There are so many options out there of where to sell handmade products. It can be overwhelming thinking about where would be the ‘best place’ to sell. To be honest there is no best place. I think you can choose to sell in any one or two of these places or ways and be successful (or even more if you have others helping you).
I’ve seen small businesses be successful in every location and way I’m going to share with you. Again there is no one right way to do it because is so dependent on so many different things. But you need to pick one or two ways/places to sell and stay focused. Learn the platform well, become an expert at selling at wherever you’ve chosen and get to work.
Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin
One mistake I’ve made with my own handmade business is feeling like I need to sell on lots of different platforms in order to make more sales. NO. This idea has wasted so much of my time trying to set up shops on different sites or doing all these things to get a sale. I’ve since learned better and now recommend first really thinking about what works best for you and your life, picking a method or two and stay focused on that. Dive in to how that selling platform works and what you can do to improve your sales. If your not selling, research, research, research! Look at those who are doing well and apply the things you learn to your own business.
What to look at when deciding where/how to sell:
- Where is your target market? You NEED to know who your target market is. If you don’t know, learn how to find your target market here. Once you know your target market you will hopefully have a good idea of where they will be at. Do they hang out on Facebook? Are they more into going to craft shows? Are they online?Really think about who they and where they’ll be are as you’re deciding where to sell.
- What is your time and availability like? For example, shows take a lot of time at various locations whereas a website is more flexible and can be done from home. Then for example, if you were to sell locally on Facebook you need to think if you have time to meet people or find a way to get products to them. Do you want to deal with shipping? Realistically look at what you are able to put into your business in terms of time and money which leads us to…..
- How much do you want to invest upfront? Some of these options are more expensive as you begin, some are not. How much do you want to invest as you start your business? Is this a small, part-time gig or do you want to invest more to grow it to a full business instead of a side hustle?
- What are your long term goals? Think about where you would like to be with this business in 1, 3, 5 or even 10 years. Is this going to be a long-term business or is it something that is more short term to see how things go?
All these things and more will affect your decision about where to sell your handmade products.
Quick note about me if you’re wondering. Right now I have my own shop on Etsy as well as a Shopify site. I also do one, maybe two shows a year during the holidays.
Through a Third Party Platform
Etsy – Etsy is by far the most popular third party site for selling handcrafted products. According to Etsy stats there are 26.1 million active buyers. That is the number of people coming and looking for handmade items. This is far above and beyond any other third party platform.
- High traffic and established customer base
- Overall they are very established and trustworthy
- Easy to set up shop and start selling quickly
- Lots resources and help to get started
- Allows for social media links
- Easy shipping integration where you can purchase your shipping label and mail (for international orders customs info is added for you)
- Can easily see site analytics (where people are coming from, what search terms they are using to find your shop)
- Increasing competition
- On any given page there are dozens of ways for people to click out of your shop to view someone else’s products
- Branding challenges – Almost all stores are the same making it difficult to stand out
- No phone support, only email (you can request a call but it can take a long time for them to get back to you)
- SEO can be very hard to keep up with
- Limited to 5 product photos
- Limited variations
- First 40 listings are free
- Having a shop is free
- $.20 listing fee for every item listing, each listing expires after 4 months
- Selling fee – 3.5% of the selling price. This does not include any shipping or tax rates you might charge
- Direct checkout – 3% + 0.25 USD. this is the payment processing fee because all payments have to go through a processer and it is either through direct checkout or Paypal (PayPal fees are 2.9% of total transaction plus $.30)
- Easy to list items
- Good customer service
- Allows for unlimited product photos
- Little exposure to those outside the Artfire community
- No options for store analytics
- No variation options
- Per item $.23 each listing plus 9% commission for 250 products
- OR for a store it is $20 a month plus 3% commission (no listing fee) for 1000 products
- OR for a featured store it is $40 a month plus 3% commission (no listing fee) for 2500 products plus marketplace features and enhanced site exposure
- Only showcases artisans in the US
- No listing fees
- Strong commitment to only selling handmade
- Fairly easy to set up shop
- Not as commonly known as other sites
- Only allows sellers within the US
- No analytics
- No fees for 6 months
- After 6 months of having a shop there is a 7% fee of total selling price
- This fee does not include a PayPal fee (Paypal is 2.9% of total plus $.30)
- Have a stand alone website as well as access to the online marketplace
- Simple setup
- Accepts credit cards and paypal
- Inexpensive: low monthly fee, no transaction fee or listing fee
- Sale mode feature to put shop, items or sections on sale
- For the online market place their are less visitors than other third party platforms
- On your own site you need to drive traffic
- No listing fees
- $4, $8 or $16 monthly fee (depends on the plan)
- Established website and large online presence, 1000% more than Etsy (22 million monthly visits on Etsy vs 225 million on Amazon)
- Easy to set up shop
- Lots of variations
- If you have non-customized items you can set it up to be shipped via Amazon Prime where they ship it out for you in their fulfillment centers
- Higher fees than some other third party platform
- Very strict policies and they often favor the buyers
- With even more visitors it can be harder to be found
- $39.99 a month if you sell more than 40 items
- 15% referral fee for each item
- Pros – Very established and with 162 million users, trusted and reliable, easy to use and set up a listing
- Cons – Many people see Ebay as a place they go to get cheap or used items. It’s not the first place you would go to find handmade items or pay a handmade price. Doesn’t have a professional look to it
- Insertion Fee – 50 free listings a month, all additional listings are $.30 each, all listings last 30 days
- Final Value Fee – 10% of final value, does not exceed over $750
Through Your Own Website
Shopify (where I have my website and is my preferred website builder, I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to build an online business)
- Lots of themes to choose from so you don’t have to make it all from scratch if you don’t want to, all are very mobile friendly
- Unlimited product photos
- Lots of variations so you can have customers choose and customize their items
- Easy shipping integration so you can print postage
- Easy scaling working for small or big stores
- Very widely used and because of that you can find lots of information on it and tutorials
- Can do coupon codes
- Customers can login area
- Great management of inventory
- Can have a blog as well as an ecommerce area
- There are a few free themes but if you want something different you have to pay for a theme, it is a one time cost then you add your own elements
- You need to buy your own domain separately, which can be done through Shopify
- Email hosting needs to be done separately
- Setting up can be tricky for some and a little more difficult than some other sites
- $29 a month for basic package
- Purchase a domain and theme if desired
- Payment processor fees (Paypal is 2.9% + $.30
- Easy to set up, no coding necessary
- Looks professional with visually impressive layouts
- They have a free plan
- You can photo edit right there
- Very limited with what you can do visually
- Can’t change your template after you choose it
- There is a free plan but monthly packages range from $10-$25 a month
- Easy to setup, no coding required
- No third party shipping integration
- Not a lot of themes or customization abilities
- Lots of options for customization
- Easy to setup shop, no programming knowledge needed
- Somewhat high selling fee
- Doesn’t allow for any social media links
- No fee for opening a store
- Up to 500 listings free
- 10% fee for each item sold
- Paypal fee (2.9% plus $.30 for each transaction) or Stripe Fee for all major credit cards
- It’s free. One of the greatest benefits of WooCommerce is that it is free. This toolkit will make selling products online very easy, and it will not cost you a thing. All you have to do is download this plugin, and you will have it in just a few minutes.
- It’s familiar. Many people use and have used woocommerce before so many tutorials and information can be found on it.
- It’s customizable with many different plugins available both free and for purchase.
- They update their software frequently and because of that sometimes plugins and other features might not operate as the should when you update a website
- It might be difficult to set it up exactly the way you want.
- Customization of a theme can be expensive. When changes on a theme need to be made if you need help it can be expensive to have someone go in and make the necessary changes.
- Pay for themes or customizations
- Pay for checkout fees though Paypal (2.9% plus $.30) or other payment processor.
For me, I love my Shopify site, it was relatively easy to setup and overall exactly what I wanted in a site. I highly recommend it to anyone setting up a their own ecommerce website.
Selling through Social Media
Spreesy.com– This was my favorite social media selling program. Spreesy is a program set up to work in conjunction with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. When a comment is made with a Paypal address Spreesy automatically sends an invoice which can save a bit of time. I’ve sold through Spreesy.com and loved how easy it was to set up. There is small fee but I found it worth it because it would streamline everything and automatically send payment requests and reminders instead of me having to do them all myself.
- Automated checkout and invoicing (so you don’t have to do it all yourself!)
- Can do discounts, have store policies
- Free to sign up, no monthly fees
- Can post products instantly to Instagram
- Some people don’t like the idea of leaving an email in a comment to purchase
Facebook – You can set up a Facebook business page or group and get selling! I know of numerous people who sell directly online posting pictures of items. People can then post a comment with their Paypal address. Afterwards they can be invoiced and once paid the item is sent.
Note: Facebook is very particular on what it allows. You cannot start selling directly from your personal page, it could get shut down. If you are selling you need to have a separate business page or group. You can mention your business or business page on your personal profile occasionally but it needs to be spaced out or it could be taken down.
- Tons of people are on Facebook, for most sellers you will probably find your target market using Facebook in one way or another
- Free, no listing fees or transaction costs
- Relatively easy to set up
- Facebook’s algorithm might not allow you to reach all your followers, even if they’ve followed or like your page
- You have to send all the invoices yourself
- You have to keep track of all your orders which can be messy
- You are very limited to the number of people you can promote to on your page or other pages that allow promoting
- If you are selling locally you might have to meet people or have them come to your place of business
- Not as professional looking
- Payment processor fees if used varies. Paypal fees (2.9% of total =$.30)
Instagram – Similar to selling on Facebook a picture is shown, then in the comments a paypal address is given, invoice sent then once paid the item is mailed. This can either be done on a business page or you could set up separate for sale account.
- Can reach and sell to people who already follow you and enjoy seeing your work so they are probably more likely to buy
- Easy to set up shop, just need to have an Instagram account
- No need to set up listings which can take a lot of time, just post a picture and price with buying instructions
- Can allow them to see the face behind the products by showing your self and your process, people buying handmade often like that
- It is hard to keep track of messages, information and orders
- Not as professional looking as a real website or shop
- It is difficult for people to see full inventory
- You have to manually send invoices
- Often people flake or don’t commit (this is what I’ve found from personal experience a couple of times selling, they say they want, you invoice but they never pay and it can be a waste of time)
- Only the payment processor fees if applicable. (PayPal is 2.9% + $.30 each transaction)
Selling In Person
Craft Shows – Many people prefer selling in person through shows. Each show is different. One thing I would recommend with shows from doing them myself, is to make sure there is some sort of screening process to make sure their aren’t too many sellers in one area also make sure sellers are meeting some sort of criteria. I’ve found the ones that are more selective are the ones I tend to do better. Click HERE for more info on how to find craft shows around you!
- People can see and touch your items in person
- You can get great feedback talking to people
- You can easily get people to sign up for your email list
- Get to meet other makers in person and network
- Limited to who is able to attend
- They take a lot of time, you have to prep enough inventory, take time to setup and make it look good, the actual time of the show, take down
- If you pick the wrong show (maybe wasn’t a good fit for your products, not well marketed, oversaturated… you can end up not making anything or even be in the negative)
- Depends on the show usually there is a flat rate per table/booth or a commission or both
Selling wholesale means that someone is buying a large order from you for a substantial discount. Usually this is a retail shop wanting to carry your items in their store. Typically a standard wholesale price is 50% of a retail price. If you do consider selling wholesale make SURE you know your prices well. Know how much each item takes to make in time and supplies. Be very through when quoting someone a wholesale price. As the business owner you get to decide what at what amount an order goes from retail to wholesale. It could be a specific number of a particular item (ex: they have to buy 50+ to get a wholesale price or however many you feel is fair) or if they order a certain dollar amount (ex: their order has to be for more then $XXX).
- You can sell a bunch all at once and have a guaranteed large amount of money coming in
- Streamlines your making process because people are usually buying a lot of multiples of the same thing
- Gets your products into other stores
- Big orders can be very time-consuming
- You get paid 50% of retail price and some feel it’s not worth it
- Depending on if you have someone help get you the wholesale order you might have to pay a fee, which is usually a percentage of the order
When selling consignment it is similar to selling wholesale but the items aren’t purchased outright. Also, these deals are usually done with retail shops. Usually, no money is given just your items. Then if your items sells they usually take a percentage because they helped connect you to the buyer. As the owner, you come to an agreement of how much of a percentage it is. I’ve seen anywhere from 20% – 35% usually. For me, I usually do 30% but again, it really depends on what is agreed on. Note: Make sure you have a contract and keep track of what items you give/send.
- Can expose your products to many new people
- Potential to sell a lot in a relatively short amount of time
- Can tie up your inventory
- You don’t get paid right away
- You might end up not selling product
- Depends on what arrangement you’ve made
- Typically 30% but again, it depends on what is agreed upon