Online shop MOT for Craftspeople

This is the stuff I say over and over again when you ask me to take a look at your online shop.


If you have a suspicion your online shop needs a bit of attention

Heres your toolbox:


Take good pictures ( yeah, yeah, you know that) Anything less than good, is a total waste of everyone’s time

Your lead picture must make it obvious what the product is, so if its five cards for the price, fan to show five

Don’t be too arty . Pictures, are tiny before click-through, so less styling, more product

Don’t ruin the look of your pictures with clumsy mean-spirited watermarks

made by

This is the cool way to keep tabs on your pictures

At least one pic should be product in use I have to see the necklace worn, to know how it falls

Don’t take pictures that date so no snowy backgardens. Unless you’re keen to show how long its been unsold


The first two words are crucial as the headline gets shortened before click-through

Don’t duplicate what the picture tells the viewer in the headline


Here, the fact that it is a handkerchief, has been entirely lost.

The headline only tells us  what the picture does


Keep text short, people are skimming

Don’t say anything that people can see for themselves

 You must have size and what it is made of

A brief bit of attitude breaks you out of the pack

 The Cameron hankie seller says ‘Keep them close to your heart in your top pocket, or blow your nose all over their face to make yourself feel much better!’

Write as if purchase is a foregone conclusion, no loser statements like “ pop in again sometime

Don’t suggest use, as in ” a perfect wedding  gift” as that limits, not extends, your market

Please no “smoke free, pet free, anthrax free”

Don’t emphasise packaging or insurance It does not reassure, it reminds buyers of  risks

The word unique is banned and ! is on the suspicious objects list

Don’t go into how its made detail because it suggests to customers that they could make it themselves

Don’t complicate by offering custom-made options.

Remember that people click-through on several items so repeat yourself as little as possible


Don’t say anything apologetic or amateur

such as “my nan taught me to crochet, I have always liked making things” (Clearly not money)

Do not mention any medical problems

Don’t try to be the reader’s best friend

Don’t direct the visitor anywhere else of yours online. They are at your shop,  let them buy

Every word on your online site should be there to sell, your profile is no exception

 Buyers respond to a confident talented expert.  It is a commercial transaction

Read this

“Hello my name is …I am a wife, mother, nana and an obsessive crafter…I am self-taught which has resulted in numerous mistakes, but hey you know what they say ” you have to break  a few eggs to make an omelette”. I persevere and more often than not I am pleased with the results”

I promise its not made up. It sounds like Alcoholics Anonymous. It makes out that the maker is an obsessive hit and miss amateur.

car repair

How are you getting on? Ready to face a few more running repairs?


My advice on  pricing is here Pricing for Failure

Round prices up, no odd amounts, that’s for supermarkets

Consider doing dollars on Etsy for the US market and £ on Folksy

Never put SOLD OUT as  that suggests mass production.


Dont make postage free, make it inexpensive and simple

Don’t put off international buyers unnecessarily by making them contact you

Hide some of the postage cost in the item price

It is easy to loose a sale mid process if the postage cost looks greedy or out of proportion to the purchase value

You may be able to charge a flat rate across your buyers and come out smiling

The US are used to high postal charges.

Take a view on compensation. Sometimes it is better to reimburse  for lost packages rather than always pay for the track and insure route. Undeliverable post mostly comes back to sender in the end.

Signed for can be a nightmare for the recipient

Consider using Royal Mail online to print out postage but you need to buy postal scales and ask at the post office for a roll of Customs  Declaration labels.


 Sales don’t help See Special Offers and other Disasters

Don’t put in vouchers or freebie gifts with your deliveries. It  makes the buyer feel they over paid.

Don’t plague your buyers, they are busy people.


Reams of conditions are pointless. Don’t try to manage a complaint before its happened

When something goes wrong be generous, suppress your suspicions. If the mistake is yours, say so and apologise.

Give yourself time to respond to orders. You will not always be in a position to  post  immediately

Don’t try to prove you are honest and trustworthy, it looks suspicious


You need to offer  unity of product Split your offer into different shops if it doesn’t sit comfortably together.

You need a recognisable style running through your work, you can change themes by offering collections

Clear out non-sellers regularly The ones that in your heart you know don’t cut it.  It should be your show case and far too public a place to cheap off your second-rate.

Regularly review the way you make your list searchable. Kill categories with less than three entries

Pay attention how you upload  new product. You need that first page  to reflect your general offer.


Here the gift tokens have been uploaded en bloc and so dominate the product

site owner

 Some advice given by the site may benefit the site owner’s interests more than yours.

 If they suggest free postage  or lots of mutual liking and treasuries between sellers what is that really doing for you?

 Promotion of your shop on their site essentially promotes them more than you. If you ask a customer where did you buy that? They say Etsy / Folksy etc  not you. All the e-commerce sites are leaky. There are trap doors all over the place where your customer vanishes to another shop.

Using  these outlets is a step toward your own website which will not be leaky. See  Online Brick by Brick

Thats it !


Goodness what an improvement. Do recommend this garage to your fellow car owners

By the way if you want to get Handmade Lives emailed Extra Pickings then sign up

Also if you want a proper private review of your Empire think about a  £50 Meal Deal ( its me, but you pay)

35 thoughts on “Online shop MOT for Craftspeople

  1. Beverley Johnson says:

    Stumbled on this on Facebook. I am a UK seller (or hoping to be) and so much of what you have said goes against loads of other ‘advice’ I have read in the hope of starting a business.
    Strange how many other people recommend discounts, freebies, free postage, etc….a lot of food for thought here.
    I will print this out and use it to help design my web page when I eventually get started on it!! The pet/smoke thing always irritates me when I read it, too.
    Will definitely have a look at your other links and would love to follow your blog

  2. Marion Hancock says:

    Great advice thanks. We have our own website and I think we’ve avoided most of the major sins, but there’s still work to be done. At the moment I’m getting a few approaches from people running e-commerce sites who want me to put an Art Cards Ireland shop on their sites – I was all set to go for it, but in the light of your Etsy comments I will think again.

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      I guess several of your artists will also be selling directly through online shops so you could find a clash too. I like to help individual makers so you are not quite my target but I can see your success should indirectly help artists so I am going to give you a bit of feedback.

      You have to decide what you want your website to achieve I think it should be direct sales of your artist’s cards from the website. So why is your landing page dominated by photos of artists, you are selling cards.

      Yet when I click through, to the cards arranged by artist there is no picture of the artist.

      First time round I missed the crucial bit of information “All cards blank inside with an artist biography on the back. Square cards 6 x 6”, rectangular 5 x 7”. and once you click through to buy it is not on the page at all. Also do they come with envelopes? If you look at the way the page loads the left hand column loads last so it is quite easy to miss the information. Also what is the postage cost? If it is included in the card price then make that clear.

      You need to change the tab How to buy as actually thats a list of stockists not how to buy.

      That said, I like the look of the site, it feels substantial and confident.

      • Marion Hancock says:

        Thanks for that Dixie, appreciate your taking the time to look us over. We will be making some changes to the site soon and I will definitely bear what you say in mind.

  3. Shirley says:

    Thanks Dixie. I agree about the freebies. I received a few single beads at Christmas from suppliers. They were no use to me because they were not at all similar to the ones I had ordered, and often I feel they are poor sellers. I find this slightly irritating. Great advice thanks.

  4. Carole Russell says:

    Thankyou so much for down to earth advice. This is very helpful and so I have taken some notes which I can now go and correct on my website. I appreciate the fact that you recommend having your own website, I have my own at
    I also have an Etsy shop which has about 19 items on it as I was trying to make up my mind if it was worth having or not. Now I am sure I should concentrate on improving my own website. i would truly appreciate any advice you could offer me on that. I also have a Facebook Page
    I find it difficult to get sales on my website even though I have the link on my Facebook page.

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Carole your website needs quite a lot of work

      It is over complicated, there is far too much text and pages and sections

      Kill all non essential sections such as pretty pictures of Scotland

      Make your product pictures dominate

      Break your product into two sections knitwear and jewellery Your landing page should have two big pictures of each and click through via the pictures to your two sections which should then scroll down, as in Etsy.

      Keep it all very simple in line with your affordable product.

      Cut at least two thirds of your editorial text it simply wont be read and what is read will delay your visitor getting to your shop and buying

      I change the bones of my website about twice a month because I realise I can improve it. A website should always be in progress. Dont be dispirited that yours needs changes, they always do.

      On your fb page be sure to put a live link every time you display your product to the place it is for sale and put the Price. ( not sure you know how to do this – you need to copy the address of the exact page it is for sale on and paste it into your meassage on fb)

      Keep your Etsy until your website is earning good sales then ditch Etsy if its being out performed by your own site.Never stop something that is bringing income until you have something strong and working to replace it.

      • Carole Russell says:

        Hi Dixie,
        I can’t thank you enough for this advice! I am closing down my website tomorrow as I am going on holiday so will be able to improve it before going live again by mid-April. I have printed off your advice and will work through each point bit by bit.
        I wasn’t sure if I should change the Home Page but now I know. Thankyou.I am absoutely thrilled that you have taken the time to advise me!
        Many thanks again. I may contact you again if I have any more questions. I hope that is ok with you.

      • Carole Russell says:

        Hi Dixie, I have just closed down my website but worked on it last night, all night. I have removed at least two thirds of text as you recommended and I do get your point. It is unnecessary. I have 5 drop down menus-Home page, Information(about semi-precious stones), Jewellery , Knitwear, Contact. I scrapped the fairytale story, blog, photos of Scotland. I have this layout till my website is due for renewal in June. It is Mr. Site. I think I may opt for the Shopfront instead of Pro as I cannot make the images bigger on this site. Maybe you could recommend a better website? My dream is for my website to take off.
        Anyway, I really enjoyed changing it. So glad I read you post!!!!!
        Speak to you mid April.
        Thanks a million!

      • Carole Russell says:

        Hi Dixie,
        I returned from holiday last night and I am eager to get working on my website asap. I have made a lot of changes as you suggested so far. Would you mind taking a look now and advise me further please?
        Many Thanks

  5. Kathryn Beach says:

    All of it is food for thought. It reminds us to totally think like the buyer thinks, see things through their eyes. Bravo. Especially the last section. If you’ve got an Etsy shop, for example – be skeptical. Always ask, what’s in this for Etsy? What’s in this for me? Brilliant post, no matter who or where you are and whether you think you agree or disagree with the advice.

  6. Ki'ihele West says:

    Well, you certainly brought up a lot of suggestions that I’m now willing to take, i.e. separating my shop, rewriting a few things . Good sound, concise advice for no matter where you live. Mahalo.

  7. Barbara says:

    I’m in the US, & your suggestions are opposite of so much of what I read here.Matter of fact, right before reading this, i read an article from 1 of the biggest US suppliers, Fire Mnt. Gems. They suggest including a freebie in with your order.! Which is probably why I like yours so much.! Just out of curiosity, why no”smoke free, pet free”? I smoke, have 4 dogs & 2 cats, so I can’t say those things, just wonder why you suggest against it.

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Barbaba the advice I give is aimed at UK makers.

      But on the subject of freebies, call me cynical, but why on earth would one of the US biggest craft suppliers suggest you give away some of your work? Do they do freebies when you buy? Freebies as opposed to samples?

      On the x free thing. Nobody should send anything out that smells of cigarette smoke or is covered in cat hairs, that’s faulty goods and should be returned and money and postage demanded back.

      I am against saying it. simply because it does the opposite of what you mean to do. It raises more worries than it squashes. If the buyer was hypo-allergic to the presence of cats even with a time and distance gap then I think it is incumbent on them to ask if a cat could have been anywhere near. In reality the making room would have to infested with tribes of cats to make a difference.

      Ask a friend who doesn’t smoke to sniff a few of you products if they detect a whiff then you need to stop smoking while making and keep the cats off your work table. X smokers are bloodhounds so you do need to be careful. But it depends what you make. Knitted baby clothes are going to be more susceptible than a beaded bracelet.

  8. LizzieMade says:

    Thank you for this – it’s so well thought out and very well written. Lots of sound ideas and good advice. I will definitely bookmark this for re-reading in the future. Much appreciated!

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