Standing Out from the Crafting Crowd – Personal Branding and the Importance of Having Your Own Website (Part 1)
The problem with a free account at a Marketplace website like Etsy, is that your product is often lost in a sea of similar designs and products.
As crafting becomes more popular it becomes harder to stand out from the crowd. The hand-made market is becoming more and more saturated. Market-place websites have thousands and thousands of members and the number is growing every day. Not only that, it is very easy for people to import pre-made components wholesale at rediculously low prices.
There are bound to be other crafters who are able to turn out designs similar to yours at a fraction of the cost. It can be very difficult to compete price-wise, especially if you design and make your items from scratch while others are assembling pre-made components.
Furthermore, your account isn’t really free. By the time you pay fees to list an item and in some cases an added commission when an item is sold, it may seem that you are losing more money than you make.
In the month of February:
“$58.3 million of goods (after refunds and cancellations) were sold by our community in February, 6.3% higher than January’s $54.9 million.
That represents 2,869,606 items sold for the month, 2.6% higher than January’s 2,797,149.
2,240,945 new items were listed in the month, 6.0% lower than January’s 2,384,269.
654,501 new members joined the Etsy community in the month, up 1,650, or 0.3%, from January.
1.3 billion page views were recorded on the site in February.”
(Statistics from: Etsy February 2012 ‘Weather Report’ )
So how can you improve your chances of being found? Establish your brand by setting up your own website and ecommerce store.
Advantages of having your own website:
No direct competition within a few clicks of your own listings.
You control your brand-image and how your products are presented.
All the money from your hard work goes to you. No middle man taking a cut.
You own your website – it cannot be shut down or suspended without your knowledge. No matter how much money you have sunk into your business on a Marketplace website, it can be taken down at a moment’s notice.
But wait! Don’t Jump Ship Just Yet!
You have probably already put in a lot of hard work establishing an identity for yourself on your marketplace website.
If you have already managed to build up a following for your hosted marketplace store, now is the time to start directing that traffic towards your own ecommerce website.
Make your existing followers aware of your new website through your social media profiles such as Twitter and Facebook. It will take hard work and perseverance, but eventually you will be able to rely less on your marketplace website. When you are paying fewer fees, you will have more money to put straight back into your own website and the improvement of your product-line.
Build Your Own Brand
Think of your new website as an extension of your existing online identity: a central hub where you can build on your reputation and provide a more solid background for your work.
Look at your budget and decide how much you are able to set aside in order to create a unique brand that reflects you and your business.
You will need to purchase a domain name and find a hosting service for your website. Although it is tempting to go with a free host, in many cases it is better in the long run to find a good paid host that will support a specialised ecommerce CMS (Content Management System). If you are on a tight budget, there are many free open source ecommerce CMS packages available.
How to Encourage Repeat Traffic
You should think of your website as your main hub. Your website should be the place people come to to learn more about you and your brand. Exclusive news and offers should be posted there first, and regular blog posts will encourage visitors to keep coming back to see your latest work.
Encourage further interaction by enabling comments for your blog posts, and using social media plugins.
Be active on Social Media sites
If you have never used social media before, start small and set up an account on Facebook or Twitter. Twitter in particular is a great way to broadcast your message once you have built up a loyal following.
In Part 2, we will look at hosting options and different ecommerce software options in more detail. If there is anything else you would like covered, or you have any questions, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below!
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