Are you thinking about trying to make some money with your crafts? Have you been searching for tips on how to create an online store for your craft business?
Of course you have or you wouldn’t be here!
But, I’m so glad you stopped by – I’ve got a lot to share on this subject. I’ve been swimming upstream in this online business world for almost 14 years now.
14 YEARS! Holy cow!
It all started with my oldest daughter’s 5th birthday party. She wanted a “Princess Bowling Party” of all things.
Obviously, I couldn’t find that theme at the local party store and Etsy had only just opened that year. There wasn’t much to choose from at that point…mostly just vintage goods and some craft supplies.
Digital party supplies and printables were a pretty rare item back then!
So, it was on me to play super mom and come up with this odd, but adorable party theme.
And somehow, I did it.
Imagine a dozen 5 year old girls and 1 boy dancing around a bowling alley wearing tiaras and tutus and waving glittery wands. It was so cute!
I’m still not sure how I pulled it off, but I received A LOT of compliments from the other parents on the invitations and all the decorations and it seemed to plant a seed in my mind.
Like maybe people would actually want to buy this stuff!
And so began my journey in the crafting business.
It started in my makeshift basement office, with a standard word processing program and a crappy printer…way back in 2005.
(And I’m not talking a fancy finished basement either…I set myself up right next to the boiler and the water heater.)
I had no idea what I was doing. There was no wealth of knowledge (aka Pinterest!) back then.
eBay and Google were only a few years old and Etsy barely existed!
Can you even imagine such a time?!
However, I had been dabbling with selling my kids old clothes on eBay for a while, so I at least knew how that worked. And I opened shop with my crafty stuff.
At first, I sold a variety of crafty things – whatever I thought would sell…
Invitations, party supplies, stationery, scrapbook pages…all handmade and hand-cut…no fancy cutting machines, software or equipment!
Need some inspiration? Here’s 72 Craft Business Ideas, right here!
After awhile, I noticed that stationery was selling…and selling well. Every time I would list a notepad, it would sell within a few days.
So, I started listing more of it and it kept selling!
Those first couple of years, I’m pretty sure I spent way more than I made with my little craft business. But, it was so fun!
And I learned SO MUCH!
Eventually, I left eBay and opened my first shop on Etsy. And, since I’m still there, 12 years later, that ought to tell you something.
So, why am I telling you all this?
Because, I want you to know that while it’s not easy to create your own craft business online, it is possible. It just takes time, persistence and work. LOTS OF WORK!
When I set out to write this post, I decided not to write your average “Sign up for Shopify” and “here’s how!” post. My goal with this post is to teach you how to create an online store for your craft business…not just open one.
Opening an online store is easy.
Seriously, if you can read and type your info. in little boxes, then you’re golden. Signing up for any online store is as simple as that.
That’s why there are a ton of articles written about it online…
But, learning how to create an online store that actually makes money? That’s a whole ‘nother story.
And speaking of creating your online store…I’ve decided to break this article into 2 parts because it’s SO LONG.
Part one (today) is all about learning how to create an online store for your craft business.
You’re not listing anything for sale yet, just setting yourself up for success.
So, let’s get it to it, shall we?
How to Create an Online Store for Your Craft Business – Part One
Get Your Business License
Find out what licenses your state and local government requires you to have for your craft business. This will vary state by state, as well as depending on your type of craft.
Before you open your new store, be sure to:
- Apply for each license, as required.
Obviously, you’ll need to open a shop…somewhere. And there are a lot of “somewhere’s” out there, so I highly suggest you do some serious research to choose the right fit for you.
The 3 most popular hosting companies for online craft store owners seem to be…
But, please do your research and choose the one you like best.
Utilizing Etsy is great for beginning online sellers, because it’s very user friendly, requires little technical knowledge and offers a great deal of promotion through their platform.
However, it does restrict your ability to have full control of your shop. Many more experienced sellers choose to move onto Shopify or BigCommerce in order to have more control over their shops.
When you’re ready to create an online store for your craft business:
- Research and find the best hosting company for your online store.
- Sign up for a new store.
Design Your New Online Store
Now that you’ve opened your online store it’s time to design it! But, guess what? I’m not recommending that you start out your online business journey by spending a bunch of unnecessary money.
USE A FREE TEMPLATE!
Both Shopify and BigCommerce have tons of free themes to choose from that work perfectly for new store owners.
With Etsy, you don’t get to choose your page template, but you DO get to add a header image and a logo image that can really make your page stand out.
There is no need to spend a ton of money on your online store design!
When you first learn how to create an online store, it’s tempting to buy a bunch of add-ons and “decorations” for your site, but it’s really not necessary.
Your potential customers want to come to a store that has a clean look, is easy to read and makes it easy for them to find what they are shopping for. That’s it!
Think about it…
When you’re shopping online, do you pay attention to the layout or the decorations of a website?
NO! Of course not!
You pay attention to what you’re in search of – you’re looking out for anything that points you in the direction of the item you want to buy (or browse).
When you’re designing your online store, consider the following:
- Keep your online store clean.
- Use a white (or light) background.
- Don’t fill it with a bunch of “dodads and decorations”.
- Make it easy for your customer to find what they want to buy.
Photography for Your Online Store
Ahhh…photography. The nemesis of many online business owners.
We’re simply not all photographers and it’s a constant struggle to keep up with the picture taking of all of our crafts.
But, it has to be done!
Before you can even think about selling online, you have to think about how you will “show” your products to people online.
Use a simple, white background and a light box, if possible.
Don’t waste your time trying to come up with fancy backgrounds for your products.
White works and it has for YEARS – long before the internet, marketers and advertisers were using white backgrounds in catalogs and magazines. Because it works.
It makes it easier to see the product. It’s as simple as that.
When you use a bunch of colors in the background, it conflicts with the color of the product and it makes it harder to see…ESPECIALLY online.
Use a white background, but feel free to play with the texture. Use white wood, linen, silk, canvas, etc. to give each product a different feeling.
Also, you don’t really need to have a bunch of fancy camera equipment either. So, don’t go wasting your money on that.
Use your phone camera or pick up a good quality camera that is a few years old – it’ll work just as well as the latest and greatest.
Before photographing on your couch or kitchen table, pick up the following:
- White wood or fabric (of your choice)
- A cheap, but good camera
- Light box (large enough for your type of craft) or make your own with this tutorial from Snail Pace Transformations!
As you can see there is A LOT involved in creating an online store for your business. It’s not as simple as “Sign up and start making money today!”.
Online business just doesn’t work that way. Like I said above, it takes time, a lot of determination and a whole lotta work!
That’s it for today!
Read Part 2 here!
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Have a Spectacular Day!
Vanessa Hamlin is the owner and founder of Food Life Design and VLHamlinDesign. With her passion for frugal living and homesteading, Vanessa loves to write about easy recipes, making money, gardening, home remedies and everything else that a good life entails! When she’s not writing for Food Life Design or creating products for VLHamlinDesign, you’ll find Vanessa reading, drawing, gardening, cooking or spending time with her family.