I was looking over the blogs on one of my favorite craft sites, Interweave, and found a really interesting post about how to start up an online jewelry business. The blog was a jewelry-making blog, but the rules apply to any craft that you might want to sell online. A couple of the tips apply to any business—such as contacting the local chamber of commerce to make sure you have the right license—but the other tips are definitely important to an online business or brand.
Jen VanBenschoten mentions how important it is to have really good photographs of your products. Because your customers do not get to see the products in the store, this is really important. Photos also look interesting on the page. One thing that she doesn’t mention is the importance of labeling your photos. Alt text is the text that is read through accessibility programs, such as those used by people who are blind. This is also what often shows up when you hover the mouse over a picture. Search engines look at this text in addition to the rest of the text on a website, so it’s important to incorporate keywords, and to make sure that the text concisely describes what is in the picture.
I know I’m not the best photographer when it comes to my crafts, but I haven’t really ever tried to sell any of them. I give most of my crafts away as gifts, so photographs typically are just a way for me to document for myself what I’ve made and how it turned out. I have learned, through trial and error, to adjust the settings on my camera for things like “macro” and adjusting the light settings. I don’t pretend to be a professional photographer, so I can’t offer much advice here. But tutorials like this are easy to find online.
Interweave’s blog talks about the importance of writing a good description of each item, including keywords and measurements. This is important, but I also like what I found on a soap-making blog, which talks about naming products. The blogger talks about how when she got too cutesy with her fragrance names, the soap didn’t sell as well. But, if it was cutesy and descriptive, it sold really well.
If you’re running an online craft business, you obviously need some way for customer to contact you with their orders. Some sites simply have an order form, but I think it’s really important to have basic contact information as well. There’s no need to give out your home phone number (unless you’re comfortable with that) but give customers a way to email you or send a message. Give them a comment space to be able to write reviews and connect with other customers. Letting people write reviews about you can be scary because you’re giving up control over the tone of your website, but as long as you also engage in the conversation and address negative comments, you should be able to keep it positive.
Sell Those Crafts!
I hope this helps someone who is thinking about starting an online business. If you’re looking for more information, Interweave has a lot of eBooks (many of them free!) and other resources for lots of different types of crafts. Good luck!