September 2, 2010

Check the request boards (or Alchemy, or whatever)

I know a lot of you are new to online selling, so I'm trying to post tips whenever I remember them. I might be relatively new to selling crafts online, but I've been a freelance writer for a few years and some of the tips (like this one) transfer over no matter what you're selling.

When you're selling online, you need to put in some effort to get noticed. There's no one driving by your storefront going "hey, we should check them out sometime". You need to get out there and get recognized. In the writing world, I have quite a few recurring customers. Out of all of them, I can think of two who actually found my profile on a freelancer website or who stumbled on my business website. The rest, I went looking for. They posted somewhere that they needed something done, I sent them an impressive e-mail, they chose me for the job, and they've been coming to me for web content and blog posts ever since. So far, it seems to work similarly in the crafting world.

Request boards (or Alchemy, in Etsy-speak) are your best friend when it comes to selling online. If someone searches the website and doesn't find exactly what they're looking for in your field, you want to be there to pick up the slack. Not only does this give you more opportunities to sell (I have one sale on Etsy and currently have 4 custom orders thanks to Alchemy), but it's free promotion. What could be better than having someone show off your custom creation to their friends while talking about how wonderful it was to work with you?

However, you need to be careful that you don't take on too much. I had one very long, sleepless week when I first discovered the request boards on my favorite freelance writing site. Just because you sent someone a message and they chose you for the job, doesn't mean that you have to do the job right away. If you explain to them that you have a lot of other jobs on the go and you can't start working on theirs until next week, they are generally ok with it. They'd rather have quality work than work done in a hurried, sleepless daze. I've only encountered one person who had a time-sensitive project and couldn't wait a few days... and really, if you lose one job out of 20 because you were swamped, it's not much of a loss.

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