Online Benefits for Craft Businesses
by Narelle Davison
The internet has an endless number of benefits for craftspeople, not just as a medium for selling the
end product but for each step that leads to sales. The fact that you are reading this shows that you
already utilise the web for information but perhaps you have not yet considered some of the following points presented.
The ideas provided in this article have come from interviews with craftspeople, conducted for AussieCrafts.com,
in the interest of sharing information with our peers. When boiled down to its bare essentials this is
the true essence of the internet but it sometimes gets lost in all of the advertising and sales. The
interviews spawned a host of ways in which the internet assists the crafters, both in their business
and creatively, and provided much insight into untangling the web.
When asked about the sources they use for inspiration most craftspeople have said that the internet is
a much used research tool. This is particularly useful with commission pieces, where a client gives
a basic idea and there is a need to familiarise yourself with the subject. Browsing websites is also
great for when you want to start a new piece but are not quite sure where to begin. No matter what
craft you do if you are stuck for ideas on what to create there are always plenty of places to get
some quick inspiration online. The obvious way to get ideas is to search for your craft in the search
engines but some other methods are:
• Type your craft name into Google image search
• Yahoo groups on your craft often have galleries
• Online stores that sell your craft
• Craft directories
• Historical sites related to your craft, most crafts did after all come from very ancient beginnings.
• Try searching for crafts that are similar to yours, if you do pottery, for example, search for glasswork.
The colours and shapes are likely to spark new ideas.
If it's a more abstract inspiration that you need such as colour or texture then art, photography and
nature sites are fantastic sources of ideas. Stock photography sites (such as www.dreamstime.com),
for example, have thousands of images of almost everything imaginable. Let's say you want to create
a bead necklace that reflects the colour and movement of the ocean. If you browse the sea and ocean
category of a stock photography site you can jot down ideas based on what you see as you view page
after page of photographs that cover every aspect of the ocean.
Education: patterns and tutorials
There are very few crafters who believe they know everything there is about their craft. Who of us
do not want to learn something new? The internet is the best source of tips, tricks, patterns and
tutorials on every craft imaginable, so much so that many craftspeople no longer purchase books
about their craft. Many sites offer this information for free, as a way to attract and keep surfers,
much the same way as articles like this are utilised. Others charge a subscription or a cost per
tutorial, often downloaded as an e-book or a pdf file. For many crafts there are also online classes
or lessons via email, again some are free (and often include advertising) and others are subscription based.
To find these valuable resources consider using some of the following terms alongside your craft name:
tutorial, pattern, learn to, ebook, lesson, techniques, instructions or projects. These keywords were
tested using Google search and beading, for example 'beading projects', and the results were
astonishing. If it a particular technique you are searching for then add that to your search query,
for example "beading peyote technique", where peyote is a type of beading stitch.
Purchasing tools and materials
The internet has brought about a convenient way to buy almost anything, from anywhere in the world,
and to craftspeople this has been one the most important benefits of being online. Often there are
supplies needed for craftwork that are not available locally and this can be the case no matter where
you live. It may be because it is only manufactured in a small area of Europe or that there are few
people working in the same craft as you and therefore there is little demand.