How do people know I'm here? How do they find my shop? I know that people will only purchase my handmade items if they somehow find their way into my little tiny section on Folksy. A few people may stumble across it by accident or come through the Folksy search function, but on the whole people won't know about my shop unless I tell them.
So I've spent the last month researching advertising. I've emailed people, joined up to new sites and been uploading pictures. And I thought you may be interested in the types of advertising I've found. Warning: I discovered lots of interesting sites, so this is quite a long post!
Everyone talks about Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Stumbleupon etc etc. so I'll not say much, but it's definitely worth using at least one of these - just make sure you include good links to your shop. Facebook is one of my biggest sources of traffic.
Blogs are a great way of being able to say more about what you do. I like the freedom of being able to write about whatever I want. Make sure you add a followers button and/or an option to sign up to follow by email, so that people are notified when you write a new post. And include a big fat visible link to your shop.
Also, commenting on other people's blogs is a great way of networking. I've found they often come over and take a peek at my blog just to see who it is who's left a comment. I have a new rule that I'm not allowed to read three blog posts without commenting on at least one of them. And as a blogger, it's so encouraging to know that someone stopped by to read what you write.
I'm not a forum person. I don't think I ever commented on a Forum in my life before I set up say it. I don't mind reading them, but I never really thought about contributing. Now I post in Forums almost every day. The first obvious one is the forum for the site you sell through (Folksy forums are great, so friendly). Then have a look out for other handmade / craft websites that have a community of sellers - UK Handmade and Creative Connections are good places to start.
Add a link to an item in your shop then get others to vote for you. If you get to five votes, they post your item on their facebook page. But don't stop voting - the top voted items in the month get featured in a monthly email. It's really easy to use and is a simple bit of extra free advertising. Can I encourage you to sign up to Craftjuice and get started. Then visit the 'craft talk' thread in the Folksy forums and add your item to the Craftjuice topic - we all vote for each other :-)
There are several sites / blogs that include a directory of makers, designers, handmade shops and crafty blogs. Many of these will add you for free. So far I have discovered The Crafty Network, Handmade Crafts Directory, Crafty Bitz, and UK Craft Blog, but there are probably many more. If it's free you may as well get yourself listed, it only takes a few minutes.
Non-craft advertising sites
It's good sometimes to venture outside our safe craft bubble, because most of our customers will probably be out there in the world and may not know to look on specific sites for handmade goodies. This is a little bit trial and error, but I have found that Freeads is quite good and brings a little bit of traffic to my shop. It also gives you quite good google search ratings. It takes a while to upload photos, but you get a free advert so can't really complain!
Virtual shop fronts / interactive advertising
The latest additions to my advertising are sites that offer you a shop front, but that link through to your existing shop (on Folksy or wherever) if someone wants to buy something. See my sale is a new site that's only just opened, but looks promising. It's not just for handmade crafts, so again helps to branch out and reach different people. Stallholder looks like another valuable site. I've only just signed up and I'm still figuring out how it works, but essentially it looks like a shop front that links to your own site when someone clicks 'buy now'. And if you have a spare fiver, Craftfest is an online craft fair event (the next one runs for a week in June) - sign up and get your own virtual table which you can add your products to.
Get yourself featured
There are lots of bloggers out there who regularly do interviews with designer-makers. Sometimes they have a form to register your interest in being featured, sometimes they do a shout out on facebook asking for volunteers, and sometimes you just have to be brave and get in touch (the worst that can happen is that they say no!). It takes a little while to write thought through answers to the questions, but it may be time well spent. Check out the interviews on Handmade Harbour, The Crafty Network and Heart Handmade (and look out for say it featuring soon on at least one of these!).
Join a blog ring / link party
I had no idea what a blog ring was until a few weeks ago. Apparently they used to be popular 'back in the day'. The lovely Sarah from Merry Berry and the Little Panda has just set one up - find out more here.
You can also join in with link parties, where you leave a link to your blog and check out the other blogs that have been linked. It's a good way to both find new blogs to read yourself and get a few new visitors to your blog. I like Handmade Monday, but there are many to choose from.
And if you have a little money to spend...
I'm just beginning to think about spending some money on advertising. I had a trial with google adwords and whilst it brought lots of visitors I didn't get one sale from it, so have put that on hold. It's very expensive too - I had £55 to try out and it lasted about six weeks with two different ads running. For cheaper options try a Made it Flaunt it showcase (£5 per item per monthly showcase), UK Handmade showcase (£10 per showcase) or The Handmade Gift Guide (£2.95 per item for six weeks).
And if you have a local magazine or village newsletter it's worth contacting them to see how expensive their advertising is. My local one is pretty expensive, but my mum's one does small ads for 20p per word so I might give that a go.
Phew, I think that's everything! I can't guarantee that any of these will bring you visitors or sales. I'm monitoring google analytics closely to see which ones work for me - and maybe I'll write another post in a couple of months letting you know which ones brought the most traffic. EDIT - follow up post is here.
I'm sure this is only the tip of the iceberg and there are probably loads of great ways of advertising that I've not discovered yet. Feel free to comment if there are any you know of.
I'm linking this post to Handmade Monday. Hello to any readers who have popped in from there - I hope this was a useful post for you. If, having finished this post, you're in search of more interesting crafty blogs to read, why not pop over to Handmade Monday and see what else is linked.