I must apologize to the very lovely Bridgett of Perideau Designs. She kindly sent me her guest post on time and I’ve been so overwhelmed by trade shows, travel and summer escapades that I’m only now posting her excellent tips for entrepreneurs. I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to encourage you to visit Bridgett’s lovely shop filled with stationery, invites and other fine goodies, she also manages to find time to write her wonderful blog. I’m a huge fan of her Modern Monday posts, which always feature a profile and interview of small business owners.
Without further ado, here’s Bridgett’s post:
Advertising as defined by Wikipedia is the “form of communication that typically attempts to persuade potential customers to purchase or to consume more of a particular brand of product or service.”
Let’s discuss branding and then skim the basics of advertising, but first let me preface this post by disclosing I am by no means an expert and will just speak from experience. Some avenues have worked well for me, but might not work for all. It’s a trial and error process and will take time to figure out the right chemistry.
This is the most important part of the equation. Establishing an online brand presence will make you stand out from the crowd and look more professional. If you have an Etsy shop, design a shop banner that fits the style of your shop. A great example of this is Sara Duckett, owner of Warm Whispers. Immediately from glancing at her shop banner you are entranced with a warm soothing feeling which is then carried through in her products. The same sentiment is also consistent in her webpage and blog. Consistency is the key.If graphic design isn’t your forte, there are a lot of designers on Etsy who work with clients to create a unique banner and even a webpage or blog. This leads me into my next topic: blogs.
To blog or not to blog? That is the question. Does it really help sales? What about advertising on other blogs?
As I attempted to answer these questions when I was close to opening up my shop, I began my market research by examining what other companies were doing. What I appreciated was the familiarity you get when you purchased from a shop owner who blogs about various topics, including insight into their personal lives. That can immediately make one feel better about purchasing from a stay-at-home mom versus a huge conglomerate where their sale is number 139 for the day. So that solidified my reasoning for starting my blog. Slowly I have added a couple of blog series, including featuring other artists. I have met so many different people who, without a blog, would have never crossed paths. But blogging might not be for all. If sitting down and writing a post stresses you out perhaps another communicative avenue is better suited for you.
What about advertising on other blogs? This is a trial and error process. First one must follow potential blogs and determine whether or not they are geared toward the same market. If they mesh well with your style, inquire about advertising rates and see if you can swing the investment. Make sure you also receive information from the blog owner about how many page views they get to their blog per day/month and what the demographic of their readers are. This will also help you narrow down your research process.
Ah, the phenomenon we know as Twitter. To be honest, I was quite skeptical at yet another on-line network but after giving it a try I am so happy. Not only do I use it as a marketing tool for my shop and blog, but I have met many talented people. I would say about 90% of my time on twitter is simply chatting with other indie designers about our daily life and 10% is promoting. And I believe that is a good balance because too much promoting (i.e. that’s all you do) gets well…annoying and many will see those who do that as spam.
A huge plus for twitter is the ability to chit-chat with someone in your town or way across the seas. Unlike myself who works outside of the home full-time, many other designers have their own studio or work from home full-time and do not have the luxury of having co-workers in close proximity to chat with. But with the development of twitter, they now have “cube-mates” they can chat with throughout the day and well into the evening.
Etsy has grown so much over the years. Searching for the perfect necklace may take hours, but properly equipping your shop will attract more customers. A few tactics that have worked well for me was participating in forums and renewing. When I was first getting my foot off the ground I asked tons of questions in the forums and received some great feedback. But heed with caution, not all comments will be sweet as sugar so enter with a thick skin. But it is a great way to learn the in’s and out’s of Etsy.
Renewing is always a hot topic on Etsy. Etsy defines renewing as: “Renewing a listing means you’re restarting its life on Etsy. It will be given a new listing date and a new expiration date four months from the date of the renewal. It will also be sent to the top of your shop and appear in Etsy shopping features just as if it was a new listing.”
How often do you renew? How many items do you renew? Should I just list new items? I have used this avenue as a big advertising investment since it is $.20 to renew each item. But my justification/goal is to remain within the top 10 pages of a search at all times. For example, if someone searches “greeting card” I want to be within the first 10 pages. After that many customers will change their search term or abandon the entire quest. So I renew a lot and often. But if your market isn’t as saturated as stationery, then renewing less might work better.
Trial and error. This is the recurrent theme with online advertising. You will never know what your perfect chemistry is unless you try it. First do your research, follow through with the advertisement of your choice, and then evaluate. If it works keep going if not, redesign your plan.