Lets be honest, promotion is a topic many of us sigh at when we hear it mentioned. Most of us just want to get on with creating our goods because we love making them, otherwise why would we be doing this? I don't know many people that wake up in the morning and think "Yippeee! I get to spend a few hours on promotions today!" I know for one, if I had the cash, I would pay someone else to do it for me, but the nature of being someone that hand makes their goods and sells them, I don't make enough cash to do that..... yet!
So how do people on a tight budget promote themselves and their goods?
Today I'm going to list some ways of promoting that are free, by which I mean don't cost cash, but might cost time. This is in no way a definitive list, so if you come up with more ideas please feel free to add them in the feedback section and I'll be happy to add them to the main list. Now before you start reading this go get yourself a cup of tea or coffee.
1. Networking-Never under estimate how effective word of mouth is. It is a very powerful promotional tool. Get out and about, on-line, as well as off-line. On-line, join social networking sites, such as Flickr, Facebook, Myspace, Bebo, etsy street teams, etc. Join forums relevant to your skills and be active on the forums. If site rules allow it, put a link in your signature, so every time you post people can link straight to your shop. Be vocal about your love of your work, start a blog in which you can enthuse passionately about your craft. Off-line, it's the same. Join local groups that are relevant to your skills, maybe offer to give evening classes in your local collage. Chat to people you meet in queues and let them know what you do. I spend lots of time in post office queues and as I'm often posting large hula hoops, people are only too ready to chat to me. If you go to pick up kids from school, stand and chat with all the others picking kids up. Basically get a buzz going around about what you make and where you sell them. Remember this is a very powerful tool so it can turn against you if you don't give good service to people that buy your goods. Don't let the chat turn sour. Give great service as well as wonderful products and the power of gossip won't turn against you!
2.Web Directories-submit your website to as many web directories as you can find. The more you are added to, the more traffic you are likely to get. Research and implement as many ways of getting your name pushed up the listing to the top. Each one maybe different so research each on you submit to. They are not the same as search engines. They work by categories rather than searching for keywords, so make sure they put you in the best category for you to get noticed.
3. Local traders websites-Search the internet for websites dedicated to promoting businesses in your area. There will be a "Submit your site" link, and it is this that you will want to fill out.
4.Newsletter-Start collecting together a list of people who have consented to being on an emailing list. Send these people regular newsletters about your business. Don't go crazy and send them letters every couple of days, because most people find that a turn off and will ask to be removed from the list. Once a month or quarterly is better. It reminds people you are there and lets them know about new products you are making or when you are running sales etc. without being too in their face about it. It can also make customers feel valued if you tip them off about up and coming events before anyone else knows, thus allowing them to be the first in the queue. In many coutnries, it is illegal to send people newsletters without their consent (it is considered spam), so make sure you have an "unsubscribe" link that allows them to stop receiving the newsletters if they wish.
5.New content- Adding new content and keeping your website up to date gets you a higher placement with Google. It also keeps your pages looking fresh and new, which entices people to keep coming back to check up on the changes.
6.Link exchanges-This is a way of increasing traffic to your site and other peoples sites. You gather together a group of people with sites that compliment each other, so for example lets say we have 3 people, one sells shoes, another sells shoe polish and the third sells polishing clothes. If each of these sites puts a link on their site to the other two it increases all three peoples sites viability. The more people involved in the exchange the more links each person get on the World Wide Web pointing to their site.
7.Local free ads- Get your name anywhere you can. Sign up/apply for a local newspaper free advert and get the message about what you do out there! There are also free classified web pages you can sign up to.
8.Be your own Billboard-If the items you make are wearable do it! Always put something on, that you made, when you go out. You'd be amazed how many people will admire it and ask you where you got it from. It's a good idea to always carry business cards with you so you can hand them out to interested people. Do you make home goods? Yes... then use them in your home. Anyone that comes to visit, make them a cup of coffee in your hand thrown mugs. Friends coming to dinner? Where did you put those table mats you made and that gorgeous tablecloth you embroidered? Do you make and sell soaps? Leave label wrapped sample bars in all your bathrooms so that visitors see them... Use what you make and let other people see you using them. I make and sell hula hoops. I love hooping. I could do it in my own back garden, but instead I go to the local park, because not only does it mean I have more space but it never fails to draw a crowd.
9.Local Newspaper article-Most local newspapers have slack weeks where they find it difficult to fill their pages. You can see when it happens because they will have some strange article on a pet rabbit that has learned to swim or how a stain on a wall in the local library looks like the Virgin Mary if you squint at it and turn your head to the right. Well, take up the slack. Send them in pre-written article about your craft with photographs to illustrate what you do or organise yourself to be at a local carnival and dress up in the most outrageous outfit you can find so they take a photo of you. Just be sure that when they name you, the photo credit says your name and mentions your business... "Skully, owner of Hyperloop Hoops". Most local papers are only too happy to feature local small businesses if you ask them in the right way or fit into a theme they are running. If you don't ring them up and ask you'll never know!
Aren't you glad I told you to make that drink now? More tips on promoting on a budget coming up soon. Keep checking back!
After reading this post AshleyBug directed me to a blog she has written about places to promote etsy. Most of them are good links to promote any website you have. Go take a look.
Written by Lynne of http://skully.etsy.com/