A friend had shifted to a new rental and wanted to liven up the space. I asked her how about a large painting of open seas to give that fresh and calm feel. Good idea but where do we get it from. So with steaming mugs of coffee, we went on an online painting hunt.
As both of us were clueless, we did not waste time on inane searches on Google. She searched through Amazon Handmade and I turned to Etsy.
Have you ever heard of the KievFamilyArt? Most probably not and neither did we. But that afternoon we came across some amazing affordable oil paintings on Etsy that fitted our wishlist – large seascape paintings. Our digital adventure didn’t end there. She bought a bunch of unseen handicraft items from Amazon Handmade. We had never heard of these sellers.
The global arts and crafts market is growing and is estimated to hit a whopping USD 60 Bn by 2026. It is not just scented candles and African masks that we are talking about.
Furniture to fixtures, metal, mosaic, ceramic art, music instruments, writing material, and garments – you name it and it is there. The choices are mind-boggling. There are products and offerings that I did not even know existed. And they do not cost a bomb.
Opportunities have been unlocked for thousands of sellers from small towns, unknown places. These sellers lack technological prowess and budget of a large handicraft shop. What they have are unique products and offering that people would love.
Imagine if your product falls in that category, how much revenue and market would you lose unless the products are displayed in front of the right target audience and hordes of prospects.
If you are here then it is safe to presume you have a new “arts or craft” business. So you have the product. What you need is the proper way of promoting it to watch your sales zoom.
New small business owners often make the mistake of rushing through things and moving into too many different directions creating a hodge-podge of it all.
In this post, I will suggest the best way to promote your arts and craft business online. The choice to sell on Etsy, Amazon Handmade, or through your Brand Website is a strategic one and not to be taken lightly. Both have strong potential. But either choice will affect your business differently and the paths to growth won’t be the same.
This post will take one critical decision off your plate and enable you to concentrate on growing your business. By the end of this post, you will have learned enough to make a smart and definitive choice.
Every business goes through a natural cycle of birth, growth, maturity, and decline.
Decisions are toughest at the beginning.
Your choice will depend on these 3 factors.
Your business is at its initial stages. Your #1 priority will be to draw attention to your products. Gain eyeballs. Create the right noise. And do it fast to get off the block.
Having a brand website means you need time to build it on your own with all the bells and whistles or engage a contractor to do it for you.
You have to put in a ton of hard work to attract traffic using SEO while competing with the millions of other websites. And we are not even talking of costs and time to do all this.
Increasing traction is critical at the introduction phase. The more people see your products, the higher the probability of converting the engagement into sales and revenue. You will need to have your online storefront up and running in the quickest timeline.
Revenues will alleviate your primary constraint – budget/ funds.
The budget is constrained at the beginning. You have to decide on deploying the scarce funds on activities that give you the best returns in the short term.
Leeway to invest in frills and fancies at the start of your business is minimal.
A basic brand website will cost enough to affect your budget. The prices can vary based on your choice of features. It will take time to develop it from scratch and make it operational.
Outsourcing it to a contractor will not free up your time. You will be part of the creative process and beyond. It means you have to continuously squander time while managing your core business.
Developing a brand website is not an end in itself. It is just the beginning. Maintaining and continuously updating the website is equally important if it is your digital storefront. Global customers will be visiting it at any time of the day (24 X 7). You cannot afford to have downtime and tech glitches.
Considering the list of constraints, how do you feel about having your brand website?
You are probably a one-person team at the beginning. Almost all of us are. To top it off it is highly unlikely that you have a grasp of digital marketing beyond posting on social media sites. And I am guessing the prospect of you having an idea of the ins and outs of SEO is remote. Don’t worry, you are not alone.
Here is a PROtip for you.
If your business is online (brand website or not), you must get a reasonable hang of SEO. Think of it as the core engine of digital marketing success.
When manpower is limited and the business’ day-to-day operation will be on your shoulders. Managing the digital storefront all on your own will be too much on that overflowing plate.
You have to cherry-pick your battles and that means you should not get involved in maintaining the brand website.
A brand name has a huge marketing appeal only if you are well-known. So brand comes after-sales and not the other way round. Operating a brand website is a cost if you are a novice. Selling your products through online marketing will need a digital storefront but your brand website is not the answer.
Selling your arts and craft products through Etsy, Amazon Handmade compared to a brand website has 5 solid perks. Your blossoming small business needs all the tender love and care to grow. Here’s how.
Time to market is crucial when your #1 priority is racking up sales. The faster you are off the block the better.
A brand website starts with concerns like registering a domain name, choosing the color schemes and fonts. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Your arts and craft shop can be set up on Etsy, Amazon Handmade in a day as soon as you complete the basic formalities. Technology skill needs are minimal. Simply keep your product information, images on hand, and your bank details to connect to your shop.
Once your shop is up and running you can commence marketing through social media channels especially Pinterest and Instagram. And begin selling your products.
Creating and publishing a website means getting off the ground. The real work gets underway after that.
What options do you have?
(a) Learn to do all this on your own
(b) Hire an in-house resource (whom you can control) to do it for you
(c) Hire a contractor to do the tasks for you without any explicit control
Setup your store on Etsy, Amazon Handmade. None of the above issues will be your concern. Prahlad and Hamel had introduced the management concept of core competency. This is probably one of the things that they meant. Focus only on your business, concentrate on what you are good at to make money.
Online business is not as simple as it sounds. Customer privacy, secure payment systems, and compliance with different government privacy laws are complex issues. Non-compliance will attract heavy penalties.
The EU’s GDPR is a stringent law on customer data privacy. If your website fails to comply with it then you will be facing some steep challenges. The sheer size of Etsy or Amazon Handmade gives them the strategic advantage of remaining compliant and guaranteeing the shop owners on the platform remain compliant too. This is one more worry off your plate.
The biggest advantage of the platforms like Etsy over a brand website is their identity and customer recall. Amazon Handmade is a specialized search engine. Customers know them. No one would know you at the beginning.
What is the likelihood of prospects finding you by your name? Negligible! Do you recall my initial example of KievFamilyArt.
Your chances of attracting traffic and engaging with prospects are way higher when your digital shop is on the platform.
There is no Gray’s Anatomy available for online marketers and sellers to know everything to succeed. When you are isolated on your brand website, the quantum of interaction is limited.
Setting up shop on Etsy, Amazon Handmade connects you to a global pool of sellers who can help you with best practices. You have access to an amazing community of sellers each having their unique experience and stories. Listening to their experience can protect you from pitfalls and assist you in making effective decisions for your business.
This is what you should do when your business is trying to gain a foothold.
Setup your digital shop on Etsy, Amazon Handmade.
Promote it through social media channels using clever hashtags.
Focus on sales, volume, and revenue.
When you attain critical mass, you will have the necessary funds to build your brand website. You will have a dedicated customer base following you to your website.
So here we are.
What is it gonna be?
Etsy, Amazon Handmade or Brand Website.
I write about small businesses, health, and life as I see it on Medium, LinkedIn, and my website.
Image Courtesy: Business vector created by mokoland - www.freepik.com