Sometimes the online world can feel like a faceless abyss and at times I do reminisce with fondness about days gone by when everything had more of a direct face-to-face feel. However, this world is also the gateway to amazing opportunities when wanting – and needing – to get your crafts on show in front of a greater audience. When we set up our family micro business ~ Little Loquat ~ I knew immediately that the easiest way to give customers all over the world the opportunity to access our creations, was through an off-the-shelf selling platform.
It can be argued that within such selling platforms you are simply lost amongst the masses and it’s true that there are other ways to set up an online shop all of your own, through Wordpress for example. But, with a ready-to-go shop, not only do you need only very basic technical abilities to create a web presence, but you also have a platform that – used right and given time – I think, can be the ideal way to grow your micro-enterprise. For our business we chose Etsy and although I am still finding my feet, a few months in and it’s slowly starting to grow because not only do I have a ‘shop’ to instantly direct friends, family, craft show attendees and anyone else who I manage to give our card to, but within Etsy itself there is an amazing network of forums and also teams, within which you have the opportunity to grow your views and thus, sales, by posting new creations for review and asking for feedback on your shop. There are also Facebook groups and blogs specifically dedicated to promoting Etsy sellers where you can share your products and build following. For me, the ease of using this platform is worth the fees for listing an item (16p) as I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to take payments and there is no need for invoicing software, instead I simply link a Paypal account and follow the steps within Etsy once an order has been placed. Other online selling platforms you might consider are Folksy and AllbyMama, which are both UK-based companies and I myself am considering one of these in addition to our Etsy presence come the New Year.
The things I have learned in my short time using an online selling platform is that photography really matters – many people buy based on image alone so it needs to look appealing. I would recommend spending some time exploring other seller’s shops to seek inspiration and then don’t be afraid to play around with your own creativity. I don’t have a fancy camera, but when I look at my first photographs (to a background of a cream pillowcase?!) compared to now, where I play with props (leaves and flowers) and choose different backdrops (trees, grass, vegetable gardens) to help highlight my products better, I know our shop has already come a long way in a short time. I am also gaining valuable knowledge as I go, like the more items you have in your shop, the more views you’re likely to get and the more you upload new items, the more often you’ll show up at the top of searches.
My personal goal for 2017 is to get a lot more things made, photographed and online, but I’m not pushing too hard. Already we have received orders from all across the world and it’s always exciting to think of a child in Canada playing with one of our natural toys or a woman in Australia receiving one of our necklace and earring jewellery sets as a Christmas gift… so for now we’re happy with that and hope only for our business to continue to grow organically next year.
Alice Griffin currently lives between a free-ranging campervan and an olive grove in Portugal and is working hard to create an authentic small business she can run from anywhere. Visit her at: www.littleloquat.com