Monday, March 21, 2011

Getting Noticed Online

One of the questions I hear asked the most is; how do I get my business noticed online? Whether your business is jewelry or other handcrafted items, the answers will be the same.

When it comes to marketing your products, there are several quick and easy things you can do. I am listing them here in the order that I consider to be the easiest to start with.

  • Signature Line – This is probably, in my estimation, one of the most important things you can do. If you are like me and you are a member of numerous online, clubs and organizations, your email is sent out many times each day. I not only belong to jewelry groups, but also cat care groups, sewing groups, antique groups and the list goes on. So, you can see, when I do email one of these groups, my signature line is made available to people with varied interests.

  • Web Presence – Whether you opt to go with the expense and the time it takes to set up your own website or you choose to use one of the artist communities like Etsy or Artfire, having a web presence is a must. With either venue, you can list your items individually by paying a small listing fee and selling fee, very similar to EBay but, without the bidding. This is good if you only have just a few items you plan on offering. If you have a large number of items to offer, I highly suggest you opt for their monthly plans and open a store. You have a lot more options when it comes to listing and it will save you money and time over listing them with just a basic membership.

  • Blogs – I will admit, I am very slow about updating my blog and keeping fresh material posted however, I do know that blogging is an important aspect to having an online presence. A blog, when utilized correctly, will work hand in hand with your website, Etsy or Artfire store fronts. Adding your Artfire or Etsy shop widget or a slide presentation of your products that directs people to your site is so beneficial in staking your claim on the web.

    With a blog, you can literally, tell the story of your item directly to the shoppers. Talk about what inspired you when making your piece. Is there some type of history that the design was based on or was it a new technique you were trying? Maybe you just returned from a trip and you were so inspired by the scenery that you made this particular design. If it is a new technique, be sure to describe the technique you used to make your pieces as this is usually very interesting to your prospective buyers. Show pictures of things that inspire you. I am always inspired by the beautiful colors of ocean scenery. I have a lot of pictures from my various trips that I use whenever I make a new piece that is inspired by a particular trip. I post it on my blog along with the link to my piece.

  • Tags or Key Words – A very important item to always remember to add when setting up shop. Tags and keywords are what help to direct a customer to your store. These keywords are what buyers key into a search engine to find what they are looking for. Be as specific as you possibly can. If a phrase best describes your item, use a phrase. You are not limited to using only one word in your tags. Crystal wedding necklace would be good for a bride looking for jewelry. Just don’t go overboard on your key words because you will run the risk of being penalized by the search engines for using too many unnecessary words in your site.

  • Social Media and Networking – There are lots of sites where you can network by posting opinions, ideas etc. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Linkedin, Yahoogroups, and the list goes on, all having a wide range of topics to choose from. Sit down and make a list of all your interests then do a search on the various media sites. Become a member of everything that interests you. You must be fairly active though, for people to follow you. A good introduction and your signature line are very important.

    Please be sure to look at any group rules as some groups have strict rules about how long your signature lines can be.

  • Business Cards – While some people just starting out may think these are not necessary, I have to disagree. Any time someone needs your phone number, regardless of whether it is business related or not, what better way to get your name out there than to give them a business card. Be sure to put your web address on your cards. Your cards don’t have to be expensive in fact, you can get free business cards from Vista Print. They will have the Vista Print logo on the back of the card but it is a very inexpensive way to get started. If you don’t want their logo on the back, their pricing for regular business cards are the best I have seen and they do great work.

  • Small Print Press Releases – If you have a small free paper in your area that gives news alerts for programs or events going on in your area, submit a press release. Maybe there is small local paper that announces things like bridal shows, home and garden shows, etc. What better way to be able to show how your handcrafted items will fit in with whatever event is taking place? Maybe you make bridal jewelry. Write up a press release and submit it to the paper, letting them know you will make customized jewelry for their wedding. A lot of small papers will take press releases at little or no charge. Not only do you gain experience in writing descriptions for your items but you also gain new customers.

You don’t need to do all of these suggestions at once. Start out slow, doing just one at a time until you get comfortable then move on to the next. The point is, get use to putting your name out there. The more venues you use that I have listed, the more venues you will think of as you go along that are not listed here. The possibilities are endless.

I think you will be surprised at difference just one of these tasks will make in getting your items noticed.