My other half went out today and bought me a copy of craftseller magazine number 8 because I have been featured in the extra booklet on selling tips.
I was approached by the author, Sarah Moolla, to write about how I use social media for selling my arts and crafts and I actually wrote a really long text but only a short paragraph was used in the magazine. I think it would be a waste to not share the rest of the text so I am including it here. Let me know what you think about this, what your experience with using social media is and whether you can give some advice.
Nadine's Social Media 101
I am a fairly new seller on Etsy, I only opened my Quilt shop in May (http://www.etsy.com/shop/QuiltedBlissByNadine), followed by the Papercrafts shop in the summer (http://www.etsy.com/shop/CraftedBlissByNadine) and then recently the Art Shop in October (http://www.etsy.com/shop/ThisCreativeBliss) and I have to say it has been a steep learning curve. I imagined Etsy to be the miracle solution to all my woes. When opening my first shop on Etsy I was still naïve enough to think I just need to show what I got and someone will come and get it. Months later I have to admit I have to spend a lot of time and energy on marketing and I had to realise very quickly I won’t sell anything unless I figure out how to be seen.
That is the biggest problem on Etsy, you can’t depend on buyers to find you, you have to go out and find your buyers.
In order to promote my shops I am very active on every social media platform you can think of:
* I have a Facebook page (great for really communicating with ‘Fans’ and showing them what is going on in your creative life. Should not only be used for promotion or it will be considered spam.)
* I tweet (good for giving an insight into your personal life and showing followers you are more than an artist. The odd recipe or craft unrelated infos work well on twitter. I tend to have regular rants on the state of the nation. Feel free to ignore those.)
* I blog. Most blog followers are fellow artists and crafters and use blogs for inspiration and socialising. I also host regular giveaways on my blogs to attract more followers and show what I have to offer. Blogs are also great for showing followers how I do things and what I am working on. Techniques and idea generation work well on blogs, and showing works in progress always goes down well. I have had buyers ask me whether they could buy certain quilts I showed on my blog but not in the shop yet.
* I have a flickr account, to manage my (creative) photos online (great to show customers and fans lots more images and lots of things that aren’t even for sale in the shops. I do not use flickr for personal pictures.
* I stumble websites on stumbleupon, a discovery engine and bookmarking tool (to get more views and to get my items seen, you never know, maybe someone who’d never even heard of Etsy might find it that way)
* and recently I have also started to use Tumblr, a micro- blogging tool (but one should not only spam people with promotion, Tumblr only works if you use it for a lot more than your own items. I have recently been featured on the “Modern Day Quilts” Tumblr blog and received a lot of attention that way)
* and I am addicted to Pinterest, a visual bookmarking site (similar to Tumblr but growing in popularity and very easy to use)
Pinterest is great for exposure and if you have collected interesting images and you have managed to attract a lot of followers, your items will be seen. If you’re lucky they are pinned and repinned and therefore seen by other people who are interested in arts and crafts. If you are lucky something can go viral and get a lot of attention.
The same goes for Stumbleupon. As an Etsy seller I keep a close eye on Google Analytics, how many views I get and what key words are used to find my items in the shops. If I “stumble” one of my items I can get a sudden surge of views and my google analytics graph shows a huge spike for maybe an hour or so. Unfortunately, those views do not translate into sales. People who use Stumbleupon are not in a shopping mood, they are procrastinating and trying to find interesting websites to explore and bookmark.
As you can see, I have tried all of the social platforms in different ways to attract not only customers but also fellow artists and crafters. Other artists, quilters and crafters usually follow for inspiration and to socialise and form a community of likeminded people, which is the most interesting aspect of social media. Using it properly can result in a network of likeminded people who can help and inspire you.
What has surprised me the most in my time on Etsy is the importance of the Etsy community itself. It tends to be forgotten that Etsy sellers are also buyers and that the community feeds itself. My ‘circles’, a networking tool on Etsy, have grown dramatically through making treasuries (curated and themed lists of items) and developing a certain taste and style which other members of the community share. That way a seller can be seen even if their items are not and their shop is not featured. But making a treasury and featuring other sellers often means they return the favour and then my items get featured and seen by many others. As you can see, on Etsy and most online market places it is all about being seen. Not participating in the social aspect of the community can easily mean a shop disappears among thousands of other shops that sell similar items.
Etsy Circles are really a way of seeing what other Etsy members like and by joining their circle you start following their ‘likes’. People in my Circle do not necessarily see my shop or my items.
However, when I ‘heart’ something on Etsy everybody in my circle can see it. If I like a treasury I am featured in and I heart that treasury others in my circle might see it and like it too and get drawn into my shop. And if they heart the treasury or an item from my shop everybody in their circle can see that and might like it too. This can create a viral effect, which could, eventually, lead to sales.
In my experience a good way, maybe the best way, of drawing attention to your shop is making a treasury that is featured on the Front Page of Etsy, be it the US Front Page or the UK Front Page or any of the international Front pages being seen by hundreds or thousands of people, but this rarely results in sales.
Being featured IN a Front Page treasury gets the shop a lot more attention and often can result in a sale or two. (You can see a list of my treasuries that made it to the Etsy Front Page, UK and US.)
All Social Media are a great marketing tool, an opportunity to have your work seen, and used for different purposes with various outcomes. But if used for the sole purpose of selling your products your followers will soon disappear. Social media, (like the term says) used mainly to help socialise with potential customers or other crafters rather than used as a marketing tool might just lead to a sale or two. After all, one of the main appeals of handmade items is the thought that they are made by one person in their own home by their own hands, so we should not forget that that person is part of the package we’re selling.
Thanks for reading and happy crafting
... and please be sociable and say hello!
And just one more piece of experience/advice:
My greatest mistake ...
... was to change my blog url (in order to streamline and use the blog for all my arts and crafts), but by doing that I have lost about 100 followers and have not been able to lure them over to the new blog.
Shame. So feel free to spread the word, the more the merrier!
Thanks for reading and lots of love from York