I started selling my handmade jewelry on Etsy over 5 years ago. I’ve done so well that I opened shops on other websites such as Amazon Handmade, Overstock and Tophatter. At this point I think I have tried almost everything when it comes to online retail. It’s a good idea not to put all your eggs in one basket (or online shop!), the more sites you sell on, the larger opportunity you have to make money. Once you get set up on one online venue it’s easier to sell on others because so much of the work has already been done (photography, writing descriptions, etc.) and you can duplicate your virtual storefront on other websites. Today I am going to share some the websites that I sell on and the pros and cons of each.
Etsy is pretty much the place to sell your handmade goods online. It seems that everybody knows about Etsy, shops on Etsy and has an Etsy store. It’s the first place I started selling and where I have the most success. Most of the time I spend working on my business online is spent on Etsy.
Low commissions on sales
Lots of traffic to Etsy.com because everyone knows about Etsy.
Easy to set up your shop and get started
Sellers have a lot of control over how their shop looks and is run.
Can be difficult to get your shop noticed on this site because it is so big
My best sellers on Etsy are unique items that are not sold by a lot of other people. If you make a lot of things that are similar to what others sell you will have to drop your prices quite a bit to stay competitive. To be successful on Etsy you have to work very hard at promoting your shop in order to get traffic to it. Excellent photos are a must. You really need to treat your Etsy shop as a business rather than “just a hobby” from day one in order to be successful. For more tips on selling on Etsy check out the seller handbook. With Etsy how you “tag” each of your items is vitally important. Your items tags are how it gets found in their search engines. Once people can find you it’s up to your photos to sell your products, so make sure your always keep trying to improve your photos.
Overstock has a department called Mainstreet Revolution. They let small business owners set up shop on their site to sell their goods. If you have a business with less than 25 employees you can apply to sell on their site. I have done quite well on Overstock and make a decent amount of money from my sales on that site every month.
Great exposure to a large customer base
After your initial set up you don’t have to do any work. They promote for you and bring customers to your page.
Minimal fees. Commission is negotiated on an item by item basis
You really don’t have much control over your business on their site.
You have to list all your goods according to their very strict guidelines
Listing your items and getting set up is a huge pain. It is not user friendly but once you figure out how to get set up adding additional items is easier
You cannot have any direct contact with your customer
Tips: If you are accepted to the Mainstreet Revolution program make sure you have great photos, negotiate a fair price and you should do well. You absolutely must play by their rules (shipping items on time and checking for new sales and returns every single day and following their terms and conditions) or they will kick you off the site so make sure you are able to commit and be professional. To learn more about selling on Overstock check out the details here
I have been selling on Tophatter on and off for a few years now. It is an auction type format where people can come bid on your items. Tophatter has changed quite a bit from when I first started using their site. In the beginning I made a TON of money just by listing my jewelry items into auctions and all my stuff sold really well. Then they made a bunch of changes to how they ran their business and suddenly no more sales for me 🙁 Then they continued to make so many changes so often I couldn’t even figure out how to sell anything on there at all. Then, they contacted me, offered me a chance to run my own auction and I had amazing success. I was doing really well hosting my auctions for several months but then I stopped when I had my daughter. I have tried getting back on Tophatter but I haven’t been able to replicate the success I had a few years ago. Many items end up selling way below their worth and it doesn’t end up being worth my time.
You can start the bidding on your items at whatever price you want.
You have the ability to make hundreds of dollars in just a couple hours
User friendly site, easy to get set up
High commission (30% on anything you sell. 0% on unsold items)
People will bid and win an item and then not pay which is very common and frustrating
Your items can end up selling for way too cheap and you have the possibility of losing money.
List high quality items and set the starting bids low, offer free shipping and you will do great. To run your own auction click here
I don’t really have anything good to say about Ebay in terms of selling handmade goods. Funny thing is I actually buy stuff on Ebay all the time, just not handmade. Ebay is great for selling vintage items, antiques, used designer clothing and accessories, household goods and auto parts. The customer base is those seeking extreme bargains and don’t necessarily have an appreciation for handmade goods. The seller fees are also quite high. If you have been selling on Ebay and have had success please share your tips with us!
Amazon launched their handmade site last fall. I was selected to be one of the first retailers to try out their site. So far I have had good success with Amazon. I am still working out how to tweak my listings so that I can get found with their search engines but I am happy with the ease of use of their site and my sales have been consistent.
Pros: Amazon has a huge customer base. Everybody shops on Amazon so it’s a great site to sell on as you are more likely to get found than some of the lesser known handmade selling sites. The fees are fair and they only charge you if an item is sold.
Cons: Amazon wants you to pay them to promote your listings. I haven’t tried this yet but I may try it out and see how that affects my sales.
My tips for success with any online retailer are to make sure you have excellent photography, and that you continuously do your best to improve your listings. It can take a long time to start to make sales with any online business but with a lot of hard work you can be successful.
Where is your favorite place to sell you handmade good? Are there any places I am missing out on? Feel free to link to your shops in the comments!