Good Day Crafties!
If you've been around me for any length of time, you'll know that I have a long and storied history of selling my patterns in online market places. In late February 2023, I decided to close the doors on my Etsy shop for a plethora of inconvenient reasons. Ultimately though, I wanted to put most of my focus here on my website and blog to build more awareness for my brand and to get a more communal feel surrounding my items.
Some months ago, Michael's put out a consumer survey and I decided to participate in it. What it boiled down to was fleshing out the competition to see what it could offer that its competitors like Amazon and Etsy currently does not. I can assure you, I gave them the most fleshed out recommendations that any maker could and it was a fabulous feeling to really vent about what would make an online market place great.
Let me preface this with a couple of things. First, I'm not affiliated with Michael's in any way. I simply shop there when I'm in a pinch from time to time. Two, I don't plan on shifting my focus to another market place right now. I'll probably sign up for this new thing just to reserve my name and/or for reach but right now, home is where the heart is. And my heart is right here at InfinitiCraftingCompany.com.
That being said, I wanted to write this article today to shed a little light on Michael's new program and what my forecasts are. I'm typically REAAALLY hesitant about jumping into new trends and platforms. However, I had a slight inkling of optimism when it came to this new project.
If nothing else, it will offer a little competition to these other large marketplaces which is a great humbling mechanism among businesses.
They tout three things for this program:
Free Product Listings
Free Basic Membership Plan
Low Referral Fee (~2-4%)
On the date I am typing this article I don't have all that many details but the email went out from them on July 19th, so if you're on their email list, I'd go back and check if you're looking for more information.
One very important detail that I do have is this; coming straight from their FAQ page, the retailer states:
This is a third-party marketplace where sellers can list arts & crafts components, home décor, seasonal items, and other components in Michaels categories. These products will appear side by side with Michaels products on Michaels.com. Please note that this is not a platform for selling handmade items or finished goods.
So my take away is that pattern designers may have a new way to flourish here. Personally, I'd like to think that doing live classes and listing my patterns here would be a plus if I were interested in diversifying again.
However, this may just bring about the same issues as its competition in that, brand recognition for you as a creator may be next to nil. Considering your products will be listed right alongside theirs, it will still offer too many distractions for interested buyers.
What this new venture from Michael's may bring about for makers, I'm not certain, but I feel as though it will be interesting to observe in the coming months.
The advice that I always give fellow makers is the build out your own website. Even if it's a free one, secure your domain and start building your personally brand until you can afford to upgrade. It took me 4 years of behind the scenes grind to build this blog/shop and launch it. In that time, I had to deal with the whims of a many marketplace, often being displaced or inconvenienced in some way.
In the meanwhile, I was building my brand on my various social media so that others could have some familiarity with me and my products and I think that's what's most important. On your own domain, you don't have to worry about the platform leading your customers to the competition (unless you implement ads 😅) or taking outrageous fees. A lot of web design platforms have helpful widgets that allow you to integrate things like quickbooks for accounting and they take way fewer fees than external marketplaces.
An Update (07/27/2023): Today I got my welcome email to set up shop on the new marketplace. There are some things that I can update y'all on though I definitely recommend reading any new platform's agreements before diving straight in 😉.
So what's up?
Upon accepting my invite, I was able to go in, set up and verify my account, set up my shop, and upload my first product. The Makerplace has two plans, a free basic one and a professional one. There are perks to both, I personally signed up for the free version. The professional version is $9.98/month or ~$112/yr.
After selecting my plan, everything else felt sort of familiar. Their UI reminds me a lot of my website dashboard with hints of Etsy in there. Set up was very simple and streamlined. You have the option to upload handmade products, how-to's, or live classes to your shop.
So perhaps the previously FAQ has not been updated...
I went about listing a how to in the form of the paid version of my Nearly Solid Shawl. One thing that struck me as odd was the fact that I was unable to assign a price to my pattern. The platform instead, compensates you via affiliate pay through material list purchases.
It also appears that shoppers have the ability to download handouts (pdf files that accompany your instructions) and instructions before purchasing? So I would keep this in mind if you're a pattern designer. It seems like it would defeat the purpose of creating a store if people can just pick up patterns for free and not even purchase materials from the material list.
I could be wrong but I can't test this theory until they open up the market. The Nearly Solid Shawl is a pattern that has a free version on this site anyhow so I figured that I would use it as the sacrifice so to speak.
My main interest here will be Classes and How-To's on the occasions that I upload. Transaction fees are maid to be transparent and they're pretty similar to the ones I pay on my own website (3% +$0.20). Mine are a bit lower than this but this is a pretty great deal, considering you don't have to deal with site maintenance and ownership.
Over all, it's always better (I think) to have your
own domain and use other platforms as a
boost to your own brand. However, if you're just getting started with ecommerce or just aren't tech savvy, a marketplace is a good way to start.
My plans are simple...
I've been working on lots of wonderful things in 2023 for my own brand and its sustainability, including a members program for my premium and exclusive crochet patterns. I've also begun work to integrate my merch shop into this website to make it more of a flagship experience.
So while I may be putting a foot out there, my main focus is still here. Because I own it and it allows me to form relationships with my audience and consumer.
If you'd like to give MakerPlace a try, fill out the form below and I'll refer you over! After you make your first listing, we both get 3 months free.
Tell me, had you heard of this new market place from Michael's? And if so, what are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments below!