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Topic: Looking for Input on Building Crafter Websites  (Read 226 times)
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bportnoy
« on: April 26, 2015 02:52:35 PM »

Hi all,

My name is Benjamin, and my company (which I will not name as I'm not here trying to get business) is about to build and offer a special line of websites for crafters who want to sell online and want more control and branding ability than they get with sites like Etsy. 

We'd like to know -- if you could custom design any features into your very own website, what would be on it? 
What's most important to you? 
What would you want it to look like? 
How often would you want to update it if updating were easy? 
How many products would you sell? 
If you could have a monthly recurring sales option (being able to have people sign up once, and then you send them stuff every month and with their permission, auto-charge their credit cards), would you be interested in that option?
If there were an option to have somebody create inexpensive videos to help sell your products on your website, do you think you would use that feature?
Anything else?

We want to be respectful of this community, and so again, I'm not here to solicit for business.  But we would like to be able to create something that brings great value to the crafting world, and your opinions will help us do that. 

Thank you!
Benjamin
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Chris in VT
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2015 04:11:32 AM »

The very first thing I would want to know is how familiar are you with the "crafting world" as you put it?
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There's NOTHING at a craft show, or on Etsy, anybody NEEDS. NOTHING.
www.shadypinestudios.com
CraftyChef
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« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2015 03:19:53 PM »

Unfortunately, when it comes to crafters' online stores, etsy already exists, the top sellers are craft suppliers, and etsy loses money every year even though they now embrace "cheap stuff from China" to keep themselves from completely drowning. They have a history of losing money. Last year it was a whopping $15 million. Ouch.

So, all being fair in business, I have questions for you, the first being "Do you understand the first paragraph?" and more questions would be:

Are trying to become the next etsy?
Why do you see the handmade "community" as a money-making venture?
How do you plan to revert traffic from etsy to your site?
Supplies sellers are going to stick to etsy where they make money (because... traffic). How are you going to make up for the loss of these top sellers?

If you don't make money, you'll close down your site and leave all the folks signed up without a store. How do you plan on making money? Yeah, big secrets, I know, but I've seen dozens of etsy-style startups come through thinking there's a gold mine in the craft market. I don't think the gold mine exists.

When etsy first started up, this forum was near to bursting with excitement, questions, and traffic. But having an outlet to sell is one thing. Actually selling the stuff is where crafters gave up and died off. So the majority of your initial sign-ups would be from folks who are looking for a deal, which I'm guessing you'll give them just to get your project off the ground. Therefore my last question is: How do you plan to convince sellers to engage in selling? Because they won't do it without a serious kick in the pants.
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bportnoy
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2015 08:17:20 PM »

Hi Chris and Crafty.  Thank you for responding.

First, I have to clarify something, and I apologize if I didn't make this clear in my initial post; we're not building the next Etsy. 

There are at least 30 Etsy clones out there all doing vaguely the same thing, and making the 31st doesn't interest us.

We're a design company, and we're specializing in creating individual sites (i.e. www.YourSite.com) for individual artisans and crafters through which to sell, providing more custom design, functionality, selling options, marketing tools, etc. than you can get with sites like Etsy.

We don't see crafters as a "money-making venture"; we have a lot of friends who paint their own art, brew their own spirits, sculpt and tile their own pottery.  We seek out restaurants and food trucks where recipes are handed down through families.  We drive miles out of our ways to support local businesses.  Because local and handmade are quickly losing ground to, as you very aptly termed it: "cheap stuff from China."

We believe there's something noble in putting time, effort and talent into something real.  Not something that some kiosk salesman's boss' boss bought as part of a 50K-piece shipment.

I'm not saying all of this to try and win you over; rather, to clarify WHY we're focusing on crafters and artisans.  The reason is that it makes us feel like we're helping people we want to help, and that gives us a sense of pride and purpose.  A simple meal ticket holds no meaning.

We have marketing plans to attract crafters, and tools to help sellers sell more through their individual sites that we build.  However, there's no golden ticket or silver bullet and we make no claims that any exist.  That's a lesson I personally have learned over and over again and have, in turn, chosen to focus on things that matter.  Instead, we will show sellers how to properly build a following through foundational activities like organic (search engine) results, as well as offer best practices in attracting social media attention (Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.).

The reason I came to this forum is because I wanted to find out where the holes exist in Etsy -- what is it that they DON'T offer that we CAN offer, thereby providing value and growth to those whose livelihoods (or at the least, pocket money) exist because of what they make with their hands?

Does that answer your questions?  Please let me know if you have any others.
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Chris in VT
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2015 04:35:51 AM »

"...thereby providing value and growth to those whose livelihoods (or at the least, pocket money) exist because of what they make with their hands..."

I am exactly that person. 100% of our household income comes from our crafts business. There is a whole industry of people like me. We're very serious about this. We all have an online presence and not one makes enough from that presence alone to live on. We make 90% of our money face to face.

We all have a website, and we use that site as nothing more than another item in our tool box. We'll sell at an art/craft fair and use the site for follow up business. About 30% of my online orders are follow up sales or reorders.

We were all on Etsy at one time or another, and realized that 90% of the hits on our store were people looking for ideas to steal.

Our business works with show promoters who "jury" our work before we can exhibit to weed out the buy/sell or B/S as we call it. If the person in that booth didn't make it, they don't exhibit, period. The promoter has one job, and one job only. Bring people past my booth. The rest is up to me. How can you as a virtual promoter bring enough people past my booth on a regular basis to make it worth wile for me? Because we in this business have yet to find even one.

You have to understand the full time artist/crafter. You're dealing with a level of exhibitor who, if they don't make anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 in one weekend, they're angry.
THIS ROCKS   Logged

There's NOTHING at a craft show, or on Etsy, anybody NEEDS. NOTHING.
www.shadypinestudios.com
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