Previously we have talked about how to add ‘value’ to our marketing message and so today I wanted to explore different ways we can get that message out there. In other words I want to explore the different online venues that we can use to connect with our customers.
Before we enter this discussion in full I wanted to highlight that whilst I’m advocating ‘fee-free’ venues in this instance, it is important to mention that these will all cost you a great deal of time. So there is a trade-off there! The other thing to consider is that there are many paid ways to advertise yourself online too. I will explore those another time.
15 FREE Ways to Market Your Artisan Products Online.
I’m not exploring these in any particular order, so make sure you read to the end!
1. Social Media - This feels like a no brainer to mention Social Media as being a great tool for self-promotion and marketing, but you’d be amazed just how many artisan businesses I see ignoring, or avoid this!
There are many different types of Social Media channels you can choose from; ones that are image led, some that are text led and others that involve a lot of video content. There is no wrong or right answer to which and how many you should get listed on. My advice instead is to consider your product, where it might be best represented and how you feel about delivering the type of content that each channel requires of you. Definitely above all consider the time you have to be present on each channel!
You should be very mindful of where your customers are too. So for example if you prefer to use Instagram, but your customers are mostly hanging out on Facebook, then it defies logic why you would invest so much time and energy into Instagram over Facebook. You have to take the ‘you’ out of your marketing efforts and instead consider your customer; where they are and how you can best represent your products to them there.
2. Forums – If you can find a craft specific forum that deals with your market niche, then I recommend you open an account and explore how you can use it to market your business. Remember marketing isn’t just about shouting, ‘I have this for sale!’ It’s about how you can add value to your customer.
Forums can be a great relationship building experience and they can be a great way to target your niche specifically. This takes longer to do using Social Media.
3. Your Website – Ah, yes your neglected website! Do you realise that your website is your number one marketing tool, even if you sell on a sales forum like Etsy? Well it really is!
Make sure that your web copy (that’s the text on your website pages) is clear in your message. It is clear about what you sell, what your passions are and how your product is the answer your customers are looking for.
4. Your Email List – This is still the number one way to sell to your customers online.
Yes #1! So why don’t you have one?
Rectify that today and start one. I use Mailchimp, as I explain here but there are many options out there.
5. Blogs and Podcasts (video and audio) – A really great way to get noticed quickly is to be mentioned on a market leading blog, or podcast. You can be mentioned in a number of ways; by review of a product that you send them, by a review of your service which they paid for, an interview, a giveaway.
These types of mentions act very much like a ‘word-of-mouth’ recommendation, or great editorial in a print magazine and I have found them to be very attractive for boosting website traffic, or gaining more social leads and newsletter sign ups.
6. Host your own Blog, or Podcast – There a number of services you can use. I will start to explore these on the blog during August 2017. Sign up to the newsletter above for notices!
Hosting your own blog and, or podcast gives you a space in which you can explore your products and services and attend to those questions your customers ask. So if you sell yarn and you have customers asking about knitting patterns then you could do a monthly round up of the best patterns for your type yarn. If you make soap, then maybe you could give some tips on what sort of soap is best for a certain skin type?
Providing this service is an extension of your social efforts and stands alone as a great way to showcase your expertise and thoughts on a subject.
7. Blogging on alternative blogs like, Medium and Hub Pages – There are other types of blogs; like Medium.com and Hubpages.com that are essentially community led. Anyone can sign up and anyone can post on them.
The advantages are that articles you write and are accepted can be read by a much larger following than your own blog may have to start with.
The disadvantage is that your content may sit alongside topics that you might not feel align with what you are trying to build in your business. My advice is think carefully about where you post your content and how you do it.
8. Offer a free product or service – People like freebies, it’s undeniable and yes to an extent there is a cost implication of offering a free product and service, but there is a way to offer something for free that only costs you time.
I used to offer free knitting patterns regularly to go along with my yarns and this worked for me. Have a think about what you could do and how you could host this. Using entry to a competition, or giveaway could help you gain more email subscribers, or sales on a certain product.
9. Get listed on Google – Google sends it’s robots, or ‘bots’ (also called spiders) out regularly to comb the web for new information and sites to list. Getting listed greatly helps their finding you. Here’s how.
By having your website listed, Google will then start to index you, so you sit on the web so to speak and don’t fall through the gaps. This means that customers can start to find you more easily.
You can do the same for other indexes, like Yahoo, Bing, Alexa Ranking.
10. Optimise your website SEO – SEO is Search Engine Optimisation and every site needs to know about it. So if you host a blog, or a website you should be interested in using SEO to its full potential. Good SEO can bring you the right traffic to your site that might convert into sales.
SEO can mean using the right kind of images and content on your site. It can also mean using the right words and phrases in your web copy.
I’ll go into more details on this in the future, so make sure to sign up to the newsletter above to get those tips into your inbox!
11. Give an online talk - Here again is a great way to show your expertise on a subject. This gives potential customers more confidence that you are the right person to buy that product or service from.
You can host these talks on YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Vimeo or privately.
12. Co-sponsor a Giveaway – There are ways this can be free for you if you don’t want to give away a product or service. Think back to point 8 to understand this more.
Usually a co-sponsored giveaway means that you stump up the prize for a competition that is being hosted and marketed by a third party. These can be blogs, podcasts, magazines, other websites, or social media channels and forums.
Make sure that you are clear about how the giveaway will be marketed and who to. Make sure at all times that your ideal customer is going to see it!
13. Collaborate – Collaboration can be a wonderful thing; it can bring you together with some great contacts and market connections and it can also expand your customer reach. When I was selling my yarns I often collaborated with knitting pattern designers. Our aim was to highlight our products and services to our customer, which is the same for both of us, but we served them in a different way. This exposed me to the designer’s customer list and my customer list to the designer. It also helped us both find new customers from neither list.
14. Branded email signature – My email signature can look something like this;
Inspiring Makers and Creatives turn their passion into business.
I say something like, because occasionally if I have a special offer or something of interest I may also include a further link. So things like a competition, a free workshop, or a new course.
This is a free marketing tool, which tells the recipients of an email from me who I am, where to find me online and what it is that I sell.
Think about how many emails you send each month, each year. How many of these could have become opportunities to create a new sales lead? You’d be surprised!
15. Use hashtags relevantly – Social media hashtags allow our customers to find us via a related social topic. More and more social media channels are starting to become search engines in their own right, like Google. In fact Google are even starting to curate social content as part of their directory offer. So it is incredibly important that we use relevant tags on our social marketing efforts.
So for example a customer might use the hashtag ‘craft business’, or ‘craft business help’ to find people like myself who teach artisan business topics. They might use ‘handmade soap’, or ‘handmade lavender soap’ to find a certain soap product they want to buy.
Are you using tags in a way that will help you show up in relevant searches? Or are you using anything at all?
Look on social media channels and see how your customers are using hashtags to see what might be more relevant for you to use.