Back when online auctions became popular, I had many clients contact me about listing their handcrafted items on eBay or Amazon. Unfortunately, major artisan marketplaces had not yet become commonplace, and though I recommended against selling handmade items on online auction websites, there were no other options with such a large, established audience. Online auctions have the audience, but they are driven by price (and lots of competition from China)…which is not a beneficial platform for an artisan or craftsperson.
Back when I used to have lots of free-time to spend on crafting, I used to rent shelf space in a local craft mall. This worked well, in that I was able to at least charge a fair price for my items, because the buyers recognized the time and materials invested into the pieces. This option provided a good solution for pricing, but lacked the large audience.
Thankfully, we now have online arts and craft marketplaces that fulfill both needs for artists…good pricing for the seller, and a large audience. My favorites of these are Etsy and Zazzle, both serving different artists’ needs.
When I shop for a one-of-a-kind unique gift for someone, my go to shop is Etsy. There are hundreds of talented people out there, creating gifts that I either don’t have time to do, or do it much better than I can. And, every one of my gift recipients has told me how much they loved the item, whether it was a Nana floating charm necklace or personalized 50th Anniversary coasters or even an engraved Contigo mug for our Adjunct General’s retirement. I’ve even ordered personalized key chain wallets for client Christmas gifts from Etsy. When the recipients ask where I got the gift, of course, I proudly say “Etsy…I love that place.” (Being frugal, this is not the cheapest place to get gifts, but I do not mind spending a little more for something priceless and meaningful. And, for it to be beneficial for my artisan and crafting clients, not being driven by price, is the best feature of Etsy.)
I have begun using Zazzle to market my own graphic designs. Zazzle provides hundreds of blank apparel, accessory and home items, and I simply choose the best items for my photo or vector image. In this way, I do not have to maintain a large inventory or invest in offset, screen or digital printing equipment, yet, I can facilitate the sale of hundreds of custom printed items to individual buyers. And there is no cost to me as the seller! I setup my Zazzle store, uploaded my designs, choose my markup percentage, and Zazzle does the rest! Easy! (Zazzle does not offer embroidery. For embroidered goods, in addition to screen-printed apparel and accessories, I have partnered with Queensboro for a local non-profit’s fundraising. We set-up a Queensboro store, uploaded the logo designs, set a markup percentage, and Queensboro does the rest.) For one-piece orders, using a solution such as Zazzle, is most cost-effective and simple to set-up and administrate.
For those that simply wish to sell their stock photography or graphic art, there are a number of graphic art and photo selling websites, like iStockPhoto, Shutterfly, Zenfolio, etc. I have not sold any of my own designs on these venues, but I have purchased a number of quality photos and art files from iStockPhoto to use on some of my client projects. These marketplaces do a good job of ensuring the art submitted is of high quality, so this is a professional environment in which to market your artwork. So, if you enjoy taking photos or creating vector images, even as a hobby, a popular stock artwork website is a great place to make a few dollars on your passion. These sites even recommend what photos and artwork is in most demand by buyers. We recommend choosing stock art websites which have professional-level pricing and utilize search engine indexing, enabling a better potential buyer draw.
Until next issue…Best wishes in your endeavors!
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