I just realized it has been a while since my last post, OOPS! I have been trying to post at least once a week, but sometimes there are so many others things to do. I’ve been spending a lot of time working on my website, my overall web presence as a brand, and trying to improve my SEO (Search Engine Optimization – more on this in another post). When I decided to open up shop, I had no idea what to expect from the business side. All I knew was that I wanted to sew fun and pretty things, and if I could make a little money doing what I love, then why not?
But it is a lot harder to “break into” the market than it used to. Here are some of the things I have learned so far about building a web presence.
Etsy used to be a marketplace for handmade items only, but in October 2013 they changed their policy to allow mass produced items.
What does this mean? Etsy is now more like Ebay, but with fixed prices instead of bidding, and much less sophisticated search options.
What does this mean for the handmade biz owners? We’re getting lost in the flood of new shops listing tons of mass produced items. And, since the search options are not as clear cut, it makes it quite a challenge for a customer who is looking for a specific product to find what they want.
What can we do to help our customers find us? There are a few things you can do to help:
- Make sure your titles and tags are on point and use the best keywords that your potential customer may be using. The better these are the better change you and your ideal customer will find each other. You are allowed 13 tags – USE THEM ALL!
- Etsy shows the listings in order of most recently listed first. So, if you listed an item 2 months ago you will be pages and pages away from page 1. The best way to combat this issue is renew at least one listing from your shop a day. It costs the $0.20 listing fee again, but it may be worth it. For example, every morning I pick a few listings from my shop to renew, and every day those are the listings that get favorited the most. It is an investment, and while $0.20 doesn’t sound like much, if you renew one add every day you spend and extra $73 a year. We all know that handmade items don’t have the best profit margins, so you will have to ask yourself if you can afford this. But, think of it as a $73/year advertising budget.
- Promote your listings as Ads. Etsy just changed their policy on this one too, but for the better. In the past you could decide what your max weekly budget was, which ads you wanted to promote, and they would show it to a certain number of people based on the amount of money you chose to spend. Now, setting up the ad is the same, but Etsy only charges you if someone clicks on your listing. So, you only play if someone sees the ad, and clicks on it to go to your shop. Another benefit of this, anything you promote as an ad on Etsy also shows up as a Google Ad. 🙂
Facebook used to be a great place to connect with potential clients for free, but, just like Etsy, they have changed their rules recently as well, limiting your posts visibility on your Likers’ timelines.
What does this mean? It seems like Facebook wants to make it difficult for businesses to reach their customers without paying for advertising. For instance, I have 300 page likes on Facebook, but when I post something I am lucky if Facebook shows it to 30 people. This means that not even 10% of the people who have liked my page see anything I post.
What does this mean for the handmade biz owners? Our customers and potential customers are not seeing our posts. And, we all know that the more your Likers see your posts and connect with you and your brand the better chance they will turn into customers or repeat customers.
What can we do to help our customers find us? Just like Etsy, there are a few things you can do:
- Find a few friends to like, comment, and share things you post. The more likes, comments, and shares any post gets, the more people Facebook will show it to. It’s called “The Power of 3.” Facebook uses algorithms to see how popular your posts are. The more activity, the more popular it looks, and the more people Facebook will “serve” it to.
- Another thing you can do is buy a Facebook ad. You can choose any dollar amount, even $1, choose demographic parameters (ages, gender, geographic location, interests) that you want Facebook to show the add to and let it run. This will greatly increase your reach, and hopefully you will pick up a few new Likes as well. For example, this week I ran a giveaway for reaching 300 Likes on my page. I boosted it as an ad and let it run for 2 days with a max budget of $8. Instead of 30-50 people (already likers of my page) seeing the post, 3,000 people saw it, 42 people engaged with the the post in some capacity (liked it, shared it, clicked on it, etc.), and I gained 8 new page likes of potential customers. Just like Etsy, it is a monetary investment, so you will have to decide what your budget is, if any, for advertising.
For a long time I was an eBay addict, but in recent years it has become overrun with overpriced items and millions of items from overseas. I completely stopped using eBay as a platform until recently. Ebay used to charge listing fees, just like Etsy, but they have changed many of their listing policies that allow you to list things for FREE under many circumstances and only pay the listing fee when it sells.
What does this mean? Free Listings = Free Advertising
What does this mean for the handmade biz owners? More exposure for your brand and your products, and, just like paid Etsy ads, anything listings you have in eBay will come up as a Google Ad (FREE ADVERTISING!!!)
What can we do to help our customers find us? List anything you have for sale in your other online platforms on eBay as well.
Here’s an example of what I mean by free advertising. Below you will find a screen save of me doing a Google search for handmade organic children’s clothing.
Now, I know my website is on page 2 of this particular Google search (which is phenomenal, considering there are 1,960,000 results in this query, but I am still trying to get on page 1), but check out the “Shop for” ads to the right. 3 out of those 8 are mine products, two from eBay, and 1 from Etsy. So, anyone who does the same Google search I did, even if they don’t scroll to page 2 and find my website, they are looking at 3 of my products right here! The same thing applies for page 2. My web page is about halfway down the page, but 2 of the 8 pics on the right are my listings, one form eBay, one fro. Etsy.
Awesome, huh? Just a reminder, I do pay for the ads in Etsy, but only if someone clicks the link. I don’t pay for the Ebay ads at all. 🙂
OK, I’ll stop here, since I am sure your brain may hurt as much as mine does. In another (hopefully soon) post, I will regale my trials and tribulations in building a web site/store and what the H#LL is SEO and why doe we care?
Happy Web Shopping!