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Is it really as difficult as it sounds?

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  • Is it really as difficult as it sounds?

    I had an idea of opening a "shop" on Etsy. It would be much more fun than making things and then throwing them in the bin (very small house and nowhere to keep stuff!).

    I've done any number of different craft things over the years and got quite good at some of them, although I'm terribly out of practice. I thought of making maybe greetings cards or gift tags, for instance, or knitted clothes, or little dolls. (I hang around a lot of role-playing sites of various kinds, you know, Dungeons and Dragons type of thing, or more freestyle ones without dice where people take turns to make up a story, and I had an idea of making custom dolls of people's characters to order. That would be fun, and from what I've heard from other people, I think there might be people who'd be interested.)

    But when I read the threads in this section it all seemed much more difficult than I'd expected. Chasing around the place advertising it on social media and blogs and everything. It sounds as if you'd spend more time dancing for the Internet than actually making things. I hate that kind of thing. Having to talk things up and make things sound clever, you know.

    Does it have to be this difficult?

    If it is doable, any opinions on what might be a likely line to start with? (This should probably be a separate question.)

  • #2
    Hi Tinythings and welcome to the Crafts Forum.

    Sorry to disappoint you but selling is 20% inspiration and 80% perspiration. The perspiration includes the making and the marketing. From a standing start marketing, once you have a saleable product, is the larger part of the deal. Once you have decided on a selling platform and established a shop of some sort you have to find your market and then sell to those people. They aren't just going to come to you. The competition is immense out there unless you have something totally unique, which is a very rare thing these days. There a millions of people making cards for example. Even then you have to tell people what you have to sell them and where they can purchase from. Just opening a shop and hoping people will drop by, like what they see and buy, won't get you anywhere I'm afraid.

    Researching your market is important. You will have to visit in detail lots of selling platforms, Etsy, Not on the High Street, Spotify, Folksy etc etc and see what others in your line make, sell, and charge for their efforts. Success in selling isn't just adding up the cost of materials and getting that back to make the next lot, its adding on your time, electric, packaging, postage and of course profit at the very least. Taking Etsy for example. Look at the LH column of a shop and it will tell you how long the shop has been open and how many items have been sold in that time, it can be very disheartening. Caroleecrafts on here has a Folksy shop and has sold approximately 2 items a week over the last year but she has put many hours into promoting her goodies to gain all of that. I think the saying goes no gain without pain. Even with all the work you put in to opening a shop it could be several months before you see even one sale or you could have one the next day.

    If you have a great product and put in the work you should be successful on line, but there is no guarentee.

    You could look at local craft events to start with. Small outlay and a look at your customer base. You should get feedback, good and bad and be able to see where you can improve, change or modify your products to suit the market or whether you need to change the market to suit the products. Go on a scouting journey, visit as many events as you can within your sales area and talk to sellers there to guage how you would fit in. Are there too many people selling the same, are your products unique and better made, are you able to sell face to face ?

    It's not easy and there are a lot of people who sell just for the fun of it as and when they can. But if you are serious about starting a business then it's hard work. Don't forget about insurance and informing HMRC if you are going to sell items. Most event organisers require a minimum of £2M insurance cover and regardless of whether you make a profit or not the tax office will need to be informed you are trading, although I think there is now a limit of £1000 turnover before you register as a trader unless you have other income to add on to it.

    Good luck what ever you decide. If you do a search on here there is load of information on starting up, or just holler and although we are a small forum someone should be able to help you.

    Mo.XX
    Mo. Bodrighy Wood.
    Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage..Lao Tzu.
    www.bodrighy.co.uk
    https://twitter.com/#!/AuntieMornie

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    • #3
      ...OK.

      You could look at local craft events to start with. Small outlay and a look at your customer base. You should get feedback, good and bad and be able to see where you can improve, change or modify your products to suit the market or whether you need to change the market to suit the products. Go on a scouting journey, visit as many events as you can within your sales area and talk to sellers there to guage how you would fit in. Are there too many people selling the same, are your products unique and better made, are you able to sell face to face ?
      Puzzled by this. As Dad's Army puts it, you do know there's a war on?

      Comment


      • #4
        Not really..obviously go out and do your research as soon as it's possible. You need to find one thing you are good at and build on it. You then need to test the water with local sales, craft fairs etc, gather feedback from those as to if you are going in the right direction. Beware of asking FB groups etc for feedback, they only tell you what you want to hear, not what you should hear, that’s not constructive.
        Try local gift shops, craft outlets etc to get shelf space to sell your work, try to go for commission only, (usually 30% max) as the owner has to promote you to get any money, pay for space and they’ll sit back doing nothing..

        Producing things and just putting them on Etsy, Numonday etc without guiding people there with you is rarely successful because you are lumped in with everyone else that does the same (unless you develop a “ niche”...Niche wins every time ) so you might want to join FB craft groups, show the product, link it to your Etsy shop, that way you can build a following but....
        whichever platform you use, you have to be posting every other day almost to keep people interested, open an Instagram account and get yourself on there, link it to your business FB page, use Instagram hashtags by the bucketload, it extends your reach but try to use hashtags with posts in the 100’s, not 1000’s, you’l get lost in the void but....regular posting gets more likes gets you near the top of the page....keep business only to the business pages, don’t mix personal, its off putting.
        You can check tax free allowances if you dot gov it, basically you don’t need to register as a sole trader unless your gross income ( no expenses taken out, not profit, purely money coming in) is in excess of £1000 for the year but you still need to bookkeep like a business In case you exceed £1000 gross in a year, then you need to declare it and have product and public liability insurance every year even if you only sell one product.
        Its not as easy as it sounds if you want a good foundation, Its a learning curve but just depends on how serious about doing it you want to be.

        Dave.
        Last edited by 3dDave; 31-05-2020, 02:17 PM.

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        • #5
          I agree with all the above it is hard work and not something that you just post and hope it sells. I spend a lot of the day on social media, posting links to my shop. Join in challenges on Folksy each day where you have to visit others who have joined in, like, comment, tweet, pin and Facebook etc. Throughout the day probably spend a good 2-3 hours a day on social media promoting mine and others work. This is how the selling platforms work it is a community.

          You also mention making gaming items if these are copyrighted that is a no go. They do go after the little crafter and some have lot their homes because of breaching copyright. Anything that resembles a toy also has to be CE tested, you can do yourself but you have to keep strict records.

          The number of times I have seen people wander round a craft fair looking for ideas, then next fair they are giving it a go. Some succeed but others fail because the product does not meet the quality that is needed to sell.

          Mo mentioned craft fairs as that would be the normal way of selling, now there are virtual fairs but again a lot of work. You have to promote, promote, promote for the number of days the fair is open, say 2 days on a weekend. You will also be expected to promote the event along with other's makes.

          I spend more time on social media than I do making, as Dave said it takes time. We have all been doing this for years and it can be exhausting, would love if I could sit back make and just sell, sell, sell but does not happen.
          Last edited by Caroleecrafts; 30-05-2020, 11:47 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Tinythings View Post
            ...OK.



            Puzzled by this. As Dad's Army puts it, you do know there's a war on?
            It was a general comment given normal times. There are a lot of virtual events being staged at present as Caroline said and you can 'visit' the exhibitors to see their work and prices in the same way. Lockdown and social distancing won't go on forever and you have not exactly chosen the best time to start a craft business but it will give you the time to investigate your market, decide what you want to sell and the best selling platform for you.

            Mo.XX
            Mo. Bodrighy Wood.
            Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage..Lao Tzu.
            www.bodrighy.co.uk
            https://twitter.com/#!/AuntieMornie

            Comment


            • #7
              Hey, TinyThings

              As Nike says, "Just do it".

              It sounds like you want to fund your hobby, rather than make a living.

              Etsy's easy to set up, and costs next to nothing (20 cents per listing/sale). If what you're making and selling is of interest to people they'll buy it. If not then they won't buy and you will stop making that thing or change it.

              Start out with things that are not going to put you at risk, so avoid kid's toys and anything that could cause harm.

              If it becomes a big thing, then think about forming a company, telling HMRC, getting insurance etc. Until then enjoy yourself and make what you like, take great pictures of them and post them up on your shop. Etsy do most of the marketing for you, just make sure you put a good bunch of keyword-phrases that describe what you're selling.

              If you want to get into more depth, then take a look at erank.com there is a ton of useful advice and free tools on there to help with your Etsy marketing.

              Most importantly have fun, and have a go.

              Take care and stay safe,

              Grant.

              Blogger | Designer | Maker | Entrepreneur |
              Last edited by 3dDave; 02-06-2020, 06:58 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Hi Grant, welcome to the forum. I've had to remove your links as the forum rules ask you to make at least 25 posts before putting links in to anywhere else you can be found.

                Many thanks
                Dave, forum mod.

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