Hike Those Likes" now this is long winded and requires an awful lot of sitting on your tech maintaining your media presence not actually crafting, so beware it does take A LOT of time to get anywhere, a large percentage of your likes will be from fellow businesses wanting a like for a like so you're are then just advertising to your fellow crafters not necessarily the shoppers which is great for mutual gratification but not really for sales unfortunately.
So there it is my summarisation so far of the answers I have found when asking google "Where should I sell my products online" or "How do I sell my craft makes online" if you have any tips, tricks or advice be sure to comment below so we can all benefit from them.