I know that more and more artists, crafters and hobbyists alike join the online community everyday. They have heard stories of people who have been able to give up their day jobs and concentrate just on their art by selling online. They have heard how their hobby could make them extra cash and help pad their bank accounts. They have more and more handcrafted items in their house taking up space and need to unload them somewhere.
Whatever their or your reasons, online selling has it's pros and cons. Like all things, you only get out of it what you put into it. For the sake of our sanity... let's do this in a list style and only elaborate on points that need it.
I'd like to start with the Cons first.
1.) The online market may be saturated.
I find this one very difficult to overcome myself. I am jewelry designer and creator. The more I sell online, the more I realize just how MANY jewelry atists are selling their things online just like me. And there are some amazingly talented artists among them. It can be very discouraging.
2.) Your shop can get lost in a sea of other online shops.
This is directly related to con number 1 in many ways. If the market for your product is saturated it means that your items and shop can get lost. Customers often find themselves overwhelmed when they search for items. They can be just loaded with possible matches to their search criteria and it's a LOT to look through.
3.) There may not BE a market for your items.
A good friend of mine has always said "There has to be a place for macaroni angels". She was referring to the sudden shift of her church's holiday craft bazzarr towards be a much more upscale artist market. She insisted that there still needed to be a place for creations like macaroni angels made by children and others. She right but, the online market may not be that place. There are some items that just are marketed towards a smaller margin of consumers and therefore, selling online can become a tough thing.
4.) The economy does effect consumer spending, even online.
Let's face it, the economy impacts everything. If consumers are financially strapped for cash, they are more likely to spend their money on less expensive necessities and not on handcrafted artistically made items. This can either help or hinder your shop. Me personally, I sell jewelry. People with little money are more likely to spend it on groceries and gas than on the items in my shop. After all, you can't eat jewelry... or at least I wouldn't recommend it.
5.) You often times need to spend money on your online shop in order to make money.
Another con that is closely related to the economy. I have found more often than not, in order to successfully grow your onlins shop you need to invest money into it. I am talking about membership or listing fees on sites such as Artfire or Etsy, ordering the necessary supplies for your work, advertising slots on websites or blogs, even new camera equipment to take decent eye catching photos of your products. It can all add up. And if you don't have the initial money to invest in those things, it can seem like your shop just isn't being seen.
I want to pause here and let you, the readers, chew this over and comment. I plan to do the Pros list in the next blog entry.