Business Tips — The Everything Guide to Selling Arts & Crafts Online

A series of Business Tips from the book:The Everything Guide to Selling Arts & Crafts Online
The Everything Guide to Selling Arts & Crafts Online: How to sell on Etsy, eBay, your storefront, and everywhere else online
By Kim Solga

…an online business is successful when it fulfills the goals of its owner….For many artists and crafters, true success is simply being free to do our artwork and share it with the world.
— Kim Solga

Your business can be summed up in these two quotes from Kim’s book.

First priority in your business is to fulfill your personal goals — should they be adding some extra income to your bank account, wanting to be your own boss, building an business that employs a large amount of people, or anything in between.

Your second priority is to share your gifts and creativity with the world!

With the internet, it is easier now than ever to make some serious money doing what you love.

Personally, that is EXACTLY what I have done for the past several years with my business!

Stay tuned for more tips for selling your arts and crafts online …

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When you look at the most successful online artists and artisans, you will often discover that their artwork carries some sort of deeper meaning for the customer…Successful artwork tells a story, and the customer is buying the story as much as the handcrafted item.
— Kim Solga

I learned this concept when I managed Wooden Memories, a woodcraft co-op consignment store.  Watching customer looking through the beautifully crafted wooden items, I could see when a piece spoke to their hearts.

Selling your items online make this concept a bit hard to develop and gauge which is why an online “About” page is so important.  This is where you tell your story and develop your relationship with your potential customers.

Another way to tell your story is with hang tags.  If you are not familiar with hang tags, they are little tags, attached to your products, which tells the story behind your creation.  With the wood crafters, they would often describe the wood piece — what type of wood was used and maybe where it was found.

If you find this concept difficult, I suggest you exhibit your items at a craft show where you can interact with your customers to see what they resonate with concerning your work.  From there, you will have a better idea of how to tell your story.

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In the United States, if your business has a physical location in a particular state, you must collect sales tax from customers in that state. You do not need to collect sales tax from customers in states where you do not have a physical presence. Value-added tax (VAT) rules are similar for European Union countries. Canadian provinces use the harmonized sales tax system. .
– Kim Solga

Collecting or not collecting sales tax for online orders is often misunderstood.

Living in the US, I only have direct knowledge about the sales tax laws in the United States — which, simply put:  You charge tax for every order that is shipped to your home state (assuming your state collects sales tax).

It is an easy process to register with your state as a re-seller.  Rather than go into the details here, check out the following article where you can find links to your particular state requirements: How, and Why (and Where) to Get A Sales Tax Number.

Once you register with your state, you are given information as to when and where to report and pay the collected sales tax.

Most online shopping carts have ‘rules’ you can trigger to collect tax at the right amount for your particular state, so all you need to do is pay them at the appropriate time for your state.

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In modern attraction marketing, a business focuses on building trust and offering benefits to exactly the audience most likely to be interested in their products and services. Potential customers are attracted to the business and want to learn more.
— Kim Solga

Sales and marketing have changed significantly since the internet became so popular.  Large and small companies can now compete on equal footing more so now than before!  Because of that, there are new ways to ‘sell’ folks on your products and idea.

I like the name:  Modern Attraction Marketing!  We want to attract customer way before we try to sell them.  I like to think of this as the ‘dating’ phase were we are wooing our target customers to our company and products.

Once we have the trust of our potential customers, we can starting suggestive selling.

I like this method so much better than what I was taught in the 1970s:  Tell them the product is great for them and convince them to buy it!  Not the way I want to be sold.  How about you?

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Online customers were asked what would most positively influence their decision to buy something: 73 percent said free shipping, 62 percent noted sales and discounts, 56 percent said discount coupons were important, while 31 percent noted that a free gift offer would inspire them to make a purchase.
— Kim Solga

Interested stats!  Even though they are a few years old, they are probably relevant to current online sales.  Free shipping in particular is a big incentive to buy online.

On the other hand, there is a current trend to NOT engage in Black Friday promotions as most folks looking for sales that day are going to buy at their local ‘big box store’, and not with online stores.

Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving) is now become more popular for online sales and I have heard that some folks found this to be a better alternative for them.

Personally, we have not participated in any of these types of sales in many years.  Has it affected our sales?  I don’t know, but I do know we don’t want to be lumped in with the cheap products often bought during this frenzy holiday weekend.

What are your thoughts?  Do you do well with big sales during this time frame.

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