To sell handmade products online, you’ll need a platform that allows you to post pictures of and details about your products, as well as a way to accept money digitally. Before jumping into it, you also want to ensure your handmade products are appropriate to sell online. Some items sell better online than others.
How can I sell my handmade products online?
The following are the basic steps required to sell handmade products online.
1 – Research your market
For a handmade product to sell online, people must be searching for that product. And they shouldn’t have so many options that they’ll never find your listing.
For example, if you’re selling jewelry and list a “necklace” online, you’ll have a hard time selling it. That’s because there are millions of options for shoppers to choose from when they’re simply searching for a “necklace”.
On the other hand, if you’re selling necklaces that incorporate healing crystals and you list a “rose quartz necklace” online, you have a much better chance of being found.
Sure, fewer people are searching for a “rose quartz necklace” than a “necklace”. But the name of the game for a small business online is; aim for a bigger piece of a smaller pie.
Going after a huge market (e.g. women’s jewelry) is too difficult for a small handmade business.
Going after a smaller market (e.g. women’s healing crystal jewelry) is a much easier market for a small business to compete in.
Before putting time and money into setting up an online shop, do some research.
Type your specific product name into Google and see what types of businesses you’ll be competing with for a spot on the front page of Google.
2 – Determine shipping costs
The other aspect of ensuring you can sell your product online is being able to ship it. Shipping fees can tank an online business.
Anything can be shipped these days, but the key is being able to do it economically.
Consumers love free shipping. So if they put an item in their cart, get to the checkout and realize shipping is almost as much as the product’s price, they won’t buy.
Research your shipping costs and ensure you’ll be able to keep them low.
Also, determine if there are any locations you won’t ship to. For example, if shipping to a customer in another country makes shipping fees much more expensive (and complicates your taxes), you may choose to focus on selling to customers in your country.
Sure, you may lose some sales by not shipping to every country. But you have limited time and resources as a small business owner, and sometimes it’s best to narrow your focus.
It would be best if you also determine the costs of your shipping supplies. Your prices must incorporate the costs of items such as bubble wrap, tissue paper, stickers, boxes, labels, etc.
Make sure you can find an economical way to ship your products, so you don’t have to raise your prices too high.
3 – Sign up for a marketplace
A marketplace such as Etsy is the quickest, cheapest, and easiest way to start selling handmade products online.
You can build a website, but that requires knowledge and experience to create a well-designed and smooth functioning site. It can also take years for a website to start ranking on the first page of Google (which is where you need to be if you want traffic).
The better choice is to sign up for a marketplace, see how your product sells online, then build a website once you have proof of concept.
You can look at the best options out there and decide which is right for you.
Etsy is the top choice for most handmade business owners. It will only cost you $4 to set up a shop and list 20 items. When those items sell, you’ll have more fees, but they’re not much higher than the fees you would pay to maintain a website.
4 – Sign up for a payment app
Online shoppers do not want a complicated payment process. It’s too much work to ask a shopper to comment on your Facebook photo or direct message you to purchase a product, then to log in to their bank and send you an e-transfer.
Many online stores offer 1-click shopping. So your payment process can’t require much more than a few steps.
If you sign up for Etsy, you use Etsy Payments or PayPal. These are secure ways for people to pay for items online.
If you set up a website or choose another marketplace, you’ll need an account with a payment processing company.
There are several to choose from:
- Cash App
5 – Take Photos
Photos are everything online. Consumers can’t pick up items, try on clothing, feel textures, etc. Your photos must help communicate the information a shopper would gather when looking at an item in person.
Your photos must also look professional.
Just as a steak served on a styrofoam plate with plastic cutlery would lower how much you think the steak should cost, a bad photo of your products can decrease how much shoppers believe your products are worth.
Blurry photos taken in poor lighting and on a busy background will lower the perceived value of your products.
Help shoppers imagine how they will use/wear/display your products.
Meaning, if you’re selling knitted scarves, don’t photograph your scarfs on the kitchen table. Show shoppers how the scarf will look on a human.
>> What might someone wear a wool scarf with? Probably a wool coat; definitely NOT a tank top.
>> Where would your customers wear a wool scarf? Perhaps on a walk through a park; not inside a warm home.
>> When might someone wear a wool scarf? Probably during winter or fall; not during summer when the grass is green.
Take the time to snap professional-looking photos of your handmade products.
6 – Create listings
You must create detailed listings no matter which platform you use to sell your handmade products online.
It’s important to write descriptions that communicate all the information a shopper might want to know. Don’t simply spell out what they can gather from a photo (e.g. “red knitted scarf”).
Share details that aren’t obvious (e.g. “this scarf is knitted with cruelty-free wool”). And focus on information shoppers care about, not the ones you want to share. For example, does a shopper really care if a scarf took two hours to knit? Or do they care more about its color being THE trend this season?
It’s also important to choose the right keywords for your product titles, descriptions, tags, etc.
For example, don’t name a product after a friend because it reminds you of them. No one is searching for a “Jill Scarf” online. However, they may search for a “Cruelty-free Wool Scarf”.
Get to know your target market and the exact terms they use when they search for products like yours. Then be sure to use those keywords in your listings.
7 – Work on SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Whether you build a website or set up an Etsy shop, SEO is crucial for your products to be found by shoppers.
Each time you type keywords into a search bar, you use a search engine. Google, Etsy, and Amazon have some of the more complex search engines.
The goal of the search engine is to help users find exactly what they’re looking for. If shoppers type “gold hoop earrings” into Etsy, Etsy wants shoppers to find the best gold hoop earrings, because then they’re more likely to buy. And that means more money for Etsy. It also means that shopper is more likely to return to Etsy because they found what they were looking for.
However, just because you’ve listed a “silver necklace” and millions of people are shopping for a “sliver necklace” online does not mean anyone will find your silver necklace.
It’s a competitive world online, and you must be strategic about how you name your products and photos, the words you use in your descriptions, etc.
SEO is complex and forever changing. But it’s worth learning best SEO practices and staying on top of them.
8 – Market your listings
You’ll need to market your online shop and its listings. If you simply create product listings and call it a day, no one will find you.
You’re responsible for driving traffic to those listings.
SEO (search engine optimization) will help market your products, but SEO is a long game.
For quicker gains, use social media, newsletters, blogging, guest posting, press releases, etc. There are many ways to market online, and it will take time and effort to determine which type of marketing works best for your business, its products, and its customers.
Marketing your products will require just as much of your time as creating products does (if not more).
Too many people list their handmade products on Etsy, sit back and wait for sales to come in, and then give up when they haven’t made a single sale in several months.
Online, the real work begins after you’ve made the products and listed them online.
You may also be interested in: The Best Place to Sell Handmade Products Online
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!