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Free websites that could help your craft business

Free Websites that could Help Your Craft Business

Welcome to Episode 24 of the Craft Seller Success podcast.  In this episode I will be discussing some really useful websites, full of content that is of use to craft sellers – and all of which are free!

Whilst you may already know of some of them, I hope there are some new ones for you to check out.

Listen to the Free Websites that could Help Your Craft Business podcast here, download it for later or read the transcript below.

Listen on iTunes

To see the other episodes available – Craft Seller Success Podcast Main Page


This is the Craft Seller Success podcast from Tin Teddy. Episode number twenty-four – Free Websites that could Help Your Craft Business

Welcome to the Craft Seller Success Podcast – helping craft sellers sell their crafts

Hi, I’m Deborah Richardson from Tin Teddy.

Introduction

Sometimes it can seem hard to compete against all the big companies out there. They have the resources to pay for marketing, promotion and research on a scale we can’t consider.

So in this episode of the Craft Seller Success Podcast, I am going to talk about some websites that may be able to help your craft business, and are completely free. Check them out and see if any are useful for your particular niche and business model.

Let me just mention that I am not going to be including social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter here. Whilst these sites generally are free to use, and can indeed be very useful for a craft seller, I am covering them in other podcasts. Episode 8 was an introduction to social media and called “Social Media for Craft Sellers 101” and episode 12 was called “Pinterest for Craft Sellers”. There will be more similar podcasts to come soon.

So let’s look at some free websites that may be of use to you as a craft seller. These are all website that I personally use and recommend.

Handmadeology

This website has a large number of useful articles on many aspects of selling crafts. There is a section dedicated to selling on Etsy and the site owner is a long-standing, successful Etsy seller.
There is a particularly good section on photography which is a subject that I know that many craft sellers would like to know more about.

They even have their own marketplace if you are looking for somewhere to sell your crafts.

Handmadeology.com - lots of useful stuff for craft sellers

Small Business Administration – www.SBA.gov

This is the US Small Business Administration website but is accessible from other countries too. On this site, you will find lots of useful information.

I particularly recommend checking out the Learning Centre area of the site. Here there are numerous, top quality courses that you can take, for free, about all sorts of areas of running your own business.
Obviously, there are some that are US-based, such as those on legal requirements or financing options, but many of the courses are much more suitable for everyone.

I would particularly recommend the courses called:

  • How to Write a Business Plan
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Customer Service

If you are looking to expand or polish up on various business skills this site is definitely worth checking out.

Speed checkers

Website speed is very important for today’s internet user. No one wants to wait around for things to load or work.

If your website is slow, visitors may get fed up with waiting and just go elsewhere, ouch.
Whilst you can not do much about the speed of marketplace sites such as Etsy and Folksy if you have your own standalone website or blog, then keeping it whizzing along is something you may be concerned about.

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I will be doing a dedicated episode of the Podcast on speeding up one’s website later in the year. For now, I will recommend a couple of free websites that you can use to check on your speed and find out what you can do to tweak things.

Google Page Speed Insight

One of many tools available from internet giants, Google. The Page Speed Insights webpage will give you a speed rating for your site for both use on desktop and mobile devices. With more and more people using mobile devices such as tablets and phones to access the internet, having good speed in this area is very important.

The page will suggest some areas where you can speed up your page. I will talk more about these in a later podcast.

The Tin Teddy Blog is nice and speedy, yay

GTMetrix and Pingdom

Both of these free websites will access your website and check its speediness. They will then score various aspects of the site with suggestions on how you can improve those that are not performing well.

Although they both do a very similar task, you may find one or other easier to read.

Pingdom also has an option to test your site as it is when accessed from different locations around the world.

Wordpress Plugins can help improve your website's speed

Etsy Forums

If you sell via Etsy then checking the forums now and then is definitely something I would recommend.
Especially be sure to check the Announcements section as there may be changes or news that affects you.

But even if you sell elsewhere, you may still find some threads in the Etsy forums that are of use to you as a craft seller.

On the Etsy forums, members discuss all aspects of making and selling crafts. There are often questions asked (and answered) about issues such as postal rates and insurance, legal matters, all aspects of branding and marketing craft products, crafting techniques, accounting and much more.
You do not need to be an Etsy member to read the forums, but you will need to create a free account to post replies or ask your own questions.

Folksy

Folksy is a UK-based online selling marketplace, a bit like Etsy. Whilst you may not want to sell on Folksy (and can’t if you are not in the UK), their online help section is very good indeed and may be worth checking out.

Obviously, some of the information is specific to selling on Folksy or selling from the UK. This includes things such as legal requirements for craft sellers but a lot is of use to anyone who is selling crafts online.

If you are a UK-based craft seller, definitely check this free website out.

British marketplace site, Folksy

Shopify

Craft sellers can subscribe to Shopify to get a customizable, easy to use online shop from which to sell their crafts.

But even if you don’t sell via Shopify their huge information section is full of useful stuff.

Click on the “Learn” option on the main menu on their front page. Here you will find articles on a very wide range of subjects that relate to selling crafts – many of which will be applicable wherever you sell.
There is even a tool to help you come up with a name for your craft business.

Oh, and there are also great articles on selling at craft fairs, so please don’t think it is only of use to craft sellers who sell online.

Shopify

Nibbler – Nibbler.skilltide.com

Nibbler is a very handy little website that looks at and analyses your standalone shop or blog.
It gives you a rating for all sorts of aspects of website health, with suggestions for what you can do to improve.

This includes areas such as popularity, marketing, images, incoming links and much, much more.

The data is very clearly laid out and explained in plain English.

If you have a standalone shop or blog, this one is definitely worth checking at least once.

Yoast

Yoast makes a very popular Search Engine Optimization plugin for WordPress websites, which I mentioned in the last podcast.

However, even if you don’t use their plugin, or don’t even use WordPress, you could still benefit from checking out their website now and then.

Yoast has regular articles on all sorts of aspects of Search Engine Optimization and efficient website design.

Anyone who sells crafts online, blogs or uses social media for marketing could benefit from learning more about SEO. And if you are creating your own standalone website then you will find even more that could be of use over on the Yoast site.

You may also be interested in subscribing to their regular newsletter which contains the latest news on SEO and is one of the few emails that I always read every edition that I get!

Yoast SEO

Startups.co.uk

This British site has articles specifically about starting and running a small business.

Again, although this site has, of course, some articles that are specifically for UK sellers, others are going to be useful for any craft seller, anywhere.

There is a lot of stuff here, so definitely work a good poke about, especially if you are just starting your craft business, or planning to do so.

Google Analytics

I have mentioned Google Analytics quite a few times in previous podcasts and will be doing an episode all about it in the near future.

Many craft sellers use the free Google Analytics service to learn more about the people who use and buy from their websites.

You can use it to monitor a wide range of types of site, including hosted marketplace sites such as an Etsy shop, standalone sites like Shopify or Wix based ones, as well as WordPress and other self-hosted sites.

Google Analytics allows you to see so much about your visitors, which can be very handy for better understanding your target market, as well as spotting bottle-necks and problems on your site.

Some of the data you can see includes:

  • How many people visited your site over various time periods
  • How long they stayed
  • Which pages did they visit
  • What they used to access the site, such as a computer, smartphone, tablet etc
  • What size screen they are using
  • How they arrived at your site and where they came from
  • What age group they are in
  • What gender they are
  • The other types of site they visit or shop on
  • And much more..

You can not see individual details though, such as names, addresses or IPs. Those things are, of course, private. You will get general information that can help you better understand your website and business.

Google Analytics can tell you a lot about your business

Grammarly

I mentioned Grammarly in last time’s podcast “Essential WordPress Plugins for your Craft Seller Blog or Shop ” as there is a plugin to use the Grammarly service. But anyone can use it via their website.

You copy your text and paste it into the Grammarly website. It will then check it for spelling and grammatical errors. This is quick, easy to use and very helpful!

I use Grammarly to check my books and articles, blog posts, podcast scripts, product listings and much more.

There are also Grammarly plugins for various browsers, so you can benefit from its checking features when doing all sorts of web-based activities. And there are plugins for popular word processors too.

I use the free version of Grammarly but there is also a paid-for subscription version that runs far more checks and goes into much more detail. If you do a lot of writing then this could well be worth considering.

Hemmingway Editor

I also use the Hemmingway service to check my writing, which is another free website.

Hemmingway is a little different from Grammarly, which is why I use both. It is very good at spotting things like complex sentences that may be hard to read, or an over-use of adverbs or the passive voice.
If you are writing long blog posts, articles for magazines or books then it is like having a free, basic editor on hand.

The Hemmingway Editor

FutureLearn.com

This great website offers a large number of free courses on all sorts of different subjects.

Most are from large universities including Oxford and Cambridge in the UK and Harvard and Yale in the USA. So the quality tends to be very good indeed.

They include video, audio and reading materials. Some have forums where you can chat with other students or the lecturer too.

There are usually many courses on offer that could be of use to the craft seller.

At the time of recording this podcast (February 2019), I see upcoming courses that include Understanding the GDPR, Marketing Analytics, Digital Skills – Mobile and a group about Starting a Business, all beginning in the near future.

I have personally done many Future Learn courses and find them enjoyable, informative and useful.
They also offer a number of paid-for accredited courses too now, which you may want to check out too.

Future Learn - great free courses

YouTube

As this is probably the free website that I use the most for craft info, I had to include it here.
There are so many great tutorials, lectures and info videos on YouTube. I would divide them into four groups.

1 – relating to your niche

Whatever niche you sell crafts in, there are probably some YouTube videos that will be useful for you. There are people who regularly test new products, for example, and this can be very useful if shopping for new tools or supplies. You may also find videos on the latest news in your niche too.
I follow quite a few crafters for ideas for new projects, new techniques and skills and general inspiration.
Whatever craft you are into, there is probably plenty of videos that can help you learn more.

2 – selling crafts

You will be able to find information and tutorials relating to all aspects of selling crafts online. There are lots of great videos about things such as setting up and optimizing an Etsy shop, packaging handcrafted products for sale and selling at craft fairs.
Just type “selling crafts” into YouTube and prepare to spend a few hours watching and taking notes!

3 – selling in general

Again, there are loads of videos on all aspects of retail, many of which will be of use to the craft seller. I have watched great tutorials on Google SEO, time management various aspects of WordPress and website design, getting the most from Social Media and much more.

4 – motivational and entrepreneurship

You may enjoy some of the many videos designed to help and inspire new business owners. Some of these will include useful practical advice, others will be more intended to inspire you to keep going. They may be just what you need when in a bit of a groove.

May I recommend Ted Talks. This is a huge series of talks from all sorts of fascinating people. Everything from top businessmen, expert marketers, celebrities and people who have done all sorts of amazing things. Lots of useful information and entertainment too.

YouTube is great for craft sellers

Tin Teddy Blog

You are on this site right now! On the Tin Teddy Blog, I have lots of articles on different aspects of craft selling, as well as crafty tutorials, reviews and more.

You will also find the full transcripts of all the Craft Seller Success Podcast episodes on the blog too.

Some More Free Website Ideas

Be sure to check out your country or states online resources for small businesses, such as government sites.

Many such websites have lots of use including details on laws that might affect your craft business, benefits and loans you may be eligible for, guidelines to help you and links to many more handy resources.

Websites for business magazines such as Forbes and Entrepreneur often have articles that may be of interest to a craft seller. If you want to keep up to date on new marketing techniques, what niches are doing well and looking for motivation they may have just what you want.
Websites like these are also great if you want to learn more about business jargon, practices and principles.

You may also want to check out your local library’s website. There you may find details of upcoming local business, or craft, courses, craft groups and similar. Many libraries now offer a free ebook lending service. Some also have ecommerce and related courses on the sites, so definitely worth giving your local one a quick check.


Do you have any great free websites that you would recommend craft sellers check out? I would love to hear about them.

Please leave your comments below.

Also, if you have any requests for future podcasts, please let me know In the comments or contact me at deborah@tinteddy.com.


The next episode of the Craft Seller Success podcast, episode 24 is called Promotions, Sales and Multibuys for Craft Sellers. Will having a sale make you more or lose you money? Which sort of promotion is best? How do you get the most of a special offer in your shop? All this and more. it will be out on the 19th of March 2019.

Thanks for listening. Please subscribe to the Craft Seller Success podcast.

Check out www.TinTeddy.com for more Craft Seller resources.

Until next time, bye

The Craft Seller Success Podcast from Tin Teddy.

Featuring Deborah Richardson
Original music by Matthew French


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Free Websites that could Help Your Craft Business – Craft Seller Success Podcast Ep 24
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