Cut The Craft

CRAFTY BASTARDS DISCOVERY SERIES; CRAFTING ONLINE 101

The Crafty Bastards Discovery Series is in full swing! With our second workshop in the series under our belt, we're gearing up for the next one in August.

The Crafty Bastards Discovery Series has crafting experts come to Whole Foods on P Street once a month, to talk to the Crafty community about ways to make crafting a successful endeavor on many levels. The first workshop, hosted in June by Tina Seamonster, gave crafters all the info on how to sell successfully at craft fairs.

Our last workshop, Crafting Online 101, was hosted by Caitlin Phillips of Rebound Designs, who went over various web tools and popular online programs to help artists and crafters sell and promote themselves on the web.

Below is a brief summary of what was discussed at Crafting Online 101. For more details, check out Caitlin's blog on her site at rebound-designs.com.

CRAFTING ONLINE 101
Having a strong online presence is quickly becoming essential in the crafting world. With the huge boom in the popularity of indie craft, competition is fierce, so the more people who see your work, the better. Here are some tips on how to use the Internet to get your craft business going, or to promote your existing business to new audiences. Don't get too overwhelmed – you don't have to do it all at once. There are so many different tools to use online and new ones are popping up every day.

Your Online Presence: Yourshop.com vs. Etsy
Having a place online where customers can find you is essential to success today. There are two main options: Your own website vs. an Etsy shop. There are pros and cons to each.

You can always have both an Etsy shop and your own website, and link to your Etsy shop with an Etsy mini. (See example here: www.rebound-designs.com ) Etsy minis can be put on a blog, or a Myspace page as well.

A few thoughts on Myspace and Facebook: These can be useful tools for promoting your business, but they should not be the only online presence you have. If you are sending customers who are attempting to shop to a Myspace page with blinking graphics and embedded MP3s, it makes you look very unprofessional. Use sparingly.

The #1 Most Important Rule of Websites: Have good photos! Your online store is the only way a customer across the country can see your products, so make sure your pictures are well lit, in focus, and show the product properly. There are lots of good tips on product photography if you search online.

Accepting Credit Cards Online
Having awesome photos isn't enough. Customers have to be able to buy your work easily online. The simplest way to get started with accepting credit cards online is through PayPal. You can do this in several ways. For no set up fee, and no monthly fee, you can use Website Payments Standard. This lets you either install a cart system, or single purchase 'buy it now' buttons, which link to the secure PayPal site. https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_wp-standard-overview-outside.

Blogs
This is a huge marketing tool for the craft world. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of blogs devoted to discussing indie craft and design. Some are personal blogs of artists who share their creations, how to tips, favorite things, and so forth. Some are more commercial blogs, with semi- to full-time professional writers keeping up with the hippest new things, and with paid advertisements.

Some of Caitlin's Favorite blogs include:
http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/craftybastards/
http://www.designspongeonline.com/
http://indiefixx.com/
http://poppytalk.blogspot.com/
http://www.ohmythatsawesome.com/
http://blog.craftzine.com/
http://extremecraft.typepad.com/
http://modish.typepad.com/
http://readymademag.com/blog/
http://www.boingboing.net/
http://www.ilikeseamonsters.com

Twitter
Twitter is sort of a microblogging tool, which lets you send out short messages under 140 characters. You can send them from your phone, or the web, and you can include links (tiny url is useful here). You can follow other people's twitters, and they can follow you. You can twitter about a new blog post, or a new item in your shop, or to let people know about a craft show you're doing.

Flickr
Flickr is a great site for sharing pictures of your work. You can have a gallery of past work, works in progress, your booth displays, or whatever, and you can tag them so others can find them. You can join groups with similar interest, and this is really the best way to get your pictures seen.

It is against the Terms of Service of Flickr to exploit it for commercial purposes, so just posting pictures of crafts with the intent to sell them or advertise them is not cool. But, you can still drive traffic to your site in many easy, legal ways.

Social Bookmarking
Check out Wikipedia for a good breakdown of this bookmarking at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_bookmarking.

Mailing Lists
A mailing list is an efficient and direct way to keep in touch with all of your customers and fans. You can send out announcements for shows you are in, upcoming sales and promotions, shop updates, etc. It’s great because past customers that may have wanted to purchase again often forget, and an email is an instant reminder. Every time I have sent out a mass mailing, I have received orders in return. The best way to send out a mailing list is to have a program that collects, manages, and sends the mail for you.

Overwhelmed?
The most important thing to remember about online marketing is that you don't have to do it all. Try a few things out and see what works for you. But as crafting as a business gets more and more popular, it will get more competitive, and the more ways you have of reaching potential customers, the more sales you will make. The more customers are personally interested and invested in you, the more excited they will be about your work, and it doesn't get better than that.

Read more from Caitlin on her blog, at rebounddesigns.wordpress.com.

The Next Crafty Bastards Discovery Series workshop is coming up in August. If you'd like to get the exclusive invite, just sign up for the Crafty Bastards mailing list and you'll automatically receive the invite about a week before the event. You must have an invite to attend, and our friends at Whole Foods provide the yummy treats... cause you can talk about crafts on an empty stomach!

Comments

  1. #1

    Thanks for nice article!

  2. #2

    this is whole lot of really good info! thanks~

  3. #3

    Lots of great advice here, I still haven't figured out the appeal of Twitter though! But maybe I'm getting too old!

  4. #4

    margaret! I think the appeal of twitter is how fast and easy it can be. You can, in one sentence, send your message or product info or joke or whatever to all of your followers. Some people even get tweets to their phones, so it is the most direct marketing. Not only are the people following you interested in what you have to say (usually!), you have a direct conncetion to talk to them.

  5. #5

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