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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.
The number of online business tools available for makers can be overwhelming! What website host should you use? What exactly is an “ESP,” and which one is right for you?
Today I’m sharing some of my favorite business tools for my online business. I’ve got you covered, from marketplaces to graphic design, digital storage to URLs.
So sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s dive into the world of online business tools!
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.
In my Get Online, Grow Online course, I show my students how to get started with Shopify. For many reasons, it has been my go-to e-commerce platform for my jewelry shop, bel monili.
It offers a user-friendly interface that’s easy to navigate and customize, even for those with limited technical knowledge. This means that you can create a beautiful online store that truly reflects your brand without the need for coding or design skills.
Shopify offers a variety of features that cater specifically to handmade businesses, such as the ability to track inventory levels and manage product variations. This is essential for ensuring that you never oversell or run out of stock, which can be a major headache for small businesses.
Additionally, Shopify has a large app store that offers a wide range of tools to help you optimize your online store and grow your business.
Shopify is an all-in-one e-commerce solution perfect for handmade businesses looking to expand their online presence and streamline their operations.
Click here to try Shopify for free before you decide to subscribe.
This one is free! Meta (the company formerly known as Facebook) offers a very decent scheduler for Instagram and Facebook posting.
You do need to have a Facebook business account to access it. Once you have that, you can connect it to your business Instagram account.
The Scheduler lets you schedule posts, including Reels, and gives you options to change the size of your photos. It also has an excellent hashtag search option, providing the number of uses for each hashtag.
Scheduling your posts is a great way to use your time wisely. Set aside time once a week to schedule the week’s worth of posts. It will make you feel like a social media wizard!
Email marketing is KING when it comes to your marketing plans. It is the best way to communicate with your Perfect Customers. You can still gather email addresses even if your online shop is not ready. When you are ready, an email service provider (ESP) will make your email marketing a breeze.
Klaviyo is an exceptional ESP that’s perfect for handmade businesses.
It’s user-friendly interface and intuitive automation workflows make creating and sending targeted campaigns easy.
The app also offers powerful segmentation tools to create personalized messages based on customer behavior, purchase history, etc. This is especially important for handmade businesses as you can deliver tailored recommendations and promotions.
Another great feature of Klaviyo is its integration with popular e-commerce platforms like Shopify.
With Klaviyo, you can take your email marketing to the next level and build meaningful relationships with your customers that keep them returning for more. Click here to get started with Klaviyo.
Creating graphics can feel out of your league, but I swear by how easy Canva is to use!
Whether you’re creating social media graphics, product images, or promotional materials, Canva’s intuitive interface and extensive library of templates make it easy to create professional-looking designs in no time.
You can upload your own images and logos to create custom designs that stay on brand.
Best of all, Canva is free to use, with the option to upgrade to a Pro subscription for even more design options and features. You can get a free trial of Canva Pro here!
With Canva, you can create eye-catching designs that help your handmade business stand out from the crowd.
The step that takes a lot of makers from amateur to professional-looking online shops – is their product photos. And you cannot get great photos without doing a little bit of editing.
Lightroom and Photoroom are both excellent photo editing apps that offer unique features. You can use both to upgrade your photos.
I use Photoroom for photos where I need to have a white background. It’s an easy-to-use app perfect for those who want to quickly edit and enhance their product photos without prior photo editing experience. It offers a variety of simple editing tools that are perfect for giving your product photos a professional look.
Lightroom is a powerful editing tool perfect for those who want to take their photo editing to the next level. It offers advanced editing features such as color grading, selective adjustments, and lens corrections.
Both Lightroom and Photoroom are excellent photo editing apps for handmade businesses, as they offer a variety of tools and features that can help you enhance your product photos and create a consistent visual brand.
Managing digital files can quickly get out of hand. Plus, after hours of taking product photos, the last thing you want is to lose them! Enter digital storage.
Dropbox and Google Drive are two of the most popular cloud storage apps available, and both are great options. While they offer similar features, the two have a few key differences.
Dropbox is known for its simple and user-friendly interface. It offers robust security features such as two-factor authentication and encrypted file sharing, making it an excellent option for storing sensitive data. Additionally, Dropbox integrates with a variety of other tools and apps.
Google Drive, on the other hand, is part of the larger Google ecosystem and offers seamless integration with other Google apps like Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Additionally, Google Drive provides generous storage plans and affordable pricing, making it an excellent option for businesses on a budget.
Your domain is your business’ home. You want to purchase a domain (or URL) that matches your business name. You also want to ensure it is registered correctly and will work when needed.
With a reputation for being one of the most reliable and trusted domain registrars on the market, GoDaddy makes it easy for businesses to find and purchase the perfect domain name for their brand.
Additionally, GoDaddy offers a variety of helpful tools and resources to help you manage your domain and website, including 24/7 customer support, easy website-building tools, and a variety of hosting plans to fit any budget.
With GoDaddy, you can rest assured that you’re getting a quality domain name to help your handmade business establish a solid online presence.
This one is for makers who want to use specific phrases or names on their creations. Copyright and trademark are a big conversation in the handmade world. There are way too many makers using copyrighted materials incorrectly.
Just search on Etsy, and you’ll find hundreds of “Disney-inspired” items. The problem is none of those makers have paid Disney for the rights to use the brand name, characters, titles of movies, and even the font.
So three or four times a year, Disney lawyers descend on Etsy and send Cease and Desist letters to these unfortunate sellers. Etsy hits their business with a copyright infringement. And suddenly, they’re either on probation or BANNED from selling.
It goes without saying: if you didn’t create it, you can’t use it. It gets murky when it comes to phrases.
Brands and celebrities have started trademarking certain words and phrases. If you use them on your pieces, they can come after you. I recommend using the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to research any words or phrases you may want to use.
It is free to use and reasonably easy. You enter the word or phrase you’d like to use, then choose “Live” from the “Live or Dead” option. This refers to whether the trademarks returned are active (you only need to see the active ones).
If you get a “hit,” you need to look at the category of products that the trademark belongs to. You can do that by clicking the serial number of the trademark.
Look at the “goods and services” area – you’ll see what products are included in the trademark.
Let’s take a look at the phrase, “Shake it off”:
As you can see, there are several trademarks for this phrase. This means there are several types of products that this phrase has been trademarked. Also, if you do not see a “Reg. number”, the trademark is in process but not live (yet).
Let’s click on the 9th and 10th trademarks and see what it’s registered for (the 3rd one is NSFW!):
So the 9th trademark is for sonic cleaning devices – we’re safe there! But then we look at the 10th trademark:
IC 016. US 002 005 022 023 029 037 038 050. G & S: Lithographs; stationery; stickers; blank journals; [ photographs; ] notebooks; art prints; posters. FIRST USE: 20161211. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20161211
IC 025. US 022 039. G & S: Clothing, namely, [ bandanas, ] shirts, t-shirts, tops for children and adults [, and headwear ]. FIRST USE: 20161124. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20161124
That’s a lot of products that cannot use this phrase unless you are the trademark owner.
While I admit it’s unfair that people can trademark words and phrases, it’s how things are.
There are a LOT of tools out there for you to use, but sometimes it can be too much. I hope my list of must-have tools will help you make some decisions and get your business going!
If you need more help getting started, check out my Online Selling Must-Haves for Makers. My free guide will give you everything you need to know to start your online shop.
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!