Anyone who enjoys handicrafts, handicrafts, making jewelry, or being creative in any other way usually wants the works and products created to be seen and appreciated. Classic sales channels such as street markets, flea markets, or corner shops can still be a sensible option today for selling your handicrafts. But the Internet in particular offers a multitude of possibilities for presenting and selling homemade products: from special handicraft platforms such as Etsy and online marketplaces such as Amazon Handmade to social media and easy-to-build own websites with an online shop. Find out more about the most important ways that even beginners can sell homemade online here.
If you want to sell homemade stuff, you should first think about which online and offline sales channels and platforms suit you and your products best.
- How many people can I reach with a certain sales channel?
- How much does this sales channel cost me (expenditure, listing fees, commissions)?
- How much time do my sales activities take?
- How much do I want to earn?
- And last but not least: Do I still enjoy my hobby even if I do it professionally?
Sell Homemade Online – The Advantages And Disadvantages
The Internet offers a variety of opportunities to find buyers for a wide variety of things – worldwide. But it is not always necessary to go online with your products. Anyone who sells handmade items in particular should also feel at home in the “real world”. Street markets, flea markets, the mom-and-pop shop around the corner – and wholesalers for larger quantities – often offer very good opportunities to present your products to an interested audience. What are the pros and cons of online and offline sales respectively?
Differences Between Selling Homemade Goods Online And Offline
Both traditional sales in shops and on-street markets and online sales require resources from the seller, above all in the form of time and money: In the first case, money for the presence on site (e.g. stall fees) and time for the corresponding sales – and customer meetings. In the case of online sales, the sellers need time to provide information and maintain the relevant platforms; commissions or monthly fees are usually required for the listing of homemade goods on online marketplaces. Both types of distribution also require dealing with the wishes of customers on the one hand and with the competition on the other. Aside from these very basic similarities, however, there are significant differences:
Online Sales: Beginner-Friendly, With Its Laws
There are several good reasons why online trading has increased significantly in recent years, regardless of crises or other external influences. Selling handicrafts online is a cheap, quick, and relatively easy way to reach a relatively large number of potential customers. For those who are already well on the market offline with their homemade products, online activities offer new opportunities to open up new groups of buyers. Crucial to success is that you try to understand how sales decisions are made in the online world – and based on this, give customers the information they need to make their decisions.
The following ten points should be noted in this context:
- The more correct and clear information there is about a product, the greater the buyer’s trust – and the more likely it is to be bought.
- The more specific and sometimes personal information you provide about yourself as a seller, the more likely you will be trusted – and the better for customer loyalty.
- Strong, well-known brands stand for reliability and security. This is one reason why, despite some criticism from “online giants” such as B. Buy Amazon.
- Personal advice is also very important on the Internet: Be “available” and offer customers the opportunity to ask questions about the product. Answer these as soon as possible.
- Build a following, and invite your offline regulars to follow you online.
- Communicate your successes: The more people trust your products, the more trust you will have. However, make sure that there is a certain degree of exclusivity when it comes to homemade products.
- Look for good reviews on online forums. Some reasonable goodwill and flexibility can sometimes be better than insisting on your rights at all costs.
- Get to know your online customers, for example through analysis tools such as Google Analytics.
- Also, try to get recommendations from customers online.
- Try to control your sales channels yourself as much as possible. With your website or online shop, you can ensure a certain degree of independence from online marketplaces and their conditions.
You can also find detailed information on this topic in our article Selling products online: 5 steps to successful online business.
Easy Start: Selling Homemade Goods Via Online Marketplaces
Online platforms are the easiest way to sell handmade goods quickly and without much effort. The world’s most popular online marketplace for creative entrepreneurs, arts and crafts, jewelry, and crafts is Etsy. For a symbolic listing fee of less than 20 euro cents and commission per item sold, “millions of buyers in Germany and around the world” can be addressed.
However, the disadvantage of large online marketplaces is that the competition can be very strong in certain areas. For this reason, you should consider testing several platforms at the beginning and then relying on those with which you are successful. When it comes to selling homemade goods, you should take a closer look at the following online platforms:
- Etsy – is probably the world’s largest marketplace for creative entrepreneurs and handicrafts
- Amazon Handmade – Amazon’s arts and crafts division
- Storenvy – an online marketplace with plenty of room for your shop ideas
- Productswithlove.de – for regional products, focused on the DACH region
- Fairmont – especially interesting for fair trade and organic products
For detailed information about these and other online DIY and craft marketplaces, see the Etsy Alternatives: Here You Can Sell article. You can read general information about the most important sales platforms in Germany in the article Selling on the Internet: The 8 best online marketplaces in Germany.
Social Media As A Success Factor
Originally, social media like Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest were not made to sell things. Nevertheless, this works very well in many cases. So good that Facebook, for example, has set up its marketplace for classified ads. Facebook also offers the option of creating your shop, which you can use to present your products on Facebook and Instagram. The sale can then also be completed via your website.
In principle, social media should be viewed more as an information and communication hub than a sales platform, although they can play a crucial role in generating business: they are an excellent means of gaining notoriety, keeping in touch with regular customers, building a fan base and to provide them with the latest information.
When using social media to sell homemade goods, you mustn’t violate the rules of Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram & Co., but learn to use their mechanisms and functions successfully for yourself. How many people see your posts depends primarily on the algorithms of the respective medium. Good content and a large fan base are essential if you want to reach as many people as possible with your messages. When it comes to selling products directly through social media, in many cases paid advertising is unavoidable.
This is usually cheap, and the target group can usually be narrowed down by area of interest.It is ideal for retailers and producers if sales are initiated via social media, but the actual sale then takes place via their website. In this way, the retailer or producer retains control over the customer data and can also address customers via other channels while complying with the relevant data protection regulations.
Own Website – Own Shop: The Basis For Maximum Independence
If you want to test whether your homemade products will be accepted online, you will probably get by with online marketplaces and your own social media pages at first. If you intend to regularly sell homemade items online, you cannot avoid having your website (preferably with your online shop). When selling self-made handicrafts, jewelry or handicrafts, a separate website is required, e.g. of central importance to you for the following reasons:
- Your website is your business card, image brochure and sales platform all rolled into one.
- You alone determine the appearance and content of your website and online shop.
- They operate independently of the frequently changing business conditions of large platforms.
- Your website is the basis on which you can control all your Internet activities.
- With direct sales via the online shop on your website, you pay no commissions to the big platforms – your earnings are 100 percent yours.
- You can link directly to your website and online shop via social media.
Creating your website with an online shop is no longer a big challenge. With good website construction kits, you can design your website quickly, inexpensively, and without any web design or programming knowledge. You choose your Internet address for your website and then choose a design template that suits you. Based on this template, you can then quickly and easily design your website. Good providers of website construction kits have comprehensive online shop templates and functions available.
How Much Can You Sell Without A Business Registration?
Anyone who is self-employed and runs a commercial business in Germany must also register a trade. Contrary to what some might think, there are no allowances here. If you would like to regularly sell self-knitted sweaters, carved figures, or pottery vases online, you must also register a business. This also applies if you offer services. The legislature then speaks of commercial activity. The following factors speak (according to the Income Tax Act) for commercial activity.
- Autonomy: You do not act on behalf of others, but determine your work yourself.
- Duration: You don’t just trade once, you want to sell homemade things online regularly.
- Profit Intent: You also want to claim a profit from the sale of your goods.
- Participation in Economic Life: Everyone can see and purchase your goods.
Exceptions only apply to the liberal professions (doctors, journalists, architects, …) and the so-called primary production (agriculture and forestry). However, small business regulation is not affected by business registration. Anyone who made less than 22,000 euros in sales in the previous year and is unlikely to make more than 50,000 euros in sales in the current year will receive bureaucratic relief (as of June 2021). Above all, the obligation to pay sales tax and the advance sales tax return is no longer applicable for small business owners.
How Do I Register A Small Business?
Registering a small business is easy and can often be done using an online form. To do this, contact your local business registration office. On the one hand, this determines the fees (usually between 15 and 60 euros processing fees) and also specifies the form in which you have to register (online, by post, on-site).
It doesn’t matter whether you want to register a small business or a “normal” trade. The process is always the same. Certificates must be submitted for some professions, but this should not be the case for smaller crafts. If you have registered with the trade office, they will pass the information on to other offices. The tax office will contact you to assign a tax number to your business, and associations such as the IHK or HWK will also register your business.
If you only sell your self-made items on a small scale, i.e. only generate a small turnover, there should not be any further costs for the latter, since both associations grant tax exemptions. However, you should urgently find out about possible costs in advance from the branch office responsible for you. As a small business, there is no entry in the commercial register.