Still need to set up your own website? Maybe you’re no stranger to selling crafts online, and you’ve always received a fantastic service from the online platforms that you’ve used. You’re just tired of giving away a percentage of your profits to them! It’s now time to build an online home for all your beautiful work.
It might all seem a bit daunting at first but that’s why we’re here today to tell you that there’s no need to panic! If you are part of our Facebook group ‘The Craft Challenge’ you can watch the online challenge we ran last year to help people, just like you, to build their own site. There’s no need to splash out oodles of cash either, just join the group and watch the five clips, then follow the advice to get yourself a website. Soon you’ll be selling crafts online on your own terms and speaking regularly with your customers. Not sure if you can do it still? Let me reassure you, you are ABLE! Just follow the ABLE method below:
A is for Address
Just like your shop needs an address for customers to call at, your website also needs an address where people can find you. This online address is made up of a ‘domain name’ sandwiched between the letters ‘www.’ at the beginning and often ‘.co.uk.’ at the end (or .com, .global etc.).Our domain name is craft insurance, and our address is www.craftinsurance.co.uk – voila! You have to pay for your domain name, and then renew the payment every two years (so don’t forget to renew it as you don’t want to lose it!)
When you are picking your domain name you don’t need to be industry specific, it just needs to communicate who you are and what you’re selling – ‘craftsonlineuk’ for example. When you have chosen an appropriate name, write it down and check that when the words run together without spaces it doesn’t say anything rude! It needs to be memorable and fairly short and easy to spell.
There are several places you can go to find domain names, and they should be fairly cheap, but shop around for deals, as you are committing to a two year spend. The most popular sites to buy domain names from are Namescheap, 123 reg and Go Daddy.
B is for Build
Now you have your domain name and website address, it’s time to build your site:
There are many different sites you can use to build your website – some of the commonly used ones are SquareSpace, Wix and Shopify where you pay a monthly amount and build your site around one of their predesigned templates. Have a look at the templates and choose a design that fits your style. You might choose a template for your knitwear business with a rustic or homespun feel or you might want to represent your jewellery as a high end product and need your site template design to reflect this.
At the end of the day, if this is your first attempt at selling crafts online via your own website, it may well be that this becomes a bit of a practice run. You can ‘up your game’ later down the line and have a higher functioning website built in WordPress. But now you have bought the domain name it is yours to keep (as long as you pay for it every two years), and you can use it for as large a website as you need.
There are different payment options you can integrate into your site as opposed to a redirect going to a third party. Think Pay Pal, World Pay or Stripe so that people can buy direct from the site – you’ll be able to press a button and they can by straight from you rather than having to redirect to a third party like Etsy or Folksy.
If you want a unique design and more functionality you can build your site from the ground up in WordPress. WordPress sites allow you to add plugins in order to increase the website’s functionality and make the customer buying journey easier. These kind of sites are better for SEO, (helping Google to find you first) and give you more options long term. They are more expensive than a site built using a template but it’s because they represent more of a long term investment that will pay dividends. WordPress and Woo-Commerce builds are normally paid for in one hit or whatever arrangement you make with a creative / website building agency. Most agencies will use this platform as it is one of the most common platforms.
Woo Commerce is the shopping side of the WordPress world and integrates well. This is for the more
serious e-commerce businesses as opposed to one you would use starting out. Definitely one to go for once your business is established.
L is for Layout
Your website needs a site map which aids navigation around your website.
It’s important you map out the navigation of your website to indicate which content will be held on which page.
Here is an easy site map to get you started:
About / Blog / Testimonials / Products / Contact (with FAQs).
An About tab is a great place to talk about your inspirations is important to you and people want to know some background. It’s also a great place to describe your processes using explanatory and expository video.
A blog is great way of telling people about what you are doing and where you are going.
Testimonials help to build people’s faith in you and your products, make sure that they mention your high quality and value for money. Let them know that what you are making is worth buying.
A Products section is where people can see your products clearly and that there is a clear link to purchase. You can communicate exactly who you are and what you do with photos of your work. If you are sending the visitor to another site the process has to be super easy or you’ll lose your buyer.
By far the most important thing on your website is having a clear route to purchase! All the important information needs to be clearly available but showing the visitor how to spend money on your products is by far the most important part of selling crafts online via your own site!
E is for Extras
An online chat box allows customers to write to you and it can be switched on and off as required. You can even set it up as an app on your phone and then respond to enquiries in the same way as you would on a messenger app. Online chat is a great option if you need a nice, short snappy conversation to give the customer an answer. Online chat is not an essential, but certainly useful and customer friendly.
Pop Up or Lead magnet
A pop up pops up (no surprises there) and allows people to leave their email address. This is vital for email marketing. On our own website we offer a free newsletter about upcoming events and it enables us to touch base about new products, which craft fairs or markets you are going to be at etc. This is often housed in a .pdf
Another way to secure information (email) is to give something away for free, like a
downloadable .pdf or a cheat sheet for exchange for email. You could give away a free kitting pattern as a download for example as a little extra value in exchange for the visitor’s contact details. It shows that you are not just on the take, you want to give great value as well as selling to them.
So, how about it? The ABLE method will ENABLE you to take the plunge and start selling crafts online. For further tips on taking great product photos, writing winning content for your site, social media dos and don’ts and customer service in the digital world please join our Facebook Group and take the Craft Challenge.