Some people just have the knack. While other still can’t cut a straight line decades after kindergarten and struggle with pattern instructions, they’re knitting layettes, weaving rugs, making adorable stuffed owls, one of a kind candles, or recreating the Sistine Chapel ceiling in their dining room. And every time they complete another fabulous project, their friends say “You should sell these!” They smile and nod, but have no idea where to begin. The thought of websites, advertising, pricing and taxes makes their feet go cold and the dream grows cold with them. Sounds familiar?
Selling your crafts, or art, online isn’t nearly as difficult as you imagine. Unfortunately, this is one of the money making ideas that is not as well documented in the blogosphere as we’d like, and we hope to change that! Here are ten sites to get you started. Just casually browse through them to see if they will work for you. Some of them are easy to use. Others have great communities supporting the users. And some offer help to those that love the crafts, but fear the process of creating a site to market their crafts. (PS: If you know of other sites that should be added to this list, please feel free to add it in the comments below, so other readers just like you can benefit from your advice.) OK, here we go.
#1 Etsy (http://www.etsy.com)
Etsy sellers list handmade and vintage (over 20 years old) items, as well as craft supplies. Handmade means just that: items you’ve made–not wares you’re reselling. Etsy also has a list of prohibited items, including (among others) guns, cars, and materials that are discriminatory or demeaning (you’ll find most sites share these restrictions). You can run your Etsy store alone, or cooperatively. Opening your Etsy store is free; no registration fee, or monthly “rent.” However, for each individual item listed, you pay .20 every four months. Once an item is sold, you pay a 3.5% transaction fee (excluding shipping). Etsy supplies feedback ratings, customer service policies, conflict resolution support, a blog, and a very active and supportive forum community.
Examples of items listed on Etsy: Etsy, being the grand daddy of all online sites selling crafts and art, offers you diverse list of items that you can sell — from the common ones to the very unique and one of a kind. Examples include steampunk gear, handmade candles, handmade furniture, all things knitted or crocheted, bags and purses, dolls, origami, jewelry, bookmarks — just to name a few. You can also find patterns and whole bunch of information products.
#2 Art Fire (http://www.artfire.com/)
Art Fire members sell fine arts, handmade, vintage, design and media creations, along with supplies. Unlike Etsy, however, it charges no listing or transaction fee. If you wish to gain access to extra marketing tools and customization options, however, you can pay $20 per month, billed to your credit card. Art Fire features many opportunities for sellers to interact with each other for support, advice, and friendship, including a blog, forums, and guilds.
Examples of items listed on Art Fire include: Oil paintings, screen-printed linens, vinyl wall decals, software, jewelry, craft supplies, organic and green products, rosaries and prayer beads, etc.
#3 Walkabout Crafts (http://www.walkaboutcrafts.com/)
Walkabout Crafts is a non-profit site based in the UK, established with the goal of bringing craftspeople worldwide in contact with customers, even if they lack computer access. Sellers choose from seven membership levels, each with a one-time fee, benefits and features. Walkabout Crafts allows sellers to arrange transactions either on or outside of the website itself, and sellers can sell alone or cooperatively. Walkabout staff create seller pages, using either electronic or “hard copy” files and photos. Products are primarily crafts, but the site also promotes cooks, publishers, writers, gardeners, and artisans. Sellers come from all over the world; you can even search the site by country. All that is required is that your money making ideas meet EU quality and safety standards. Walkabout features information about sellers’ countries, with a blog and informational articles.
Examples of goods at Walkabout include: Handmade Welsh soaps, Irish millinery supplies, handmade clocks, jewelry, quilts, wood turned gifts, scrolls, tiaras, art kits, etc.
#4 Artsefest (http://www.artsefest.com/)
Artsefest describes itself as a “craft show on the web.” It allows crafters to set up a commercial website quickly, without computer knowledge. Sellers who already have sites can link to Artsefest, taking advantage of their directory and SEO capabilities for one fee. The website features an inventory control system, permits unlimited listings, and marketing support. For the seller who needs a website for her money making ideas, there are three membership levels, each with an annual fee. If you simply wish to use the Artsefest site, you can choose the least expensive “Easy Listing” category. Seller support includes forums, articles, blog, newsletter, and a section “For Sellers Only.”
Featured articles on Atrsefest include: Bird houses, copper doorbells and switch plates, intarsia woodworking, furniture, jewelry, diaper cakes, etc.
#5 Kinfolk Crafts (http://www.kinfolkcrafts.com/)
For those who love the country look, Kinfolk Crafts operates an online mall. Merchants submit their sites for a one-time fee, and Kinfolk Crafts supplies a link, greater exposure, and SEO benefits. They also offer affiliate marketing opportunities and some free advertising services. Kinfolk Crafts has strict quality control standards. Merchandise must be in the country style, handmade by the seller and/or her partner. Sites must be operational, family friendly and not dedicated to affiliate links. Accepted sites are required to carry a Kinfolk Crafts banner or affiliate ad. Kinfolk Crafts carries international sites, and gives back by donating at least 10% of profits to charities such as Nothing But Nets (mosquito netting for fighting malaria).
On Kinfolk Crafts, participants sell wares such as: Wreaths, primitive folk art, gift baskets, quilts, craft patterns, folk art clip arts, soy candles, blankies, wood pens, etc.
#6 Art You Can (http://www.artyoucan.com/)
This is a new site, featuring traditional arts and crafts as well as edible items, gardening products, music, and literature. While registration is free, there is a 6% transaction fee each time you sell an item. Art You Can encourages sellers to market their goods in other platforms, and provides articles to help you maximize sales. Sellers are encouraged to contribute articles on money making ideas to the site, and a blog offers views on all aspects of the art scene, from art in schools to homemade lip gloss. The list of their sales categories, is exhaustive; whatever you make, you’ll find a place for it on Art You Can. As we write this article though, several of the categories have no listings yet. If you are an early adopter, you can take a gamble on this site, and as the site grows, so can your influence and reach.
Items offered on Art You Can include: Candles, holiday decorations, prints, baskets, paintings, vases, wall decals etc.
#7 ArtSpan (http://www.artspan.com/)
ArtSpan provides online gallery space for contemporary artists, jewelers and artisans. It offers customizable gallery pages designed specifically to display art to advantage. As with other sites, no advanced computer knowledge is required, and sellers can choose from three levels of service, each with a reasonable monthly fee. ArtSpan offers a number one Google ranking for “contemporary art,” which means artists’ webpages rank well in keyword searches. Business features include: e-mail marketing resources, a shopping cart system using PayPal or credit cards, along with a helpful sales tax calculator. ArtSpan offers an active community forum to which members can turn for advice and marketing tips.
Examples of items on Artspan include: Paintings, sculptures, photographs, prints, metal work, jewelry, etc.
#8 Zazzle (http://www.zazzle.com/)
If you’re good at dreaming up money making ideas, but aren’t so great at execution, Zazzle is for you. This company allows you to upload designs, slogans, and illustrations, which it then applies to your choice of over 350 products: t-shirts, mugs, key chains, etc. Members set their royalty level and the company prices the items accordingly, taking into account production costs. While it’s theoretically possible, therefore, to ask for 99% royalties, Zazzle recommends the average royalty of 20% to keep prices in line with retail stores. You also earn money through referrals and affiliate marketing. Merchants customize their Zazzle stores and use its marketing resources, forums, and blogs. Top sellers are invited to join the ProSeller program, where they gain access to more marketing tools and premiums.
Examples of items you can have your designs on include: T-shirts, caps, coffee mugs, key chains, decals etc.
#9 Big Commerce (http://www.bigcommerce.com/)
Unlike the previous companies, Big Commerce offers an e-commerce platform that allows you to set up an online store. The software offers a long list of features, including: creative control, an EBay control panel, photo uploads and management, access to PPC websites such as Shopzilla, autoresponders, inventory control, and mobile commerce support. Subscribers can offer product customization, returns, gift cards and coupons, and benefit from Big Commerce’s SEO and Google website optimizer features. Users pay a monthly fee (there are five tiers, depending on the service level you choose), but no transaction costs.
#10 Pro Stores (http://www.prostores.com/)
Part of EBay, Pro Stores operates in a similar fashion to Big Commerce. Business owners choose between three subscription levels, depending on the services they need, along with web design packages and services. Pro Stores helps each client design his own online store using one of over 150 professional templates. The new business owner enjoys the use of SEO tools, credit card and PayPal processing, shipping and tax calculators, along with postage and shipping labels. Pro Stores connects each user to EBay, and comparison shopping engines like Shopzilla. Other help for your money making ideas include report and spreadsheet generators, autoresponders for e-mail marketing, and cross-sale and upsale capabilities. Alternately, you could even try out the conventional ebay store.
So there you have it: ten viable, active sites from which to launch your crafting (or art) business. Investigate each in more detail, select the one which best suits your needs and budget, take a deep breath–and jump right into the exciting world of making money through your crafts!