Friday, August 27, 2010

Selling Handmade on the Internet

Twig Heart Wreath with Sea Foam Blue Shells
Wall Topiary
This past year I resurrected my business which I had put aside some 15 years ago.  I create distinctive and unique dried floral home decor, and angels.  Selling handcrafted items was very different years ago when I was selling my items at craft shows, consignment shops, and wholesale to shops in the area.  When I started to talk about selling my dried floral wreaths and wall decor, my daughter suggested Etsy.  For those that are unfamiliar with Etsy, it is an online site where sellers set up their own online store to sell their handmade items.  As opposed to other online sites like e-bay Etsy is strictly handmade, vintage or craft supplies.   If you are shopping for a one of a kind handcrafted gifts or home decor that can't be bought in your local shops than Etsy is the place to shop.  My first thoughts were that this would be an easy way to market my handmade items.  Rather than packing up your items and dragging them to a craft fair, spending all day to mixed results,  or to a store to sell, you can post pictures and sell online.  Sounded simple.   I created my first items,  took some mediocre photos and set up my Angels and Everlastings Etsy Store.  Turns out it is much more complex and time consuming than you could imagine.  You find that you are competing against so many millions of sellers on Etsy and elsewhere on the net.  You soon realize that you need to find a way to get an advantage over the many other people selling the same type of items.  One important thing that will set you apart are your pictures.  Photography skills are fundamental for selling online.   Since the customer cannot touch the item, your photos need to touch them.  They need to be able to view a clear photo that says "buy me".  My photo skills are a work in progress.  They may not be as good as they could be but they are much better than my first postings.   I purchased a photo guide on Etsy from the Elgarbo shop on Etsy called the beginners-guide-to-product photography that helped me immensely.   Visit his shop - he is a gifted photographer and has some terrific photos for sale.   One great thing about Etsy is that many other Etsy sellers are willing to help with advice or support.  If you visit the Etsy forums you can search by photos, pictures, or photography or any other issue and gain a great deal of advice.   But the best way to take better pictures is to practice and get as familiar with your camera as possible.  Just keep taking pictures until they are right.