When you’re just getting started selling your Cricut/Silhouette creations, one question that comes up a lot is this: Should I sell my products online or locally?
There is no one easy answer to this question because the truth is, everyone’s situation is different. So – I’ve put together a few questions for YOU to ask yourself which may help you decide what is a better option for you.
How to decide whether to sell locally or online
1. Do you live in a financially depressed vs. affluent area?
One thing I’ve seen that makes a big huge difference for selling locally is simply the area you live in. Handmade items are always an indulgence but oftentimes if you live in a financially depressed area you may find that your local folks simply cannot afford what you are selling.
That doesn’t mean you need to lower your prices until you are barely making any money – that just means that perhaps you may want to focus on creating items you can sell online. That is me – I live in a low income rural town and selling high quality handmade items (that are priced accordingly) locally would be a difficult thing here.
On the other hand, if you live in or close to a larger city or a wealthier area, oftentimes people do have more disposable income and can afford to splurge more often on well made handcrafted items.
2. Do you want to (or like to) meet up with people?
While this is not always necessary, when selling locally you may opt for having meetup times to meet with local customers for delivery of their items.
This may be a refreshing opportunity to get out of the house and to go do something fun, but you may also have the personality that would rather just stay home and ship out packages.
You may also live further out in a more rural area and meeting up with people would be an unwanted extra cost to both your time and gas money.
3. Do you (or can you) sell items that are easily shippable?
One of the greatest efficiencies when selling items online is being able to package up multiple items and drop them off (or have them picked up) at once. In this case, the items you sell may determine whether selling online would be a simple thing or if it would be too much of a hassle to bother with.
Think for a moment – selling t-shirts and baby bodysuits is fairly simple – apparel is generally consistent as far as packaging goes and is not super expensive for shipping costs either. If you make and sell leather earrings and embossed cuff bracelets, same goes – they are cheap to ship and consistent in size for your boxing needs.
On the other hand, if you sell 6’ wooden growth charts it seems to me (not that I know since I’ve never shipped one) that those would be a huge hassle to ship, expensive shipping cost, and probably would have a greater likelihood of being broken.
More things to consider
Are you afraid of shipping?
I think oftentimes people are quite intimidated by shipping and the idea of figuring out the postage, etc. That’s one of those things that is actually quite simple. You can weigh and measure your items ahead of time and purchase postage online from the USPS website at a discount, print off your label, and be done with it. You can even schedule a pickup for the postal carrier to come get your packages.
Shipping is definitely one of those “it feels kinda scary and intimidating at first but only takes a little bit of time to get into a flow” kind of things.
Also consider shipping supplies can take up extra space in your home or garage. Supplies can be bought in bulk, you can get shipping boxes for free (Priority Mail) from the Post Office, but that is something to consider.
If your products are lots of different sizes, you may have to stock a bigger variety of box sizes (as opposed to if you have products that can reasonably fit into one or two different size shipping boxes)
Fair warning – it’s a major hassle to find a spot for the giant human-sized bag full of packing peanuts when you’re stocking up on shipping supplies for Christmas (but well worth it, I think!).
Accounting for all the costs
Whether you’re dropping packages off at the Post Office or wanting to meet up with people, please make sure that you consider both your time and gas money spent and integrate those costs into your pricing. I think you’ll find it adds up and selling becomes a burden really quickly if you are not compensating yourself for both your time and the money you have to spend on gas.
I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention craft shows here!
Craft shows are actually a great thing for anyone selling locally but also for people who normally sell online. This, again, is highly dependent on where you live. I found that in my area, most of the “good” shows were so far away that the costs to be a vendor made it so I usually just broke even, or maybe made a hundred bucks profit for a weekend’s worth of work.
Also, consider there’s definitely an investment involved if you’re going to be a craft show person, with tables, displays, etc. I did shows for several years and over time had put quite an investment into my display and setup. It can be worth it, and I do advise starting small just to see if you even enjoy doing shows, but if you’re on the fence you may want to start attending some shows in your area just to evaluate them.
Talk to the vendors, see what they think of the shows, watch the customers – are people buying? Or are they just looking? Is the show well promoted? Are the vendors busy with customers or are they standing around doing nothing?
On a personal level, even though I am super introverty, I always enjoyed doing shows. It was a fun time away and I really loved interacting with my customers. I did shows for a few years but in my area, the shows worth being at were just too far to travel and too difficult for my family. I’m a single mother so I would sometimes have to arrange for care, etc. and so I decided it was best for my family if I stopped for now.
So how do I decide whether to sell locally or ship my creations??
I think one of the best ways to decide whether you should make your focus selling online and shipping vs. selling locally is to really take a “whole business” approach. Evaluate your personality style, evaluate your situation as far as where you live, the area you live in, as well as the products you are selling or want to sell.
The key to remember is that no matter where you sell, it takes time… and it takes marketing. The fastest way to shoot yourself in the foot is to try to do ALL THE THINGS because you never really give your entire focus to one thing. I always recommend focusing on ONE sales avenue at a time until you are totally comfortable and rocking it, and then look at other options.
Do you have any thoughts or other things to consider when deciding which sales avenue you will use? Leave me a comment below!
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