Do you need a website for your craft biz? You put a lot of time and care into our creations, and even more to profit from them…now you want to safeguard all that right?
As far as the need for a website question….Short answer, no. Long answer, YES! Why do I say this?
Well, I was asking it once too, many moons ago. People most often talked about how selling on a 2.0 platform.My first cousin, a greeting card writer, was the first person who told me about Etsy and said it was a great venue. You had two choices – build your own website to showcase your creations or find a web platform that suited your niche.
There are a great deal of advantages to going the “2.0 platform” route. BUT do not stop there….Think seriously, maybe not this minute, hahaha…about starting a website for your flourishing craft business for reasons I will discuss here!
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The Story of MY First Website!
I remember the first time I ever attempted to start a website, circa 2010….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.
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…, 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.
Start 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.
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 benefit of using social media to your advantage (and there are advertising options there too, to consider). 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
Getting started 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 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 – yikes!
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!
…And no one can take that away from you! 👍😁
I’ve noticed a lot 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”
In other words, the old cliche about not putting all your eggs in one basket…. Have a shared platform shop but think seriously about building your own site to have a great place to showcase your products AND a backup plan because, well you know, Murphy’s Law 😳!
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 , again, more of a “starter” blog platform.
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
OK, here is the 411…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.. 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 a heck of a lot cheaper than a brick and mortar kind of facility where you have to factor in equipment costs, furniture, etc,
A guide I downloaded recently that is all about the business of selling crafts, goes into detail not just with traditional marketing methods BUT also some good strategies for online selling. including building a website, making videos, as well as good (and inexpensive) ways to get your crafts noticed.
Create Some Great Content!
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!
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!
Post Updated: July 12, 2019