Starting a Crafty eCommerce Business Website

By Lisa Maliga, Copyright 2014

I’m sharing some basic tips on how to launch a crafty eCommerce business website.

Your website is your storefront. Will you design your own website or hire a professional? Another option is to get a predesigned virtual store at Etsy, eBay, Artfire, WordPress, etc.

Buy Your Domain Name

Usually it costs less than $10 per year.

More than a decade ago, I bought the domain name everythingshea.com which I still own. Although people from China wanted to own it, I said no, you can use whatever you want in Chinese but in good old American English it’s still EverythingShea.com. After all, I started this company because I love shea butter, and all my products contain shea butter.

Internet History: Archive.org

If you’re not already familiar with http://www.archive.org you might want to be. If you start an online website, whether you’ll be running it as a store, or just as a nice online display case of your product[s], it’s a helpful site to visit. You can see just about any website’s history or find out if the website ever existed and/or what it looked like years ago.

PayPal Shopping Cart

I used PayPal as my shopping cart. It’s free and all you pay is a small percentage for each sale. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, PayPal is an option you’ll want to consider. Also, PayPal is the payment of choice on Artfire, Etsy, eBay and many other online shops.

It’s All About You!

the soapmaker's guide to online marketing, lisa maliga, ebooks, soapmaking, soapcrafting, online marketingAside from having an eye catching, keyword-friendly main page, I recommend having an About page on your website. Visitors can get to know about you and your products. This increases customer confidence, tells us how long you’ve been making your products, and what inspired you to make them.

This page should feature information about the origins of your company. Share photos of your products—even if it’s only one. You can also have pictures of you and/or your workplace. If you have a soap site and sell soap bars or shampoo used for animals, show a picture of a dog being bathed in your soap. For an author’s website, display your picture, book cover, and/or workplace.

Expanding the WWW

The WWW is like the universe – expansive! It grows page by page, picture by picture, and video by video–every day and night. Like authors writing more books and uploading them onto Amazon, B&N NOOK, Kobo, iTunes, etc., the more titles you have, the more web pages you have, the more likely you are to be noticed.

Each page should accurately represent your product and not use any tricks. I’m a firm believer in quality versus quantity. Show and tell the audience why they need to buy your product. Be creative. Use photos and videos. Make it a visual feast that engages even a casual surfer. Lovingly describe your products, attracting people in such a way that they want to learn more—and become your customers!

Testimonials

Testimonials – Ask for them. Get them. Use them with the buyer’s permission.

Free Samples or Paid Samplers?

shea butter sampler everythingshea.com

As I was running an online only store, I didn’t offer free samples. However, I sold samplers containing several varities of shea butter and handcrafted soap. I always included a sample with any PAID order.

However, for authors, offering a free eBook will attract more readers. And there isn’t any mailing fee!

Learn more about online promotion here:

Promoting Your Website ~ An Excerpt from “The Soapmakers Guide to Online Marketing”

What’s So Great About Pinterest?

by Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2013-2016

The following article is an excerpt from the eBook “The Soapmaker’s Guide to Online Marketing.

Pinterest is relatively new, but as it’s photo-driven, your soapy pictures will be seen and hopefully repinned, by many potential customers. This is my favorite social media site because of the emphasis on photos. You can create hundreds of boards all focused on your favorite topics. For example, as a soapmaker it’s in your best interest to post photos of your soaps. Create a soap board and pin your pics. If you make salt scrubs, create a board for that. Are lip balms your thing? Have a lip balm board and pin your photos. But don’t just limit yourself to your business board. Create boards for other fun crafts and hobbies, food, drink, travel, DIY and organization, movies, music and so much more. For example, I’m a member of a large Chocolate group board with more than 34,000 followers and the array of pictures of chocolate is overwhelming! Most of the pins aren’t just photos – they lead to websites that include recipes. That’s why having a blog is another big benefit – you and others can share your photos, get more blog hits/website hits, and that can lead to more sales.

You can put your boards in alphabetical order, numerical order, group by subject, or in any order you’d like. Once you name your boards, and you can be as creative as you’d like, add an accurate description. If you’re running a group board, indicate whether personal/company advertising is okay in the description. 

sunshine kitty cat by lisa maliga
Sunshine

When it comes to pinning, you can like a pin, pin it, or comment on a pin. Pinning means you can add it to one of your own boards or add it to a group board. For example, a picture of a kitten may have originated from the Kittens group, so you don’t want to repin it there, but it would fit in well with the Cute Animals group.

If you upload a picture of your lemon scrubby soap, don’t neglect to add that into the description. Also, you can add a line like Sally’s Soap Site – Lemon Scrubby Soap. Remember, descriptions are keywords and this is another way to advertise your soap site for nothing other than taking a few minutes out of your day to pin pretty pictures! Yes, I encourage you to add your gorgeous photos to enhance Pinterest, and you’ll win more followers and potential customers if you brighten up their day with a bright and breezy quote or a picture of a field of lavender flowers or a tropical sunset.

There are people that won’t join Pinterest due to copyright/trademark infringement issues. That’s entirely up to each individual. According to Pinterest, they “Encourage artists to create great work by linking back to their pages, and leaving polite comments when you see pins that aren’t correctly credited.”

The Soapmaker’s Guide to Online Marketing is available at the following online bookstores: Amazon, Barnes and Noble NOOK, Smashwords and Kobo

the soapmaker's guide to online marketing, lisa maliga, ebooks, soapmaking, soapcrafting, online marketing

Promoting Your Website ~ An Excerpt from “The Soapmaker’s Guide to Online Marketing”

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2013-2016

After hitting that button to send your pages to the WWW and launching your website, you want it to be seen. You want the orders to pour in. You want to see your bank account grow.

But hold on!

First, look at it thoroughly before sending anyone a link. Do the pages load quickly? Do the pictures show up or do you get a dreaded red X? How easy is it to navigate? Have you included your contact information? Test each link that connects your web pages to each other. Then test the outgoing links. Does the shopping cart work? Does your site have an inviting appearance? Are your pictures enticing? Proofread each page for typos. Then have your friends and family help you out by offering their opinions. Also, test it in various browsers not just Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. Check it out in at least a dozen, if not more, different browsers to see how it looks. http://browsershots.org

Getting your site seen around the world—or at least in your area–isn’t going to be that simple. Online entrepreneurs often think that just because you’ve put in a lot of time and effort that customers will be buying from you within a few hours or days. The problem is the sheer amount of competition you face. The smaller your site is, the harder it is to find in the vastness of the Internet. With effort, you can get your site noticed. Many methods of doing this are free.  However, while they may not cost anything, they will involve your time. 

The Soapmaker’s Guide to Online Marketing is available at Amazon KindleB&N NOOK, iTunes, Scribd, Smashwords, and Kobo.

the soapmaker's guide to online marketing, lisa maliga, ebooks, soapmaking, soapcrafting, online marketing