Category Archives: The handmade marketplace

Socialize with Pinterest

Since buying and selling arts and crafts is a visual business, it makes sense that Pinterest, the most visual of social networking sites, is an important resource for you to explore. is designed for collecting and sharing pictures of things you love. Pinterest users set up bulletin boards with different topics. Then they “pin” pictures from the Internet onto these boards, usually writing a short comment about each image.  Boards are shared with friends and usually available set to be public and available to the whole Pinterest community…(that would be 10 million users in 2013).  People follow other people’s boards when they find them interesting, click “like” when a pin strikes their fancy, make comments, and re-pin other people’s images.  The result is a vibrant visual community of ideas and images – and links, since each image pinned is a link back to the website where the photo originated.

AlyssaPinterestArtists and crafters will quickly discover the power of Pinterest for sharing photos of their work.  And as with all good social media campaigns, it’s all about collaboration and content.  Sign up for a free account and dive in.  You won’t get very far if you only pin your own work, though.  Mix it up – your own pieces should be a tiny percentage of what you put on your boards.  Pin great items you see on Etsy, on artist websites, in blogs and elsewhere on Pinterest.  Others will do the same for you!

The illustration for this article is a polymer clay treasure I pinned a couple years ago…a teapot by Alyssa from ClaydeLys (one of the artists featured in Selling Arts and Crafts Online).  This pin has gotten more likes and shares over the years than anything else I’ve posted on Pinterest…15 “likes” and a whopping 46 “Repins,” so far.  Thousands of people have seen and shared Alyssa’s amazing work, while many have hopefully clicked the teapot and visited her Etsy shop.

More about using Pinterest to promote your own arts and crafts business in The Everything Guide to Selling Arts and Crafts Onlinepick up a copy and kick-start your success.

Once you’re on Pinterest, be sure to follow the board for Selling Arts and Crafts Online.

Update September 2014:  “Likes” for Alyssa’s teapot have expanded to 22, while “Repins” are now up to 102! The magic of Pinterest continues!




Making the honor roll

imageI’ve written a few books in my diverse career.  Each one has been a labor of love, with the emphasis on the “labor” part at the beginning.  Writing a book is a piece of work!  But once a book is published, it is like a pesky teenager who has finally headed off to college, off into the world to make a life.  You pat them on the head and hope for the best.

So imagine my delight to walk into Bookshop Santa Cruz, one of the SF Bay area’s leading independent book stores, to see Selling Arts and Crafts Online on the display shelf for “Best Nonfiction of the Year.”  A lovely surprise from my favorite bookseller.  It is thrilling enough to spot Selling Arts and Crafts Online back in the How-To section, among the craft books and business guides.  But front and center as a Best Pick!  Awesome!

I hope your creations – your artworks made with skill and beauty – bring you a similar thrill when you come upon them honored and displayed by your customers, followers and fans!


Etsy Re-defines Handmade

Etsy, THE online resource for all things vintage and handmade, recently expanded their basic policy on what is allowed be called a “handmade” item.  According to an editorial in today’s New York Times, “…last month, Etsy announced new policies that would allow sellers to apply to peddle items they produced with manufacturing partners, as well as to hire staff and use outside companies to ship their goods.”

weaving_vaseMany Etsy sellers have voiced outrage at what they see as a betrayal of a commitment to handcrafted art and crafts.  How are authentic artisans going to be able to compete with resellers offering lower cost manufactured “handmade items?”

But Etsy is expansive:

  1. Etsy sellers can hire whatever number of people they need to product items they have designed, and these employees can work in other locations.
  2. Sellers can use shipping and fulfillment services.
  3. It’s okay to work w/ outside partner and manufacturers if approved by Etsy.
  4. And if a seller hires people and uses outside partners, this must be disclose on your shop’s about page (though not necessarily in the item description).

The Times article, Etsy’s Industrial Revolution by Elizabeth Wayland Barber, a professor of archaeology and linguistics, explores the definition of handmade from a historical perspective, “a history that is more complicated than the simple term ‘handmade’ implies. The artisans have run head-on into the problem that led to the Industrial Revolution: Making things by hand is slow. Really slow.”

Is a scarf truly handmade if it is created with machine-produced yarn?  Does the knitter also have to spin her own wool?  What about those spinning wheel machines and looms?  And how does this all relate to ancient Assyrian textiles?

Enjoy the glimpse into an issue that has spanned the centuries, and post your opinion in the comment box!


Treasuries inspire teamwork

One path to visibility on Etsy, Artfire and other marketplace platforms is to get your products included in the treasury lists that other people create.

CoralReefEtsy discourages including your OWN products in the treasuries you build.  Instead, the Etsy process inspires you to network, join other people’s circles and teams, and build a base of friends, followers and fans who will showcase your items in the treasuries they create.

If you have great product photography, people will naturally select your items for treasuries.  Great products are important of course, but it’s your photography that make the difference here.  Keep an eye on the Etsy home page. The products shown there are inspiration for your own photos.  Read everything you can about taking great digital photos and work constantly to improve your own skills.

To enlarge your network, you can  join some of the many different treasury challenges that are posted on team boards.  The basic game is to create a treasury inspired by and including a product from the winner of the previous week’s game.  Multiple shop owners take part, and that week’s chosen item is shown in many different treasuries.  At the end of the week, the featured shop owner then selects a winning treasury, and the game begins again with a new product from the winner’s shop.

I first began playing a treasury challenge game at the Shiny Happy People team, an international group of very friendly artists and artisans.  Inspired by the challenges, I have created many different treasuries. It is always fun to come up with an enticing title and theme based on the featured product.  The most recent challenge resulted in my “Coral Reef” treasury pictured with this article.  Remember to promote your treasury and the featured artist. Convo the other sellers in the Treasury to thank them for their great items. Post the Treasury on other social media platforms, like Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

Join a team and participate in regular treasury challenges!  The more you help promote other artisans, the more they will help promote your shop.

‘Coral Reef’ by BlueOtterArt

A tropical reef adventure inspired by the Coralfish painting from Jillsgallery!
Click here to visit the Treasury on Etsy

Watercolour painting study of a Beaked Coralfish, original, tropical fish, A4 size, unframed - Jillsgallery Edible Chocolate Filled Candy Seashells 8 - great for cake decorating, gift giving, favors, and stand alone - andiespecialtysweets Watercolor illustration of a red Seaweed - Giclee print - Fine art  archival reproduction- Purple pink flower of the ocean - SandraOvono Ebbing Tide - notecard - wildrootsdesigns
Photo block sea urchin shell print beach wall art - NewCreatioNZ Elegant  Hand Painted Silk  Cotton Beach Pareo Sarong  with Coral Reef Red Blue White  45 X 54 Beach Fashion Summer Vacations - LigaKandele Art Painting Watercolor Tropical Coconuts Palm Tree  PRINT - vhmckenzie Strawberry Crab indoor outdoor 20" coastal seashore beach ocean polkadot bikini nautical crustacan sealife SCUBA Crabby Chris Original - crabbychris
Morning by the Ocean - Travel Photography - Beach - Romance - Relaxation - Summer - Valentine - Fine Art Photograph - Art Print - 6X9 - JoshFriedmanPhoto Red Coral Linen Necklace Bracelet Linen Jewelry Multi Strand Natural Fiber Summer Fashion - DreamsFactory Felted fish purse cosmetic Golden  Fish  Yellow Red octopurse - galafilc Womens Pink Cotton Scarf. Large Scarves. Pink Coral - sesenarts
Blue Fish Vintage Brooch Pin Silver Tone - RayMels Radiation Protection Cell Phone Case (Under Water) - TalkSilverLining VOGUE Chunky CORAL REEF Freshwater Pearls Turquoise Blue Art Glass Brooch - RockbiterAntiques Colorful LIONFISH Tropical Fish Coral Reef Art 8"x10" PRINT of original by K.McCants Cool Abstract Stained Glass Style - karenmccantsart

Treasury tool by StylishHome.