Are you counting solely on the popular internet craft markets to bring in all your revenue? If so, you should consider additional options. The handmade mall-type sites are wonderful ways to be seen but your work can get lost in the crowd so don’t count on those alone.
While I always recommend getting out in the real world now and then for your crafts to be seen in person, there are other methods for selling online as well that will help you stand out from the crowd.
One of the best ways to market your craft is to partner with online vendors who are selling items to the same target audience. For example, if I made hair accessories for little girls, I would seek out sites that sell children’s clothing, dance wear, bridal wear, and maybe partner with someone who hand paints children’s shoes. Rather than pay for advertising on these sites, set up a meeting with several complimentary vendors. (This can be a virtual conference since you are likely in different geographical areas. ) Either agree to all trade ad space on one another’s sites or better yet, agree to blog about the others’ products, show images and include links. You might even try to coordinate styles or colors with what the other vendors are showing and do sort a Amazon style cross market. (“People who ordered this also like this”).
You can also each do “my favorite things” list where you feature one another’s products. Don’t discount sites that are strictly magazine/article oriented rather than actual e-commerce sties. Find a publication that appeals to your ideal client and ask them if they’d like to do a “recommend exchange”. I wouldn’t simply exchange links-most people don’t even bother checking out the “links” on other people’s sites. Rather, submit an article to the other site with photos and a link to your site. that way, if your JV partner doesn’t have time to write a post about your products, they have something to post that’s ready to go. If they do agree to write a post, they’ll not have to go research facts about your business.
Assuming you connect with three other vendors selling complimentary products and you each showcase one another’s lines on your sites, you will each have expanded your list up to four times.
On a recent family visit, my sister and I discovered a photo of the two of us at 2 and 5 under the Christmas tree surrounded by newly unwrapped toys. Each of us held a special treasure in the photo. I held a cardboard paper towel roll up to my eye like a telescope and she posed adorned in recycled ribbons and bows from the gifts. This was the fifties, long before recycling was cool. I’d like to claim that we were just natural trendsetters, but I confess that in the early eighties when my son was little, our home was filled with molded plastic houses, cars and slides. We gave little thought to how these eventually ended up in the landfills.
Somewhere between that magical Christmas morning of recycling and my desire to give my son plenty of opportunity for creative play, I’d forgotten all the rainy days my friends and I spent cutting windows and doors into cardboard refrigerator boxes and stacking television cartons to make apartments houses. Or the way we collected old thread spools, hammering nails around the top to make our own little knitting devices. I’d forgotten that imagination is most active when the raw materials are available without instructions for the finished product.
It’s exciting to see the hot trend for this holiday season is eco-friendly toys. I’ve found a few that are both environmentally and socially responsible. Sprig Toys in Colorado makes eco-friendly “Story Builders” that inspire creative play and strong values. Mary Meyer’ “Fuzz that Was” stuffed toy pets are made out of old recycled water bottles. The Green Toy Company, based in California makes toy cookware, gardening tools, sand toys and trucks (including a Recycling Truck) out of recycled milk bottles.
While it seems early to be thinking about the holidays, if you are going to give responsibly, you need time to plan ahead. The marketplace is abundant with products that have had another life in a different form. If, however, you are crafty, now’s the time to start looking around for what products you tend to throw away and how you can upcycle those into fabulous gifts.
Do you have ideas for eco-friendly gift projects you’ve made or plan to make that you’d like to share with us? If you have found an artist or product line that uses recycled materials please post your recommendation here-we’d love to spread the word and promote your projects or treasured finds.