“There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills”: Making Money Online
As an artist or crafter, there are many ways for you to sell your arts and crafts, probably starting with telling your friends and family, possibly hosting a party, or maybe even attending art and craft fairs. You might also be featured in a gallery or even have your art placed in one of those fancy auctions where people fork out hundreds of thousands of dollars (hey we can dream, right). These are all great ways for you to sell your products to some, but what about the hundreds (and possibly even thousands) of people who would like to purchase the items you make but don’t live in your area—or don’t even know about you yet.
With the rise of the Internet in the 90s, a few retail brick and mortar stores found that people would be willing to purchase products online and then have the item shipped to their home. Then, companies such as Amazon.com sold products exclusively online without having actual stores that customers could visit. Now almost every company has ways for customers to purchase their products online. There’s even Cyber Monday for holiday shopping that gives people the opportunity to have a “Black Friday” event without having to leave their home.
The Internet is an amazing tool that can help you sell your products as well—not only by reaching out to customers in your area, but also expanding your customer base to...well, anyone, anywhere, at any time of the day or night.
All you need is a place on the Internet where your customers can find you and purchase your arts and crafts. This sounds like a fairly simple process—and to some extent it is—but in order to really take advantage of selling your products on the Internet, there are a few options that work best:
- Create a Website: Creating a website and selling directly to customers yourself is not nearly as hard as you might be thinking. There are many ways you can set up a website, from hiring your friend’s teenage kid (probably not the best option even though they might be computer geniuses) to working with companies like GoDaddy or Web.com. The important things is that you create a website that looks professional and gives your customers confidence to purchase from you. In addition to a way for your customers to buy your products, you should also include information about you and your business, contact information, and details about your products with pictures. Your website could turn into your main source for communicating with, and selling your products to, customers.
- Sell from Third Party Websites: You can also post your arts and crafts on sites such as Etsy, Zibbet, or even eBay. The good thing about using these sites is that customers trust them and are probably more willing to buy your products when they see them there. Usually you just need to register and set up an account and you are ready to go. The downside to using these sites, however, is that there is competition everywhere. It could even be that someone who went to the site to specifically purchase your product might find something else instead. Making your products unique and building a loyal customer base can help solve this problem.
- Use Social Media: There are over 1.2 billion users on Facebook, 540 million on Google+, 232 million on Twitter, and 70 million on Pinterest. Why not use these platforms as a way to sell your arts and crafts? In some cases, simply posting “ads” on your accounts could get people interested in buying your products. In other cases, you might try contests, deals, and other methods to drive traffic to your account and website. If you want to keep your personal and business accounts separate, you should even be able to set up two different accounts. Using social media is also a great way for people to get to know more about you and your business.
Doing some (or all) of these options means you are well on your way to selling your arts and crafts online. The potential is huge and the opportunities to gain new customers and earn a few dollars (or a few hundred or thousand) extra each month should put a smile on your face.