Have you been wondering how to promote your handmade products, but just don’t know where to start? Maybe you’ve been trying to promote them on Instagram, but you just aren’t seeing the results you’ve been wanting. If this sounds like you then you’re not alone! One of the hardest parts of being a small business owner is knowing how to promote what you’ve made in order to gain customers. Often small business owners have to hustle to make every single sale, which gets exhausting especially when you don’t make any.
If any of this feels like it applies to you, then this week’s podcast episode is perfect for you (along with this blog post)! This week I got to chat with Ashley, from A Crafty Concept, all about how to promote your handmade products in your small business. Ashley is a mompreneur who has a crochet, business, and momming blog along with selling her handmade crochet accessories. She is most known for her Claire Bun Beanie pattern, which went viral a few years ago leading to her business taking off!
From a young age, Ashley always had an entrepreneurial mindset that is wired to think about marketing. Growing up she went to craft fairs with her mom that sometimes were a whole month of craft shows every night. Being in this environment all the time sparked her desire to try to sell her own creations like school themed friendship bracelets at a cheerleading craft fair. When she was at her day jobs throughout high school and college she thought of ways that each business she worked at could market themselves and cross promote with other similar businesses. This translated perfectly into her own business, A Crafty Concept, where she has learned how to market her products very well!
So what are some of the ways that she has promoted her business and how can you promote you’re own? Let’s get down into the ways that you can market your products!
(The rest of the post may be sponsored or contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. See my full affiliate disclosure here.)
Social media is an awesome way to share different photos of your patterns or products as you’re creating and are about to release them. I mean, who doesn’t love a good sneak peek of a new product or pattern coming out? I love seeing different crochet designers offering sneak peeks of their upcoming patterns! Sharing sneak peeks on social media is a great way to build up excitement for your next crochet release. You can show photos of yarn you’re using, an up close shot of the stitches in the pattern, or progress photos as you are making the design. With each photo you share on Instagram or Facebook, the anticipation of what it is will grow and then your audience will be so excited when they finally get to see what it is. When you do finally release the pattern or product make sure you post a photo of it on your different social media platforms so that your audience knows that it is available to purchase.
Facebook groups are a perfect place to share your patterns once you’ve released them. Some crochet themed facebook groups allow you to do self promotion, which means that you’re able to share patterns or blog posts with the group. Share a photo of your pattern, write something about it, and then link the pattern at the end of what you write. Or you could just share a photo of say your daughter wearing a beanie pattern, say how cute you think she is, and either include the pattern link in what you say or wait for people to comment asking for the pattern. This second strategy can work well for people who are not wanting any spammy posts about something for sale. Find what works best for your business and go with it!
A website/blog is a great way to be able to showcase your products beyond just having them listed on a site like Etsy or Ravelry. On your own site you can not only share more photos of it, but can go into more details and share the stories behind your products. It’s also a place that you can share free crochet or knitting patterns, and then include links to a paid PDF version of the pattern in your Etsy store. This can be a great way to boost your sales if you drive a lot of traffic to your blog. Ashley and I both use the combination of Bluehost and WordPress. Bluehost is a website hosting service that gives you your own domain name, along with providing the premium version of WordPress at no cost. I love everything about using Bluehost and WordPress together, and if I ever have a problem, Bluehost’s staff is great at being able to help you figure it out. It’s like having your very own tech team! At only $2.95 a month, it provides everything you need for your site at an affordable cost. Click here to find out more about Bluehost!
Cross promotion is an awesome way to get your patterns out to a wider audience. What is cross promotion though? It happens when two brands in a similar niche work together to help share each other’s patterns or products with their customers/audience. One way that can happen is through taking part in giveaways that different makers have. If someone you follow that’s in your niche is having a giveaway and looking for contributors, then offer a free product or pattern to include in their giveaway. Giving free product away for giveaways helps grow your follower count, which can lead to more sales.
Another way that cross promotion can happen is through blog features. Sometimes bloggers will have applications where you can apply to feature one of your patterns on their blog. You provide the pattern to them, and then they do the majority of the promotion for you. They get free content that they don’t have to design, and you in turn get the traffic that results from them promoting you. It can be really nerve racking though to apply for something like that. It’s ok though! Even if you feel like you have a small following, bloggers who have these applications will still want to share what you have.
Other bloggers will create pattern roundups or sharing different patterns from other designers. If they do a roundup it will look along the lines of something like “Top 10 Sweater Patterns” or “10 Free Spring Crochet Designs,” and sometimes they create applications to sign up to have your pattern be one of them. If they do, totally sign up! Or if someone else isn’t creating one of those roundups then make one of your own. One way that Ashley shares patterns is through her weekly Wrap Label Wednesday where she shares a designer’s pattern, creates a wrap label themed around it, and then shares it with her newsletter subscribers. She shared my Pizza My Heart pattern, and it was a great way to get some traffic to my blog!
Throughout the year people will be looking for different patterns for making homemade gifts for loved ones whether that’s on Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. If you create patterns that would be great gifts, plan to start promoting those a few weeks in advance of the holiday so that your customers can make them ahead of time. With Mother’s Day coming around soon, begin to promote your patterns that a mom would love whether that’s Crafty Facial Rounds like Ashley has, a bag, some spa towels, or anything else that might fit the holiday. On Instagram and Facebook, share photos of these patterns so that your audience can see them, and pin photos to Pinterest of with the pattern and link for it. Whether free or paid patterns, holidays are a great opportunity to gain traffic to your different platforms. If you only sell finished crocheted products you can use the same strategy!
Pinterest is one of the greatest free ways to get traffic to your blog. Most people think of Pinterest as another form of social media, but it’s actually formatted to be a search engine. Think of it as Google for crafters, DIYers, and anyone else who uses it. Where do you go when you’re looking for a new pattern or recipe? For me it’s always Pinterest, and the same way for a lot of other people! On Pinterest you’re able to pin photos created for your blog posts, products, patterns, etc. These photos get to directly link to your content, so when someone clicks on it they’re able to directly go to it. You can share these pins on group boards that other crafters follow, share on your own boards, and then have them be able to be shared with people who are looking for patterns. Ashley and I agree without a doubt that Pinterest is one of the best ways to promote your products!
When it comes to sharing your pins, one of the best tools that I’ve used to get my pins out there is the scheduling service Tailwind. Tailwind is a pin scheduler that finds the best times for your pins to be pinned to your boards to get the maximum reach. You can schedule your own pins or pins you find on Pinterest, and then Tailwind does all the work be pinning them at the best times. Through using Tailwind I’ve grown my Pinterest monthly views for my pins from just 1,000 to 1.9 million, and my engagements have gone up to 80 thousand. This includes both my pins and the pins I’ve found on Pinterest as well. All in all it is hard to find anything negative about Tailwind because it helps boost your growth so much. Click here to learn more about Tailwind!
This topic could have it’s whole entire postAbout half of Ashley’s product sales have come from people searching for items on Etsy. People will search for something like Messy Bun Beanie, and her Claire Bun Beanie will pop up. Ashley has made sure that all of her Etsy listings have been optimized for being searched on Etsy, and includes key words that people search for her different crochet items whether patterns or finished pieces. Etsy looks at the title of your product to see what search terms it will fit, so you want to include keywords in your title. Get in the mind of your customer by pretending to be them and think about what you’d search for to find your item. Even start typing in search terms on Etsy similar to your product and see what words pop up in the suggested searches as you type. Using the free service Etsy Rank is another awesome way to find keywords. You type in what words you’re thinking about, and it will show you stats of how many times it is searched, what the engagement of that term is, and what suggested terms that would be better for being found. Once you settle on some keywords, you’ll type those into your title and tags. When you’re first getting started out don’t include the name of your pattern till the very end of your keywords, since new people finding your items won’t know the name of your pattern. After you get more established then you can put the name of your pattern closer to your first words.
Another way to get your Etsy store optimized is having beautiful photos of your pattern. Ashley says that she hates to admit it, but often having beautiful models is what helps your pattern sell. If you make finished crochet beanies, ask some of your friends to model them, and offer them a free beanie in exchange for it. If you make amigurumi or home decor instead, then make sure you have well lit photos that show off your items.
If you’d like more ways of how you can promote your business, Ashley created an awesome blog post with 13 Creative Marketing Techniques To Grow Your Small Business. It’s full of 13 free ways that you can promote your products, and help you brainstorm more ways to market your business.
I hope that this post was helpful and help give you the confidence to keep promoting your business. If you ever are in doubt of what to do, or just need someone to brainstorm with, feel free to reach out to me and I would love to help you. I also have a Facebook group that you can join and get connected with other makers as they figure out the same things. You can click here to join it!
Instagram: you either love it or feel like you’re constantly fighting it. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get the sensation that I’ll always be lost in the vast network that is Instagram. However, as I’ve been growing and learning more about Instagram, I’ve learned that it doesn’t always have to be that way! Instead of Instagram being a stressful situation, it can go back to being the fun social setting that it’s supposed to be! One of the easiest ways to help relieve the stress of Instagram is to have a Instagram strategy. But what is an Instagram strategy and, more importantly, how do you make one?
Here to talk about the topic of Instagram Strategy is Toni from the blog tlyarncrafts.com. You might know her for her stylish designs, yarn and coffee photos, and her positive attitude that’s so inspiring to others. Toni is one of the reasons that I got back into crochet after I saw some of her gorgeous designs, and instantly wanted to make them. I’ve loved following along with her, and her successful Instagram account has inspired me to get to the point she’s at as well. When she agreed to come on my video podcast, I couldn’t have been more thrilled!
Our maker topic this week is how to create an effective Instagram strategy for you business. What is an Instagram strategy you might ask? An Instagram strategy is a plan that you create to reach your goals on Instagram. Some goals you might have could be:
Toni’s strategy centers on the third goal type, that of growing your business outside of Instagram. She uses her Instagram account as a funnel to her pattern store, blog, and website. I try to do the same thing by creating content on my Instagram that promotes my other channels, along with creating a community with my followers. The next question you might ask is how do you use your Instagram to reach these goals?
As some final thoughts to conclude these tips, just remember that everyone’s Instagram experience is different. Just because one person succeeded with one strategy doesn’t mean that it will work for you, and that’s ok! With a little hard work and experimentation, you can find that strategy that will make your Instagram soar. Don’t focus on fighting the algorithm because you don’t own it, and can’t call Instagram to find out what are the best things to do. Keep tweaking and experimenting, and soon it will all click. You’ve got this maker!
For more amazing tips like these and beautiful patterns from Toni, visit her on her website www.tlyarncrafts.com, and on Instagram @tlyarncrafts!
For most knitters or crocheters, the dream is that we’d be able to work with some big yarn company. A big company like Lion Brand, Red Heart, or any other large yarn company would see our work, fall in love, and send us boxes upon boxes of yarn that we could design with to our heart’s content. For some of the big designers out there it’s the reality for them. How do you get to that point though? How do you get yarn companies, magazines, or craft companies to start working with you?
Wonder no more because on this week’s episode of the E’Claire Makery Podcast, I had the opportunity to chat with Lee from the crochet and knit blog Coco Crochet Lee, who constantly is working with yarn and craft companies. Her style is unmistakeable with it’s whimsical photos, gorgeous yarn, and multiple encouraging and inviting social media accounts. Lee has been one of my favorite makers to follow along with as I’ve watched her continue to grow exponentially over the past year or so. She’s a social media expert, and that’s a fact. It’s actually one of her jobs that she gets to do with the craft company Annie’s!
How did she all the way to that point though? It took a lot of hard work! Lee first learned how to crochet and knit after her daughter was born, and started working at a yarn magazine, which entered her into the world of design. She went to school for communications and always had a fascination with social media. Having various jobs in the design world ranging from doing Annie’s social media account, to tech editing for a magazine, and being an editor of a crochet publication as well. She’s been no stranger to crochet and design. After some fellow design friends gave her a push in the right direction, she started trying her hand at design and started her social media platforms with the name Coco Crochet Lee.
Now here she is today with a huge following on almost every platform, and she came on the podcast to share some of her tips and tricks. In our episode we had the chance to chat about how you go about starting to work with different companies or magazines, and more specifically how to optimize your social media accounts to gain those companies’ attention. Let’s jump right in!
1.Build up your social media: Your social media account essentially is your portfolio showcasing who you are and what your designs look like. Social media provides the wonderful opportunity to put your designs out there to the world, but sometimes it is so hard to not lose yourself amidst all of the other designers out there. How could you offer something? Guess what? You totally have something to offer! Each designer has their own unique voice that they get to contribute to the maker community, and there is an audience out there on social media waiting to hear you. Yarn companies and magazines love when they get to see who you are on your social media. Create an Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and any other social media that might help showcase who you are. Build up your following on those accounts, because if yarn companies see you have a large following then they’ll equate that with you have experience with your craft.
2. Be yourself: It might sound cliche, but designers say it for a reason! You’ll never get ahead by pretending to be someone else. If you’re always trying to copy other designers or make your photos just like their’s, then you’ll never be able to put your own style out there. When we get lost in the comparison came then our voice disappears, and we never get to share who we are and that unique spin on designs that only each one of us can make. Yarn companies are looking for people who have something to offer their company that is different than the rest, and if they never get to see who you are then they’ll never know if you could offer them anything. They also won’t accept any designs that look too similar to other designers.
3. Don’t let your fear stop you: Fear can be the biggest hinderance to us pursuing our dreams and going for opportunities that come our way. Just one drop of fear can lead to us never taking steps to put ourselves out there. We can’t it let it get the best of us though when we are trying to pursue our dreams! There are so many amazing opportunities out there, and they are totally attainable if you keep working towards them.
4. “Why not me?”: What does this one mean you might ask? Well when you’re looking at other designers do you ever wish that you could have the same opportunities that they have as well? Instead of thinking that it’s only out there for them, begin thinking why it couldn’t be you in that spot. With hard work you can be in the same spot as them. Let that motivate you to keep pushing forward and taking steps towards your goals. Don’t let other designer’s success discourage you, instead use it as your big motivator for getting to the same point as them. Your hopes are achievable!
5. Search for submission calls and keep your eye out for designer calls: Crochet magazines and any other magazine you can dream of constantly have submission calls where designers get to submit their designs for the chance to be featured. If you Google crochet magazine submission calls then you’ll be able to find them for any magazine you could want! Yarn companies also will have searches where they look for brand reps for their company. If they start advertising they want brand reps then apply for it and see what happens! You won’t always succeed with either of these things, but with each opportunity you go for you’ll get closer to your goal.
6. Have a plan: When you go to submit an idea or you are pitching something to a company, the more of a plan you have the better. Have an idea and plan of the design you are presenting. Even better, have it completed so that they can see what the finished product looks like. They want to see that you mean business, and know your stuff. The more effort you put into your plan, designs, and idea then the more they’ll see that you really want to do this. Also, the easier it is for a company, in terms of how much work they’ll have to invest in your idea, the better. Do most of the work for them and they’ll be more drawn to your idea.
7. Use your social media as a funnel to your different platforms: Whether you’re doing this as a hobby or a business, aim to have your various social media platforms funnel into each other. Use Instagram to funnel to Facebook or your where you sell patterns, funnel people to your blog through facebook, and on your blog funnel people to Pinterest or your patterns. When all of your platforms work together, there will be a shift of growth in all areas.
8. Take high quality resolution photos: Your photography is your tool to show people the quality of your designs. The lower the quality the harder it is to see your designs, and it shows less professionalism. People’s eyes are drawn to good quality photos, so aim to take these! If you don’t know how, Youtube and Pinterest have a wealth of photography tips and tutorials to help your rock taking your photos.
9. Utilize Instagram as your photography portfolio of your designs: Instagram in itself is a photography and social platform. So utilize that! It’s hard to know how to get those photos out there to the world though. Lee had some great tips to offer for helping utilize Instagram that she’s learned from her own experience:
a. Don’t edit caption within the first day: When you do this then the Instagram algorithm will have to reevaluate your post and you’ll lose whatever stats on engagement you already had.
b. Use the 10-10-10 rule in your hashtags: When you’re choosing hashtags use 10 hashtags with a large usage, 10 medium usage hashtags that aim at your audience, and 10 small niche specific hashtags. If you get to the top of your small niche hashtags then Instagram will prioritize your post in those hashtags, and then prioritize you in the next largest hashtags you’ve used. The hashtags are building blocks that can help you grow in each one you use.
c. Post once a day: Instagram seems to run on a 24 hour cycle, so posting once a day helps you get the most out of what the Instagram algorithm is doing to analysize your post.
Wow, what an awesome collection of tips! I know that I learned so much from Lee and am excited to continue to implement these things into my business. You can check out her blog at www.cococrochetlee.com, her Instagram, and her Facebook. She has an incredible amount of knowledge, and she has many more tips she shares on all of her platforms. Be sure to tune into the podcast next week and subscribe to my channel where Toni from TLYarnCrafts will share how to create an Instagram strategy.