When I started my website, the year was 1997. I was selling hand-drawn graphics and hand-drawn fonts. I also sold products I made from my fractal art that included mousepads, posters, t-shirts and coffee mugs. All of this was before there was even an eBay. I found a payment processor that would handle my credit card sales, but mostly, people sent me checks, and I sent them the product. My website was all coded by me, and it was a very simple site. You see it; you like it; you buy it. I didn’t even have the benefit of Google.
In 2004, when I opened www.bluemorningexpressions.com, I hand-coded my site, but I also dabbled on eBay with my handmade beads and polymer clay work. When Etsy started in 2006, I opened a store there, as well. Since this time, I have moved on from Etsy and am focused on my site, but for those who are looking for a viable handmade site, here are some of the places that I have found to be good choices.
Handmade Friendly Sites
I have several friends who have made the move to Indiemade. They moved in this direction several years ago when other handmade sites either failed or provided a miserable seller’s experience.
This website/eCommerce solution offers the sellers a solid place to sell their wares. They only support handmade, so you don’t have to compete with bulk resellers. You do have to do your own promoting since they don’t have the built-in traffic as Etsy does. They also have a blog, so you can generate traffic to your site by writing about your product.
Here is an example of a couple of my friends on Indiemade:
While Etsy has been around a long time, its focus has been less and less on the handmade artist and more on supplies and other mass-produced items. While there is a need for supplies in bulk, there have always been plenty of places to find those on the web rather than having the sellers infiltrate a handmade site.
As well, they allow for manufacturing partners now that make mass-produced items even easier to sell. Yes, this helps me sell my pillows, prints and mugs, but I don’t have them listed on Etsy for sale. About once a year, I use Etsy to push my handmade beads when sales slow down for me on other venues.
The search engine on Etsy has always been wrong-headed by making you cram all the keywords into the title and description rather than the more organic and natural flow of the current Google search engine.
The key to Etsy, if you want to go that route, is that they have built-in traffic that goes through their homepage, so you don’t have to do all of your own promoting.
Here is one of my friend’s Etsy site:
When Amazon decided to open up to handmade and give Etsy a run for their money, I signed up immediately. There are a lot of people who shop on Amazon, so I saw no reason to not take the time to get my handmade items in front of as many people as I could.
It is not listing-friendly, and there are a lot of pitfalls to selling on Amazon, but there are a lot of really great benefits from doing it, too. I sell a lot of my regular bread and butter things on Amazon like keyrings, thimbles and other things that I can quickly reproduce.
Here is a link to my shop on Amazon Handmade:
While not handmade-specific, Shopify has an extensive suite of tools that handmade artists can take advantage of to build a robust site with everything from payment processing to SEO management.
When I got tired of coding my website and decided that Etsy had become too big as they moved away from handmade, I shopped around for a website/eCommerce solution that would meet my handmade needs while making it easy for me to do business.
I always liked to build my own sites because I felt like I had better control over things and was not relying on one site to keep me in business. While I still feel that way, after six or seven years with Shopify, I can say that I’m glad that I no longer have to waste my time redoing the site every time something changes on the web. I only have to concentrate on selling my handmade beads.
Here is my site:
No matter which direction you choose to go, it’s better to focus on a marketplace or eCommerce solution that supports the needs of handmade artists over mass-produced products.
I am a manic writer who has to write all the time about something, even if it is a detailed 'To Do' list.