Today artisans can choose to market their products on a growing number of online sites.  These offer different options. Some provide free stores but charge per listing and take a cut on sales. Others charge a small monthly fee but not listing fees or commissions.  So artisans will have to find what is a good fit for them.

Taking the plunge might be a bit daunting for would-be artisans or those who wish to grow their business on other sites. So for those of you looking for a risk-free store and one that has absolutely no fees of any sort, the giveaway this week will be of great interest.

The Free Shop for Life on Handmade Artists' Shop giveaway is once again being generously offered by Andrew and Kimberly Kitchen, the founders of the Handmade Artists' Forum, a friendly community passionate about handmade designs.  They created the Shop and blog as a logical progression from their Forum. Their site's mission statement was covered in the last giveaway showing what their members particularly wanted from an online craft venue.

Usually the shop costs $5 a month with no listing or commission fees with a discount for a year's commitment. But the winner of this giveaway gets a shop there totally free forever!  No overhead costs and the sales are all yours to pocket.

Kimberly and I also came up with some tips for those of you thinking about opening an online store :


Find a Good Fit
Many artisans do well selling at craft shows locally but having an online store is also useful. It's not just the extra sales you could potentially make but the store is your portfolio - pictures of the designs you have to offer and which highlight your particular style.

Some artisans have their own dedicated website. Others choose multi-vendor sites. There are advantages and disadvantages with either type. Your own site will only showcase your work whereas selling as a crowd will involve competition but collectively the shops bring in more traffic - someone shopping for a scarf might well decide to check out the jewelry section.

Some questions you should keep in mind while checking out a potential online venue are :
  • Does the mission statement for the market fit with your personal beliefs?
  • Do you want your items associated with the types sold there?
  • Is your target market going to be shopping there?
  • Does the site offer useful seller tools like custom order options, category listings, payment options and so on?
  • Does the site help you promote?
Take Good Pictures
This is probably the single most important task after designing and making the jewelry and the one where many artisans struggle with.  Without good pictures, potential customers will not be enticed to buy.  Kimberley is absolutely right when she said, "Just take a few minutes to cruise around the many selling venues and you will see what I mean; it won’t take long to be bombarded with any number of out of focus, dark, busy background photos…many of which make it impossible to see what the seller is actually selling!" 

"Make sure that your images show off every glorious detail of your work, front and center and in focus without distractions! Show shots of different angles and staged so that your customer feels like they are holding the piece in their hand. Take a critical look at your pictures from the eye of a potential customer and make sure your treasure is shown in its best light."

Write Proper Descriptions
While good pictures showcase designs, they cannot tell the customer how big or small a piece really is because they are unable to hold the piece in the hands.  What Kimberly says is true, "The only way a customer knows these details is from your description. You must be sure to give measurements, in metric and standard if you plan on selling internationally." 

Why not share the story of how and perhaps why you came up with the design?  Including the inspirational background gives the potential customer a connection to the artisan in a way that is not possible with manufactured goods.  Kimberley adds, "By all means let your personality and passion for your work shine through when you are writing descriptions, but don’t forget to include the meaningful information  a customer needs to make a buying decision. Read your descriptions from a customer’s perspective so he or she is not left with more questions than answers."

If you'd like to try your luck for totally free shop for life, all you have to do is make a comment below.

Subscribers need to click on the post title to come to my actual blog. Scroll down and enter your comment. Pick Name/URL. If you don't have a store or blog, leave the URL blank

Extra entries if you become or are a blog subscriber or follower etc . If you also do shout outs about this giveaway, those will count as additional entries too! Please say so in the comments.

This international giveaway ends in a week's time at 6 pm EST Monday, April 2, 2012. I will pick a winner randomly and announce the results as soon as possible after. So be sure to leave a contact email if you don't have an online link or make sure you come back and check! Good luck!

Before You Go:
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips