Saturday, October 6, 2012

So you want to sell your handmade stuff online?

Has this ever happened to you? You have a hobby. You learn through books, online tutorials or perhaps you attended a class or two. You find that as you get deeper into the hobby, you enjoy making stuff more and more. One day you start giving your family member/friend/colleague what you have made and they love it. They love it so much your family member/friend/colleague says this to you:

You know, you should sell the stuff you make!

And you're delighted with what they said because it's been your secret wish all this while - to sell the stuff you made.

So what's the point of this post? Ah, no. It's not a lecture on the pitfalls of selling handmade. (I'll leave it to you to experience first hand) Although I sell my handmade items at craft markets, I've been selling online (mostly my bag patterns) at various online marketplaces. I'm sharing with you my experience with these sites. I'm not including the fees charged because you can easily find out for yourself. Please know that this is just based on my own experience and my experience can be tainted by my own inexperience/inpatience/stupidity. Lastly I DO NOT benefit in any way if you sign up with any of the marketplaces I've listed.

1. Etsy
The first online marketplace I signed up with. Etsy has changed a lot since I joined in 2009. I like the interface (very easy to navigate) and although the past 1.5 years it introduced a lot of changes which I didn't always like, it's still my favourite. Mainly because it gets its own massive traffic and I feel, technically it's the best. Needless to say, I've been most successful here. I have read a lot of negative comments about Etsy from forums and one day I decided I would stop reading them because in the end, I just want to sell my items. And if Etsy can do the job, then I will continue keeping my shop here.

2. Artfire
The 2nd online marketplace I signed up with. I hated it. Hated, hated, hated it. That was the old Artfire. In the old days, the interface was stupid. One day, I think I triggered a massive muscle pain because I was so frustrated with the navigation. I was very unsuccessful here because I could barely understand how to put in my items. Also, it required you to participate in stuff in order to gain points? I forgot all the terms they used. But it wasn't just a marketplace. One day I was informed that I had to pay rent for my empty shop so I deleted my account. Recently I went back to it and to my delight, it looks less scary - almost like this century. I might just give it another chance.

3. Zibbet
I joined Zibbet when it was just starting out and when a site is just starting out, it has a lot of technical problems. I gave it a chance as I loved the interface. It's almost an Etsy copycat and I have to say I think, at first, technically, it felt superior to Etsy. But later, changes were made to the categories and for me, it went downhill from then on. I still have a shop on Zibbet here. But I've sold ZERO items. My views are practically non-existent. Yet many sellers managed to sell plenty on Zibbet. So don't know what I'm doing wrong. Perhaps it's because I have a basic (not premium) shop which is free?

4. Made It Myself
I joined this site in 2009 but forgot about it. My shop is here. This year I remembered I was a member and decided to sell my bag patterns. The interface is horrid. Horrid. I get into a very bad mood whenever I list my items on this site. It takes a very long time too. This marketplace is still new to me so I don't know how successful I will be. I can't equate the technical difficulties with the sales because it's all about the traffic.

5. Craftsy
I joined Craftsy last year and started selling my bag patterns here. I have to say Craftsy has surprised me the most because I managed to make a few sales every month. The best thing though is Craftsy doesn't charge any commission! If you don't sell patterns, you could also promote your handmade items via projects. What you do is add a project (of what you made) and you link to the marketplace that sells your handmade item.

6. Luulla
Someone recommended Luulla to me and I went and opened a shop right away here. It is really another Etsy copycat with small differences here and there. Unfortunately, I think the interface needs more tweaking. Sometimes I want to navigate to where I want to go and I could feel myself screaming inside my head because I can't SEE IT. I have made a grand total of 1 sale since I opened a few months ago. One day I was googling something and almost fainted when I saw that it pointed to my Luulla item. This has never happened to me for my Etsy listings before. So I feel a little hopeful that Luulla is doing something right.

7. Dawanda
I have a shop here but I kinda forgot about it. I think I joined it a long time ago when there were no English versions. Now that an English version of the marketplace is available, I shoudn't have any excuses for not listing my items.

8. Pattern Spot
This marketplace sells instant download PDF patterns only. I need to be high on morphine (just kidding) in order to list an item for sale. There's something I'm not understanding about how the HTML works because my listing always comes out funny. So I have to manually adjust and it still doesn't come out perfect, the way I want it. My shop's here. This site charges a ransom for sales commission so please don't buy from me here. I have made a grand total of 2 sales since I listed a few months ago.

The following are marketplaces I tried to join but was rejected.

1. Felt
This is a New Zealand online marketplace and I was informed that at the present moment, it is closed to non-residents. I'm curious why it used such a generic name. Google "felt" and see how many hits you get.

2. Folksy
This one's UK and only open to residents as well.

The following are marketplaces I have joined but have not listed any items yet.

1. Handbag Lessons
This marketplace sells instant download pdf patterns. A reader, Amy, recommended this site to me. Unfortunately it has a policy against links to other marketplaces so I'm going to have to remove them before I can list my patterns here.

2. Delighted
Someone suggested I try this handmade marketplace and I'm going to wait till it rains one night before I sit down and explore this site further. So far I haven't seen any restrictions to non-residents so I'm hopeful. Again, I'm curious why such a generic name is chosen.

If you know of any other online marketplaces, please drop me a comment? I will only blame you just a little if it turns out horrid.

10 comments:

Sandy said...

I sew and crochet baby items for friends and family and constantly get the comment that "you should sell your stuff." I decided that I don't want to waste my time trying to do it online, because the way I see it, on a huge marketplace like Etsy, there are hundreds of other people trying to sell the exact same thing as me! You can type "crochet baby blanket" into the search box on Etsy and over 17,000 items come up. How can I compete with 17,000 items??? What is going to draw people to my shop versus the hundreds of others??

Would love to hear your thoughts on this, as I know you have experience selling both on-line and in person. Which one do you feel is more profitable for you?

Anna said...

I have thought every now and again about making things to sell as I too have friends say that I should set up a market stall and sell my hand made goods. Thank you very much for this post. I'll stay with my day job!

Suzee said...

This is a very useful list ! I've been thinking about expanding from Etsy! thanks Jane!

Dee said...

That is a useful and comprehensive list.
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that I should sell my stuff I woudnn't need to sell it. I have done the craft co-op thing and sold a small amount of work. I just don't want to do the entire market thing and have wondered if selling online was worthwhile. It still seems like a lot of trouble for very little return.

Linda said...

This is great information! I've never heard of some of those sites. I have moved from my own website, where I sold maybe 5 patterns a year, to Craftsy, where I sell several a week. My own website was costing hundreds of dollars and my shopping cart was charging me $35 a month for NOT selling anything (that is after the $400 I had to pay to set it up.)

Joanna Pepper said...

Thank you for this great list!
I would also like to suggest MISI ( http://misi.co.uk/). It is an online marketplace with friendly community and heaps of fun in forums. Also the fees are very low and it has lots of daily visitors! :)

Nueyer said...

Have you tried Storenvy?

Projects By Jane said...

@nueyer no i haven't but i may have a look. thanks.

Ana said...

Hello,

I know this is an old post but I'm thinking of moving to singapore and would like to continue selling my handmade clothes on etsy, but i don't know if i need special some visa or if i need to be self employed etc. I would really appreciate if you can tell me how it works for you.

Thanks!
Ana

Projects By Jane said...

Hi Ana, why don't you email me? projectsbyjane@gmail.com

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