Setting up a store


#1

So I’ve accumulated ideas and techniques for a bunch of custom “things” I can make. I’m not limited to the laser - I’m a “well rounded” maker who welds, turns, programs, and solders - but I will say the GF seems to be the least-effort way to cranking out some amazing income-generating products. They would be customized, based on location and family, so it’s not like I’m looking for global customers…

I’m leaning towards starting out with a simple facebook account. Most of the people in my “target demographic” would have accounts. There are many community-focused groups that would likely share my wares.

Thoughts, comments, opinions?


#2

My daughter has just switched from exhibiting her paintings in galleries, to setting up an Etsy store front, like a lot of her friends. This gives her the possibility of offering a wide range of different crafts/arts that she has practised over the years.
I shall follow suit when the time comes.
John :upside_down_face:
EDIT
Added this link for example - not biased you understand !


#3

If you are not particularly worried about discoverability (new, random stranger customers finding you), there are lots of options for the shop part. If you are doing only local, in person delivery, you could probably just put up a collection of images on any of the photo sharing services.

Payment services like PayPal and Square have systems you can use for free, apart from their normal share of the payments.

Etsy is a big player at the level you are describing, though they recently pissed off a lot of sellers with fee increases and, changes in billing collection.

Since my day gig provides assorted hosting services and my incremental costs for them are low, I have a couple of online shops that make use of WooCommerce on WordPress. They work well but, don’t benefit from the discoverability of stuff like Etsy (which I am thinking about trying specifically for that). I can make more suggestions about specific plugins and configurations if you want to go this route.

FWIW …


#4

Part of my work involves social media, so here’s my 2-cents…

FB is definitely an easy way to get sales, communicate with customers, etc. The flaw is that it’s “owned” by FB, so if they cancel your account, or decide to not show your posts to customers, etc., you’ve lost your community. You’re at the whims of their algorithms.

Running your own page with your own email list gives you a lot more control, but is more work. It’s even harder to change to this option after the fact.

Etsy (and Shopify and the like) gives you something in the middle. You’re still at their whim, but the intent is to support shops, so you have some assurance that they aren’t going to blow things up.

TLDR: Consider your long game. If you just want to dabble, FB is fine. If you can see your business taking off, you might want to try a more permanent solution where, at the very least, you can collect email addresses for your customers with their permission for you to email them.


#5

I love her art! Everybody needs a bagpipe playing octopus. Okay, sorry for the hijack, carry on.


#6

(…shhh… Best looking vulture I’ve seen.:sunglasses:)


#7

Just my opinion/experience with my leather goods (mostly):
I started with my own website, had some sales (US & international), but not long after Etsy started, I also got on shop there (they have the inventory management, payment processing & discount rate for shipping–so even 3.5% to 5% fee is a bargain to pay for what they offer vs. my doing it myself). Lots more international exposure & sales. But it is a huge marketplace now, so it can be hard to be found, but it’s an easy way to start up–you really pay when you sell something, and fees are small compared to most other marketplaces/sites. (Always time or money–how much you want to do yourself & costs to do that, vs. marketplaces).

I also consign items at a few shops (40-50% commission fees typical), but most of my sales are thru doing shows (where I do have a lot of laser etched items–more than I have in my Etsy shop–and have even met another GF owner–and have met other vendors w/ great laser cut/etched work (mix of systems there).

I started a Facebook page for my main business name, and even a shop. I get what I put into it–which isn’t much. I really don’t like FB much at all personally, so for my business I just really use it for making & adding contacts & learning about new shows & such.

But lots of folks do well on FB–and if nothing else, a great way to get exposure. But Instagram is also a great tool to connect to potential buyers–but key is getting the followers & traffic.

Since until recently I was working full time & travelling a lot, my business has grown mostly on its own–though I know I need to invest time now in marketing & really expanding it.

But if you really plan to sell, you should get a business license with your city & state and learn the rules for collecting & filing any sales tax & business taxes. Advantage is you can get wholesale accounts & save a lot on many supplies, and then the Schd C and fed tax filing… (and most shows require you to have a business license to apply).

Good luck with your venture!


#8

I am far far away from being alone in NOT having a FB account. Nor do I tweet.
Reason came about organically and I never saw a reason to correct it.
Probably a huge buyer base totally missed with only FB.

I would imagine the best exposure is Etsy or Pinterest, since that is where people go window shopping for stuff, but they also have good and bad points.
I am getting all the work I desire just by word of mouth even though I am not really even trying to sell things. Large bonus there is no shipping costs, since it is all face to face.

If I really decided to have a J.O.B. again, I would go the Etsy route. When you want to take a break -> just toggle all to Out Of Stock and go have a beer.

Good luck in however you decide to generate sales.


#9

eh, when I look at my metrics from etsy most of my visits are from my facebook posts or when I post my designs for free on reddit. Very few visits to my shop from just an etsy search and even less sales


#10

I use Shopify for my primary site; it’s in no way like Etsy.

Etsy is a marketplace (like Facebook, Amazon, and many others). You don’t own your customers through these channels and you are in violation of TOS if you try to contact them outside of the sales channel, or conduct a sale outside of the channel.

Shopify is close to a turnkey ecommerce solution (if one wants it to be). It provides the backend and a customizable frontend, and offers merchant processing - in a much friendlier way than trying to put it all together yourself. Your domain is hosted through their servers. It’s not a marketplace so much though (they might have a search function on their main website?). You have to drive your own traffic. Your customers are your customers to do what you want with.

As far as being shutdown, the only thing I could see there is a termination of merchant processing if you had too many chargebacks (like any processor), or selling something against the TOS (like almost any web host that will suspend an acct)


#11

Thanks for sharing your experience and clarifying. I was really just saying that there are options that are in between, but you’re right that they aren’t the same either.


#12

A ton of options. It can get really confusing.

I have very little luck with Etsy but I don’t lose money at it.

I do really well with an Amazon Handmade program I was invited into.

I have a lot of repeat buyers who buy directly from me (website) after buying one on Amazon. Or that buy from me after someone sent the amazon purchase as a gift (I have my website on the packaging and also on literature I include in the boxes)

I also get a lot of buyers from people who picked a puzzle up through a retail location and then come to me directly for more puzzles.

The money isn’t great on wholesaling (rather sell direct of course lol) but the wholesaling gets product in front of a lot of eyeballs.


#13

Or the “vacation mode” :wink: (something Etsy does, but have heard Amazon Handmade requires 24/7 response/support from sellers–no time off there!).


#14

Thanks to everyone!

Specifically to Brokendrum, however - my thoughts on FB are in no way meant to say I support their business model. I see it as a tool and I know how I might use it to my advantage. The key point is my “target market” for some of the products I have in mind are typically in “community” groups on there.

I resisted the social media wave for years but (again) came to realize I can leverage it for my own benefit, and do continually.


#15

Beware, though…


#16

I guess no FB can be called a resistance.

I am usually pretty good at spotting fads. Fads can be a good thing if in at the beginning, but can fizzle and leave you hanging.

Like the CB fad. Was a time everyone and granny wanted a CB. I installed many and even helped with some really illegal antenna//power setups. Why they wanted to talk to everyone this side of the Mississippi was a mystery, but I saw it as a challenge.

Even so, I had one in the shop but never kept one in my vehicle. I saw it as the fad that it became.

Got into computers in the late 70’s, and knew right off no fad there. Where I was wrong was when I figured in ten years everyone will have one. It happened in five or less. (swoop).

So when FB (well the origin – blogs) came out, I said meh. Who in the world cares if you fed your cat today, much less what you fed it.

Figured it for another fad. And its twin – texting.

WHO is going to text someone when it is easier and faster to just call them.

WRONG

Way off the mark on both. Now they are well into generational tiers and more useful than the clunky origins. Texting actually has usage past cheating at exams also.

Just wish so much of the silliness did not get drug into the deal. Plus all the oblivious zombies blindly wandering around staring at their phones sort of creeps me out.

BUT, they are here to stay.

Going to stay an old fogy on this too. When I go dangle a pole in the creek and soak my feet off the dock, nothing goes with me that I did not bring when I was 10 years old.

Ok, I am following my steps – see if I can get out of the weeds I wandered into.

Sorry for the disruption – back to sales and epic methods.


#17

Just set your inventory to 0 (their recommendation).

Amazon Handmade does have strict requirements/metrics to fulfill, like any Amazon Seller account. And they can (and will) close accounts.


#18

Just set your inventory to 0 (their recommendation).

I don’t think so. You can’t have an inventory of zero to activate a listing on Etsy. Only way is if it’s sold out, and you can’t buy your own item. You can deactivate a listing, but easiest way to put your whole shop on hold is “vacation mode”. Else even if you could set an inventory to zero, you’d have to edit every listing.

But if you have variations–you can have zero inventory of a variation type, but there must be at least 1 in inventory amongst the variations for the listing to be active.


#19

For Amazon.


#20

A CB in the car beat any radar detector. At least when traveling routes with a lot of traffic. It probably isn’t any more.