Less than twenty years ago, sellers of handmade crafts were limited to expensive brick and mortar stores, local craft fairs and flea markets to sell their products. Since that comparably pre-historic age of eCommerce, online stores selling handmade craft items have flourished into a multi-billion-dollar industry. According to the Association for Creative Industries, a 2016 product study revealed U.S. “creative products industries are valued at $43 billion.”
Perhaps the most well-known online craft site, Etsy offers brand recognition and straight forward shop setup. Etsy claims to have more than 30 million online buyers, who in the last year alone spent nearly $3 billion on goods listed through the site. Sellers list their handmade crafts for pennies on the dollar and pay Etsy a commission for the final item price. However, Etsy’s popularity has created a crowded online handmade craft space. With over 2 million fellow sellers, it’s more difficult to get your products noticed. Also, big-name brands have begun to list their items on the site as well, making it even harder for small handmade craft operations to garner attention.
Bonanza markets itself as an alternative to Etsy claiming, at the time of this post, that it requires “no contract, no listing fees, no setup costs” to create an online craft store. The site’s marketing tools were created to drive repeat traffic to individual craft shops “free of charge.” Unlike Etsy, eBay, or Amazon, listing craft items is “always free” and those listings never expire. Bonanza also offers the ability to import listings from other handmade craft websites to theirs. Like other major handmade craft sites, Bonanza offers photography help, marketing assistance, sales analytics, an online storefront, and general support.
One of the first websites to sell handmade items online, eBay is another website with major brand recognition that users trust. It claims to have over 160 million online shoppers. It’s Seller’s Hub offers simple set up and tracking tools, and it won’t cost you to list until you hit 50 items. Unlike other handmade craft websites, eBay sells more than just craft items, so sellers will be competing with thousands of other, non-craft items for an audience seeking cheap deals. As a result, a seller’s craft items may not sell online for as much as they hoped.
Most buyers are still learning that Amazon has also taken a bite out of the online handmade craft industry. Knowing people are increasingly purchasing online, Amazon has capitalized on yet another area of sales. Handmade at Amazon offers a variety of handmade craft items, from jewelry to accessories, and much more. However, handmade craft sellers must apply to have their goods sold on Amazon and not all applications are accepted. Amazon, an already crowded selling space, has a separate tab under their drop-down menu, so it may be more challenging for sellers to get their crafts noticed. It is crucial that photographs are clear and descriptions are well written in order to be successful here.
Headquartered in the Tuscon Arts District, this online marketplace specializes in both vintage and handmade products, as well as in craft supplies and the digital arts. Unlike other online handmade craft websites, Artfire doesn’t show ads on its site and allows up to 250 active listings for pennies per listing. However, sellers must pay a monthly fee to keep their shop open and pay more to unlock special features that drive more online traffic to their craft webstore front.
However, if you want to get around paying large companies many fees and are confident in your own marketing abilities, creating your own website might be something to consider. This does come at a cost, as you need to purchase a domain name, consider an online store builder like GoDaddy’s GoCentral Online Store (make sure the builder has an SSL certificate to encrypt customers’ private details), and build a site with a content management system like SquareSpace or WordPress.
In the end, it depends on what arrangement fits the needs of you and your business. People selling handmade crafts online have more options than ever, so take advantage and start crafting!