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To answer the question most directly.:

Personally I do a combination of online (my own website) and in-person. The online is a supplement to my in-person income, and adds up to the equivalent of a medium sized show every year. I don’t promote it as much as I should, or it would be doing better. I discontinued my Etsy shop because I found I was directing 60% of my own traffic, and 100% of my conversions were from my own sources, not Etsy. Also, they started charging a percentage fee on money collected on shipping and I thought that was absurd.

The Longer Answer:

There is no online marketplace that is a set it and forget it scenario. There are only marketing methods that work for you and your business and ones that don't. What works for you depends heavily on what you need your business to do. The ideal thing for a side hustle or an invested hobbyist will be different from full time business best practice. 

There's no getting away from putting some time and effort into marketing, whatever level you’re working at, and the payoff always takes way more time than anyone likes. You can either do the bulk of your marketing yourself, or you can pay someone in some capacity to help you with getting your product into your customers' hands. Paying someone else can look like using Etsy, paying in-person show booth fees,  paying for social media ads or some combination thereof. Usually the lower the price point to entry, the more work you have to do yourself.

In terms of actual software or platforms, your best bets online remain Etsy if you want convenience or to add an income stream, or your own website if you want to own your digital assets.

If you're building your own website, use one that's designed for e-commerce. If I were building from scratch, I'd tell people to save time and energy and go straight to Shopify. Square is less money and is serviceable if you need a lower cost entry point, but customizations are very limited. As someone with a Square website, it’s kinda ugly, tbf.

Whichever platform you use, it's heavily advisable to make sure you also build an email list. You can add social media platforms according to your energy levels and what you find fun or helpful. 



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6 hours ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:


If you're building your own website, use one that's designed for e-commerce. If I were building from scratch, I'd tell people to save time and energy and go straight to Shopify. Square is less money and is serviceable if you need a lower cost entry point, but customizations are very limited. As someone with a Square website, it’s kinda ugly, t



I had a selling site for jewelry on Shopify and found it extremely easy to use.   And I had a product line (A-Z) that needed 26 variants.   And it worked well.  This was about 3 years ago.   I gave it up because my in store retail price points are close to wholesale and it was just too much trouble for the dollar amount of revenue I was getting  I got on average 10 sales a day and 30 sales a day in Nov/Dec.   Consider 3/4 of my line was $5.   AND 75% of my store business is in Nov/Dec.   Shopify was easy to set up and update.   It was mostly "advanced word processing".     Knowing a little about HTML was helpful.    And there was some use of "Liquid".  Which I had never used, but it was pretty basic (trying to remember ... think it was almost the same as HTML.  Overall, a very positive experience with Shopify.

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  • 1 month later...

Tired of doing shows so we are working on getting it all worked out with both platforms like Etsy and our stand alone website.

Bummed to hear Etsy didn't work out. Did you spend  a lot of money on Esty marketing.? The artist I know personally who has an active Etsy store has to spend heavily on Etsy ads to drive revenue,  When she runs the ads she  gets orders, if she stops running the ads the orders dry up. That jives with a deep dive surfing on Etsy I've done although its hard to separate the hype. I think normally the marketing budget together with Esty fees  can approach 50% of revenue. A big negative is you have to ship a lot of really small orders at essentially wholesale prices with retail hassle and back and forth messaging with customers can be a time sink. Still if she works it she makes money and she hates shows so she just does Etsy and galleries and that works for her. 

Last fall we decided to try a blend of ads across several social media platforms and with such a larger audience it just sucked a thousand bucks so quickly with slow results I stopped, Might have worked if I hadn't yanked the plug so fast but I just didn't trust that I wasn't going to blow a ton of dough real fast and I panicked and hit the brakes :)

Either way everyone seems to agree you have to learn how to run digital campaigns by experimenting or hiring someone to do it for you and be prepared to spend a lot in the beginning to build audience with either approach. 


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I have after a lifetime of art show/fairs retired from them except my one local show which I am a board member on and this fall will be its and my 49th annual North Counrty Fair. in September.I still have a few shows that want me but I turned them down at this point in life. its been 50 years now of selling pots.

Other than that show I still have my local outlets which still sell an amazing amount of work. Two are wholesale (orgainic food markets)  all within 15 minutes of home. My work is on a high traffic end cap in each. They order via email when needed about every 4-6 weeks. Orders are usually average $800 or more

I still sell to a few gallery /gift shops wholesale as well and I still have after many decades a few consignment shops that send checks monthly . These are many decades old and well trusted. These are a 50/50 shop and a 40/60 shop

I also have a large pottery gallery that  only  sells pottery that is 10 hours away that buys an huge amount of wholesale twice a year.He is my best costomer and best business person I have ever dealt with.I drop that order off at his brothers about 4.5 hours away.

I have a 100$ minimum on my web site to slow mail order down (which worked well during covid buying craze) . I still ship a fair amount of pots to customers all over the USA via Pirate ship UPS via my web site. One customer I just finished making for ordered 41 mugs (well over 1k order) so when I'm dead and gone he still could have a morning coffee from his favorite my mug as his teens break about 3-4 a year. This order he will pick up later in summer in SFO area from my partner when she visits her brother in SFO area. That way the packing is loose and easy like a fair packup.

So far in life the new Etsy and other sites have not even been a thought for me which is great as I can focus on sellin g larger amounts at a time.

I would develop your local sales over any internet sales site first as these tend to last a lifetime or at least for me they have. If you live in the middle of nowhere than the net is your only option unless you travel with the work. Art fair shows are good if you like people and are good with them.-Not for everyone. In 50 years of shows I have a few stories to tell for sure.

Edited by Mark C.
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