ITS ALL ABOUT THE SIGN UP
Choosing whether to join an online platform to sell your art isn’t an easy decision: the sites all look lovely and shiny, and they promise lots of sales, and, importantly, many come with a joining fee.
If there’s no (or a very small) joining fee, there’s no risk, what have you got to lose apart from your time listing things? But before digging into your pocket and paying a joining fee, it’s worthwhile spending some time doing some research.
Obviously you shop around for one that seems to fit with the type of work you do, and you hope that it’s going to work for you, and of course biggest isn’t always best, if there are around 100 pages of cushions, it’s unlikely that your work is going to feature on their front pages.. but is there anything else you can do, beyond looking around at the all important website before you pay that non- refundable joining fee?
Look at their social media presence, particularly their face book engagement…you can do this by going into your face book business page and clicking “insights” and selecting the business you’re interested in. From that you can see how many followers they have, how many posts they do in a given week, and what their engagement (i.e. the number of likes, shares and comments they’ve attracted in a week is) If they have lots of followers…and even lots of posts, but not much engagement, then their posts probably aren’t reaching many people., and even if they are, they’re not posts that people are interacting with. (You can also set it as a page to watch, and can set up other similar sites to compare their social media performance).
Log on to Companies House website, if they’re a limited company, you can type in the company name and look at their accounts….now these aren’t that easy to work out…You can look at their revenue for a year (remember this will also include sign up fees and the sales revenue for them will be their percentage of a sale). So, if they’re VAT registered, it’s sometimes easier to look at the VAT that they’ve paid, again this will include sign ups as well as sales, but if you assume that the vat is 1/5 of sales (minus sign ups) multiply that by 5 to get the total sales, and then divide that by the number of “shops” that the site has, and that will give you an idea of the sales one shop might get per year. Remember that commission and VAT will still be deducted from that figure to calculate the amount you might expect to generate in a year.
Do google searches around the company…and put in the word “problems” or similar, if there are any forums where people have had negative experiences these should come up in a search of this nature.
Think about how you would expect your items to be searched for and do more general google searches….while it’s unfair for you to expect them to come up high for your ideal search of e.g. “gifts for knitters” if it’s something niche or if it’s not something with a large presence on the site, but you would expect “gifts for her” to have been invested in as a key phrase when searching on google. Depending on the size of the company it might not be on the first couple of pages, but if it’s not in the top 20 pages, and I’m being massively generous here! you need to consider how they expect people to find them online.
Contact a couple of the “partner shops” that are already selling with them, and see what their experience is.
Obviously it goes without saying, that some people may do well with an online platform, where another might not do so well, that’s the same as at art and craft fairs and at galleries. Moreover there’s obvious things that you can do to make your shop look as attractive as possible ((good quality photos, all the information the client needs e.g. it’s amazing how many people don’t list measurements, or make it clear that a print is unframed etc) but if you take the time to explore the above, and don’t be rushed, especially by special “join now and get a discount” offers, you avoid the risk of signing up to a site that has invested in a pretty website, and is making it’s money from join up fees.
Please feel free to add your thoughts below/share etc, all I ask is that they’re done in a positive manner; of avenues to explore, and for obvious reasons, please don’t list sites by name
Please feel free to add your thoughts below, all I ask is that they’re done in a positive manner, of things to explore, and for obvious reasons, please don’t list sites by name