Since starting my crochet business almost four years ago, I've learned some valuable lessons; some the hard way! Everything from photos to SEO to bookkeeping, there is so much to learn along the way. It takes time more than anything, but if you're willing to put in the work, you can really be successful in the online market! My hope is that I can help you learn these lessons before you hit a wall. So these are my top 5 must haves to successfully operating an online craft business!
1) PHOTOS: Single-handedly, the most important aspect to selling online. Since you don't have the fortune of someone being able to touch your product, you have to convey its beauty and functionality in pictures. My items are colorful so I went with a white background, it really makes the products pop and the consistency of the white background makes the shop look clean, crisp and organized. The best part is, I bought my background for $1.00 at CVS/Pharmacy. I went to the office supplies section and got a flimsy white poster board, and viola! The poster board sits on a couch in the craft room and between 4:00 and 5:00 I get great natural light from the window. If I can't take a photo during that time, I just take the poster board and products on the front porch, the natural light is great most anytime of the day if you're outside. Keep the placement of your products consistent too so that the only difference your customers see in each listing is the product itself. If your products are all light colored and it'd be difficult to see them against a white background, I'd suggest buying a photo backdrop from NorthernDrops, and Etsy shop that has some amazing backdrops!
2) SEO: When I started the business, I didn't even know what this stood for. Search Engine Optimization is an integral part of operating online. All of those keywords in your tags, titles and product descriptions are key to being seen. The goal is to get your products in page one of search results, as customers rarely look past the first page. I tried two strategies for this. The first strategy is specific to Etsy, give this a try. In the search box on the home page, type in ONE word about your product and see what pops up in the drop down menu. That menu that appears are the most popular search terms from customers and often what they will click on first. For example, when I posted my crocheted monkey, I went to the search bar and typed in "monkey" - a few rows down I saw "stuffed monkey." Perfect! That shows me that people are searching for stuffed monkey and that if I put those two words (in that order) in my title, tag, and description, my monkey will fit into those search results. The second strategy is asking for help! There are SEO experts out there that are more than willing to help. Personally, I like using TheGirlWorks, an Etsy shop run by Lorie Folk. She is super helpful and has a great turnaround time! I got to revise one of my listings and I then applied it to my other similar listings. She knows keywords that I wouldn't have thought of on my own and my page views have increased!
3) NETWORK: Ever feel like everyone else is making sales and you're the ONLY person on Earth that isn't? I've been there too! Then I discovered Flourish, an online group of e-commerce experts. Everyone that joins has been where you are, everyone is looking for more page views and more sales. It's great to be in a group where everyone is working together for a common goal. It's a month-to-month subscription for $14.99/month. I decided to join for 3 months to see what I got out of it and WOW, I got a lot! It's worth every penny. If you're serious about turning your hobby into a business, this is a great place to start. A small tid bit I learned, set all of your pricing to end in .99 so change that $30 to $29.99!
4) SOCIAL MEDIA: I rarely use social media to talk to friends anymore, it's all business! I can't imagine having an online business or any business for that matter without social media. I get so much traffic to my shop just from a few tweets. PS - It's all about the hashtags! The right hashtags will get your product in front of the right people, especially on Twitter, where you can add the link to your shop within the tweets. Here are some goodies that I've learned along the way! Good hashtags for Twitter: #handmadewithlove #epiconetsy #bestofetsy #shopping #musthave #craftshout #crafting #etsy #handmade #homeinthestudio #hands&hustle #etsysocial #etsymntt ... Good hashtags for Instagram: #handmade #entrepreneur #smallbusiness #smallbiz #crafts #craftbuzz #diy #buylocal #shopsmall #etsypreneur #handcrafted... On Sunday evenings, I go to my Hootsuite to set up my posts for the week ahead; you can choose "Auto Schedule" so that it posts at optimal times. Good hashtags for Crochet: #crochet #crocheting #crochetaddict #crochetlove #crochetersofinstagram #instacrochet #amigurumi #yarn #yarnaddict #crocheter
5) BOOKKEEPING: This is not my specialty, but GoDaddy Bookkeeping makes me feel like I know what I'm doing! It allows you to sync with your Etsy shop, Amazon shop, bank accounts, etc. any online accounts really. All you have to do is create the income and expense categories you need. It tracks the Sales Tax Collected that you'll owe your state and it tracks your Estimated IRS Payments. Very helpful tool!
So those are my top 5! I hope you find these useful in your journey to build an online craft business, please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions!