What I Wish Someone had Told Me

downloadWhen I first began selling online I jumped in with two feet and assumed that since I knew how to shop online, selling should be no problem. I quickly realized how little I really knew.

Get it right before you try to drive traffic! I know that everyone gets excited and wants to immediately run off to show off their new site, but please make sure that the site works, is easy to navigate, pleasing to the eye and isn’t full of mistakes before you start trying to sell.  There are few things more frustrating to a customer than finding that amazing do-dad that they just have to have only to find that the site’s checkout page doesn’t work.  Rarely will a customer try to track you down, but rather go away and buy that do-dad from someone else.

Be free to list your treasures in more than one place!  Once upon a time, the rule was that you didn’t want duplicate content and therefore never listed in more than one place.  While it is true that search engines see duplicate content as spammy, there is no reason not to list on various venues…you just have to take a few minutes and change up your title and descriptions so that the search engines view it as new content.  The reality is, the more places you are the better chances of a customer running across one of your products in their searches.

PROMOTION-550x251Promotions are not all bad.  I will be honest, the idea of putting handmade on sale is not my favorite, but how about a giveaway of some sort.  Invest one small, but beautiful, piece of artwork in exchange for reposting your page on Facebook, or retweeting, or signing up for your newsletter.  Rather than thinking of this as giving away your hard created product, think of it as investing in advertising without a cash layout.

customer-service.0822.12Customer service will make or break you.  I know that everyone has days that they just don’t want to answer the same question yet again or deal with a difficult customer.  In the end, that customer will talk about you on the web and how you handle the situation could gain you many new customers or turn people away before they even see you work.  When a customer seems bent on getting on your bad side, walk away for a bit and breath.  Come back when you are ready to deal calmly with the situation.  Read your response 2, 3, or 4 times to be sure that what you typed is really what you want to send out.  Remember, what you send out in email or post on the web never goes away so think carefully about what type of comments you want associated with your business.

Check your prices and venue….do they match?  There are tons of different types of selling venues that attract different types of customers.  If you are trying to sell fine artwork on a site that is more geared to the bargain hunter, are you setting yourself up to fail?  Check out the site and other sellers on it.  Are their price points in line with yours?  Don’t jump to lower your own prices, they maybe underselling themselves, but instead maybe look into a different venue where your work, and price point, fits better.

internationalReady to go international?  I’ve been on many forums where sellers acted terrified to sell their work internationally.  The post office is really not such a scary place and they are willing, most of the time, to help.  Before you put your foot down and make a decision, do a bit of research into what it will take and how much it costs to ship internationally.  Even if the price seems insanely high, put it out there anyways.  International customers are used to paying higher fees in shipping and what you see as ridiculous may not be a problem for a customer. Besides, silly as it seems, there is something exciting about seeing your hard work off for a trip to its new owner overseas!

Search yourself!  Pretend to be a customer looking for your art.  What would you search?  Try different search engines and type is a search and see what happens.  Do you come up near the top or 100 pages back?  Are you happy with where you rank?  Try different key words, maybe not so obvious and see where you rank.  If you are not showing up, you may want to rethink your descriptions, titles, and tags to get you found by your market.

 

download (1)Selling online is a work in progress that takes time and effort and a willingness to learn.  We all stumble, but as we learn, our sites will get better and our sales will improve. What do you wish someone had told you when you began selling online????

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Posted in Handmade, Selling Tips

11 Responses to “What I Wish Someone had Told Me”

  • trusk4u says:

    Excellent advice! I know I could have used this info when I started out way back when too!

  • gemlover says:

    A great compilation of things to know and do when opening a shop. You are very right about USPS and international shipping. I filled out the customs form, and paid the postage, and bingo, the package was delivered (Canada, Ireland and Portugal, so far). The best for me, I usually am shipping stones. I can declare “stones” without a problem. They are not considered liquid, flammable, or hazardous. Thanks for a great blog post.

    John

  • Useful tips and suggestions to utilize for an on-line business, thank you Kimberly. You are 100% correct… selling on-line is a work in progress.

    A few years ago, I wrote to a friend of ours in the Forum… “If you build it, they will come.” Was I ever Wrong! You can build your site, shop, page, or board, but if you don’t tell people where you are, they will NEVER find you!

    Marketing, promoting, advertising, publicizing, whatever you want to call it, is one of the most important aspects of running an on-line business and should be a daily commitment. I wish someone had shared this information back in 2006 when I began selling.

    List a product daily, blog about your listing. Share your listing and blog post on social media sites like Facebook, Stumbleupon, Twitter, etc. Be constant and patient… it won’t happen over night. However, if you are willing to put the time and effort into promoting, as you do into the items you create, you will see progress and reap the benefits by generating sales.

    On a personal note, I have found blogging about my fellow artist by promoting their handmade creations, has been awesome. It’s a great way to make life-long friendships and create a following, that will support and assist me for years to come.

  • JimJuris says:

    All of this sounds very simple, but, the reality is that most sellers don’t know how to sell successfully online.

    Most sellers only want to create things. Many of them don’t know anything about photographing their products, writing good product titles and product descriptions, using keywords in their product titles and descriptions that a shopper would use when conducting a search on one of the search engines for products similar to theirs, or how to market their products to their target market.

  • what a great article. but it seems to me that as soon as I learn something about selling on line, the rules change. lol. I still have trouble with tags and descriptions and keywords. :0)
    Debbi
    -yankeeburrow

  • Whow….just found this one….Great Job, Kimberly and lots of tips….for new and old….

  • Thanks Kimberlie.I really had not realized that listing the same item on various sites but not changing its presentation (title? photos? description? tags?) was .considered duplicate content. I have never had much luck with sales but giving a freebie is a good idea. Susan tenthousandthreads

  • Good article, great ideas. ty :)

  • MulchandMore says:

    Good ideas. One of the things I learned was to have a professional looking shop, I needed an avatar and a banner. Also I learned that my pricing (from doing craft shows in my little corner of the world) was off base, so I raised it slightly and have found that it is still within range for the shows I do as well as on-line, letting me be consistent in all venues.
    A giveaway is a good tool. I did one on someone’s blog in the beginning and did have the winner find me at a craft show later to purchase more of the same yarn:)
    Thanks for sharing in your organized fashion.


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