The pros and cons of selling on a handmade marketplace?

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Posted on 23rd July 2012 by Papermilldirect
Filed under How To Sell Handmade Cards

Online Selling Venues Handmade Cards1

This is the first part in our 'How to sell handmade cards' series.  This week we're looking at the pros and cons of  handmade market places. A handmade market place is a site where you can open a shop and sell your handmade cards - you don't need a webhost or to understand complicated code and all the e-commerce side is taken care of, in many cases you simply need a paypal account.  Orders are emailed through to you and you send out the goods within a specified time.  With most sites you can quickly change into 'vacation' mode for when you are away or if you are selling products at a fair and don't want to risk double selling.

What are the pros of selling on an online handmade marketplace?

    • Online market places are a great place to test the waters before you spend time and money setting up a website.
    • The sites market themselves to attract lovers of handmade goods, so unlike Ebay and Amazon people expect to pay a little more because they know the items are not all mass produced.
    • The sites have communities where you can network with fellow craftsmen and encourage people to share your work on their blogs
    • People who sell on handmade market places are also often the people who buy, so you can network with sellers for direct sales too.
    • Sites which have a joining fee will often include marketing in the price (can be pricey but saves your precious time spent promoting)
    • Smaller sites often have a very niche market
    • Press and bloggers often search these market places for new designers to feature.
    • The collective promotional power of all the sellers helps to drive general traffic to the online market places.
    • People can browse the work of many designer makers in one place, just as if they were at a real craft fair.
    • The sites are constantly developing new features and competing for a share of the market, which is beneficial to sellers.
    • Support - most of these sites are enormously supportive of their sellers and have great community atmospheres!

What are the cons of selling on an online market place?

    • The shop is not yours and so can be closed at any time, you could lose all the feedback and links you have built up
    • Competition - Customers who find your shop or products online through searches may end up buying from another seller on the site
    • Customers may not remember your shop, just the name of the website, people tend to say "I bought it on Etsy" rather than "I bought it from 'Papermill Cards' on Etsy"
    • Fees (listing, commission and paypal) - you need to balance out these with the pro's above and the costs of running a website.  Some sites have really high joining fees and you need to be fully commited to your fledgling business to avoid wasting your money.
    • Being noticed amongst the crowd can be tough on the bigger sites (we've got lots of tips to come on getting spotted online!)

 

Which is best for selling handmade cards - Etsy or Folksy?

Etsy and Folksy are the two biggest handmade market places in the UK.  Both are excellent market places to open up shop on so we thought we'd do a little round up to see what they both offer a designer-maker looking to sell handmade cards.

etsy for selling handmade cards

Etsy

Etsy is one of the most well know handmade market places.  It's an American company but it has a British following too.  The handmade cards section on Etsy (linked to from the navigation list as 'Paper Goods') has a whopping 237,000 items in it - that's in July - figures for November and December must be much higher. Competition is clearly stiff with this many handmade greetings cards for sale, however the site is well known ( 1.23 Billion page views for June 2012) and there are many ways for people to find your handmade cards if they are browsing Etsy.  

Buyers from the UK can choose to browse only shops from the UK or from their immediate locality and also buyers can choose which currency they prefer. You can join seller teams on Etsy to help with promotion and get advice from sellers in your niche.  Also you can create or be featured in Etsy 'treasuries' (collections of themed items) this a great way for your work to get noticed and for you to connect with fellow sellers - these treasuries can also be featured on the front page, which will skyrocket views to your shop. It costs $0.20 to list an item on Etsy which is around 13p - Etsy will also take a commission of 3.5% of the sale price.  

Sell handmade cards on Folksy

Folksy

Folksy has a link to 'Art and Cards' on it's home page and has clearly defined categories of cards available as a drop down list. The site is busy with well over 10,000 cards listed and 3.5 million page views reported for May 2012.  Sellers on Folksy must come from the UK, this is a positive for the sellers as it means they are not competing with European or American crafters and yet they can still sell to buyers from overseas.  Buyers can choose which currency they view prices in.  Folksy has friendly and supportive forums where you can network with sellers and get advice and selling tips. The site charges £0.15 per listing and takes 6% commission +VAT, listings last 4 months.  Recently Folksy introduced a new optional pricing plan which allows designer makers to pay one annual listing fee of £45 - equivalent to over 300 listings.

 Curated Handmade Market Places

Once you have dipped your toes into the water with 'pay as you go' style sites like Folksy, Etsy, Misi, Zibbet, Artfire  you could look to curated sites like 'Not on the High Street', 'Seek and Adore', 'Things British', 'Not Mass Produced' and many more springing up on a weekly basis - we may be in a recession but the handmade market is growing!  These venues offer their designer makers a more personal service - but at a cost usually by way of a joining fee and higher commission percentages.  The sites usually hand pick their sellers ensuring a good spread of craft types and high quality. We are really interested to hear your feedback about any handmade market places you have sold on (or tried to!) Next week we're looking at how you should price your handmade cards...      

Tagged: selling handmade cards, how to sell cards, handmade marketplaces for selling cards

14 thoughts on “The pros and cons of selling on a handmade marketplace?”

Odette

24th May 2013 at 10:34 am

Great article - thanks so much for taking the time to write up and share...

Laurie Hill

31st July 2012 at 11:22 pm

I started my website in 2010 www.creativestores.co.uk. We have about 170 wonderful stores with nearly 3,000 products on. I know that some people find it hard to work out how to list products and deal with the admin side of a website so I can list store owners products for FREE for them to get them started off. This has proved very popular. We have had a lot of interest from magazines of late and have a large editorial in August 2012 issue of Craft Seller Magazine. We know it is tough to sell online and do all we can to promote each store. I develop an online interactive magazine every month to promote new stores and suitable articles for each month. Take a look you may be surprised.

Rosie Foden

24th July 2012 at 4:39 pm

Great info, very useful as this is something that I have been considering for a while now. Looking forward to the next installment. Thanks. x

Sian

24th July 2012 at 1:41 pm

Thank you for the insight and 'bite sized' guide into the online selling platforms, it's really helpful. I am especially looking forward to the next installment as I think it's easy to get unstuck with pricing :)

Joan Donaldson

24th July 2012 at 12:29 pm

Very informative, looking forward to part 2.

hilary@papermilldirect.co.uk

24th July 2012 at 11:51 am

Thanks for all of your comments - really glad you are all excited about this series, I'm looking forward to writing it! :)

hilary@papermilldirect.co.uk

24th July 2012 at 11:50 am

Great - Folksy is a lovely site and they are certainly growing in poularity - wishing you the best of luck with your shop!

Blossom

24th July 2012 at 11:34 am

Can't wait to read the next installment. I sell my cards to friends will be very interested in how much I should be selling them for as they are all personalised one offs and unique. Takes me hours to do one card its a labour of love rather than making a huge amount of pennies. xx

Shelley

24th July 2012 at 4:12 am

Thankyou for useful info.

Cyndi

23rd July 2012 at 11:33 pm

Very enlightening- looking forward to part 2.

Lynda

23rd July 2012 at 10:59 pm

Excellent, I was thinking about trying to sell one or two cards - I am more informed now. Thank you.

Margaret Hart

23rd July 2012 at 8:53 pm

This was very interesting and I am looking forward to no 2!

Ally

23rd July 2012 at 2:42 pm

That was really informative. Looking forward to part 2. thank you

Amanda

23rd July 2012 at 10:48 am

Great post, have just started adding things to my folksy shop so it's a timely series for me! Look forward to reading future posts x

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