Starting a Handmade Business
Lesson 4: Promoting Your Handmade Business
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Introduction: Promoting Your Handmade Business

Now that you have your shop up and running, it's time to let everyone know! You can use social media, vend at craft fairs, or even offer sales or coupons to entice folks into checking out your shop.

In this lesson, I'll provide you with some simple tips to get your business name out there!

The Magic of Social Media Automation

Social media is one of the best ways to find new customers for free - especially Instagram! Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest tend to lead to more hit-and-miss results - many times they're only super successful if you pay for advertising.

Instead of paying for advertising, I recommend focusing solely on your Instagram account and using a service like (If This, Then That) to forward your Instagram posts to other social media sites.

Right now, I have it set up so that anytime I post on Instagram, the post is automatically pushed to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

This way I can put more effort into making beautiful products and photos, and less time copying and pasting the same information all over the internet!

Giving Behind the Scenes Peeks

This is one of my favorite things to do as a seller. Customers love to see what you're working on! I do this in two ways.

Process Shots

I love taking photos of pieces as I work on them and posting them on Instagram. It's fun to see a piece come together over the span of a few days. And I love the response I get from the Instagram community - it's so encouraging!


I've also spent quite a lot of time writing tutorials about all things embroidery. Not only does this introduce loads of new people to the art, it also shows how serious I am when it comes to embroidering ALL THE THINGS.

Good examples of my embroidery tutorials:

Some folks might consider this "giving away secrets" to which I say BAH. You're sharing your knowledge and expertise, which is always a good thing. Running a small business takes passion and dedication, so people stealing "your" techniques is really the last thing you need to worry about. Chances are they will not be able to best you in your creative outlet of choice!

Vending at Craft Shows

Craft shows can be a great way to get exposure and meet customers in real life! That being said, though, it's important to be choosy about the fairs where you sell.

When choosing to be a vendor at a craft fair, make sure that the fair you choose is "juried." Juried fairs don't let just anyone in - only folks that they feel are a good fit for the show. Juried shows require you to fill out an application about yourself and your work, and often require a fee to apply. This means there's a high chance that MLM (aka pyramid schemes aka Multi-Level Marketing) or non-handmade items will not make the cut. It also means that the judges will pick a good variety of vendors, so you're not stuck at a show selling the same thing as everyone else.

In addition to picking and choosing the right shows, you'll also want to make sure you have everything you need to sell in the real world. This includes:

  • Change for cash purchases
  • Credit card reader so you can accept credit card (Square is the most popular one!)
  • Display table + table cover
  • Brand signage
  • Vertical displays as needed
  • Emergency repair kit: scissors, markers, tape, etc.
  • Snacks, because no one wants to buy things from a hangry vendor ;)

Mailing Lists

Mailing lists are another great way to reach out directly to customers. You can ask customers to sign up in person at craft fairs, online through social media, or through your website.

However: be careful about how you collect emails. For example, it's against Etsy's rules to use customer email addresses for anything other than the transaction they're involved in. Pulling all their emails and adding them to your mailing list could get you in serious trouble. Plus, it's a shady thing to do without asking.

MailChimp is an amazing free option for sending out newsletters to customers, so if you're interested in this, give them a look!

(Full disclosure: this is one of the only resources I haven't used when it comes to building my business! Maybe that needs to be my goal for the end of this year: get a mailing list started finally.)

Coupons and Sales

Sales and coupons are a great way to get new customers and to get previous customers to come back and visit.

How you set these up depends entirely on the platform where you're selling, but most times it's insanely easy to do!

The only thing you need to worry about when it comes to coupons is ensuring you'll still be able to make a profit. This may mean setting a minimum purchase price before a coupon can be used, or requiring customers to buy two items and get a third half-off or free.

Do whatever works best for you!

Donating and Charities

In my time selling on Etsy, I've been approached many times by non-profits, charities, and even individuals about donating pieces.

This can be a good or bad thing, depending on who is asking.

Be careful about giving things away for free for "exposure" - I've been burned a couple times by bloggers or photographers claiming their "huge audience" would "just love your work!!" Unless it's a magazine or a major website, chances are that exposure will be non-existent and the person you sent your product to will never speak to you again.

However, I love donating to a good cause! If a charity or non-profit reaches out for a donation, I always check them out and see if they look like a organization. I'll browse their website, ask questions about what they do, and make sure I feel comfortable about them being real and doing good. If so, I tend to send something. :)

Class Wrap-Up

I hope that you enjoyed this class and learned new things about running a small handmade business. I've attached a collection of amazing instructables about selling online for further reading - check them out for even more information!

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comment section below.

I'd also love to see your online shops and handmade goods! If you'd like to share, please upload your photos and a little information to the class project upload box below.

Happy making! ^_^

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