Web Toolbar by Wibiya Awaken Dreams Success Coaching: Getting Serious Artisans Comfortable With the Business Part of Business Part 1: Marketing

Getting Serious Artisans Comfortable With the Business Part of Business Part 1: Marketing

by Debi Auger

So you love what you do and you think maybe you want to turn this hobby of yours into a business. You're not getting the results you had hoped for with Etsy. You're tempted to dip your toe in with a website all your own. You're excited. You're scared. You're hesitating. You're letting yourself get intimidated by terms like "content marketing" or maybe just the thought of marketing itself has you all up in arms.

It's ok. That's what happens when you're about to take a big step and there's a world of uncertainty ahead.

But, if it's ok with you, I'd like to remind you that there's a world of POSSIBILITIES ahead, too! You see it's all a matter of perspective... and your perspective matters. Henry Ford once wisely said, "Whether you think you can, or think you can't... you're right."

Soooooooooo... do you think you can? You're taking the time to read this article so that's a step in the right direction; in the I-think-maybe-I-CAN direction. Good for you! I think you can, too :)

Some Truth About Marketing

Marketing doesn't have to be all icky, sleazy, used-car-salesman-like, ya know. Now, don't get me wrong, marketing is not an option; it's an absolute necessity. You MUST be able to ask for the sale. You won't make sales otherwise. But there are plenty of ways to market your business that are well within your comfort zone.

You've more than likely got a craft show or two under your belt so let's start there.

Translating Craft Show Success to Your Online Business

Some of the things that help you at craft shows can be translated to your online business. There's obviously no way to make up for people being able to touch, hold or try on your work at shows. The closest remedy for that is excellent quality images of your product. That alone will make or break sales for you. So, if your images aren't all that great, you should work on that first. No matter what you do or where you sell online, if your images suck, you will not be successful.

Two other major factors in show success can also be taken advantage of online. 

Nice To Meet You

People love to meet the artisan whose work they're buying. And although it's certainly not as good as meeting you in person, an About page that really shows your personality goes a long way. And yes, you must have a photo of yourself on it. There's no way for buyers to make any kind of personal connection with you online without it.

Tell Me a Story

The other thing that often helps sales at shows, especially on higher-priced pieces, is their story. Do you find yourself telling stories about your work at shows? about what inspired you to make the piece? the meaning behind it? what it represents to you?

This can be done very effectively online! You can tell the story of your work on your About page... or even make a page about your craft. I have both an About the Designer and an About the Jewelry page on my Designs by Debi website.

You should also take advantage of your product descriptions to tell each piece's story. The story makes an emotional connection with a buyer because it resonates with them in some way. It's those emotional connections that are going to make the sale.

Think about yourself. Why do you buy things that aren't a necessity? Why do you need to have that painting or necklace? Because it speaks to you in some way, touches you in some way, makes you feel a certain way. Right? Make that happen for your customers.

So Let's Talk About This Marketing Stuff

Yup, we're gonna poke the bear. And you're going to see that that big ole marketing bear just isn't that scary. 

Here's the problem: The most critical thing for any small business is consistent marketing and it's the one thing small businesses, especially artisan businesses, neglect more than anything else! 

Yikes! We need to fix that!

Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing is "transactional marketing." It's focused solely on making the sale and the exchange of money. This is probably the kind that makes you feel all squirmy just thinking about it right? Well, that's ok. I don't like it either. I'm not much of a hard sell kinda person. I never hovered over people in my booth at shows. At first I couldn't even believe I was starting a business that was going to require selling stuff! 

But I realized some things after I did. So read on and that icky feeling will go away. Promise.

One of the biggest things that will help you is to know that there are many types and components of marketing. 

Of course, the sale and money is ultimately what you want if you're selling things, whether it's handcrafts or anything else. But as an artisan you're going to find Relationship Marketing much more appealing.

Relationship Marketing

Relationship Marketing includes everything you do from making a prospect aware of your work to turning them into raving fans. It takes into account the long-term value of a customer and puts the focus on customer satisfaction and retention, rather than on a one-time transfer of money.

The introduction of computers and especially social media have made this type of marketing much easier, more widespread and much more effective than it could be before. You have many more ways and opportunities to have personal contact with customers. 

This is also another opportunity you have to differentiate yourself from your competitors. It's a chance to personalize things for your customers, co-create with them and really make emotional connections with them.

Visual Marketing

Visual marketing involves, well, visuals. And since you're an artisan and us artsy, right-brain types are very visual, this should start you off in a comfortable place.  

Visual Marketing is creative marketing campaigns and anything you do to grab attention for your business or brand.

It includes all kinds of online and offline solutions that you can use very easily to promote your artisan business. Here are some visual marketing ideas:
          • websites and blogs
          • HTML newsletters
          • graphics and infographics
          • videos
          • podcasts
          • brochures, flyers and post cards
          • banners and posters

And, of course, any kind of swag with your logo, business name or art on it would be a form of visual marketing also.

Personality Marketing

Personality marketing is something I also hope will come natural and easily to you because it's probably the best way to differentiate yourself from your competition. This is all about being yourself.

Let your personality shine through on your website and in your writing. You'll stand out as unique... there is only one you after all. 

You'll resonate with people, attract the right people to you, inspire them and make sales.

Bottom line: Be genuine and honest. Be likeable and approachable. Be real. Don't try to be all things to all people and don't get crazy about being all "PC" and not offending anyone. 

Just be YOU! 

You're passionate about your work and you care about your customers. So let it show!

Content Marketing

Content marketing is basically the creation and sharing of media and includes written, audio and video content. 

It's not overt selling, but rather a means of communicating and engaging as a mechanism for building awareness and trust with your target audience. You use various means to be helpful, provide value, tell a good story, inspire them and let them get to know you and your business. 

It's not only about sharing your work. There are tons of ways you can add value and interact with your customers...
          • share your work
          • share the inspiration for your work
          • show them your process
          • let them see your work area where all the magic happens
          • write helpful articles related to what you create and sell
          • give them ideas of how to use what you create
          • give them instructions to care for what they purchase from you
          • teach others how to do what you do

This post on copyblogger.com is excellent and it includes an infographic guide called the Content Marketing Media Matrix for Small Business that showcases all the various types of content that you can incorporate in your artisan business marketing all the way from the easiest (social media) to the most complex (interactive gaming).

Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing should be somewhat comfortable for you, too. I'm sure you have a social media presence somewhere and I'm willing to bet that you're already engaging in this to some extent. 

One important thing to remember in this age of social sites sprouting like weeds is that you DO NOT have to be on every social media site. It's most important for you to be where your customers are. Don't spread yourself too thin. It's very easy to get overwhelmed with social media.

But it's also a superb marketing tool for your business. It works all the way from building awareness to making the sale. And you can engage with people for free! Of course I don't suggest getting carried away... it does cost you time!

The biggest platforms right now are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram. 

LinkedIn is really a business site, but as a business owner, you should have a presence there whether or not your customers are there. It gives you a place to interact with other artisans and entrepreneurs and, if you fill out your profile and keep it up-to-date, it's a great online resume that can help people find you.

Pinterest is a fabulous platform for artisans. It's very visual so it lends itself well to showcasing your work (another reason to make sure you have great images!). If you pin an image with a price, it also shows up in the gift area. And, studies have shown that Pinterest shoppers are spending significantly more per checkout averaging between $140-$180 per order compared with consistent $80 and $60 orders for Facebook and Twitter shoppers, respectively.

Facebook can be a great place for engaging with fans, customers and other artisans and businesspeople. You have your personal profile to interact with people. If you want a business presence on Facebook you should also have a business page. And there is a huge variety of Facebook groups that could be useful to you as well.

And there are many, many other social media sites that could make sense for your business. It depends how useful they are to your bottom line. You'll have to try them and test your results.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is essentially another form of content marketing. By including engaging content in your newsletters, you can drive readers to your website, interested to see what else you have to offer.

Email marketing will usually have one of two basic purposes:
          • advertisement or other offer
          • keeping in touch

You can put a graphic ad or other advertisement into a mailing to your list if you've created something new, have a whole new product line or if you're having some kind of sale or special event.

Email is the perfect way to stay in touch with your list and encourage repeat business by helping you be "top of mind" when they need what you offer.

Not starting an email list is one of the biggest mistakes artisans make, but it's a critical piece of your business plan. It gives you an audience to sell to and is an asset to your business. 

One great way you can use email and newsletters is to make it a VIP experience for your customers. 
          • Let your readers be the first to see your new work and have a chance to buy it.
          • Offer them special bonuses.
          • Hold subscriber-only sales and events.
          • Share special content with them that you only send to your list.
Use it to enhance relationships and build loyalty with your business.

Promotional Marketing

I saw that. No eye-rolling! I know, seeing the words Promotional Marketing probably brought that pit in your stomach feeling, but it really shouldn't. It does include advertisements of course.

But it also includes some FUN stuff like special events, contests, coupons and free samples

All your visual marketing tools are also promotional in nature and those are pretty painless.

And, since the easiest business to get is repeat business and the second easiest is referral business, great opportunities lie in loyalty and referral programs. They give you an opportunity to reward customers and I know that's something I always enjoy doing!

Have I Changed Your Mind?

I hope that I've convinced you that marketing doesn't have to be a dirty word. On the contrary, it can be an interesting and fun way to engage with your peeps! 

And I think you'll find that the most genuine and helpful interactions will not only be the easiest for you, but also the most beneficial to your artisan business.

Intrigued? Want to learn more? 

Be on the lookout for my Create Your Artisan Business Success Plan Program launching soon where you can figure out your what, why and how and plan the path to your dreams. 

One of the things I teach in the program is my Relationship Marketing Hourglass™ so you'll learn about even more kinds of marketing you can put to use. Not only that... you'll finish the program with a business plan, monetization plan and a marketing plan for your business. 

Click here to get on the list so you'll be first to know when sign-ups open and take advantage of early-bird pricing ;-) 
(You see what I did there?)

So what's your biggest marketing challenge? And what are you going to implement in your business after reading this post? Tell me in the comments below.

And if there's something you'd like to see in other parts of this blog series, let me know that, too!

Share your thoughts...


  1. That is great information to have all in one place. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. You're welcome Janis! Thank YOU for stopping by and giving it a read. What kind of business do you have?

  3. I've been at this for five years and I'm getting nowhere online. I've recently had a few ideas & didn't know where to start. Now I know. I need to improve my photography first!

  4. HI Lisa! Thank you for commenting. What kind of business do you have? and where do you sell?

  5. Thank you much for this wonderful bundle of info. Marketing is my worst nightmare.

  6. You're welcome Alice :) And you're certainly not alone that's for sure! What kind of business do you have?

  7. Hi Debi, my daughter and I make seaglass and lampwork bead jewellery. We sell our jewellery @icraftgifts.com/jajejems and we have a website http://www.jajejems.com. My daughter does wire wrapped and drilled seaglass, I make lampwork beads and we both make jewellery combining the two!

  8. Ah beautiful! I love sea glass. And beach themed jewelry is my favorite to make. I also have quite an obsession with lampwork glass beads! Do you sell your beads?

  9. We haven't started selling lampwork beads on line yet but we have sold quite a few at craft shows. They are certainly becoming popular. I want to get some more experience before I start selling them on line as the competition is tough! Thank you for your interest!

  10. I understand, but don't underestimate yourself either. As long as the quality is there Janis... as in properly annealed, cleaned, etc... there's no harm in sharing your gift, showing people what you're doing and getting feedback. You may find people will want to buy. And you have the option of selling them for a bit less while you're learning and at least making sales and building an audience and following. Something to think about ;)

  11. Handmade beaded jewelry. http://www.creativeobsessionllc.com I sell mostly at craft fairs. I sell online using storenvy, http://www.creativeobsession.storenvy.com , but online sales are basically not happening. I also sell in some gift stores on consignment.

  12. Very pretty Lisa! I do agree you need to work on getting better and clearer photos. And, once you do that, I think your prices are too low so I would encourage you to raise them. Price is a huge indicator of quality and I don't think your prices do your pieces justice. Also some quick things for your website to get you started in a helpful direction: 1. Add "Shop" to your navigation and link it to your Storenvy shop. 2. Have social media follow buttons and feature them more prominently (on every page). 3. Your email list is the most precious asset in your business. Get a sign-up for m on the home page of your site above the fold. 4. People like to buy from people (especially when you're talking about handcrafted pieces) so "Company Bio" and using "we" (unless there really is someone else) is not serving you well. Also, stories sell so I think you need to really flesh out your About page ;-) Good luck!!

  13. Thanks for taking the time to look at my website. I really appreciate the actionable items you gave me.


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