There is a new trend these days with upcycling and crafting not just as a hobby anymore but as a means for just about anybody to make a little extra money. Sites like Etsy and Indie Handmade offer the crafter the ultimate platform and an opportunity to set up shop and reach consumers on the internet world wide. These sites are saturated with clothing and jewelry, cards and cool décor for the home, pretty much anything that you can imagine, you can now find and purchase online.
The coolest thing about these new trendy web markets is that you get to help support artists all over the world, and when you buy from them, you are helping to make it possible for them to continue doing what they love. A great deal of time and effort and money for supplies goes into creating each piece you find, so the question lies, do people actually make a worthwhile amount of money on these sites? Is it really worth the effort?
Every bit of feedback and discussion I can find on the subject suggests that yes, you can make a great deal of money selling your items on these sites, IF you know what you are doing and you are smart about it. I read a post from a man that said he was able to pay his rent each month with the money he made by selling on Etsy. There were plenty of others who posted saying that they made “a lot of money” or enough to be considered a part time job at a regular wage. When you consider the fact that you are able to stay home and create, possibly be with your family all day, if you have one, it seems worth it to me.
There was one common thread among these successful artist, and that was that they said when selling on sites like these, you have to be smart and work wisely in order to turn and keep a profit. Etsy for example, is free to set up a shop, and then it costs a dollar to post your first 10 items. If you start by only posting those first 10, then the cost of starting up your business is a dollar. Then you leave yourself some time to adapt your prices to what is selling from your shop and where you think you need to set them in order to not only sell but to turn a profit as well.
There is a epidemic on these sites of artists undervaluing their work and taking prices way below where they would normally be if the items were sold in a boutique simply to gain customers. One artist argues that while lowering the price of an item may help you to gain the sale this time, by doing so, you cause other artists to have to lower their prices as well in order to stay competitive. It is a vicious cycle and the result of it all will be that these sites will become simply a place to gain exposure by getting your pieces out there, and no one will be able to make any profit from selling anymore.
Do your research on the average price that items like yours are going for and choose a similar price point to start with. If you feel like your items are worth a certain amount, price them there and give it time.
Many of the artists advise commenting on the available forums within the site and using other forms of social media like Reddit and Facebook to generate knowledge of your products and traffic to your shop. Creating a buzz is always a good thing when you have a product to sell. No one can buy what you have if they don’t know it exists. Post daily pictures of your products on Facebook so they show up in the news feed and encourage your friends to share them.
Stay in the Black
When you are running a business, it is very important to keep a tight handle on the finances, this is the case for these shops especially. It may be easy at first to take the little bit that you are making in the beginning and turn around and spend it all up on more supplies. This is a trap that the successful sellers say you have to avoid. Create a separate account for your shop money and make sure you are not spending more than you make. This should be rule number 1, unless of course you are doing it simply just for fun.
Author Byline: Jennifer Ricci works for Cedar Education Lending consulting for student loan consolidation help. She is also a contributor to a handful of financial blogs and publications.