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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!

Crafty Business Week – Ways to Promote Your Business


Reported by Simone Collins

In order to make your craft business successful, no matter what kind of business you are running, you need customers or an audience. To attract people, you need to get the word out. This part of networking is easy and should cost you little to nothing. I am sure that most crafters who own a business partake in most of these strategies already, but it is a good start for newer business owners and a checklist for everyone else.

Here’s a few simple ideas to get you started:

1. Add Your Website or Blog to Your Signature
If you participate in online communities or groups, your signature should contain your website, Etsy store, and blog if the website permits it. Also, add your website to your email signature. Make sure it’s a hyperlink so that all they have to do to visit your site is click.

2. Get a Twitter Account
If you are already posting in Facebook, you can reach an even wider audience by using a free Twitter account. You can also set up your Twitter account to automatically post to Facebook or vice versa, so it can streamline your work. Win-win.

3. Create a Facebook Fan Page or Group
There was a great article about this earlier this week about Making the Most of Your Facebook Page. Setting up a Fan Page not only helps you but also separates your work from personal life. Your group or page will allow you to link your Etsy shop and also help you target people who are genuinely interested in your work. You can use your page to send out discount codes, news, and product information. It keeps everything in one handy spot for you and your fans.

4. Be a Guest Blogger
Spread your crafty knowledge to a fellow blogger or crafter and target a new group of people. There are plenty of blogs out there that happily welcome guest bloggers who can write about crafts. If you read a blog that features crafts similar to what you create, why not send an email to the owner with an article idea? Depending on the blog or website’s guidelines, they may be more than happy to publish your article. Make sure it features a link to your website or online store.

5. Join or Organize an Event
Want to meet other crafters who could potentially be future customers? Then go to where the crafters are! There are plenty of Meetup groups, clubs, and classes that might already exist in your area, so why not join the fun and meet new people. If you can’t find something in your area, why not organize an event? Maybe just a simple crafty chat at the local coffee house, or perhaps a craft outing to the local yarn shop. Either way, you are sure to meet a new group of people who could also be potential customers or readers.

7. Participate in a Link Exchange or Party
Lots of websites and blogs feature linky parties or blog carnivals that allow you to post a project that links directly to your website or blog. Again, this is just putting your name out there on another platform, increasing your exposure. You can also get listed on blogs or websites that offer that feature like our list of Crafty Bloggers. This is a simple and quick way to promote yourself.

8. Teach a Class
 You have a great crafty product, why not teach a class on how to make it! This will not only allow you the opportunity to meet more people but could also be an additional source of income. Dabble is a great spot to find and offer classes. You can also teach classes online if local classes is not an option.

I hope this is useful information for promoting and marketing your crafty business. What ways are you promoting your business? We would love to hear about it!

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

Crafty Business Week – Photo Tips for Crafters

Reported by Jessica Ripley


Before writing this article I read many others online that give tips for taking the best photos possible when it comes to capturing our creations. We crafters sure are a bunch that really like to share our work! There is a ton of great information out there on everything from creating your own photo studio, to camera settings, what equipment (like lenses and flashes) will take better photos, and what Photoshop tweaks will improve them. I also spent time browsing some of my favorite blogs studying their photos to find out which appeal to me and why. I mean let’s face it, good writing is great, but when it comes to crafts it is the eye candy that keeps readers interested and brings them back again and again.

Keeping the amount of information out there in mind, I would never presume to know better or more than those that have already written about the subject matter, (the only thing I’ll ever claim to be an expert in is eating chocolate). However, after all that reading, browsing, and the experience I myself have as a craft blogger, I’ve compiled that information into five steps toward success when it comes to taking really great photos of crafts for posting on the Web.

It is important to note that you do not need fancy equipment or an expensive photo editing program to get high quality photos of your projects. You will hear about DSLR cameras, light boxes, and editing with Photoshop that seem to be the key factor to beautiful photos. While it is true that these items definitely can help you get great photographs, they are not the secret. You can do just as much with a point and shoot, good technique, and a bit of free editing help. Keep these five points in mind, and you’ll be one of those that we get to enjoy some wonderful eye candy from too.

1. Go outside and turn off the flash.
Natural light is always better when it comes to photos, whether they are of a craft project or a person. It is just more flattering than a harsh flash. If going outside is not possible, identify a spot in your home that gets great natural light from a window.

Here’s an example of a project near a window in my home that gets the most light vs. the exact same location at night with a flash:


A definite difference!

If you have to take a photo indoors at night, bring as much light to your subject as possible with lamps, but that is where it gets tricky and you must do a bit more to get the best photo, such as adjusting white balance on your camera if possible to get rid of that incandescent lamp yellow hue, or setting up a light box, have a fancy flash, etc. I prefer to just follow this number one rule and not worry about all that extra tweaking to a photo, that takes up time when I could be crafting!

2. Setting the stage is important.
How this is done can vary from individual to individual, but it is important to think about. Personally, I find photos that show a project in its intended use (such as an apron around a waist with a few utensils in the pocket, a framed piece on the wall in a home over a dresser, or a pillow on a love seat with a coordinating blanket draped nearby) much more interesting to look at than an object on a monochrome background. For example, this garden stake looks prettier in a garden rather than lying on my craft table.


However, I have done both so know this can depend on a project too. Here’s an example where I preferred to show an iPod Cozy for what it was rather than in a photo where it could have been lost on a person.


The main thing to consider when photographing your projects is what appeals to you (get to searching your favorite craft blogs for examples if you aren’t sure).

When choosing a background or other items to enhance the project itself, it is also important to be sure that the colors are complimentary, and that they do not distract from the main focus of the photo. Great examples of the use of props can be found by perusing the craft ideas section at Martha Stewart’s website. They are truly staging experts. While we all can’t have her prop room, it sure does give way to some inspiring ideas for taking photos!

3. Shoot and shoot and shoot some more.
Once the location is determined and the stage is set, take lots of photos. In the digital age where we are blessed with huge memory cards I can sometimes take 30-40 photos of a project before I consider this step complete.

Be sure to include close ups, further away shots (especially if you are showing the project in use like mentioned above), and shots at angles to keep it interesting to the eye. Here’s an example on a recent project for our review of the Epiphany Button Studio which shows detail as well as the full project:


There is no rule that to show off a project you can only do it with one photo. Especially when it comes to selling your creations. Buyers and readers alike want to see that beautiful detail.

4. Editing is necessary.
Editing is a bit like the icing on the cake. The slightest tweaks can improve an image just enough to make it great rather than just OK. I use Photoshop Elements, however it is not necessary to have expensive software. Reviewed on Craft Critique, Picnik is an online site that provides wonderful free editing tools which I highly recommend.

When editing photos of crafts, consider these 4 basic steps:

  • Adjust the lighting. Even small tweaks to levels, or brightness and contrast, can dramatically improve the appeal of a photo. Just be careful not to take this step too far or your photo will have too much “noise” and not look as natural.
  • Consider bumping up the color saturation 5-10%. Especially after adjusting lighting, this can give your project some pop. But again, don’t take this too far, especially if you are selling the item. It should remain true to what it is in real life (but there isn’t anything wrong with adding a little pop to catch the eye).
  • Crop. If you didn’t frame the shot exactly as you liked, crop it. Also consider cropping the shot into a square, which often looks better in an online format.
  • Re-size before uploading. This step is extremely important when sharing photos online. The larger your photo, the longer it will take it to load on someone else’s computer, and for some readers this can be a frustrating deal breaker. A good rule of thumb is no bigger than 600 pixels wide or tall.

5. There is more to posting than “publish”.
Once you have completed all the above and are left with the best possible photo to show off your creation, there is more you can do in order to enhance your photo behind the scenes.

First, give the photo a more descriptive file name when saving it. For example, rather than naming a photo “detail shot 1”, name it “blue pillow made with Amy Butler fabric detail shot 1”. Also, after uploading a photo to the web it is given a code which includes “ALT” tags. Whatever appears in these ALT tags (which look like alt=”description here”) is what readers see while a photo is loading, and what search engines see while looking for images as well. Change the wording between the two quotation marks to a better description of your project. When doing so, keep in mind what you would search for in Google if you were looking for a similar project.

Taking both of these steps exponentially increases the chance of a search engine finding your post, and as a result drives more traffic to your site.

As mentioned above these are tips and tricks you are sure to have heard before, but that are certainly the basic keys to success and deserve reiterating when you wish to share your work online.

We would love to hear from you any other tips you may have learned, or if you wish to further elaborate on any of those above. Share with us in the comments how you get the best photo possible of your crafts!

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