Should You Have a Website If you Are Going To Sell Your Arts and Crafts?
Looking to profit from yuor own handmade creations? Good for you…now you’re probably asking that question above: Do I need a website for this?
Ok…Short answer, no. Long answer, yes. Why do I say this?
Well, I was asking it once too, many moons ago. I mean, I knew what websites were, what they should look like, and all that good stuff, but it stopped there.
People most often talked about how selling on a 2.0 platform (don’t think they used the term 2.0 in 2006?) I have a first cousin who works for a big greeting card company and she was the first person who told me about Etsy and suggested I check them out. In all honesty, that was my first recollection. Like you I got the impression that you had two choices -build your own website to showcase your creations or find a web platform suited to various niches.
There are a great deal of advantages to going the “2.0 platform” route. First off:
- It is niche-based…People shopping for handmade soap, doggie Halloween costumes, or seashell jewelry will be able to find your market easily.
- The ease at which you can focus on listing your products since graphic elements are already plugged in.
- If the site gets a great deal of activity you have lots of opportunity for ready made traffic!
- Low barriers to entry-Fees can vary but most are pretty low and reasonable.
I remember the first time I ever attempted to start a website, and I’m sure I fumbled my way through. The book I was reading at the time pretty much told me to do this, do that….Believe it or not, I registered a site with Yahoo. This was back in 2010 I think. That. Turned out. Badly. I did get the hang of things like dragging and dropping my images into place and writing a good “about us” page, but that was it.
I didn’t know a thing back then about SEO, promotion, writing good supporting content, but even worse, I didn’t know I was supposed to register a domain and choose a hosting company, the sine qua non of website launching…boy that was awful, Thankful to the grace of God that I got educated in the right direction.
But more on that later! I think I ended up canceling my Yahoo listed art site after a year and just went to the shared platforms.
Why You Should Get Your Feet Wet With a Craft Seller Platform First
Now back to why I said “Short answer no” to “Do you need a website?”
You’ll want to begin with the least difficult route to getting started, and using a shared web platform like Etsy or Bonanza is great because you can pretty much focus on the nitty gritty first. You will want to create an account and depending on how much you are permitted to include, you can include profile pictures of you, basic information on procedures and a bio.
By contrast, if you start out building a website to showcase your creations, you’ll probably have a double duty. Besides making your creations, there is the matter of deciding what to price them at, then listing them, determining shipping and handling rates, and on top of that figuring out how you are going to drive traffic to your website.
Are you prepared to manage an advertising budget and test out the returns? Of course, nowadays you’ve got the advantage of using social media to your advantage (and there are advertising options there too to consider) . But the point is, it may be a lot more to bite off than you can chew.
Why You Need a Website For the Long Haul
Ergo…beginning your crafty business on a shared web 2.0 platform is the best approach. You’ll have the least stressful approach to testing and tweaking your product listings, seeing how well they perform, and finding opportunities for more growth as you gain more experience.
But for the long haul, it behooves you to consider getting your own website for reasons I’ll explain in a minute.
You really ought to have your own website to showcase all your creations down the road. It’s great that there are a number of platforms that you can use to your advantage, but there is some stuff to consider seriously:
You Have More Control With a Site That You Own
Shared platforms belong to the “big cheese” (whoever owns them) You and all the other sellers are basically renting space on them (kind of like in the offline, real world, you may rent a booth for craft fairs and such) There is nothing wrong with that, but it’s kinda risky if your whole business is built on the “big cheese’s” platform.
S/he/They own it and may have the power to change their selling policies or drop an unexpected bombshell on you in the form of an algorithm change.
Worst case scenario they could close your shop in a blink of an eye if you ever unknowingly do something that may be against the site’s terms and conditions . I don’t think all platform owners are that arbitrary but from time to time you do hear about someone who lost his business overnight due to some T & C or policy violation (that may have been minor) and it took a lot of effort to state his case and get his shop reinstated.
Your Own Site is Literally Your Own!
Yikes – that seller could have avoided that headache if he’d had his own website in addition to the shared booth on X platform.
I’ve noticed that a fair amount of the pros on Etsy have also got their own sites, too! If you’re new there, you are given the option to fill out your profile with a lot of relevant, helpful information for buyers, and one of those is links to not just your social media profiles, but also “Website” and “Blog”
I’m not saying you should scrap your corner of the platform – (please, don’t do that). Just think seriously about building your own site to have a great place to showcase your products AND have a safeguard against the stuff I mentioned above.
What Kind of Site Do I Need to Showcase My Arts and Crafts?
Back in 2013-14, I did what I thought I needed to do to start a blog….I set up a art/craft blog of my own with a Blogspot account…There is nothing wrong with Blogspot/Blogger, but it is not the best choice. The thing is that Blogger is owned by somebody else, and while it’s a nice looking enough place where you can change layouts, fonts, show images and videos and all that, once again it all comes down to that one thing: It’s a shared platform.
I hear you now going “OK Jennifer I get it about shared platforms…now what do I need to do!”
Get a Domain and Hosting
OJK, here is the 411…You need a website of your own and the quickest way there is by registering a domain name and hosting. It’s not as scary as it sounds….I registered my site this one right here, and it was a hassle-free experience.. The process itself is fodder for another post but it’s not like the “old days” when you had to write code and all that tedious stuff.
Oh, and if you’re worried about expenses, seriously, it’s a drop in the bucket. Your domain name is roughly $10 per year and hosting is around $5-$7 a month and you can often run into some good deals there too. A heck of a lot cheaper than a brick and mortar kind of facility where you have to factor in equipment costs, furniture, etc,
So if you want your craft business to be a real business you really do need a website. You don’t have to be a techie genius – I’m not, and I made this blog happen! I did have the usual snafus all of us do when getting started such as those mentioned earlier, but hopefully you’ll know what not to do and have a great transition!
Make Your Craft Site a Blog Too!
In addition to showing your products…you should also create written content for your site; in which case, start a blog on there too! You can write about your experiences and knowledge on your product niche, and if you optimize them well enough, you can draw in free traffic to your site and not worry about advertising or CPC campaigns too much.
That’s pretty much what I do- I write about all my craft-related experiences in depth, I also share them on social media, I do not use CPC campaigns. But if you have ever used advertising campaigns before and know what to expect you should do that too.
You might have noticed that I do not have my own products here – that is true, I don’t (not yet anyway) But I have considered it; having checked into the matter more thoroughly, I found out that the company I use to have my custom printed apparel on Etsy dropshipped also allows for integrating products with my site. That is something on my to-do list, but for now my products are on Etsy and my supporting content is right here.
So the biggest takeaway is, make full use of some of the seller platforms out there, learn about them more, get the feel for how they work and make the most of your selling experience, doing everything you would normally if you had a craft fair booth or something similar…..But don’t forget to safeguard your crafting biz with a platform you and you alone have full ownership of-your own website!