Skip to main content

Start a Handmade Business

Lesson 16 of 39

Selling Online

Kari Chapin

Start a Handmade Business

Kari Chapin

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

16. Selling Online

Lesson Info

Selling Online

There's a lot of choices, as I was saying earlier today, there are a lot of things to consider when choosing an online shop and I do know and I'll just say right from the beginning that I understand that that sees the most popular our time here creative life isn't really going to be focused in on any one particular online venue because there's so many things to know about different ones, but this is where utilizing each other and the community will really be beneficial if you have a specific question or concern about any of the popular venues ask each other online or in the facebook group we're on twitter to get those very specific answers I want to keep our our time together in the broader big picture so you could apply it to any venue that you were interested in working with since they're so many so many choices these days so some things that you want to look for us first of all starting an online shop and just connecting with the venue of your of your choice as really easy. So I mea...

n any of us could set up an online shop in twenty minutes or less and they get to go if we had some sort of name to start with a product of some sort of with the photograph and we could just kind of type up a description and tag it and move on you know, you could actually start your handmade business in twenty minutes or less, which is really awesome, and then you would just need to wait for those sales to roll it just getting a lot of work, but there's a lot more to it than that. But, um, some some things that you want to look for that are going to be important for you and running your business. You want to make sure that the online menu that you choose can meet the needs that you know that you have right now because you can always change shops, you could always have more than one there's, no, really big, hard and fast rules about how that works, and people might have different marketing advice for you if you were having more than one shop let's say you're sending your customers to too many places, so you're going to find that a lot of opinions about this particular topic, the more research you d'oh and so once again, my best advice is just to do what feels best for you because that's what you're ultimately going to want to dio so that's what's going to work best if you do something that you feel like you're going to do and it's really harder struggle or you don't like it you're going to work on it less and then you're going to be less successful and you're going to have less of a good time only your gaming business so pick that could choose the things that really you respond to so that you are motivated to do your best job so you want to think about the online's services that the venue will offer you so you want to pick a place that has the services you need do they have a way for you to take money that's pretty important do they have a way for you to communicate with her customers do they have a way for customers to find you do they have a good search tool do they are they customer friendly or the shopper friendly um what are some other features that you really want to look for in an online that you kathy and change yourself on the fly something that you can easily understand and worked with on the flight that's right? Erin give me one um I think it's like customizable to you specifically in your brand yeah. So can you put some of your own raining elements and incorporate that into your online shop that you have right? Kathy um a way to share your story so that people can get to know you so maybe like having an about age feature or about the shop teacher something where you can communicate the bigger picture of what you're trying to dio those are all great, so you also want to be ableto have some options with their online menu you want to be able to take money you want to be able to communicate with their customer, you want to be able to get feedback if that's important to you, you really want to feel like you can move around in this online store and run your business the way you want to run your business. So for example, you would not want to choose an online venue that only allowed u two photographs, possibly because that just wouldn't maybe not be enough for you to really show the full range of how awesome what you make is so you really want to be careful when you're deciding in the beginning where to go to sell your stuff, but it's a good match for you and a good match for your customer and you also want to make sure your customers shops there there's a lot of online venues these days, and I have not purchased things from all of them just because there are so many so even if you made something really great, if we're going to talk about this in our marketing if we didn't have another way to communicate it would be hard for me to find your shop, so once I get there, you need to make sure it's really easy for me is a customer to tell what you make to understand what you make and then to purchase what you make and that we have a way to talk about it after the purchase if we need tio, if I need to ask a question beforehand, or if I need to ask a question after those air important features and online stores, you also want a online venue that can offer you support if you need it. If something is not working in your shop, if you don't understand how to use ah, feature, some of them now offer you analytics, and if you don't understand what that means or how that works, you want to be able to go somewhere in the cellar information of that venue and understand and learn about analytics, you want them to offer you support to use their tools and their shop and the best way possible for you. You also need to be aware of what their fees are. How much does it cost for you to liston item? Does it cost more? If you saw the item? Does it cost more? If you need to re list the item? Can you list if you make the same product over and over again, like take stationery er cards can you list ten at once? If so, how much does that cost so that if you sell one two dollars card, you're not spending half a knauer to re update that you know you can just click a button or you can put intend to begin with if you already have ten printed what kind of support and features today offer and how much how much do those cost? Um I mentioned that it's good to look for like products on lee because you want to make sure that that your type of customer shops there not because I think that there's a lot that the competition is really something for you to focus on. I do know that competition israel and people have a lot of worries over competition it's just not anything that I particularly have ever worried about myself and it's something that I try to work on with my clients because I don't really have a strong belief in competition like like some people do, I think that we all need products and if somebody makes hearings and somebody else make syria's, it doesn't hurt this other person that makes hearing so I have a lot of thoughts on competition and if anybody wants to talk about that, we certainly can, but you want to make sure that there are some like products there but not that you know and don't worry about it overwhelming your customer if you see that there's one hundred thousand jewelry stores there, it doesn't mean that there's not room for one more because they're absolutely is, and if their marketing and talking to your customer and all the other ways they're going to find you, no matter what. So even if they type in hearings and you never come up that's, okay? Because that's not hopefully by the time we're done together, you won't think that somebody is searching for you is the primary way that you're going to find customers toe by your work, so make sure your client shops there, and you can do that by making sure that other people who talk to your ideal client also have shops there. So in the workbook, I'm starting on page forty five, there are lots of questions for you to figure out what kind of venue is important to you on by going through these questions and really figuring out your answers to these things, how you feel about them, you'll really be able to make a decision if you want to take a chance on a venue that's lesser known, or if you want to stick with the tried and true, uh, by working on these things, that will be a lot a lot easier for you to figure out. So once you decide on an island when you need to make sure that your business he was available there and that really could factor in with whether or not you decide to choose a name, you want to be aware of how many photos you can have because that's really important and selling your stuff, you want to know what the payment options are if people could say only use I can't remember the google money name for paying google pay or something like that because it was something that people were so unfamiliar with, they couldn't even remember the name. Maybe they would be less comfortable using that as a way to purchase purchase your products. So you want to make sure that they have a pain payment system that people understand they can either use their own credit cards, they can most people are very comfortable, and from miller with people by now, you want to understand how much it's going to cost you to sell in that in that venue and so that's the fees venues going to charge you and then maybe fees that payment company is going to charge you to. So we all know a few sell something on one of the bigger online market places you get charged by them, and then you get charged by paypal, a swell for conducting that transaction. So you want to look at the fees that are associate id on both sides you also want to look at their feedback system how do they deal with conflicts or problems that arise between customers and sellers? Do they have a way for you to report problems in a way for you to get support that's really important what does your competition look like on the site and what do you need to do to to sell on the site do you need to really registered you need to pay up front do you need to buy a year's membership? Do you what do you need to do to sell on that site what air their requirements for online vendors and then does this site have a good reputation that's really important too because that factors into who is going to be comfortable buying there and I want you to look at the reputation of the site from the customer's perspective not just from the perspective of vendors while that's really important because the vendors air your colleagues those were the people who are selling right there along with you and who can help you sometimes faster then the administration support you need to make sure that they um you need to make sure that customers like shopping there as well because I know that this discussion of where's the best place to sell online can be pretty heated so make sure customers like it and the workbook I've developed a comparison chart for you to use so that you can sort of go through this checklist of items that I've given you right, the online venues that you're considering on the chart and then answer all of the questions that we've just gone through so that you can make a decision really quickly and easily about who and where you think it is best for you to work with. So yes, is it possible to hear from you ladies out loud, and I know you it's good to write it down in your workbook, but as faras what venues you views and which ones you're curious about, ladies, any volunteers a wordpress site that's really old from our website that needs to be updated? And I'm thinking of moving over to shopify on by having its to shop and for the few clips, I'm thinking about amazon. Yeah, that's a great place for them. Actually, my competition is there with other pew clips, so why not, you know, with the big boys on that particular item? Sure, amazon is a great place to some things, you know? I mean there's a lot more options out there than we realize, but that's a great place for you to sell those actually because people are looking for other kinds of supplies. And they don't know where to find it, and ours isn't maybe the cheapest but it's definitely one of the sturdiest, so that would be my my cell point. Yeah, and if they're doing it, why can't I? Well, you can't know e no, no, I'm just wondering why you're not going for you. Yeah, so you have your own way. Thanks for the encouragement so wonderful and it's also interesting to note that selling on your own website is a great compliment to any other online menu that you might want to have. And I really actually recommend that these days that if that's not whatever your current intentions, to eventually have your items on your own website, that that you put that on your list of things to start seriously thinking about and considering so that you may be, then have two places your own spot that you control completely, and then an online venue where maybe people are more comfortable shopping through in the beginning, but that you really eventually have it as an intention to take full ownership over your connection with your customer. Where else do some of you guys have your spots? Heather do you have an anti shop? And I'm very happy with how it's he sells their stuff, but I saw a lot of my artwork through facebook. And not a facebook shop just that's where I post my work in the progress and people talk to me about it and I've been contacted personally know, through messages about purchasing artwork, so I was very surprised that's where I keep getting my customers is people that I'm friends with or friends of friends and that's been a very good and I know that now I believe facebook is actually putting up shops that you can sell, and I haven't researched that yet, but I just saw post that million maybe now they have their own shops. Yeah, facebook does have shops now. Yeah, I was very happy with that. So are you getting those requests from people? Are they coming through your after you post on your personal page thing? I do have heather salisbury artists on facebook so I do post some both and try not tio do the same post on both, but a lot of people contact me as the arts being made. I post pictures of the progress and people are sharing that with their community and then people get in touch. It's pretty cool that's great rosalie saw you raise your hands right? I sell on etc and I've had a shot for a long time and it's always on my list of things to do to build another site that's you know, just my own that I have complete control over but what I've done in the meantime is I bought the domain shower dot net and now if you go to that that's on all my marketing materials and if you go to that it redirects to my shop so you can set that up and have it redirects so then when I finally cross that item off my to do list I won't have to change all of my marketing materials or any of that they will just go to my new store because it'll just go right there yeah, I go to a lot of people's web sites actually wear it when I click on their shop or purchase button it brings me to their shop of fire to their etsy's shop or to their art fire or whatever so you can connect the teo on your website and I see that happening a lot but that's a really good idea that you bought it, put it on your marketing materials and can redirect until the day when you can just camp out there that's really good yes kathy I've done similar things that they have done I have a website catch I'd crashed dot com and I don't have the shop set up but it redirects to my etc shop and I've also found that I really love instagram's I post a lot of in progress, just like other dozen facebook and I've gotten a few sales off that they contact me, and they want to order something selling on instagram, I'm noticing is becoming more and more popular all the time. I see a lot of instant sales that are happening, which is fascinating in my in my town in portland, there's a vintage furniture store that I love, I love love love their items in their photography in their branding, and every day she posts like five or six pictures of here's this chair hears this plan, stan hears this piece of artwork, here's the stress and it's so fascinating within twenty minutes or thirty minutes, it'll be sold that, you know, she just puts up the price, says call me if you're interested people all over the country collar, because she has it in her profile that she ships and so she's not you having any listing fees or she just takes their credit card over the phone and just boom she's really running her business that way, whereas she used to have online store where she was having to set up like a whole day of photo shoots and then a half day of uploading that stuff and writing all those descriptions and now she's just on instant saying fifty dollars call me when people are so it's really there's a lot lot of different options these days that we used to not have it's really interesting, but I'm curious if anything's happening online always things happening, always things happening online. Great well, charge shines is signs is wondering if it would be possible to crowd source names of online selling venues, which is yes, so if you want to share with us via social media, what online shop you use and how you know if you recommend it, go ahead and put that on twitter and hashtag it carry live so we can all find it and go ahead. I mean, that's great! I made a list of twenty three before I came here, but I mean, it kind of stopped at twenty three verses like, you know, continuing on and I know they're specific ones for different countries there's, rwanda, for germany there's I felt I believe is new zealand's there's a lot of them out there, so it would be great if people wanted to share those online, and if somebody wants to collect them all in one place, I'll be happy to put him on my website leader were in the private facebook group, so we can all I'll have that if anyone wants to take up the challenge that be awesome so yeah, I have a do I have a follow up question from amanda roy talking about selling on instagram and they're wondering if you need a big following for that to be effective I think a big following is always effective but I don't think amanda that it's the only thing that is going to make you successful I don't think you have to wait to have a certain number of followers to try something out because if you just begin people will will find you and we'll figure it out so if it's going to be effective or not right away maybe it's just not possible to know that but it's going to be very low cost so it's a worthwhile inks experiment because you know you're the people who are already following you already want to hear from you and if you tag it correctly people are going to find it no matter what. So it's it's really up to you if you want to try that but as you're following grows it will definitely become more effective so will it work for you today? I'm not sure about well if you keep it up will it work for you ten days from now? Possibly so try it and let us know yeah you're welcome okay great so in the workbook on page fifty there's an action items of things for you to think about when you're considering your online shop and some of this has to do with the research that you can conduct with yourself. How do you where do you like to shop? Chances are that's where your customers are also going to be comfortable, or where you already feel a kinship with some sort of community. So where you're comfortable is where other people who are going to relate to your products are going to be comfortable, but then we're going to talk about what could make your online shop stand out and more successful. I get a lot of email, one of the main things that people ask me over email is why isn't anybody coming into my shop? There's too much competition, that particular market place is too crowded, no one can find me, I can't stand out, I don't have time to figure out a ceo, and I just want to put my stuff up online and then have itself. So this is, um, that'd be really dreamy situation, if you could just, you know, boubou, but your thing up online and then bam it's sold a few minutes later, but again, having a business is, you know, work, so you don't need to be willing to put the time and make the investment and figuring out how to best reach your customer, and we have a lot of good tips and tricks for that working and talk about but in the meanwhile, one of the strongest ways you have to communicate with your customers photos people cite again and again and again and surveys, interviews, questions when I just casually asked them how to craft show, if you bought this online, what would what would you want to see if you were looking at this online? Which is when I do my my own business research, and I walk around all the shows and try to get as many customers as possible to talk to me in front of people's booth's? One of the things I say to them is that this was online, what would make you interested in buying it? What would you want to know about this particular thing? If I had it on my website, what would make you say like, yeah, that's something I'm going to check out these air great conversations to have with people who know your business well, because you can get a lot of your key words there you can get a lot of your description words when you're writing your product descriptions from how people describe your product back t you you can actually say to people when they're purchasing something from you. What do you you know what are your plans for that and that they say, oh, I'm going to give it to my best friend that's almost her birthday? Well then you know that you have a really great gift item which maybe you were thinking peoples on ly purchased for themselves so by having conversations around your work with your customers khun simplify your marketing it can make your job as the seller so much easier and people will actually do the work for you if you let them and if you engage them in the correct way so your photos do a lot of talking, which is why we have, you know, sayings like a photo says it speaks a thousand words or whatever it is and we could say thousands of words on photographs, so I'm so glad marlow is going to be here in segment three I want to remind people to tune into that because she's really going to help us figure some of that stuff out or at least boost our confidence when it comes to taking our own pictures. But photos a really important if people can't look at your item and understand what it is and how they're going to use it and how it's going to affect their life and they're just going to click on over to something else these days we're pretty lucky because a lot of us have smartphones which come with pretty pretty sophisticated cameras, so if you don't have the budget to make a different kind of investment in a fancier camera right now, chances are you either have one in your back pocket or someone you know as one that you can borrow for a little while as a place to get started. And I'll say that my husband is an amateur photographer and really likes taking pictures and about seven years ago invested, I'm going to say heavily and photography equipment, and now my telephone takes a fancier picture than, you know, a closet full of equipment that costs more than my car. So it's actually pretty, pretty interesting what we can do these days with resource is that just weren't even available a short time ago, so your pictures are really important, and you need to make sure that they will work on the website of your choice. So if you're allowed to have seven photos on the venue where you're thinking about opening up your online shop that you need to take advantage of using all seven places for your photographs, um, and if you sell product that's going to look better on a model, then this is another great tip get an actual person to show it to you, I mean, more than once I have bought a pair of hearings thinking that they were going to work for me and then when they come in the mail there either like giant or they're like non existent because I'm not much of a math person so even if you tell me that something is like four millimeters, you might as well tell me it's four miles like I just don't understand what that is so there's little tips and tricks you can use like putting a common objects into a photo that can help people understand the size but if you have something that people are going toe where if you can actually try to put a person and that so people can understand more about what you're selling without having to do a lot more work andi just make your photo say as much about your work as possible and that's what it all boils down to like that's the final kind of word on that and we are going to learn more about that in segment three today but if there are any great photo questions and or tips I'd be happy to hear them and share them if anyone has a really great a great way to do it or a great object to use that's a universal object I was giving a workshop wins for a group of people online that were in another country and I said put a quarter in your photos and they were like we don't have quarters and I thought yeah, of course you don't know of course you don't have quarters where you live, so I'm always on the lookout for for common size objects that could be found in lots and lots of different countries to help people and so far we have toothaches are pretty standard a match is pretty standard as long as it's because even if you have a giant match or like a little one from match back people understand what size that is so as human tooth you know whatever whatever you've got waiting for the comments to come in and if people have suggestions or things that they do it, it already is please jump in I know that d dress playing said I used my iphone for picks, but I built a light ten out of an old box to get great lighting they came out great and aiken photoshopped to adjust that's also one of the things that we're going to do with marlow is actually we made a d I marlowe maitre d I y light box that would cause to under ten dollars, we've got the shopping list, the instructions for how to make it in segment three and and how to use desk clams to make a simple photo set up at home to take your picture so we're really going to learn a lot in that segment and that's a great suggestion you guys have any photo tips yes, kathy, I try to get as close as I can you know I can show detail but also have the the larger picture and I've been using my daughter issa's models even though the I don't they don't wear they aren't they hold it up so people can see the scale and it because my a lot of my stuff is for kids so I think it fits with what I'm trying to sell, so showing kids with that good and people love to look adorable children so that's probably a good strategy there too and I think what you just mentioned about seeing the object like where it's going to be that's also really that's important to me as a buyer so I really want to see something hanging on a wall rather than a photograph and a frame on the floor unless it was like a million photographs it's in a beautiful loft somewhere and it was like a display or an installation and that would be interesting to me that I love seeing products actually, so I could envision that in my own home and that takes away some of the work that I might need to do is the consumer if that's something that I don't feel particularly skilled at, like interior design or something so helping people out as much as possible getting those photos to work as as hard as you can is really key okay you have carry a number of people coming in online grace so in terms of those universal objects some other suggestions are paperclips business card pushpin on again pen and pencil since all those smarties money of and then stacy monique online says although I still have a few old images with a mannequin I only showed that year not the face of the mannequin so maybe zooming in on that is one way to go bars susan was just saying even an old vintage mana can that you know if that's a style that goes along with your products could be really cool if you address for mercy address forms those air so fun yeah jordan bowers said I've seen jeweler jewelry displayed on a page of a book which I like you could tell the size due to the froth way and we also want to know what you think about defrost brought up hiring a stylist and kind of being able tio maybe knock it all out in one day quickly you know we're going to be learning from marlow how to do it yourself but is that something may be if you were a little bit further along that you might do as well so you could be like really quickly getting them knowing them through well as as somebody who has worked frequently as a stylist think hiring that was uber that's a great idea but it's I think that the underlying question there are the direction I'm going to take it in is if you can do batch photography and that is a great idea if you have enough of your items ready to go so that you can use sort of the same set up or just change if you thinks you're in there and get all of your photography done that you are able to dio at that in that time period at once is a much better idea of them like taking a picture, you know, putting it on the computer, listing it up, and then like going back and taking another picture. If your items, if you want to increase the perceived value of what you're selling, if you have any sort of trepidation of your prices and that someone is going to say, well, I'm sure that's great dress but that's out of my price range. If you could get your photographs to help make that price seem more reasonable and someone's mind and if hiring a stylist or a model or a professional photographer is going to help you do that, making that investment could help you make your sales. So it is really up to you and what you think your customers really going to respond to, but if you our thinking that your customer is going to need more convincing than do what you need to d'oh to make your sale, if it's within your means. And if that means you can't always d I y it, then get help to make your business more successful. It's. Entirely possible?

Class Description

Most artists and crafters are easily inspired to create new work, but getting inspired to build a business that shares that work with the world can sound like a much more daunting prospect. Kari Chapin, author of The Handmade Marketplace and Grow Your Handmade Business, is ready to teach you everything you need to know to break into the online marketplace and share your work with the world.

Kari will help you determine the online sales venue that’s best suited to your handmade goods. You’ll learn about the pros and cons of both selling through an existing online marketplace (like Supermarket or Etsy®) and setting up your own independently-operated website. You’ll also develop the optimal marketing strategy for sharing your products with the world, from social media to blogging to branding and packaging. Kari will cover essential best practices for running a successful crafting business, including confidently setting price points, creating media kids, acting as your own publicist, and much more.

No matter what you make, this course will give you the confidence to see the things you have to offer as uniquely valuable to customers, the inspiration to take your work to new heights, and the foundation you need to ensure your business’s success.



Kari Chapin's course, Start a Handmade Business, was a game-changer for me. Her content was presented in such an accessible, engaging, easy-to-digest, and oftentimes hilarious way. At the same time, she did not sugar-coat things. Having a handmade business is a job and requires work. I love that she emphasized that fact. Not only did she give the nut and bolts of how to start a handmade business but spent a lot of time on the emotional component of being an artist trying to sell her work. Her guests (Skype and in-studio) were well-chosen and showed the rapport she has with her community. This showed that she lives what she teaches. The interaction with the studio audience and online community was integral to the course because it showed real-life examples of business owners at varying stages in their career. (I was so lucky to be one of the studio audience members. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity!) This class was a comprehensive look at handmade businesses that everyone from fledgling businesses to more established businesses can benefit from. I highly recommend this course! Thank you Kari for sharing your mind-blowing wisdom and warm and fuzzy heart with us! And thank you CreativeLive for having this awesome resource for the creative community! --Cathy Pascual,


Well, it's been a few days since the course and I am still pumped. Kari said a few things in particular that I needed to hear and I'm so grateful for that. I have been involved in the facebook group she put together and I am so happy about that. It's an awesome resource and my fellow creatives have been very helpful and encouraging. I totally recommend this course to any creative entrepreneur at any stage in their journey. Plus she is cute, funny and has just the right amount of snarkiness. I so enjoyed it!

a Creativelive Student

I loved this course with Kari Chapin! Her wealth of information delivered with such an honest and funny voice was refreshing and inspiring. I have accomplished things in the last few days that have languished on my to-do list for a year or more, largely due to this class. Kari is very down-to-earth and just plain adorable! I highly recommend this course for anyone creative who has or wants to have their own business.