Become an Online Scrapbook Retailer

By: Gail Metcalf


Opening an online scrapbook store gives you the opportunity to open up shop in your house or garage, but the business should be treated just as professionally as a “brick and mortar” store.

You’ll have the chance to choose your own hours and work in your pajamas if you want, but competition from the hundreds of other online scrapbook stores makes it necessary for things like in-stock inventory and professional design to be a priority.

Online retailers who research and develop a niche have a good chance of making this a profitable venture. E-bay can be a great place to market your wares. Whether you’re selling supplies or your services, you will be able to realize quite a bit of profit by marketing yourself at an online auction site.

Find out what people want from an online store. Find out your target market’s priorities – is it product selection? Is it cost? Is it free shipping? I would spend at least six months doing background research like that. Find out what’s already being offered by many online stores, then figure out how you can be different.

That difference is what will make your business viable. Then take that research and create a plan. It doesn’t have to be a formal business or marketing plan, but you need to define your business goals, and have a tentative idea of how you can reach them. Having a plan and goals for the future will also help your business stand out; your customers will perceive you as more professional.

One note about shipping out your supplies to people: the U.S. Postal Service will give you FREE Priority Mail supplies like envelopes, boxes, and such for you to use with your business. Log on to www.usps.com and go to “Shipping Supplies” to order as many as you want.

This will cost you a little more to send supplies out Priority Mail, but your customers will be grateful, and you’ll save a ton of money by not having to buy envelopes at an office supply store at your own expense. In the long run, it’ll be worth it!

Paper Piecing And E-Bay

This is an amazingly lucrative way to make money by using your scrapbooking expertise and taking advantage of the global marketplace that is e-Bay! What is paper piecing? Basically, you put together pre-made scrapbook pages and sell them to people online. All they have to do is add their pictures and any journaling they want to write down and their scrapbook page will be complete. Initial research on e-Bay shows that people are willing to pay – sometimes pay BIG – for this service which can be an amazing way for you to make a lot of money with scrapbooking!

If you are unfamiliar with selling on e-Bay, it’s really quite easy to do. You’ll first need to set up a selling account. It’s a good idea to include “scrap” in your name if possible. Once you have your user name, you’ll need to establish your selling account. This usually means providing a credit card or bank account to e-Bay and verifying it to get started. Don’t worry – it’s safe and secure.

We could write a whole entire other book on getting started selling on e-bay – in fact, it’s already been started – so we would suggest you visit e-Bay’s website at www.ebay.com and look under “Site Map” to read information about setting up a seller account and getting started on e-Bay.

When you have some product you want to sell, take pictures of it or scan it into your computer. Pictures will be a huge selling point, so make sure they are of good quality and you provide as many as you possibly can to give potential customers a better idea of what the product looks like.

Since e-Bay charges an extra fee for more than one picture, sign up for Photo Bucket at www.photobucket.com and use them to host your e-Bay pictures. There are a lot of other sites that host pictures, but I like using Photo Bucket because of its ease of use. You can make your own decision as to which photo hosting site will work best for you.

In your title, include the words “paper piecing” (without the quotation marks) since that’s how people will search for listings.

List the dimensions and a brief description of each part of the set. Also let people know if you used pens and chalks to add detail to your sets. If any part of your set is computer generated, it is a good idea to note this in the auction.

Let everyone know whether your background paper is included or not.

Make sure you let your potential customers know if you use all acid-free, lignin-free products when making your sets. A lot of people also list information such as "comes from a pet-free, smoke-free home."

At the end of the description list all payment and shipping information. You want to make sure that customers know the following: what payment methods you accept/prefer, your shipping rate, how the items will be packed, whether or not you offer insurance and how much you charge, and your email address for any questions.

Set the price at the absolute minimum you are willing to accept for this paper piecing. Most auctions start in the $3-10 range. Adjust your minimum bid price according to time, materials used, and the detail of the piece.

You have a choice of 3, 5, 7, and 10 day auctions. Most paper piecers use either 5 or 7 day auctions. It is a good idea to have your auction extend over Sunday evenings because it is a very busy time.

Each time you create an original paper piecing it automatically has copyright protection. You do not need to register a creation to have it protected, but only copyrights that have been registered can be enforced in a court of law. It is a good idea to put a notice with your auctions when it is an original design. If you are using a pattern from a Tole/Pattern book, you should not use a copyright notice. A basic copyright notice looks like this:

Copyright © 2007 Your Name Here

This also means that all of those other original paper piecings that are listed on eBay are protected. It is okay to browse around and get ideas and inspiration, but you should never make copies of paper piecing that you see.

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