In my middle-of-the-night musings about Etsy, selling my items, and the potential for actually turning a profit, I stumbled upon the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, I don't need Etsy. *Gasp!* I think an active Etsy shop will be the best asset to this new idea, but I think it might not actually be necessary.
Since I am at least somewhat technologically-savvy, it occurred to me that all someone really needs to sell something safely is a website of any kind to showcase the items for sale, not even a secure one, and a PayPal account. Seems too simple, and maybe my rudimentary conclusions are not fully formed from lack of actual experience with it. But I think I am going to try something and see what happens with it. Here's my new 4-step plan:
- Set up a website to showcase my handmade products. Possibly even this website (I guess we'll see!).
- Tell people to contact me via email if they would like to buy something.
- Send a PayPal email invoice for amount due.
- Ship items when payment clears.
Downsides to this plan would be that customers could not leave feedback, though I could allow comments in some location. On the payment end, since I wouldn't ship without payment and items wouldn't be "unlisted" unless I unlist them, nothing is off-the-table to other buyers until payment does clear. Thusly I wouldn't have to fear the "non-paying buyer" phenomenon that seems to plague Etsy (and of which I was once a hapless victim). Etsy might make it easier to be found by potential buyers, but perhaps not. People go to the Etsy website to buy handmade items, but they also search using google and other search engines, so only time will tell what gets more attention.
Something that wouldn't change is where the money goes. PayPal still gets their cut of each transaction going in, but the credit/debit accounts they offer make it really easy to use those funds for business purchases both on and off the internet.
Those are my thoughts today. I'll ponder them further. It seems like it could be done FOR FREE using a combination of Blogger (or other blogging site), Flickr (or other photo/photostream site), and PayPal (or other payment handling site like Revolution Money Exchange). Free is good for small start-up businesses, and the fact that people would have to contact me directly to purchase items that I have made seems reasonable and appropriate to the arena of handmade items.
Thoughts? Feel free to comment. Bubble-bursters are welcome.
*UPDATE 6/27 - I guess I'll be my own bubble burster. You can't use Flickr for commercial purposes... could get your account terminated! So don't do that. I'm sure there are other options, but, after a little more time under my belt on Etsy, having an umbrella site so people can find you is great thing, even with the fees. There are ways to be more visible on Etsy, and experience will help with that. I will be posting int he future about some general Etsy lessons, so check back is you are interested. Thanks!*