Saving time and petrol is only one of the reasons for craft makers to go online. Another reason is the large number of potential customers

(September 2008) According to some statistics, the annual worldwide craft market is worth about 45 billion American dollars, which translates into roughly 360 billion Rands. Handmade goods have always been in demand, and the chances are that there are people eager to buy your particular creation. However, the very first step may seem insurmountable: where exactly to start?

Selling is a special kind of talent that does not always go hand in hand with the talent associated with creating. You may make it known to family and friends that you would not be averse to selling your work. You could look around the shop were you buy the craft supplies. Do they also sell finished pieces? If yes, ask if they would sell yours too. Then there are craft malls, where you can rent shelf space. You will have to pay for the space whether you sell your items or not. Craft markets or fairs are also good venues to offer your work and look at what others are offering.

Those conventional venues used to be the only outlets for craft-makers until the Internet opened a whole world of new opportunities. Saving time and petrol is only one of the advantages associated with selling online. Just as important is the scale. Selling crafts online allows you to reach a wider market than conventional sellers can dream of. Moreover, you can do it from the comfort of your home.

The easiest and the most effective way to sell online is to join an existing marketplace – a web site that serves as a platform for connecting sellers and buyers. No technical skills are required and there are no start-up costs. All the worry connected with running a web presence and all the effort of attracting visitors to the site fall on somebody else’s shoulders.

Even if you already have a web site, it is a good idea to join an established online marketplace like That way you get more people to see your work, many more than are likely to visit your web site. By displaying your wares there, you get access to a big base of potential customers at your doorstep, ready and waiting for you. In other words, you sell to people who are looking for you, not the other way around. In addition, there is no financial risk involved. You do not pay a listing fee on bidorbuy. You only pay a small commission once the sale is completed. If your item does not sell, you are at least not out of your money.

The first decision you need to make when selling through an online marketplace is whether to list your item on an auction or at a fixed price, as a “buy now” item. While the auctions are more exciting and potentially more rewarding, they can also be nerve-wracking. That is why sellers usually start with “buy now”. Some of them test the waters by listing two same or similar items – one as “auction”, and the other as “buy now”.

From there on, everything depends on your dream and your commitment. You will perhaps be happy to sell an item from time to time. On the other hand, you may want to grow a steady business, with you firmly in control of your product, your marketing, and your distribution. In any case, be prepared for an exciting, fun and rewarding experience – plus some hard work. But your craft is worth it!

What to Sell

  • Popular or at least practical items are most likely to sell well. Browse the internet marketplaces to see what people are buying, but remember that a unique touch is what customers look for in hand-made items. Inferior copies have no longer-term chance of success.
  • It may be a good idea to start with items that you can make relatively quickly, with readily available and inexpensive materials. That way, you minimize the risk of running out of stock when those sales really take off.
  • To avoid headaches, make items that you have the right to make. In other words, do not decoupage your box with someone’s copyrighted image! The author of the original may chance to spot it on the Internet.
  • Finally – sell the items that you enjoy making.

What Price?

Pricing hand-made items is often the most difficult part of the process. Some schools of thought say that you should charge the finished product three to four times more than the cost of the material. Some say crafters should charge by the number of hours it took to make a particular item, taking as basis at least the minimum hourly wage.

Since the pricing of hand-made objects is very subjective, you may charge any amount that seems reasonable to you. It is advisable to do a bit of research and see how others are pricing similar items. For a change, you may decide to put your work on a no-reserve auction, steel your nerves, and let the market forces set the price!

Picture Perfect

A picture is worth a thousand words: that line is especially true when selling handmade objects online. The image and the description must allow the customer to “see” the object. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when taking pictures of an object with your digital camera:

  • Banish the flash. Take pictures in natural daylight, in a shade
  • Mount the camera on a tripod, or rest it on a firm surface
  • Place the item on matt background, a large sheet of paper or a bed sheet
  • Take several shots from different angles
  • Download the images to your computer and choose two or three you like best
  • Edit the images in your photo editing software: crop them, make them a little darker or a little lighter, and a little sharper
  • Either do all the computer editing in one go, or save the image in-between editing in a bmp, tiff of psd format (saving an image repeatedly in jpg format will cause loss of quality). Save the final image as a jpg, with resolution of 72 pixels and maximum size of 50KB
  • Even if the image and the object look the same to you, do state in the description that the colours of the original may differ from the colours displayed, because you can not know the monitor settings of the potential buyers.

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *