This is a condensed version of my years long journey towards e-commerce. Back when I first set up my craft room intending to make cards as displays for my cross stitching, I had no idea of the wonderful world of paper crafting. Since that day I’ve learned how to make cards, boxes, mini albums, scrapbooks, marbled paper, iris folding, handmade paper, a little origami & designing my own fabric via a company named Spoonflower.
As I started to use tools and technology I depended on my straight ruler and hand rotary cutter. Chipboard (a cardboard material much thicker & sturdier than cereal box material) and I became soulmates so then I had to learn about binding machines and electronic cutting machines. I’ve now graduated to a professional model, the “Silver Bullet” cutter.
Early on I decided to make things to sell to recoup some of my crafting expenses. That was over five years ago! I realized I needed inventory. Since I am a perfectionist, I set out to learn to make things using the best quality materials and means. It took hundreds and hundreds of hours of online research, mainly You Tube, to master my craft. The online community is my teacher! Here I am today ready and in the process of making merchandise. I have the will, motivation and tools to start a home craft business. This is what I’ve learned along the way: ($ – denotes things which will cost money)
- E-commerce is competitive. Make your product unique.
- Don’t be afraid to try new ideas. Some you will keep, some you won’t.
- Find a passion. You should love what you make.
- Look to successful online shops. Have a business plan. Do quality work. Learn to price your merchandise – Materials cost + Hours worked + Packaging + Shipping. Learn Google SEO’s. Use relevant tags. Use quality, crisp pictures.
- Branding $: Use color, graphics, logo, business cards, stamps or stickers for labels and packaging.
- Register your business name with your city or state $.
- You may purchase a web domain even if you don’t have an e-commerce website yet $.
- Get a Paypal business account if necessary. $
- Get a P.O. box if needed. $ (Good to maintain personal privacy)
- Learn your tax obligations.
- If you have employees you will need a tax ID# with the IRS.
- Prepare a crafting business spreadsheet. Check Etsy sellers $. (May have pricing of merchandise calculator).
- Etsy may be a good e-commerce start to get your feet wet $. (A shop “domain” is assigned but is not independent of Etsy)
- Choose an e-commerce site when you grow more $.
- Get on social media but don’t be a “seller” be a participant. Facebook business, forums, Pinterest, Instagram, You Tube.
- Craft show tips: Many videos and blogs to explain.
- Packaging: You may have display packaging and/or mailing packaging. Dispaly packaging should be appealing, functional, easy to read and see the product. Sources: Make it yourself, Ali express, Clearbags.com, Dollar stores, Discount stores, Etsy.com. [Follow up with an email after you receive payment for an order].
- Mail Packaging can be boxes, bubble mailers or mail priority boxes. Inside can be tissue paper, bubble wrap or smaller boxes. You should include a business card, invoice receipt, and a thank you note.
I hope that was helpful. I’m off to create!