Hello again, Handmade Success! It’s Lisa Jacobs, and last time I visited, I talked about your willing attitude and the secret to becoming a self-made success. Today I’m back to talk more about how to make a living doing what you love to do.
As readers of Handmade Success, I feel safe in assuming that you’ve already figured out what you love to do and opened an online shop to sell your products or services. Most sellers stop there, feeling that if they build it, people will come. They neglect the most important aspect of creative business: creating a plan to introduce yourself and your products to the world!
There are three common pitfalls to avoid in marketing your creative business. If you recognize yourself here, I urge you to reconsider your approach:
Common Error #1:
Passively listing a product with little to no advertising. Most sellers employ a wait-and-see attitude that never sees good fortune. It takes more than listing products to be found in a vast, ever-expanding marketplace.
Common Error #2:
Relying on your host site for your shop traffic. I love being on Etsy, and I get a nice amount of visitors through their marketplace. However, a large portion of my repeat business joined Etsy when I brought them to the site from off-site advertising and promotion.
Common Error #3:
Counting each sale as just that sale. Instead, you want to treat each sale as the beginning of a relationship between you and the customer.
Here are some ideas on how to avoid these mistakes and build your creative business toward success!
Collect email addresses.
Your email list is your most valuable marketing tool, and it’s completely free to utilize. If you don’t have a system to capture emails, create one this minute! I use Mail Chimp (a free service) to design emails for my mailing list. This site also provides me with a landing page where interested customers can sign up for exclusive offers.
Once you are signed up with an email list manager, you can include a link to your email sign-up page on your profile, shop announcement, and about page.
Create a financial plan.
Before you begin advertising your shop, you need to have money that you feel comfortable spending. You must invest in your marketing plan, and you must realize that customers may need to see your shop up to 20 times before they trust you as a seller.
The first three years of business are part plan, part flying by the seat of your pants. It’s hard to predict an income, so I’ve chosen not to–and I would suggest you do the same. You’re lucky if you are funding your own growth in the beginning stages of your handmade shop.
Therefore, feeling comfortable with investing money into your handmade business is one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome in start-up. If you’ve ever felt afraid or uncertain with your shop’s finances, let me share some advice from my report, Budget for Success: How I Tripled My Income in Two Weeks.
For nearly two years, there was no method to my madness. I randomly paid myself, ordered supplies at will, and sporadically paid for advertisements. Recurring monthly bills associated with my business never failed to surprise me. I always walked away from the notice wondering, “This again? When am I going to be able to pay it?”
I adapted my business financial plan from the Balanced Money Formula (the link credits the source where I first heard about the idea). It comes from a personal financial plan where, of your take-home pay, 50% is allotted to needs, 30% to wants, and 20% to savings.
My business finances were slightly behind when I started this plan; it seemed as though I was always racing to catch up with my expenses. To get ahead, I started with one week’s income and I applied the Balanced Money Formula as follows: 50% of the revenue was allotted to business needs (supplies and shipping), 30% was dedicated to advertising, and 20% of the week’s revenue was my paycheck. I was on top of my expenses within a few weeks, and paying myself at the same time.
Once I was all caught up on expenses and more in control, I changed the plan to pay myself a better percentage of the profit. Now I even have a business savings account–and there’s actually money in it!
Customer service is, by far, the most important part of marketing.
“A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.”–Henry Ford
Give 2,000% of your best effort to production, customer service, and order fulfillment. Make your customers proud to receive your item; exceed their handmade expectations with professional service. Remember, you’re not just filling an order, you’re building a relationship!
At the Energy Shop, I have a satisfaction guarantee based on my secret policy to customer service: if one of my products fails you, I am going to serve you so well that you’ll hope I screw up again in the future. Customer service is not about a sale or a complaint; it’s about honoring the precious relationship between you and the customer.
Thanks again, Kerry, for all that you do! I appreciate the opportunity to share with you today. All the best~
Lisa Jacobs — Marketing Creativity
Lisa Jacobs writes Marketing Creativity for fellow creative spirits who aim to build a career with their own two hands. She leads group webinar programs and offers one-on-one coaching designed to help you get paid to be … you.Share on Facebook