Do you create and sell handmade products? Whether you have your own website or sell your handmade products on sites like Etsy or ArtFire, one of the challenges you might face is to get your products in front of your customers.
There's social media, trade shows, craft fairs, email marketing – and the list goes on! How do you know what to focus on to get the most return on your time? I'm a huge fan of doing more of what's working, rather than re-inventing the wheel, so once you figure out a strategy that works to sell handmade, you should stick with that.
We reached out to successful entrepreneurs who sell handmade products, either on or off Etsy, and asked them to share their best tips with us.
30 tips to sell handmade products online
1. Keep consistent
When handcrafting a product, consistency can be a challenge. It's important to work out all of the potential kinks before marketing a product, including packaging and shipping. Your packaging should complement your product, protect it and be durable enough for retail shelves. – Thanks to Ellen Cagnassola of Sweet Soaps
2. Offer a variety
Get your product in front of as many people as possible and offer a variety of options within your specific line of products. For example, I create custom portrait paintings for weddings, newborns, memorial services, pets, families, and business/organization founders (and more!) It is one product (portraits), but offering many types. – Thanks to Arlissa Vaughn of Special Event Painter
3. Sell locally
Find a team of people who love your product, offer them an attractive monetary incentive, and have them sell at local events that relate to your product and target market. – Thanks to Lisa Riedel of Corky Kouture Collections, LLC
4. Focus on SEO
I market through good old SEO with my website and word of mouth. Search engine optimization is tedious but necessary. The more photos you post the more you get indexed. – Thanks to Kevin Ellis of Tack Tux, LLC
5. Have great photography
Take plenty of good, honest pictures. The pictures set the expectation that the customer has for the product that will show up in the mail. It's important to set that expectation and then meet it. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million. – Thanks to Jeremy Pellani of Adirondack Stone Works
6. Be passionate
Truly believe that you have a unique product (hopefully you do!), then go about getting it out to the public. I think my original artwork digitally printed on silk scarves fit the criteria. I explore every avenue to get it out in public, be it social networks, blogs, newspapers, or retail stores. Whatever you do, don't give up! – Thanks to Chetna Singh of CHETNASINGH
7. Focus locally
There is a growing focus on locally sourced and produced consumer goods which should be leveraged to your benefit. Using local media outlets, such a neighborhood print and online news sites is a great place to start. Share your story and your passion for your product, your brand, and your vision. – Thanks to RJ Diaz of Industry Portage Co.
8. Collect emails
Make sure to provide the buyer with information on how they can acquire more at another time, or if they want to refer a friend, how they can do that. Make sure to also ask for their email address or to friend you on Facebook so you can stay in front of them with new products as they come out. – Thanks to Hanh Tran of The Hanh Collection
9. Solve a problem
Be extremely passionate about the problem you are trying to solve for your customers when you are selling handmade. This adds to the credibility of your product or service and engages a potential customer on a personal level. A potential customer first needs to understand the problem, but showing your passion for your solution will turn a potential customer into a paying customer. My ultimate goal is to increase the productivity of individuals and businesses so that they can succeed in their own businesses, and your job as an individual is to get this goal or passion across to your customer in the easiest way possible. – Thanks to Al Chen of KeyCuts
10. Know your customer
Know what it is you are selling; who your customer is – and how you fill a need for that customer. Make it with the highest standards. It has your mark on it and needs to be honored. Have a passion for what you bring to the market. Stay true to your mission. And when things get tough and they will. ”Rest, but don’t quit.” – Thanks to Marsha Bartenetti & Rachael Sudul of Just in Case, Inc
11. Do PR
We realized that before we launched RAINRAPS that to market our product we would need to have a PR person. We had limited funds but agreed that this was an expense we could afford. We were lucky to find a person who loved our product and has worked as hard as we have to help spread the RAINRAPS word. – Thanks to Rachel Teyssier and Stacy Struminger of RAINRAPS
12. Focus on product descriptions
Include a lengthy product description (at least 200 words) that has all the right product keywords when selling handmade. A detailed description gives our customers more confidence in the product (which, in our case, is a business document). I think it creates a perception of higher quality. Having product keywords ensures the document shows up in the site's internal searches and helps with SEO. All this leads to higher sales. – Thanks to David Tang of Flevy
13. Be diligent
It is a tough market to compete in for any business just starting out. I never give up on my dream to have a successful business from home and to be able to contribute to the family budget, which pays for my ongoing medical care. If you have the determination and will power, you will succeed! – Thanks to Marsha Jaramillo of Markets of Sunshine
14. Show your product in person
Get out there and bring your product to people – let them touch it, hold it, feel the weight and texture that separates it from the mass-production we have all grown accustomed to. Be proud and show it off – in person; it's the biggest advantage you have. – Thanks to Michael Galea & Catherine O'Sullivan of Wee Rock Toy Co.
15. Have great packaging
Packaging matters. After asking the customer to pay $2.99 for a custom wholefood bar, we used to stuff our boxes inside a USPS flat rate envelope to save a dollar on shipping. The first experience of the customer was this overstuffed envelope and it wasn't a positive experience I wish we had spent more on packaging and shipping when we started the company. – Thanks to Jonathan Miller of Element Bars
16. Listen to your customers
Our customers – we produce personalized romance novels made one-at-time – suggested we start offering e-books and we became the first customized book company to do so. – Thanks to JS Fletcher of YourNovel.com
17. Use social media
Find ways to engage your social media followers. One example – ask for their feedback on your product/product ideas. What do they like/not like? Remember to update your social media regularly and keep it current, relevant and interesting. – Thanks to Amy Maurer Creel of Amy Maurer Creel
18. Send emails
Collecting your customers' email is extremely important for building relationships. Email your list on a regular basis with relevant content. – Thanks to Bryan Colligan of SeQr Pay
19. Use Google Ads
I am using Google advertising to sell handmade because with it I can specify the region where I try to sell and limit my spending. – Thanks to Tamas Fodor of Fodors Cabinetry Inc.
20. Have different photos
My suggestions are two-fold: take great pics that speak to human eyes, and do your best to describe and position your products in a way that speaks to search engines. As to the great photos, make sure to get a normal view that shows the scale and use of the item at a glance, and also a detailed close-up. – Thanks to Betsy Kaufman of Near and Far
21. Offer custom orders
I try to make all my dog dresses thinking about what customers can not find in the regular pet store. I use unique fabric, the finest embellishments and apply it to the dog's structure. Of course, quality is the best seller for my designs. I also take custom orders so customers can relay to me exactly what they want to have made. This is what makes my business successful and sets me apart from the other pet clothing companies. – Thanks to Olga Zabelinskaya of Elite Pawtique
22. Be useful on social media
Establish your presence in the social media world. Grab your company or product name and begin to post information that people in your niche find helpful. Answer questions, refer to information and sell minimally. It's not about YOU… it's all about your community. – Thanks to Chris Melton of Joint Mechanix, LLC
23. Offer limited quantities
To start with, keep a limited product line (build a niche) and focus on the presentation and branding of your products. Never ever compromise on the quality of the handmade products that you make or are getting made. Quality checks them at various stages – since handmade products provide a lot of flexibility to do so. – Thanks to Anjum Gadhok of Fair Intentions
24. Create a “one-sheet”
My handmade items are an outgrowth of my graphic design work, so I am, needless to say, a big fan of a good presentation, with branding and a professionally designed line sheet. I also have a “one-sheet” that is easy to attach to email inquiries — a kind of “pared down” line sheet that shows sample products and a blurb in one glance. – Thanks to Jean Roth of Rotem Limited Edition
25. Give free samples
I think my best tip in selling my brownies is giving free samples when I am selling them in person at some type of boutique or sale. – Thanks to Marilee Mahoney of Marilee's Magnificent Morsels
26. Target your audience
Target those who really need this product and not try to get the whole world to like it, and be patient and focused. – Thanks to Nasser Mahamadeen of SSS Trade LLc.
27. Make your product stand out
Make your product stand out by using branding and marketing. If you develop a brand for your product, it will help people gain familiarity and brand recognition for your product vs a competitor. –Thanks to Holly Slawter of Fiddlebump's
28. Use marketing tools
It helps to use marketing tools, signs/handouts/website, and social media to grow your audience. I love selling my handmade/one of a kind items at local farmers' markets, art fairs, green festivals and through my website. Find your niche market! – Thanks to Holly Slawter of Fiddlebump's
29. Tell your story!
No one has a better story about how they got started, the process to manufacture their products and why they do what they do than handmade artisans. Is this a technique passed down from your grandmother? What tools do you use? Did this start as a hobby that grew and grew? What trials and tribulations did you go through in your journey and how did you overcome them? Remember that your story will be retold by your customers – whenever someone compliments your piece, or if it's given as a gift, it will become a conversation starter. So spend time making sure it's a good one, and tell it every chance you get. – Thanks to Alexandra Ferguson of Alexandra Ferguson
30. Market, market, market!
Get the product out in the marketplace as much as you can, which means a combination of internal promotion (newsletter to customers), public relations (pitching media) and advertising (in print, online and radio). – Thanks to JS Fletcher of YourNovel.com
Do you sell handmade products and have a tip you'd like to share? If so, leave a comment below.
The tips given here re-affirm what I have been reading many times before- meaning;take note- they work! Many I currently use and once again am reminded of several I need to work on.
I think that should read “29 excellent and helpful tips, and one marketing spiel.” Thanks to the 29 for being so generous with their suggestions. I’ve learned a lot this morning. 🙂
Thank you so much. Will have to tick them out as I implement, one by one.
I’m always open to new ideas or reminders of what I should be doing.
I concur with Karen; how did Thomas Kisner of SmartEnergetics slip through the net…. or is his the example of how NOT to do it? Thanks to the other 29 – invaluable help and insight.
not sure how he got in there, but i’ve removed it 🙂
Wow this is a great list of 30, err I mean 29 great ways to improve your online sales. What shops do you use to sell? I have been trying out new ones all the time and had some real success with TheCraftStar.com
Thanks for sharing your helpful list. I’ve read so many lists and tips over the years, I didn’t think I’d find anything I didn’t already know or haven’t tried in your list but I was surprised to find 4 new ones that I’m going to try this week!
San Diego Bath & Body Company
I would add that making sure your handmade item is innovative is key. Develop the handmade work within the context of trends that are happening now is so important….and oh…make sure the work is not boring and completely derivative!
The essence of handmade work is that it delights the buyer in a way that manufactured wares never will. This quality needs to be evident in the work itself, not just the marketing materials.
I love the emphasis on marketing, branding, seo here as I need to start selling online to avoid the costs of selling at craft events. It used to be that we just made the work, then sold it all at events and galleries. Now we are just bombarded with new toys and tasks to master. Thanks so much, holly
Thank’s HOLLY FOR THE INFO.
Some great advice here.
What a fantastic resource for helping us newbies get off the ground. I’ve been doing this for over 5 years and quite a few of these techniques are completely overlooked to this point. I think I’ll pick two or three approaches to getting my name out there (and their names in) and increase my sales exponentially. Next year is looking brighter for sure.
Fantastic! Appreciate this.
Making online sales is very hard without getting involved in social media…really…
great round up from people who are in the trenches. Thanks for the useful info
Amazing! Just what I needed
Great reminder to not be discouraged. Thanks
Great article. Currently, working on a similar project, of the same topic. Thank you all, for your wonderful tips.
Thanks for the such information. I was in search of this type of article for long time.
Thanks so much for the amazing tips. Much apprecite it.
Your valuable tips are appreciated, they are really helpful…thank you very much & good luck
My only comment is to never give up! I graduated in studies in fashion design in 2002 when I was only 23, I didn’t manage to get work in fashion design but it’s been one of my main hobbies since. At 41 I still haven’t given up, I still have ideas to try to get my designs and hand-sewn products out there!
Thank you for your nice tips! I read them all , all are so useful! If I follow these all , definitely I would be success in my handmade business.