Crafting an Online Strategy, Part 3: How to Get Paid for Your Wares

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Crafting an Online Strategy, Part 2: Where to Sell What You Make

If you're just starting to sell your crafts or other handmade items online, one of the first decisions you'll need to make is how to accept payments from your customers.

There are a variety of choices for payment processing, and many crafters end up using several. The methods you choose will depend ultimately on the needs of both your business and your customers.

One of the most common payment methods for small businesses, including many crafters and designers, is PayPal. Its popularity makes sense: It's easy to set up, it's user-friendly, and it gives your customers a range of payment options.

Its ubiquity and flexibility mean that you can offer it on your own website in addition to accepting payments through places like Facebook sales groups and from individual buyers.

"Crafters processing payments with PayPal don't have to pick and choose what payment methods they accept," said Dan Leberman, general manager of PayPal's North American small and medium business unit. "PayPal enables businesses to accept credit cards, debit cards, bank account, PayPal balance and PayPal Credit."

With more than 179 million users in 203 countries, it gives small businesses access to customers around the world.

"Crafters and other small businesses open themselves up to millions of new customers by enabling their shoppers to check out with PayPal," Leberman told the E-Commerce Times.

PayPal also is evolving constantly, in order to better serve the changing needs of small craft businesses and their customers, he noted.

"We're always working on new and exciting solutions for our small-business partners," said Leberman. "We've recently redesigned our merchant tools to make managing PayPal merchant accounts more intuitive, in addition to making invoicing more flexible. As PayPal is an agnostic, open payments platform, we're able to implement new technologies as they become available, so crafters can focus on creating and not on how they will accept new forms of payment."

For businesses like Bondhu, which sells handcrafted items made by women in Bangladesh, Nepal and India on sites like Etsy and Poshmark, having PayPal in the mix of payment options makes sense.

"Bondhu accepts PayPal, as well as all credit cards, using Square and other methods," said Molly Celaschi, Bondhu's owner.

"PayPal takes a small percentage, but you can transfer funds into your bank account whenever you want," she told the E-Commerce Times.

In addition to PayPal, you also might want the option of processing payments on your own website. That is where payment-processing companies like Stripe come in.

"We want to make it easier to start and run a global online business," said Cristina Cordova, Stripe's head of business development.

"While the Internet is theoretically borderless, that's not yet true when it comes to financial transactions. Payments are still largely hemmed in by geographic boundaries. By building tools that make it easier to start and run an Internet business and accept money from anywhere in the world, Stripe aims to empower more people to participate in the Internet economy," she told the E-Commerce Times.

Stripe emphasizes its practicality for businesses of all sizes, including small craft and design businesses.

"Regardless of a merchant's size, Stripe gives them the payments sophistication of a multinational company," said Cordova. "They can accept payments in over 130 different currencies immediately, from anyone in the world, and their preferred currency just arrives automatically in their bank account."

Because of its ease of use and customization capabilities, Stripe is useful especially for artistic and design-related businesses, she added.

"The less time it takes someone to get up and running accepting payments, the more time they can devote to their actual craft," said Cordova. "Similarly, given the creative nature of their work, they should pick a payments solution that fits their style and the needs of their particular website or app. Using Stripe, businesses can start accepting payments in as little as five minutes, and they have complete control over the look and feel of the purchase experience they provide to their customers," she said.

Once you get your payment-processing methods set up, you'll want to monitor them to make sure they're continuing to serve your needs and the needs of your customers. Don't be afraid to make changes, add new options or tweak existing options. That is all part of running a successful and responsive business.

While you're at it, make sure to keep an eye on other financial and customer relations matters, as well.

"I highly recommend small-business owners check out Credit Karma, a free app to monitor your credit rating and send disputes easily, and Acorns, a free app that will round purchases to the nearest dollar and invest the change automatically for you," Bondhu's Celaschi said. "Both are great to build savings and excellent credit while operating and growing a business."

Freelance writer Vivian Wagner has wide-ranging interests, from technology and business to music and motorcycles. She writes features regularly for ECT News Network, and her work has also appeared in American Profile, Bluegrass Unlimited, and many other publications. For more about her, visit her website. You can also connect with Vivian on Google+.

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