The Handcrafter / Artist struggle

Where sell handmade items locally and easily is the holy grail for artisans.  I love creating with my hands.  I love that I lose all sense of time and my mind is not thinking of the chores I need to do – I get into the “flow”.  But now, after I have completed the really cool piece….I’d love someone to buy it.  I’d love someone to buy it for a fair price and appreciate that someone (me) created it with my hands.  

The road of the artisan today is tough. Yes, it’s about creating your craft but it is also running a business, including marketing and selling your crafts. The difficulty is marketing and selling can be a full time job itself, leaving little time for creating.  

Who exactly is a handcrafter – an artisan: A skilled craft worker, making functional and decorative object.  Maybe professional taught or self taught.  You may have a full time job during the day, are retired, do this part time, take care of family…if you are creating with your hands, you are an artisan.

If you are a maker, artist or handcrafter that is overwhelmed with the selling aspect of your business, this list will give the low down and high up on a variety of selling options. See what works for you. 

Own Website - example: Shopify, WordPress, Shopify alternatives

seller shopify website handmade own website

Yes, sellers get frustrated with the above market sites, and figure they can just set up a Shopify store (or other personal online site)….advertised as easy alternative to ETSY.  Yes, you can do it!  But, beware of what’s now required on your end.  Shopify does have tools – you have to pay a monthly fee to use more and more of these tools.  Also, none of these sites sell themselves.  Think of a beautiful house 10 miles from any road….yes, it is the most wonderful house and if you ever got there, you might (buy from it).  But if there are no roads (ie- no traffic, no links, no Google SEO to get to the house – it sits unused.  

If you enjoy tech and are willing to build hosting, site, needed extras, e-commerce abilities, SEO – then this is a great alternative.  If you are not sure what you are getting into – just do real research into expense and time required to get your own domain, e-commerce site, and “build the roads to search traffic”.

Website stuff can be hard and time consuming.  Contact us for website help and SEO strategies to get found in Search. 

PROs

  • You control items
  • You get whole price (after expenses)

CONs

  • Expensive setup / hosting
  • Hire professional or yourself set up site
  • You do marketing (or pay for it)
  • Need SEO or it’s a random site no one can find
  • Need enough inventory to set up a shop

Brick and mortar shop or gallery

brick and mortar shop sell handcraft

It’s always exciting saying your work is at the “local gallery”.  And – Good for you!!  That shows you create good work.

Brick & mortar either charge a percentage, a percentage + monthly fee or a monthly fee (rental of space).

This works if you want to sell handmade items locally.
But, is it the best place to sell your work and get the best profit for you?
Realize the brick & mortar has to mark up your work quite a bit – so you may be pricing your work higher than you want for your customers or you are taking it out from your profits – and making less overall.

PROs

  • You pay them to market & sell (this is their commission / fees)
  • Visibility (if they market well)
  • They handle taxes

CONs

  • They charge 40-50% commission and sometimes additional monthly fees – one of the most expensive options for selling.
  • Usually not online
  • Possible theft and breakage
  • They control placement
  • You have to fulfill a quantity of inventory.
  • They dictate what they want you to create.
  • You have to bring inventory in and out based on their wants.
  • If they do not do their job of marketing & selling- 
    • You still pay their fee.
    • Your work does not move.
  1.  

Art Fairs

art fairs alternative selling

Art fairs are both exciting and exhausting.  Hope for good weather and a good location.  It’s fun and informative getting customer reactions to your ware. It’s a great community of other artisans. I love them – that’s why I like this marketplace as it’s like an online art fair but goes all year from the comfort of your studio.  If you are looking for a list of art fairs with application details – ZAPP is a great resource.

PROs

  • Face to face with buyers
  • After fees/expenses – you keep revenue

CONs

  • Short time period: 1 to 3 days – that’s not a year 
  • Usually not online
  • Weather – if bad-no one shows but you have to stay
  • Long days on your feet
  • Have to create enough inventory for a show – but how much?
  • Have to transport your inventory
  • Breakage & theft
  • You handle taxes
  • Need tax ID for each state
  • Booth Fees can be hundreds of dollars
  • Expenses of booth, layouts, displays
  • Possible travels expenses
  • If they do not do their job of marketing& selling- 
    • You still pay their fee.
    • Your work does not move.

ETSY

etsy alternative selling handmade

ETSY has been around for awhile.  There are many ETSY alternatives. But now they are a publicly traded company, needing to satisfy stockholders and not necessarily vendors.  Many ETSY sellers have become disillusioned with off-shore drop ship sellers – buying cheap goods and “customizing” by adding a quick change.  This is not in the realm of original art fair quality and rules.  There are sellers that do well here, but realize, they do pay ads, have a social following and have figured how to niche in their market.

PROs

  • Easy set up
  • You control inventory-can do small size
  • You control store
  • 6.5%- 15% percentage + listing fees (offsite ads higher %)
  • ETSY Plus is $10/month

CONs

  • ETSY sells ETSY – not you
    2021 about 7.5 million sellers sold thru ETSY
  • Many items not handmade anymore
    Drop shippers / off shore – cheaper quality, lower regulations, lower prices
    Difficult to sell when 100s of competitors promoted alongside your products
  • See transaction example below (25% taken after fees and %)
  • ETSY extra fees and commissions add up
    Offsite ads (triggers the 15%)
  • Shipping/wrapping/custom fees included in ETSY percentage
  • ETSY ads cost
  • Payment processing cost 3%+$.25

Facebook Marketplace
/ Craigs list

facebook marketplace craigslist selling for handmade

Facebook marketplace and Craigs list are possible selling outlets.  Yes, it is easy to set up and you get the whole price.  The issue with these sites, depending on what you are selling, it tends to be an everything goes marketplace.  Meaning there are legit and scammy clientele on the site with no over site.  The products tend to be lower quality and lower price.  Most people will not buy expensive “handmade” items, because they don’t know and trust you and what you are selling.

PROs

  • Easy set up
  • You control items
  • You get whole price

CONs

  • Lower perceived value market
  • Lot’s of fraud on site
  • Not a handmade market – it’s a social sharing site

Do nothing

handmade as hobby instead of business

Yep, this can all get frustrating.  Do you want to just create your art? 

Concentrate on your craft and maybe someone will see you on the street and want to buy from you…sorry, that does not happen.  If this is where you are – it is totally fine!  It’s an amazing hobby.  But, if you want a business, if you want to generate some extra money…or a lot of money – you need to get outside of yourself.  Which is actually a very cool way to self growth.  You may become part of a community, learn new different skills – 

You decide – times change – you can always change your mind.

PROs

  • You create whatever you want
  • No hassles

CONs

  • Gets expensive if can’t bring in some money
  • No one else can see your talent and share in your story

* New Alternative *
Local Online Marketplace

handmade marketplace online art fair

I’m techie and artistic.  I’m an engineer by trade and owned a fused glass/metal jewelry teaching studio for 6 years and am the web-master for our family business.  

I thought, there should be a better way to sell handmade items easily.  So I created a better selling platform from incorporating the good points of systems and minimizing the drawbacks. 

Artisan Direct Connect is for ONLY handcrafted artisans and buyers in the continental USA.  I am sustainably minded and don’t see the point of shipping something 1/2 around the world when a talented craftsperson is doing it right in your community and country.

By utilizing the power of a marketplace, you have the benefit of creating your own “shop” within the market website.  You create your shop name, story, prices, product information.  We deal with the e-commerce, taxes, website build and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  You have a person to contact with any questions or comments.  We are a community of artisans –  dealing with similar market issues.  

PROs

  • Online market
  • Synergy of many artists to drive more buyers
  • E-commerce (payment ready) secure website
  • Share your story – differentiate yourself and your product
  • No listing fee
  • We handle taxes
  • You create your shop storefront
  • Easy vendor dashboard
  • You are not competing with offshore pricing and drop shipping of knockoffs
  • Site is SEO optimized
  • Person available for questions
  • Focus on your craft and have fun selling quality handmade items

CONs

You tell me

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