"I'm a homemaker, and I crochet during my leisure hours. I would like to begin selling my crocheted items. How can I arrive at pricing and market my products effectively? What are the most important things to keep in mind when doing online sales? Finally, should I set up my own website to sell my products or create a page on an e-commerce site?"
Good news! You have a plethora of choices on how you can turn your passion or hobby into a business. Bad news, you have a plethora of choices on how you can turn your passion or hobby into a business.
Let’s first focus on the good news with your particular question. First, do you have a plan to make this business run? If not, you will need to figure out a few things:
1. Who wants what I make? How much will they pay for it?
This is basically you asking your friends if they’re willing to pay X amount for what you make. Then go to someone you don’t know and offer it to them for that price and see what kind of reaction you get. You can also go to Survey Monkey and create a quick survey for your friends online to answer whether they would pay a certain amount for a certain kind of product or service. This will help with your pricing model.
2. Am in the right place and time to be offering this? (In other words, will I have to market a lot or a little?)
Marketing depends on what you’re willing to invest. Once you have made this decision, you will need to track it to see what kind of return you get from advertising on Facebook or online with Google. You may wish to take some time to research these options as they are not just a "plug-and-play" type of deal. It takes some expertise to know how to make online marketing work. There’s a site called Etsy, however, that allows you to have your own online store and do marketing through them and share right to your social media sites. Don’t forget to tweet your special deals here and there. (But not too often or it gets viewed as spammy. Give some content on the art of crochet about 60% / 40% of the time).
3. Am I willing to make this a full-time business? And can it truly support my lifestyle?
If it’s really a hobby, then just use Etsy and slowly build it through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And don’t forget to do some short videos that you can put on YouTube. There’s a strategy behind that too that’s not very hard to learn. There are a ton of people offering courses on it online -- just make sure you have a webcam or a flip cam and share some of your real-time experiences. You'll be surprised at how many pay attention to it.
Bottom line: If you’re taking your hobby into the world of e-commerce then it should be fairly simple since you are doing the work. If you want to make it a full-fledged business, you’re probably talking about licensing your designs, which is a whole other ball of wax. I’d say start with the above and work your way into something that is comfortable for you.
Also published on Entrepreneur.com