Guest Blog: Special Topics in Calamity Business by Jennifer Perkins – Free Marketing
I’m debuting a new feature today on the Indie Fixx Guest Blog called Special Topics in Calamity Business, since I know a lot of my regular readers run their own crafty businesses. Periodically, I will be asking successful indie entrepreneurs to share some tips & tricks with you on how to run your own indie business. When starting any new endeavor it’s important to remember to not reinvent the wheel, but find mentors and other informational sources to help you with those things that others have already figured out. To that end, Jennifer Perkins of Naughty Secretary Club will be sharing with you some free marketing advice today. Plus, check back next week for another how-to indie business post from Jennifer.
Also, check out Jennifer’s new book, The Naughty Secretary Club: The Working Girls Guide to Handmade Jewelry, which is now available for pre-order at Amazon.com.
by guest contributor Jennifer Perkins
Most crafty business owners start out with a business plan no matter how rough. Within that business plan they also include a budget, in particular a marketing budget. But what if your marketing budget is zero? What is a guy or gal to do? Never fear, marketing can still be done assuming 1) you already own a computer 2) have your online shop set up 3) and are ready to handle the onslaught of orders all your marketing efforts are going to bring you. Here are a few super easy, and free, tips every small business owner should follow
I have 3 email accounts all with an HTML coded signature. At the bottom of every single email I send out has the following text with key words being links.
The Naughty Secretary Club: The Working Girls Guide to Handmade Jewelry
My new book is available for pre-order at Amazon.com!
Every time I send out an email, whether it be to a customer, friend, yahoo group or anyone else receiving email from me, the recipient is given a chance to click 6 different links to 6 different business ventures I am involved in. Maybe I was emailing with someone about a piece of jewelry and they didn’t know I had a book coming out, now they do now. This easy marketing tactic is 100% free. Another easy and useful way to utilize this tactic is to send an email to your customers alerting them that the order is being shipped. Not only will they appreciate the heads up it will put the link to your blog, book, website, etc in front of them again.
Editorial Coverage in Blogs
In order to keep their content new and exciting, shopping blogs constantly need new content. People like blogs that update daily and that is a lot of demand on a blog writer to find crafty goodies to write about, sales to mention and fashion shows to add to their calenders. Blog writers appreciate being let in on hot gossip. Most of them specifically ask for tips and that means from you. They don’t just say that to be nice, they want to know about the new purses you just crocheted out of recycled grocery bags, I promise. The worst thing that can happen is that they will not write about your goodies, but if you write to 50 (there are TONS out there) you have a fighting chance that several are going to squeeze in a mention for your website or Etsy store. You could pay to advertise on that blog or you could get editorial coverage completely free.
Writing a Blog
Speaking of blogs why not start your own? Think of a blog as a newsletter you can write as often as you like. Given the frequency and regularity you have with your blog, the more likely more people will tend to read. It’s important to remember that little bit about having something interesting to say though. A business-based blog is a balancing act between chatting about what you are selling and not talking about what you are selling all of the time. Sure people that read your blog want to know when you add new goodies to your website, but they also want to know what inspired you to make those new goodies. Just like craft business blogs come in many different shapes and forms, it’s best to have a particular slant or topic and stick to it, while not forgetting that your blog is a business tool as well as something you do for fun. When done right, blogs can drive tons of traffic to your website, when done wrong, they tend to just not get read. Think interesting, informative and fun content—plus lots of pictures.
I could write an entire book on the beauty that is social networking. Sure My Space and Facebook are fundamental to any online business (hello bulletins and notices in people’s comment sections), but have you started to Twitter yet? Are you joing Flickr pools like Handmade Jewelry and uploading the pictures of your bestest bling? Let us not forget joining My Craftivity, Craft Stylish and Indie Public. Every social networking site you belong to helps get the name of your company out there and in front of people that much more. They all allow pictures of you and your product as well as links to your store. Oh, and by the way, I have yet to join a social networking site that was not free.
I once read for you to think of your website as a city. If your city does not have any roads leading in, it makes it pretty hard for people to get there. If there are tons of roads, highways, paths and more leading people to your city, the more people are going to visit and hence buy. Think of links as those roads leading to your website. Write other similar websites and ask them if they would like to trade links with you. List your website in all the Indie Bibles, Indie Shopping Directories and Girl Wide Webs you can find.
Every self respecting craft business has themselves a newsletter in place. Most web hosting companies offer them for free, I use Dreamhost and they do. Have a place on the front page of your website where people are encouraged to sign up for your newsletter and start the gathering process. Once you have these precious emails, don’t take advantage of them by sending out emails too often. The key is to send out informative and fun newsletters regularly, try once a month. Let people know if you are having a sale or have new product. Also, please don’t send out text only emails with big long messy links. Always send out HTML newsletters with lots of pretty pictures. Studies show that people tend to read emails with graphics over those without.
Google has a plethora of free goodies that any savvy business owner should be taking advantage of. My favorite are Google Alerts. Anytime someone types the words ‘Naughty Secretary Club’, ‘Austin Craft Mafia’ or ‘Stitch Fashion Show’ anywhere on the Internet, I get a notice with a link. That means, people talking about me on blogs, Craftster, etc…I just got one from the Austin American Statesmen today. I didn’t know the Statesmen was going to write about my new book, but they did, and I would have never known if not for my trusty Google Alert. It’s important to keep up with what is being said about you in the world and Google Alerts are easy and free.
Another whistle and bell that Google offers for free is Google Analytics. This free report tracks how many hits you get, where those hits are coming from, how long people are staying on your website and more. I also use Google Calenders this way, I can let people know when I am teaching classes, vending in a craft fair, signing copies of my book and more. Google calenders are public so you can share all the events related to your business.
So there you have it, who said the best things in life were not free. There are tons of free resources out there to help your business, you just have to keep an eye peeled for them and more importantly use them!
Stay tuned next week for Special Topics in Calamity Business from Jennifer Perkins!
About the Contributor: Jennifer Perkins can see decorative possibilities in almost anything. If it can be drilled, painted, glued, or bent, she will make it into a piece of jewelry. You can shop her line of one of-a-kind revamped vintage pieces at her online shopping site Naughty Secretary Club. Plus, she’s been featured on HGTV’s Crafters Coast to Coast (now That’s Clever) and is a co-host of Stylelicious with her buddies from the Austin Craft Mafia of which she is a founding member. And now, you can read her new book, The Naughty Secretary Club: The Working Girls Guide to Handmade Jewelry. It’s available for pre-order at Amazon.com.