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Before Selling On Etsy, Learn to Craft on Craftsy

Tickers in this article: EBAY RST

DENVER ( TheStreet) -- With more than 600,000 students who have taken at least one class, 68,000 people who "like" its Facebook page and 12,000 followers on Twitter, it's safe to say that Craftsy, a one-year-old online education platform for crafts and hobbies, has a strong following.

As the growing following of Pinterest and Etsy inspire consumers to make and sell homemade goods, Craftsy is seizing a big opportunity in craft and hobby-based online education.

"There is a resurgence in being a 'maker,'" says Craftsy co-founder and CEO John Levisay.

Whether it's quilting, sewing, cake decorating or knitting -- Craftsy's four most popular course categories -- the do-it-yourself approach to unique handmade goods is appealing to the artistically inclined and as such turning them into entrepreneurs looking to sell their creations.

Similarly, consumers are itching for unique goods, preferably made locally, as opposed to goods mass-produced in Indonesia and sold through chain stores like Target (TGT) , Kohl's (KSS) and Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) .

The trend is evident in the success of Etsy, the seven-year-old online marketplace for small crafters. Last year, sales on Etsy were $525 million, according to company data. As of July 2012, year-to-date sales were $437 million.

Founded in June 2011 by former eBay (EBAY) executives, Craftsy is taking advantage of the crafting trend -- and the ubiquity of technology access -- by providing classes for a large under-served market of women who are clamoring to learn how to make goods associated with local, "old school" industries.

Craftsy says its most popular course -- quilting -- has 95,000 students. According to a study done by Quilts Inc. , a provider of tradeshows for the quilting industry, there are 21 million quilters in the U.S. who spend $358 billion annually.

By the end of 2012, Craftsy expects to have 300,000 paid enrollments in at least one class. (The company also offers select free sessions as part of its marketing strategy.) With an average course price of $26.50, that's a hefty sales accomplishment less than two years from its launch.

"We fill a void," Levisay says. "People are busier than ever and it makes it very difficult to go to a live class. Five years ago a lot of people still didn't have wireless. There was no such thing as an iPad...People can take these classes anywhere they want, anytime they want," he adds.

Customers pay for indefinite access to a course. Courses are typically four to six hours long with as many as 30 lessons. All lessons are time indexed. Any questions that are inputted by the user are also time indexed and open for all to see. Instructors check frequently for questions.

Levisay prides the platform on being "contextually relevant," meaning that if someone types in a question regarding a point made at the 3:12 mark of lecture 12, everyone else who watches the lecture will see that discussion, even if they're not active at the same time.

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