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Crafty Business Week – Promoting Your Business: Materials

Reported by Simone Collins

Once your crafty business is up and running, there are things you can do to promote it so that you drive more traffic to your store, designs, or blog. Besides using social media to spread the word, you can also design or purchase products that will also help.


Here is a list of products you can purchase that will help you promote your business to get you started:

1. Business Cards
This is probably the most important thing to have for any business. It is literally your calling card. If you want to give people a way to remember you and your business, this card is the first step. You can design your own card, even make your own if you want, or use a printing service.
This online printing service not only has some very low-cost options but also offers uniquely shaped glossy business cards. You can also design your cards right on their website very easily, so no additional software necessary. They also offer additional products like labels, postcards, and vinyl banners, so all of your  materials will match. I quickly made up some mock cards that are not amazing but also only took me three minutes.
There is one price that I am personally a huge fan of and that price is free. With VistaPrints, you can order business cards for free, you only pay the shipping. This free option has limited designs and will have a VistaPrint logo on the back, but if you are just starting out, you can’t beat this price. There is an online tool for designing the card yourself, or you can choose from their designs.

2. Wearables
Why not be a walking billboard for your business? It’s a simple way to spread the word without even opening your mouth.

 With Cafe Press, you can upload your business logo or a design to promote yourself, then order away. If you are an artist, you can also submit your artwork for T-shirts and products, as well as another product options. Then, put that shirt on! This is especially helpful when attending a craft event like a fair, crop, or even a class. That is where your target audience will be, so why not attend for fun and promote yourself without even trying.
Create your own fabrics with this easy-to-use online service. Whether you want to design fabrics to be used for your projects, or upload your logo to create fabric for your table at a craft fair, this website is both easy and practical.  Imagine creating a cute bunting for your booth at Renegade, or making aprons that feature your own design; really, the possibilities are endless. And the next time you hit the market, be sure to take that reusable tote with your business name all over it. It’s crafty and promotional. Just look at this cute Craft Critique fabric!
3. Packaging
It’s no secret that buyers are drawn to your designs and creations but are wowed by the packaging. I clearly remember the first thing I ever bought from Etsy because it was packaged in the cutest little box with coordinating twine, and a tiny handmade thank-you note. The seller had won me over with those extra little steps.

Stickers
An easy way to add a personalized touch to your packaging is simply with a thank you sticker. At MOO you can get your logo and a thank-you message on 90 stickers for less than $10. If you are a card maker like me, you can just add one to the back of your cellophane sleeve. A jewelry creator can use one as a seal on a gift box. Want to add just a little more? Then why not add some twine and a mini card. MOO is great because they also have some great crafting ideas with their products. If you are on a tight budget, these simple ideas can be easily be handmade with just as big an impact.


Custom Rubber Stamp
If you are planning on creating your own stickers then you can definitely get a lot of use out of a custom rubber stamp. You can even support a fellow crafter by buying a hand carved rubber stamp. Even if you aren’t adding stickers to your packaging, you may have a use for a  custom wood stamp or self-inking stamp for adding your return address info to packages or envelopes. By adding your logo to this important information, you are once again building brand recognition and doing it in an economical way.

4. Digital Watermarks
Now, if you are featuring your crafts on a blog or gallery and want to protect them from being grabbed by internet fiends who will republish your work as their own, you’re going to need a watermark. This is also helpful when you work is featured on someone else’s blog, or on an online gallery because your name will be prominently displayed. It’s pretty easy to create one with a photo editing software, but if you are unsure or prefer to have a pro do it for you, there are several options. Lots of Etsy sellers offer to create one of a kind logos with or without the watermarks included.  And boy are they reasonable. There are craft bloggers who also offer this low-cost service as well.

5. Swag aka Freebies
Like I said before, I am a big fan of things that come with a $0 price tag, and I am sure there are plenty others out there just like me. So, why not put that to good use and promote your business. By choosing small inexpensive items that people would be happy to receive, customers and friends feel like you’ve given them a gift, while you get added exposure. There are also situations where you may be able to provide a company or event a freebie that would also promote your business to a larger audience. Here are just a couple ideas about what you could buy.
Buttons
A great way to spread the love is with buttons. You can either make them yourself with a button maker or order custom 1″ buttons from an Etsy seller. People love flair, especially craft buyers and sellers.
PostCards
Another great idea for an item people love to receive and would not be quick to get rid of are postcards. You can order postcards from several places online including MOO, Uprinting, and VistaPrints. You can either print them with your designs and art work on the fronts for people to use as actual postcards, or do double-sided printing with maybe a cool craft technique or tutorial. If you are a food crafter, maybe print some recipe cards. People will be happy for the extra little freebie, and even if they can’t use it themselves are very likely to pass it on to a friend.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these simple ideas and it has sparked some ideas on how you can promote your own designs or business. What ways do you spread the word about your business? If you are a craft buyer, what ways can sellers promote their businesses to you effectively? I would love to hear what you think!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Crafter Interview – Rachel Johnson from Swap-bot

Reported by Simone Collins

I am so happy to be sharing my interview with Rachel Johnson from Swap-bot with everybody today. Rachel is not only a crafty business owner but she is also a reporter for Craft Critique (and lucky for me, a personal friend). Her crafty talents, as well as business savvy, have made Swap-bot what it is today; I am sure some of Rachel’s insights will be inspiring as well as informative.


Name: Rachel Johnson

Crafty Business: Swap-bot.com

Where can we find you online? Swap-bot website, Swapbot blog, personal blog, Ace Department, and reporting for Craft Critique of course!

When did your business begin and why did you started?
My husband and I created Swap-bot in the fall of 2005 after participating in some blog-hosted swaps. We thought swapping was a fun hobby and a great way to “meet” people online, but organizing the swaps by hand is a hassle. Swap-bot takes the hassle out of hosting swaps by organizing and assigning the partners and sending out reminder emails. Swap-bot also has a feedback system which helps keep all of the swappers honest.

Tell us about Swap-bot.
Swap-bot is a service and a community of creative individuals. Our goal is to connect artists, writers, and crafters via the snail mail. We currently have over 40,000 members from all over the world, and the site gets over 3.4 million pageviews a month. I work on Swap-bot full-time and am the site’s only administrator. I do everything for the business (customer service, marketing, blogging, accounting, strategic planning, etc.) except the backend programming. To support the site financially, we publish ads.

Describe your typical day.
I like to get my household chores out of the way in the morning before I sit down at the computer. Then, I get a large mug of coffee (with chocolate soy milk) and sit down to go through emails. My day is technically flexible — I often go to the grocery store or go running — but in general, I spend the whole day in front of the computer.

I receive a LOT of customer support email, which I try to keep up with on a daily basis, but it is difficult. I often spend a good amount of time mediating disputes and investigating questionable accounts. I also monitor the Swap-bot forums and try to write a blog post every day. I update the Swap-bot twitter account and Facebook page a couple times a day and I often spend a few hours each week working on design projects for Swap-bot, like business cards, postcards, or other collateral.

To supplement my income I also do freelance graphic design work for other clients, so I usually have quite a few projects in the air each day.

What keeps you motivated?
The awesome, dedicated Swap-bot users! It is sometimes easy to get caught up in the small day-to-day problems of running a large community, but I always get a renewed sense of purpose when one of our users tells me how much they love Swap-bot because it has helped them meet new friends or renewed their creativity. Our long-time members who have completed hundreds, or even thousands (!), of swaps really inspire me to continue trying to improve the site.

What keeps you on track with your business? Tools? Tricks?
I hand write a To-Do list about once a week. That helps me to remember all of the big important tasks. I also have a pretty complicated system of flagging and filing email that keeps me organized. But other than that, I basically just keep showing up each day and getting as much done as possible. We have been working on Swap-bot for almost six years, and I really think that longevity and perseverance are our only “tricks.”

Any websites or programs you use to help with your business? Which ones and how do they assist you?
I use Goggle Docs for my financial spreadsheets. I like that I can access it online from anywhere and that it is inherently backed up.

I use Google Analytics to track our site traffic.

I love Hootsuite for managing my many social media accounts. I think it is the best Twitter tool out there.

All of my blogs are built on WordPress.

For all of my graphic design work I use the Adobe Creative Suite. I think I use Photoshop every single day of my life!

What is the biggest challenge in your business?
Oof. That is easy — constant complaints. Did I mention that I get a lot of email? Ha! A good portion of it pertains to problems, disputes, site glitches, etc. Most issues are easy to fix and respond to, but sometimes I get some really hurtful email about really random things — often things that are not in my ability to fix or even speak to. Those emails bring me down even though I know that the only proper response is to ignore them.

Any advice you would give to someone just starting a crafty business?
Perseverance is key. It takes a while to establish your brand and build relationships. I know that it is hard to hear, but it usually takes years — not months — for a small business to see real profits.

What do you love most about owning your own crafty business?
I really love working for myself and being in control of my own success or failure.

Besides crafting, what do you love doing?
I love exercising! I train with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training and I highly recommend it. I completed the New York City Marathon in November!

Where does your inspiration come from?
Besides our awesome Swap-bot users, I am inspired by huge collaborative projects, like Wikipedia, that demonstrate how incredible humanity can be.

Who are your favorite crafters?
Well, the big mama, Martha Stewart, of course! I also really like Kal Barteski, Jessica Marquez, and Tyshawn Henry.

Tell us about your crafting space.

I have a small office in our Brooklyn apartment where I do all my work, and which houses all of my crafting gear. It has a big wrap-around desk and a large paper storage chest, but it is basically a small space covered in clutter.

If you lose your crafty mojo, how do you find it again?
I join an interesting swap!!

What trends are you noticing in Craft?
Well, cupcakes are definitely on the way out… Bright colors, fringe, and confetti seem to be trending lately.

Where do you see your business in 10 years?
I really hope Swap-bot is still around and swapping is still a popular hobby — hopefully postage doesn’t go up too much! I also love creating new websites. My newest one is AceDepartment.com, a community site for entrepreneurs that I co-founded with my friend Jessica Alfieri Wright. Over the next ten years I hope to continue expanding my online presence and making friends along the way!

Thanks to Rachel for sharing her thoughts about crafty business and how she makes all the magic happen over at Swap-bot. I encourage everybody to go and check out all the fun, it is a great place to be inspired as well as make new friends with similar interests and some of the swaps require absolutely no crafting.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Crafty Business Week – Make The Most of Your Facebook Fan Page

Reported By: Guest Blogger, Kathy Cano-Murillo, the Crafty Chica
If you are an indie business owner and are active with social media, I know you’ve come across the “should I have a fan page” question. Once you set up a fan page, then you think – “okay, what should I put there?”

I’ve kinda figured out what works for me, so I decided to share.

Both types of pages are meant for everyone to have fun, become enlightened, laugh, think and learn! I really enjoy Facebook, I’ve met so many amazing people that have become dear friends. This isn’t a sure-fire method for everyone, but feel free to pick out what you want. I’m very grateful for anyone who takes an interest in what I do, and I want to make sure I’m giving them what they want. This is a part of that process.

Here are some ideas to make the most of your experience.

1. If you have an indie business/brand – YES, start a fan page. Do you really want your business customers to know the knitty gritty of what you are thinking and saying to your friends and family? Do those customers want to know? A lot of times, no. Maybe they just want to know about your jewelry offerings. Also, if you run your profile page as your business, you will eventually hit the 5,000 friend limit and have to start all over. To avoid that, get that fan page rolling now!

2. Two kinds of parties goin’ on here. Think of your profile page as a party in your own home. You want to see who is coming, what they are saying, what kind of appetizers they like. For your fan page, think of that as a big bash themed around your business that is open to the general public. It’s a place to celebrate your brand, engage with people who appreciate your work, and give an insight to what your inspirations are to keep your business going. Your fan page will likely be more focused on what your business is. I’ve learned that some people don’t want to know all my daily details, they want the meaty stuff. And vice versa for family members. If they want to know about your business, encourage them to become a fan!

3. Be a pleasant hostess and guide your friend requests to the right place. Once I got my fan page rolling, I decided to keep my profile page to those I know in real life, close friends from online, industry colleagues, family, school friends – and people who took time to write a personal note in their friend request. This way I know they aren’t just adding me to raise their own numbers – there are a lot of strangers out there who will do that! I get many requests from businesses. I used to add everyone until complete strangers would post weird ads on my page! Now…unless I’m friends with the business owner, I don’t really want them to see my profile page content because I have no idea who they are or why they want to friend me. Therefore I send them a reply to please join me on my other page.

4. Engage! Okay, on your fan page you have the option to show only your feed, your guests feed, or both. I go for the latter. You want your page visitors to feel like you are hanging out and chatting with them. If they leave you a comment, do your best to answer. There are not emails for fan pages, so check your page frequently, at least once a day. I know from experience you’ll want to monitor what people are posting!

5. Go easy on the duplicate postings between your fan and profile page. Save these for important announcements. Many of your fans are likely your friends on your profile page. If you double post everything, it clogs up the feed and can get annoying and you could lose them at both of your parties!

6. Think of your fan page as your own mini-magazine. Sure, you want to promote your blog, but you also want to share what inspires you. You want to post good, juicy content to keep people interested and loyal. Pretend you are an editor. Choose your favorite links and stories and share them, maybe adding your own twist on the content.

7. Mix it up and make your page exclusive. For your fan page, add in video clips, contests, lots of photos, shout outs to your favorite artists or books. Do things that will make your fans feel like they are in an exclusive club! Don’t forget to list all your sites, your mission statement, your contact information, etc.

What I LOVE about fan pages is that everyone is connected by a common interest. I feel like I can post all day about glitter on my CraftyChica.com page and no one will think I’m weird. They expect glitter talk. However, if post all day about glitter on my profile page, I’ll likely get an email from my sister saying “Cool it on the glitter, you’re freaking me out!”

So there it is! I’m far from perfect with all of this, but maybe there is something here that can help you!

Do you have a Facebook page? What are the artists/crafters pages you follow? Share below in the comments section of this article, we would love to hear your opinions!
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About The Author

Kathy Cano-Murillo is a writer and artist.

In 2001, Kathy launched CraftyChica.com, a wildly popular web site to inspire women to brighten their lives with clever craft ideas. She had a podcast series on iTunes, a web series on LifetimeTV.com, has been profiled in The New York Times, USA Today and NPR, and written several craft books.

She has written two fiction books, Waking Up in the Land of Glitter and Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing which was released in March.

Kathy is currently the National Spokesperson for I Love To Create which also carries her Crafty Chica™ products.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!