I have been selling crafts online for about 15 years now. I wanted to share with you a few useful tips that I have learnt or discovered over the years. I hope some of them help you with your own online craft selling business.
PS – some of them are just as useful for those of you who sell your crafts in person too!
1 – Buy all supplies online or with a credit card
Wherever possible, buy your supplies and other business expenses online or using your credit card. If you pay with cash and then lose the receipt you will have no way of proving you made the purchase for a tax audit. But, you can print out online receipts, online sales pages or credit card transactions for auditing.
Keep all your printed receipts tidy and in a safe place. Many countries require you to keep all documentation for a certain number of years. Find out how long it is for your country and ensure you are storing past documents safely.
2 – Fill in the ALT Text for pictures on your blog or shop
If you have your own blog or website, it is worth adding ALT text to your pictures.
This has many benefits for those selling crafts online:
- It helps with your SEO, giving search engines more to read.
- It ensures that anyone looking at the page with the pictures turned off can still see what they would have been.
- It helps blind people who are having the page electronically read out to them.
- And it provides a description if someone pins your picture on to Pinterest.
I only recently discovered this and am now working my way through my blog to fill in all the Alt Text!
3 – Install Google Analytics to your shop or site
You can use Google Analytics on your own website and also on many shops like Etsy. From this you will be able to find out SO much more about your visitors and their behaviour. From which links bought people to your site, to the gender of your visitors and how long they stayed… and much more.
Google offers free interactive video courses on their Google Analytics Academy site.
4 – Look at your accounts regularly
I often see posts on forums etc from sellers who only look at their accounts once a year, at tax time. Not only does this make tax time lengthy and stressful, it also means they have no idea of the health of their business for the rest of the year! I have more than once seen a seller get upset because they have just realised they have been trading at a loss for months, ow!
Use some system for recording your ins and outs. There are lots of options, so you can find the one that suits you. Some people like a software or website based electronic system (I personally use Wave Accounting, which is free and easy). Others like to use a spreadsheet such as Microsoft Excel. And some prefer a paper-based system. Search online for advice on small business accounting for lots of suggestions, reviews and tips to help you.
Once you have a way to record the money coming in and out of your business, use it. If you have very few sales then once a month may be fine. Busier shops will be better with once a week or more.
When you keep up to date with your accounts, tax time is very quick and easy! If you do it yourself you will have the numbers you need ready to hand. If you have an accountant do it, you may well save money by giving him organized accounts.
Plus you can spot potential problems quickly. You will also be able to make better decisions about your business if you “know your numbers”.
Check out my post, Ten Tips for Tax Time for more ideas.
5 – Back up your pictures
Portable harddrives, writable CDs/DVDs and cloud based storage are all pretty cheap nowadays (and even free). Back up all your product pictures, branding images etc on a regular basis. Whilst you might think “it’s OK, they are online on my shop!” I have seen cases where a website has gone down, or someone has lost access to their account and has been unable to retrieve their images that way. Plus this takes time and effort – which you could spare yourself if your images are safely backed up.
Make sure to also back up any purchases resources that are important to your business. This could include logos and other branding you have purchased as well as downloaded software or graphical resources.
6 – Keep full size, unedited versions of your product shots
Where possible, keep the full size, unedited versions of your product images. If ever someone uses your shop images without your premission, you can prove you are the original owner as only you will have the unedited image.
If you sell items that rely on your own graphics in any way, try to keep unflattened versions of Photoshop, Illustrator and similar files. This also means you have them handy if you ever want to create another variation of the product at a later date. They can be very large, but the more you can save, the better equipped you are.
7 – Store your finished products and materials properly
Another common problem for online sellers is not being able to find the item they have just sold! Not only does this lose you money when you refund your customer, but it will also upset them and could lead to bad publicity. It really does look unprofessional 🙁
Work out a storage system as early as possible, and stick to it. Invest in boxes, bags or whatever you need to keep your products clean, dry, safe and accessable. Consider whether an indexed numbering system would help you find things quickly. This is practically a must if you sell a wide range of small items such as beads, jewelry or hair bows.
Also store your crafting supplies in a safe manner. Damaged supplies means lost money.
Check out Pinterest for lots of great ideas for storage – both commercial solutions and free DIY ones.
For some ideas on how to refresh your business check out my post – 10 Ways to Improve Your Online Craft Business.