My adventures on the information superhighway...

This blog chronicles the activities of my Etsy and Artfire shops, and my adventures as both a jewelry designer and information specialist.

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

The state of the field - some musings on selling handmade online.

Last week, Etsy drastically changed its feedback system.  Very few people had any idea that this was going to happen as most account holders rarely visit the forums.  Since the change, the forums have been peppered with threads expressing confusion and outrage. Personally, I'm none to happy about the changes, but I've decided to wait it out a bit before making any sort of decision regarding my Etsy store.  Change is always difficult, but even though I fear that this time it's not simply a matter of adjusting, I'm going to let the dust settle.  This time of year is super busy for me since it's back-to-school, so even if I did want to worry over things, I quite simply can't.

That does not mean, however, that I can't, and didn't, do a little research to determine the state of the field as it were.  The last time I did any comprehensive poking around regarding other handmade selling venues and avenues for self-promotion was at least 2 years ago.  Things have, understandably, changed.  While Etsy is still the biggest fish in the big sea of online handmade goods, there are a number of other contenders out there. The following is a list of some of the "older", more established sites:

Artfire      Zibbet       Big Cartel       Dawanda       Bonanza       Folksy      RubyLane      maiautumn

I have a storefront on the first two:   Artfire and Zibbet.  I spent some time in headless-chicken-mode after opening my Etsy shop and ran around reserving my name on a lot of sites in order to protect my brand.  I've never sold anything on Zibbet, and eventually emptied out my shop because I couldn't devote the time to running three shops.  I've sold a few things on Artfire, but it doesn't get anywhere near the traffic that Etsy does, so until recently my shop there was pretty much empty as well.  Because I happened to get in on the $5.95 pro account deal several years back I decided that if I was to prepare a place to jump to, I should probably get reaquainted with Artfire.  Therefore, I have started listing there again.  Except I am going for an entirely different style there than on Etsy in order to avoid duplicate Google content.  At the moment I am selling only glass tile pendants, such as these:

However, the field for venues to sell handmade has exploded in the past few years with sites popping up all over. Here are a few that have received attention recently:

icraftgifts         shoply      storenvy        indiemade
Handmadeology Market      craftinest       TheCraftstar    luulla      Goodsmiths      custommade      Wish
RebelsMarket           Opensky       Abesmarket       Madeitmyself       Craftcafe       HandmadeArtists         lilyshop

You're not limited to venues that represent multiple shops, however. It's now quite easy to develop a standalone shop and website even if you haven't the foggiest idea how to code.

Many years back my husband purchased my domains on GoDaddy in order to reserve my shop name.  For years, they just sat there, waiting for me to find the time to do something with them.  This summer I finally bit the bullet and created a small, informational site for both which points to my Etsy shop.  Although I do know how to code, I found it quicker to use one of their many free templates for the time being.  You can see them here:


It's not difficult to add a cart function.  I just don't have the time to manage multiple shops at the moment, so I haven't done it yet.

GoDaddy isn't the only option if you'd rather have a standalone store for your handmade items. You can make gorgeous websites using:    supadupa,       squarespace,       craftlaunch,    and   Tictail. I set up a small storefront on Tictail the other day and was very impressed by the fresh, modern look of the site, as well as how easy it was to use.

So, there are certainly options out there for those of us looking to branch out. As they say, it's best not to put all your eggs in one basket. However, it's probably best not to put your eggs in ALL the baskets either. Pick a handful of online venues, or less, and work on making them the best you can by having excellent pictures, tags, titles, and descriptions. It's also best to spend some time on self-promotion using social media, which I will discuss further in my next post.

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