Monday, September 28, 2015

Selling Original Art on Handmade at Amazon

I promised I'd update you about Handmade.  Well, here we are the last few days of September, on the cusp of the Christmas selling season and it hasn't launched yet.
English Bulldog Portrait by Robin Zebley
Most of us who were juried in have gotten a one week's notice to get our items listed, so hopefully it's close.  The problem is it is very, very time-consuming and Amazon has just piggybacked Handmade onto it's regular programming, making it confusing for those of us who are not in the business of importing widgets and reselling them.

The shipping is a nightmare.  You can't adjust for items easily.  You have to use a confusing spreadsheet to upload a base price and then adjust it from there in the item, using percentages and MATH.  Which many of us artists are not the best at.  I had three dedicated sessions before I figured it out, sorta.  What I'm doing is using my most common shipping price and just adding into my largest paintings selling price.

There is no copy function.  Regular Amazon has this, I guess the programmers thought that handmade means we are all making all kinds of items, none of which are similar.  You literally need to start with picking a category for every single listing.  Now, there is a hack to save SOME of your info, but listing on Amazon, with all its boxes and no copy function, is quite time consuming.

There is little Amazon presence in the forum, which would seem to me to be better than fielding tons of phone calls.  So the forum is full of rumors and advice given by volunteer "regular" Amazon sellers who have some different functions that we do.  Like, they can copy, we can't.  

And lastly, their Terms of Use are confusing and have frightened off some really good sellers who would be an asset to Handmade at Amazon.  They are aware of it and have chosen to just post reassurances that they will not use your intellectual property even though the language in the TOU says they can if they want to, forever.  They would do well to revisit the TOU and have a IP lawyer help them from the seller's side to clarify and make the site work for the very cautious.

On the plus side:  TONS of space to add search terms.  For me, that's not as important as for others.

Also, no silly matching of search phrases to title for the algorithm to be able to find you.  This Etsy-only exercise in moving one pile of dirt to another is a hard habit to break, but refreshing.  At Etsy, the mistagging is rampant, so that "original oil painting" shows reproductions OF original oil paintings.  I hear Amazon's search will not produce those kinds of results AND that mistagging is punished.

And I'm really excited to sell here, I can't see a downside personally and am looking forward to being able to paint instead of fixing listings constantly to conform and optimize for Etsy's latest change, in order to get eyeballs on my portraits

The buzz is also starting, I was interviewed for a story thestreet.com is doing on it (hopefully I won't end up on the cutting room floor!).  There is a lot of attention and focus from financial and business press and blogs, and every one of us who is signed up NOW can benefit from that.

So, our hope is that within a week, we'll get the promised 48 hour warning and that the zillions of Amazon buyers and buyers who never thought about buying original art or handmade will be shopping with us!
House Portrait Watercolor Painting by me, Robin Zebley



1 comment:

Nana said...

Hi Robin, I discovered your blog through the Etsy forums. I love your art and am newly enjoying your blog! I am one of the lucky "chosen ones" to H@A and agree with your blog. There are challenges with getting set up and I am sure there will be a learning curve - bring it! I am ready and thankful for this opportunity. After 3 very good years on Etsy, the past 8 months have been awful, dead and very discouraging to say the least, thus the gumption to move on. Please continue sharing!