The crafting revolution remains strong. If you’ve been dangling a toe in the water, now is the time to check out your options and improve your game. Whether you have a side hustle selling arts and crafts locally or you aim to make your latest craftivism crusade go viral, there are online tools and resources created to extend your reach to a wider audience.
It used to be that your artsy aunt and her gossip-circle of colorful artisans shared tables at farmers’ markets or sold their wares at a local boutique. They bought their supplies at Michaels and Hobby Lobby, preferably on sale. But, those old-school methods, while still valid, don’t represent the contemporary crafter. Don’t be deterred by chains, who might not have woken up to their power buyers.
Millennials represent the largest growing group of crafters. They, of course, are building communities online. And crafting, with a $44 billion market in 2019 saw a $14 billion increase over 5 years, according to Marketwatch. So, there’s room for your little start-up to grow.
Get eyes on your crafts and money in your pocket
The good news is there are prebuilt platforms on which you can sell your products, so you don’t have to build and monetize your own website.
The largest online craft seller is still Etsy. For some, Etsy has gotten too big or commercial, which is why other sites like Artfire and iCraft have stepped up. Whichever you choose, you’ll create an online shop.
Make sure to personalize your page. Tell a story about how you got started. Include a photo of yourself or your dog. These little things can get buyers to stay on your page a little longer and maybe purchase your item instead of someone else’s.
Before committing, know how each site will collect revenue from you in exchange for hosting your sales. Etsy takes a commission. Artfire has a monthly fee.
Do you need your own website?
Only if you want to. It’s a great idea if you have time. There are lots of free hosting choices: Squarespace, Wix, WordPress. Having your own site is a great way to showcase your work and look professional. But you will have to make sure to embed a link to your sales platform in every post. Don’t make your buyer hunt for it.
TIP: If you are a big planner, consider purchasing your own domain name. Maybe your work is that good. And, someday you might want to create your own eCommerce portal on your website to sell your products. For that there will be a hosting fee.
Invest a portion of your time each week to social media
Social media can be your friend. You don’t have to commit hours of your life to it. Just make sure you are posting a few times a week to more than one channel. Schedule your posts ahead of time, so you don’t have to scramble.
Instagram: Most arts and crafts sellers I know are on Instagram. They are using the platform to tell stories and show buyers how their products can be used. And, of course, the link to their sales platform is in their profile bio, which they are sure to mention in most posts.
Create a separate Instagram account, just for crafting. Then start following other crafters. See how they use a series of ‘stories’ to break down a crafting idea that promotes their personal style as well as their product.
TIP: The humble hashtag is alive and well on Instagram. To participate in the culture and gain attention, use one or two per post. To see how other crafters use them, search for #knitandbehappy, #handmade and #xstitch for a start.
TikTok: You might have heard about it from a tween. It’s an app that lets you create a 15-second video clip using soundbites from popular songs or dialogue from trending shows. But what you might not know is this quirky video app with over 1 billion users worldwide is being used by a lot of makers and crafters.
Like the stories option on Instagram, a TikTok crafter might show how they make one of their designs in a sped-up video backed by music provided by the App. It’s fun and kind of addictive. It’s like DIY videos, but with more insanity and humor.
“Make new friends, but keep the old…”
Remember that song from Girl Scouts? If you create something on Instagram or TikTok, you can share it on other platforms including Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest after it’s posted.
You can’t be everywhere. You want your focus to be on your work, right? So, keep it simple. Limit your time on the apps. That way they become your tools instead of the reverse.
Keep in mind the old with the new. There are craft councils online and your local Jo-Anne Fabric, once the province of your grandmother, might be hosting meetups. You can also look at what the Association for Creative Industries or the Craft Industry Alliance have to offer for free on their websites.
There’s still something kind of wonderful about finding your tribe online, especially if you live in rural America as I do. Your circle of friends who make home decor, bespoke jewelry, political silk-screen purses, and artisanal onesies can be anywhere in the world or down the street.
So, stop dithering and get yourself online. No time like the present to turn that handful of sales into a steady revenue stream.
–By Nic Desmet