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Hi! I’m Lucy. Chardonnay and vintage finds lover, founder of the handmade jewelry brand bel monili *and* your new guide to making your handmade business WORK online.
For most artists and craftspeople, there comes a time when a friend or family member will say to you, “you should sell this!” Maybe you decided to give a local art or craft show a shot, and got a few sales (or maybe a lot!). And now you’re wondering, can you sell your handmade items online?
Moving your crafted items into an online space opens the doors wide open to the world – literally! Which means two things:
So before you hang your virtual shop sign, let’s do some research to see if your handmade items will sell online.
Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
The process of buying is chock-full of psychological pathways. There are many reasons why someone decides to spend their hard-earned money on a product or service.
When we look at handmade products, there are several reasons why someone would purchase one:
Think about how your product satisfies one of these needs or answers the question, “does it solve a problem or satisfy a passion?” If you can’t answer this question with a yes, then you may need to rethink your creation.
Fads come and go very quickly, and it’s highly unlikely that you can sustain a profitable business on a fad product.
Trends can be profitable if you catch them at the right time, but like fads – they don’t last forever. If you can modify your product to keep up with trends, then it may be a good choice.
For example, color, pattern and texture trends are always changing, so if you create handmade clothes and can incorporate these trends as they occur, then your products will always stay up to date and in demand.
Evergreen products are items that have a steady demand no matter what. Personalized jewelry is a good example of an evergreen item.
The best way to search for fads, trends and evergreen products is through Google Trends.
A fad might look like this – fidget spinners had their day in the sun for a short time:
A trend could be like a popular jewelry brand, which was trending for a while but has started to lose interest over the past couple of years:
And then an evergreen product could be a beaded bracelet, which has a pretty even search volume over the past five years:
If you’ve figured out who your Perfect Customer is, then you can find Facebook groups, discussion boards and blogs that they may be hanging out on.
For example, if you make vinyl decorated products that cater to moms, maybe your Perfect Customer has the following profile:
Married with children
25 – 40 years old
PTO Mom / Sports Mom / Class Mom
There are plenty of mom groups on Facebook that you could join, as well as blogs that cater to these types of moms.
Your goal is to read and listen – not to sell! Don’t post about your products or try to sell them to anyone, just read and listen to what they are saying.
Look for posts talking about the types of products you want to sell. See what they say about them. If you don’t see any discussions about your product types, then it may not be in demand.
If you find blog posts about your idea, then that’s a good indicator that there is a demand for it. Bloggers research keywords carefully, as they want to drive traffic to their site, so if they’re writing about something, it usually means they found an interest in it through their research.
Go onto Etsy and Amazon Handmade and see if there is anyone else in your niche. If you find few to none, then your product may not be popular and you’ll be taking a chance by trying to sell it.
If there are a TON of other sellers, then you’ll need to figure out a way to stand out from the crowd.
How do you know if someone is actually making money selling the item? Just because someone has a nice website or photos doesn’t mean their products are actually selling.
A good way to tell is to look at the reviews they’ve received for that item. Do they have just a few or a lot? 100’s of reviews on that particular product means it is most likely selling well. If there are no reviews on that product then it’s probably not selling for them.
If you already sell your handmade items online, now’s the time to dig into your numbers. Go to your analytics and look at which product pages are getting the most views.
Which posts on social media get the most engagement from your followers?
Do you already have handmade items that are selling? Which ones are selling the most?
All these numbers give you insight into what your customers are already into. It pays to take a look at what is already selling well and seeing if you can create another version of that item.
You may want to make a small batch or prototype of the new product you’re thinking of making, and seeing how it does. If you only make a few you will not be investing too much in materials, you can figure out the shipping and packaging, and see how your customers respond.
Taking the time to research a new handmade item before you try to sell it will save you hours of work and hundreds of dollars in materials. Your research will help you hone in on your audience and what they want. Not only will this information help you decide what to make, but it can also assist with your photos, titles and descriptions, so that you can speak directly to the people who are going to want your products the most.
If you’re ready to dive into building your handmade business online, take a look at my Craft Business Kickstarter! With the Craft Business Kickstarter, you no longer have to worry about not knowing where to start or what to do to get your business created the right way.
After running bel monili (my handmade jewelry business) for 10 years, I launched Bloom in 2019 to create a community where handmade business owners could learn, grow, and support each other in this wild venture of small business ownership. Welcome to Bloom!