Selling crafts online is a great way to make money. With enough time and effort, you could even turn your crafting hobby into a home based business that supports you and your family. Although you'll have a lot to learn about selling products online, getting started is both quick and easy.
The first step is to get a website. While there are great many places on the internet that will give you space for a website for free under their domain name; if you want to be perceived as a professional, you'll need to put your website on its own domain name. Don't worry; it's not as expensive as you think. Domain names can be purchased for $10 or less. Web hosting can be secured for around $100 a year and the software you need to help you manage your online store and customers (such as Zencart) can be downloaded for free.
Next, you'll need a way to collect payments from your customers. In the past, you had to go to a bank and apply for a merchant account in order to take online payments but not anymore. Today there are several companies, such as Paypal and Google Checkout, who will collect credit card and check payments for you. All you need to do is provide a bank account in which to deposit the money.
Finally, customers will want to see pictures of your crafts which makes a digital camera a must have. Digital cameras can vary, widely, in price and options so shop around for one that best fits your needs and wallet. Don't be afraid to visit pawn shops and even Ebay for great deals on used cameras.
While you'll want to do as much business from your website as you possibly can, there are other places where you can sell your crafts online. The first are auction sites like Ebay. With these sites you have the option of putting your crafts up for bid on the auction block or setting up a store on their site. Auction sites make their money by taking a percentage of your sales, so keep this in mind when pricing your crafts.
Another way to sell your crafts online is through a digital catalog like Etsy. Similar to auction sites, digital catalogs also give you space on their sites to sell your wares. They, too, will either take a percentage of your sales or will charge you a monthly membership fee. However many of these sites will take care of collecting payments from customers and you benefit from the traffic they generate through their advertising efforts.
Now that you've decided where to sell your crafts, it is time to reel in customers. The most common way to get people to your online store is to advertise on other websites. The trick is in selecting sites that cater to your target customer. This means that in order to make the most of your advertising dollar, you need to be clear about who you are selling to and advertise on those sites where they hang out.
Another way to get word out about your products is by co-sponsoring a contest where a prize is one of your crafts. You'll benefit from the exposure of being listed as a contest sponsor and when the contest is over, you can solicit a testimonial from the prize winner to display on your website.
You can also bring in business by offering a referral incentive to those who recommend your products to others. The incentive can be anything from free products to cash for each referral that makes a purchase. If it sounds like a bribe, it is. But considering that both you and the customer benefit, I think we can look the other way just this once.
Lastly, you can also generate buzz around your products through the use of blogging. Blogging is a type of online journaling that allows you to directly connect with customers, update them on new products and help you network with others in the business. Since you'll already have your own website, adding a blog is as simple as uploading free blog software, such as WordPress, and writing your first post.
While building a successful online crafting business does take work, it can be a fun and rewarding experience. Overnight success is not guaranteed but with the information in this article and a little elbow grease, you can build an online crafting business that will bring you years of joy.
Arwen Taylor is a freelance writer and independent publisher. She teaches bloggers, new and advanced, how to manage and grow their blogs at [bloggingshed.com parked domain].
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