14 August 2013

Top 8 Tips for Selling Your Handmade Products On-Line

One of the questions we hear a lot - "How do I get my business noticed?".  And a few variations on the theme - "..ideas, tips on building and promoting my brand?", "How do I attract more buyers and just get my name and products out there?"
Big, BIG questions when you sit and really think about them!  Not just because every business is different as is the maker behind them - but because you can go off on so many tangents and there are so, SO many different opinions about what you should and shouldn't do to increase your exposure and build your brand.
So today, let's focus on tips for your on-line marketplaces, eg Etsy, Felt, your own Website.
  1. Your Photo Says It All
    Photos that are in focus, using natural light, with uncluttered backgrounds are the best for attracting sales.  Keep it simple and relevant to your products, eg if your style is vintage, use a consistent prop such as a doily to photograph your products on.  Or if your jewellery has a beach theme, what about draping your necklaces over a piece of driftwood?

    Great examples of product photos from Bibliographica (left)  and Ellaquaint (right)
     Bibliographica Ellaquaint photo
  2. Keywords are ... well... Key!
    You want your customers to find your products easily and be top of their search lists.
    Optimise your listings by thinking about what words and phrases your potential customers could use to search for your products. Use the Google keyword tool to try out the best options.  Research what keywords your competitors are using by right clicking a listing and selecting 'view page source'.
    Use your keywords/phrases in your product title, repeat them in your product description and use them in your 'tags'.
  3. Great Product Descriptions are Your Best Salesperson
    Detailed, complete and relevant descriptions that answer all of your customers potential questions. Write naturally, as if you were explaining the product's features to someone face-to-face but ensuring you cover the things they can't necessarily see in your product photos, eg size. Tell the story behind the product if you like, but make sure you have the important stuff covered.

    Feel At Home does product descriptions brilliantly!
    Feel At Home
  4. Give Exceptional Customer Service
    Answer questions promptly, ship quickly, wrap and package brilliantly, thank your buyer, offer personal touches like a handwritten message in with your parcel, be 'personable' and approachable. These things are what build your reputation and will get you referrals and repeat custom - and quite honestly, they also make you feel good!
  5. Easy to Find and Complete Shop Policies
    Make absolutely sure your customers can be in do doubt about your shipping, payment, returns, warranty, and repairs policies.  They should be easy to find (on your own website), clear, and concise.  If you've done them right, they will add to your customers feeling of trust in your brand - bonus!
  6. You have to Love It!
    Really - you do!  If you don't have passion and interest for what you're creating, it will show.  You may have stock items or a range that you consider your 'bread and butter' - if it's getting stale and you don't enjoy making it as much as you once did - mix it up, change the style, the fabric, the colour. Look at what you can do to freshen up your range and make it fun to make again.
  7. Stand Out From The Crowd
    The one thing that makes your business, brand and products unique? YOU!!  Inject your personality into your on-line shop - from your website look or shop banner and feeding through to your business cards, flyers and packaging.

    Fat Spatula has this nailed!  We can’t do Andy justice by describing his site … just go check it out! www.fat-spatula.com
  8. Protect Yourself
    Copying is rife out there.  If someone starts blatantly copying you on-line, do contact them personally (and keep it professional) - be factual and don't be afraid to ask them to stop.  They may not, and if you haven't got a copyright on the design or trademark you're in a hard place - keep ahead of the game and move on - you were first, it was so good someone couldn't help but copy, right so what wonderful thing are you going to create next?

    If your design is truly great and revolutionary and you love it and don't want anyone to take it away ... know that you have automatic copyright on it and therefore the law is on your side.  If you don't want your brand/tagline/range name compromised and used by others - trademark it.  (By the way - before you come up with your brand/tagline/range name .... make sure it's not already trademarked!!).  As IPONZ (Intellectual Property Office New Zealand) says - "Anyone can have an idea.  Make sure they don't have yours".
Do you have any tips you'd like to share?


  1. Thanks for sharing my photograph!

  2. Get post Mel, and may I just add that if you created it then you do have the copyright on it - in the words of IPONZ 'In New Zealand, copyright is an automatic unregistered right that comes into existence every time an original work is created, published and performed.'

    Further protection can be had by registering the design (the external look of an object) or patent (the function, features, internal workings and concept of the object) but these both cost money and the application can be complex so budget for a patent attorney to help you.

    Also - I think that showing you personality, giving great customer service and loving what you do all contribute to that enigmatic 'story' we all want to express which allows your customers to connect with you. (As an introvert I'm still learning how to do this well!!) If you can manage to make that happen, you'll find it harder for competition to come in an steal you're ideas - they might be able to copy the product, but not replicate the experience.

    On the other side of that equation if you're tempted to think 'I can do that, but better' you may find it hard to establish yourself as an authentic craftperson. I can't count the number of times I've been to markets or looked online at a 'new' crafter's work only to recognise the craft book or overseas blog they 'borrowed' that idea from. Its true that there is nothing new under the sun, but sometimes its good to switch off the computer and look for design inspiration in your own experiences and surroundings.


We love hearing what you have to say, please feel welcome to leave your comments...