2.23.2013

Building Your Handmade Online Empire {A Five Part Series} Tip #1

Welcome to my five tip series to help get the web on your side, a little bit at a time.  Each month I will provide a new tip to get you inspired!

Album Release Custom Promotional Favor Candles
Over six years of selling online, I have grown my three shops to generate a stable, steady income. The flow of customers into my shops is not by accident or luck. My customers come from lots of places I have created online to get my products seen. By building my web presence over time, I’ve gone from hoping for one sale per week to accommodating a peak volume of over twelve hundred candles in a single month. With that experience, I hope to give you inspiration and knowledge to build a powerful online presence that supports your growing business.

Tip #1. Just Try It (and not all in one day!)

Building a web presence means generating ideas, content and relationships that lead potential customers to your handmade products.

Spoiled Cowgirl is my newest Craft Cafe Shop
I didn’t get to three shops and a steady flow of orders to fill without my share of despair, stress, major growing pains and yes, even self-doubt. I didn’t always know where I was going or how to get there, but I did, and still do know that if I work hard, create superior products and try new things, I will go somewhere.

Whatever it is...if you’re wondering how it works, whether it will work for you...or why other people do it, then (say it with me) JUST TRY IT! If it works, keep doing it. If it doesn’t (or you hate it...that is okay too), now you know. You can get somewhere without a huge advertising budget. I know because I did it! But first I had to (you guessed it) JUST TRY IT!

Overwhelmed? Too busy? Trade out just one hour of television per week and try simply researching or signing up for something new. Hey, try it while you watch TV or wait for water to boil! Whatever works to fit new things into your schedule. Keep an inspiration notebook near you at all times. Anytime you have an idea write it down. Then when you need something to work on later, you can look at all those ideas for inspiration.

A Newsletter Keeps Your Fans Connected
Try Twitter or facebook, comment on another business's page with words of encouragement or a question, try making a YouTube channel and post a video or set up a blog. Then on your next slow sales day, go back and start writing up your first blog post. Chip away at new things and see what works for you. After a month of trying new things, look around your stats....are you seeing links into your shop from the places you’ve created to support your shop? No? Keep trying stuff! Check back after a month and see what happens. If you're a little overwhelmed with stats, be sure to watch for Tip #2 next month. I'll be talking about the importance of stats, and providing some great resources for making sense of them.

Like I mentioned before, I didn’t get where I am by hoping for sales (although I surely do that). I got there by trying new ideas and then following through on what works best for me, for my customers and for my market. The search results and customers take awhile, but they will come.

Be prepared for ideas! Keep a notebook handy.
Over time we can create something big out of little lists, day-dreamy cups of coffee, time taken reading about people who do what you do, ideas written down, barriers broken one by one. Each step taken is a brick. Build your empire one brick at a time with an open mind and your core gift at the helm....your creativity! Let the life you lead on the web bring your customers to you while you do the fun part...make what you make, filling all those orders.

Thanks for taking the time to read! Watch next month for Tip #2: The Power Behind Stats

If you'd like to see examples from my "online empire", take a look at some of these ideas and links. Maybe something will speak to you for your next slow sales day! Stop by and say hello if you get a chance!

Social networks:  
Articles and Blogs:  
Communities: 
Private Groups:
 The Sampler Village, Craft Cafe Social, Card Swaps
Various:  

Thanks!
Melissa Machowski
Owner, Designer, Maker at Spoiled Cowgirl by MDB, M Design Boutique, MDB Weddings and Events

Why listen to my advice? I believe in getting perspectives from all over the place. I have learned from other people succeeding at what I am trying to do. I’ve tried a lot, read a lot, failed a lot, and ultimately found some real success at running an online handmade business. My lessons learned can be yours too...at least, I hope so! ----> next tip coming in one month! Follow Craft Cafe and Spoiled Cowgirl to get the anouncement!

13 comments:

  1. Melissa, I enjoyed reading part 1 of your 5 part series. I can't wait to read part 2. Thanks for sharing. It's very inspiring.

    Renee

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  3. Thank you Renee! I appreciate the feedback. I look forward to sharing the other four tips!

    Melissa

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  4. Jumping in is the only way to learn!

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  5. Thanks for the encouraging article, going to share this with my FB group. Then I have a bunch of other stuff that I have to read.

    Looking forward to tip 2

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  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, tips and inspiration with us. I cant wait for next months blog to come out.

    Thanks,
    Dana Johnson Jones
    http://www.artfire.com/allinadayswork1

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  7. Just when I was at the end of my rope, losing hope, faith in my ability I came across this post in one of the groups I network with on Facebook.

    Thank you for the straight forward talk and thank you for helping me to regain confidence in what I do.

    Charlene Faulkner
    http://www.holidaystockingco.com

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  8. Excellent advice! Love this post and will be checking back for the rest of the series! Thank you for sharing!

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  9. These are some great tips for almost any marekt, looking forward to seeing the rest of the series. :-)

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  10. Thanks everyone for the great feedback! I am thrilled that my article series is something that may help someone stay sane on a slow sales day, or inspired when inspiration is needed!

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  11. Great post and great advice! I especially love the notebook idea. I have one for my jewelry designs but I need one for all the other ideas.

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  12. Impressive. I've got to hand it to you for a very inspiring demonstration of multivalence in how you've recombined and deconstructed the features and functions of the net. A really great peg for monetizing your online space and playing with the rules of marketing.

    Patrick @ PDG Online Marketing

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