Online Selling Question
A crocheter writes, “I need to find a website where I can sell my stuff where they don’t take any percentage away from me or require a credit card in order for me to list my items for sale. I cannot set up ETSY because I have no credit card. Please send me a list of websites where I can list for free and doesn’t keep any portion of my money?”
I get where this crocheter is coming from. The customer point of view comes out in me but also the business side of me in operating The Crochet Crowd in funding our expenses to run a free service.
Listing items for sale in the crochet world online is really a tough gig. Unless you are crocheting extra special, it is difficult to get exposure online when many other people have similar items listed as various prices. Most crocheters charge a fair value while other crocheters can significantly lower the value making everyone else look expensive, when in fact they are charging a reasonable rate. Even if this crocheter had a credit card, there’s no guarantees that her items will sell online.
Finding a website that will list for free, sell and not take a percentage of the sale to cover their operational expenses is a bit unrealistic. Online selling is a business with real costs behind the scenes. Website development, hosting, maintenance and more are involved that involve real people and time. If you are using PayPal, PayPal will take a percentage, then on top of that, the website where the listing is will also take a percentage to cover their operational fees. Finished goods need to be raised in price to compensate for that is taken from you; however, in some cases, it can raise up the prices beyond what people are willing to spend.
At one time, I contemplated selling an e-Book and keep it cheap for everyone at 99 cents. By the time the website took their fee and PayPal did there portion, it left me with 55 cents. In an open question about selling my book for 99 cents that included patterns and more, people came back and said it was too expensive as people cannot afford it. So I canned the book. For 55 cents with no guarantees to sell any copies and months work ahead of time involving 100’s of hours, I realized I might as well through my book in the garbage and put my time to better use. Which I did. It never saw the light of day and I stopped in mid project.
I was pretty upset about it but as The Crochet Crowd grew and had to get other companies involved with programming and more. As we grew, the costs of running us behind the scenes escalated to numbers I never expected. For us, we keep everything free to access without asking anything in return from our audience but it comes at a price where we have to turn to other sources to make that happen. Many other companies don’t have that option where they rely on the membership to fund the operational costs.
So in time, I came to realize the money that is taken from a sale is actually going toward keeping the website and organization afloat. The bigger it gets, the more people are involved, more fees by outside sources and more to keep it going. It makes sense. As a customer, I don’t like it but as a business owner, it needs to happen or you might as well close the doors if you cannot fund the operation.
So to find a reliable and trustworthy source to list stuff for sale online and expect to give nothing in return for their services isn’t realistic as nothing in life is free.
Selling Via Facebook
Back 2011, The Crochet Crowd Community was nearly destroyed on Facebook. We had an open door policy and people were posting everything under the sun for sale. When visiting our page, we would have people post oodles of pictures with price tags attached. Everything from finished goods to just the patterns.
In the visitor posts, you barely could find the inspiration. People who were selling stuff kept reposting the same items over and over to keep their stuff on the top. The fan base dropped, inspiration flat lined and I thought to myself, “What is going on?”
What finished me off was a complaint from a fan that was posted for all to see. She was ripping into all of us for not shopping and buying her stuff. She felt us crocheters weren’t supporting her. She was ripping into certain crocheters who seen her concepts and found similar patterns elsewhere that were either paid or free in other sources. Her posts were causing people to look for other sources where people wanted to crochet the item herself instead of buying her finished stuff. She caused a big fight between crocheters. She was completely out of line.
Behind the scenes, we had realized were on the path of ruin and contemplated banning soliciting. This one open complaint giving us guilt is what sealed the deal.
I realized by watching our page what was happening. Our page is based on ‘Do it yourself!’. Our crocheters want the ideas and crochet the item they see. They want links to patterns, ideas and more. Many crocheters use the inspiration. We realized our crocheters aren’t interested in purchasing finished crochet items when our page is geared to teaching you how to do the projects and provide the inspiration.
As of 2011, we stopped the soliciting element. Our fear was that crocheters may be lured into scams or buying stuff that doesn’t exist. So we put a stop to it. So with Facebook, you have to be careful but also read the terms of service of Facebook.
So the short end of the stick, I don’t have any sources that list items without expecting anything in return that are appropriate for the yarn arts. Most people refuse to work for free and put money out of their pocket for others to take advantage, I don’t blame them.
Many companies have a policy of not allowing solicitation on their Facebook Pages. People get brilliant ideas and see a lot of people in one group or Facebook Page and think they have the power to start soliciting without considering it may not be welcomed. I know sometimes when I have to remove it, we are given a hard time with being accused of being non-supportive. Truth is, we don’t solicit ourselves on other pages and expect the same in return. It’s not a lot of ask.
Some pages on Facebook at geared towards selling online but you have to have the right people who will appreciate buying a finished good and that usually involves people who cannot crochet the item for themselves. We’ve seen things go sour through Facebook connections such as the person wanting the item changes their mind leaving the crocheter holding a finished project that will never been compensated for it. I’ve seen crocheters being compensated but not finishing the items as well. It goes two ways and it can be a mess. I prefer not to get involved in that. I’ve heard of people shipping their items and it goes missing in the mail and the person who was supposed to get it demands a refund. Who knows what the truth is.
Online selling is great when it works but you need to ensure you know what you are getting involved with.