So you’ve made something that you think the world – or at least a small segment of it – would be interested in. In other words, you want to go from Maker to MakerPro. Perhaps a site like Etsy or eBay would be good outlets for your product, or even a local craft fair, or Craigslist. All of these can be good options, but if you have something that’s specialized in hardware rather than craft items, perhaps Tindie, which derives it’s name from “tech” and “indie,” and is sort of an Etsy for hardware, could be worth a look.
It’s free to list products on the site, so if you don’t want to potentially lose money, there’s no risk to testing the waters. Of course, there is no free lunch either, so they do take 5 percent of your sales price when you sell something. Hardware is pretty loosely defined there, and varies from circuit boards and components for use in your own electronics, to finished art pieces – many times involving some sort of blinking LED setup. 3D printing supplies, as well as 3D printed items, are also available there, which opens up lots of possibilities.
If you start selling there and you do become very successful – like IqaudIO, which makes audio accessories for the Raspberry Pi and started on Tindie – it’s possible to outgrow Tindie as a platform. Though sufficient for selling fairly low volumes, at some point you would likely want to have total control of your own e-commerce site. Still, it seems like a great problem to have if you’re willing and able to ramp up to higher production numbers.
On the buying side, there are a wide variety of components and kits available. Personally, I think one of the more interesting sections is Sound, where an eclectic collection of synthesizers, tools, and other audio equipment can be found. In addition to Embedded Computing, I blog for Tindie, and it’s often very tempting to buy what I’m writing about. For better or worse, I’m not much of a musician, so I think most of the items that I see there would not be used as much as my immediate buying impulses would tell me.
[A few shelves of my projects that don’t get out too much]
This brings up one of the ironies of being a MakerPro. Although there are many, many items I’d love to buy on Tindie and from other sites, I tend to want something unique. I then make it and let it sit around in my garage until it’s turned into something else. Or, even worse: it goes in the trash. For me, the resulting product always seems to be less useful than the process of building it. If this sounds like you, and you do want to make some impulse electronics buys, perhaps stocking up on cheap parts on sites like eBay for your next, not-yet-imagined project would be a good alternative!