E-Commerce DIY

Brand Building for Makers

By Sarah Sewell

Brand Building for Makers

What’s a BRAND?

A brand is so much more than a pretty logo or catchy name. It is more than a great font and a business card. All those things are important to a brand yes, but a brand is MORE than that. Think of your brand as your business’s identity. It is the essence of who you are as a maker, the product you create and the values your hold in business. The image you send out to the masses, the message you state, the feeling you give out... that is all representation of your brand.

Have you ever seen something online, maybe an ad or a video or a product and known right away if it was for you, or if not for you perhaps a friend or family member? The feeling that ad gave you, the vision, the message… those feelings were representing that specific brand.

For example, when I say Chick-fil-a what does that make you think about? Perhaps if you are a more religious person you might think it is a stand up business with core values that are important to you, or maybe you are more liberal and are repelled by its stand on other controversial topics? Or maybe you could care less... you might just be a sucker for a good chicken sandwich and a frosted lemonade! Either way Chick-fil-a’s brand is well defined. There is a certain opinion or feeling around their brand. It will either attract you or repel you. Those it attracts is Chick-fil-a’s target audience. They have built their brand to attract in those they want to sell to and those they KNOW will buy their product.

 

Branding yourself and your craft business is like knitting a quilt... and all the little pieces that describe your brand are the squares you use to complete the whole blanket. These pieces will include the look and feel of your brand:

  • Business Name
  • Logo & Visuals
  • Theme or Style of Shop (Physical or Digital)
  • Materials used to create
  • Brands Voice
  • Words you use to describe your brand/products
  • Graphics for ads and marketing materials

All of these things come together to complete the look, feel and message of your brand. This finished quilt tells the world who you are as a business. It is important that you take your time when building your brand and it is the foundation your business is built on.

 

Tips to get started:

  1. Decide on a NAME: Short and catchy is great as long as it speaks to your audience. Pick something that won’t be hard to spell or pronounce. As an ecommerce business you want to be found online, you won’t be found if your name is being misspelled in the search engines. Also, in the process of picking out a name, research to make sure nobody else is using it and make sure it is available. When you land on the one, go to google domains and buy your URL. .com is recommended as it is the most popular. If .com isn’t available, we like .co as an alternative. Grab your name on allllll the social media sites as well especially on the main ones: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter 
  1. Make your Visuals SHINE: What does your brand stand for? Take Nike for example. When you think about the visuals of Nike you see all sorts of visuals of men and women doing some form of athletics. If you look at my own brand at Artisan Indie, I am always sharing photos of makers, artists, and designers creating something. You want to share and showcase BEAUTIFUL imagery and photos. If you aren’t a natural born photographer, then purchase stock photos or hire a photographer. Visuals and Imagery makes allll the difference when it comes to attracting people to your brand. Your photos should speak directly to your audience. The goal would be to create brand recognition, that when people see certain imagery or photos they would automatically think of your brand. 
  1. BE AUTHENTIC: In today’s noisy digital world, the ads and the gimmicks are plenty. The brands that are going to have the most success are the ones who are REAL. You as a handmade seller has an advantage because YOU ARE YOUR BRAND. Consumers buy from artisans for a reason…. they want handmade or one of a kind for a purpose. They aren’t going to Walmart to buy your goods, they are on Etsy, or your own site, or at a craft show and they want something different than what they can find everywhere else…. they want real…. they want you.

 

All this being said you still want to leave room for your brand to evolve. You want to make sure when you pick a name, theme, slogan, visuals etc. that you aren’t boxing yourself in too much. There is a fine balance when building a brand. You don’t want to be too vague, but you don’t want to be to niche either. Businesses evolve and grow over time. You may be making nursery décor now but overtime it may evolve into home décor. A too specific name might turn some people away.

I had a client who started her entrepreneurial journey by making baby clothes. Like most crafters turned business owners, she started making things for her family. She was a new mom and decided to make clothing for her new little one…. this lasted for a few years but as the baby got older and as she started getting requests for older children and even shirts for moms her shop evolved into all type of clothing. She ended up having to do a BIG rebrand because her business was branded originally towards babies, with a name that included the word baby and pastel visuals.

Rebranding is sometimes what a business has to go through but know when that happens you can lose some traction in growing your business. As creatives we are continually changing our styles and methods….as humans we evolve and more than likely our products will too. This doesn’t mean to always go neutral in your branding, some of the most successful shops I know are very niche in their business and their branding, but if you feel like you could at some point branch out and include other products that might speak to different markets, you may want to pic a name that is evergreen, something that can move with you no matter what you add or take away from your product offering. 

 

Challenge: What message or feeling is your brand giving to the public? Take a look at what you are projecting out there in the world. IS your message consistent? Do your ads and promotions have the same look and feel. Do they have the same underlying message.. or are they kind of all over the place? You want imagery of you and your brand to feel cohesive and well put together.

The same goes for yourself when you are presenting yourself as part of your brand. If you go LIVE on your social media pages are your appearance, attire, and background speaking for your brand? For example, if you have a rustic theme business you wouldn’t have hot pink neon signs set up behind you while speaking to your audience. You want the look and feel to be in line with the message your brand represents.

Today do a critique of your social media sites, websites, craft show set ups etc. and make sure you are being consistent and holding true to your brand. Recruit some of your best friends, fans or followers and ask them what they see and feel when interacting with your brand. Sometimes its feedback from others that helps us grow the most.

Happy Selling! 

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Setting your craft business up for success.

By Sarah Sewell

Setting your craft business up for success.

Setting yourself up for Success:

Are you setting the scene for success? I believe the fact that you are here reading this blog means YES you are ready to take your craft business to the next level. Success can look different to different people. What matters is what you think success would look like to you. You may want to earn 6 or 7 figures a year selling your work, you may only want a side hustle to supplement your spouse’s income, whatever your reason for wanting to grow your business it absolutely is and should be an exciting endeavor.

 

Doing what you love and earning a living from it is an amazing feeling. My personal idea of success is simply having financial freedom and living my best life. This may be your idea too! The feeling of supporting yourself from something that you made or designed is a feeling that is hard to beat! I am here to tell you that this IS possible! I earned just under 7 figures in my handmade business before growing into my current career now. In my Flourish Craft Business Community we have a few hundred members living that dream now and still wanting to grow further. It is not only possible but probable if you believe that it can happen for you, but you must have a vision of success formed in your mind in order to adjust your sails to take you there.

 

My members in the Flourish community are more than likely not all AMAZE-BALLS at business, or sales or entrepreneurship. They ARE however great at their craft or have honed a skill that has enabled them to be a creator, maker, artist and designer. This is what usually creates doubt in the minds of creatives, they see themselves as hobbyists and NOT as business owners. They know they are great at what they make but usually feel they fall short in business. I have something to share about this… You DON’T have to be an expert in business in order to find success. What you do need is a belief in yourself and a belief in your craft. If you have a desire to make and a desire to sell what you make you are already half  there.

 

Let’s go over some tips and tricks to set yourself up for success:

 

  1. Goal Setting: Set up some clear objectives. You don’t need to know the end game or even what that would look like. Start simple and small if you like. Ask yourself questions like how much money you would like to earn in your first year? What online marketplaces would you like to see your goods sold on? What products will you create for the holiday seasons? If you are more of a seasoned seller already perhaps you can ask yourself bigger questions like am I ready to build my own website? Is wholesale right for my business? Etc etc…. having some clear objectives can help get you headed towards your path of success.

 

  1. Create a Space to Flourish: Many makers craft or create from their dining room table, or even the living room couch! I am not here to judge as many successful craftpreneurs also started this way and now have multiple warehouses they are utilizing for their business. START where you are, but spend some time thinking how you can maximize your creativity within this space. Fill your surrounding with inspiring things. Make use of the space you have to work with and get organized. Creativity thrives in spaces that feel good. Take some time to clean out, repurpose and organize the space you have to work in. You will find when this is done the creative juices will be flowing!

 

  1. Get Inspired. It’s hard to find success when you don’t have a dream or the excitement to get to that dream. Inspiration and Excitement is the heart and soul of a creative business. If you are feeling down, (which happens to us all sometimes) get out of the house, let the sun shine on your face, breathe in some fresh air, listen to feel good music, take some classes, go to a museum, spend some time on Pinterest whatever it takes….find some inspiration and stick with it! Creating a vision board is a great way to stay inspired. Pin visuals of your goals & dreams to this board and look at them daily! This will help you stay focused on your dreams and inspirations.

 

  1. Improve your social connections. You have probably heard the saying that you are the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with, I am not sure if that is true, but I do know we are influenced by the people we surround ourselves with. Take an audit of the people around you and make sure you are spending your time with those that are encouraging, uplifting, positive and supportive. Sometimes we can’t get away from those who suck our energy but try your best to reduce face time with people that aren’t aligned with your ideas of growth and success. If the people we surround ourselves with influence our behaviors, then it makes the most sense if we want to have success to surround ourselves with those who are successful and those who believe that we too can succeed. This is a core value in my Flourish community, we are a network of artisans that empower and uplift one another. We believe that celebrating and sharing our wins enables others to know and believe that they can do it too!

 

  1. Be Flexible. It is important to be aware that life doesn’t always move us in a linear motion. Sometimes it’s a step forward and three steps back…. then 20 giant hops ahead only to stumble and lose 10. It is LIFE. The more flexible and fluid you can be the less you will be knocked down for any length of time. You must remember as a business there are seasons, there are slumps, there are highs and there are lows. If you have a growth mindset you will be prepared for this and will have a plan of action to work on something else when the slowdowns happen. Those who find it hard to succeed are usually those commiserating with others about why everything bad is happening to them. They play the victim and when they do this, they are giving away their control and power in owning their business. Successful business owners are in it for the long game. They know there is a natural ebb and flow to things, and they adjust as needed to move forward.

Starting a craft business is thrilling, the thought of supporting yourself on what you make IS incredibly freeing. I am here to say YOU CAN DO IT but you must ensure you are setting yourself up for success. Take action to move yourself in a forward motion direction, be flexible through the peaks and valleys and keep a growth mindset. Believe it, See it and Be it! You got this!

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Sales Down? How to keep your head up during slow times.

By Sarah Sewell

Sales Down? How to keep your head up during slow times.
Successful handmade businesses use the slow times to double down. They use the time to work on all the things they "didn't have time for" during the busy time. Some use it to make new things, work on new collections or product development, many use it to plan for the upcoming busier times ahead and others use it to take a much needed rest that they haven't been able to have in months.

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3 Reasons why the Facebook Group Purge helps your Facebook Community.

By Sarah Sewell

3 Reasons why the Facebook Group Purge helps your Facebook Community.

If you admin a group on Facebook you may have noticed Friday that Facebook removed members from your community. Shock and outrage was sparked across Facebook Friday as many group admins lost anywhere from a handful to thousands of members. Nothing was "really" lost, but the number representing group membership may have been reduced.

Facebook sent an email out to many group admins with this message:

“We're making some updates to how members are invited to your group, and we wanted to share these changes with you. To help ensure people join Facebook Groups that are relevant and meaningful to them, you'll see the following changes:

 

Updated Group Invitation — Now, when people are invited to a group, they can accept or decline the invite. Before, people could be added to groups by friends who thought they might be interested in them, and they’d immediately become a member. Some people may have been added to your group, but have never visited it.

 

Invited Section — In the next few weeks, people who've been added to your group but have never visited it. Now will appear in the Invited section of your Members list, which only admins and moderators can view. They won't be considered a member until they accept their invite. This means they will no longer be included in your group's total member count, so you may see a decrease in your group’s total member count.

 

Reminder Notification — Because you're an admin, in the next few weeks you'll be able to send one notification to invited people to remind them to accept or decline the invite to your group.

 

Thank you for being a community leader.

Thanks,
The Facebook Groups Team”

Many group admin seemed initially upset. To wake up having a few hundred or thousand removed from their groups overnight had many admin taking to Facebook forums to express their outrage. What they seemed to miss is that these members never did contribute anything to their communities, in fact it actually held their communities back.

This update is a GOOD thing for your community!! It essentially removes those who never wanted to be added to the group in the first place! Before this happened many groups had a very skewed view of their membership. Alternatively some Facebook communities would encourage current members to add friends and family to the groups, WITHOUT their consent which means some Facebook communities appeared much larger than they actually were...until now. 

Let's discuss 3 reasons why this purge helps your community on Facebook.

1. Authenticity:

Would you want to join a community that has 16,000 members but when you are inside the community you get crickets when you post? A space that offers minimal content that serves you or the community itself? Wouldn't it be better to have a group with maybe only 800 members but with consistent content and posts and shares that create engagement within the community?

It's more authentic to have a group of REAL members, people who check in throughout the week and post to share with one another. Having an authentic space gives you real members and real members equal real engagement. 

2. Authority:

Your community whatever it may have been created for is to serve a group of people. More people will want to join your community if they see your group as one that has authority on a certain subject or topic. Real people who are really interested in joining your group will interact with your posts and ask questions to give you as a group the opportunity to be seen as an authority in your industry or hobby. 

Being an authority on a given topic or subject allows you to ultimately have more leverage in your personal or business development. Perhaps you want to write something, sell something or share something. You will be taken more seriously and be held at a higher esteem with some authority behind you on the given topic or subject.

3. Algorithm:

Everything on Facebook has an algorithm. Your personal page has its own algorithm, your business page has its own algorithm, and your Facebook Group has (you guessed it) its very own algorithm too. This means how your community interacts with the group tells the algorithm how to behave. If you have a popular group, with lots of interaction and people who post, comment and share you better believe that your group will get favor in being shown in the news feed of your group members.

Alternatively if you have a group and the content isn't being engaged with by members.. that too is training the algorithm! It is telling it that "Hey!! This content isn't popular!! It isn't being noticed, or shared, or responded too! There is a LOT of members in this group yet the percentage of interaction with the group isn't high. This MUST mean that the group is poor, the content sucks and no body wants to see it." Now this may of course not be the truth BUT if you have a lot of inactive members that is exactly what the algorithm is thinking. So, it won't show your group in anyone's news feed and you posting content (no matter how good it is) simply won't get the visibility it deserves.

Facebook isn't the enemy here. Facebook provides an AMAZING opportunity for people, businesses, content creators and more to connect with others all over the globe. Starting to see it as a friend and not a foe will greatly enhance your ability to use it more efficiently. The bottom line is don't act like a spammer, don't add people to your communities who aren't the least bit interested and who haven't given their permission. Grow your community in an authentic way, share content your specific audience will love to see and nurture the community with your time and care. This is how your group will grow in leaps and bounds with REAL members offering REAL engagement to give your group authenticity, authority, and will give the algorithm a heads up that your group is the place to be. 

Happy Posting!

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Use these 3 selling strategies to increase revenue in your store.

By Sarah Sewell

Online Craft Business

Do you offer gift wrap or extras within your product listings? Do you offer your customer upgrades, or the option to buy your products in bundles? 

Small e-commerce businesses often miss out on adding in these additional revenue opportunities within their online storefronts. Adding upgrades and add-ons to product listings increases sales without having to procure additional customers. This means more sales from the customers already shopping in your store.

Let's look at 3 simple sales strategies that increase sales per transaction: Up-Selling, Cross-Selling and Add-Ons.

1. Up-Selling:

Up-selling is when you offer the shopper upgrades to encourage them to spend more money. If you look at mainstream retail you can see this being done on almost any product online on sites like Best Buy, Walmart and even Amazon. But what about small businesses? What about Etsy boutiques or Artisan businesses? Do they have the same opportunity? The answer is absolutely YES.

Up-selling is used once a customer is already in a buying mindset. It is a way to offer added value by improving their available options while they move through the checkout process.

If an Etsy Shop Owner is an Artist how could they add in Up-Selling to their sales strategy? Perhaps they offer Digital Prints in their Etsy store, these would be printables, a file that is downloaded once a customer checks out and is able to be printed as needed. An up-sell in this scenario would be to sell the physical print and even further perhaps a physical print that is already framed. It would look something like this:

  • Digital Print: $9.95
  • Physical Print: $14.95

or maybe offer bundles:

  • Single Print: $9.95
  • 3 Prints: $24.95
  • 5 Prints: $39.95

Let's look at some other examples, let's say you sew bags and purses, your up-sell offer might look something like this:

  • Fabric Bag $29.95
  • Vegan Leather Bag $49.99
  • Genuine Leather Bag $89.99

or Alternatively

  • Wristlet $29.95
  • Handbag $34.95
  • Crossbody Bag $49.95

An Up-Sale is offering an upgrade, improvement or better option for your shopper. Once the customer has made a decision to purchase a product and add to their cart they are confronted with these added value options. More often than not, they choose the upgrade then continue through the checkout process.

2. Cross Selling:

Cross Selling is when an additional product is recommended that would compliment the current item they are adding to their cart. Usually this is an item from a separate category or even a different shop. For example when purchasing something on Amazon you might see at the bottom recommended items or people who bought this also bought these...etc. This is a great way for an online marketplace to increase sales overall, but it doesn't help the individual seller much unless it is another item from their specific shop. 

An Etsy shop can cross sell by recommending complimentary items within a product listing copy. So for example let's say a business on Etsy makes and sells weighted blankets but also makes essential oil sprays to reduce anxiety. The focus of the shop is to enhance calm and reduce anxiety, it would make sense then in the listing for the weighted calming blanket to include the link for the lavender essential oil calming spray (which would be in another category in the sellers same shop). It isn't always relevant to cross sell, and some experts may say not to distract the buyer with another link when they are already in the buying process with a specific item, but if it adds value to the customer experience it is a good way to add more to the basket while adding value to the customers purchase.

3. Add-Ons:

Would you like fries with that? Sounds funny but it is something small businesses need to take seriously. In 2017 over 35% of revenue from retail sales came from add-ons. It's a pretty big deal and a significant revenue source to add into your e-commerce store.

Add-Ons for Artisan Commerce Sites might look something like this:

  • Silver Earrings $24.95
  • + Silver Polishing Cloth additional $4.95
  • + Gift Wrap & Gift Message additional $6.95

In an Etsy Shop it would look like this:

  • Silver Earrings $24.95
  • Silver Earrings with Polishing Cloth $29.95
  • Silver Earrings with Gift Wrap & Card $31.95
  • Silver Earring with Cloth and Gift Wrap $36.95

Let's look at an example using multiple sales strategies within a listing: A maker sells graphic tees, baby bodysuits and hair accessories for kids. The listing maybe set up like this:

  • Baby Bodysuit $14.95
  • Baby Bodysuit with Hair Bow $19.95 (Add-On only)
  • Baby Bodysuit with personalization $19.95 (Up-Sell Only)
  • Personalized Baby Bodysuit w/ matching Hair Bow $24.95 (Up-Sell / Add-On)
  • Within the listing a link to matching Mommy T-shirt (Cross Sell)

Using these simple sales strategies will add a good source of revenue to your online business. Take a look at your current offerings and think of different options you could offer in your shop to get the moolah rolling in. Remember this isn't just about making more money, it is a win-win both for you and your guest as it is a fantastic way to add more value to the customers shopping and hopefully buying experience. 

Happy Selling <3

 

 

 

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How to keep your sales momentum going after Cyber Monday.

By Sarah Sewell

How to keep your sales momentum going after Cyber Monday.

This weekend was the largest online shopping weekend EVER. It is estimated that 6.22 billion sales happened on Black Friday this year which is a whopping 24% increase from last year in 2017! Cyber Monday's numbers just came in with an astounding 7.9 billion in sales 2 billion of which was done from a smart phone. Small Business Saturday sales were up 25% this year bringing in over 3 Billion in revenue. These numbers are INCREDIBLE and give retailers both in person and online much hope for the next 3 weeks moving toward Christmas.

These numbers show that retail is surely not dead and that e-commerce retailers have now got the large slice of the pie. With numbers like that surely the main question on shop owners minds is how to keep the momentum going. 

The best way at looking at this is not to think of this past sales weekend as a Grand Finale, instead look at it as the opening ceremony. This past weekend was great for BIG business, lots of TV's, Appliances, Big Toys and Prime Deals were made, this means now the door is wide open for small business. Take advantage of this opportunity.

Now the big gifts are out of the way, shoppers are looking for smaller more meaningful gifts. Those businesses that offer personalization, customization, one of a kind items, or small batch craft goods have the upper hand to big business for the next couple of weeks. Craft businesses in general are sought out on platforms like Etsy or Handmade at Amazon because of the unique gift-able products they offer. This week is GO TIME for the makers, crafters and creatives.

Be sure to use social media to promote this week, shoppers may have PROMO overload so you want to promote a bit differently then offering something crazy like 40% off your entire store in bright neon lights, instead you want to appeal to buyers emotions. Remember they are seeking out the special gifts they couldn't find in the mainstream big box stores.

Here are some examples of how you can promote your business without sounding to sales-y:

1. Offer meaningful and value based promotions:

  • Free Gift Wrap with purchase (solves a problem, helps the consumer)
  • Buy One Donate One (this time of year shoppers like to give to charity)
  • Free Personalization (adds value to their purchase)

2. Share your story! This time of year is when yesteryears times are often talked      about and shared. Nostalgia is BIG during the holidays. Sharing your story is a great way to take a walk down memory lane, what inspired you to do what you do? When did you learn your craft and who taught it to you? You can turn your story into a video, or create a slideshow even that plays a nice tune. The story is what sells your brand, your product, yourself! Shoppers are attracted to those authentic brands who are great at storytelling. 

3. Engage with new customers. This may sound like a no brainer, but often we get busy with orders....especially makers as we are making our products as the orders come in. Don't let conversations go unanswered for any length of time. Respond to posts and comments on your social media sites as they happen. Sometimes just being there to answer questions is enough for the shopper to turn into a buyer. 

Remember this is the time of year for you to increase awareness of your brand. Get out there, engage and give stellar customer service. The momentum will keep going as long as you are up and moving forward. The big box stores are taking a break, which means it is your time to shine, so go out and MAKE IT HAPPEN!!

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It's Black Friday Weekend! May the Odds be Ever in your Favor!

By Sarah Sewell

It's Black Friday Weekend! May the Odds be Ever in your Favor!

It's that time of year again, let the shopping madness begin! This week is the Super Bowl of commerce! Shoppers are excited they are going to find the very best deals and business owners are excited to make a lot of sales. It is essentially a win-win for both the customer and the seller! When it comes to E-Commerce however this weekend can be a roller coaster ride of emotions for online shop owners. 

60% of shopping done on Black Friday is done "In-Store" not specifically online. This however shouldn't be super worrisome because there is still a rush of customers shopping both in store and online over the holiday weekend. Let's go over some helpful tips to optimize that traffic and turn it into sales for your online storefront.

Engage your audience across Social Media:

Let's be honest, as a small business owner you don't want to even try to compete with the big box stores as far as advertisement goes. Big business is going to flood the marketplace with ads on TV, in Newspapers, Email Campaigns and promos throughout their own websites and stores. This is your time to capture YOUR market where they are most likely to be spending time, on Social Media. The week leading up to Black Friday you want to spend time connecting with your audience on your social media pages (Note: This isn't the time to spam your accounts with product listings, leave that for the actual shopping holiday days.) Curate posts that encourage engagement and interaction. Create a space that is enjoyable to visit.

Posts Tips & Suggestions:

  1. Give Thanks. Being the week of Thanksgiving the perfect post would be saying Thank You to your customers, fans and followers. Make this post heartfelt. You can create a graphic on Canva or make a video even using Animoto just be sure it is genuine and meaningful. Showing your appreciation for your customers lets them know they do matter to your brand.   
  2. Hold a Giveaway or Sweepstakes. Some of the most fun are "share your fave recipe" posts, or "share a photo of your holiday table". Let your followers vote on a winner or randomly pick a winner from random.org
  3. Share a Story posts always create a lot of engagement. Letting others share memories from their holiday traditions or photos from way back then! People love to talk about themselves and share stories, this is a great way for you to start a conversation with your fan base.
  4. Create a "What are YOU Thankful for" post. Be a light during this crazy holiday weekend and create a post encouraging others to share what they are grateful for this year. Thanksgiving week is a perfect time to show and talk about gratitude.
  5. Macy's Day Parade!!! What are MOST people in the US doing on Thanksgiving morning? They are watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade!! Create a post asking what their favorite float was, or maybe post in the morning asking what performance they are looking forward to!

Bonus Tip if you are a designer: Create some downloadable coloring sheets for the kiddos. Share on your social media free coloring sheets for the kids to color on Thanksgiving day. You are adding value and will surely create a buzz for your brand. Moms will also share like crazy! Little effort and work on your part with a crazy big return.

Creating posts that engage and build excitement ensures that when it is time to post your promotional ads or offerings your followers WILL see them and will more than likely interact with them and or purchase. Ads and promotions ONLY with no other value based posts will turn off your customers and will surely not get you the traffic and sales you seek.

It's important to curate your social media space to be one that is enjoyable to visit, a place where your customers don't mind spending their time. Time is precious today, it is important to use it wisely, would you want to hang out on a page that is only posting ads of their products with no other value? Social media is a place to build relationships and connections. Don't use it as a catalog or a magazine. 

Don't forget to use trending hashtags:

Remember this holiday sales weekend is the BIGGEST of the year! You want to capture as much traffic as you can from the frenzy! Using holiday hashtags can help you grab attention from those who may not be familiar yet with your brand. Be sure you are using the main hashtags people use to search and shop over the holiday weekend:

  • #blackfriday
  • #blackfridaysale
  • #blackfridaydeals
  • #blackfriday2018
  • #cybermonday
  • #cybermondaysale
  • #smallbusinesssaturday
  • #shopsmallsaturday

Bonus Tip: Schedule out your social media posts on Facebook & Instagram so you aren't having to interrupt your holiday festivities with having to post content. There are paid services that you can use but know that Facebook itself has a pretty awesome scheduling tool. Simply carve out a couple hours on Sunday or Monday and schedule out your content posts for the week. Try to observe the 80/20 rule when curating content: 80% value based content 20% promotional. You want to attract buyers to your pages, spamming your wall with your products isn't the best way to do this. 

Use "FOMO" Verbiage in your promotional or ad copy:

FOMO or "Fear Of Missing Out" is verbiage you use in your copy to create a sense of urgency. Proper placement of certain words and phrases can encourage the shopper to shift from browsing to buying. It lights a fire under their bum so to speak to make a decision now, verses later. This verbiage you want to use within your ad or listing copy when describing or explaining the deal you are offering.

Some examples include:

  • Hurry
  • Shop Now
  • Instant Savings
  • Limited-Time Offer
  • Save Today
  • Don't Miss This
  • This Weekend Only
  • Limited Number Available
  • Today Only

Please note: You don't want to overdo this. There is a fine line between creating a sense of urgency and spamming people. You want to encourage and guide the customer to move through the checkout process....pushing them and getting in their face isn't going to give you the outcome you would like to have. Be gentle and  kind but firm with a touch of excitement and encouragement.

Remember that while 60% of shoppers this weekend will be in store, they are going to be spending most of that time standing in line. What do you think they will be doing while standing in line for hours? They are going to be ON THEIR PHONES. This means that even though you may not have a physical store, you can still capture their attention even while they are shopping from another store!! Think about this when writing your ad copy! This is a good opportunity for you to connect with your audience and stay fresh in their minds, this way when they get home they can kick off their shoes and shop from you for all those things they didn't find while out in the big stores.

Some other last minute tips to ensure you maximize your sales over the weekend:

  • Make deals front and center on your site or Etsy shop, people shouldn't have to hunt for your specials. This is the one weekend where these sales are truly for your customer. You want them to feel like they are special and getting the sale of the year! Put your ads and promos on the banners, featured listings, or the front page of your website.
  • Make the deal or sale significant (dig deep 10-20% off just isn't enough) I wouldn't hold a sale less than 25% off, every other sale of the year is up to 20% off... Black Friday through Cyber Monday needs to be better than that!
  • Check your quantities and inventory! So many sellers lose sales because they weren't aware they only had 1 or 2 available listed on their site. Make sure you raise your quantities available so that you don't miss those sales!
  • Respond LIGHTNING fast to customer messages. Remember a customer can be in your competitors shop in seconds! Have your notifications turned on and your phone volume up, respond back right away to a customer inquiry to ensure you get the business and not your competitor.

Remember also if you don't see a lot of action on Black Friday don't let it get you down, Cyber Monday is the BIGGEST holiday of the year for E-Commerce, keep interacting and engaging with your fans and followers and launch an Amazing Limited Time Offer on Cyber Monday! Most consumers will be home or at work and at their computers, they will also have gotten the bulk of their big item shopping done and will be primed and ready to shop small for those extra special gifts for loved ones. Monday is truly your time to shine! Good luck to you all, Happy Selling and may the odds be ever in your favor!

 

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How to Create a Gift Guide

By Sarah Sewell

How to Create a Gift Guide

A gift guide is something you create to offer suggestions for those wanting to purchase a gift. They are super fun to curate and they don’t take a ton of time to put together. Consumers love visuals and gift guides are a quick way for them to see a collection of items relevant to their gift buying needs. 

Studies show that during the holiday’s; emails containing gift guides are purchased from 50% more than any other email promotion. As much as shoppers still want to be in control of their shopping, they still very much appreciate and even look forward to recommendations. ESPECIALLY from brands they love and trust.

How to Get Started:

1. Pick a Theme or Topic for your Gift Guide. You want to keep your audience in mind. The whole point is to provide value and suggestions for your target market. Some examples may include:

  • Gifts ideas $99 and under
  • Unique Gift Ideas for Millennials
  • Gifts that say I Love You for that special person in your life.
  • Stocking Stuffers under $10 for the littles
  • Gifts for the Manly Man in your life
  • Eco-Friendly Gifts under $25
  • Holiday gifts to make your teachers feel special.

2. Curate a Collection that fits your theme. It's totally ok to add your own products into this collection just be sure to omit any products that you have low stock in or items that might sell out quickly, you want the guide to be shoppable throughout the holiday season. It is key to ensure your items match or coordinate with the other products as well, the look and feel of the guide is what will determine its success.

You do NOT have to add only your product! Gift Guides are flexible! You can totally promote say a list of your favorite things! Let's say you have a handmade shop that offers handcrafted wands. Perhaps put together a gift guide titled "Gifts for your Wizarding Friends" and add in your wizard wands, but link to other products within the same theme like cloaks, crystal balls, spellbooks etc... You have freedom here to create what you love. You can add all your own products, add others products, or even work together with other friend shop owners and cross promote one another! As long as you add value to your target audiences lives during this busy season you won't lose!

3. Create your layout. You can use Graphic Design Tools like Canva or similar to help you curate your collection. The best 3 formats to use are:

  • PDF that can be downloaded and shared
  • WebPage that can be linked to
  • Pinterest Board…. (my personal fave... and with Pinterest you can create a main gift guide with sub categories for multiple smaller niches).

Be sure to offer cute captions with the items. A quick title and price will make the viewers more likely to pin, share or purchase. 

4. Share it & Promote it!

  • Create a Social Media Graphic and share on your Social Platforms
  • Create a FB ad for it to be boosted or promoted as an ad
  • Create an Email Promotion around the Gift Guide
  • Post it to your Websites
  • BLOG BLOG BLOG about it!!! Even connect with other bloggers with similar target audiences to share with their followers.
  • Share it in your Etsy Shops
  • Create a link for it and add to your mailings that ship out 

Be sure to get your gift guide up as early as possible, consumers are shopping early this year and have their credit card in hand! Also, if you offer customization or personalization you want to ensure you have enough time to create the orders in time for holiday delivery! 

The point is to have fun and share the fun with others. Have fun curating and creating!

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