A Little PR for Selling Crafts Online

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.

PhotographsThis is where a photo's alt text shows up.

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.

blue and purple beaded earringI 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.

blue and purple beaded bracelet with magnetic clasp

All of my photos of jewelry are blue and purple because those were the wedding colors for my brother's wedding, and these are all photos of the bridesmaid jewelry I made.

 

Descriptions

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.

Contact Information

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!

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8 thoughts on “A Little PR for Selling Crafts Online

  1. I found this blog article to be good, however very much common sense. Although the writer gives you some websites in which you can go and get more information when starting a online business. However she did give some good pointers to people if they were looking to start a online jewelry business. I think writing an article like this would be more successful if the actual writer sold their crafts online and was able to give actual first hand experience testimonials. It is interesting to see what actually you have to do when putting together a web based store for people to buy your products, I just felt as though she didn’t know enough information and advice for someone trying to build a business off hand. The pictures were a nice touch tho, gave me and idea of what products should look like if I were ever to go in the online business.

    • I know some of it sounds like common sense, but I think you’d be surprised at what some people don’t know. Most people do not really know what alt text is, and don’t realize how much it helps your SEO. I’ve seen major websites that do not use alt text. And even though I’m not selling anything online, I am using some of these strategies on this blog.

  2. Online selling do needs “technologies”. I am always looking for the authentic picture took by the seller rather than the “pulling-down” picture from the products’ official website.
    And, from a PR perspective, I also think communication is important. You can also monitor the ratings and give them feedback.

    • Taking your own pictures is really important, but I think some people are scared to do it because they don’t know how to use all the settings on their camera, or don’t know much about photography. I’ve seen some online websites with pictures that are very blurry when you try to view a picture as a larger image.

  3. Since I have previous experience working with a up coming New York base jewelery designer, I find this information to be nothing new. I agree very much with you that it is important for there to be pictures of the product your selling online. However, I do not think that you have stressed enough how important pictures of your products are. The pictures that one puts up of their items, are what will be spread around on the internet through blogs and even PR professionals who link your items from online editorials. You want the pictures to be the best that they can, cause the pictures are what will sell your product and your brand. Your advice on the descriptions and how important measurements are 100% on the dot. The customer must know exactly what it is the item is made from and the measurements, so that they can make sure it fits. ( This is extremely important online because the customer can not try it on.) For contact information, I would agree that one does not need to put down their phone number, but they should have some kind of address or location of their business to make them sound more legitimate. All in all the advice you gave was good for one trying to learn the basics.

    • Sizing was something that was really hard for me to learn. I have very small wrists. When I made several bridesmaid bracelets, most of which were for people I hadn’t met, I tried to get everyone to send me their wrist measurements. I ended up having to guess, which worked ok, but not perfect. The hardest ones were the flower girl bracelets for a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old. For those, I made bracelets that I could resize easily by adding or removing a link. From that experience, I learned that bracelets are harder to size than you would think.

  4. Although one of the other comments say that much of this is common sense, I agree with another commenter who said that many people are surprisingly still unaware of much of this information. I think you took it a step beyond common sense by linking some useful sites such as the Youtube video on how to take photos. You hit most of what I think the major points of online selling are: photos, descriptions, and contact information. I thought it would have been nice if you elaborated on the payment methods available for small businesses online. I’m not sure how things like Paypal work and that would’ve been good to know. One thing that I am also curious about, which kind of ties in with payment arrangements, is how to go about handling returns. From a consumer standpoint, I always like to know if an item is returnable or not and what the stipulations are. Overall, this was a good post. By the way, Interweave has some cool stuff. Nice find!

    • Store policy is something that was mentioned in the original Interweave post that I didn’t go into here. Basically, how to handle returns is up to you. The original post said that the most important thing is to make sure you have a set policy, and that customers are well aware of that policy. This would cover things like payment and returns/exchanges.

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