Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The joys of online marketing!

As you may have guessed from my recent opening of a Folksy shop (the British version of Etsy apparently), I've recently begun to wonder if perhaps I wouldn't sell more miniatures simply by having more of an internet presence. You get out what you put in when it comes to online selling, but apart from the miniature making part (or the fun part as I call it) I can't honestly say I put a whole lot in. So what to do, what to do? It's a big, wide, online world out there but I've got limited resources, and even more limited time. I can't simply hit everything and hope something sticks or I'll forever be spinning plates and never have time to make a new miniature ever again!

So for my own benefit - and perhaps yours if you're trying to get your head round all this stuff too -  here is a list of the online resources I currently use, followed by some potentials.


Etsy - My main online selling venue. This is where I first started and although I feel like an extremely small fish in a very large ocean, I do get slow if regular sales. The monthly bill is affordable as I do not regularly re-list, but views seem slow and there is a lot of stuff on there to get hidden behind.

This blog - I like to use this blog for sharing my latest creations, drooling over other people's offerings, or simply rambling about life. I've read on various business advice blogs that I should use every opportunity to sell my goods, and that means listing the price and availability etc. each and every time, even if it's just on my blog. I'm not so sure. I do link back to my Etsy shop whenever I post about something that's also for sale, but I appreciate a lot of people simply read blogs for enjoyment or curiousity. If you really wanted to buy something, it's one click away and the price is clear enough in my shop. Does anyone else use their blog as a means to sell, or is it just a way of sharing and updating? I prefer it as the latter.

Folksy - One week old and two sales done! While I'm pleasantly surprised by this immediate small success, it's far too early to call whether or not this is the selling venue for me. I sold a couple of items that had been sat in my Etsy shop for months. Yet I can't help thinking I'm paying twice for the same service when I pay that listing insertion fee. It is a little more expensive to list and sell products on Folksy than on Etsy, but not prohibitively so. It's a much smaller site (you have to be UK based to sell there) so it's easier to find me, however it doesn't get as much traffic as Etsy, and the categories for dollhouse miniatures are very basic and don't differentiate between toys and collectibles.

Flickr - This is not a selling venue (in fact it's expressly forbidden!) however it's a great way to share photos of your work without being limited to a certain number. I think there is an upper limit on the basic account, but it's not one I'm likely to reach! You can join related groups to get your miniatures seen by people who might actually be interested and for a basic account it is free. I really should make more use of this, as although I'm on Flickr, there is more stuff absent than not.

Facebook - I have a Facebook page for Little Time Wasters, but I mainly registered it simply so that nobody else could. I don't actually understand how it works, what it's for, and how to make any use of it. It's such a global site, I feel like I must be missing a trick here!


Sites I do not use, but perhaps should think about.



Artfire - Another handmade, online selling venue. I did have an Artfire shop for a little while, but I couldn't make it add up. Rather than pay per listing/sale (as with Etsy and Folksy) you have to pay a set monthly fee. This is great if you have lots of listings and lots of sales, as there is no commission to be paid upon sale and your bill never goes up. But I never sold enough to cover the cost of running it. I even made it to the front page as a featured artisan, and this triggered not a single sale. I like to think it's not my product, since they had no trouble selling on Etsy at that very time. Perhaps Artfire just doesn't get enough traffic, or does not specialise enough in dollhouse miniatures to work for a crafter like me. Whatever the reason, I cut my losses and pulled the plug after a year. If Artfire's profile were to increase, I would consider re-opening as the actual site was a breeze to use.
 
CDHM (Custom Dolls, Houses and Miniatures) - This site is specially dedicated to miniaturists, so I would only be focusing on the dollhouse side of things on here. You can pay a subscription for varying amounts of promotion, and it enables collectors to contact miniaturists for custom pieces, as well letting miniaturists link to their own selling venue. I need to do more research into this to see whether or not it is something worthwhile for me. I don't often handle custom pieces, but perhaps it's something I could explore. As a miniature enthusiast, I know I can spend hours looking at all the eye candy CDHM and its members have to offer, so perhaps it could bring some of that enthusiasm my way.

My very own online shop - This is something I have been toying with for a while. Rather than use a host service such as Etsy or Folksy, why not start my own online shop, with my own layout and colour scheme as I see fit, complete with my own web address? There would be fees for the website itself, but no additional fees each time I sell. And I would have total stylistic control. I'm a little worried my technical abilities may let me down, however sites like www.bigcartel.com make it pretty straight forward. Also, two out of three of my siblings have degrees in computer magic, so they ought to be able to write me some pretty code if asked nicely (and fed enough cake). My biggest question is if I made my own site, would anyone ever come and look at it? This would mean some serious studying of SEO and all that jazz. Eek!

Craft Juice - This is free to register to and allows handmade artisans to promote their wares via Craft Juice's newsletters, twitter feed and facebook page. In order to make it on to their list, your item must receive a certain number of votes. I'm not sure how this works, but since it's free, I may as well give it a go.

If all else fails, I could start doing craft fairs, but then I'd have to meet people IN REAL LIFE, and I don't know if the world is quite ready for that yet. You've been warned.

Do you have any other online venues you would recommend, or do you know anything about the ones mentioned that I should be aware of? Thanks for your help!

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